Following Terrie Lupberger's introduction to the 3 Kets of Embracing Feminine Leadership is the first key: Stop Concluding.
I know. This is hard one. We human beings make assessments all the time. We have opinions about everything and everyone, including ourselves! We come to conclusions about how things are very quickly. Don’t think it’s just you; we all do it!
“I don’t like that.” “I do like this.” “They’re right.” “He’s wrong.” “That’s good.” “That’s bad.” “I can’t because ___.” “She shouldn’t do that because ____.” “He’s just lazy.” “She can’t be trusted.” “I should do ____.” “I should be more ______.” Etc. etc. etc.
You judge constantly and you aren’t even aware of it most of the time. What’s worse is that you not only judge but then you come up with reasons to justify why you believe what you believe so you can be right about it. And, we human beings LOVE to be right. We will kill off (metaphorically speaking) relationships, ideas, people, to prove how right we are and how wrong they are.
Consider, however, that your conclusions and judgments will condemn you to do more of the same and produce the same results. Every time you have a judgment or point of view about something or someone, you limit what else is possible. You limit your options and your choices.
“I’m too old/ too young to ______.”
“No one really appreciates that I’m doing most of the work around here.”
“I can’t do anything about that problem; it’s not my department. They should _______.”
“I should be more like __________________.”
“I’m unhappy in my job, but I need to stay. We need the money and in this economy it’s too risky to make a change.”
“It’s not my dream, but I have to support my partner in the business; we can’t afford to hire employees.”
Sound familiar? Maybe not the specific content but do you feel the mood of these? All conclusions about how it is. No possibilities. No room for exploration or inquiry as to what else might or could be possible. No room for life to surprise or delight you. No room for serendipity or magic.
Once you have concluded that they are wrong, or that you are wrong, then you have no recourse but to live in that space and that frame of reference. You have no way to grow, to learn, or be contributed to by anything or anybody else. You close off potentially powerful and meaningful connections, conversations and relationships. You close off opportunities for innovation and creativity.
Years ago I found myself in the presence of a woman I consider to be one of the few great role models for women leaders. She was inspiring, real, full of questions rather than answers and brought a powerful vulnerability to the conversation. On the ride home I vividly remember thinking to myself that, compared to the impact she was making, my own was small and inconsequential. Thank goodness I caught myself! I realized that I quickly went to the point of view that I wasn’t doing enough and I wasn’t making a big enough impact. I went from being inspired by this woman in one moment to discounting my own gifts and talents in the next and that’s a sure path to self-doubt, self-criticism and “shoulding” on oneself.
Of course, some of the conclusions we make are made by conscious choice. We are aware we are making them. For example, you might choose to take that particular job because you don’t think you’ll mind the extra travel; you decide to move to that new neighborhood because you think the schools will be better for your kids; you go back for that master’s degree because you think you’ll be more marketable.
Sometimes you have to make a judgment. That’s what managers get paid to do. They make judgments of who to hire and fire, who should get promoted, how the customer should be communicated with, etc.
I’m not saying that judgment doesn’t have its function in the world. I’m saying that most of the time we don’t know we are judging; we have concluded that this is the way things are. We are mostly blind to our conclusions and judgments; we make them out of habits and histories. And then we try to design futures based on conclusions we didn’t even know were running our thinking.
So, what do you do instead? Try practicing having more questions than conclusions!
By practicing leading and living from questions instead of conclusions, you’re freed up to make different choices that are more aligned with what YOU care about. Let me give you some examples:
Conclusion: “I am afraid to apply for that position because it involves public speaking and I can’t get up in front of people and talk.”
Question: “I wonder what it will take for me to love sharing my message with people?” “What can I learn so this new position is a perfect fit for me?” or “Who said I can’t get up in front of people? Am I finally willing to let go of that old story so I can have a different future?”
Conclusion: “I can’t confront my boss about the unreasonable work hours. That will put a black mark on my record for sure. I’m lucky to have a job in this economy anyhow.”
Question: “I wonder how I could talk to my boss about the work hours so he/she gets that I care about my job and this organization?” “Is there another perspective on this than the one I’m seeing right now?” “I wonder who I could ask for help from on this issue?”
Can you feel the mood shift with the questions? Can you feel more expansiveness with the questions? Can you sense how the questions open new possibilities more than the conclusions?
This practice of replacing conclusions with questions may be difficult at first. You may not know what questions to ask. You may not even be able think of a question since your habit is to conclude and assess. When you start asking questions you may also be tempted to come up with all the reasons why your original conclusion is “true”. Your old habits of thinking will kick in with a desperate attempt to win you back to your familiar ways of doing things.
But, keep at it! If you can’t think of a question ask this one: “What am I not seeing about this situation that might open up a new way forward?”
Find out the keys in our next blog post series from Terrie Lupberger for Women’s Leadership Summit!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Terrie Lupberger is an author, speaker and senior executive coach and advisor to leaders and teams worldwide. Combining her 20+ years of organizational experience and her passion for business and people, she uses innovative change processes to help individuals, especially women leaders, improve the results they get without sacrificing well-being.
Terrie integrates the best of both feminine and masculine approaches to leading since both are necessary to move action forward consistent with what matters most. More of the same is not a strategy to deal with the challenges we’re all facing. Integrating the feminine into leadership produces a different way of engaging with each other that is critically needed and essential.
ABOUT WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP SUMMIT
The Women's Leadership Summit is a program engaging and empowering women on their leadership journey. This voyage of inner discovery spanning 3 months will inspire participants in making a meaningful difference - be it in your personal growth, at the workplace, for your family, or towards a better society. Focusing on Success, Sisterhood, and Satisfaction, this summit creates a collaborative environment for women to set bold goals for their professional lives, explore ways to give back, and create personal well-being and satisfaction. The main event will be held in Bali, Indonesia, on 28-30 September 2017.
For more information, visit our Women’s Leadership Summit event website