Friday, June 21, 2019

Leadership Lesson 5: Stop, Challenge, Choose

Leadership Expectation: Show Up Positive

Difficult, high-stress situations arise often in our fast-paced, changing world. As leaders, expectations for emotional control are also high and can lead to the suppression of our own feelings, increasing our anxiety and level of burnout. As stress levels rise and the pressure for quick decisions grows, the Stop, Challenge, Choose method can aid us in keeping our emotions under control, achieving better outcomes, and having more mature interactions with our teams and coworkers.

Stop, Challenge, Choose is a method for engaging in more strategic thinking using rational thought. Strategic thinking is a decision-making tool that relies on objectivity as a means to seeing a situation from a more creative perspective. Rational thought, or the ability to consider relevant variables and arrive at a sound conclusion, diversifies our interpretations of events (because we stop relying on what we’ve always done before) and guides us to make better choices. Objectively understanding our surroundings helps us find the best way to solve a problem.

When presented with a difficult situation:

  • Stop. Before we respond to an event, situation, or question, it is useful to pause and reflect for a moment—especially when we are stressed or irritated (or afraid, or angry). Take a deep breath and find your center, the place at your core where you are most at peace with yourself. 
  • Challenge. Our immediate thoughts are not always the best ones, particularly when a situation triggers a memory that had a negative outcome in the past. Take note of your immediate response, weigh the validity of your emotions, and reexamine the facts in a more objective way. In other words: we must not let how we feel about a situation (or a person!) guide our decision-making.
  • Choose. Select the best response based on your objective interpretation of the facts. Choosing logic over emotion is usually the best course of action in both professional and personal settings—especially when tensions are high! 

Through this work we can add depth to our relationships and leverage our learning for more positive, successful outcomes.

“Learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you are going to die tomorrow.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

Tip #5: Stop before you react. Challenge immediate negative assumptions. Choose the best response. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Amor Fati: Love Thy Fate

Friedrich Nietzsche said, "My formula for human greatness is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not in the future, not in the past, not for all eternity. Not only to endure what is necessary, still less to conceal it--all idealism is falseness in the face of necessity."

When I first heard this, it didn't make a lot of sense beyond the superficial. Rev. William, currently studying Stoicism, has a challenge coin with Amor Fati inscribed on it that he carries in his pocket from time to time. The notion of accepting my "fate," fate being "whatever life happens to throw at you," is a concept with which I am familiar. But, I think Nietzsche is saying much more than that.

Human greatness is the ability to not only accept our fate but to live beyond the longing for things to be different, no matter how much hindsight we may gain. Any change in our past will ultimately change where we are currently, and desiring a future other than what is in front of us will lead us to miss where we are headed. It is the ability to completely embrace the now of our lives, complete with the mistakes of our past actions and the potential consequences (or new mistakes!) ahead of us.

Idealism is not a basis for a life path. There are no ideal journeys. "Ideal" is only the beginning, the outline, of our planning. The rest is made up of finding ways to mitigate the risk of the more likely and less ideal circumstances we WILL encounter. For us to truly attain greatness, we must not only endure what is necessary, we must THRIVE in the face of it. Necessity drives us to kindle the Needfire that is only called upon to answer the greatest of our questions. It is in the face of necessity that we put the bow drill to work to create the spark of inspiration that we may build a blazing fire of becoming in the face of adversity.

Amor Fati. Desire nothing to be different in your past. Desire nothing to be other than it is right now. Desire nothing to be different moving forward. The world around us will continue to evolve, to ebb and to flow, carrying us with it through the vicissitudes of life. Focus on what is necessary and the rest will tend to itself.