Posts Tagged ‘confidence’

The Soul of a Project #28: The Wisdom of Doubt!

by Gary Monti on November 1, 2012

On Apollo 1 what would have happened if someone had asked, “What happens when you combine a spark with elevated oxygen levels in an iron rich environment?” Those 3 astronauts might have gotten to live out their lives telling their grandchildren stories about the early days of space flight. Avoiding Monday-morning-quarterbacking, the question is worth asking in terms of determining when confidence bleeds over into over-confidence. In resilience engineering that bleeding over is referred to as drift.

What stems drift is doubt. A muscular approach to projects can easily push out doubt, which is unfortunate. Doubt has a real value. It encourages us to seek others opinions and get as many eyeballs as possible on a problem or solution. Evolutionarily it has a real benefit. Darwin talks about the survival of the fittest. It is commonly thought of as the strongest. That isn’t what he meant. Survival of the fittest refers to having the best fit, i.e., finding the sweet spot among all the possibilities when swimming in a sea of possibilities.

Doubt is connected to another important evolutionary development – a conscience. In The Sociopath Next Door Martha Stout, PhD, explores the social consequences when a conscience is lacking and the associated lack of doubt. It is a very interesting read.

You might be wondering where this is going. After all, we need to develop a sense of confidence so we can get things done. But if my confidence is high does it mean I’m a sociopath? What to do?

The answer lies in wisdom.  Wisdom is choosing what to do (or to be still) when there isn’t a clear-cut path that would bring a tear to Euclid’s eye. And this is where we get back to the group. Use doubt to provoke, to dig deeper, to make a game of the situation. A little cage rattling will go a long way towards waking people up and getting them energized, which leads to better solutions and gives everyone on the team a chance to feel significant. At that point work is no longer a job, it’s a quest. It’s a chance to get lost in the problem and feel alive!

As the Paradigm Shifts #S: Sacrifice

by Rosie Kuhn on August 30, 2011

I grew up in Michigan in a large Catholic Family in the 50’s and 60’s. I was taught that sacrifice was the price you paid to get into heaven. In service to this I let go of my wants, needs, thoughts and feelings. What I was left with when I hit my 30’s was pretty much an empty shell of a being and became, to some extent robotic – exclusively looking outside myself for commands for me to follow. I was terrified to think, feel or act on my own volition. Having never been given a copy of the blue prints or the How To Manual for being me, I had no idea what course to steer to get to my true north. Over decades I taught myself how to listen to my internal wisdom and practiced checking inside myself, retracing my steps (from before I could even walk) to rediscover my fullest expression of myself.

In the name of Heaven we make incredible sacrifices. The question is – what is Heaven? More importantly in the context of this series, what is Heaven to you? How will you know when you’ve arrived?

Given that we are talking most specifically about spirituality in the business, I suspect that each one of us has maneuvered into our current roles and positions because to some degree we are wanting to create heaven on Earth, especially when it involves the fact that we spend at least one third of our lives in this environment. What have you sacrificed in order to be where you are right now, in this moment? What I’m really wanting to know is – have you sacrificed the right things in order to have what you currently have? Rarely do I use the word right, so I’m obviously on the way to making a point!

On Tuesday, I spoke to the San Francisco Professional Career Network. These individuals are in the process of once again becoming gainfully employed, however many of them are up against some very stiff resistance (the R word, remember?). Not much different than many of us, they experienced rejection, trauma, abuse, neglect and humiliation in their previous work environment, and as they move in the direction of employment, something stops them. What stops them, and appropriately so, is the memory of what they’ve previously sacrificed for what they thought would provide stability, a role that contributed to the growth and development of their company, as well as a sense of personal and professional fulfillment. They are now having to choose to choose what to choose in service to what it is they want. This time they have the opportunity to choose what to sacrifice from a more conscious perspective.

Everyone has to make the choice to sacrifice that which they are willing to sacrifice: Health, family, personal fulfillment, creativity, integrity, financial stability, trauma, stress, abuse – each of us has our price.

I’m suggesting that maybe what we’ve sacrificed isn’t worth the price. This is a huge spiritual issue for those who have come to believe that financial stability will create happiness. The current global economic circumstances are indicating that, that may be an inaccurate assumption. The wounding that has occurred – that we’ve allowed to occur for the sake of financial viability for many has cost them their lives, their families and their dignity. I don’t think this is working very well – do you?

I’m guessing that when searching your internal database you’ll un-conceal regrets and lost dreams that were sacrificed for what at that time seemed like the appropriate or only choice to be made. All of us have these regrets and losses, yet until we come face to face with them and the emotional well of powerless and hopeless that has never been mined we will continually repeat the circumstance – just different environments and we’ll never allow our essential self to guide us to our fullest expression.

It makes sense to me that many of those individuals in the San Francisco Professional Career Network are balking at returning to the corporate environment. It makes sense to me that they are no longer willing to sacrifice their souls for the almighty paycheck.

Not all work environments are dysfunctional but the fact of the matter is that too many are dysfunctional. My belief is that because most of us were raised in families where dysfunction played a huge role in how we come to see ourselves, how we value and treat our selves and how we choose to choose what we choose, we can’t help but create environments that reflect the same.

I believe that each of us has come to this planet to fulfill a very specific life purpose. My job is to support people in choosing to choose to live into that purpose – fearlessly. This conversation definitely includes the question “What get’s sacrificed?” It also allows evidence to speak for itself; “Has it worked so far to give up what is most essential to your BEING and to you living your LIFE PURPOSE?”

This line of questions emphatically points to the dilemma and what we do in this dilemma. The dilemma is a choice-point where most of us choose to choose NOT to choose, thus experiencing a quality of life that feels stuck, lost, paralyzed, trapped, confused, depressed. SIGH! I know of no one who is allowed the “get out of jail free card” and doesn’t have to actually choose when facing the inevitable choice-point: Now or later – it’s up to you!

I don’t wish this moment on anyone, however, the inevitability of it is what it is. I can’t convince or cajole you to take me seriously. I only encourage you to feel into your heart and soul and reveal, discover and acknowledge your own evidence, your own truth and your own wisdom to know what is yours to do.

Enjoy the exploration!

The Constraints of No Boundaries

by Rosie Kuhn on August 24, 2011

It’s not uncommon for children to grow up not knowing their own beautiful thoughts and feelings and their essential needs and wants. You might be asking “How can that be?” Well, it’s one of the ravages of families and the individuals inside them. They are at war with themselves with no one to mediate a peace treaty.

In some ways we have no choice in the matter when it comes to which family we arrive into as infants. I don’t know a single soul who asked to be born into violence, depression, poverty and sickness. But here we are, thousands of years of cultivating intelligence within societies and cultures and we still have children arriving in families that just don’t know any better than to fight, implode, feel lack and aching.

So, I’m going out on a limb here and assume that many who are reading this know what I’m talking about. All of us are refugees of families to one degree or another. All of us struggle with who we are as individuals in relation to the world around us. All of us are persons in exile, either from family and friends, and quite often from ourselves.

When, as children it comes to surviving, the majority of us choose to choose survival and belonging rather than choosing to be a lone wolf. Somewhere, somehow our little choice-maker whispers in our ears “don’t think that”; “don’t feel that”; “we don’t need that”; and soon, we forgot that we could want!

Knowing what You Want

“Just tell me what I’m supposed to want.” My client Andrea shares. “I don’t know how to know what I want. I think I want a relationship but when I get close to someone I get scared and want out! I don’t know – I just don’t know what I want.”

Andrea is a successful Lawyer in New York City. She’s very competent in every aspect of her life, except when it comes to personal relationships. How can that be?

Growing up in a family that looks as normal as any family in her community, Andrea’s grandmother would shame her when she came home with A’s. “What are you, some kind of a smarty-pants?” When Andrea came home with B’s, her grandmother would say “What are you, some kind of an idiot?” Whatever Andrea did she was made to feel guilty or shame for doing what she did and being who she was. Neither her mom nor her dad sheltered her emotionally from the barrage of insults. They each contributed in their own ways to Andrea’s dilemma of not knowing her own thoughts and feelings, wants or needs.

Andrea, like so many of us, gave up her self-respect and dignity for the sake of shelter and food, knowing that someday there would be freedom from all of this.

Enmeshment

Enmeshment is the word used in Marriage and Family Therapy for the process of losing one’s self in support of family culture and for survival. Though I believe that early on, we do know that this doesn’t feel good, after awhile we forget and try to find hope and peace amongst the fragments of life that we’ve come to consider “normal.”

Enmeshment occurs not only in families, but in religions, corporations, and our educational institutions – anywhere and everywhere we are not allowed to know what we want or need, or what we think or feel. It occurs anywhere and everywhere we have to choose to silence our own thinking, our creativity, our sense of integrity and personal accountability. Is there any place that is safe?

This is really important, because it’s not like we can point our fingers at Daddy or Mommy or Grandma, for that matter. Each of us somehow plays a role in wanting people to want what we want, how we want it and when we want it. Any of us in a position of authority has the power to decide how we want others to respond to us. How we be with our authority and how we use our authority is the question at hand. None of us gets immunity for acts of unkindness that in the end burdens others with our unresolved anger, sorrow and fears.

In my studies, at first I was appalled with the concept of enmeshment. It meant that most families were just big balls of emotions, which no one could know about or talk about. But through my experience as a therapist it began to make perfect sense. Now as a transformational coach a great deal of my work is about empowering clients, like Andrea, to realize their own wants and desires and their own thoughts and feelings. What they are finding is that there is freedom that comes with making choices – choices that are in right-relationship with their own truths, not necessarily in alignment with the emotional needs of potential partners, co-workers, friends and most importantly those individuals who have authority over us. Like Andrea, they are learning to create boundaries based on what’s true for them. This can get really squirrelly for a lot of us who can see that maybe we want two opposing things at the same time. And, we want the sense of emotional clarity that comes when we’ve made the “right choice.” Looking to others to tell us if we’ve chosen correctly keeps up using childhood ways that really don’t work in a grown up world. Really – they don’t work!

For Andrea, she wants partnership, romance, security, connection and belonging. She also wants safety, freedom, independence and respect that who she is, is all she needs to be. At 49 years of age, she’s afraid she’ll never get it. My experience tells me that the more clear she becomes with who she is; the more clear she can speak up to those she’d made into authority figures (we do this a lot with our bosses, our partners, even with our children) the more freedom she will experience to create a relationship that includes all the good things that come from being able to speak her truth. We actually create better relationships with people when we can know our thoughts and feelings, know our needs and wants and speak authentically from this place of knowing. Isn’t this what we are all wanting?

It’s a fascinating juxtaposition that boundaries, made by free choice, create freedom. Who would have ever guessed?

Last week we discussed Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger and “The Miracle on the Hudson.” In resilience engineering there is a constant search for the character traits one must possess to be successful when dealing with complex socio-technical interfaces, which are increasingly becoming the norm. In line with the speed with which decisions have to be made in foggy situations it seems appropriate to have a checklist. I love checklists. When done correctly they serve two functions simultaneously: setting the right frame of mind and helping establish a focus on successful behaviors.

A checklist can also help during more mundane times such as trying to get back to sleep (or maybe just GET to sleep) at 2 AM when your head is spinning because of a challenging project.  Below are two checklists that may help in terms of those specific behaviors and attitudes.

What Makes For a Good Pilot?

The civil aviation authority in France has published a list of capabilities pilots feel are essential for effective execution in complex situations:

  1. Be able to construct and maintain an adequate distributed mental representation of the situation.
  2. Be able to assess risk and threats as relevant for the flight.
  3. Assess one’s self-proficiency envelope, know the boundaries, and adapt one’s tactics and strategies accordingly.
  4. Be able to switch from a situation under control, to a crisis situation.
  5. Be able to construct and maintain a relevant level of confidence towards self, others, and the technology involved.
  6. Be able to learn, implement and maintain routines and skills associated with basic flight functions (fly, navigate, communicate).
  7. Be able to contribute to decision-making in complex, uncertain environments.
  8. Manage interactions with aircraft automated systems.
  9. Know, understand, and be able to speak aviation jargon.
  10. Manage interactions with, and cooperate with, crewmembers and other staff.
  11. Make intelligent usage of procedures.
  12. Use available technical and human resources, and reconfigure as needed.
  13. Be aware of time and time pressure.
  14. Properly transfer acquired knowledge and know-how from specific context to a different one.
  15. Properly use and maintain information and communication technology equipment.

Another way to look at this from a purely psychological perspective is to have the following traits:

  1. When under pressure acknowledge your feelings and then focus on the work at hand. Emotionality leads to out of control behavior of simply freezing up.
  2. See through the situation to success. Stay focused on the long haul.
  3. Look. Let go of projections. Simply see what is there and understand the trends.
  4. Decide how much you believe in yourself and whether or not that is sufficient to maintain your leadership position.
  5. Practice humility. This means knowing what you can and can’t do…which leads to the next point.
  6. Learn how to ask for help. The goal is to get the job done rather than being Superman or Wonder Woman.
  7. Let people know you see them and need their help. Practice empathy and address people as they are. If it’s details they like then give them details. If there is a need for the overall picture then paint the picture (time permitting).
  8. Stay positive while admitting difficulties are present. To paraphrase Andy Groves when asked if all could be lost if the next generation chip failed, “Yes. Keep moving. We can make it.”

Again, these are checklists — mirrors. When having a hard time go through and see where you are working well and where things could improve. Use the results to drive the next day’s agenda. This is probably preaching to the choir but bears repeating: by having the right attitude, knowing where to focus, asking the right questions, and risking action leadership emerges.

By the time you’ve opened your little peepers in the morning you’ve most likely  set your intentions for the day. This happens automatically for most of us. There are the normal patterns that we engage in to prepare for the day ahead, then follow through until tucked back in bed ready for a good night’s rest. What would shift if we became intentional about creating our day? What would we intend to happen? How would we intend to be that would allow our day to unfold?

People make extraordinary leaps of faith, creating because they were inspired to do so. Inspiration leads to intentions, which leads to acting with integrity. All three are essential yet it is integrity that gets the job done.

You are a rare individual who considers the possibility of creating a paradigm shift in the work place; one that would allow kindness, compassion and true collaboration to inundate the ranks of the stressed, overwhelmed and unfulfilled. What arouses such an undertaking in you? In my mind it has to involve inspiration.

That quality of being inspired – we know all know what it feels like, and we spend thousands of dollars for motivational speakers to come in and inspire us to – to do what? We read books and watch movies with the intention to facilitate the experience of feeling inspired. Too often, though that inspiration doesn’t last more than a couple of hours and we are back to our normal routine. We know the experience and we know how to cultivate it, Integrity is also a quality of being. We all know what it feels like too.

Our somatic or physical response to the world is the tell-all of our reality. If you want to know what’s true for you, go to the source—your body—it never lies. What does inspiration feel like to you? What is it that has that experience move you to take action? We don’t think much about this, though it is a huge factor in our lives.

Inspiration starts with a sensation of giddiness and excitement in my chest. I feel exhilarated and want to do something to support and nourish this feeling of being swept up. It’s different than anxiousness, which generally has a good dose of fear added. I also feel an impulse to move, to do something that fulfills these sensations. It’s like I’m being asked for something I know I can fulfill.

How does an idea become manifested? Action has to be taken and initially this can feel energizing and fun. Slowly though we lose touch with our original inspiration. With time and distractions we forget what we wanted or why we wanted it. Generally speaking, as we move towards what we want, something in us gets threatened and that stops us in our tracks. We need something more – we need to exercise muscles of integrity. Integrity tells us that we have intentions to manifest our vision and it’s critical to our well-being that we follow through to the very end. This all happens within our bodies. These bodily sensations continually influence us, yet rarely do we pay them the attention they deserve.

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

The experience of intention can be very uncomfortable for people. For some, anxiety, nervousness and vulnerability ride shotgun. For others, excitement, anticipation and expectancy are present. What creates these different responses to the experience of intention? The vulnerability of wanting is embedded in our bodies, as are the memories of disappointment. The level of significance we give to what we want influences our willingness to set intentions to make it happen. More people than you can imagine have given up being their intention, not because it’s part of their spiritual practice, but because they decided long ago that it wasn’t safe to want, and most likely they weren’t going to get it, so they stopped being intentional. They wake up in the morning, yet remain asleep to their hearts desire.

The practice of setting intentions to create action and follow through in support of our intentions, while at the same time not being attached to the wanting or the outcome, is essential and challenging. Living in the moment and practicing these steps strengthens character and gives us courage to live into the unknown. It cultivates wisdom and confidence to be with whatever shows up. This too seems very challenging at first. But like everything else, practice brings about the expansion of capability and ease of being with what use to feel uncomfortable, vulnerable and impossible. Either it is enough to take us over the edge of our hopes and fears, into the life we imagine, or it’s not. The only way to do this is by investigating this territory. We have to take the leap.

Inspiration, Intention and Integrity as Tools

On all levels of being, from the current circumstances to the domain of Universal Oneness, we have specific intentions. Without these we would not survive for we would lack even the desire to hope or want life itself. To see inspiration, intention and integrity as tools we can effectively change our relationship to that which generates the unfolding of life itself. As the paradigm shifts, each of us will willingly participate in the expansion of consciousness, thrilled to witness the fulfillment of potential far more magnificent than imaginable. It is definitely worth the price of admission.