My quarterly coaching insight is again inspired by yoga. But you don’t have to like or do yoga to appreciate this.
Sometimes, we care so much about something – and are so sure we know the best way to achieve it – that we try too hard. All that single-minded focus may initially feel like commitment, leadership, and a great work ethic. Wonderful stuff — up to a point! But if it morphs into persistent striving–to be right or to win, it frays our nerves and relationships and becomes an exhausting drain on productivity.
I recently worked with an executive I’ll call Sara who generally lived by a “get-it-perfect” mindset that helped her be a topnotch performer. But her high voltage drive and fixation on exactly how things should be done took a toll. Colleagues made her aware of the negativity she injected into team dynamics. After we unpacked her assumptions about excellence, she loosened her effortful grip on one way of seeing and doing, she noticed which meetings turned south rapidly and why, which tactics worked best in conflicts, and how others were more collaborative if she took more time to listen. As Sara brought more flexibility and acceptance into her thinking, she created a new normal where collaboration now comes with more ease and the quality of team effort improves.
The take-away lesson can feel counter-intuitive: Inviting more ease into your work will improve, not dilute, the results of your efforts. You will make new solutions and better interactions possible. That ease may include various shifts: loosening your grip on specific expectations, giving a conversation more time, having fewer strong opinions, or pausing and breathing before reacting. Start with just one “move” toward ease and notice the benefits.