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Five Keys to Mindful Leadership

Whether you’re part of a team at work, at home, in a classroom, WHEREVER, we could all use a little check-in from time to time on our ego-involvement within our relationships. Is your relationship more important than your ego? As a wise man once told me, a discussion is how you determine WHAT’S right, an argument is how you determine WHO’S right.

Here are 5 magical tools to make you a leader in EVERY relationship in your life, regardless of your actual role. Remember that you’re only powerless if you believe it to be so…take control of your own reactions and become a leader by example:

1. Stop the Blame Game

“If Molly just had a more positive attitude, she wouldn’t react to every little thing so personally.”
“Tony has never treated me the same since ‘the Incident’. He hates me now.”
I used to think these things. About almost everyone. I was a JUDGEMENTAL BITCH. I still think this way sometimes. It is a constant CONSCIOUS battle with my own negativity and insecurities. We ALL do this, it is NATURAL. The brain works through organizing patterns. When we observe behaviors, we extrapolate assumptions about predictability and future pattern projection. We begin to make decisions about people based on a few observable behaviors, or a terrible first impression.

We ENJOY justifying our negative opinions of others by citing their bad behaviors and perceived transgressions. We ESPECIALLY enjoy when our negative theories about others are proved to be correct. We are literally LOOKING for the worst in people. What’s worse is that it is usually BOTH sides hosting a silent grudge match/power struggle. Even when we ATTEMPT to be nice, that jerk is still…such a jerk!!

But what if YOU’RE the jerk?

I was a moody, intellectual goth girl. If I found someone “beneath” my intelligence, I would put them in a category of extremely low expectation. I would be less interested when they were talking, and probably bitchily rolled my eyes at them. I WAS SETTING MYSELF UP FOR FAILURE. In hindsight, we can all see how we could’ve done better, but how do we actually turn our “enemies” into allies? Especially when it can be damned near impossible to confront our own mistakes in the process of assuming the worst.

One Simple, Horrible Truth:

When we blame others, one simple and HORRIBLE thing happens to us subconsciously: WE GIVE THEM POWER OVER US.

It boils right down to taking ownership and truly hearing the other person. YOU WILL PROBABLY STILL HATE THEM. Don’t get me wrong, some people just won’t resonate with your personal vibe. THAT IS NORMAL. But when you see the opportunity to navigate even the bullshittyist of bullshitters, and come out having learned something new, or at least feeling that you’ve mastered yourself, you will have WON. Massively. And you won’t feel angry or used afterward. You will MASTER YOURSELF and in turn, the situation, through your broader perspective.  You act from a center of true leadership, allowing the other person the space they need for their own freedom and self-expression. Your lack of attachment to their reactions will liberate your mind.

Hopefully, once that person realizes they can’t get what they need from you, I.e., a predictive reaction, they will move on to another victim. More on this in another article…

Everybody has their shit to deal with, and like it or not, at some level you WILL BE REQUIRED to interact with the load of other people’s issues, and inadvertently, you will expose your own. The key is to achieve neutrality.

2.  Utilize a Mediator

Sometimes we get out of touch with the needs of our team, or we get into conflict patterns with our peers or our superiors. THIS IS NORMAL. What flips your talents into the EXCEPTIONAL is when you are willing to admit that you don’t have all the tools to fix it yourself.

Neutrality is possible with dedicated application of WILL and PRACTICE. It requires EFFORT and 100% of your ATTENTION. The DISCIPLINE to stay in your practice is paramount.

When we allow outside circumstances to interfere with our values, confidence or self-possession, we become un-grounded, lose our center, we can become reactionary and causal. We become sensitive and in some extreme cases, we make ourselves physically ill. We get situational blindness. We cease to see the forest for the trees. We hold grudges.

YOU NEED TO BE OBJECTIVE in order to change an entrenched pattern. This can feel impossible when you’re elbows deep in a silent feud with your boss, who is obviously out to get you.

A Mediator who is a neutral third party, whom you both respect, can hold the space and become a facilitator for clarity and resolution. This doesn’t need to be a professional, but MUST be a person you BOTH RESPECT.

The most important thing is that you arrive having already forfeited your hand in the Blame Game. Be done playing mind games, period. Honest communication and true vulnerability is the only thing that can save you now. Terrifying, I know! But you can’t go in expecting ANYTHING. You’ve gotta be ALL IN. Turn up to settle it for good, to give yourself completely to the resolution. It isn’t even about you and the other at this point, it is about YOUR CAPACITY to expand past your own limitations.

When you let go of your expectations, you become free to start a new game, a game where both parties start to envision a mutual win. On the video game the Sims, it would be all plus signs above your heads: all positives. When you take the custodial role of leader and approach with an attitude of mutual win, you will gain more than you ever dreamed, even if that other person isn’t ready to meet you halfway. SCREW THEM! Hahaha, just kidding! Not really, though. You can only control your own willingness to be there for a 100% victory. If they aren’t ready, that is for them to sort-out. Let go of that expectation. Abandon all hope that others will do what you want them to do: go ahead and laugh at yourself for that one right now and let it go forever!

And then, go ahead and clear the air, FOR GOOD. Do it for you, do it for the good of everyone involved. Remember, it isn’t only about you and your rival. Your interactions with that person create a ripple effect through each of your respective lives, even if no one else knows about it. Your wasting valuable life energy and precious emotional capacity on a conflict which doesn’t serve any forward progress. Get yourself focused on that total win. A third party can help get you there.

3. Problems Climb, Solutions Descend

Playground Rules:

Rough-housing is fine, but if there is blood, its time to get a grown up.

Usually screaming, with tears, “Jason hit me!!!” We never wanted to be the one to tattle-tell, but once it got serious, it was time. Seriously, when all else fails, you have to go get an adult. If you’re already at the top, seek advice from your peers, mentors and friends.

When you’re at the top of the chain, you need to work extra hard to be objective. Focus on potential solutions, not on the complaints. No one likes a whiner.

Try this Technique, a 10-minute guide to breathing under stress.

Your staff is NOT capable of solving your problems with your peer or your boss. Nor should they be burdened with the insecurity of knowing that their management team is having structural issues or internal conflicts.

People model the example of those around them. When we see our leaders acting out and acting from ego, we assume this is the acceptable standard. The more people we see acting out of pettiness and self-absorption, the less likely we are to meet them halfway, or to share our cookies after a hard day of hitting that slide.

Imagine you are planning to buy a house. The home owner turns to you during the tour and says, “It looks great, but the foundation is not stable, that’s why I hate living here.” UHM. NO THANK YOU. The same works with your internal structures. You want your team to invest and support your vision. You HAVE TO SHOW a Stable foundation.

As you come to ideas and solutions, investigate whether these lessons can translate to other areas of your business, or among other team members. Usually weaknesses are mirrored across structures. Check it out for yourself!

4. Caliber of Service

Be the emissary. You need to MODEL the behavior you want to see from others. This is the ol’ Golden Rule. The Golden Rule doesn’t say, “do unto others as you think they deserve.” Or “decide they started it and justify all your shitty attitudes by blaming them for theirs.”

Jay Abraham is an AMAZING teacher and a business genius. When I first learned about his theory of Pre-eminence, I actually wept. Basically, you’ve got to look out for others, for THEIR best interest. You frame all your interactions, all your relationships, as if you are the custodian of that individual’s success. YES it takes more time. YES you have to listen, PAY ATTENTION and actually help other people out a bit. You have to be willing to SACRIFICE pettiness and selfishness. If you’re not willing to do this, you can get off my page right now. I won’t be able to help you.

You will run out of resources and time and become obsolete, just like the ridiculous amount of computers we have sitting in landfills. You are a commodity: expendable.

To make yourself VITAL and ESSENTIAL, you need to invest in others. Tim Ferriss has an excellent podcast featuring Ryan Holliday, directly on this topic, called the Canvas Strategy.

In yoga, we call this Seva. We learn to serve the other, in this way, we all benefit. We also stay humble. We recognize our place in the larger structure. Decisions made from this place, with the ego sublimated to a higher vision, are able to gain traction and are infinitely scalable. NOTHING BELONGS TO YOU. When you’re gone, either in a new job, retired, whatever, you will leave behind a LEGACY that is comprised of all the little decisions you’re making right now.

I’m not suggesting martyrdom or the abandonment of your goals, dreams and desires. This has nothing to do with collapsing your identity or becoming a push-over. In fact, sometimes you ARE serving the other best by becoming that jerk that won’t agree with them. Being honest and focusing on the larger dynamics of all your choices will maximize your return.

Caliber of service -with one another- means we hold ourselves and our relationships to a higher standard, a standard of Grace, Honesty, Openness and Humility.

It it means a willingness to not only tolerate the other, but to actively seek to foster a better, deeper, more lasting, more TRUSTING connections. We do this by first honoring our needs, then communicating our needs in openness to the people who impact our lives, our health and our mentality.

Why do we hurt the ones we love? We get comfortable and complacent. We TAKE IT FOR GRANTED that things are just “the way they are.” We GET LAZY. Why?????

With almost no effort at all, just using these simple paradigm shifts, you can completely re-frame your relationships. Even if nothing tangible comes from it, you will REDUCE YOUR STRESS by taking responsibility, not just for your own reactions, but also for how you treat others. Then you NEVER need to wonder again if someone silently hates you. Even if they do, YOU KNOW YOU DID YOUR BEST, and you will cease to GAF about the haters. You won’t waste your precious life’s energy on people who won’t play nice on the playground. Okay, share a cookie with them. Then LET THEM WALLOW and MOVE ON with your vision and purpose.

5. Cohesive Vision

You need to agree on some things. Just the basics. Agree to just be civil. Agree to disagree. Agree on Humanitarianism over religion. Please? Your cells inside your body agree everyday. Your stomach agrees to process the garbage you eat. You can find common ground with ANYBODY. If you’re in a structure that is completely chaotic, bond over sorting it out. Give your team a sense of accomplishment, something to focus on achieving. A galvanizing goal or focus can get you through almost any personal confrontation.

I’m not talking about sales goals, although that can be part of it. Update or redraft your Mission Statement. Redraft Policies and Procedures. BUILD your team, foster their growth, as a team and for your company, but also invest in them individually. Ensure your structures support everyone in your organization. ASK THEM what is lacking. They know! Some of it will be useless, personal babble! But somewhere in the mess of personalities trying to leverage over each other, there is a desire for general satisfaction and harmony.

Maybe someone on your team is struggling silently with some issue, like a homeless parent. Your company could get involved in supporting a charity the addresses homelessness. That individual becomes INSANELY LOYAL and tells everyone they know what your organization is up to, word spreads and without spending a penny on advertising, you’ve fostered goodwill and have a built-in referral engine. This is not a “marketing tactic,” this is the future of good business.

What if we can BOTH get what we want and stay out of each other’s way for the rest of it? Suddenly, your enemy becomes your ally. If the goals are clear and agreed upon, if each individual feels a personal investment, and a personal return, why would anyone create conflict within a system like that? Conflict WILL OCCUR, we are humans and learning is messy. Just TRY IT OUT. See what happens. Experiment, play and be open to new information. Be open to failure!

Become a great listener, focus on a cohesive vision which includes everyone on your team, even the children in your family team. Give your team specific goals. Learn to adapt tasks and goals to individual interest and talent. Do this by ASKING PEOPLE WHAT THEY NEED AND WANT AND LISTENING TO THEM. Keep investing in your people, and they will continue to invest in you and in the collective vision.

When you focus on making every situation a total win, especially on a team where you can unify around a common goal, those consistent wins will add up to a big picture you and everyone on your team will be proud to support.

Finally, hit me back and LET ME KNOW what works and doesn’t work for you!

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