This is the second article on Chris, a 32-year-old man with a strong mind and big heart, who wanted to create his next steps and used human-centric leading tools to do it.
Chris knew that he had to shift from his habit of rushing in to fix other peoples’ problems because it started feeling more exhausting than good.
The problem with changing a habit is that it affects other people and sometimes, they don’t like the change.
Nicholas Christakis, a physician and social scientist at Yale, found how much people in our networks affect our lives. What is fascinating about his research is that it also shows that we are influenced by people up to three degrees of separation from our closest family, friends or colleagues — friends of friends of friends of friends! We may not even know those people, yet they affect our lives through ideas.
While this might sound unrelated to Chris’ situation, what’s important about the research is that it highlights the interconnectedness between people and how we affect each other.
In Chris’ case, he wanted to stop mopping up the floor instead of fixing the dripping sink and had to face pushback from family, friends and colleagues who were used to him doing so. As noted in the previous article, we all play roles in connection with each other and when one person changes a habit, the others are forced to adapt in relation to us.
Dealing with Pushback
While Chris hadn’t been in a situation in which pushback from family and friends would occur, he did notice it from staff at work. He practiced staying in the present moment and deliberately resisted the habit of rushing in to fix their problems.
In one case, someone on his staff (Sam) asked Chris to talk to his client because he felt anxious about the specific situation. Instead of rushing in to help, Chris talked to him about the situation and noticed that Sam’s stress was very high; in essence, he froze. In that case, Chris agreed to talk with the client and then looped back to coach Sam into feeling prepared enough to handle different types of client needs. While someone else might have coached Sam in the moment to empower him to talk to the client then and there, Chris chose to give Sam some space to relax and then talk with him when he was calm and able to accept responsibility for the situation.
The point is that Chris chose his behavior instead of reacting to a habit that no longer suited him.
From previous successes from coaching colleagues at work, Chris earned the benefit of attending a conference on behalf of his boss. Chris was an unknown there and realized that many attendees spent time and money to attend the event. He also noticed that most people were commiserating about their problems instead of exploring solutions. He stayed silent for a bit, so as to avoid his tendency to rush in and fix others’ problems. When he was ready, he asked simple questions out of a state of curiosity. While Chris was far younger than most there, that didn’t prevent him from adding a fresh perspective that made everyone stop in their tracks and think. The viewpoint his questions highlighted was based on data that they had forgotten to consider. The discussions continued onward, leading to meaningful debate about possible solutions. His insight was not lost on anyone. Even the most successful founders/owners of companies much bigger than his employer’s complimented Chris on his comments and gave him their business cards.
With a mindset of curiosity and a couple of simple questions, Chris felt good about his new power source — helping people help themselves by thinking in new ways. Plus he expanded his social capital by much more than he ever would in the past, opening doors to new opportunities that could lead to and/or support his next steps.
The Situation continued
As Chris continued seeking clarity of his life/career next steps, it was useful to realize what kept him feeling frustrated, out of control and lost (see the first article). With that insight, he could choose to feel differently. He then thought about what made him feel confident and grounded in a meaningful way that merged his strong mind and big heart.
What he noticed was an internal battle between two parts of himself that fought for power vs work together. One side was the “the detailed guy,” who dominated Chris’ life and focused on the details needed to fix everyone’s problems. While it felt good to fix problems others couldn’t, it also left him depleted and even resentful of feeling responsible for everyone’s needs.
Chris’ other side was his visionary self, which had been almost entirely dormant. He had had thoughts of doing things for the greater good in the past, but could never take those ideas very far and he finally found out why: he was too busy with details.
The way Chris became clear about his two battling internal selves was to notice that he felt pulled apart. One part compelled him to focus on details and the other wanted to fly with a vision. He drew the triads of what we can call his “least-effective” and “highest-effective” selves. They each depict what he thought-felt-did in different states of being:
While it’s easy for most people to draw out their least- and highest-effective selves, it takes time to learn how to shift from one to another. Long-held habits take time to uproot and replace, yet with deliberate practice, it’s achievable and transformational. On top of that, it’s efficient compared to other modalities of personal change.
For Chris, it took him a few hours of coaching and experimenting with new triads to become clear of his “detailed guy” and another few to practice staying out it his fix-it mode. When free from the “detailed guy” long enough, he was able to notice his visionary self.
Drawing out triads helps you see how your habits are anchored in specific ways of thinking and feeling that are linked together. Emotions make sense and they’re usually appropriate to the context; in all cases, they offer info as to what to do.
Due to the centuries-long rejection of emotions, it’s easy to intellectualize feelings or use logic to solve every problem. For some problems, emotional data is useful and triads offer a small dose of insight into emotions without making anyone feel destabilized or overwhelmed. Neuroscientist, Jill Bolte Taylor, reminds us through her research and personal witness of her own stroke, that we, humans, are not thinking beings who emote, rather emotional beings who think.
If you want a toolkit to help you use triads to their fullest, contact me here. It’s a detailed document, so contact me only if you’re a very committed person to self-development and solving interpersonal problems. Otherwise, it’s too intense.
Chris was surprised how easily his life’s vision slipped out of his mouth: to help people help themselves help people.
When he first said it, he thought it was merely another finding in his self-exploration. In fact, he had said it in many ways before then, yet hadn’t yet felt the connection. When we put some attention on it, he realized how profound that statement was and how good it made him feel. It changed his entire view of life in a second; he was evolving into the man he knew he was — and he could hardly believe it.
Chris realized that his vision is to be a multiplier of human empowerment.
What a powerful clarity. A self-realization worth celebrating.
While understanding his vision is essential, now what?
How will Chris put his vision into action? Where will he start? How will he find a job or a new entrepreneurial venture that aligns with his vision?
Stay tuned to find out what Chris does next. If you’d like to get the next update automatically, subscribe to my blog here.
Feature photo from Freepik