Disclaimer: Today I bring a straight-up GO TRY THIS message for one of the best perspective-bringing exercises you can do for yourself this year, creating space in your head, insight in the fray and connection of the dots. And, I suggest this every year. So, if this looks familiar, it should, because it's TIME!
First the why...
I tout “Debrief early and often,” in coaching teams and individuals because reflection is the single-most-powerful tool any of us have at any moment to gain perspective and insight into ourselves. It’s the core of what I help people do through coaching… pause, step back from yourself, and let's see what's there which you couldn't see before.
It's that perspective thing- all about your position in relation to what’s going on.
The more something's obscured from your view, the more angst it causes, as our brains keep trying to fill in the missing pieces to make meaning- but with too little information. We do this all the time- make meaning from something with only what we can see right in front of us, and end up with a skewed version of what's real (the brain usually goes negative and fills in with our old stories, but that's for another day). The more you can see something completely, the more you can understand it and respond to it intelligently.
Like being stuck in a traffic jam...
The worst… You’re in it, behind the wheel, frustrated.. you’re have no perspective on what’s happening. Because you’re stuck literally without any way to see or understand what's happening or find any possible ways out of it, you get more upset, and it cycles. Zero perspective, maddening.
Better… Get out of your car, get to the side of the road and look from standing height- over the cars. Now you have a little visibility, can see more of how far ahead things are backed up, possibly even see what the issue is. I’ve done this in a traffic jam, and was amazed by how a little sightline made such a difference in my outlook.
Much better… Step away from the road 50 feet or so to look ahead. Now you can really see more of what’s going on, how big it is, if anyone’s doing anything about it, what exits might be available. You can predict outcomes and options, and form a plan.
The best… Get up into that traffic helicopter to be able to really get the whole picture from a distance- the patterns, the causes, the magnitude, and where your little part is in it all. Finally, you have full vision of what’s really going on because you’re removed enough from it, and can make informed decisions about what to do next. I imagine being able to do this as I sit in traffic jams.
While we may not actually be able to do this during rush hour, we can do it in life jams…
First identify your position, then move to where you can get perspective and see more than what's too close to you.
How far in this situation am I to even be able to see what’s happening accurately? Behind the wheel? In the back seat (unable to see or steer)? On the side of the road? Stepped back from it with distance? Or up above it all, looking down? Most of the time when it's a moment of upset, we're stuck square behind the wheel, too far in it and way too close to see what to do about it.
Call it- actually label your position in the situation ("behind the wheel- I'm really mad and can't see a thing").
Own it. Get honest about your own role in what's occuring/ed, including your response. Then you can do something about it. Like...
Move to a different position- which changes everything about your perspective, in what you can see, understand and begin to make meaning from accurately. This is key, and it's also why talking with someone else, journaling, getting coaching and debriefing early and often… all make a huge difference; they force you to step away from the car, and get enough of a vantage point to be able to describe what's going on. Just open the door and stand up, outside the car... And suddenly you can breathe more fully, see the horizon, stretch yourself to get blood flowing again and more oxygen to your brain... and perspective opens.
So… how about getting perspective on the really big picture?
Actually stepping back to get a vantage point on your whole last year?
Totally possible, and actually really profound.
Here's the recommendation part...
I'm always in search of the ultimate experience+process+takeaway after- for myself and for you. 10Q is the best I've ever seen- an elegant, awesome process which facilitates this cool and multi-layered thing easily for you. It gets you to step away from the car and get perspective. Then it gives you the traffic-copter report equivalent for your life.
I love 10Q more than any other tool I've seen, and it only happens once per year, which is maybe the best part (if it could happen any time it wouldn’t seem as special, right?). Oh- and it's this week.
Starting on Wednesday (but sign up now- all free btw), 10Q will prompt you with one big life question to reflect on as you think about your last year. You write about it in a private portal, and they keep your answer for you. The next day, you get another big question, focusing on a different aspect of your last year. Reflect and write. You do this for 10 questions over 10 days, and then you make a choice- share or vault your answers. You could share them out to the world or 10Q will store them for you in their vault, just for you (as public as I sometimes am, I love the vault option here). Then the window closes. After the 10th day, you can’t enter anything else in, and don’t have access to the questions anymore.
And then… in a year, right before 10Q prompts you to pause and reflect again on another year they first send your answers from this year back to you! That’s the distance away from it part, where you get to see where you were, where you are now, and what patterns have emerged. It’s like opening a time capsule of your own internal process, and incredibly powerful.
And then you get a week to reflect on your own insights from last year.
And then you reflect and do it again.
I am on my sixth year, so I was just sent my answers from the last five years… wow! So this week I’m in the traffic copter above my own life, looking at some illuminating patterns, going back to moments, accomplishments, questions and grapplings- all key, but whose detail and distinction would've otherwise been lost in my memory. They're precious, the highlights of what got me to where I am now, and possibly where I'm going next.
So this week I’ll step away from my own traffic patterns and reflect again. You? Let's go...