Updated: May 10, 2019
The C-Suite Sessions is an ongoing series of short mental agility exercises meant to give busy executives practical centering tools that they can use anywhere. The series was created by CEO Tevis Trower and born of her 16 years leading executive development initiatives at best-practice corporations including Bloomberg, KKR, NBA and Disney, among others.
Session #2 - "Take a Load Off"
Q4 pressures. End-of-year reviews. Holiday hurriedness. This time of year's heady mix of interaction, self-reflection and busy-ness in work and life might feel even more challenging for many people this year. Exacerbated by a divisive global narrative and market instability, it's easy blow your top with colleagues, family members or unsuspecting strangers who just happen to find themselves in your line of fire.
As a leader, being skillful in your interactions has repercussions far beyond the immediate impact on your relationships. In the blur of life's demands, even leaders who pride themselves on being centered and compassionate might find their thoughts become selfish and tone of voice sharp. All that enlightenment you feel after you meditate seems pretty pie-in-the-sky when you're under duress.
Since most of us struggle to access our inner-lama in the moments we need to most, how do we refocus?
One of my favorite practices to refocus our perspective with others was given to me by my mentor Michael Ray, Professor Emeritus of Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Michael was the marketing chair there, and the mastermind behind the famed Creativity in Business course that for 25 years was Stanford’s top-rated course. Working with high-performers at every stage of their careers taught him a lot about the need to stay connected to our shared humanity, and this practice distills the simplicity embedded in that learning.
Michael calls it “Just Like Me”, but I’m calling it “Take a Load Off” because that’s the effect I feel every time I use it.
It takes only a few minutes, and you can practice it in midst of whatever you may be doing, wherever you go. I like to use it while in public places that are teaming with people, on subway trains, at the post office, or anyplace where it's easy to feel my own needs and issues as somehow more real than those of the people around me.
Experiencing others as obstacles can become an operating principle. Don't let it.
Have a listen. Knowing how much we all crave feedback, please take a moment to share yours.