A Simple Habit To Stay Level-Headed
Take 5 deep breaths during transitions in your day.
What are transitions? Every time you go from home to work, work to home, lunch to work, work to lunch, meeting to office, meeting to meeting, and other moments when you shift from one mindset to another represents a transition.
In fact, an even simpler way to define transitions is when you're "on the go" or when you feel like you are.
Our go-go-go mentality rarely lets our attentive mind take a break. Rather, it's wired to look for even more things to pay attention to, like checking email, social media, news etc. And most of us operate on the belief that we're more productive because we complete tasks on the go.
That may be true, but how do you feel at the end of the day? How energized or exhausted are you? How much caffeine do you need to maintain that level of alertness? And how much of a crash do you feel later?
Mindfulness is about balanced productivity
Taking those 5 deep breaths during transitions is a simple start.
Mindfulness, especially when it's used in the work setting, can have phenomenal benefits:
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Does Leadership = Power?
There is a strong, even evolutionary association between leadership and power. It's coded in us to see those that take charge as those that are somehow more than us, better than us. We applaud the Steve Jobs' and Elon Musks of the world, emulating their habits, hoping one day we can be like them.
Startup founders perhaps suffer more from the illusion that leadership = power than most people, especially because of the media hype around successful rags to riches founders.
When you translate this ego-based viewpoint to the social good space though, it feels off, and not aligned with the ethos of what social entrepreneurship represents.
This "granted power" can seem uplifting, but it is problematic in its very nature.
Problem #1: Granted power can lead to an authority complex
A title by itself will grant you authority over others. Regardless of who you are or what your credentials indicate, if you walk in as a CXO, people will listen that much more closely to what you have to say. This is dangerous, because like anybody else, you can be wrong.
Solution: Use the "obligation to dissent" to allow colleagues to speak up
To correct for this, great leaders allow for the "obligation to dissent". This allows others the leeway to disagree with you regardless of your authority. Those "under" you no longer feel that way, rather they have right as equal as the leader to say "no" to something.
Problem #2: Granted power can lead to imposter syndrome
At times, you will feel like you don't know what you're doing, maybe even most of the time if you're new to a leadership role. But people will look to you to make decisions. The truth is you can't know what to do all the time.
Solution: Hire smart, subject matter experts
To correct for this, you appoint people smarter than you in the subject areas you're unsure of and lean on them on a regular basis. You are no more an imposter than anyone else who was or will be granted that position, but you can't allow the pressure to be "right" to lead you into making poor decisions.
The Emergence of Self-Managing Organizations
Knowing these problems are inherent in leadership, some organizations are even eliminating leadership roles entirely. Instead, these new type of organizations are relying on teams themselves, not those that lead them.
The idea of self-managing organizations isn't as radical as it used to be and companies like Zappos, Medium, and Morning Star are well on their way of achieving great successes without leadership.
Self-managing organizations is a topic worth an article of its own. Till then, be mindful of the relationship between leadership and power.
Who are leaders you respect, and why? Do you believe leadership and power go hand-in-hand?
Share your thoughts with me over email. (These emails only come to me and are never shared with others. In fact, I often write future posts based on some of the questions and ideas from these emails.)
I am excited to continue publishing articles for Conscious Magazine. Below is an article initially meant for business owners that applies across the board to anyone who hopes to uphold a set of values in their work.
There's a code at the Open Society Foundations (OSF) that reimburses employees for bringing a housewarming gift if they choose to stay at a friend's house during their work travels.
A simple alpha numeric code allows the company to make an act of gratitude possible for saving money for lodging.
OSF doesn't have to do this, most companies don't.
But an alpha numeric code serves as a reflection of their code of values. Values passed on to employees to continue or defend if they move to another company or start one of their own.
In order to bring your values to life and make them actionable, you must first define the code you want your company to live by.
Start with your identity as a company:
These examples are based on real-life companies that I have encountered or worked with.
When you step back from the situation, the blind spots seem remarkable, but when you're deep into running a business, it's easy to overlook your most important value-based codes.
Take a moment to check in with what your organization represents today and what you'd like it to represent tomorrow. Discuss openly with your colleagues what you'd like to prioritize.
This is not one person's decision, but rather a collective agreement on what you hope to espouse in the world.
Codifying those values into your business makes them a reality.
What identity does your organization have or hope to represent? How does it align with your core professional and personal values?
Share your thoughts with me over email. (These emails only come to me and are never shared with others. In fact, they often help me come up with ideas for future posts I can share with a broader audience.)