Four+ years ago, my business was growing and I prayed for the right person to be sent to me in order to complement my work, coaching clients in a way that would give them added depth as a leader.
God (through Barb Wade) sent me success coach and emotional resilience expert, Suzanne Dudley-Schon. And, it’s been an added bonus for me as she’s expanded my own growth edges.
Suzanne understands that the beingness of leadership matters more than the doingness of leadership.
You can take all of the tactical leadership actions that generate success – and not be a leader worth following.
This week, I’ve asked Suzanne to write the blog post for the Upside Thinker on the topic of thinking about your thinking.
Last weekend, I wrote a poem (see below) and sent it off to my poetry group. I had opinions about it. It’s kind of stupid to write about my reaction to a movie. Why would anyone care to hear my opinion? Does what I say make any difference? Why would I write a poem about it anyway??? Is it really worthy? Is this even a decent poem? Is it self-indulgent? Is it my same-old, same-old story about feeling yucky and then feeling better? Did I do the line-breaks right? Were the verbs strong enough? Did I use images or rely too much on telling? Does it even make sense or is it too obtuse or oblique? God, why did I feel so compelled to write this poem? Why do I write poems when I am fully aware that writing poems earns me not one single penny, and I should probably be using my time in other more “productive” ways?
All of this nattering was whirling around in between my ears like a spinning maple seed.
While my mind spun in seeming activity, the reality was it kept me, momentarily, unable to take action. If you notice too, much of the rumination wasn’t constructive, nor about how to address improving the poem. Some of it was relevant (verbs, line breaks) … which made this rapid fire reaction even more pernicious, because I could convince myself I was actually thinking versus fretting.
Without any other options to include as my weekly poem to my workshop group, I pushed the worry to one side of my brain, and pushed “send” on the email.
Hours later, a gift appeared in my inbox: an email recounting the effect my poem had on one of the workshop members. She’d been feeling “less than” about herself, totally inferior to her friends and colleagues. She’d fallen prey to those negative thoughts that can crop up like weeds when we compare ourselves to others—especially someone else’s curated-version of themselves like on Facebook or other social media platforms. Yes, this woman said that in reading my poem she turned herself right-side up. She felt better. Her attitude adjusted, and she regained her mooring, a sense of herself—her true self—of her uniqueness and value.
For me, this effort of putting my poem out there was a reminder not to listen to the noise and negativity in my mind that sounds so superior, so smart, and “so right.” The insidious voice that looks like thinking, but is really the insertion of doubt that unleashes the torrent of self-criticism waiting to pounce from the proverbial dark. The lesson being to follow my heart, to write and “do what I do” in the ways that I can – and specifically in those avenues that are authentic to me.
My mission is to help heal–myself and others–through coaching, writing, acting, or simple interaction. Sometimes it sounds high-falutin’ and “big” to have a stated mission. When it comes down to the essence of it, the approach is to take each moment to live on purpose, with intention. And in this case, give into the impulse to write a poem about my experience at the movies because I was compelled by a desire to bring light.
The truth is—actions usually are “small.” Remain free of judging the size or attachment to the outcome. Keep your focus on the act—an act that is fed by the light of your intention and purpose.
If I kept being driven by ego or imagining the hugeness of possible impact, the pressure would take the wind out of me, and I’d be struggling to knit two words together. The “bigness” is really about taking action in spite of the mental chatter or the emotions swirling.
The discipline involved is not about pushing harder or taking some enormous step, but rather to cast off negativity and self-doubt. Act in spite of the possibility of it being meaningless or remaining un-read. (Afterwards you can take action to get it in front of people!)
In spite of how we feel, we should persevere, go ahead and share, put ourselves out there… to do what we do, how we do it.
Don’t let the Joker fill you with darkness.
We have no idea how our small acts will fly through the ethers to benefit someone thousands of miles away, or touch a soul on the receiving end of an unexpected smile from a person on the street or a poem sent in an email.
Because I’d been told it was violent but beautiful,
when I arrive in the dim theater,
I only peel off my coat
and a single shoulder of my armor,
settle in my seat
ready to tango, syncopate heartbeats.
The flickering lightbeam overhead paints
the screen with a face, grimacing,
the character’s own blue agony.
Heat rushes away.
Ocean coldness floods the floor.
Feet unsteadied, sandy bottom gone,
I smell fog, sadness, and gasoline.
I recognize darkness,
sleek and seductive,
as it searches for unhealed wounds.
With a finger it can explore leathery old holes,
trace the edges of ragged sores.
It can stare into the weeping
while whispering kisses and licking salt.
This time I refuse
to feed it my liver
or give it the candles in my pantry.
The soundtrack leaks in.
Cellos moan like a creaking ship.
Still aboard the vessel, I rock in my seat
and think, how I would have preferred
the theater of my garden.
Now Showing—double feature
The Last of the Red Hot Zinnias
Lord of the Squirrels: Two Towering Pines.
The Upside Challenge or the week is to analyze where you are in your business or personal life, think about your thinking.
Is it tainted with self-criticism and self-destructive? Or is it objective?
Does it move you forward constructively?
Does it illuminate something for you?
Choose to “pay attention” to the thinking that can help you… …Because the world needs you and your brilliance.