Maybe not world peace, but inch by inch, mile by mile it can be profound in a life, a family, a team, a company, a community, and hopefully the world.
You are who you are, so you probably know yourself well, or well enough to get through today, this week, and even this crazy year. So, until there is a problem or a crisis such as revenues are down, profit is marginal, your team is not working together, you’ve had a heart attack, your partner walked out, or your kids don’t talk to you, it is unlikely you will have enough motivation to slow down and examine things, let alone initiate change.
But when a crisis happens, when the problem causes enough pain, I think we know instinctively, at some level, that we need to investigate our role in the problem if we hope to solve the problem. Some of us might be satisfied with band aides and moving on – there is too much to do. However, I meet more and more people wanting deeper more ever lasting solutions. With the added stress test of a pandemic, for many this has exposed more of the breakages and disfunction in our lives, and, like being hit over the head with a bat, we finally see and feel it, and it is not good.
I think that most of us are looking for a better understanding of how we can relate better, influence our world to be better, work better together, and be more integrated with the people in our sphere of influence versus falling apart or taking sides. Knowing more stress tests will come and more problems will happen, we need to get better at functioning well in change and collaborating effectively. So where do we start?
We must examine ourselves. Why and how? Using self-assessments or even just going through a checklist, you can gain a greater understanding of your skills, preferences and values, and also your vision of life, relationships and work. We need to understand how we impact others, how our perceptions influence our impressions and judgements of others, what triggers us, how and when we might react, our preferred styles, our innate tendencies, where we derive energy, and where we lose it. We are not islands, but part of social entities. If we do not slow down and examine who we are in relation to others, we will forever be a bull in a china shop, or a talent hidden in a closet. Our value and contribution to the whole will be destructive or limited in value or both. To pull people together (our families, organizations, communities, countries) and collaborate, despite the inevitable friction and conflict, we must be aware.
Once we are more aware of ourselves and in relation to others, we will start to better understand other perspectives and styles which naturally leads to increased value and appreciation in these differences. This process is well documented in social psychology that the more people interact overtime the more likely they are to like each other. It is the theory behind why proximity is the greatest predictor of friendships. However, this does not happen when animosity, judgement, and closed mindedness prevails. In this case, neighbors become enemies and the divisions increase. When I open myself to explore my own perspective relative to others, I am more open to understanding that differences are just differences versus an attack or a threat to me and my viewpoint. I can now be curious versus protective. Of course, most of us will be cautious until we can trust. So how do we increase trust?
With a shift in awareness and better understanding of differences, the naturally conflicting parts can be valued in the role they play and the perspective they bring. The engagement of these differences and the push and pull, yin and yang, then enables us to create a better solution.
If we can also find common ground in something greater than ourselves and the current conflict, such as, “we will value each other in this process”, then we can seek this common goal together and hold onto this small thread of trust.
The value of a solution derived from engagement now becomes multiplied. Because more perspectives have been involved in the solution, and more people are behind it, the planning and implementation will go faster and more effectively. Without naysayers and resistance, we can all move swiftly, and focus on our parts with a clear path to follow to reach the collectively agreed upon solution.
When we experience collaboration and success what is happening? Respect and trust are growing. Knowing ourselves better, in relation to others, increases appreciation and respect, brings in more perspectives, creates better solutions, engages the whole and enables faster implementation creating a positive trajectory to increasing trust. Ultimately, the process of knowing ourselves better gives us a greater ability to develop mutual respect which leads to greater trust as we have more and more successful interactions. At the highest level it enables us to value ourselves and others, with all our differences, and to be of service by adapting and appreciating what others need to contribute well. Ultimately, it enables us to love.
Although simplified and summarized, I hope I have made a case for greater self-awareness or, at a minimum, encouraged you to be proactive and not wait until a crisis motivates you to explore deeper. Change is inevitable, you may like it or not but, you’ll most likely be involved in managing change at some point. Self-awareness can be the foundation and beginning point for effective collaboration, respect, trust and even the manifestation of love. It also proposes potential areas to examine, learn, or share. There are many tools to help you get started from self assessments, to courageously asking others how they experience you, to more formal 360s.
If we can help, our Leadership Accelerator programs are designed to help you move quickly on this journey to gain clarity, insight, and determine a personal plan for awareness, enrichment and change. We help you expand your self and other awareness, your relational skills and your leadership, utilizing accelerators like in-depth psychometric assessments, 1:1 mentoring, online video training, workshops and webinars, so you can be the leader you know you are and can be; a leader that creates collaboration, respect and trust within your team, your company, your community, and, probably most important, your family.