Coinciding with the launch of my first newsletter this […]
Coinciding with the launch of my first newsletter this month, I thought that this would be a good time to review what I have been blogging about for the last year and give some hints and some direction as to where I am going. It’s been almost a year since I began focusing on managing energy not time in many of my posts (see Managing Energy Not Time – Refuelling at the Dog Park, which was the first post). I have really enjoyed having that as an overarching theme, since it is integral to how I live my life and how I approach my coaching practice.
There are some sub-topics I said I would blog about more and haven’t, such as the connection between eating and managing our physical energy, more about managing spiritual energy, how slowing down is a good thing, and the importance of taking breaks. I will definitely cover these topics in future posts. One of my mottos is “better late than never” and I think it applies in this case.
To add to this post, I want to share an insight I recently had on a run last week. It has to do with how we react when presented with a request (or demand!) or an idea. As lawyers, my husband and I both learned that clients want to hear solutions; clients don’t want to work with lawyers who put up roadblocks to what they want. I am sure the same is true in any corporate environment and anywhere else, in fact. When making a request, we want to hear a “yes, and this is how or this is when…. etc.” People want to hear about possibilities, not about limitations. We have been working to instil this approach in our children as well, that is, when we are the “client” and they are the “lawyer”. For example, when we ask them to do a chore, we want them to say yes (or as my mother used to say “Yes Mum, I would be delighted to!’)
My new insight was how this approach connects with something I have been trying to do more of as a parent, especially with my youngest. Here’s the background: I have been reading The Happiness Project as a member of a “very slow book-club” created and facilitated by my friend and colleague Lisa Sansom. (We meet over the phone for an hour once every two weeks; it works really well as a format.) The book is full of insights and Gretchen Rubin has done a great job of making so much of the positive psychology research come to life. In the chapter on parenting called “Lighten Up” she talks about trying to say “no” or “stop” less often. Apparently studies show that over 85% of adults messages to children are negative. It’s hard when we are feeling stressed to keep ourselves from just saying “no!” or “stop!”. I also know that when I am stressed I tend to become inflexible and reactive, so I do say “no” and “stop” more, to everyone, including my little son. So, lately, I have been trying to pause, take a breath, and say “Yes, we can do this thing that you want later, after lunch. Yes, you can eat this candy after you have had a good healthy dinner. Yes, you can go scooting once I finish this chore. Yes, you can have a glass of juice after you have had a glass of water”…and so on. It takes a bit more effort, but the pay-off is huge. My son feels his wants are being met and I feel good that most of the time I can meet them. That makes both of us feel more positive and lighter, for sure. There is room for some of the positive emotions such as love, hope and interest. (Remember the positivity ratio I blogged about in Do You Have a Worry Cup or A Cup of Concern?) It helps to reduce stress too. It really does put us in a world of possibilities rather than limits (see The Art of Possibility, a wonderful book about this), on an upward spiral towards flourishing rather than just surviving. My emotional energy is fuelled by these interactions rather than drained.
So, on my run, I just realized how this parenting approach is basically the same as what we learned as lawyers and were trying to teach our kids. I know from experience that one of the best ways to teach my kids anything is to be a good role model for them – to practice what I preach. I know now that I wasn’t practising what I was preaching as much as I could and want to. Funny that it took me a while to see this connection, but now that I have made it, it’s going to stick, both in my parenting and in my other roles too. How about you? What experiences have you had that relate to this?
PS I am really looking forward to attending the First Canadian Conference on Positive Psychology here in Toronto on July 20 and 21. Lisa Sansom, who I mentioned above, is involved in organizing this, along with Louisa Jewell, the President and Founder of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association, and many others.