The Leadership Series Part 2: Why Developing the Self is Always the First Step in Leadership

The Leadership Psychology of How We Think and Feel

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This past week a colleague of mine and I were talking about leadership. Well, to be more accurate, we are always talking about leadership. Fun.

Anway, this colleague was talking about the upcoming leadership group training they would be facilitating, and they were talking about how important it is for leaders to understand how they think, feel, and act.

After reflecting upon the concept of thinking, feeling, and acting, which I totally agree with, another concept occured to me. Speaking. Also important.

Thus, the idea for this first-half of the two-part article on Developing the Self was created. Before we get into our discussion, however, let’s reset the first installment in the Leadership Series.

In the first installment of the Leadership Series, The Leadership Series Part 1: What is Leadership, and Why is it so Important?, we unpacked leadership as a concept and practice.

We also discussed 2 things that are very important to be clear about early on in any leadership development journey, which are

  1. Understanding yourself.
  2. Understanding your leadership style.

In this second installment, we will discuss understanding yourself as the very first step in a leadership development journey. Why? Good question.

Let’s take a look, shall we.

There are two ways we will approach this discussion.

  1. Psychologically
  2. Sociologically

Ready? Good, let’s go.

Leadership Psychology

Right, so, what in the world is leadership psychology? Well, in this context, we are going to address two main concepts. Thinking and feeling. Both are very important to understand for anyone in leadership.

If you don’t know why you think and feel as you do, you’ll never be able to understand how and why others think and feel as they do. Simple.

And, as a leader, you must understand how the people in your team, organization, business, and or family, or friend network think and feel. Very important.

Having an impact starts with us. Each of us. Understanding how and why we think and feel as we do is a necessity in any leadership role. Any and all leadership roles.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Thinking

An entire article, nay, book can be written about how we think in regards to, well, just about everything in life. Leadership included. It’s that important.

In fact, how we think drives everything else we will discuss in this article. It all starts with the mind. The quality of our mind. Meaning? Good question.

As I’ve written about in other articles, human beings are meaning-makers. Meaning, pun intended, that we take in data, information or stimuli, and we convert those stimuli, whatever they are, into narratives.

We do this to make sense of the world, and our place in it. A simple example can illustrate this point.

If my thinking is about the past, and all of the wrongs I’ve suffered, or bad things that have happened, I will bring these thoughts, feelings, verbalizations, and actions into the present moment. And?

I, in essence, will recreate the past. Reliving, as possible, past trauma again and again. And, so will everyone else I am interacting with and in relationship with.

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However, if I am aware of my thoughts, and how I think, I can work on the thought impressions, called samskaras in sanskrit, and, over time, release them.

When they are released they stop showing up as a thought. It takes time.

These samskaras, thought impressions of old patterns and habits, loose power when you inquire into why they are there in the first place. Meaning, that creating self-awareness for a leader is a crucial aspect of leadership development.

When we have some sense of our own self, we can step outside of those thought patterns or habits and create new ones.

And, it is in the creation of new thought patterns where true empowerment is found for leaders, first, yes, for themselves, and then for their teams, organizations, families, and friends.

There are four things I do on a regular basis to increase my self-awareness.

  1. Meditation
  2. Diet
  3. Exercise
  4. Coaching

Each of these contributes to self-awareness in unique ways, and they combine to increase clarity, calmness of mind, well-being, and insight into who you are as a human being, and how you relate to yourself and everyone else. Very important.

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Feeling

As was aforementioned, how we think really does affect, even predict, how we feel, speak, and act, and how we feel on a general level and even on a more specific level, which is very important.

Important to how we relate to ourselves and everyone else.

I grew up in a household where people definitely displayed emotion, yet it was still hidden, and definitely not talked about. And, that’s not a demerit. Why?

Because my parents were not shown how to understand their emotions and then how to constructively talk about them. It is far more normal, especially in the United States, than people might imagine. And?

Not helpful to your own development, nor is it to your teams, organizations, families, or friends. If you don’t know why you feel the way you do, you will not understand how others feel.

And, if you are unable to understand how you and the people around you feel, you cannot talk about feelings in productive and constructive ways.

However, when you know how you feel, understand why you feel as you do, and learn how to talk about emotions in healthy ways, you can navigate more complex conversations and situations as they arise.

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And, in leadership roles, nay, in life, complex situations and conversations happen all the time. Sometimes every day.

In addition to meditation, diet, exercise, and weekly coaching, there are a couple of other things I do to understand my feelings and emotional state.

  1. Journaling
  2. Reflecting

Journaling, and reflecting upon how you feel, is a very important process; especially when we are truly interested in understanding how and why we feel as we do. Some questions I typically ask myself are as follows.

  1. What is the feeling that I am feeling?
  2. What is the thought that is driving that feeling?
  3. Where did that thought come from?

When you understand what you’re feeling, what thought is driving the feeling, and where the thought came from, you can begin to acknowledge the feeling.

When we can acknowledge how we truly feel, we can then release that feeling once we’ve gained true understanding. And, true understanding may mean working on a thought/feeling combination for some time.

Now, I’ve written most of this section with an assumption in mind. That, the work we do to understand how we feel, is needed mostly when we experience “negative” feelings, or emotions.

The emotions and associated feelings that bring us pain, discomfort, worry, and anxiety, for instance.

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

Why is it important to work on these “negative” emotions and feelings?

Because if we don’t understand how we feel and why we feel as we do, we will regularly give out all of that “negative” emotion to other people. And?

And, then, yes, we are giving out all of our anger, frustration, sadness, or whatever other feeling we have to everyone around us, and we are doing so unintentionally.

If you want to see an example of how this looks, just go to the grocery store and hang out for a while. You will encounter someone that is completely unaware of their emotional state. It won’t take long.

It happens all the time, every day. As was aforementioned, especially in the United States, where there is still, yes even in 2020, stigma about talking about our emotions. Not helpful and extremely unhealthy.

Now, understanding our feelings does not mean that we run out and tell everyone that we meet that we are frustrated, for instance, and here are the reasons why. A paradox? Yes?

Understanding your emotions and why you feel as you do, helps you do the exact opposite.

When we understand why we feel as we do, we can hold our emotions more, and find the right times to talk about them in appropriate ways; meaning healthy and constructive ways. Very important.

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In Closing

Alright, though I have more to say on both of the aforementioned topics, for now, that concludes the first part of this second installment in the leadership series. Next?

We will take a look at Leadership Sociology. And, yep, you are correct, Leadership Sociology and Leadership Psychology are connected. They influence each other. A reciprocal relationship, if you like.

For now, remember, leadership psychology as defined here, understanding how we think and feel is an important first step in developing ourselves, yes, as leaders, and even more importantly as human beings.

When we are open to our own development, we can create contexts that are growth-oriented for everyone. It works that way.

Remember, it starts with you, with me, with each of us. Therefore, when we catch ourselves looking outside of ourselves for answers to why we think and feel as we do, we must remember to look within.

Because, my friends, within ourselves is the only place we will find the answers.

#coaching, #diet, #emotionalintelligence, #emotions, #exercise, #feeling, #journaling, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershippsychology, #meditation, #mindfulness, #reflecting, #samskaras, #self-development, #thinking, #thinkingandfeeling, #thoughtimpressions, #understandingyourself

The Reflection Series Part 4: What Do Coaching, Communication, and Insight Have in Common?

A 3-minute Reflection on Leadership and Systems Thinking

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What do you think that coaching, communication, and insight have in common? Hm. Not sure?

Or, maybe, you’re thinking it’s that they’re interactive, and that’s what they have in common, and, yep, that is true. Yet there is one more. Yep.

They are all part of a single system. Each one, coaching, communication, and insight, all of them, is a piece of a larger whole. Let’s take a look at these pieces so we can see the whole. Ready? Here we go.

Creating Coaching

Alright, I’ve written about coaching before, and, even wrote about a developed model that works pretty well. Yet, guess what? Yep. That model has iterated. Today? Here’s what it looks like now.

  1. Creating Safety
  2. Current Reality
  3. Future Reality
  4. Define the Gap
  5. Create Next Actions
  6. Create Safety

Yep, it is a complete system. And, yes, it is a system within a system. Meaning, that coaching is, yes, one piece in an overall system, and, yep, you begin with safety and end with it. Every time. Why?

Because creating safety for people is one of the most important aspects of developing high-functioning teams. Seriously. Watch.

What does it take to have a high-functioning team? Any ideas? Yep. Here we go.

  1. Trust
  2. Reciprocity
  3. Vulnerability
  4. Innovation
  5. Execution

There’s five. And, to have those five? Yep. Safety. Always.

Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Creating Communication

In order to have high-quality coaching conversations, good communication must also be present. And, what, pray, are the components of good communication. Here are a few.

  1. Listen
  2. Be present
  3. Tell your truth
  4. Reciprocity

Sounds simple, yes? Well, it is, and yet, is a paradox, like most things in life. Why? Because it takes practice, and a commitment to persevere. You will make mistakes. And?

That’s okay. It’s part of it.

If we think that good communication feels good all the time, or looks one way or another, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Most of my favorite conversations today are loaded with work, for both people.

Here are a few more important concepts to develop good communication.

  1. Patience
  2. Grace
  3. Compassion
  4. Understanding

It takes work and time. Yet, when you practice listening and being present, all kinds of wondrous things happen. Really.

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Creating Insight

Ah, yes, one of my favorite topics. Insight. Beautiful.

Well, what’s the deal with insight anyway? When we typically think about insight, we think about that moment of clarity where we learn something we’d not considered before. Right? Yep.

However, insight can come in many forms. Seriously. Here are a few.

  1. Self
  2. One-on-One
  3. Team
  4. Organization
  5. Community

Yep. Insights are created through collaboration, whether that is through collaboration with yourself, yes, that’s true, or with another individual or team member, or with the entire team, organization, or community.

Insights are a product of high-quality communicative contexts that are safe. Period.

Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

A Single System

Alright, so what does creating coaching, good communication, and insight have to do with each other? Yep, you got it.

They are all a part of the relationship system. First, the relationships we have with ourselves, then, the team, organization, and community. True.

And, the relationship system is applicable in all social contexts. Meaning, you can substitute family with the team in the aforementioned example, and you have a whole and complete system for the family. Same.

There we go. That’s my 3-minute reflection on the relationships system, and why considering these pieces as connected and a part of a larger whole is very important for leaders, and, well, for everyone. Really.

In fact, one could argue, as I would, that your very relationships depend on it. Truth. Phew. That was fun.

#coaching, #communication, #insight, #interactions, #leadership, #relationshsipsystem, #selfdevelopment

A Bloggers’ Diary: On Blogging, 3 Months In

Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

Well, it’s been 3 months since I started blogging, and I’ve learned some, and have so much more to learn. Phew, so much.

How did I get started?

As I’ve written in other posts, when COVID-19 sent everyone home, a byproduct of the pandemic was more time. Though I continued to work, the business was/is much slower than normal. In fact, the business is completely different today, and will continue to be so.

As I was looking for another outlet for the additional time, my oldest son and I had a conversation about COVID-19, discussing if future history books would show a large increase in creativity during the pandemic. Not sure, yet it is fun to think about.

Photo by Will van Wingerden on Unsplash

What I do know is that it got me thinking about creating a site where I could get out my own creativity, and could also invite others to do the same. Though the latter hasn’t been fully realized, the former has been, and in ways that I never anticipated.

At the time, I had no idea how far it would go, and it pleasantly surprised me for sure. Pretty cool.

I’ve actually integrated the blogging into my normal daily workflow. They are very relevant to each other, and in many ways, they feed on each other. Fun.

What have I learned?

Phew, so many things. Here are a few.

  • How to create, manage, update, and maintain a website – lots of work, was a steep learning curve for me. Yet, like anything, once you get into it, starting moving work forward, you learn, read other blogs, and adjust as needed.
  • How to connect social media accounts to websites – actually not difficult. The difficulty is in managing the social media accounts. Making the time to learn how to use them, as they are all very different. Lots of work.
  • How to manage my time differently – even though there was/has been more time since COVID-19 began, I had to strategically create time each day to move the work forward.
  • How to differentiate writing from working on the site – both are needed. I write everyday, and, at first, worked on the site everyday. Now, I still write everyday, yet only work on the site once or twice a week. Not sure if that is a proper balance, as I do know updating the site is very important.
  • How to follow and interact with other bloggers – much fun. I have greatly enjoyed reading other blogs, asking questions, and giving my perspective on other topics. Fun.
  • How to connect videos to websites – about a month ago I wrote this blog, How We Learn, and Why it’s Important to Understand, and after reflecting upon it, it occurred to me that creating videos would be super fun, and would be another way to engage with people.
  • How to market your blog – learning more here every day. Lots of ways to market and engage people. I will say, however, that being active and consistent is super important.
  • How to sign up and write regularly on medium – I had never even heard of medium before beginning to blog. You can follow me here.

I’ve learned so much, and have so much more to learn, which is why I thought this new diary series would be super fun to write.

Let’s take a look at how my blogs have iterated in the past three months.

Here is the first one, Creativity During COVID-19, and here is the most recent one, The Blog + Video Series 2: Writing and Life Series #4 – On Pain and Healing Through Writing.

Lots of development over the past three months. A wonderful journey thus far, and I have every intention of continuing to write in this medium.

Here are some of the topics I’ve covered in the past three months.

  • Relationships
  • Mindfulness
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Human Development
  • Self-Development
  • Writing
  • Social Action
  • Business
  • Letters
  • Inspiration and Imagination
  • Possibilities
  • The Sound of

That’s actually a pretty inclusive list. The letters category is really new, it was just created last week. There is only one blog in there now, which is the one about my father passing, Letters: For My Dad.

Corvallis, Oregon

That was a tough one to write, and has me in tears now. Phew. I miss him.

What’s next?

Continue to write, and learn. I’ve got a long list of topics to write about, much more than the time to get them all written anytime soon. And, you know, that’s totally okay.

I see blogging as something that will continue to be a part of my life forevermore. I’m not interested in the short game, only in the long one.

I also see my work in higher education and blogging, as something that will continue to converge. Actually, I’ve just recently added coaching services to the website, which I am super excited about. You can check them out here.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

I’ve got a deep passion for personal and professional development, and have been working in this field all my life. Fun.

I also get very excited about new ways to engage, and new topics to write about, which I continue to reflect upon.

Alright, that’s all for this entry. However, before I go, I would like to thank each of you.

Thank you for reading, liking posts, commenting on posts, engaging me in however you did. You are appreciated.

#blogging, #blogs, #coaching, #covid-19, #engagement, #learning, #managetime, #marketing, #medium, #personal-and-professional-development, #socialmedia, #videos, #websitedevelopment, #writing