The Single Question That Takes Your Impact Way Bigger Than Just Results

As a little sneak-preview for you, an excerpt from one of my favorite chapters of Tap Into Greatness… 

What rank did we end up with? What KPI are we pushing for? Where are our numbers? How far did we increase our reach? What was the final score?

Sound familiar? As most leaders, you spend a lot of time talking about and focusing on results. Your success is judged, competition monitored, and team’s success measured by them.

If your team doesn’t know the result they’re shooting for, they lose momentum, focus and direction. Without a clear finish line, no one will keep running faster. Got it. Really effective managers get concrete results clear first. But you’re more than a manager…

You need to play a bigger game than that as an Influencer. While you might do a great job at outlining the specific deliverables or framing out the metrics expected of you by your stakeholders, how often do you go bigger- beyond those measurables? What if you asked the question a bit differently… 

“WHAT DO I WANT TO HAVE?”

Importantly different than “What result are we going for?” this is more than semantics. Changing the question gets to something deeper, broader and more activating- where influencers make their distinctive mark. They don’t just get results, they have impact, they have reach, they have pull from the inside out. 

HAVE is the very first thing that every great influencer asks herself before she goes into any idea, plan, conversation, presentation, meeting, and especially the office for the day… 

"What do I/we want to have out of this?” 

Yes- they call out specific results, but also isolate all the other indicators which equal true impact

Result only: We’re going for 1 million units in sales for this new product. 

With the Have added in: We’re going for 1 million units sold… And want to have a fired up team, have buzz in the market, have people converting to our brand, have the street cred of solving what others couldn’t… 

That’s much more impact than just the finite result of units sold. As you broaden the horizon this way, it sets a bigger game and more meaningful orientation to it for everyone involved. Now they have something to rally to, not just finish. 

Don’t just hit results, have impact.

Real Influencer Moment: 

A coaching client from the restaurant industry took this on. A notoriously intense chef for the highest-grossing restaurant of a fun, successful brand, he leads teams under serious time and performance pressure. They do it, but it can be tense. With this HAVE question, he decided that he wanted to have a different environment- a fun environment with a kitchen staff of people who were having fun all of the time, cranking in their quality of results; productive, effective and happy despite the slams of pressure. This changed the game for his staff, his culture, and his bottom line.

 

Deep & Wide

Have gets at impact that goes wide…. answering the question of, “If we have that… then, what else will we cause?” This is the ripple effect of what you do, and getting strategically intentional about what else you're causing with your efforts.

As in: 

If we have a fired up team, then what else could we cause beyond that (ripple effect)? 

Ambassadors for the brand, talking it up in their circles outside of work. 

Which could then trigger having… 

The word of our brand getting out there to new prospective clients, who will check us out… 

Which could then trigger having… 

Expansion to a completely new demographic of clientele coming in the door… 

You can see where this is going, right? 

Keep asking the question, “Then what?” and you’ll map the ripples of impact you can strategically have. 

 

Have also gets at impact that goes deep answering the question, “If we have that, what else would we of course have to make that happen?” This is drilling into the layers of impact deeper than the initial obvious answer. Go intentionally for depth of impact, which takes root to grow stronger. 

For example:

If we have a fired up team, what would that mean we also have? 

People who believe in what we’re doing. 

Which means we’d also have… 

People who are committed to the brand. 

Which means we’d also have… 

People who will have longevity. 

Which means we’d also have… 

People who will invest their talent and trust in us. 

Which means we’d also have… 

A solid core of all-in people who will truly help us build to a whole new level of impact….

You get it. 

Every time I take a client from a result they’ve identified into a Have-Deep and Have-Wide exercise like this, they come back to their targeted result with renewed energy, because the stakes of it get bigger- one little result turns into the platform for broad, deep, meaningful impact. Bam! 

Think about that project you’ve got happening right now, and the results you’re shooting for in it. Take a minute to brainstorm deeper into the impact you want to really have out of this project beyond just the articulated result? If you had that, then what? What else would you have? Then what? What else? (you get the idea of these layers deep and ripples out, yes?)

This expansion from result you're getting to ImpactYouHave applies to individual interactions all day long, too. What good is the big plan if your steps along the way aren’t focused for impact too? Make it intentionally count there, too. 

For example: 

Halfway through a regular weekly conference call, as people tune out and you’re wondering what the point is…STOP.

Sure, what you’re covering was emailed in the agenda, but to what end? Get the haves clear, articulated and understood, before you move on. Ask them:

What do we want to have by the end of this call?

What results? What plan? What deliverable completed? 

What level or energy and engagement from this team? What problem solved? What alignment? If we had those then what? 

…then notice how the whole call shifts with fuller engagement from everyone. 

Better yet—start the next call with the Haves as part of your WIIFM: 

“By the end of this call we will all have:

  • Every question you’ve been confronted by with the client clear and answered
  • Total alignment about next steps and who’s doing what
  • Relief and fired-up-ness for what’s coming in this project

…Let’s dive in!”

For awesome influencers, this gets very personal. It’s why they inspire and affect you so much—because they ask the Have question of themselves right before diving into an exchange with you, every time. They clarify the impact they want this interaction to have on you and your process… then they make the time with you count purposefully. 

You can too: 

  • Go bigger. In your next planning conversation, take the question broader and deeper. What do we want to really have out of this? Elicit as much as you can there, identify the strongest impact, and then clarify the concrete result you’re trying to hit. It may help to give prompts like “have on our team, in the industry, in the world, in our own process.”
  • Pause first. Before picking up the phone or responding to your next email, pause and clarify: Out of this communication, what do I want to have? Agreement? Collaboration? The other person put in their place? Maybe.
  • Focus in. Outside of work, think about what you want to Have before you automatically dive into experiences, and notice how it focuses it for you…I want to have true connection and focus on one another with my family tonight. 

With focus set on what impact you’ll Have, your next choices of what to Do and what facet of yourself you’ll step into to create it become clear and simple…

To see what happens with our Real Influencer the chef and how he set himself up to identify what he needed to Do and how to Be the version of himself to cause that major shift in his staff (and of course how you can too, every time), check out Chapter #5 of Tap Into Greatness… :)

 

©SarahSinger&Co. 2015

It’s Getting All Over You… The Power of State, Part 3

“Excuse me, but can you get your foul State off of me, please? I’m trying to be creative and inspired here, and you’re contaminating it with your irritated grouchiness, which is getting all over everyone. Please go handle that.“

 

What would it be like to work on a team where you could actually say that to someone? I’m here to testify that it’s actually possible, and can be awesome. Maybe you won’t start off quite that pointed, but I can get you close...

We know by now that what we’ve called “mood” before is actually State, comprised of three interconnected parts- Mental, Emotional and Physical. We mess with one of those parts, the other two shift instantly, every time. If you’re just joining us here, take a few minutes to check out Part 1 and Part 2 to get the full power of State in how you’re embodying it yourself- it’s huge. 

Once you’ve got a handle on your OWN State (which you’ll tinker with for a lifetime), you’re halfway there, since your State is the model for theirs, and they’re watching you all the time. So now it’s time to directly take on something just as clutch... other people’s States.  As we’ve established, most people have little awareness of their own State and even less aptitude in effectively changing it. If you came at most people with the opening statement of this post they might slug you or cry, because they simply don’t get it (yet).  So until they do (and even after), it’ll be YOU in many moments who will need to do it for them.   

Check them out.  

...In a different way than you have been, paying attention to their State. At any given moment, any person you’re with is in a particular state. The key question is twofold- 

What State are they in? and… 

Is it the state you want them to be in (for the task at hand, the news you’re about to drop on them, the next XX hours you’re about to spend with them, the way their State is spreading to others etc.)? 

As a leader, start paying attention as much to their State as those other things like what they’re contributing, focusing on and doing. This matters because it’s fueling all of those things already, and will get you to the core of what makes them awesome (or not) moment to moment. To maximize not just your performance but your team’s as well, start managing States. Your ability to facilitate their State is directly proportional to their motivation, focus, and productivity.

Cues tell all. 

80-90% of all communication is nonverbal. What we feel and think manifests itself in our tonality, body language, eye movements, breathing and facial expression. It’s incredibly hard to fake these things (maybe impossible, but that’s for another day), and the people you’re with tell you a lot about where they are without ever uttering a word... if you pay attention. Notice posture (leaning forward, into you or turned away, avoiding), jaw set and brow furrow, eye contact, and the tonality/cadence of their speaking. Even breathing- if someone’s breathing is high or shallow, they’re stressed. If it’s low and abdominal, they’re more relaxed. Practice first paying attention to these cues, then labelling them in your mind as different States (excited, bored, curious, sad, irritated, reflective, pumped up, grouchy, inspired…). Then, ask yourself if the State they’re in is a good one for what’s happening, or not.  If not, then get busy… 

Change from the outside in. 

You can change someone else’s state in a second. In fact you do it all the time without labeling it such. 

Take someone who’s State is resistant, for instance. Arms folded, jaw set, breathing high in chest, brow slightly furrowed, voice monotone and forced. Yet with a simple question that gets them to think about something else completely... you get that person to a much more open and receptive State.  That’s an outside-in State Change.

Or… you and a teammate were brainstorming on a question with you recording at the whiteboard, and at one point you switch spots- you hand over the marker to your partner to get her up and writing as you then walk around the room, new ideas flowing. That switch was another State Change

Or... you’re presenting to a group, and you see their eyes glazing over, as Bored State starts to take over the room. You have everyone quickly stand up, you pose a question for them all to answer to another person, then have them sit back down, now awake and engaged.  Nice State Change. 

Here are some more (some deliberate breaks in pattern/focus, others quick resets) : 

  • Have them tell you about their last success with this team in vivid detail. (mental)
  • Take them for a walk. (physical)
  • Change the subject completely. (mental) 
  • Continue the conversation standing up if you were sitting. (physical)
  • Give them a compliment. (emotional)
  • Give them a high-five. (physical)
  • Tell them a joke. (emotional)
  • Everyone rotate positions in the room. (physical)
  • Ask their opinion about something you know they care about. (mental/emotional)
  • Toss them a ball. (physical)
  • Offer them a snack or drink, like a bottle of water or a cup of coffee. (physical)
  • Change or put on some music with the energy you’re going for. (mental/physical/emotional)
  • Show them a hilarious or inspiring or thoughtful or intriguing post or video online. (emotional)

Switch it Up- Early and Often

Those state changes are key when someone’s in a overtly negative or low-energy state, as each will break the pattern they’re in, changing their State to something more engaged, positive or higher energy.  The higher the energy, the better in most cases. 

That said, your team needs deliberate State Changes more than you think.  

The average attention span correlates with age (like 5 minutes max for a 5 year old)… up to about age 18, at which point it maxes out. So 18-20 minutes is about the limit of most people’s attention span in the work you’re doing (outside of gaming and other immersive altered-state activities).  All attempts of “plowing through” beyond that window are a waste of time and energy, because we know that once State’s gone so is focus, learning and performance. Instead, Change State! All you and your team need is a reset of attention- a State Change- about every 18-20 minutes in your work process, and the brain/performance/focus stays fresh. 

While the list above is a start, personalize, customize and add to it with your own State Changes, and then start playing them all to try out what fits best where. 

You can call it. 

There is tremendous power in State management- for you as an individual and for the people around you. Once you and your team understand it, you can then own it and call it with one another. I coach high performing teams across industries and rank, whose productivity and morale has been transformed with the power of State. On these teams, because they get it, everyone is responsible for his/her own State, making sure it’s productive, conducive to what the team’s up to, and able to help others accelerate. They incorporate State Changes as regular team practice into their work, which makes all the difference. You’ll see high-fiving between agenda topics, movement as they work, koosh balls flying purposefully to engage the right States, and people owning their own attention, performance and focus with their State.  And when they don’t, you might just hear that line I opened this post with, to which someone would respond,

“Actually, you’re absolutely right. My grouchy State isn’t helping anyone- I apologize for getting it on you. I need a State Change. I’ll be back in a few minutes, better.”  

And then they go, take a few minutes to change their State, re-engage, and the team’s on on its way. It’s a beautiful thing. 

Your turn...

 

©SarahSinger&Co. 2013

The Power of State, Part 2 Choosing it.

So… how’s your State? Right now? 

If you don’t know what I mean by that, go here. If you do, then you’ve been playing with it and have begun to wake up a new sort of State Self-Awareness. Awesome.  You’ve begun to…

Monitor and observe yourself. You probably noticed that your States are much more specific than “good” or “bad” when you really paid attention to them, right?  You also noticed that your State can change in an instant from any number of triggers around you, some in the direction you want to go, others not. Which led to…

Pay close attention to WHAT, WHO and WHEN your States are vulnerable.  Was it certain people who trigger a certain State for you every time?  In a good or bad way?  Did you find certain topics that do it?  I’m positive you found that certain times of day trigger specific States for you. Did you get all the way to songs, places or smells as anchors for you? How about those curveball situations that just wrenched your State in some direction you weren’t expecting?  More to come soon, as always.

So, now you’re ready for the next part:

Getting deliberate about setting your own State in the moment and strategically- This is the satisfying part.

Why it matters… 

State affects everything and everyone.                                                                 
Attention, learning, and performance are completely State dependent. In other words, the performance you’re able to bring completely depends on the State you’re in. Think about a recent great day, great presentation, great meeting, great conversation. Now think about the State that you were in at the time. It was probably focused, fired up, into it, engaged… a very particular State on your “top 5 productive States” list, right?  Now imagine that same experience, but having it in an unproductive State like tired, irritated, or distracted. Way different, right?

Here’s the difference between the masses and those people who go beyond to influence, lead with impact and outperform…

Those superstars intentionally choose their State rather than letting their State control them. An NBA player would never step onto the basketball court without getting his State locked in first. So why would you do so on the court of your life (I’d argue that you actually have more at stake than he does)?

States are contagious.                                                                                                     
More specifically, YOUR State affects everything for you and everyone around you. Always. And if you’re in a leadership position or close partnership, it’s even more important and more magnified than for anybody else, because whatever your State, it’s setting the State for everybody else the second you walk in the door. We’ve all noticed this before. You’re in an okay “mood”, maybe even a great mood (more accurately called State). The boss (or partner, or family member) walks in and is in some kind of a grouchy, snappy, salty State.  Immediately everybody else’s State is affected by that, right? Ever notice how when you’re in a bad mood (State), everyone in your world seems extra-irritating and whiny?  Not an accident. Unfortunately (or not) most of us are victims of another’s state, and usually the person with the strongest state wins, in that it spreads to others. More on this next time, but meanwhile…

You can accidentally contaminate or intentionally elevate.                                       
You can (and do) contaminate somebody else’s creative blissful State with your irritated, pessimistic one just by being around them while in that State, and vice versa. You can also elevate somebody who is in a depressed, isolated State to engaged, inspired and connected with your State alone.  The question is this, how mindful are you about this, how intentional are you about it and how could you change that at any given moment?

In my coaching experience, I’ve seen that every manager or leader I’ve seen who has star performers consistently over time, are the same managers or leaders who are consciously using this particular tool called State Management every day, every moment, every interaction. Here’s how…

Choose it.                                                                                                                          
Most people are victims of their own State. It’s 10am and they’ve already given up, saying, “Yeah, it’s just going to be one of those days.” Wow. Stuff happens around us all of the time that messes with us mentally, emotionally and physically. The question is… how are you going to respond to it in a way that keeps you solid?  Maybe you only got a few hours of sleep last night or are coming from a particularly rough conversation just now. So what? Don’t let that determine your State or set it for the day. Choose it.

People are watching you, they’re listening. They’re getting vibes from you. They are choosing their own State and responding to yours all day every day, in the moment. You’ve already been messing with a few ITM (In The Moment) State changes as you noticed your triggers, so now you can get more deliberate in choosing how to set your State well.

So, when you’re in a great State, when you are on top of the world, what’s really happening?

Remember that Mental, Emotional and Physical are all interconnected ALL the time. Something triggered one, and they all changed. It’s not possible to change one without messing with them all somehow. So it makes sense then, that to change your State to one you want to be in, change one of the three parts. PInpoint an awesome State you know is great for you. Now let’s break down its parts:

Mental: What thoughts you’re having- what images, ideas, sounds you’re focusing on.

Emotional: What emotions you’re feeling.

Physical: What’s happening in your physiology- in position, breathing, movement and expression.

So to choose and change/set your State, pick one of those ways into it, or several to make it more potent. Depending on how strong your current State is (like the one you’re trying to change out of) some methods will work faster/easier than others.

Try these:

  • Think about a time when you were totally successful (mental)
  • Listen to specific music (relaxing music to calm down, upbeat music to get energy, favorite song to get psyched… (mental)
  • Have someone tell you a joke (emotional)
  • Look at a picture of a favorite person (emotional)
  • Read an inspirational quote (mental)
  • Go for a walk or quick jog around the building (physical)
  • Splash cold water on your face (physical)
  • Re-read a great note, card or email someone gave you which put you in a great State (emotional)
  • Drink lots of water (gets more fluid in system, brain operates more clearly) (physical)
  • High-5 someone (physical)
  • Look at something in nature (like a cloud passing in the sky) for a few minutes solid. (mental)
  • Drink caffeine (physical)
  • Ask someone in your immediate space to tell you their favorite thing about one of their friends/kids/you (mental) 
  • Stand up and stretch (physical)
  • Recall a time you felt completely loved and accepted by someone (emotional)
  • Do some jumping jacks (physical)
  • Get something to eat with extra protein, light on the starches. Protein gives you more brainpower, starches make your brain tired. (physical)
  • Visualize yourself nailing whatever then next challenge is all the way through to the celebration at the end. (mental)

When in doubt, remember- physical is the fastest to manipulate easily.  Despite the war you may be having in your head, you can still force yourself to do something physical pretty quickly.  Move your body, and your State will follow.

Make your own list. 

Take what I’ve given you here, and add on to it. The State changes that will work best for you are the ones you create and tweak to perfection yourself by doing and doing again. Then get your complete list onto your phone or your wall or somewhere you can see and access it easily (because the moments you really need a State change are the ones where you can’t think of one to save your life).

Get strategic.                                                                                                                        
You should now have a new awareness of your State, and soon you’ll also have a new muscle of State Management to flex in response to your world, moment to moment. Awesome. Aaaand…                                                                                                           
The power of State in your performance, influence and accomplishment will come in the way you also use State strategically. Covey taught us to “start with the end in mind” and that everything’s created twice- first in your head, then a second time in real life. Most interpret this as planning it all out in actions and approaches… without ever considering the power of State.. a huge miss. We can and have watched two leaders execute identical brilliant plans, and get wildly different results. Often it comes down to State, and which leader’s in the most effective State to set their own performance, focus and contagious attention the right way, as they model and lead it.

So, map out your State strategically into the plan. What State will you want to be in as you ideate with the team? As you work with that one person whose ideas you love but pushes your buttons? As you crank out all the content and plan, heads-down? As you pitch to your potentials? As you facilitate the stakeholders? As you go into that one week which you know even now will test you with multiple demands?  As you call out and celebrate the wins of the team with them even though you’ll want to be further along? Every one of these will need you to be in a different State to guarantee its ease and success. Choose them proactively and intentionally.

And then there’s the rest of your team, and their State.  You can directly move that, too.  Next, in Part 3

NOTE: This is Part 2 of a 3-part series on the power of State. Check out 1 3 also!

 

©SarahSinger&Co. 2013

Bubble Moments

“Keep in mind… for everyone else in your life, these last two days have just been Thursday and Friday,” I said to a group of twenty-four people last Friday afternoon. They laughed, but then went a little silent as they wrapped their heads around that, realizing that the time they’d just experienced was different than normal- like in a bubble.

We’d just finished an intense workshop I taught, during which 24 people in the room experienced some huge personal and professional shifts in their awareness and realities. Their own possibility opened, they connected with people in ways they hadn’t before, and they got perspective on themselves at an a-ha level.  Several described themselves as “different people” by the end from how they walked in. It seemed like several days if not more in some ways, it was so significant.

Awesome.  And yet- we really only spent about a day and a half together.

There are some moments, hours or days that truly seem to be metaphysically different than the others- as if the moments of time themselves are somehow altered, stretched or suspended. Like in a bubble.

…A conversation in which everything seems to finally line up, insights build on one another and generate new ideas, and the electricity and magic of true connection is tangible.

…The last night with best college friends, connecting at a deeper level, creating epic memories and savoring each moment before you all disperse for months apart.

…An experience of transformative impact shared with another… in which your collective eyes are opened to something new, which changes how you see the world forever.

…The moment you got the news which changed everything…?

Most of these seem longer or shorter somehow than normal.  In the experience of them, it’s as if time is truly suspended, and you’re able to live and stretch each moment out more. Like a scene from a Matrix movie, the moments seem to take on another dimension, separate from the flow of time and incident the rest of the world’s experiencing. Like a protected bubble floating through the rest of the air, which is all the same. These “bubble” experiences also seem more intense than others in the moment. Senses become more acute, colors more vivid, emotions more raw, connection more amplified. The rest of the world falls away, and our normally scattered attention zooms into focus- on another person, an idea, a feeling or the shared experience itself. The self-consciousness of monitoring oneself against time, other things/people outside the bubble, responsibility, or the swirl of activity marching along outside it just melts away.

So purely what’s left, finally possible… is to just be there fully in the moment, wide awake and aware, allowing ourselves to think, feel and respond without inhibition or distraction. Presence.  This is when true creativity occurs in its rawest form and connection feels charged in a way that it generates something palpable.  Flow. It’s real, there’s great research to support it, and creatives have spent generations trying to perfect the ways back into it after those moments are gone.

The classic sign coming out of one of these experiences- getting that feeling of disorientation (like a bubble popping), looking at one’s watch and realizing how much time has passed…

“It seemed like twenty minutes- how could it have been four hours?” or                              
“It seemed like an hour- how could it have been only ten minutes?” or                          
“We’ve really only known one another for a week?  Seems like years.” or                           
“It’s only been two days? Feels like at least a week.”

In our memory, they become etched deeply and clearly, touchstones we replay over and over. If you have experienced a bubble moment like this, you might be silently waiting/seeking the next, and replaying the last in your mind for inspiration. If you haven’t, stay open, get present and tune in.

So… Are some moments actually longer or shorter than others in our experience of them? Like separated from the rest in a bubble? Perhaps.

One thing is certain… in every one of these instances, there’s a huge difference which allows the magic to occur.  WE are different in them than we are otherwise.               
Whether triggered by another person, a situation, or our own choosing in these rare and indelible moments… we got and allowed ourselves to be fully and completely present, awake and engaged.

The biggest question is this- how do we increase the frequency of these moments?      
While they are rare for most of us, we can have more of them. The more we allow the distractions to fall away, the more we choose to step in, lean in, open in… to moments, conversations, people and experiences the more they’ll occur, because we’ll create space for them to occur.  For example, I always get closer to people just before the window of opportunity closes because it pushes me to act- someone moving away, a project ending, someone quitting the team. There’s something about that “last call” push, which forces us to say things we’d normally wordsmith to death in our heads, express feelings that show some vulnerability, step out and seize the moment to connect.                                        
…And these amazing bubble moments of connection occur.

Since noticing this pattern, I’ve made a more conscious effort to initiate moments as “this is IT” instead of waiting for that last call. This is one reframe, but we can create the space in many ways. Seems simple in theory to just put the phone away and be here now, right? But we know it’s not really…

Out of sight, open mind.                                                                                                     
You may have become one of those people who sits at a restaurant dinner or team meeting looking at your phone’s screen instead of the people you’re with. Rather than just turning your ringer off and keeping the phone nearby- actually leave it in another location completely, and watch what happens. The last time I did this (accidentally), I panicked for the first few minutes, but then felt freer, more aware and more present than I had in weeks. One leader I know has everyone at any restaurant get-together put all phones in the center of the table, ringers off. If anyone picks up their phone, they buy for everyone.                   
In your moments, initiate it, and give yourself the space.                                            
Unplugged and undistracted, your brain will reorient to the moment in a powerful way.

Wake up.                                                                                                                              
It’s amazing how we don’t even notice how often we’re physically in a moment, yet somewhere else completely emotionally and mentally. We get through entire days unable to recall individual interactions or moments (because we weren’t really paying attention), pride ourselves on “multitasking” (trendy word for not being present), and spend a lot of time in auto-pilot, half-listening to the people in our lives but not really hearing them with any intent, empathy or connection at all.  We let ourselves to do this because it’s easy- most others are right there with us, casually disconnected right next to us. Enough. Instead, pay attention in a way you haven’t before- to what their face and eyes are telling you behind their words, to the one thing they said in the middle of that sentence that had more emotion behind it than everything else, to what they didn’t even know they cared about until you asked.                                                                                                                    
Get interestED instead of being so interestING, and notice how much there is to build on, learn into and open up when you’re actually looking, listening and feeling for it.

Go there.                                                                                                                           
Sadly, most people have a pretty low shared standard of interaction with one another. We don’t insist on one another’s attention, rarely push one another to engage, and don’t call out the missed opportunities for connection. You can try those, but I’ve found from experience that it’s much more effective to just be the one in the room to create it, rather than call it out. Just go there- ask the big question, probe a level deeper, lean in to make eye contact as you really listen between their words, and lead off the connecting with your own sharing to open it up. People are truly starved for real contact, yet they don’t even realize it, and definitely don’t know what to do about it. You do.                                      
They’ll follow your lead and then create it with you…but they need you to go first.  

The greatest thing I did for the 24 people in that room last week was create space and a way for them to be present, be engaged in the inquiry of what’s possible, and give them a process to GO there.  I’ll keep doing that, because it’s just what I bring wherever I go.  Meanwhile, in the moments we’re with one another, let’s really make it mean something. We can be present, our attention fully with the ones we’re with in the moment we’re in, creating our own bubble away from the fray.  Let’s go…

 

©SarahSinger&Co. 2013

Double-edged...

A long-time coaching client recently told me that his biggest peeve about me as a coach is that I don’t ever just let him be where he is if it’s a negative place.  I always have to turn the conversation eventually to movement somehow-  “so now what…” or “let’s talk about what you can DO with that…” when what he really might want in the moment is to just be in it rather than move through it.  Me doing my job or not?

It’s true- I have a propensity for forward motion, getting people on board, steps toward the horizon, no matter what.  It’s in my language, my patterns, my material, my teaching.  It’s gotten me into immense success and trouble throughout my life so far.  It’s definitely what makes me great at what I do, and really challenging to people in my life at the same time.  A true double-edged sword with really sharp blades on both sides.

I’m guessing that you have some strengths like this too, yes?  What is it that makes you great at what you’re great at, yet is maddening to others?

In StrengthFinder, I’ve got:

Activator • Strategic • Ideation • Command • Relator • WOO • Individualization

How it’s been described in feedback I’ve gotten from others…

The upsides:

  • Taking action when everyone else is swirling in the discussion for too long.
  • Facilitating other people’s process quickly to get them to move through it to resolution or breakthrough.
  • Being able to see the path out of the mire as a guide for teams.
  • Having an instinct for the big elephant in the room (or issue/situation), calling it, so all can move on.
  • Energizing rooms full of stuck, bored people to inspired action and change.
  • Taking groups farther than they’ve ever gone before.
  • Getting people to try things they’ve never tried before, and having fun doing it.
  • Creating change and possibility where it was needed for a long time.
  • Empowering people to walk away feeling that it was their idea all along.
  • Turning someone from frustration and stuckness to resourcefulness and excitement about what’s possible.

The downsides:

  • Being too reactive.
  • And impatient.
  • Pushing too hard.
  • Not accepting “no” for an answer.
  • Moving too fast.
  • Being too positive or focusing too much on the positive.
  • Always ending the conversation with what’s possible when someone wants to just stay with what is or what their complaint is.
  • Being too charismatic (really?) and convincing when someone wants to hold their position.
  • Being hard to slow down when I’ve decided to go after something.

Of course I would argue that a lot of those “downsides”-complaints are often exactly what’s needed in a situation, even though they’re uncomfortable for others.  My wiring for unsettledness when I see an opportunity for change I might be able to impact is what drives me. I can’t NOT go there in my head, although I can quell it for short periods of time in my actions or speaking (usually by request of others).  That never lasts very long before I can’t take it anymore, so speak out or take action anyhow.  I also get that this pattern often has clear costs, usually to those around me.

What are your instincts which you can’t turn off, which kick into gear every time?  Have you identified them as strengths? While every trait has an up and downside, finding the way to leverage them as strengths is the key.  

So again, it comes down to balance, intention and acceptance.

I am forever tinkering with the balance of my own actions and patterns.  A self-awareness of my own presence and how it gets on people around me is critical. Some days I’m better at that awareness than others, which has everything to do with my own state management.  Putting the focus back on the others around me and really noticing their responses to my way- both verbal and not (tonality, eyes, facial muscles, blink patterns and movements) helps me to balance my responses.

Are you noticing the responses you’re eliciting all the time, both spoken and unspoken? Choosing next steps based on that response helps

Intention is what I always come back to, in order to make the Why of my course clear.  I often state my authentic intention in conversations explicitly (“…I’m telling you this because I’m committed to your success, and I think this will help…”) so that people can trust where I’m coming from.  While this doesn’t always work (if there’s no trust to begin with), it’s the most honest thing I can do, so I keep putting it out there.

People will always make up your intention in their head unless you state it clearly.  If there’s any tension or mistrust, they’ll assume your intention to be negative. Check yours, make sure it’s pure, and state it.

In the end, I accept that my wiring is what it is.  It brings incredible strength and also thorny challenges. While I have no plans to change who I am, I am learning how to also accept that I must flex more than I might want to when my strengths aren’t working for others, and cultivate more patience.  I trust my coaches, teams and trusted advisors to give me the feedback I need to pivot when necessary (though I need to ask for it more).  I also accept that my every action has ripple effect way beyond what I can see no matter what.

So do yours, by the way. As you trust your instincts and choose your actions, accept that you’re impacting more than you know all the time.  Have your fully accepted both the greatness and challenges of your wiring?  What are both sides, and their impact on your world?  

Intentionally or not, who we are, what we think and how we act in moments and patterns- have impact and influence all the time.  The more we put it out there in the world, the more impact it has, for better or for worse.  Who I am, and who you are is both awesome and troublesome- always.  A true double-edged sword with really sharp blades on both sides.

So really self-mastery means learning then mastering dexterity with both edges of one’s sword.  I’m on it. 

©SarahSinger&Co. 2012