I’m seeing it everywhere I go.
No time to stop. No time to think. Just get on and do, do, do! And make sure others are doing the same.
In this place your brain is in action mode (distinct from reflection mode). You become more concerned about yourself than others. You lose perspective. It’s hard to see the bigger picture. You don’t think with full capacity because you’re verging on threat state and some parts of your brain aren’t deemed important enough for good blood flow when you’re in that place. More things become a competition than necessary. Frustrations are everywhere. And you’re more likely tip from the edge of “healthy pressure” into unhealthy stress and unhelpful reactions. When that happens you damage relationships, often with those you’re relying on to get your “doing” done.
It’s such a waste of human potential.
Because what I also see is that when people do choose to stop and think, either in 1:1 or group sessions, they can then see clearly. They raise their awareness. And from that position of greater clarity they choose different, more effective, more beneficial actions – and get better results.
And we need to choose it. We need to choose to stop.
The predominant culture in business today is “be busy” – because it makes you look/feel important and successful, because it makes you look/feel needed or wanted, because if you don’t your pay rise / bonus / job / career might be at risk….because if there’s a problem or something goes wrong fingers will be pointed at me because I didn’t look like I was doing anything. I looked like I didn’t have everything under control. I wasn’t dotting every i and crossing every t.
Our need for control makes us think that doing stuff and keeping doing stuff – a lot – is our route to success.
When in fact it’s our route to failure.
When we stop, in reflective mode, we feel more relaxed, our thinking broadens, we see connections, we become more empathetic and therefore able to appreciate and be considerate of others’ perspectives, we’re more flexible, adaptable and resilient to the things that inevitably change the plan along the way.
So ironically, even though we think that ploughing on and getting through the work is THE most important thing and the thing that will get us furthest. If we only stopped for 15 minutes and walked round the block, or went to buy a sandwich outside the building, it would help our heads shift into reflective mode, help us process what we’ve just done, and have us ready for the next chunk of the day.
And beyond that there are so many other ways and times and places you can stop and reflect. The key is for it to become a regular habit. You choose which of these sounds right for you. Give it a try, see if it works, and if not, try something else.
How Often and When:
Daily (tiny version) – if you feel you don’t have time to reflect at all – start small – even just reflecting on #3goodthings every day can start to shift how you feel and think. That only takes a few minutes on your journey home.
Daily (slightly bigger version) – 15 minutes before you’re going to leave – what’s gone well today, what hasn’t, what do I want to do differently tomorrow / next time?
Weekly – Friday before you finish – what’s gone well this week, what’s been challenging, what have I learnt, what’s coming up next week?
Monthly – end of the month – what am I proud of, what’s been difficult, what am I learning from that, what do I want to do with that now?
On your own – on paper, spoken out loud, recorded into your phone
With a colleague who’d also like to experiment with this, talk and process out loud while the other listens, then swap
Work with a coach* – protected thinking time with someone who’s entirely on your side, usually up to two hours, for in-depth reflection. Probably focussed on a particular aspect of your life – maybe something that’s showing up as a pattern for you and which is becoming a hindrance.
Ideally outside amongst trees and greenery – nature has a positive effect on how we feel!
If not then somewhere as comfy and relaxing as possible – maybe a coffee shop or quieter work area
Or just at your desk, on the sofa…. you choose.
Try some options. See what works for you. Form a habit you feel you can stick to. Some reflecting is better than none.
And see what impact is has on you and those around you.
*Different coaches are different. Talk to a few and choose the one you think will work for you. Coaches are used to this choosing process and good ones will have no problem with you not choosing them.