This article was based on episode 69 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Stitcher. Get the guest bonus when you become a member of The Modern Manager community.
It is natural to respond to external expectations and demands without first checking in with our own core values and inner voice. We’re moving so fast, doing so much, sometimes we can get lost in the default mode which isn’t our truest, best self. Before we can lead others, we must be grounded in ourselves.
Dolores Hirschmann believes in the power that results from listening to that inner self. She assists speakers, entrepreneurs, authors and executives in tuning into inner wisdom by showing them how to shift attention from what they do to what they stand for. She firmly believes that a lack of inner clarity and connection stands between great ideas and the impact those ideas might have on the world.
LEADERSHIP STARTS INSIDE
It is difficult to lead a company, a team or your household before learning how to become your own leader. In fact, there is nothing in our lives that we can lead or manage unless we practice leading ourselves. Some practical suggestions for self-management include:
Learn to recognize the difference between external toxicity and personal, inner chaos so that you can stop small irritations from becoming that final drop that overflows the glass;
Before reacting, pause and take a breath. Slow your pace in order to quietly and thoughtfully reflect, consider and then make a choice; and
Avoid an overload of commitments and ‘have-to’s.’ Reserve a few minutes each day for processing what is within you and staying in touch with yourself.
AWARENESS IS THE FIRST STEP
Ever overreact and then wonder why, or walk into a meeting and be surprised by your own tone? My usual cool-headedness tends to disappear when I’m tired, hungry, or frustrated by some unrelated issue. When I’m drained or unsettled, I have limited capacity to let the little things roll off my back. For most of us, it’s hard to respond to a hectic world in a thoughtful way when we’re not feeling sold on the inside.
An important key for leading yourself through these moments is to practice awareness. The first step is to detach yourself from the irritation. Become the observer of your own experience. Dolores suggests you try:
Giving yourself one minute to simply breathe;
Momentarily leaving what you are doing to sip a glass of water;
Going for a short walk, or
Ending a difficult day a little early in order to reset yourself.
It may be hard to recognize when you’ve reached the point of needing some reflective processing time. It is helpful to have someone supportive on your team or in your life who can help you notice your need for recovery. (For me, it’s my husband.) Yet don’t expect others to jump at the opportunity to inform you of your irrational or overly emotional response.
Dolores notes that while a trusted ally makes it easier, it requires skillful discernment and diplomacy to point out the emotion behind someone else’s reactions without aggravating the situation. While caught up in the moment, many of us may not be in the right mindset to hear the feedback and respond objectively.
If you notice this behavior in others, instead of directly confronting their emotions, it may be helpful to use a redirecting strategy. You may want to say one of these:
"You know what? I am feeling quite tired right now. Can we pause this conversation and pick it up tomorrow morning?"
"I apologize, but I just realized I have something urgent to do right now. It will only take me a minute. Why don't we take two-minute break?"
"You know what? I've been stuck at my desk all day. Why don't we take this conversation outside and walk around the block?"
These simple approaches automatically change the energy pattern either by allowing the person time to digest their emotions or process their energy through movement.
THE IDEA OF YOU: A FRAMEWORK FOR CLARITY OF SELF
Dolores centers her work on the premise that if you know yourself and stay aligned to your purpose and values, you can better recognize when your behavior or emotional state is out of whack. To articulate your true self, ask:
What do you really want?
What does your dream life look like?
If you are currently struggling or unhappy, why?
What might you change to move you one step closer to your dream life?
Many of us don’t know what we want, let alone how to get there. Dolores’s program, The Idea Of You, is a framework that guides you, layer by layer, in an exploration of who you truly are, what you are uniquely designed to do, and how to achieve the desired change.
This ecosystem can be described by addressing five core rings of identity:
What am I deeply passionate about? What do I value most?
What is my fundamental mission in this life?
What am I really good at?
Given the above purpose and unique abilities, what is my ideal career?
What is my unique pattern of behavior and style of leadership?
Under these five core rings are four ongoing currents of internal conversations at play throughout each level of our exploration:
Mindset (Am I operating from a mindset of victim or victory? Does the world irritate me or does it support my growth and development?)
Goals (How do I set, stick to and honor my goals?)
Habits of Success (What are the micro actions of my day? Are they the starting points of my dreams?)
Internal Leader (Who is in charge? Does positive or negative self-talk predominate?)
Dolores keenly notes that your life is really just this minute, and then that minute, and then that minute. Your life is therefore the cumulative effect of millions of tiny actions, which are largely made up of your habits.
When we are aware and thoughtful about the life we want to lead, we can design our habits and build routines that nourish us. It is these small actions that often become the anchors that keep us centered as we move through a chaotic world.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, it may seem easy or obvious to attempt to change your external circumstances. Yet, your inner self goes wherever you go. So first, clarify what matters and center your internal world. Only then can you fulfill your potential to lead yourself and others.
Members of the Modern Manager community get Dolores’s ebook version of "Stand Out the TED Way: Be Seen & Grow Your Business" for free along with other guest bonuses and episode guides to help you implement the learnings and continue to enhance your rockstar manager skills. To join, go to mamieks.com/join