If you would like to become a better leader, there is one thing that you can start doing right now:
Become more aware.
The key is to intentionally focus on it, daily.
Becoming more aware of yourself, your interactions (clients, team members, peers etc.) and the systems you are part of (your organisations, communities, clubs etc.) will bring the new, fine-tuned understanding and give you necessary input to become a better leader.
In this blog, let’s focus on the first step: Becoming more self-aware
Very often, as we are chasing our daily schedule, project managing a big assignment, working on a yearly budget or handling multiple to-do lists, teams and clients, we forget we exist. We forget to take time for introspection and for recognising our basic needs, sensations, emotions and our perceptions.
How many times did you postpone your lunch to keep working? Or you ate something in front of your computer without any awareness how it tasted?
What about that pain in your shoulder or hands? We numb ourselves in order to keep performing.
How many times were you in the meeting and didn’t hear most of what was going on because you were thinking about all the items waiting for you that day?
We are focused on the past: thinking about what we might have forgotten to do, what we did well, where we could have done differently. We are focused on the future: wondering if everything will go well, if we will be on time, if we will be rewarded for our efforts, what still needs to be achieved and much more. Our mind wonders and goes into overdrive.
We forget to be in the NOW. Right here, right now.
It is admirable to be a high performer, dedicated and trustworthy – until it starts costing you your focus, cognitive abilities, performance, health, social interactions etc. More and more of my coaching clients are reporting they feel burn out. Burn out doesn’t just suddenly happen. It is an accumulation of unmet needs of our bodies, hearts and minds. Being unaware of our basic needs and how to fulfil them in a balanced way will sooner or later cost us.
Slowing down to be in the now and taking a moment to become self-aware will allow for all your capacities to engage and make you more successful. My clients have reported the following: being more present, being seen as competent, achieving more during the work day, noticing more of everything around them, staying calm and focused, enjoying food more.
“People need to know that they have all the tools within themselves. Self-awareness, which means awareness of their body, awareness of their mental space, awareness of their relationships – not only with each other, but with life and the ecosystem.” Deepak Chopra
What can you do about it now?
For one week, I invite you to try the following and notice the difference:
– whenever you feel any tension in your body, stretch or take a short walk around the office or outside;
– whenever you feel your eyes getting tired of staring at the screen, find a window and look far in the distance;
– whenever you notice you are talking fast, slow down the pace;
– whenever you are hungry, stop and eat away from your computer, focusing on every bite and the taste of the food;
– whenever you catch yourself rushing in the car or walking down the street, take a deep breath and slow down;
– whenever you are tired, take a short break;
– whenever you do any of the above, take 3 deep inhales and exhales. If you do nothing else, take 3 deep breaths (lower your gaze or close your eyes while you do it, if possible).
Each one of these exercises takes 30 seconds to 5 minutes. They seem simple enough, still so many of us don’t do it often enough. If you find them too difficult to start with, have patience with yourself and take those deep breaths.
I would love to hear how it is going for you.
To raise your awareness in conflict, business communication, demanding office politics and giving and receiving feedback, join the next online leadership course “Unlock Leadership Superpowers” starting on 18 April 2018. Find out more here.