I can be a procrastinator at times (even about things I want to do!) and have been thinking about the combination of things that leads me to procrastinate and how I might address that. I realized that it`s the intersection of three things … thinking that whatever I need to do is too big, too hard and that I have to do it all at once. I love blogging, for example, but if you have been following my blog you know I go through periods of regular blogging followed by no blogs for months!
I realized this past fall (after not having blogged for over six months!) that these three things were at play. So I was able to start again by telling myself to spend 10 minutes just thinking about the blog, even if I didn`t do anything else with it that day. Well, to my amazement I did an entire blog that day!
I have a work project right now that feels too big and too hard and so I am reminding myself of bigger and harder projects I have done. Then, I am committing 10 minutes towards the project. This combination seems to be working for me for now!
What are your patterns of procrastination and how have you deal with them?
In our strategic leadership workshops, we often hear from people some version of “But so and so won’t let me …” or “I’ve complained many times about our company’s … ” or “Our organization is so messed up that …” to which we sometimes say (kindly of course that “Whining is not a strategy.” If you are whining or looking at what is wrong, you cannot see opportunities and will not develop your skills. If, for example, you don’t think you are being provided with enough clarity about your job, instead of continuing to complain about or ask, over and over again, for clarity, ask yourself what you could learn about dealing with ambiguity. That will definitely lead to your next opportunity to learn and grow which is indeed a better strategy than whining!
I would love to say that I always trust my intuition, but sadly I do not. And sadly, not trusting my intuition has resulted in me taking on work and projects that were not good for me, inevitably leaving me with confidence and competence shaken.
So why do we ask our heads when our guts are screaming? For me, it usually comes down to two patterns:
- Wanting people to say good things about me. I have taken on projects or agreed to work with people when my gut was screaming no. I went ahead anyway because I was worried what they might say about me. Ironically, the outcomes were even worse than if I had said no to begin with. I rationalize the decision by saying things like “you never know what they might say to …” but really I get work by doing good work, not by trying to figure out who might say what to whom. And I do good work when I listen to my intuition. Duh.
- Thinking there’s not enough – of whatever. When I’m in scarcity mode I ignore my intuition and get involved in messy projects. I rationalize it by saying I could learn something, this could be an adventure, I shouldn’t be uppity about the type of work I take, I need the money, be glad you’ve got work, etc. When I reflect on these situations honestly, it has always cost more, whether emotionally or financially, when I ignored my intuition.
What has helped me listen more to my intuition is to think long term and develop better skills at saying no in a respectful way. When don’t you trust your intuition and how have you addressed this?
I remember listening to an author once (sorry I can’t recall who it was!) who was asked about how she dealt with critics of her work. She replied, “I go where I am loved.” Most of us already have really well developed inner critics and so we don’t need to seek them out. Going where we are loved to find an audience for our work and our style (whatever work that might be!), leaves more energy to continue developing ourselves. Continually going down a path with people who don’t appreciate who we are leaves us demotivated, uninspired and worn out. Find those who love you and nurture them!
Today’s blog is inspired by a recent book, The Best Advice in Six Words, an inspiring and provocative book full of advice from famous and not so famous authors.
The holiday season can be full of unpleasant memories, high expectations and emotional stress. Take a break from that backpack.
Embrace what is possible from there. (Second 6 word advice
Learning to manage anxiety in the presence of silence is another insight from the work of Weisbord and Janoff. As they suggest, “We are mindful that each time we break the silence, we deprive someone of a chance to make a valuable observation.” Waiting even 10 seconds will seem like an eternity, but it allows people to experience whatever is happening and come up with insights about what’s next.
I have had the honour of working with many talented leaders who are so people oriented that they drive themselves crazy trying to ensure people are happy. These leaders often have to make tough decisions, though, and it’s not possible for everyone to be happy all the time.
Even though intellectually I think most of these leaders know this, they still keep thinking that if they had done something different, people would be happy.
They won’t be – there is no one right way. That’s the reality of work and life – there is pain at times. Helping everyone accept this might just start to ease people’s suffering.
I’ve written about the importance of having cheerleaders in your life, especially when you are trying something new and/or taking risks.
But we also need to step back and analyze who’s in our network more broadly in order that we don’t get blindsided by circumstances and perspectives we hadn’t considered.
Who do you interact with most and/or consult with around projects? Are they all like you? Or is your network diverse?
In complex human interactions, leading with intent facilitates possibility. Hanging onto specific outcomes encourages defensiveness or stonewalling.
Checking the weather is an ingrained behavior in most of us, a way to measure all kinds of things it seems. I realized recently just how delicate the balance is between a focus on the future and an experience of the present. I spent so much time getting concerned it would rain on our vacation that I sometimes missed whatever sun did show up! I also realized that when it did rain, there were other interesting ways to enjoy my vacation.
It seems to me we may do the same in our organizations. In our desire to be strategic and anticipate what might come, we neglect the present experience and the opportunities that might be there.
Where is your focus and how does it help and hinder you?