Downtime is so important, and I’m already at the midway point in my week’s leave. So far it has been lovely: some reading (not yet as much as I had planned), good food, running, stitching and listening to podcasts. And some wine, too. I think that’s why I haven’t read as much as I had planned: I’ve been catching up on a huge backlog of podcasts that have built up since I’m not driving a great deal.
When I was on my run on Monday, I listened to Whitney Johnson interview Molly Beck, the Podcast Whisperer, and it was fascinating! But the quote that leapt out at me was from the host, not the guest:
I just had to capture this as soon as I heard it, and I thought it was well worth sharing.
So if you need to hear it, please listen. Your effort won’t be going unnoticed.
Now that I’ve restarted blogging after a hiatus driven by boredom and a lack of clarity around the blogs’ direction, I’m thinking I should really include some running content again.
I’ll perhaps do a race review of the Kintyre Way Ultra Relay soon, but for now I’m going to share my weekly runs and other workouts, when I fit those in. Jacqui has moved her fitness classes all online, and we now have an amazing catalogue of 100+ workouts to tap into, across a really broad range of sessions. More on that another time too.
For now, here’s a summary of last week’s sessions, though there’s nothing spectacular to report on. Only two runs, but both were solid and enjoyable.
Monday- run to the West Loch and back. Lovely weather, and it was my first road run down that way for a few weeks. I also tackled the hill up to Carrick Cemetery just to keep it challenging.
Distance: 3.18 miles
Time: 36m 4s
Elevation: 214 feet
Wednesday- back on the trails at the Timber Route, out behind Torinturk. It was a tough day, and I couldn’t really be bothered lacing up, but I was so glad I did. I absolutely loved it!
Distance: 4.11 miles
Time: 47m 26s
Elevation: 497 feet
Friday- 5k walk along the harbour in glorious sunshine
Although I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reading about staying curious, part of the reason that I’ve restarted my blog with a focus on my Wednesday posts rather than my running is because I’ve also been doing a deep-ish dive into becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable, and not painting my exterior persona as being without flaws – it’s ok to just be.
And, with the trajectory we are all on this year there’s one thing I’ve been saying all too regularly: none of us has all the answers, so I’m also trying to open my horizons, share thoughts and let conversations happen. And given my penchant for unleashing my advice monster and demonstrating my ‘save it’ drama persona, I’m also trying to be more vulnerable.
A few months ago I read Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. Several of the lessons resonated with me, and I was nodding a lot as I read it. It probably helped that that first section focussed on our desire to feel safe- and given the pandemic, I think that has been borne out over the past few months.
But the book also talks about how leaders have to be honest, open and need to keep in touch with reality in order to stay authentic.
This quote is one that I keep reflecting on:
So, when was the last time we admitted to weakness, or to not having all of the answers, or allowing ourselves to be vulnerable?
Since sharing my thoughts about The Advice Trap two weeks ago, I’ve continued to think a lot about the way we coach and use questions, and how curiosity is such an important, but often neglected, aspect of leadership. I’ve continued on the Year of Living Brilliantly journey and I’m finding it both helpful and challenging.
Yesterday I received an email from MBS works that really struck me. It talked about the recent full moon being known in China as the Hungry Ghost Moon, and later in the email asked us to thank our hungry ghosts.
And that really resonated with me. I’d had one of those sleeps the previous night which was disturbed, and I couldn’t get back to sleep because my brain kept wandering to those times in my past where I hadn’t lived up to my own expectations. MBS says that perhaps your regrets are there to remind you of a time when you acted to betray something you stand for. So the very next time I have the opportunity, I’m going to thank that ghost, get that lesson ‘in my bones’ so that the ghost can leave me alone. Hey! I’ve got it! Thank you! Now leave!
I’ve also found my brain recalling some earlier podcasts and TED talks, and I remembered hearing Tasha Ulrich talk a couple of years ago about transitioning our questioning from Why to What. She explains that why questions have a direct correlation with negative emotions, and they draw us to our limitations.
On the other hand, what questions keep us curious (that word and emotion again!) and they can help us to create a better future. They can lead us from victimhood and into growth.
She suggests that when you are journaling, spend less time on why things happened or why they happened the way they did. She suggests that we can start this new focus on what by asking three questions of ourselves in our journal:
1. What went well today?
2. What didn’t go quite as well today?
3. How can I be smarter tomorrow?
What journaling techniques do you use to shift to a positive focus?
Over the past five months as we have navigated through this initial pandemic emergency and transitioned into recovery (or at least I think that’s where we are), I’ve heard lots of people say they are ‘crazy-busy’ or ‘flat out’. Me included.
I’ve enjoyed working at pace, delivering results, responses and projects at speed and I think we have a lot to learn from the compressed decision making processes we have benefitted from in recent months. I’m much more comfortable than ever before with picking up the phone to people I need answers from, or challenging people to get things done quickly.
I know I’m a productivity ‘diva’, and I would have said, until a few weeks ago, that I felt my productivity is valuable to my work, my organisations and my personal values. And I do still think it is critically important. But I’ve been reflecting recently on whether I should value myself in terms of being productive. Is that worth defining myself over? What does it say about me as a person?
Right now I’m trying to determine how I get everything done that I need to, that I support and deliver on my promises to others, and on holding fast to my boundaries. Saying no does not come easily.
A big resource for me over the years has been David Allen’s epic book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity. It helped me to crystallise how to get to a point where I get things out of my head and to stop thinking about ‘things’ and feeling overwhelmed. I think it has been a critical approach that has enabled me to cope over the years, but as these are now my intrinsic behaviours they have absolutely come to the fore in recent weeks and months. That, and managing my inboxes and social media notifications to stop the overwhelming feeling of having things I haven’t done!
I’ve read this book at least three times, and I’ve recommended it numerous times to numerous people, probably more so recently than ever before. And now I’m recommending it to you.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and can’t get unstuck to get things done, please read this. It will made a positive difference to you, your mental health and your productivity.
I love Michael Bungay Stanier. He has a great voice, which is easy to listen to on a podcast. I really value his books, as they are so easy to read, to dip in and out of, and- unusually for business literature- they are actually fun to read.
I’ve read ‘Do More Great Work’, and I’ve read The Coaching Habit’. Twice.
But he unsettles me too. Why? He sees me. Flaws and all. And he know exactly why I have these flaws. To make things worse, he also tells me clearly what I can do to tackle those flaws, and spells it out that hard change is just that- hard to do, but worth doing.
He drills into leadership models I use every single day, including transactional analysis and the Karpman Drama Triangle. I work with someone (not directly) who helps me see when I’m wrapped in a drama triangle, which is really helpful.
And, Michael Bungay Stanier’s latest book calls out something I do all the time. It’s called ‘The Advice Trap’. As a rescuer (he describe my preferred style as ‘save it’ , my default problem solving persona is to offer advice to help others out, rather than developing more productive coaching behaviours.
But the subtitle of the book intrigued me even more than the title, because it outlines two characteristics I think I do display (at least sometimes: ‘be humble, stay curious’ and the remainder of the the subtitle is my aim: ‘and change the way you lead forever’.
To find out more, I headed over to his website, and what do I find? Not only really useful downloads and exercises, but Michael has an online free course: The Year of Living Brilliantly which looks right up my street…. so I have signed up! I’ve watched the first two videos, and already I’m challenged to engage better. I’ll no doubt keep you posted with progress and my thoughts about the course.
The Advice Trap is a really easy book to read, and I found myself nodding, and clearly picturing times when I’ve fallen into unhelpful patterns of behaviour. But the time is now to do the ‘hard change’ and to practice, so that everyone can benefit.
Practice, practice, practice.
Read the book. You won’t regret it. And find out more about The Year of Living Brilliantly here
It’s been a while! Yesterday evening I listened to Whitney Johnson interview Susan David for her ‘Disrupt Yourself’ podcast. Susan’s take on emotional agility and her belief that no emotions are good or bad really made me pause.
This quote in particular really resonated with me, so much so that I had to pop onto my blog to share it:
What have you done recently that has made you uncomfortable?