“People suffer because they are caught in their views.
As soon as we release those views,
we are free and we don’t suffer anymore.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
When I coach leaders – regardless of where they are in their career trajectory, and especially if they are frustrated with their current situation – the practice of making an embodied choice in how we feel, often suprises and – when accepted – creates the greatest possibility for transformation.
The actions of others do not determine our happiness.
We have a choice in how and what we observe around us. We have a choice about the assumptions and meaning we place on what we observe, and therefore we have a choice in how we feel and how we make others feel. Our choices (with mindful awareness or without) create our re-actions and are often the true cause of our suffering.
Yup, often we do it to ourselves.
Of course, there will be people who do or say things that are not appropriate, and mistakes are made that have negative consequences. When that occurs, the invitation is to address and communicate… without judgement, blame or bringing emotions from past events into the present moment.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” — Buddha
QUESTION: Did you make a mistake this week? Did someone you work with or interacted with make a mistake?
If this question resonates, I invite you to take a minute to think about the following GUIDING PROMPTS:
- Describe the mistake.
- Why did it bother you so much? What does the mistake mean about you/the other person? What will the negative impact be – on you, others, etc. [Make a long list if necessary, this information is key]
- Where in your body (be as specific as possible) did you feel your reaction (maybe you’re even feeling it now as you remember it)?
- Have you ever felt that same feeling in your body before (perhaps in different circumstances)? [HINT: yes! describe]
- Take your long list of #2, and test your assumptions: For each point, ask: “how do I KNOW this to be true? What if it’s not?! What could be other possibilities, other interpretations of the mistake and/or what it means about you/the other person? How would that change how you feel?
I riffed on this theme of “getting in our own way” this past week when I was interviewed by a graduate student about the qualities I believe make an effective leader, and again when I was a guest speaker at an innovative summer course on leadership development for young professionals. Whether it’s trying to prove yourself in a job interview instead of communicating the problems you solve, the opportunities you create, and how you make people feel; or it’s feeling like an imposter in your role…it can be fear, insecurity and lack of clarity about your true value all create a huge barrier to having impact, joy, sustainability, ease and happiness!
This week I also found myself saying to a candidate interviewing for a job: “Perfection is not the goal. Every day my team and I make mistakes, we reflect, we try again, we learn, and at the end of every single week, we celebrate the positive impact we’ve had. We’ve made a difference. We’ve moved the needle, or we’ve created the possibility to do so.” The candidate let out a big sigh and smiled.
When people and situations around you appear to be negatively impacting you, are you mindfully choosing your thoughts, feelings, language and actions to create the possibility to be the leader you want to be? Or are you inadvertently causing your own suffering by self-sabotaging out of fear, judgement, insecurity and false assumptions?
As always, I love hearing from you – how do YOU think of “mistakes?” When do you get “triggered” and do you have insight on why that is?
To your success,
Next Chapter Coach
Creator of The Career (Life!) Breakthrough AcademyTM
P.S. – If you would like to join over 200 fellow leaders curating lives of impact & joy, check out The Career (Life!) Breakthrough Academy. This time of year can be challenging if you’re at a Crossroad Moment, trying to figure out what to do, what is possible, what you (really) want, and what you should do next. If this is YOU or someone you know, I’ve opened up times on my calender to get on the phone for a confidential call.