The Sweet Spot

LoveHateTalentSkills

There are two continuum that we all live on.

Between our talent and our skills.

Between what we love and what we hate.

The Talent - Skills Continuum

It would be nice if we could live out at the edge where we are at our most talented, and are doing what we love. But life and work doesn't work that way.

Talent is great, but without skills, we don't achieve what we desire.

Skills are fine, but if we aren't really talented in this way (Remember Johnny Bunko?) then we end up frustrated, disappointed, hating what we do, and quite stressed over it.

Most of us live in the middle between our talent and our skills.

Think of talent as your strengths. (If you don't know what they are then check out StrengthsFinders. It is a helpful guide to finding your talent.)

If you spend more of your life & work at the Skills end of the continuum, and not somewhere in the middle, then you will always feel that you are overcoming huge obstacles to getting things done.  You need to move to closer to where your talent is.

Talent is where we connect with our desires. We know that we are gifted and see it reflected in the satisfaction we get from utilizing our talent.

If you are at the other end, where you Talent rules, then you need to develop Skills that help sustain your Talent's vitality. Talent is a resource that is optimized by Skills development.

The Love - Hate Continuum

This is where the stress gets manufactured.

If you do what you love, then you are free. If you are in a situation that you hate, the emotional toll grows with each day.

Think of your emotional life as a well, a cistern, waiting to be filled. You can fill it with pure, clean water, or you can poison the water with the toxin of stress.

Find what you love, and live and work with it. Let it fill the well of your life with joy, peace, freedom, fulfillment, fun and a real sense of impact. This is where fun in life & work is found.

Finding The Sweet Spot

Doing what you love and are talented to do would seem to be the sweet spot on these two continuum. Ideally that is true. But in reality, that spot is closer to the middle on the Talent - Skills continuum and closer to what you Love on the other.

Here though is what is important to understand.

The price of living on these two continuum is emotional. Call it stress if you will, but it is emotional.

We hide this emotional toll because many more of the skills that leaders need are analytical, decision making ones.

We spend a lot of time in our heads. We think through problems, make decisions, implement them, and move to the next one.

It is that transition from one analytical process to the next that builds up the pressure.

It is important to understand the connection between our minds, our bodies and our emotions. There are many scientists who understand the science of this better than I do. So, do your own research. But here is what I've learned.

Rationalized Emotion

I've come to see that most of what we think is rationalized emotion. Our motivations begin down deep inside of us, and come out emotionally in some settings, like in sports, and yet in organizational / work settings we find them expressed as rational thought.

We all know people who are like emotional time-bombs. They seem rational on the surface, but they have a hair-trigger anger that creates fear and stress in people. That is a picture of this connection between our emotions, mind and body.

The well of emotions needs constant replenishing with positive emotions. If those emotions are not there in your life or work, then you need to begin today to address them.

Time to Make Changes

If you know you are stuck in a situation that is more stressful than fun, where you talent is under-utilized, where you hate not only what you do, but the whole context of the work, then you need to make some changes. The sooner you change the better. Waiting only fills the well with more toxic emotions.

Where do you start? Start with the Circle of Impact Guides. If you are new to them, here is a helpful guide to understanding the sequence of ideas in the guides.

Circle of Impact-StepbyStep

 


2013, The Year of Leadership and Healing

WP_000315I first heard of Esther Sternberg, MD in an interview with Krista Tippett at On Being. Sternberg is the author of the book, Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being. It is a book that provides a tour of how our sensory lives interact with our environment to create conditions for healing.

In the book, she tells of Roger Ulrich's experiment .

He had examined the hospital records of patients who had undergone gall bladder surgery in a suburban Pennsylvania hospital during the period 1972-1981. He'd chosen forty-six patients, thirty women and sixteen men, whose beds were near windows that overlooked either a grove of trees or a brick wall. Twenty-three beds had views of nature and twenty-three did not. Ulrich had recorded each patient's vital signs and other indicators of health, including dosages and types of pain medication and length of hospital stays. He'd found that patients whose beds were located beside windows with views of a small stand of trees left the hospital almost a full day sooner than those with views of a brick wall. Not only that, but the patients with nature views required fewer doses of moderate and strong pain medication. The results were dramatic and statistically significant. Ulrich had selected only forty-six patients to study because he was controlling for variables that could affect recovery, such as age, sex, whether the patients were smokers, the nature of their previous hospitalizations, the year of their surgery, even the floor their room was on. Each pair of patients-view of nature, view of brick wall-had been cared for by the same nurses, so differencesin nursing care could not account for the differences in speed of recovery. Even doubters had to sit up and take notice.

Sternberg's research is showing that the mind-body connection matters. She writes,

"Implicit in an understanding of the mind-body connection is an assumption that physical places that set the mind at ease can contribute to well-being, and those that trouble the emotions might foster illness."

This mind-body connection is revealed in how our desires connect us to people and places, and why certain people and places matter to us, rather than others.

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For example, I'm a mountain person. I love to hike up a trail to a high mountain vista. It elevates my sense of connection to a larger world in a deeper, more complete sense than my virtual relationships online do.

However, for many connections that I have virtually, I desire for them to become embodied, that we might share this vista from Max Patch as shown above. The virtual, in this sense, is a portal that can lead to a fuller more embodied connection. I've come to call this non-virtual embodiment of human relationships, Real Presence.

In this video by Sternberg, she explains her work.

 

Also check out Esther Sternberg's PBS documentary, The Science of Healing: Understanding the Mind-Body Connection (available on Netflix).

Healing, the Unexplored Leadership Strategy

Over the past several months, I have come to know a group of people who each have a focused commitment to being healers. None of them are practicing physicians, consultants or own a healing business. They are simply people who approach their daily lives as healers. Two are focused on nutritional healing. Another is a professional musician and teacher, who writes music that creates an environment for healing.  Another group meets weekly to practice a ritual of silent prayer for people who desire healing. 

I'm finding that their work is a complement to Sternberg's scientific approach. Each addresses the mind-body continuum by recognizing that we are whole beings, not simply a network of bio-mechanical systems.

I have discovered through my relationship with them a deeper appreciation of the connection that our emotions or desires have to our rational mind, and how that contributes to stress. Not to make this too personal, but through these healers, I came to see the degree that my own life was being harmed by the stress of ambition, over-work and resistance to their emotional causes. 

Through the help of those who find their healing work in prayer, I was able to release the emotional burden that had been building up over years of operating a consultancy that was constantly pushing the perfectionist envelope of intuition and innovation. The healing that I received was of peace and resolution to some long held disappointments for which I felt grief and sorrow. The emptying of what I came to call "the well of sorrows" through the healing practice of prayer brought an immediate release and rejuvenation.

What Healing Requires

Brene' Brown is known as a social researcher of shame and vulnerability whose TED videos display a person who lives in the topic she researches. Here's a brief five minute interview that captures the essence of her insights.

 

Her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead is quite good at getting at the issues that confront most of us leaders. I highly recommend this book to be read with other people, especially your spouse, your children and your business partners.  Everything she writes validates everything I've learned about life and work, professionalism and leadership, being a husband, father and friend, throughout my life.

Including Brown's TED talks, watch also her interview by Jonathan Fields of the Good Life Project, listen to the podcast interview with Krista Tippett at On Being, and finally this video of her speaking about the difference between shame, guilt, embarrassment and humiliation.

I discovered Brown's work after having the experience with the healers through prayer. She provides a helpful framework for understanding what I was experiencing and how to sustain it going forward in what she calls Wholeheartedness.  Here are her 10 "guideposts" for Wholehearted living.

Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think

Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism

Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness

Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark

Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty

Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison

Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth

Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle

Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”

Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”

Understand that it is okay to be deficient in any if not all of these wholehearted areas. It is not okay to accept that inadequacy as the way life is and go on as if these things do not matter.

They do matter in every social and organizational context in which we live. These issues matter to the functioning of businesses. Most importantly, these are key areas for leaders to develop if they are to be at their best.

Healing, the unexplored territory of leadership

I am learning from this group of healers that I know, and from the work of Esther Sternberg and Brene'Brown that leaders need to address themselves to these issues.

Three Goals of Life-Work-CircleofImpact

This is one of the unrealized subtexts of my Circle of Impact and the Three Desires model. I did not know it at the time, but as I've gone through this experience of healing, I realize that this is one way to understand the work that I've pursued for the past almost thirty years.

So, with the beginnng of 2013, I am beginning to delve more deeply into an understanding of healing in order to understand how leaders may become the healers of their organizations, and provide an environment for their people to flourish in a healthy, whole context for life and work.

Any thoughts, directions, resources or connections to people who are also researching this area, I'd appreciate.  More to come.

May 2013 be a year of peace and healing for each of you.