Focusing When You are Less than Your Best

When adversity strikes, that's when you have to be the most calm. Take a step back, stay strong, stay grounded and press on.”
- LL Cool J

“Panic causes tunnel vision. Calm acceptance of danger allows us to more easily assess the situation and see the options.”
- Simon Sinek

“Sometimes I wish that I could go into a time machine right now and just look at my self and say, 'Calm down. Things are gonna be fine. Things are gonna be all great. Just relax.'”
- Tristan Wilds

My work takes me into high-conflict situations at times. When I'm at my best, I am able to stay calm, focused on the end in mind, and able to pay attention to the folks in front of me. When I'm in a state that is less than my best, I still have the commitment to do a great job for the folks in front of me, so I have to find ways to stay grounded and focused.

This is what I've learned the hard way:

  1. To make sure I eat. Without food, my brain (and your brain) will not function as well.
  2. To stay hydrated. Water keeps us feeling better and lets our brain work better.
  3. To deal with my self-critical voices. I've learned that they only make it harder to focus. It is best to negotiate with them using traitor-angel dialogues so that your energy is focused on the people and the task at hand and not on yourself.
  4. To get really clear about the end in mind and then trust my brain to navigate us to a good ending. This has come with experience and practice.
  5. To use meta-communication. I have realized that the more I find ways to use all the brains in the room, the better off we are. By stating the situation in a way that others can provide input with their perspectives and innovative solutions, the better chance we have to move through the situation successfully.
  6. To remember that my reputation is not based on ME solving the team's problems but on me creating conditions in which they can have constructive dialogue so that all together, we can find innovative solutions to solve their problems.
  7. When I forget any of the above points, I give myself a break and remember that it's okay to be less than perfect.

As you might imagine, I've gotten better over the years in doing all the above. However, it is a journey without an end as it really is a way to stay present in the moment, be and do my best, and enjoy the ride.

The practice for this week supports you in doing likewise. I look forward to hearing how it goes.

Judith Bell, M.S., Master LHEP™

Judith Bell, M.S., Master LHEP™

Judith is the founder and president of Rewire Leadership Institute®. A master facilitator, consultant, teacher, and coach, she has created and facilitated personal growth, team development and organizational change seminars, coached executives and teams, facilitated strategic planning and high visibility meetings, and supported culture change for over four decades. Judith works with a diverse range of companies from government agencies, non-profit, Fortune Global 500, to small and mid-sized family owned businesses including such organizations as NASA, Seaflow, Total Oil, Restoration Hardware, San Antonio Water System, and Culver Company.

Superb at supporting individuals, pairs, and teams in developing the skills necessary to realize their full potential, Judith helps executives, managers, and staff gain the ability to respond flexibly and rapidly to their changing environment. Through extensive experience and research, she utilizes a number of different approaches including the FIRO theory, systems theory, cybernetics, neuroscience, cognitive, positive, and success psychology.

As one of the world’s leading experts on the FIRO theory, she trains consultants internationally. A consultant’s consultant, Judith mentors facilitators, coaches, therapists and other professionals in the integration of the FIRO theory in their work. From 1981 until 2004, she worked closely with Dr. Will Schutz, the creator of FIRO theory. Independently, Judith developed FIRO Theory Profiling, which has been lauded as the first innovation in the FIRO theory instruments aside from Dr. Schutz’ own developments. She continues to develop courses that synthesize her studies and experience and are based in FIRO theory.

Starting in her teenage years, Judith has been a pioneer in her passion for authenticity, clear communication, and positive change. She is lauded for her ability to see others’ potential and help them realize it—be they individuals, pairs, teams, or organizations. Judith’s zest for life, appreciation for others, and generosity of spirit inspires those with whom she works.

An honor’s student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Judith’s desire and passion to learn about authenticity motivated her to move her studies to The Institute for Creative and Artistic Development (ICAD) in Oakland, California. As the youngest student in their teacher training program, she created and graduated with an undergraduate degree that focused on authenticity through California State University, Sonoma. Continuing on her quest to study authenticity and creativity, Judith began taking courses at California State University, Hayward where she also created and graduated with a unique Master’s degree that focused on communication, transformation, and the creative arts.

Interested in systems and change, Judith began experimenting with her innovative action-oriented approach to assess and intervene with families, groups, and organizations. Through this work, she became a much sought-after instructor, training masters and doctoral students in her seminal work. As chair of a psychology program focused on Creative Arts Therapies at Antioch University, San Francisco, she developed curriculum and continued to serve as guest faculty and lecturer at universities nationwide.

In addition to leading Rewire Leadership, Judith and her husband, Daniel Ellenberg, co-founded Relationships That Work®, where she serves as Vice President. She and Daniel co-authored Lovers for Life: Creating Lasting Passion, Trust, and True Partnership, which applies the principles of Rewire Leadership Institute® to romantic relationships. Recently, they co-authored a chapter in Mastering the Art of Success: Volume 8. With Matt White, Judith recently co-authored Leading with Courage.

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