Stepping on my own toes
Leadership Coach, Front of Room Leader and Systemic Change Guide

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m in the middle of the fourth or fifth week of the lockdown, not like in the middle of the second week of Easter school holidays.

Reflecting on how well I have done with honouring my values in the past weeks, I cannot help but notice a gap between my values and life style. A gap that I often bump up against.

Doing and Pause are so much more than opposite values

Here’s the thing: I am a total Doer personality. Creativity is the uncontested Number 1 on my values list. But, since I have become a regular meditator, I have come to value pause and reflection tremendously. So far so good: Doing and pausing really are two sides of one coin. They are so much more than just opposites. They belong together!

For instance, daily mediation does not just ground me. It strengthens my ability to focus my creativity so that it does not scatter all over the place.
And achievement is really important to me. I just hate to waste time!

Therefore, I am rather disappointed at myself when struggling with staying focused and clear around what I need to be doing (and not doing!) next to reach my goals.

My long to do list just never seems to shorten, and it constantly yells at me in the back of my mind.

The Doer inside of me gets impatient and all worked up, for she just wants to get stuff done and tick that box!

But I also value pause and reflection, and being lucky enough to live near a lovely forest and a beautiful river, I just want to take the time to go for a daily solo walk in this blooming spring time. And when I don’t get to do that, I beat myself up for not pausing. To keep things simple, I will not even go to my third top value of connection. I reckon by now you’ll connect the dots…

When our values are in conflict with one another, we end up frustrated. Then it’s time for making choices.

This can be career ambition and family, or freedom and security, and many more seemingly opposing values.

We’re all way too busy, and want it all in more areas of our lives than we can manage. That’s one frame of mind to reflect upon and hopefully to transcend during our forced physical distancing. It’s time for most of us to say No more often so as to be able to fully say Yes to whatever we choose. And it is best to make that choice in full clarity of what really matters to us most deeply, in other words, in full clarity of our personal values.

If you have done the exercise of last week’s blog on finding out about your personal values:

  • Which values are you struggling to live up to in your present situation?

  • And which of your values are competing with one another?

What’s the leadership relevance of this? The benefit of being aware of our values and how we honour or dishonour them, is to set ourselves up for making conscious leadership choices. Why? Because people at the top of a hierarchy are not automatically leaders. Leaders are those who are at choice, i.e. people who show up and make decisions which are grounded in the values that drive them.

Congruence of values with behaviour and attitudes is what makes people rate leaders as effective.

A self-professed family man or woman who puts in 14 hours at the office each day, is not credible and does not inspire.

So what can you do, if you stumble over conflicting values? In our case, we had a conversation at the start of yesterday’s work day: A grounded conversation to align our priorities as we move forward into the unknown future of the coming weeks and months. A conversation which had us refocus, and which allows me to recreate the balance between doing and pausing.

For leadership coaching and developement, get in touch

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