Reproduced with kind permission by Nicola Vague
Continuing on the theme of my last post about being stuck on the ‘thinking and doing’ treadmill, this time I want to outline my 5S Personal Leadership model. This model captures five practices and experiences that you can use to bring yourself out of your head and into your body, connecting more with ‘feeling and being’. Once you have acknowledged that nagging internal voice telling you that something needs to change, and perhaps taken some initial simple steps towards that change, it’s time to take some more concrete steps. This model is designed to get you on the right track with commitment to and focus on your personal leadership, putting you firmly on the path towards becoming a better version of you.
Personal Leadership 5S Model
Carve out the space in work and life to focus on your personal leadership. In just the same way that you schedule meetings with others, schedule ‘personal leadership/self-care’ ‘meetings with yourself’ in your calendar.
Give these ‘appointments’ the same priority you would if they were meetings, which may involve setting some healthy boundaries. You might need to say ‘no’ to some requests or things that feel like ‘shoulds’. You may need to more assertively express your needs to your partner, colleagues or team. It may require taking yourself away, perhaps booking into a retreat or a place in the country for a couple of days by yourself. During these personal leadership sessions, turn off your phone, find an inviting location where you won’t be interrupted, remove all distractions and show up fully by yourself for yourself.
Creating space is where it all begins. It allows the external ‘noise’ of life to quieten down enough so that you can hear your own breath and feel your own heartbeat.
Within the space you have carved out, welcome stillness. You may experience some resistance and an urge to be distracted away from stillness – that’s normal. Stay with it. You can use some of the tips in these two previous posts to begin to notice your breath, quieten your mind, etc.
The idea here is to shift away from your racing thoughts and begin to access how you are feeling and what you are noticing in your body. Given the pace at which most of us operate, this definitely requires a transition of some sort, so be kind to yourself and keep it short at first – even five minutes is a great place to start. It’s only through stillness that we can get beyond the mental chatter that doesn’t serve us and bring our focus and attention back to the things that really matter.
Whether it is by writing, singing, drawing, sharing openly and honestly with a trusted other or by some other means, you need to be expressing how you are feeling. When we express how we are feeling and what is happening for us, we learn about ourselves and the world around us. The very act of expressing how we are feeling helps energy stuck within us to move through us, enabling us to reflect. It helps us gain clarity about where to next place our energy and attention. It strengthens our connection to self and, when we share openly with a trusted other, it builds connection.
There are so many possible ways of expressing how you are feeling, but here are three examples:
Start a Journal
One of the most time-honoured, simplest and most powerful ways of capturing your thoughts and feelings. Set a time each day to write in your journal. Until it becomes a habit in its own right, it’s a good idea to attach your journal time to an existing habit, for instance while having your morning coffee.
Your task is to simply write about anything that wants to be written about. Just get out of the way of yourself, ignore the internal critic and put pen to paper. Remember that you’re only writing for yourself. You may write about how you are feeling or what is present for you. Reflect on what is going well for you and explore anything that you have been triggered by. Anything that has an emotional charge for us is a gift – if we can take the time to understand why it has that charge. Writing helps us to open different perspectives. It clears the mind and opens the heart.
One way to get started, or change things up, might be to try the Morning Pages practice as outlined by Julia Cameron. I use a cheap A4 notebook for my journal as I feel freer just to write without having to produce a work of art. I rarely ever read my journal again – it’s about a download and a tool to process and make sense of what’s happening in life rather than recording my life.
Seek out different people, places and experiences, bringing an attitude of curiosity into all that you do. Our senses are an important way of connecting our external experiences with our internal world of ‘feeling and being’, and new experiences bring our senses to life. If you’ve never tried art, perhaps now’s the time.
Start close to home
Expression doesn’t always need to be in words. Why not trying having a long-held hug with someone that you love. Count to 20 seconds; you can’t help but melt into each other. It’s magic.
Establish a self-care practice. By taking committed action to the elements that make up our Personal Leadership model you are already taking a major leap forward with your own self-care. Self-care also extends to other areas such as your physical vitality and energy, meaning, purpose and direction, and balance and boundaries.. You can read more about some of these things in the Global Leadership Wellbeing Survey (GLWS) framework. You might like to consider the completion of a Global Leadership Wellbeing Survey (GLWS) to understand your wellbeing at work and wellbeing at home and to establish a sustainable self-care rhythm.
Find the right support for you. It may be friends, your manager, a personal leadership workshop or program. It’s often challenging to go this alone and having someone to ‘walk’ alongside you can accelerate the process. Engage a leadership coach if you feel you would benefit from non-biased, professional support to help you reach your goals and to hold you to account.
This post was first published on April 29th, 2018 @ www.evolvingleaders.com.au
Through Evolving Leaders, Nicola works with clients as a consultant, facilitator, speaker and coach. She delivers culture and wellbeing programs for leaders (Culture Assessment and Development Program CADP and Wellbeing Assessment and Development Program WADP), unique art therapy based team development experiences, selfcare workshops for leaders and teaches yoga nidra meditation to help people better navigate life.
Read more articles from Nicola about being stuck on the ‘thinking and doing’ treadmill.