Being and Doing

Both five letter words – yet worlds apart!

For many people, the days have become a blur of Doing – a never-to-be-complete task list of things to accomplish. Just when you feel you’re coming up for air, another wave of change/extra demands land on your desk and it starts all over again.

I often think of my brother, a lawyer, who fondly remembers the pre-internet days of letter posting. Those times when you had days to consider issues, and generous reflection spaces as the post took its time to arrive. How different it is now, with emails and app messaging demanding instant responses.  The pace is unrelenting, demanding and places enormous pressure on any kind of ‘balance’ in our lives.

We can’t deny that we do live in interesting times, as the fourth industrial revolution shapes a world that is impossible to predict – which can be emotionally and mentally exhausting. For some it’s a total freak out (loaded with fear and uncertainty) but for many it’s exciting and opens up a plethora of opportunities.

The leadership words infusing the literature remind us of the competencies we’re going to need to grow to steer us through now and into the future – agility, resilience, lifelong love of learning, empathy, vulnerability, care and connection.

All words that are underpinned by emotionally intelligent leadership, the core skillset now needed to guide ourselves and our teams through these unprecedented times. We don’t know exactly what the future will hold; all we can safely predict is that it’s going to look and feel very different, and will require an appetite for risk tolerance, grit and flexibility.

What we can do now is figure out our ‘change readiness’ and our ability to navigate through the uncertainty in ways that will motivate and inspire – and start practicing looking after our own wellbeing to give ourselves the best chance of thriving.

Emotionally intelligent leaders understand that change readiness means focusing on their wellbeing, prioritising Being, and paying attention to leadership presence so that they can bring out the best in themselves and others. They understand that their Prefrontal cortex (PFC) is a fussy beast and needs just the right amount of sleep, good nutrition and exercise to elicit the best of its executive function and keep them thinking clearly!  It’s important to think about how overwhelm and stress are impacting our PFC!  Professor Amy Arnsten points out that the impact of stress on the networks of the Prefrontal cortex is an increasing challenge in the ‘information age’ when we need our higher cognitive functions to thrive.

In my executive coaching experience, the topic of balance comes up a lot. People are struggling to thrive – grappling with the constant need to navigate a path through managing the demands of task versus people. That head, heart, gut knowing that work is sapping your energy, and the best version of yourself is no longer showing up at home with the people you truly love.

When Doing trumps Being, and your healthy routines start to slide, your ability to navigate your own emotions also declines. You’ll find yourself reacting far more than responding.

Throughout the uncertainty, the hectic demands of complex roles, I’ve heard of some fun and interesting ways to bring more Being back into your life to balance the Doing (and the resultant stress it often brings); amongst them:

  • Fishing on the weekends
  • Sky diving when possible
  • Reading a novel before going to sleep each night
  • Keeping a gratitude journal – 3 things you’re thankful for each day
  • Learning another language
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Calling a friend/family member every day on your commute
  • Listening to a Mindful app for 10 minutes a day
  • Walking every morning
  • Yoga practice
  • Cooking classes
  • Planning a surprise for someone
  • Planning a weekend away – something to look forward to
  • Catching up on sleep wherever possible
  • Going to the movies or a concert
  • Having a massage

Carving 30 minutes each day for any of these activities will help you to bring the balance back in to your life, and strengthen your capacity to be change ready!

Wishing you lots of fun as you bring more Being to your Doing!

Cheers Alison