I’d like to frame taking care of ourselves. We have learned that self-focus is something negative, something selfish in the manner of, to the exclusion of others and not contributing to our world, if we are quote unquote “focused on ourselves”. The problem that happens with that is when we are purely externally focused and we neglect our joy, we neglect feeding our souls, we become dry and brittle. And then, interestingly enough, more of our focus gets turned internally because we end up judging ourselves. We feel uncomfortable. Everything’s not working on an emotional level and so, therefore, we really don’t have the rich fertile ground inside to give to others. Literally, if you imagine a field when it is dry and parched and not fertilized. Then, even the most beautiful, healthiest of plants are going to wither. But, if you nurture that ground and you till the soil and you add compost and water well, then that ground is going to feed the plants to help them thrive, which is going to let them feed everybody else.
It’s literally that way with ourselves. So, it’s just the opposite. Caring for yourself, not in order to care for others, but caring for yourself as its own reward does care for others. It absolutely does.
So, let’s say you choose to come from that place. You take the time to nurture yourself and act from that stance. Then, you receive feedback from others about how you are showing up. It can be challenging when that feedback is in contradiction to how you feel you are showing up. Well, you can hear that feedback in one of two ways: You can hear it as they are saying something about you, or you can hear that they are saying something about their perception. Where most people get into difficulties is that they hear somebody talking and take what they say as a statement of fact about themselves, about the person who’s being addressed, rather than a statement about the experience of the speaker.
And when you make that crucial distinction, always you can listen to just about anything and remain at ease. You can hear somebody say just about anything to you, because it’s clear for you that, when they’re speaking, they are “merely” sharing with you, their experience of the facts – nothing more than that.
Now what most people say when we go over this point is, “Yeah, but then if I don’t listen to any feedback, and I just believe that it’s always about the speaker, then I can never improve. And I’m never really going to change the things about myself or my actions that should be changed according to other people’s opinions.
Then what you can do after you’ve identified that it is not a fact about you, but rather the speaker expressing their perception, is to try it on for yourself. Use the perceptions of others as a critical reflection system to assess what you believe can be improved according to your own value system and estimation. Say, “Okay, so let me look at an example.” And then ask yourself, “When I give feedback, am I specific enough for others to understand?”
And then explore it. Well, I thought I was specific, but I could have used an example. Maybe if I had used and example the mistake would not have happened. Okay, I can see that point. So maybe I wasn’t as specific with her in this situation as I could have been.” And then you still have a choice. Do I want to change it? Or do I know when to change it? Just because the person has that experience of you does not 1. make it a fact, and 2. doesn’t mean you have to do anything that still is within your own purview. And so that’s the second thing that people get frustrated about is if somebody gives them feedback, they feel like they have to do something. You don’t have to do anything. But you have a choice. And that’s the beautiful part of it.
So, let’s say someone gives you feedback that you’re vague. And then you go through your own assessment and conclude, no, I think I was pretty specific. And let’s say, maybe six out of 10 feedbacks you get is that you’re vague in your feedback. Then you may want to look at it. You can consider that if a good number of people are perceiving that there may be something I’m missing. That is the time you can go to these people and ask, “can you tell me specifically what you mean? I thought I was being clear. What was it that wasn’t coming across for you?”
In that case then, you’re being like an investigator. You’re really trying to hunt down what is the discrepancy between what you’re calling specific feedback and what they’re hearing as vague. What’s the mismatch there. And when you take communication apart that way, break it down into the anatomy, and actually go at it with heart from that place, it is amazing. People feel heard, you get clear, difficulties or miscommunications get clarified. It’s absolutely phenomenal. The kingpin, however, is taking apart that facts can be correct or incorrect, perceptions are always valid and judgment is not useful. It’s not necessary, nor is it useful, which is why my Genius of NonJudgment training is such a great tool. If you can take it apart that way, then somebody can come in and say just about anything to you and then you alone are the one who decides, how are you going to digest it? How are you going to manage that information that you’ve just been given?
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