Control mechanisms create stress
Just how much are we in control of our lives whether business or personal? And when everything seems to go on hold how do you handle that? Do you push harder, become more assertive or aggressive, determined to make it go ahead? Or are you the patient kind?
Over the past several months my life seems to have gone on and off hold to the extent that I wondered what I was doing to contribute to that. As I look back, I realise that how I would have handled similar situations several years ago would have been very different. In fact I know I would have been very stressed to the point of becoming ill.
The word control conjours up many different thoughts about needing to be in control. As human beings we like to feel in control and when we're not, the tendency is to adopt control mechanisms. This comes from our insecure thinking and it seems real to us. So what happened to me?
After six months of open homes every weekend with short notice visits from prospective buyers mid week too, my accountant said to me ‘selling your home is a very stressful experience'. The market may have been booming in the city of Auckland, however, our region hadn't heard of that!
A client put some work on hold - more stressors - as other clients said "we'll be ready in a few months". Then my husband had a major health scare and at the same time our 18 year old cat died. As you read this you may think 'oh I've had far worse than that'. The point here is that when we are thwarted by all kinds of situations our resilience is sorely tested. I recognised the stressors were out of my control and trying to control them would lead me to feeling stressed. The question I've been asked is how did I keep my stress levels low and seem to take everything in my stride? It was all about my thinking in the moment. For many years, I have taken a principle-based approach to leadership and change when working with clients. I still do this but what has changed is the way in which I present and coach.
A new paradigm for leaders
Over a year ago one of my principle-based colleagues, Dr Keith Blevens presented a new paradigm for leadership and change which is called The Illusion of 3 Paradigms. A paradigm is the way we see things, or a world view. For example; pre-paradigm people thought the world - planet earth - was flat. There are even paintings of ships falling of the end of the world! Then Magellan circumnavigated the world and of course he discovered it has always been spherical. Another example is gravity discovered by Isaac Newton. Both examples demonstrate that the paradigm existed before it was discovered. Gravity wasn't invented or just another theory. The implications are huge. Imagine if gravity hadn't been discovered, we wouldn't have aviation.
Illuminating the Illusion
The ‘Illusion of the 3 Paradigms' is that our feelings are coming from the Outside-in. (see right side of diagram). For example; not selling the house made me feel frustrated that we couldn't move on and downsize from a property that was all consuming with its large garden. The key here is ‘I thought that my feelings were coming from something other than thought in the moment'
On the left hand side of the diagram I can put the same words in and say that ‘my frustration was coming from (my) thought in the moment - from the Inside-out. That says we live in a mixed paradigm - both outside-in and inside-out - and it seems that way, but there is a different truth.
This diagram illuminates the illusion that there is actually only one paradigm. It's non-contingent. There is no debate. That is; we are ‘always living in the feeling of our thinking' (from moment to moment). Once you see that, it's easier to leave that thought alone and realise that it's not the person or situation that's making you feel in a certain way, but that you're thinking about it in a certain way. This allows you to ‘settle down' and have new thoughts, rather than thinking about the thought you first had.
lmplications for you as a leader
In business, new thought is essential for solving problems and issues, and as a leader these thoughts are often people related. So if you have an employee, a colleague, or a client who makes you frustrated, annoyed etc., then perhaps it's time to take a look at the paradigm you are living in with that person. It's not him or her that makes you feel in a certain way. Your feeling state is coming from your thinking in that moment.
The great news is that the health scare turned out ok. We sold our house, we became the proud owners of a new kitten to keep the older remaining cat happy, and I landed some new work contracts. Life does go on hold sometimes and when I thought everything was sorted out earlier this year I broke my wrist while moving house. For two months I've been under ‘house arrest' unable to drive, only one finger typing so I couldn't even use this enforced downtime to write a book and there were many other things I was unable to do. I will always be empathetic to others who break even a little finger!
Thank goodness I knew about the illusion and that there is only one paradigm. I wasn't always at my best with the pain, but my husband did say I handled the situation well. From being fiercely independent I was suddenly dependent. I learned about being patient with myself. I am also grateful for all the help from many people. I am always living in the feeling of my thinking - and so are You.