Are you bogged down with problems and projects? Most people are. But some people manage to take care of business even as they infuse their days with passion and possibility. How do they do this? By paying attention to their core values, guiding vision, immediate vicinity, and heartfelt vocation. Sound exciting? Read on to strengthen your own embrace of life.
Last week I wrote about the importance of being well rounded, Click, to increase both our success and fulfillment at work. My message encouraged the use of our peripheral vision, to notice things that might go beyond our job description. Instead of narrowly focusing on the immediate problem or project, using our peripheral vision can connect us with the realm of passion and possibility.
This is the shift that LifeTrek coaches look for as we work with our clients. People often call us when they are painfully aware of some problem that needs fixing or project that needs doing. And we do, in fact, assist people to get things fixed and done. But that is not our true genius and that is not what makes work both educational and enjoyable.
Problem solving and project management are not the stuff that dreams are made of! Usually within 45 days of starting a coaching relationship, people make the shift to passion and possibility. They stop glancing in the rearview mirror and they start driving forward, with eyes wide open. They see a bigger picture, play a bigger game, and become a bigger person.
That’s not to say they gain weight. 🙂 More often than not they lose weight, as they find themselves gathering interest in things other than food and entertainment. You might say, to borrow the dictionary definition of well-rounded, they become more “comprehensively developed and well-balanced in a range or variety of aspects.” In short, they become more fully human.
Interestingly, one of the ways to become well-rounded is to become well-grounded. The roots determine the shoots. The stronger the root system, and the better the soil, the larger the tree and its branches. It works the same way in human beings. When we are grounded in positive values and supported by positive environments, we become more fully alive and better able to work on the things that matter.
Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, in their excellent book The Power of Full Engagement, speak of this as the spiritual side of life. And they emphasize the importance of bringing that spirit to work.
“Spiritual energy,” they write, “is the most powerful source of motivation, perseverance, and direction. When ignited, it drives us to full engagement and it maximizes performance in whatever mission we are on.”
“The key muscle that fuels spiritual energy is character • the courage and conviction to live by our values, even when doing so requires personal sacrifice and hardship. Supportive spiritual muscles include passion, commitment, integrity, and honesty.” These are the muscles that need to be coached and trained if we hope to rise above the daily grind, escape the rat race, and emerge victorious in life and work.
What I like about Loehr’s and Schwartz’s method is that it fully appreciates and applies what every athlete knows: training = work + recovery. Too much work leads to overtraining and injury. Too much recovery leads to under training and impairment. But when the perfect balance is struck, we experience optimum performance, learning, and enjoyment.
The road to perfect balance starts with the identification of core values. There’s no one right balance for all people at all times, and the right balance for any one person will change over time. But when we know our core values, it becomes much easier to decide how we want to spend our time. Setting boundaries becomes an effortless expression of identity while working passionately in pursuit of closely held values becomes second nature. We find ourselves absorbed in all that life and work have to offer.
This is why many coaching conversations encourage people to go deeper, with a systematic exploration of values, vision, vicinity, and vocation. Taken together, these are the things that can untangle the knots we get ourselves into by proceeding blindly. As we become more aware and intentional about these things, large and small shifts begin to take place than can make all the difference in the world.
To gain an understanding of the difference, consider two familiar situations. The first is a student being told to do their homework. This usually comes from someone in authority, such as a parent, teacher, or tutor. Many households have rules about doing homework. “No television or video games until the homework’s done,” is an example of a popular rule. Faced with such coercive authority, and the consequences of defying that authority, the student bears down and tries to focus on the homework.
Invariably, such focus is short-lived. To bear down because we have to, either because that’s the rule or because there’s a deadline tomorrow, produces anxiety, resistance, irritability, boredom, and strain. The work becomes a chore. Even when the chore is successful, there is little joy in the accomplishment. It becomes a have to, rather than a want to. More often the chore is unsuccessful, since we find ourselves easily distracted. We put in our time but not our energy.
The second situation is a lover being encouraged by their beloved. It doesn’t take much to unleash a rush of energy, passion, and commitment. When people are courting each other, the slightest expression of interest can result in great thoughtfulness and wonderful encounters. No one has to be told to be nice to someone when they’re truly interested in a potential romantic relationship. Nice goes without saying.
The same is true for a captivating book or movie. Time disappears as we find ourselves enthralled. We may even lose sleep along the way. Focus comes naturally when we are genuinely, truly, and passionately interested in something or someone.
So how do we infuse the rest of life, including the workplace, with the energy of expectant lovers rather than the weariness of indentured servants? The secret lies in being well grounded. We have to know who we are, what we want, and where we are going. From there it becomes much easier to get into the flow of life and work.
“Flow,” writes psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “is the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
Fortunately, it’s possible to experience flow within the bounds of ordinary life and work. There’s no need to venture into extreme pursuits, unless your core values take you there. As long as you see the connection between your core values and your life, it’s possible to get in the flow with just about any activity.
Some of my core values are taped to my computer monitor. They include trusting that I am exactly where I am meant to be, lifting people up rather than bringing them down, seeing God in everyone and everything, using my gifts to their fullest expression, eating a low-calorie, heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly and wisely, and enjoying my life.
Not a day goes by that I don’t look at and review those values. When I’m working hard on the treadmill, they make me smile. When I get a celery and salsa snack instead of a cookie, they make me smile. When I reach out and touch someone in a positive way, they make me smile. When I volunteer my time and energy, they make me smile. When I coach people to success and fulfillment in life and work, they make me smile. When I write this Provision, they make me smile. When I deal with the inevitable ups and downs of life, they make me smile.
In other words, being well-grounded in a unified mission statement that flows naturally from my identity rather than from an abstract set of universal principles is part of what assists me to make life work. And I believe it can do the same for you.
Coaching Inquiries: What are your core values? What do you get excited about? How could you pay more attention to these things? How could you express them more fully in your life and work? Does anything need to shift?
To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.
Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, send an email tocoach@LifeTrekCoaching.com.
Today was one of those days when you were reading my thoughts. As always, thanks for the amazing work you to. Thanks for the particular way you do it. Thanks for your friendship and your love.
Could you send me the poem called Passion. I did not get it. I just got turned on to this on my palm device. I would like to read it. (Ed. Note: My poems are archived on the web, where you can read them any time. Click)
In 2002, my job required a lot of travel and my husband suffered a heart attack • both experiences made me realize that I was missing something: my three-year-old’s youth. So I quit my job and began part-time consulting (which I do when my son is in preschool). I’m loving every minute of it! Life is grand! Your provisions are thought-provoking and inspiring. Keep them coming!
Thank you for the wonderful article. This is just the thing that I needed to help me get this year kick started. I often find myself over busy by things that are not worth while and that detract from my real desires and goals. To accomplish my BHAG I must learn and employ techniques to Stop, Think, Evaluate, and Press on, with my day doing the things that are productive to my set of goals and desires.
I often feel this sense of rush. I have a wife and young daughter that “hold me back” when I am ready to move. My struggle is the same in that I focus on the waiting and impatience and am more destructive than I am productive. (Ed. Note: I would encourage you to write down and live from you core values.)
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
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