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The Hidden Message in Your Need for Patience

Cairn_Copyright_Mark_Petruzzi


Recently I’ve read a number of articles and blog entries about importance of patience in leadership.

Why is patience such a hot topic lately?

My suspicion is that, the way we are handling our culture of “shoulds,” “musts” and “rush” is triggering an over-reliance on this “virtuous” state of holding one’s own.

But in many cases, more empowering leadership and self-leadership qualities would serve better—long before patience is required.

Let’s look at Webster’s definition of patience: “bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint.”

And now, Google’s: “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”

I don’t know about you, but I really like the idea of “acceptance” when it means making peace with where I am, so that now I might launch a new desire, or a solution, from a more grounded, peaceful place.

In fact, making peace with what is, at least temporarily, might contribute to the most useful mental model of patience. I call this evolved patience—the ability to make peace with certain undesirable conditions, while you are going for a much desired outcome. With this kind of patience, you find it easier to maintain focus on the outcomes you are looking for.

Think of the patience that’s required to build a cairn (pictured above). You have a combination of focus, while you make peace with the fact that you’ll probably meet with failure in multiple tries, as you eventually complete your tower of stone—and it will take time.

But to get back to our traditional definitions: “tolerance?” “Bearing pains?”

That all sounds to me like “putting up with.”

Is the ability to put up with something undesirable really a leadership quality?

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Are We Having Fun Yet?

Life is Good


Are you having fun doing what you are doing? Too often folks associate “fun” with “lightweight” or "not earnest." We even throw around the word “serious” as if it is a compliment, as in, “She has a serious job.”

There are certainly times when humor and/or a lighthearted approach simply don’t feel appropriate, but my sense is that there are a lot of folks who are suffering from, well, a serious need of lightening up a bit. We need to make a habit of looking for more fun in our days—asking how we can “make it more fun,” or at least feel better in more life situations—especially at work. After all, are we more productive and of the most value to others when we are “grinding,” or when we are in in the midst of inspired action?

Certainly neuroscience supports this argument! In fact, this entry is an expansion on my comment responses to colleague, Jesse Lynn Stoner’s excellent post on rewiring your brain for leadership. Jesse’s advice includes guiding our thoughts toward the pleasant and the positive, especially during periods of high-demand on our personal resources.

This blog is focused on self-leadership, so let’s expand on our personal mental models of what is fun. My idea of fun includes inner life fun, and “inspired action” fun. A partial list…

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Why Tolerance Just Won't Do

Apples and Oranges, Diversity

And for leaders, there's a benefit to watching out for, and supporting psychological diversity on the team.
~Mark Petruzzi


Last Wednesday, on the first day of the Brilliant Leadership workshop, we were working with a concept I call “Psychological Diversity.” This is the idea (astonishing, I know) that we each quite literally perceive reality in our own way.

Sure, we share some similarities in our perceptions and belief-systems, otherwise, any communication would prove impossible. But the sad truth is, we don’t always communicate so well at all, because we fail to take into account the wonderful diversity of perception and communication styles out there—and too often in the very person or persons right across from us.

And when we’re conscious of this diversity, the difference can prove irritating at first.

Everyone has had the experience of feeling like the other person is “too sensitive” or “too hard-ass” or “too pie-in-the-sky” or “too literal” or “to rigid,” or, or…

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Why All Choices Are Emotional

iStock_EmotionalChoices

Why All Choices are Emotional

Any belief we take on, or any logic we follow, we do so because on some level, we believe it will bring us closer to feeling better about ourselves and our reality, or it helps us defend against losing what level of comfort we already have.
~Mark Petruzzi


Steve is a middle manager and a programmer who’s in his mid-thirties. He is in my Be Your Own Coach workshop, and I’ve asked him to write down his top ten “wants” in thirty-seconds.

Like most of the others in the workshop on this day, he doesn’t make it past three desires listed in the time allotted. I tell the workshop that this is evidence that not one of them is thinking about what they really want often enough, or they’d have successfully listed more than 10 desires each, given the same amount of time.

Steve agrees: “I realize that I haven’t thought about what I really wanted in years!” he reveals to the rest of the workshop.

I ask Steve to pick one of his desires from the list. He picks some training he wants his employer to provide him. I ask him why he wants it. He tells me that it will give him the certification he needs to get a promotion, and it will keep his skills current.

I ask Steve what that would mean to him. I ask him how that would make him feel. He disregards the feeling question, and answers logically (as I expect him to, because he is a Jungian thinker), “I am more likely to get a promotion and a raise with this training,” he says.

“How does that feel?” I persist.

“I would feel more confident leading my direct reports, and plus… well, I just realized something about my personality: I love to learn. I love knowledge! I’d feel great just learning new stuff!

“So, if you had to sum it up” I continue, “How would this additional confidence, and the process of learning new stuff make you feel?”

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Transforming Limiting Beliefs

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Transforming Limiting Beliefs.


This last weekend, I facilitated a mini-workshop on transforming limiting beliefs at the ATMA center in West Hartford, Connecticut. Why was this workshop important? Why would anyone participate in such a workshop?

Imagine that you have a superpower that at the flip of a switch, allows you to change how you perceive yourself, others, and your life. Imagine that by using this power, you could improve work performance, enhance relationships, and enhance your health. That by using this extraordinary gift, you could unlock possibilities and potentials that were formerly hidden from you.

Well, that’s
exactly how changing out a limiting belief can work. To see how your current beliefs are working for you, just look around. Your beliefs are operating around-the-clock, and they’re bringing you whatever is aligned with them… and not necessarily what you want.

Clearly, knowing how to recognize and transform limiting beliefs is a very real superpower.

But what is a belief? And what is a “limiting belief?”

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16 Leadership Lessons from Riding a Motorcycle

Motorcycles

16 Leadership Lessons from Riding a Motorcycle

  • Hold on to your vision, and make sure it is aligned with who you are.
  • You get what you pay attention to.
  • Slow into the curve, accelerate out.
  • Counter-steer.
  • Test assumptions continuously.
  • Anticipate, without fear.
  • Take ‘em somewhere.
  • Know how to make an emergency stop.
  • Practice makes fearless.
  • After a ride in the rain, dry your bike thoroughly.
  • Pair new riders with more experience ones, and give them plenty of encouragement.
  • Give ample notice before what happens next. Communicate clearly, and make sure you’re getting through.
  • Check your rear view often!
  • Prepare for the ride.
  • You don’t want blind followers.
  • Have Fun!


Lesson 1: Hold on to your vision, and make sure it is aligned with who you are.

Several years ago, my wife was cruising through the Farmington Flats here in Connecticut, when she noticed a female motorcycle rider who was obviously enjoying the wind in her face and the combo of open road freedom and fingertip-power that’s only available on motorcycle. As Sue tells the story, she wondered what it might feel like to have that kind of freedom, and decided that she would find out.

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How to Tell Weak Desire from Strong Desire

Image of a spark jumping a gap between two wires...

Does your desire create enough spark to jump the gap from inspiration to action? Not all desire is created equal. There are weak desires and strong desires. Weak desires are more easily slowed or deflected by conflicting beliefs or short-term challenges. Strong desires will help us seek the alignment and focus we need to make the jump from dream to reality.

A strong desire is something that comes from your essential nature, and that is intimately connected with your individual preferences, abilities, and purpose. We’ll call this kind of strong desire “self-connected.”

Self-connected desires have a “why” that is motivated from the inside out.

A weak desire is something you do in order to comply with something outside you
that you buy into just enough to recognize that it serves you at least SOME of the time. The inspiration for such a desire is also weak, because it is about complying to avoid creating a gap, and not about filling a gap you want to fill. If the inspiration is weak, so is the desire. (Please see the post before this one for an explanation of the relationship of inspiration to desire.)

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How Inspiration Creates Desire


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T
here was a time in the early-80’s when, in spite of the three cups of coffee I’d consumed in less than an hour, I quite literally was having trouble keeping my eyes open sitting at my desk at the sales job I had—and this went on for weeks.

I thought I wanted out, but we already had a 15-month-old and Sue was pregnant with another, and my logical mind told me that the lucrative job I held was one I ought to keep—in spite of the fact that my body was telling me otherwise.

I was bored silly and felt trapped, but the
desire to keep a relatively reliable income stream overrode the desire to try something new. Bringing another life into the house was a big enough change, and I didn’t want to introduce another.

But It’s no fun to do stuff you don’t buy into or like, and doing stuff that bores you or that you don’t like for too long—without some kind of coping strategy—can have negative effects on both psychological and physical wellbeing. It wasn’t long before my discomfort inspired the desire to seek new employment—the balance of desire had shifted.

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How Love Makes a Leader a Leader

Heartshaped Crowd with Leader at the Head of it
Free Download, "Leadership as Connection" (Link at the End of this Post)

I’ve always thought that there was more to work than the work. We give our work meaning. Without the meaning we give to it, work seems like just “moving stuff around.” This is true whether that "stuff" is ideas or services or widgets or widget parts. When we get too serious about the moving stuff around part, and don’t balance that with the human-value part in the equation, well, work’s not as fulfilling or fun (and make no mistake, fulfillment and fun are big parts of employee engagement).

What’s love got to do with it?  Love makes a leader a leader.

~Lucira Jane Nebelung


 
Sure, whatever we do serves others, and creates new opportunity, and creates value. Nevertheless, that value is quite literally undeliverable unless there is a “someone” to perceive it, and receive it.
 
When I’m working with clients, I like to coach them toward both bringing more of who they are to their work, while appreciating the rich diversity of  personality and value among those with whom they share the workspace. This sort of mental/emotional practice can add a dimension to our business lives that makes more engaging and rewarding. Within the space of this approach, it is easier to both deliver and receive value.
 
Yes, “who we are” matters in our work, and some companies are stretching to transform their practices and culture to encourage this awareness, and invite greater employee engagement, performance, and work satisfaction. Still, it’s a strange thing how many of us cling to rather antediluvian, mechanical, management practices—approaches that in the best cases, invite mediocre engagement, and in worst cases, are quite dehumanizing. 
 
Now, against this backdrop: is the business world really ready to talk about love in leadership? 
 
Enter my colleague, Lucira Jane Nebelung, who has made a well-researched, and eloquent case for doing just that:

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Emotions in the Workplace

Image: Grid of Faces Expressing Different Emotions

Because I'm teaching a course called "Keeping the Emotions in Check" later this month, I'm very interested in what's going on out there on this topic. In fact, after reading a lot of what's out there, I can tell you that the content I deliver will provide more perspective than the title of my course suggests, and will go beyond what many recommend as "control."

The course is aimed at folks struggling with, or interested in, ways of regulating and managing emotions in the workplace. You might guess that the no one would enroll in a course like this if everything were working out for them on all fronts without a hitch—emotional challenges are alive and well wherever we earn our living.

The natural reaction to things not working so well on the emotional front, is to "take more action" and "exert more control." True, some emotional situations call for immediate action and control, and even special training to handle. But the vast majority of emotions in the workplace are best treated long before they reach a crises point—or even an uncomfortable point.

I believe that thinking in terms of "taming" and "controlling" emotions is an approach that is mostly necessary and applicable when we don't have an overall emotional strategy.

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