Resolutions in Balance

Happy New Year!
New Year’s Resolutions for most of us are simply another holiday ritual. Whatever the reason – a deep, primal need for renewal, temporary guilt and self-loathing brought on by a holiday of hyper consumption, or both – the majority of us resolve to better ourselves almost before the shortbread and egg nog season is over.

The fact that most of these resolutions are abandoned before the first month of the year is over doesn’t seem to deter us from the annual ritual of making resolutions. When the resolutions do stick, it’s usually when we (unwittingly) invoke the best of the two drives that permeate so much of our lives. Applying the twin elements of Balanced Leadership – the fear-based and the love-based worlds – can make all the difference.
One of the most common reasons resolutions fade quickly is the mindset we bring to them. We think resolutions are all about the fear-based attributes of self-discipline, sacrifice and perseverance, about being strong so we can avoid the temptations that we’re trying to overcome – be it smoking, eating or being a couch potato. Yes, setting goals and sticking to them matter, but understanding why you want to improve – the meaning behind your resolution – matters just as much or more. When we can tap into our love-based drive for deeper meaning and connection with self, it provides the fuel that sustains our desire to improve.


Another aspect of Balanced Leadership that helps us stick to resolutions is knowing the difference between gifts and rewards in this context. In the fear-based world, rewards are payment for the hardship it takes to reach a goal or make strides towards it. Rewards motivate us to keep going, and can play a big part in sticking with our resolutions.
Gifts, on the other hand, are also important. We give and receive gifts not for what has been accomplished, but simply to celebrate the person. Rewards are about doing, gifts are about being. Gifts to ourselves serve as affirmations of our intrinsic worth: we don’t need to attain a certain goal (no matter how laudable) to be whole or to matter. As we work on our resolutions, the gift of self-acceptance is as important as the reward for making progress towards a goal. Balanced Leadership reminds us of the value of both doing and being.

Be conscious of the gifts to yourself that not only keep you on track, but remind you of your ability to feel joy.  How often do we fail in our resolutions because we are down on ourselves, or we get down, and the thing we are trying to change is the way we usually make ourselves feel better (for a brief moment)?  The impulse to treat yourself is a good one.  Now find good ways to do that.  Have your favorite music and a good cup of tea ready for yourself.  Decide to buy yourself a good magazine to indulge in images of what you love, especially useful at the first sign of weakening.  Use gifts to yourself to remind you of your right to feel love simply for being alive.

index
Finally, activating the best of both worlds can help us when our resolve to improve falters (e.g. you had that brownie, snuck a smoke, skipped a workout, whatever our resolution is). In the fear-based world, we shrug it off and get back on the “horse of discipline.” No blaming others or self-criticism, just get back on track.

In the love based world it also helps if we’re curious about why we slip up. What was on our minds at the time? Why were we able to resist the temptation one day but not the next? What can I learn about myself through this experience? The curiosity of the love-based world contributes to our growth and development as much as the discipline of the fear-based world.
Balanced Leadership recognizes that New Year’s Resolutions can work if we combine the tenacity, self-sacrifice and striving of the fear-based world with the curiosity, self-acceptance and meaning of the love-based world.
Again, Happy New Year, and best of luck with your resolutions!

Advertisements

Happiness

Tags

, , ,

It is Christmas time and I have been very busy keeping the furnace running in -34 C weather and getting my list of jobs done.  I woke up this morning and realized we have not been to any xmas parties yet – 6 days to xmas!  I did a mental note of how many parties we will be going to between now and the big day and came up with three.   It made me stop and think.  Is the number of events we go to a measure of something?  I was unconsciously thinking that lots of invitations means that lots of people like us and that means we are part of a community. Which would make us happy.  Right?

Instantly I saw the folly in this logic.  Happiness cannot be measured, it is experienced.  No matter how many events I go to, the key to my sense of happiness is if I am in a mindset of the love-based world.  Love is focused on the moment, looks to make connections in order to experience feeling like joy, appreciation of beauty, and gratitude.  Happiness doesn’t come from a sense of growth or prosperity (as in we have many party invites, more than last year even!).  It comes from a grounding in the sense of enough.   What if there isn’t an elusive party out there where everyone is having fun?  13ef8159-5130-4e21-aa4a-c42877911c3cIn this moment, when I think of you reading this blog and sharing my thoughts, I genuinely feel a rush of gratitude.  It is a wonderful feeling to be received.  An ember of happiness grows in my heart because I stopped to take a moment to feel this feeling.

Conscious awareness of the nature of happiness is very empowering.  It is an important concept for our personal and career leadership.  There is an energy that is created from changing the dynamics from the fear-based world to the love-based world.  Bring beauty into the workplace.  Take a moment to tell people what they bring to the workplace that you feel grateful for.  Give a gift to someone to show them that they are valuable to you and the company.  It is not the present as much as what you hold in your heart when you give the present – the meaning that it represents – that is truly powerful.

images-7

We are here to get ahead (separate ourselves from scarcity and build wealth) and to know joy, love, and the freedom of being who we truly know ourselves to be.  Most of the time we focus on growth and production (the former).  Christmas is a time to shift the balance to the love-based world and find your joy.  When you think about it, this is the point of The Miracle on 34th Street, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and any Christmas show worth its salt.  Without a mental shift to the operating system of the love-based it is easy to feel empty at this time of year.  My holiday wish for you is that you shift worlds and with curiosity you explore what feels joyful, beautiful.  Let that be your guide in each moment.

Sending you all, lots of love.

emotion vs reason

I always find this dichotomy misleading.   It would be much more instructive to call it what it really is which is love-based emotions vs fear-based emotions, or, empathy vs reason.  This may seem a bit esoteric but it is really important that fear and love emotions are seen for what they are .  How often have we heard, ‘don’t be so emotional’?  What’s really being said is ‘I am more comfortable with fear-based emotions than love-based emotions’.  images-6

The key is to recognize that decisions are not made without one of these emotions being involved.  Reason is the recognition of a problem through fear, and the ability to keep that fear in check while you gather the information this emotion is offering.

Every decision you ever make will be based on an emotion.  Neuroscience has verified that this is fundamental to the human condition.  The difference between data and decision-making is the ability to connect to your emotions.  And the emotions we use fall into two broad categories of fear or love.  My favorite TED talks on this are Dan Pink on Motivation, and Charles Limb.  Antonio Damasio’s book Self Comes to Mind is also a great reference for this research.

When we say someone is being emotional we often mean they are engaging in love based emotions of empathy, passion, or caring.  There is an assumption that this is a weak thing.  These are the emotions that lead to creativity and relationship building.  It is also the mode you need to be in to be responsive to a situation.  Good listening is about being responsive – really hearing what people say and letting it inform what you say next.  I would argue that lots of good things come from allowing love-based emotions into the situation.  images-8

When we think of being rational we make the assumption that we are being unemotional.  I would say that being rational or employing reason are productive responses to fear-based emotions. Fear often gets a bad rap but fear is essential to survival.  The key is to apply the Goldilocks principle – “not too much, not too little, just right”.  This is what rational thought is.  You have fear under control to the point it informs you when there is a possibility of danger.  This prevents you from freezing with fear.  It encourages the thought processes that will consider the odds and chart the best course for moving forward.  It focuses you on the issue that needs to be addressed to stay safe and make progress (putting some distance between you and scarcity).

If you didn’t have fear you would face adversity saying “not to worry, it will work out somehow” (which I have done much to the frustration of many linear thinkers around me, especially when I get lucky).

Fear inspires the need for control and the impulse to push back with rational thought.  When we respond to fear with too little of these actions and instead resort to hiding, blaming, or denial the fear based emotion is working against you.  I bet this is one of the reasons that people say “don’t be so emotional!”  Cowardice is never pretty.  The problem arises when all emotions start to get labeled as inappropriate.  Half our emotional capacity as humans gets thrown out the window.

This is why it is important to call a spade a spade.  Reason is a response to fear-based emotions.  We push back the boundaries of our mortality by focusing on the predictable.  Empathy is a love-based emotion that is receptive and makes room for the complex and the human.  Great possibilities open up when you recognize you have both these emotions available to you in leadership.

Between the fence posts

Tags

, , ,

A few years ago when I was six months into a new role, I asked my colleagues for their initial assessment of my performance.  I discussed this with them face-to-face then asked them to submit their feedback, comparing my stated goals with what had actually transpired. My colleagues at the time dutifully responded except for one key person in the organization.  When asked why he didn’t submit his feedback, his initial response was a vague comment about me  being “new.” When pressed to clarify, he candidly stated that he didn’t know me well enough yet to trust me with his honest feedback.

That experience reminded me of the old adage “leadership happens between the fence posts.” In this metaphor, the fence posts represent critical incidents or key issues, while the space between the fence posts represents ongoing relationships at work. If you get to know your colleagues well on a regular basis, demonstrate your authentic interest and your trustworthiness, it affects what happens when inevitable challenges arise. Neglected relationships also rear their head at crunch times, but invariably not in a good way. It’s leadership in the form of relationship maintenance between the fence posts that matter most.

In Balanced Leadership terms, this is all about invoking the best of both worlds, as it were.  Getting things done is a priority in the fear-based world, connecting with people is central in the love-based world.  Put another way, we report in one world and relate in the other. Too much or too little of either erodes our leadership capacity, while the right balance fosters strong relationships and effective results.

Experience is a great teacher and my interaction with my colleague reminded me that what happens “between the fence posts” makes all the difference.

5 Ways to Thrive Despite a Tyrant Boss

Thriving Rule # 1 Know Yourself

The biggest damage a Tyrant boss does is cause you to doubt yourself.  When your work environment devalues you it is very hard not to feel victimized.  The key is to connect to your authentic self and your intrinsic worthiness of respect.  Learn how to be internally internally.  Rather than taking your cues from your environment as to how you are doing, learn to consider how you feel about your work and allow that to guide you. This is Obama’s gift.  Under massive attacks he recognizes that it is not about him.  He is rooted in his own council and his own judgement of how to navigate the situation. Connecting to your inner voice provides a reference point from which you are always safe (as long as you are not beating yourself up) and makes you less reactive and stressed.  Being able to do this begins with connecting to what you love.images-3

The good news is being aware of what you enjoy, what intrigues you, what is important to you is fun and very powerful.  It may seem like a waste of time but biologically we cannot feel fear and love at the same time.  Taking time to connect to what you love rejuvenates you so you can avoid spiralling into depression or being frozen with fear.  Find a way to bring joy into your workplace.  Buy yourself office supplies in your favorite color, take a break to enjoy an ice cream, keep a picture of a loved one close by.  Even if you can only practice the art of knowing yourself after work, the effect will be lasting.

Finally, the practice of self-care is fundamental to being creative, and developing good working relationships.  Even dealing with difficult conversations requires that you have filled your well with a sense of your intrinsic value so you can bring your best self to the conversation.  If you are feeling unloved or unwelcome and you have not countered it with self-care, it will become an undertone in your interactions with people.

Thriving Rule # 2 Find a Secret World

Everything you need to be successful is in your power when you define success as being all you are capable of being.  However, this can be a challenge in an unsupportive work atmosphere.  Actually it is always hard because we are so vulnerable in the early stages of awakening to our true potential.  We are all promise and dreams with very little evidence thay can come true.  The key is to create a container within which you feel safe and appreciated.  It can be a block of time that is your own (lunch hour?) where you follow an interest, a plan you make with someone to explore a new way of doing something you both are interested in or a new idea you are pursuing that is within your job description.

This Secret World is a physical or emotional place where you are free to explore novelty with curiosity.  Create a secret world where you can grow in your connection to what you have to offer.  The Secret World makes it possible to remove the noise of what everybody else expects and connect to your gifts even before they are visible to others.  (Warning: never use this time to commiserate about your hardships, no matter how tempting.)

Thriving Rule #3  Cultivate Friends

Friends are a crucial part of well-being.  They bring out the best in you.  They are not the same as allies.  Allies are people who share a goal with you.  Friends are people who care about each other.  A friend will tell you when to step back and get perspective, or when you are amazing. 

Thriving Rule # 4 Explore Novelty

The situation may be bad because you are in a box.  Taking a 360 degree look can open new possibilities.  Notice anything within your workplace that you find interesting.  An idea you have for making something more efficient, an occasion that is coming up that you could mark with a celebration, a fund raising event that you and your co-workers could enter to support the community.  Follow your interest and find a way to explore it in your workplace.  Even though you have no idea where it will lead, follow your interest until it fades, and then go back to the last place it was sparked, and try a new direction.  You are awakening to your unique talent.  The difference between average work and excellent work is the exploration of this frontier.images-2

Thriving Rule # 5 Give Up Your Limiting Beliefs

Check your beliefs to see if you are continuing an old belief that is no longer working for you.  Your Tyrant boss may remind you of your father and you have to separate your view from hers. Or maybe you are waiting to be invited to share your ideas and you really need to just step up because you know you have a good idea.

Generally there is some limiting belief that has made the situation acceptable to you on some level.  It is not your fault but you have to change your belief to get out of it.  It is probably a belief you adopted in a low power position to fit in and it is no longer serving you.

Once you identify the limiting belief, explore it through journaling, talking to friends, therapy or books.  Grow beyond its limitation and show your boss you are capable of things s/he was unable to imagine.

Sometimes people can change and your boss may shift.  The key is you have to make the gifts in you tangible to show the benefits of making a place for you in your authentic form.  If your boss can’t see it, someone else will.

When not knowing matters more than knowing

The very idea that ignorance can be a leadership virtue seems absurd. We’re conditioned, understandably so, to believe in the power of knowing. Training in your organization’s culture, being aware of colleagues’ work styles and priorities, knowing how to devise and implement plans: these positive aspects of the fear-based world are inextricably linked to effective leadership. But there are times when knowledge gets in the way.

images-10
When you or your organization are looking for innovative approaches, the institutional knowledge and status quo thinking that is so important elsewhere can serve to limit your options.  When you don’t know what you don’t know – often referred to as “unconscious incompetence” – you’re not dependent upon conventional wisdom. Not knowing what you don’t know encourages questions, rather than a search for answers. Not knowing what you don’t know expands possibilities, rather than limiting you to what’s already known and accepted.

One great example of that is the story of business leader, Sarah Blakely.  In a recent interview on CNN’s Global Public Square, Sarah told the story of phoning a major department store buyer directly, as opposed to connecting the conventional way at trade shows. Her “ignorance” of standard practice got her the meeting that eventually turned her $5, 000 investment into the billion dollar company, Spanx.  Not knowing what she didn’t know – a phrase Sarah used herself – made all the difference. Sara also expounded on the value of re-framing failure as an asset in this article, a topic I’ve written about previously (Failure is a Gift: Who Knew?).

I can think of more than one time when I launched into a leadership challenge with passion, but without awareness of just how little I knew about what I was in for!  Knowing the risks and obstacles may have deterred me, but my lack of specific knowledge invariably turned out to be an asset (when it didn’t, I always had the opportunity to learn from my mistakes).  Leadership summons us to act, sometimes from a place of knowledge and prior experience, sometimes from a place of passion and curiousity.

The point is that balanced leadership draws from both the fear-based and love-based worlds. We need knowledge, plans and drive to propel our organizations forward. But we also need vulnerability, passion and yes, occasionally “ignorance” and curiosity when novelty, innovation and fresh approaches are called for.images-12

Lead from the inside

When I was a school principal, years ago, I recall sitting around with my colleagues commiserating about all the external demands we had to contend with. We joked that we could get so much more done “if only we were left alone to do our jobs!” I suspect that sentiment is like a mantra in so many workplaces: leaders feeling their effectiveness is compromised due to various forces beyond their control. While it was fun to lament with colleagues – misery loves company – over the years I began to realize just how self-defeating that perspective is.  Even when it is true that outside forces might be working against us, my work with Kim on Balanced Leadership has given me a refreshing insight: when we focus too much on external forces, we are, in effect, voluntarily allowing our power to be taken from us.  There is a different approach: look inside yourself for guidance and power.  Lead from the inside.

images-7

It begins by acknowledging that there are two definitions of power, both with benefits and drawbacks.  Power can mean to assert your will even against the will of others.  This is your power to response to external forces.  The positive side of this form of power is essential to effective leadership – the world of goals, action plans and results. The shadow side of this type of power is the zero sum game mentality it encourages – you either win or lose the power struggle.  Other times, you are so intent on asserting your position you lose sight of your capacity to take on or consider other perspectives.  When power is applied without discernment it often becomes misplaced and counter-productive.

The second form of power is being all you are capable of being and wanting others to be all they can be.  This is the “inside-out” form of power wherein the importance of your relationship with self is acknowledged as fundamental to success.  The positive side of this power is equally important in leadership. It’s where meaning, authenticity and belonging are your sources of power.  These are the tools that allow creativity , engagement, and strong relationships to flourish.  You access them by looking inward and bringing forward your best self, creating the environment for other people to be their best self also.

images-8

When a leader’s connection to self is tenuous, it leaves room for shadow elements like gossip and chaos to emerge.  Whatever is in our heart will generate itself, and in the absence of a strong connection to self, positive, empowering energies dissipate and toxic, dysfunctional forces emerge.  In a very practical sense, whatever leaders hold in their hearts is revealed through their actions.

When we take up our own power by connecting to what we love, we are restoring our connection with self.  In archetypal terms, we plug back into our Virgin energy – the power to be all we are capable of being.  Starting from that place is a game-changer.  We stop seeing ourselves as passive recipients, pushed around by what comes our way. When the starting point is a grounded and joyful sense of self, leaders can respond wisely to what comes their way.  They don’t ignore what’s “out there” but don’t react to it either.  Using this type of power means we are not defined by external forces, but by our own sense of self.  This is a critical aspect of Balanced Leadership.

images-9

Think right now about what you are good at, what you enjoy doing at work and make a place for it in your job.  Seek out others who are supportive.  Create a world where self-expression and mutually respectful working relationships can flourish.  Explore new ways to do things, expand your self-knowledge, one baby step at a time. Above all, retain the power of self-connection.  Not only will that help you deal with the inevitable external demands, it will empower those around you.  Lead from the inside.

5 Ways to Survive a Tyrant Boss

5 Ways to Survive a Tyrant Boss (Part 1); next week 5 Ways to Thrive Despite a Tyrant Boss (Part 2)

Survival Rule #1  Decide what your objective is. images-26

Are you mad as hell and ready to fight the good fight for change, or do you want to find a way to work within the parameters you are given?  If it is the latter, go directly to 5 Ways to Thrive Despite a Tyrant Boss.

If you’re still in, your first consideration is determining if proper conduct has been defined and is being violated.  This is a solid position to take a stand from.  If you are looking for a change to something previously undefined, you are probably best to look to 5 Ways to Thrive Despite the Tyrant Boss – or fight with the acceptance that you one outcome may be you end by finding a better-suited job (vote with your feet).

Now that you’ve decided somebody has to stand up for what is right, you have to clearly define what ‘right’ looks like.  Do you want to stop a particular practice?  Do you want to see the spirit and intent of a rule upheld? Do you want a certain workplace value to be given life?  Be very specific about what mountain you are climbing and how you will measure success.

Survival Rule # 2  Do your research.

Information is the power to be prepared against the downside possibilities. It is also a great power equalizer.  As an added bonus it also expands your ability to assess the options.

Arm yourself with knowledge of the downside risks of failure and build a plan as to how you can protect yourself against them.  Find out when this situation has been tackled before and what lessons were learned.  Know the style of your Tyrant boss and document information that may be useful to your cause.  Know the rules that the players are expected to abide by.  Policies, guidelines, best practices, mission statements, and by-laws are designed to protect workers against power abuses and are essential to leveling the playing field with a Tyrant.

Survival Rule #3  Look for Allies. STAR WARS -  A NEW HOPE

Build a team of people with the collective skills to make a difference.  Allies are people who share your goal (which is why it is so important to have a clearly defined goal).  Don’t confuse them with friends.  Each individual may not be able to take on a Tryant boss alone but the collective effort behind a good cause may shift the balance of power.

In addition look for an ally up the food chain from your boss.  There is someone who does not want a Tyrant impacting the image of the organization or the workplace environment.  Make them your ally.

Survival Rule #4  Build Your Skills.

Make yourself invaluable to the organization so you are not vulnerable to criticism.  Assess where your weaknesses are and strengthen them.  Take a class, work extra hours, strengthen weaknesses your Tyrant boss could criticize or use against you, whatever it takes.   This is a short term effort for a long term gain.  Also develop the skills needed to tackle challenges during the upcoming battle.  Do you know how to present an argument well, how to organize a group, how to communicate with new technologies, or how to navigate existing processes?  If there is a skill you can develop that will increase your chances of success, learn it.

Survival rule #5  Commit.

Your commitment to what is right may be the biggest ingredient to your success.  It gives you focus when threats are made, or your opponent tries to make you feel small or wrong.  Once you cross the bridge and make overcoming the challenge the only way out, you are on your way.  If you retreat you will pay a personal price or be made an example of.  It is do or die (metaphorically).  Don’t torture yourself with waffling thoughts.  You know your cause is good, have considered living with the status quo, and have decided to push for change.  You have information and allies.  Develop a plan for moving the issue forward.  Break it down into a series of tasks or deliverables making sure that each task is challenging but not terrifying.  You want adrenalin not cortisol surging through your veins.  Then stick with it!  Be heroic and rise to the challenge.

These 5 ways are based on the understandings of Balanced Leadership.  The four pillars of Two Worlds, Two Operating Systems, Archetypal Intelligence and Dynamic Balance provide the foundation for strong leadership in any situation.

Stay tuned for Part 2: 5 Ways to Thrive Despite a Tyrant Boss coming next week….

You are invited to an adventure in learning…

HollyhockBeach-3_5B872

Your professional development is important to you. if you’re like most of us, you want the experience to be informative, validating and inspiring.  You want to return to your workplace ready to face whatever leadership challenges await you with fresh approaches to old dilemmas, a strengthened resolve and rejuvenated focus on what matters most.  There is a place that provides all that and more. A place so tranquil, where the ideas, the food, the natural surroundings and the company all conspire to create learning can transform your work and your life.  Welcome to Hollyhock!
maninchair.web.2

You are invited to Balanced Leadership, a four day intensive learning retreat offered at Hollyhock, October 9-12th, by returning presenters, Kim Hudson and Dr Laurie Anderson.
Balanced Leadership honours the two drives that fuel the human condition: fear and love.  Kim and Laurie explore these drives in depth, how they profoundly influence our capacity to learn, and how understanding and applying the operating systems of these two drives can fundamentally transform your approach to leadership. You will learn how to be less reactive, how to better understand the people you work with, and how to create working conditions that generate growth and foster creativity and innovation.  As one of last year’s participants put it “Kim and Laurie’s course taught me how to stand back and assess what was happening from a new perspective.”
 red_leaves
The extended time  at the retreat – plus the peaceful, serene setting – sets the stage for new understandings to take root.  The four pillars of Balanced Leadership: the two distinct worlds of fear and love we inhabit, their respective operating systems, the archetypal energies that shape our thoughts, feelings and actions, and learning how to balance all this to transform your leadership – all of this becomes clear as you learn in the relaxed, restorative environment at Hollyhock.
The schedule for this year’s program – October 9-12th – minimizes the disruption in your work week and gets you home again for most of the Thanksgiving weekend. 
Come join us for a memorable learning experience!  
Email: registration@hollyhock.ca | Fax: (250) 935-6424
 
 
 

Whitewater: Part 2

Tags

, , ,

Keep your eye on the prize: That day on the river also taught me to stays focused on the rewards of goal attainment.  Moving quickly down the river, I was pushed under a logjam. In that terrifying moment, I had to chose between negative thoughts about how I should have known better or turning my mind to getting back above the surface – be pushed or push back! At the risk of appearing dramatic, the fact I’m writing this blog reveals what my choice was. In archetypal terms, I opted for the Hero’s imperative  – pushing back against the boundaries of my mortality and learning from the experience in the process.  images-35

That day on the river taught me a lot about myself and about the operating system of the fear-based world.  Leadership summons us to take on major challenges, to deal with the clear and imminent dangers such challenges inevitably contain, and lead our team towards the desired outcome. By understanding that fear is a powerful energy force we can use to our advantage, we can apply the lessons of Balanced Leadership successfully.  The “turbulent waters” we face in leadership at work need not be feared, but respected, challenged, and learned from.  Decide you are going to shape the outcome.  Be determined and develop your intestinal fortitude.  Sometimes life is hard.  Work harder.

Another thing I learned from my whitewater experience is that after a big event your mind keeps replaying it.  According to research on adrenaline and cortisol when you face a challenge it triggers adrenaline which sharpens your focus, and increases your strength while making your brain calm.  When the challenge becomes too great it becomes stress and cortisol kicks in.  You freeze up, look for ways to check out.  In archetypal terms, cortisol is the Coward hormone.   Your brain becomes muddled and your instinct is to hold still or retreat.  I relived the experience nightly for 5 days feeling smaller and smaller, each time, vowing to never do whitewater again.  And then I stopped myself.  I can make a choice as to what I got out of the experience.  I am smarter now.  I take safety procedures very seriously.  I will practice my strokes when the water is calm so my next whitewater experience is one of expanded mastery.  It is totally possible to face fear and come out of if feeling more confident.  The key is to process with intention.

stock-footage-multi-ethnic-business-team-receiving-bad-news-in-video-conference-meeting-city-boardroom

That day on the river I made a big mistake resulting in my being pushed under a logjam and I think it was a cortisol effect.  The  day before, I had given a presentation that was pivotal to a project I was already financially and emotionally committed to.  At the midpoint of my talk, the body language of a couple of members of my audience was, well –  not good.   Even though the meeting ended well, I had so much at stake I flooded with cortisol when it hit me how I almost failed.  Then I dashed off to canoe class.  I believe I had trouble taking in new information on the river because I still had cortisol flooding my body resulting in me freezing up and making a mistake.   What I needed to do was to take a moment after the meeting to celebrate the fact that I lived! – the meeting went well in the end and the door was open for more discussion.

Through this experience I saw the wisdom of the reward part of the hero’s journey.  After you learn you can push back the boundaries of mortality, even if it wasn’t elegant, focus on and celebrate the fact that you did it.  It helps your body to reset its cortisol levels.

All in all, the experience of challenging my boundaries on my project and on the water was good.  Having an understanding of the operating conditions of the fear based world really helped.  I would say I have expanded the boundaries of my mortality!