Articles: Mind

Navigating through chaos

We all get overwhelmed sometimes. Our stories, resources, and energy can be insufficient to accommodate a new reality. We become disorganized, inefficient. Like any complex system, we enter a chaos state. This is an ever-present possibility for even the most enlightened or skilled individual. In a chaos state, we often find ourselves clinging to old ideas, to losses, to hopes for the future. We try to run the old program, even though the operating system has changed. Sometimes reality will shift back to…

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Climb the ladder

There’s a classic tool from learning psychology that I sometimes use with clients. It’s called the ladder of learning. This model says that whenever we learn a new skill, we always go through four steps: Unconscious incompetence: You are blissfully unaware that you are bad at something. You feel strongly in synch with your environment and confident in your abilities. This feels wonderful, but by the same token, you aren’t learning anything. Conscious incompetence: New information begins to intrude on your awareness, or…

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Time, energy, attention

There’s an analogy that consultants often use about a professor who tries to fit some rocks, pebbles, and sand into a jar. The punchline is that if you put the rocks in first, there’s magically room for everything else around the edges. If you fill the jar with sand, it will fill to the top. In daily life, it can be hard to prioritize our most-important goals, given the constant distractions we encounter. One trick to improve…

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Emotional intelligence

Emotions often get a bad rap in business settings. They are irrational, contagious, easily manipulated, and at odds with sound thinking. At least, that’s one view. I say instead that emotions are an integral and powerful part of how we think. And behind each individual feeling, there is a specific and decodable thought. For example: Anger = I am not getting what I want. Fear = There is danger here. Hatred = I am in ideological disagreement with someone with…

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What will serve

I once heard Joan Halifax speak about the difference between what we desire and “what will serve.” Separating the two can be tricky. As a coach and strategist, I tend to start with wants. We can’t see the path forward, and the resources all around us, until we recognize what it is we’re trying to do. That said, there are times to put our wants aside. To recognize that each situation has its own unique logic. To rise to the occasion or…

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