Episode 9: The Sage Power of Activate
Would you like to spend more time in flow? Where when working on a project, you are immune to distractions. You are totally focused on the work at hand, you know exactly what to do. You keep at it for hours without noticing the time passing. That’s what it’s like to be fully immersed in the Sage strength of activate.
Think of it as drama-free, laser-focused, inspired action. Drama-free means there’s no hemming and hawing about getting started and staying on track. Laser-focused means you’re indistractible. And inspired action means you’re working from inspiration and working toward something important.
Feel It in Your Body
Right now, remember a time you were in a deep sense of flow. Imagine a specific time. How did you feel? What did you see? What did you hear? What does it feel like in your body?
Each sage power feels very different in our body. When I’m in the activate power, my spine is straight, but relaxed, and I’m energized but in a very calm, focused, confident way. When Wendy channels her activate power, her shoulders drop down and back, and she sits up straighter in her seat. She can even feel it in her eyes as she focuses on what she’s working on.
By knowing what your body and energy is like for each of these different sage strengths you can help the process along by holding your body in this way when you’re wanting to channel that strength. Your brain and your emotions take cues from your physical body. Have you ever noticed smiling can help lift your mood when you’re down? For more about this watch this wonderful TED talk by Amy Cuddy.
Anticipate and Plan for Distractions
Another great strategy is to preempt the saboteurs by anticipating how will they try to keep you from moving forward? Each saboteur has a different a way of standing between you and the important action you want to take.
Let’s imagine you’re working on a project, and you feel a bit uncertain about it. Maybe it’s something you’ve never done before or it’s a part of the job that you don’t really enjoy. Here are a few examples of how different saboteurs will lie to you and how to counter that lie.
The Judge in your head might whisper something like, “Who do you think you are? You don’t know what you’re doing. This is not going to go well. And why should you even bother? You know the others won’t follow through on their part anyway. This job sucks.”
The Judge will take full advantage of your uncertainty if you let it. The lie is that you’re supposed to be perfect every time and know how to do every part of the job already. In reality, everyone makes mistakes, especially when trying something new. When we take the risk and jump in, we gain knowledge and experience that can help us be even more successful. If we only do what we already know how to do, we’re just treading water.
The Hyper-Rational saboteur would have you think “I have to get more data to more fully understand the situation.” It would put you into analysis paralysis. The lie here is that it’s even possible to have all of the information. One of the qualities necessary for leadership is to make decisions in the face of uncertainty. Complexity is often a function of uncertainty. There comes a point where we need to make a decision, take action, and have a fall back plan if we’re wrong.
Taken to the extreme, the Hyper-Vigilant saboteur says “so much could go wrong. If you screw up, you’ll get fired, run out of money, become homeless.” The lie of the Hyper-Vigilant saboteur is that you have to look out for the dangers, because no one else will. While as a leader, you’re accountable for the success of the project, you’re not in it alone. Think of who can be a sounding board. Who on your team, or among your peers or superiors, knows enough and is brave enough to voice their opinions? Then engage those people in a productive dialogue about your concerns with the goal of moving forward into action.
The Avoider would say, “working on this project isn’t pleasant. You should hold off, so you don’t create conflict and discomfort for yourself or others.” The lie here is that avoiding the hard stuff will make you happier. In reality, you’ll become increasingly anxious because you know you need to complete the project that you’re putting off. A trick that can help is to say, I’m going to force myself to work on this project for at least 15 minutes and if at the end of 15 minutes I want to stop, I can. Once you get some momentum, it’s easier to keep moving. By the way, this is a proven willpower strategy!
We’ve all experienced the joy that comes from being completely in flow. When we start a new project if we take a few minutes to preempt the saboteurs, and to get our bodies physically into how we feel when we’re in flow, it makes it easier to get into and stay in flow. That’s where Wendy and my mental fitness training programs are so beneficial. Getting into the physicality of Activate and preempting the saboteurs are new behaviors for many of us. Our training programs provide a proven approach to building the muscles and habits needed to remember to do this and to be able to do it when things get tough. I’d love to talk with you about this. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For now I hope you’ve walked away with more ideas about how to get unstuck and hope you feel ready to conquer the world!