Remember when being productive was as simple as refining your calendar and redefining expectations? Today’s self-management is more complex when you consider all you may be managing and now overseeing:
- Working from home
- More complex and growing remote teams
- Keeping your teams motivated and engaged when you are far from them
- Home schooling your kids
- Increasing and ever shifting demands of those you work for
- Social issues that are profoundly shifting the way we lead, manage and set policy
- Difficulty in reading the body language of those you work with and work for over video conferencing when you could easily do it when you were in physical meetings with them
- Constantly staying bright eyed and engaged over an endless sea of video conference calls
- Neck, back and overall body strain from sitting hunched over for so long on Zoom calls
While these demands are true and realistic for many, how do we manage them while being positively engaged? The key to unlocking this is in our physiology – how we are wired is the secret sauce to moving through these times with care, generosity and grace. So much of life today feels very emotional and distracting. It’s not only because of the list above, it’s also because there has been a sea change with simply engaging in life.
If you have found yourself either moving more into hyper overdrive to achieve or immobilized at times, you are not alone. Today’s new way of operating requires a sneak peek into looking internally at how we are hard wired to understand how to move into a new way of being. It’s more the being than the doing that I’m referring to.
Renowned author, professor and one of the world’s leading experts in leadership development and emotional intelligence Dr. Richard Boyatzis, in his work speaks about the impact of the Sympathetic Nervous System and the Parasympathetic Nervous System on our stress levels. While you need both to survive, today as people are experiencing more stress and negativity, they are looking to thrive (aka be more positive) than simply survive. As Boyatzis states, “because negative emotions are so much more powerful in the human psyche and body, you need to oversample the positive.”
The sympathetic nervous system is where you experience fear, problems, pessimism and weakness. When we enter into this state our immune system lowers (which is a key issue today), shunts blood moving to certain capillaries for proper brain functioning and stops the creation of new neurons.
You clearly cannot be in this state all the time and your body counteracts the sympathetic nervous system by the Parasympathetic Nervous System. When you are in this state you are more positive, open to possibilities and optimism, you are excited about trying new things willing to experiment and feel hopeful. Physiologically your blood pressure and heart rate reduces and your breathing gets deeper. You can more easily move into a positive frame of mind.
What helps to keep you in more of a positive state of mind? According to Boyatzis, physical exercise, yoga, meditation, walks in nature, feeling grateful and helping others certainly helps. If you’ve been watching spoof videos (even of the pandemic) helps.
As leaders, how do you coach your team members to be engaged, positive and more resilient? Engage people in what is their “why.” At The Ready Zone we refer to this as your “legacy.”
When we begin our Ready Zone leadership programs, one of the key sessions we start with is engaging people with what their legacy is as a foundation to who they are being in their work and in the world.
Generally people think of legacy in the sense of, “By the time I die, I want to have accomplished these things in my life and in my work.” What I’ve found is that a legacy is not necessarily what you leave, it’s what you live. Every day we are in fact living our legacy, whether we realize it or not. The way we leave people feeling—their experience of us—is our legacy. If we were more aware of our impact and more conscious about how we want to leave people feeling, and if we were consistently acting in a way that exemplified our ideals, we would further the living of our legacy.
Before assisting others in determining their legacy, first do yours. You having a powerful “why” of your own, will be a terrific positive attractor for your team to do the same. Here’s how to go through the process yourself before doing it with others:
- Take a moment and write down:
- Where have I had an impact?
- What have I noticed that others appreciate about me?
- I am most proud of….
- Here’s where I would like to have an even greater impact…
- In order to have that kind of impact, I would need to let go of?
- What I really want to be known for is….
- Really take your time in answering these questions. They may not come to you overnight. Carefully consider these quesitons and allow yourself to add to your answers.
Once you’ve really completed all the questions, write down the legacy you are living into. At first simply notice how you can begin using this as a filter for the decisions you make, the boundaries you set, the relationships you have and how you engage with others. How can you upgrade based on your legacy?
While many leadership systems focus on your personal brand, your legacy becomes a context for everything – who you are being and how you are leading, everywhere.
Esther Weinberg is the Chief Leadership Development Officer and Founder of The Ready Zone. To dive deeper into the ideas and strategies offered in this article, complete our Needs Assessment and we’ll schedule time to connect.
In the meantime, download our FREE eBook – “Why Your Company’s Bottom Line Is Not Your Top Priority: 6 Eye-Opening Strategies to Put People First”