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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Three Very Dangerous Words

Un-Game Principle:  Belief creates the fact.

I bet you’ve had an experience where somebody hasn’t listened to you. They already “knew” what you were talking Magic Wand Imageabout. You’ve probably done it, too.  I have. The fact not withstanding that it alienates us from others and them from us, we continue on our merry way and do it again. And again. “I already know” is magical thinking. But has anyone in the whole history of the world ever quit on magic just because it didn’t work? I doubt it.  So “I already know” may be three very dangerous words in any language. The best we can do, I suspect, is to notice our “I already know” thought, and if it comes up often, recognize that we’re in the grips of an entrenched belief.

Help!

What happens when you’re with a peer who says “I already know.”?  You know, the secret self-proclaimed expert. Go ahead, look into your experience when someone has done it to you. What do you see? You see that you or what you’re saying is no longer a possibility for the speaker. Done. End of story. What happens to you when you notice you’ve cast your pearls before swines?

  1. You try to make your point stronger and louder.
  2. You try to alert the other that they’re not getting it.
  3. You cast doubt on the value of what you’re saying.
  4. You feel hurt and withdraw.
  5. Your energy drops to the bottom of the well.

If it’s a boss who “already knows”, you may not feel free to do numbers 1 and 2 above. You weigh the consequences because the boss you alert to his or her “I already know-ness” may fault you for disturbing their certainty, and that may be a punishable offense. Leaders who value that feedback are still in the minority.

Anything else? I don’t already know! :)

The impact in inter-personal interactions of anyone who “already knows” is pretty dismal and has many ramifications for leaders, managers, and teams. And for individuals, couples, parents, teachers, etc.

“I already know” is costly to our capacity to be free to explore and learn, to productivity, and to relationships. You, as an enlightened leader who notices it in other team members, can be generous and gentle but not let it go unremarked upon. You might ask; “Do you already know this, or do you think you already know this?” “How do you know this is a fact rather than a conclusion?”  “If you didn’t already know, what would you be looking at in this situation?” Tell me what you think you know about what I’m saying to you?” “Is there anything about what I’m saying that you find interesting? What would need to be added, subtracted, or changed about what I’m saying to make this useful to look at?”

There are probably hundreds of questions you could ask. Which one you ask matters less than doing the asking. The purpose of the questions is to reengage the speaker who “already knows,” not to punish them. Your inquiry models the behavior you wish the “I already know-all-about this” person would demonstrate.  You offer breathing room and the meta-message that the other matters.

Yes, offer the very thing he or she didn’t offer YOU!

The power of modeling has been well documented. Plus we know it from our own experience. How well is “Do as I say and not as I do” working? Enough said. Your asking powerful questions makes a powerful difference.

You’re up to it.

If you’re fortunate enough to notice it when YOU perpetrate the “I already know” on others (If  someone close to you has complained to you more than once, consider a coach to help you with this blind spot), you’re almost home free. Noticing is the first and most powerful gift to yourself. Now you’re at choice. The fog has lifted. You can change what you’ve become aware of.

 If you have any doubts about the negative impact your “I already know” has on others, you don’t have to ask them. You can just go on an adventure. Rather than saying to yourself “Ok, fine. I don’t already know” (You’ll get pushback from that endless chatter that says “Yes, you do already know.”), keep the belief “Being interested in my team’s ideas may enhance our creativity” uppermost in your mind.  Your “try-it-on-for-size” belief will naturally direct your actions. Your actions will be different than actions emanating from the old  “I already know.”  The only challenge will be to notice when the old belief turns up again. When it does, acknowledge it. “Ah, there you are again.” Then shift to the other belief again. It may feel weird, but practice makes____________. Did you say “I already know! Everybody knows that. Practice makes perfect.”

“Really?” I say. “Perhaps practice only makes progress. Does that interest you?”

Henry Ford was right when he said, “Belief creates the fact.”  We have a belief, and then get busy gathering evidence to make us right. But we think that’s not so. We act as if evidence leads us to any given  conclusion.  Wasn’t it your so called evidence that led you to your “I already know what Mary is saying” conclusion?  What there is to know about the “Belief creates the fact” phenomenon could change everything. Careful. Do you already know?

 

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

Surrender: The Powerful Choice

Un-Game Principle: Surrender…saying ‘yes’ is the key to inspired action.

Say ‘yes,’ and presto, I’m at the brink of inspired action. Sounds simple. Yeah. Right. If saying ‘yes’ is surrender, it’s anything but simple. Surrender is like being on an Outward Bound zip line platform 200 feet above ground not sure I can count on the staff who put my safety harness on my trembling body. Jumping could be dying. Besides, what am I surrendering to? It’s so much more attractive to say ‘no’.

Really? Here’s an example of where it’s not only easy to surrender but is the most powerful choice you can make.

semi truck imageYou’re driving cautiously in the fog on a major highway. You don’t know you’re in the same lane as an eighteen-wheeler a mile away. All of the sudden the fog lifts and brilliant sunshine illumines the road. You see that you and the truck are heading straight for each other. What do you do? Duh! No one needs to tell you. You move over! You surrender to the lesson. Urgency and clarity make inspired action irresistible.

We say ‘yes’ to lessons that are ours to learn, but only to those that have become crystal-clear and are clearly in our self-interest. Our endless engagement with ‘why’ questions and our history is an attempt to get that clarity. Did you notice though? We didn’t examine why we were in the wrong lane or the impact of our parents’ driving behavior on us! We just moved over when we saw the truck. With clarity we can surrender to our lessons. Without it we experience no urgency. We collide with the metaphorical truck.

If we’re honest, we, individually and culturally, are pretty resigned about problems that persist. The greatest discovery an alien anthropologist might make about our culture is our overriding response to failure. When things don’t work this year, let’s do it again next year, and if possible do more of it. Isn’t that why poverty, drug abuse, and the educational system all remain stubbornly immune to all our wars upon them?

What are the lessons we aren’t seeing? And how do we succeed in seeing them? Let’s stick to persistent problems close to home. Is your energy depleted? Does the question “Is this all there is?”nag you? Do you worry about an uncertain future?

I can’t help you here and now to identify the lessons that are yours to ‘surrender’ to, but I can show you the mind-set and some distinctions that make identification of your lessons possible. First the mind-set.

      1. Be willing, despite, discomfort, to look again at something that persists. Being as curious as a small child keeps you open and receptive to learning.
      2. Be willing to learn to self-observe. Assume you’re a beginner. Learning enables you to become masterful.
      3. Be willing to be supported. Everything is easier with support. Allowing others to support you is a gift to you AND to them.
      4. Be alert to new distinctions. That which is clear helps you see the”oncoming truck” and therefore to surrender…to say ‘yes’… to your lessons. You gain confidence. Effective action becomes probable.

Now to some distinctions that make surrender possible. Take ‘Education’. What’s a definition of ‘to educate’ that doesn’t make our eyes glaze over?

      1. ‘Educare’ –Latin for ‘to lead out of the darkness’. The light is beckoning with new possibilities. Much more attractive already. I want to leave the dark, damp underground. Where’s a guide? (Here’s one. Search for Daphne Koller on www.TED.com. She’s transforming education as we know it.)

      2. Surrender as distinct from Submit. Submit is ‘to yield to an authority’ and comes from fear. It’s experienced as a choice between the lesser of two perceived evils. I don’t want to yield, but if I don’t I’ll get hurt.

        Do you experience the power of the two distinctions? Look and see. If you’re stopping to do that, you’re practicing self-observation (previous #2).

        To be vulnerable makes surrender possible. “Yes, but,” you sputter. “Doesn’t that mean I have to submit?” Not if you decide to use this next definition.

      3. Vulnerable: to let the winds of life blow freely over your soul. Submit, however, is to be vulnerable by this definition:

        Vulnerable: being open to attack or damage. Fragile. Hmm. Wouldn’t you be more eager to surrender if you lived by the first definition? Do you experience the power of the distinction?

      4. Here not There. Recognize the deeply-embedded reaction to look for answers outside of yourself. John Borroughs says “The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are.”We are lured by the distant, and it keeps us powerless. But when we fearlessly face ourselves, we hold the key to inspired action. And we act powerfully beyond our wildest expectations.

Can you cite examples of ordinary people doing extraordinary things when there’s both urgency and clarity? Sure you can, be it rescuing a litter of kittens left helpless by flood waters or carrying a wounded competitor across the finish line with you.

Urgency and lack of clarity surround us. Is there a circumstance at home or at work that is urgent but unclear? Could inspired action result from saying ‘yes’ to looking with the eyes of a vulnerable beginner? Go and look. A powerful, now hidden choice may become apparent from your courageous act.

 

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play. For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind: Empower Self, Empower Others“, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual“, visit: http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at: www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.

Presentation at Book Woman – Austin – Heart/Mind-Centered Leadership: The Time Is NOW… The Moment Is This One

Women are well practiced in heart/mind-centered leadership. As the old command and control model of leadership is being hospiced, women’s leadership is beginning to gain recognition. The Un-Game: Four-Play to Business As UNusual  is a demonstration here and now of the leadership mind and skill-sets that will determine our future. Told as the coming of age story of a young manager and set in the people-serving corporation we hope for, The Un-Game nevertheless challenges readers to apply Un-game principles in all areas of their lives.

Date:            October 21, 2012

Time:           3:30 – 4:45 PM

Location:      Book Woman, 5501 N. Lamar, Austin, TX  78751

Driven to Distraction

Un-Game Principle: Driven behavior wastes energy. We are like moths buzzing around a light. man with cell phone

Many rational, educated, principled people are now making a case for both economic and cultural breakdown in American society. Phew! That in itself is stunning. I won’t go there except to say that it’s interesting and disturbing that at a time when arguably we need to be the most alert, awake, clear, focused, attentive, creative, courageous and committed, we’re also buried in an unending avalanche of domineering distractions. A friend of mine has smart phones, Ipads, Kindles and accessories for every occasion because—well, he can! And you’ve all seen (Are you ever who I’m about to mention?) the couple silently sitting in a restaurant … alone together…each intently stroking their very smart phone.

No, I won’t preach and suggest you stop what you’re doing. We’re familiar with this strategy. We even preach it to ourselves!  “You shouldn’t spend so much time on the internet.” So in desperation you ask your son to change your password and not let you know what it is. Will this be a lasting solution? Probably not. Repetitive doing, disconnected from what has meaning and value for us, is a symptom of driven behavior. Do, Do, Do. We may be like moths irresistibly drawn to our porch light during a warm summer night.

So how do we arrest driven behavior, put it in jail, and drive our own behavior? First of all, notice it.  Do you repeat actions over and over even though there’s no good result? Do you have limited satisfaction and an ever-expanding to do list? When you doachieve something, do you celebrate or just move on to the next item on the list? Do you rush around a lot? Complain of not enough time? Are you tired a lot? Too tired to…..?

Yes, driven behavior wastes energy. It drains us. It’s a joy thief.

At least in part, people engage in driven behavior in order to distract themselves from the discomfort of wondering what’s truly important to them. Why am I here? What’s uniquely mine to do? Notice if my assertion or the questions make you even a bit uneasy.

What better way to avoid the hard questions than the fascinating world of electronics, the cornucopia of the Internet, or relationships steeped in drama? However, recognized or not, we all want to make a positive difference in something bigger than ourselves. We’re not isolated. We live in community. So the second step in arresting driven behavior is to identify and claim what’s deeply important to you.

Who do you long to be? For genuine, not saccharine satisfaction, here are some longings that thousands of people during 25 years of research have ranked as ‘highly important’. They want to consistently demonstrate these longings in their lives.

  1. to be a loving family member and  friend
  2. to be a successful communicator
  3. to be physically fit and healthy
  4. to be a contributor to my community
  5. to be a respected professional
  6. to be a successful team member

There are other longings, for example, to be an adventurer, a creator of beauty, or to be politically active. Some won’t be important to you in six months. The list is a snapshot in time and there to guide your actions today. Contact me and I’ll gift it to you. These longings come from your best self. They do not come from fear or lack as in “If I don’t do this, then I’ll look bad, be ignored, ridiculed, shunned.”  That nagging voice is actually the voice that lures us into distractions in the first place!

The third step then in arresting driven behavior is to use your list of strong longings (the 4’s and 5’s on a scale of 1-5 are the strong ones) and connect them to simple goals that will demonstrate the longing. The longing is not the goal. It merely provides the direction to the goal. For example, you long to be a successful communicator. A simple goal might be to walk into Joe’s office despite some discomfort to make your succinct, clear request in person rather than through text or email where Joe could easily misconstrue your meaning.

Let the goals be small, so small that you can demonstrate the intention several times in just a single day. Choose several intentions from the 4’s and 5’s and ask yourself how you want to demonstrate them. The idea is to practice intentionally to connect your actions to what matters. Practice doesn’t make perfect; it makes progress (Chasing perfection, which is impossible, is driven behavior).  In the process of practicing, you’ll become more and more aware of driven behavior and, instead of choosing different behaviors, you can choose to be back in touch with your heart’s longings. Behaviors matching your heart’s desire may emerge effortlessly. Sometimes a simple formerly unexpressed ‘thank you’ can be an intentional expression of your longing to be an effective team member.

Living  intentionally  doesn’t mean deprivation. Yes you can spend hours with a favorite ‘distraction.’ There are times when it may serve a higher good! To enjoy something freely chosen contributes to your health and well-being. The key words are ‘freely chosen.’ When you choose the distraction rather than it choosing you, you’re not driven to distraction. You’re driving the distraction. Go for it! Have a blast!

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine. 

The Inner Game of Management

Un-Game PrincipleBelief creates the fact.

Who doesn’t love the unself-conscious little boy or girl, the undaunted miniature explorer who moves through life with unbridled enthusiasm?

clouds imageThis morning I walked through the woods to feed our three horses. I trudge along sighing and contemplating divorce from a husband I adore just to get out of the Texas heat. I stew about this for about one hundred yards before noticing I’m doing it. It’s so familiar. I stop, look, and suddenly am alert. I feel a sweet, cool breeze. Then the cloud-swept, brilliant blue sky wows me. It’s a stunningly gorgeous morning!

For that one moment I recover the experience of seeing the world with the fresh eyes of the explorer child. For those of us with lived-in faces, would it be ok to recover that capacity?

Enveloped in the fog of unawareness, how often do we miss brilliance, beauty, and a cool summer breeze? How often do we create actions aligned with a belief that dampens our spirit (Texas sucks in August)? We can’t know how often. We’re self-unaware. “I beg your pardon, Ingrid. I’m pretty self-aware”, you pipe up. I believe you if by that you mean that you know yourself well. But that’s not the same thing as being self-aware moment by moment by moment. I was self-unaware this morning when I lamented the murderous Texas heat. I became self-aware when I saw what had been there all along—a cool breeze and a brilliant blue sky. I hadn’t noticed. I was too busy fondling my belief Texas sucks in August.

Belief creates the fact. There’s no joy in stewing.

To not know which beliefs produce and direct our play on life’s stage is not bliss. To achieve self-awareness in the present moment, we need OBSERVATION skills.

As a coach who helps people develop self-observation skills, I’m unapologetically enthusiastic about recommending coaching. However, you can also do something on your own. Let’s say you’ve become aware that you need to have things work out your way. Secretly you think “I know what’s right. If only they could see it.”  It’s not enough for you to have your say. You want to have your way! Something’s got you gripped.

There’s no joy in Grippville. But your discomfort is good news. It tells you to step back and observe.

Hmm. Already you’re no longer “out of your mind.” Rather, you’re in your rational mind and interested in “What makes it so attractive to try and have it my way?” That’s a powerful observational question. Ask it, check in with your body and mind. See what you get. What are your tensed shoulders telling you? What’s the knot in your stomach saying?  What thoughts are coming up? Ask again. What answer do you get now? And now?

Don’t be satisfied with your first answer. Or your second. You’ll immediately shut down your observation. Answers end observation. Keep going. You may now notice that it feels safe to have your way. Hmm. You wonder: “Do I believe the world’s a dangerous place unless… I control it, me, others.” If you’re brutally honest, the answer is probably “yes.” And, you’ve been experiencing your belief as truth, not as a conclusion you can choose to focus away from! Right?  It feels true, so it must be. Really? Are you your feelings? Does everybody have that belief?

A belief feels true when it’s in the trench with you. It directs you and produces actions congruent with it. Hop out of the trench, however, and what do you see? You see that life is unpredictable, impermanent, and yes, it can be dangerous.  You can’t control it. Trying exhausts you.

You wonder: “What can I control?  Can I be interested in a different belief? Can I let a different belief produce and direct my play? Hmm. If my beliefs are only beliefs and not the truth… Can I choose a belief that allows me to experience calm and serenity rather than one that makes me feel anxious and disconnected? Can I actually be in control?” Ahhh! Control! Your mood brightens. The answer is yes! Belief creates the fact.

You are not your beliefs. You have beliefs. Therefore you can write, produce, and direct a play that’s congruent with a new belief. But catch this. The new belief must interest you more than the old. Try this one on. “I can be resilient in dealing with the unpredictability and impermanence of life.”

As you say this, OBSERVE your experience around your heart region? Does it feel constricted? Spacious?  You’re practicing OBSERVING your experience. At first your mind attempts to do what it’s always done—travel the path of least resistance. Choosing a more interesting belief and trying on behaviors that are in alignment with it signal the brain that it’s time to work.  New neural pathways must be created.  Like any new skill-set, living in alignment with a new belief takes practice—especially the practice of OBSERVATION.  Notice how often your old belief pulls you back… and under what circumstances the more interesting one prevails. With your co-worker? Not with your child?  Keep observing. Over time, actions aligned with new beliefs become natural. You stop efforting. Who knows? You may even reawaken the explorer who once moved with unbridled enthusiasm, faith and confidence.  S/he won’t even warn you: “My way or the highway!”

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.yourleadersedge.com, or connect with Ingrid at:  www.Twitter.com/ingrid_martine and www.facebook.com/coachmartine.