Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Using Step #3 of The Five Step Path


"If you think of your life as a journey and yourself as the captain
of your ship, you know that nothing is more important to your survival
and the quality of your life than learning to navigate efficiently."
- Richard Carlson & Joseph Bailey -
(p. 31, Slowing Down to the Speed of Life, 1997)

Previously in The Ronin Post we addressed Steps #1 and #2 of "A Five Step Path to Leadership and Effectiveness". This month we present Step #3. And, we'll reframe it for personal reflection and organizational self-assessment.

Recall the three crucial practices that support the overall FIVE STEP process:
  1. Be present with people and situations.
  2. Make external focus your mindful practice.
  3. Simultaneously, stay connected with what's happening for you, i.e. physically (your body responses), mentally (your mind chatter & images) and emotionally (the flow of your feelings).

REMEMBER STEP #1. YOU MUST FOCUS ON THE STRENGTH THAT OTHERS (especially those following you) POSSESS. This essential builds rapport, trust, respect and growth, and initiates the process.

REMEMBER STEP #2. YOU MUST ENCOURAGE and INPRIRE others to DEVELOP, PRACTICE and UNLEASH their own strengths and uniqueness.

Now on to ....

STEP #3. Point in directions and take actions that are grounded in constructive principles shared by you and those you are leading or attempting to lead. This is a vital practice - whether you are a teacher, a parent, a military commissioned or non-commissioned officer, a business manager, a sales person, someone invested in customer service, a doctor, an attorney, a bellman, a card dealer at a Black Jack table ... or some average Joe or Jane sitting down to a counter or table to order lunch. Any position that you might hold in life is temporary. That you are constantly developing yourself as a person of effectiveness or a person lacking in effectiveness (and likewise influencing others) is a life-long condition.

You must be clear about the directions you and your actions are giving. How can you be certain your directions are clear? Look to others for feedback. What do they understand your directions to be, and for what purposes?

(1)                   Listen closely. Ask others to verbally explain in their own words what they think you mean. Listen to the cues that are more than you simply satisfying a need to hear a recitation. Listen to the tone others use when they give you feedback. What are they really saying? Look at what their body is saying. Reflect on all of this without taking any of it emotionally personal, i.e. don't build yourself up OR tear yourself down. Don't jump to premature conclusions. SLOW DOWN and be an honest observer.

(2)                   Watch closely. What are others doing? This is powerful feedback. You may think that the notion that actions speak louder than words is a worn out cliché. But it is the truth. Don't deny what your eyes are seeing. (read on)

(3)                   In giving directions, make absolutely certain that you pay attention to what you are personally experiencing, i.e. your own feeling and your own body responses.   What's happening in your gut? What's happening with your skin and eyes? Are you fading out and drifting? Are you hooked in and connected with others? Are your directions being given in a way that honors and respects yourself and others? You have to remain grounded in your own constructive principles. Make certain you deeply understand the guiding principles of your followers. Make certain there is congruency.

You are always pointing in a direction. Others will take this to be what you expect or want. From here they will either move in ways you desire OR they will resist. Most people point in directions oblivious to the fact that this is what they are doing. You must stay alert, remain clear and operate in a mode of self-examination. Direction without self-reflection is dangerous and becomes a self-destructive road to walk.

It doesn't matter that you occupy a leadership position. The fact is, all of us are being followed, but most of the time we are clueless to this reality.  

Directing others extends far beyond a function called verbal command giving. Directing others is based primarily upon what one does, next on the tone one uses, and least of all on the words one says. Doubt that? Have you ever watched someone lead a masterful game of Simon Says?

If you find that others who are supposed to be following you are actually moving in directions that you don't desire, consider the likelihood that these folks think and believe that you are pointing them in that direction - even if your words appear to sound otherwise to you. The actuality of this may be altogether inaccurate, but ONLY by considering this as a possibility can you truly make responsible and non-blaming corrections.

Step #4 of "A Five Step Path" is the topic for June's issue of The Ronin Post. But for now, spend your time honestly examining: (1) your own core values, and (2) the directions that your actions, tone and words are suggesting.

Then take a step every day to ask yourself, "Have I displayed constructive or destructive core values? What directions do my behaviors suggest? Have I engendered respect, dignity and honor in myself and others?"

Two Questions For Personal Self Reflection:
  1. If your friends, family, neighbors, teachers, enemies, ex-husband, ex-wife etc., walked into a room and told you honestly and without malice what they know from their experience your core values to be (both constructive and destructive) what would they say?
  2. If these same people were to answer the question - "In What Direction Is He or She Pointing?" - what would you hear them say?

Two Questions for Professional Reflection and Organizational Effectiveness:
  1. If your co-workers, employees, managers, competition, vendors, former employees, etc., could walk into a room and give feedback to you regarding your business' actions and soul, without the intent of degrading you, yet being honest in their assessment, what words would they use to describe your organization's core values? Understand that values can be either constructive or destructive, i.e. a core value could be that you hold customers with respect; or a core value could be that you hold customers with contempt.
  2. If these same people could likewise answer the question - In What Direction is This Organization Pointed - and if they continue in that direction - Where Will They Find Themselves? - what would you hear these people truthfully say?  
Take on the above practices for one month. About ten minutes each morning to forecast your thinking, and about ten minutes each evening to review your reality should do just fine. This may feel difficult to do. BUT - you will like yourself for having done this, and others (including some people who don't like you) will respect you for the effort.

A FUN ASSIGNMENT. THIS MONTH VIEW THE FILM "MONEY BALL". Even if you have already seen it, NOW watch it within the context of what is written above, plus what was covered in the March and April issues of The Ronin Post. You will see these first three steps of "A Five Step Path to Effectiveness and Leadership" covered in detail again, and again and again.

"Pay close attention to your colleagues or adversaries.
Listen carefully to what they have to say. Can you
paraphrase their main message? .... Find as many ways
as possible to get close to your people and their issues."
-David Baum and Jim Hassinger-
(p.77, The Randori Principles, 2002)

© Lance Giroux, May 2013

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