Success coach, Emotional Resilience expert, and guest writer Suzanne Dudley-Schon is back, sharing her brilliance on flexibility in business and life in this week’s Upside Thought. 

Several years ago I sought to hire someone who would complement my work and coach clients giving them (and me) added depth as a leader. 

A friend posted one of her colleagues was looking to be part of a growing team. I reached out and a partnership with Suzanne Dudley-Schon was born. Over the past several years we’ve worked together, we’ve each grown our own growth edges – and there has been lots of tears and laughter along the way. 

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 her to  write about the power of understanding where you stand in changing times.   

Happy Reading!
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A hot topic in business is the importance of being “agile.” Survival is linked with adaptability, adroit response to market changes, needs of your client base, and the overall landscape of today’s fluctuating conditions. 

Another required skill is balance and steadiness. While actively reading the signs to adjust quickly, you also have to determine when and where to “hold,” to stay steady with your current approach as the best route through the challenging times.               

One benefit of the Covid-19 pandemic is that I’ve had the opportunity to engage in deep, lively conversations with my adult children. These talks are not always easy!  

These young people are verbally adroit, possess quick minds, and the ability to Google information with a blur of fingers, before I have formulated a single sentence in response to the last thing that was said.   

I watch the fluidity of their exchanges with each other and with peers. Intense, fevered, passionate discussions, their ideas fly, pinging around the room, some developed, others less so, all tossed into an ocean of conversation. Needless to say, their skills require me to step up my game.   

My coaching clients are similarly jostling in the torrent of daily change and determining how they might need to adapt—personally and professionally, and sometimes bumping into their own resistance. 

Occasionally that resistance is an internal request for stillness, the body and mind’s need for calm and retreat. Addressing that need could simply mean stepping back from a toxic dynamic, getting new perspective on an intractable problem by taking a long hot shower, or pausing for a longer amount of time. 

I manage a business (other than my coaching business) in which it’s clear that while some significant changes may be required, now is not the moment to take action. When viewed from a big perspective, what’s needed for now is to keep doing what works, and what has worked.  

So how do you discern what is required?   

Slowing that examination process down and being in open-minded inquiry. 

Is this an area of entrenchment because it has been a previously successful strategy? It’s hard to fault or give up because it was successful before! Dig deeper, gently. Beneath the ridigity may be fear. Stoicism on the surface may be clinging to the using the lens on the past because old methods provide a sense of security. Today may need a different focal point.  

There is an old saying that every problem comes to you with a gift in its hands.    

Make the inquiry safe. Slow it all down. No commitment required, only exploration… no drastic all or nothing scenarios in this stage. 

While you may feel dinosaurial in your speed of response, as I do with my kids in conversation, the lack of mental crowding and a slower reaction time has its value: pace and space. Openings between the strands of thought and reasons for your beliefs.   

I personally hold this perspective as one of the gifts of aging. Instead of resisting my “gaps” and tightening my arguments to bind up any “holes,” a successful approach is to have room. Be a little bit more humble. Lean into those “gaps.”  

Be willing to hear, even if it might scare you. Reasons and arguments often feel like a school of fish: flashing, tightly bound, powerful together, and fast.   

When thinking is like a net, allowing space, you can listen without attachment. Watching the fish as it were. Ideas can flow and flow through and flow by. You can appreciate the quick silver of ideas and bring in some of the wonderful catch.  

Resistance can be valuable to ward off invasion of a threat or virus. It keeps us surviving, as we are, to continue. This is a fundamental life force and essential tool.   

However if we always resist, insisting on re-doing, re-living what has been, we also fail to modernize, improve, add, and develop. Allowing for something new and different doesn’t have to mean total demolition or disregard for what was, or disrespect. And you don’t have to have the answers in hand. That’s part of the creative process. 

A vision requires revision. Great writing is re-writing. When needed, we make adaptations to evolve and survive whether as a species, an individual committed to person growth, or in business. 

This requires keeping one eye out, watching what is going one “out there,” in order to do our best in response. The other eye remains focused “in” to listen to the internal nudges and needs.   

Cast a net internally and externally, and see what you bring in. You can make wonderful, well-informed decisions when you’ve actively seen and considered all of your options.   

ACTION:  The Upside Challenge for this week is to examine what phase you are in. 

Are you in a time requiring stabilization? 

Do you need to resist pressures, insist on what is or has been?  

Or is this a moment where “re-visioning” is required?  

Practice safe inquiry, remember you catch with a net, and the net catches you too. 🙂

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