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Being Deliberate about Development
It’s easy to fall into the trap of knowing it all, confusing knowledge with understanding and forgetting the need to keep translating things from mind to muscle to embody positive change. The truth is - the work is never done.
Each day invites an opportunity to deepen our understanding of ourselves, each other and the world around us. ‘Every conversation holds within it the promise of a new beginning’ (source unknown)
Learning and reflection also need to move to action to support change and growth.
Engaging with practices is an invitation to experiment with new ways of being and doing. This is the difficult part of the change, but there are ways to make it easier:
- Integrate Practices Into Your Daily Workflow
- Focus On Just One Thing
- Take Ownership
- Leverage Community
- Establish A ‘Minimum’ For Your Practice
Development doesn’t have to take you away from your work. Instead of adding more tasks to your list, aim to focus your attention on how you’re engaging with your work colleagues. By working with practices that can be implemented within the flow of your daily activities, you’ll be more likely to make changes over time.
For example, by implementing a simple practice of questioning assumptions in conversations, a hospital worker discovered that their level of empathy was sometimes limited by mindreading and misinterpretation. By deliberately checking in with others, this leader created improvements in their relationships – “By checking in with others, my relationships have improved, I’m better able to help people as I’m not relying on assumptions.”
Whilst opinions vary on the duration of time and the number of times it takes to build a new habit, most experts agree that it’s important to focus on one small thing and deliberately practice it over and over until it becomes automatic.
So prioritise one or just a few things to work on and work on them consistently… Don’t try to ‘beat the whole elephant!
When it comes to developmental practices, it’s essential to be clear on why you’ve chosen the method you’re working. If you’re working on something because your boss told you to, it’s far less likely to be sustainable than an intrinsically motivated practice.
Check-in on your commitment too. The other day I gently confronted a client who told me they were going to ‘try to implement a practice of taking three deep breaths when they felt their stress levels increasing.
Practices often work best if you are transparent about what you have chosen to work on when you proactively ask for feedback and input.
Sharing your practice with others also enables you to receive support and encouragement. If you find motivation by collaborating with others, pair yourself up with a ‘buddy’ to support your accountability and someone with whom you can exchange perspectives and ideas.
Watch out for unhelpful ‘all or nothing thinking. For example, let’s say you committed to running a mile a morning. If you wake up tired and de-motivated, what is the minimum you could do to maintain a connection with your chosen practice?
Instead of letting yourself off the hook, it might be just committing to a quick jog around the block. Establishing a minimum helps you stay connected and on track.
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