Recently, a friend asked me to help them out as they were preparing to teach a leadership course. My job? I was to sit in every chair in the room and make sure that they did not wobble. If they did, I had to replace it. This was a large room, so after a couple of hours, my friend was able to explain the grand importance of this task.
He told me that people attend this course to work on themselves and get their ego out of the way and create transformation. The most important thing to do is to take away any distractions, especially a wobbly chair. Just picture this: you are attending a course which cost $500; you sit down, and your seat begins to wobble. Your reaction would probably be that can’t believe you spent so much money, and these chairs are so cheap.
When the moment comes to look at ourselves and work on who we are, our egos will do anything to distract us – from complaining about others to filling our minds with other thoughts. So the question is, what can we do to really focus on ourselves entirely and be present to identify the things that block our success?
It happens in relationships and even in the workplace. When confrontations occur with those around you, instead of being defensive and making excuses, take a moment to think about what you are feeling. If we took that moment to look honestly at how our actions caused a reaction in the other person, maybe – just maybe – we could understand and make sure that these types of confrontation don’t happen again.
The next thing you need to be comfortable with is talking about your feelings. So often, when we are with family and friends, instead of talking about ourselves and our feelings, we talk about others in an attempt to stay far away from our real emotions. Imagine if you could speak freely about what you felt, and that others would listen and be with you in the moment. Remember: the more you share, the more you connect. If you regularly talk about things that aren’t close to your heart and mind, the people around you will share superficial connections that will eventually dissolve.
The most important thing you must do to be able to be present and attune to your feelings, your doubts, and even your fears is to schedule time to sit by yourself and feel these feelings. Take 20-30 minutes out of your day, turn off your cellphone and close your eyes. Make sure you have no distractions – not even a wobbly chair – and ask yourself what you are feeling right now and write that down. Once you have written those emotions down you can then go one by one and meditate on what is causing them and if there is anything you could do to change them or improve them. This step is crucial because as Mark Twain said, “A man cannot be comfortable without his approval.” If you can’t be happy with yourself, how can others around you be happy with you?
As the day went on, I was given more precise tasks and as I completed them, one after the other I began to realize how this affected the whole course and those who would be taking it. As a leader, you must be present to who you are and what you are feeling. Do this, and your choices and reactions will be mindful. Our mind is the most powerful success tool we have. If we don’t learn to communicate and control it, then we will always be making choices sitting in that wobbly chair, blaming others for our lack of self-awareness.