Are Your Practices Creating the Future You Desire?
We are shaped by practices and shape ourselves through practices.” Bob Dunham
Are your practices creating a more powerful life for you? Or, are they creating more of the breakdowns limiting your life? I recently read a great blog by an associate and friend of mine, Jerry Holtaway, entitled “My morning disconnectionism“. Jerry breaks down how his practices were having a negative effect on his daily routine. The article reinforced what I know to be true in my life and in the life of every one of my clients. Our practices shape how we see the world. Are you willing to look at your practices?
From an ontological coaching perspective (ontology, the study of being human) we look at three factors that shape how we see the world:
The Body- We exist in our body – you can not escape this reality. It is the ship that navigates your life. What are you practicing in your body?
Are you practicing a body that is strong and healthy, benefitting from exercise and healthy eating. On a daily basis is your body radiating energy and expanding, ready to embrace your interactions no matter how complex they may be?
Are you practicing a body that is worn down and tired, shrinking from the daily demands of life? Do you fill your body with chemicals and manufactured foods? Is your body contracting, merely getting you from place to place, and conserving what limited energy you have?
Language- Language is the fundamental human tool. We are linguistic beings and we create stories through language to understand the world around us. What are you practicing in language?
Are you making powerful requests that allow you to create the future you desire? Are you having effective conversations for action with those around you? Are you unlocking the potential that allows you and your team to fulfill on your promises?
Are you practicing using language to create stories that allow you to stay in your victimhood? Are you complaining about another, instead of making a request so that they can fulfill your request? Are your conversations for action more like conversations of inaction and disgust and frustration?
Moods and Emotions- As humans we are emotional beings. Moods and Emotions shape how we see the world and give our stories their meaning. What are you practicing in your moods and emotions?
Are you seeing the world through powerful moods and emotions such as gratitude, acceptance, peace, ambition and wonder? Do your moods and emotions allow you to see what is possible and what beauty the world has to offer?
Are you seeing the world through limiting moods and emotions such as resentment, anger, resignation (shows up as a rational excuse why things cannot change.) and anxiety? Do your moods and emotions limit what you see as possible and hinder your ability to see the beauty the world around you has to offer?
So, what are you practicing? As Bob Dunham stated: “We are shaped by practices and shape ourselves through practices.” Therefore, whatever we are practicing, we are getting better at. We are always practicing. What we practice we become good at it. For most of us, we have decades of practice, some of these practices help us, and some limit us. What we as leaders need to do is to choose what we practice. After all, we are only living the one shot at life we have. It may be time to change some of our practices.
Why Lasting Change Is Hard
Before we had any children, my wife and I lived in the heart of Dallas. One day, on our way back to our house, we were driving down Skillman Avenue when we were caught in a sudden torrential downpour.
The rain was coming down incredibly hard, which wouldn’t have been a problem if the storm drains were equipped to handle that much water. Instead, the road itself filled with water faster than we could have anticipated. Quickly, the water rose up the side of our car. Trying not to panic, we realized that we could not continue and would need to turn around and get to higher ground.
Water rising up the side of your car door is the kind of roadblock you might not expect to encounter, but when you do, it’s formidable. We couldn’t drive through it or even around it. We had to deal with it quickly or face serious consequences.
When we’re trying to implement change in our own lives, it’s important to identify and plan for common roadblocks to lasting change.
The first and, in my opinion, most important roadblock to lasting change is not addressing the real issue.
Let’s say you wake up in the middle of the night with a sore throat. You’re annoyed by feeling sick but your throat really hurts, so you get up and spray a little Chloraseptic in your mouth and drift off to sleep. When you wake up the next day, you still have a sore throat, so you pop in a cough drop and go about your day.
The change you’re making – using a numbing agent – might work if you’ve only got a cold, but if it’s strep throat, you’re not addressing the real problem. Only an antibiotic will cure what ails you, even if Chloraseptic will keep the pain at bay for a while.
Just like how more information is needed to diagnose your sore throat than one feeling, problems you encounter in your life or business require diagnostics, too. Figuring out the real problem – not just your most apparent needs – requires some introspection and a little bit of time.
Here are eight questions to ask when you need to discover the root cause, courtesy of MindTools.com:
- What do you see happening?
- What are the specific symptoms?
- What proof do you have that the problem exists?
- How long has the problem existed?
- What is the impact of the problem?
- What sequence of events leads to the problem?
- What conditions allow the problem to occur?
- What other problems surround the occurrence of the central problem?
Once you have your answers to these key questions, you can’t stop there. Your vantage point is skewed from your own perspective. You’re going to want to ask someone else to evaluate the problem at hand with the same questions and then compare your answers.
If you and all of the partners at your firm have similar answers, you’ll know you’re on the right track. If you wind up with wildly different ideas, I suggest seeking the advice of someone outside your organization. Fresh eyes can make all the difference in understanding a problem.
I often talk about being ‘too close’ to understand. You’ve probably heard the illustration about a group of people standing by an elephant with blindfolds on, trying to describe what they’re experiencing. Depending on what part of the elephant you’re next to, you’re going to have different observations.
But someone outside of that elephant’s cage can clearly identify the elephant.
The first key to making a lasting change is to make sure you’ve addressed the real problem and are looking for authentic change.
Next time, we’ll address the second major roadblock to creating last change.
- 1 of 990