INSIGHTS (on leadership/self-leadership)
One of the most prevalent skills in the most resilient people might not be the first thing you’d guess. It’s the ability to pivot to whatever new approach is needed. They turn quickly and decisively, but not carelessly, towards what needs to happen next, without getting hung up in the past, or clinging to the way things have always been done. I do plenty of things wrong in life, but I can count as a strength my ability to adapt and pivot to a new direction when something isn’t working or doesn’t go as expected. The key is to recognize that everything in life is a work in progress, and sometimes the path to success is not the one you started down. It takes a willingness to stay open-minded and resist the temptation to keep plowing forward because of work you’ve already put into something. Your past efforts are in the past, but they’re not wasted. They had to happen to lead you towards what’s next.
So, pivot, and persevere.
IMPERFECTIONS (a mistake many make)
It’s easy to make the mistake of sitting at your desk for hours on end, without getting up, stretching, or moving around, and most importantly, without getting outside. (Guilty as charged, too often). We think that taking a break will hamper our productivity, but in truth, especially with breaks taken in nature, it boosts productivity and the ability to engage in work – profoundly. And it doesn’t require a huge time investment. Case in point, Cornell University research shows that just a 10-minute walk in nature can substantially impact your recovery from stress. If you can immerse yourself in the great outdoors for 20-30 minutes, even better, as Harvard research shows this length of time produces the optimal drop in cortisol levels, the hormone that regulates your body’s response to stress. Other research shows a stroll in nature can boost your memory and attention by more than 20 percent. And don’t underestimate the power of getting outside to clear your mind, and do your best, biggest, most creative thinking. It’s where I do mine. Said another way:
IMPLEMENTATION (one research-backed strategy, tip, or tool)
Guess what creates a disproportionate amount of frustration between people? Not feeling understood or validated (fully appreciated). But there’s hope. Literally. To better validate others, do so with HOPE, an acronym for actions you can take to promote understanding and validation (as highlighted in my new LinkedIn Learning course, Leading with Love). Let’s go through one letter at a time.
Have Interest. It starts with being genuinely interested in what the other person has to say. Keep reminding yourself, Be interested, not interesting. I don’t mean strive to be dull. Just to focus on taking interest in what the other person is saying, versus thinking about what interesting things you could say next in the conversation.
Open-mindedness. Setting aside judging, blaming, and preconceived notions is essential for understanding others. Holding tight to your thoughts on a subject, shutting out other points of view, can cause you to miss facts right in front of you that would help you better understand.
An interesting psychology experiment illustrates this. Subjects were given a newspaper and asked to count the number of photographs within. Most subjects completed the task within minutes, dutifully reporting there were 43 photos, which there were. However, they were all so locked in on the task that none of them noticed an important bigger picture detail: large type on the second page that read, “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper. Tell the researcher you’ve seen this and get $250.” The subjects missed a good opportunity – and you miss the opportunity to truly understand the other person, when you lock in too much on your worldview.
Patience. Being mindfully patient is key to understanding and validating others. Realize though, that patience falls on a spectrum, as psychology researchers from Baylor University indicate. On one end, you’re impatient – you’re agitated and you over react. On the other end, you’re so patient that you’re disengaged, uncaring about what happens. Right in the middle is patience, the ability to be calm in the face of frustration or adversity.
Patience also includes, as leadership guru Stephen Covey says, seeking first to understand, then be understood. We most often do the opposite, listening with the intent to reply, not understand. We craft counter points in our head, or compare what’s being said to what we already know, while the other person is speaking. We thus decide prematurely what the other person means before they’re finished talking.
Empathy. Empathy is the capacity to sense, feel, understand, and relate to what others are feeling and thinking. It’s making others feel seen and heard, like they’re not alone.
It requires you to be vulnerable and admit to yourself, and the other person:
“I’ve been there, where you’re at, or I can at least imagine it, and I can relate.”