The other day I watched as the lush red maple outside my office window got ravaged by the wind. By the end of the day, the tree was bare. The reality is that this is part of the tree’s life cycle. At the end of the season, it sheds its leaves so that it may grow. Next season, it will reemerge new and different, having incorporated the growth it experienced over the winter.
This got me thinking about us as human beings. How do we pause and reflect on those behaviors that no longer serve us? How do we come to understand how these behaviors are getting in our way? How do we actively work to shed them? And, what does our next iteration look like when we have incorporated this growth into who we are and how we show up? And, perhaps most importantly, how do we undertake this self-reflection on a regular basis? Because, like the tree, we have the ability to grow and evolve throughout our lives.
I’ll give you an example from my own life. Using the Positive Intelligence vernacular, my primary saboteur is that I am restless. This means that I am prone to activity or busyness. I am often moving on to the next thing before the last has been finished. Now, this isn’t all negative. This restless tendency has fueled my voracious appetite for learning. I am typically reading two or three books at the same time. And, I can become endlessly curious about a topic. As a coach, this breadth and depth of knowledge means that I am able to draw from a large toolkit to support my clients.
On the flipside, though, I can find myself lost in the abyss when I’m not sure what the next step is or when the work at hand seems monotonous. An example of this would be the two books that I have started writing. The first book, which is meant to share my SOAR model in a way that professionals who are struggling to feel successful and fulfilled, sits collecting dust because I’ve decided that I need to launch the course and have the feedback from the course inform the book…which, you guessed it, now means that I’m in the throes of developing the course. The second book is meant to share the wisdom from the interviews I’ve conducted with nearly 100 leaders. This, though, means that I’ve got to code hours and hours of transcriptions. Can you see how these might trigger my restless nature to want to move on to something more interesting and invigorating?
As I’ve become aware of this behavior, and how it gets in my way, I’m learning how to use it to my advantage. For example, I’ve created a plan (a contract with myself) that as I structure the course, I am giving myself permission to research each of the topics being covered so that I am able to give the participant a more holistic understanding of the idea. This, of course, will also lead to me writing on these topics — both to reinforce my own comprehension as well as to be able to share that with learning with others — which will further the book.
In this case, the behavior that I am shedding is the impulsive jumping from thing to thing. I am, instead, recognizing when I feel this urge and taking a moment to reflect on why I’m feeling this and how I might redirect this energy toward accomplishing my goals.
What practices do you have in place for this sort of self-reflection and self-evolution?