It takes practice to occupy the ground well.
Practice underpins our why. When people embed the tools and practices we teach, and commit to learning from their application, they make progress toward mastery of their conduct — a prerequisite to mentorship.
Remember Rudyard Kipling’s poem If ?
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you…
It’s a description of quintessentially skillful conduct — 21 tidy practices contained within four verses.
Master those, and you will be a powerful model for others around you.
Twenty-one practices, however, seems like a LOT of work right now. It is 2022. We are in the middle of some sort of great turning. And we’re all feeling a little maxed.
So for this issue of Roy News, our practice leads and Chiz have assembled a set of five simple practices for you. One practice each. You can grab one and put it into play in your next conversation.
Notice how we said simple? Doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Practicing is work — but it pays compounding dividends as you show up more and more masterfully.
Donna takes on a lack of focus.
Yo talks about taking things personally.
Heather brings the practice of gratitude.
Iain reminds you to use the tools.
And Chiz tackles judgment.
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TIP #1 – Focus
Public Service Practice Lead
The problem: Lack of focus.
One behaviour I see with increased frequency in both myself and the people we work with is a scattered, unfocused energy. The pull toward unfocused has always existed to some degree in our world of technology, however that pull has become a stronger magnet in the past two years, with the pandemic restrictions and the fact that we spend so much time alone, managing ourselves.
We are in a virtual world, and no one can see if we are responding to a text on our phone, reading an email that just pinged as it came in (and we were waiting for a response to a critical question for this afternoon’s meeting), or wistfully doing a Google search of “best places to vacation in 2022”.
The impact is that we never are fully present anywhere. We’ve all read the articles about multitasking, and the fact that it doesn’t actually work for us.
At the end of a day if I have been allowing myself to engage in this scatter approach, I feel exactly as one might expect: scattered, bleary, anxious.
Guilty that I didn’t pay the appropriate amount of attention to my meetings, and that I at least in part squandered the time of others because I was not. Fully. Present. My conduct was not admirable.
I did not meet my own standards for who I am being in the world.
The practice: Focus.
Focus is one of our core values at Roy Group. It goes along with our reminder to notice.
Just notice when your focus drifts. Awareness, as always, is the key to making changes.
When I am noticing my behaviour, I make the change. I put my phone out of reach. I shut off my second monitor. If I need to do something to get myself focused, I will practice a mindfulness activity like paying attention to my breathing. I will take notes of what’s important in the meeting, because from long experience, that helps me to pay attention.
I will do my best to conduct myself in a way that, at the end of the meeting — and the next meeting, and the end of the day — has me feel that I did my best.
Pair our Notice sticker with the Mindfulness, Compassion, Accountability trifecta. Notice the behaviour, have compassion for yourself, and take accountability to change things.
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TIP #2 – Gratitude
Education Practice Lead
The problem: Apathy.
I notice apathy around me. People just giving up and going on with what they need to do to serve themselves. There is certainly a feeling of “when will it all be over?” in the air, but also, there’s a sense of losing our collective enthusiasm and creativity around big problems.
Climate change is still with us. Racial injustice is still perpetrated. Public health is becoming more and more fractured in the discourse.
And some of the enthusiasm around how we can overcome these challenges, or how we as individuals, can influence them to the good, is waning.
The practice: Gratitude.
The one practice that has helped me shift apathy has been gratitude. I keep a box of thank-you cards in a spot that I can’t ignore. Either the box needs to be opened and a card sent, or another form of note needs to leave my desk on the regular.
The act of sharing gratitude — of reminding others of the small things they do (or the large things they do) that really help — matters.
It matters to me, and I hope it helps to shift apathy for others in small ways as well.
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TIP #3 – Intentions
Enterprise Practice Lead
The problem: Taking things personally.
A behaviour that I see getting in the way of people making their finest contribution is taking things personally, or a failure to see from a perspective other than their own. People can create an entire story around one comment made by a coworker, or an ambiguously worded email.
I regularly run into situations within organizations where a leader has allowed a massive divide to occur within a team or with another department, simply because they didn’t pause to ask a few questions. We know we should “seek first to understand, then to be understood”. But we often forget this adage. It’s human nature to think our version of events or our experience of a situation is the correct one. Our broader culture is currently shackled by this bias.
The practice: Feel around for intentions.
Whenever I find myself reacting to a situation or a person with anger, frustration, self-doubt or annoyance, I try to practice the habit of asking myself: What is their actual intention here? rather than becoming fixated on how I might be impacted or how I’m perceiving something.
We explore this idea in our Opportunity in Conflict course in the segment around “Intention vs. Impact”. It’s something I find myself constantly coming back to — with my family, as a parent, in my friendships, interacting with others out in the community, and of course in my work.
What I love about this simple concept is that when I stop to consider the other party’s intention, 9.5 times out of 10 it’s coming from a good place. Maybe the delivery, timing or specifics might miss the mark, but the intention is positive.
Just that realization in itself is, for me, a step toward a clearer head and a more productive outcome. That remaining 0.5? Topic of another blog post.
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TIP #4 – Practice
Social Impact Practice Lead
The Problem: Inconsistent practice.
One thing that holds people back from getting to their ideal state is inconsistent modelling of important leadership practices.
We get busy. Or we think using a particular framework (HELI) or model (Feedback) will feel contrived. Or it’s easier — just this one time — to not use the tools. Instead, we go “organic”.
So we let it slide, and our practice slides, and the potential that these tools hold for unleashing a new dynamic and dialogue in your team is lost.
The Practice: Practice.
Pick your set of leadership and communication tools and be explicit in letting people know that this is how you operate.
Be consistent in the tools you practice with. Here’s just one that we’ve shared with you in the past.
Share your tools with others so they can engage more in their use and adopt them into their own leadership practice as well.
Request that the people above, below and alongside you use them with you, too.
Get over the barrier of something feeling new and a little fumbly to establish a steady practice.
And then practice, practice, practice.
These will become the rituals that will make your work together legendary.
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TIP #5 – Accept
Partner & Co-Founder
The problem: Judgment.
At an alarmingly increasing rate, the world is full of it. Social media is rife with finger-pointing and blame, and people daring themselves to be mean-spirited to get noticed. Judgment shows up when someone tailgates me in traffic or throws down a political opinion I don’t like. It shows up when someone arrives late to a meeting, leaves early to pick up their kid (again), or reacts to a team exercise in a way I see as closed-minded.
Sociologist Brené Brown observes that we are more likely to harshly judge the things in others that we hate to see in ourselves.
The thing is, we all judge. I notice it in myself multiple times a day: the way people choose to say something, how slow the cashier is moving, the state of the world. It’s what we’re wired to do as humans, judgment having evolved primarily to help us make quick decisions for our safety. Except it gets in our way in the 21st century, as we try to create a harmonious society of folks looking out for each other. The more we judge others, the less we grow.
The practice: Accept that people have different worldviews.
Understand that we’re all coming from different places. Your birth story, your genes, the beliefs you adopted from your family, the marks you got in school, the shows you watch, your experience with hospital stays, the car that chased you at 1:30 in the morning until you had to jump a fence into someone’s backyard to get away…all of these create a kaleidoscope of YOU. It’s only one frame of reference for the world out of more than seven billion — and yet we tend to assume everybody perceives things similarly. But you’re the only one who lives inside your kaleidoscope; everybody else is living inside their own. So next time you skew toward judging someone for how they behave, remember that you cannot possibly know their worldview. Notice — but don’t judge. Replace judgment with curiosity.
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Pick one. Any one. And practice.
And when you’ve practiced a while and found that you’ve shifted that behaviour for the better — really MOVED it — reach out to us. We love sharing stories of the work we do inside ourselves, but we’d really be excited to share your story on our blog.