September 6, 2020

NAVIGATING UNCERTAINTIES PART THREE

Channeling to the Right Focus & Taking Back The Driver’s Seat

When something goes wrong and something you don’t like happens, what kind of conversation do you have with yourself?

Do you ever ask yourself, “Why is this happening to me? Why is he/she doing that to me? Why doesn’t he/she do this and that?

Or do you say to yourself, “Well, since I cannot change the whole situation or others, what can I do to make it better?”

Do the two sets of questions provoke the same types of feelings inside of you when you ask each of them separately? For me personally, I feel annoyed and helpless like I have been victimized with the first set. However, I feel more neutral and in charge of the situation in the second.

Depending on how sensitive we are, some of us will feel the difference, and some will feel neutral towards both sets of questions. However, regardless of whether the questions provoke feelings within us or not, the key difference between the two sets of questions is the FOCUS. The former focal point is external situations, other people and the past. While the latter focal point is on one’s self and moving forward, given the newly accepted current situation.

Whatever we focus on, we give our power and energy to. That means that the first question is very much relying on external factors to “change” in order to make us feel better about the situation. However, we do not have control over that because we cannot force other people to change against their will, nor can we magically change the situation with those propelling questions of our own self will. So, it seems the first set of questions will get us absolutely nowhere.

Rather, I now invite us to come back to ourselves and think about what we can do. This is what will then put us back in the driver’s seat.


NAVIGATING THROUGH UNCERTAINTY … MINDFULLY, GRACEFULLY & COURTEOUSLY


Before we can move somewhere, it is crucial to build a solid foundation for our launching pad.  I have talked in detail about how to find a realistic and neutralized launching pad in my healthy growth mindset series, which I invite you to read further if you are interested in the notion of building a healthy growth mindset from a “neutral” ground as opposed to “deficit” ground.

Once we manage to get ourselves grounded on an authentic and neutralized starting point, it’s time to look outside and gauge the external factors, the situations and other people.

It is to make sense of where we stand in relation to our surroundings. That is to see our role in the situation. And this will very much be able to guide how we should carry ourselves.

Let’s put a real situation into perspective …

Imagine you are a team leader, sitting in a meeting, and your boss is not pleased with the work of your team. As a supervisor of your team, how would you handle the critique?

Some people blame their poor team, some sit still and listen, some apologize on behalf of the whole team, some take all of the blame and apologize for not leading the team well enough etc. Some also promise he/she will do better next time.

I’m not here to judge which answer is right or wrong, but I want to invite you to think for yourself.  What kind of team leader would you trust and want to work for? On the other hand, what kind of team leader would you want to promote if you were his/her boss?

What’s the message you’re telling yourself?

Let’s go back to the scenario, after the meeting, what kind of message do you tell yourself?

Do you think along the lines of “This sucks, my supervisor just really does not understand the situation, or what it’s like to be in my shoes or my team’s shoes.”

Or…

“I’m not sure if they either don’t understand the situation or if they’re seeing something that my team and I don’t see based on their personal work experience. I should focus on filling that knowledge or perspective gap so we can come up with a solution that both parties will agree on.”

I’ve definitely driven down both of these lanes before when it comes to the messages I’ve told myself in the past! (Lol) However, from my experience in driving down both of these lanes, I’ve learned that the main difference between these two scenarios is whether we make things absolute/ finite, or whether we open up the room for different perspectives in order to co-create the consensus.

I have witnessed firsthand that a lot of conflict originates from a MY WAY vs YOUR WAY type of thinking, which then leads to a zero sum game situation. I have also seen a harmonious consensus when one party takes the initiative to open the room for active listening by opening the space for another party to “contribute.”

I can relate to this on a personal level because I work in a family business, where my bosses are also my parents. I have learned that if I get stuck in the mentality that the senior / top management / or authority figure “does not listen to me,” that this mentality gets me nowhere except for a head to head clash.

Through practice of mindfulness, I have learned to pause and ask myself— “Have I listened to their message well enough and do I really get what they are trying to tell me? Or am I stuck with trying to prove my point?” 

That focal shift from “they do not listen,” to “do I listen well enough?”  totally changed the situation for me and allowed me to become a lot more mindful when I listen. Instead of trying to prove my way of doing things, I can now listen to what they are trying to tell me. In doing so, it changes everything. My perspective, that relationship, my capabilities and maturity, my positive mindset, literally everything. That’s when it becomes more of a couple dance rather than a dance battle.

Applying this active listening also helped me to also improve working experiences for my team. I now listen to what they are trying to contribute, and I either support them or guide them in areas they need to consider further. Not only do I make better decisions, my team also becomes empowered and in turn, they grow too!

The ultimate lesson is that before we judge others by what they’re trying to tell us, we might want to come back to ourselves first to see if we are doing what we expect of others and what they expect from us.

Sometimes it all comes down to a misunderstanding. Sometimes we’re wrong. And yes, sometimes they’re wrong. Instead of coming from a “You vs. Me” mentality, we can try to apply active listening and co-creating consensus.


WHEN YOU’VE DONE ALL YOU CAN DO


Some of you might be wondering, “What if I’ve done everything that is within my capabilities, but I still cannot find the middle ground?”

This is a very valid question. Perhaps you’re at a standstill with your boss, or maybe it’s another relationship like your friend or your partner. What do you do when you hit that roadblock head on?

Unfortunately, I cannot give you the answer for that because there are too many variables at hand to even try to break down what you should do. I can however share that the most important thing to remember is that:

You can’t control any situation completely. And you definitely can’t control another human being. You only have 100% control over yourself.

So I invite you to ask yourself instead, whether you would still choose to live in that situation, or would you choose to get yourself out of that situation if nothing changed.

It’s important to really consider this thoroughly.

Are you okay with not being able to come to an agreement or find middle ground on whatever it is that you’re struggling with?

If you choose to stay, maybe a question to ask yourself might be— “Since I choose to stay, how can I make the most out of this situation?”

And, if you choose to leave the situation, once you leave, ask yourself— “What have I learned from this situation and how can I handle it better if I encounter similar situations in the future?”

Gaining clarity while navigating uncertainties isn’t always easy. In fact, simply navigating a landscape riddled with change can be scary. But, when you are able to channel your focus away from what you can’t control, and instead focus on what you can do, you’re able to then take back the driver’s seat in your life, even if the world is chaotic all around you.

So, regardless of your decision, by taking back control through making your choice, you are already taking back your driver’s seat!

Hang in there. You can do this! In my next post, we will be diving into empowering our foundation to make these decisions more easily and clearly. Talk to you soon !

With love,

Mim

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