“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
People take their cues from their leaders. If you are rattled by challenge and adversity, your people are terrified. If you are calm in the storm, your people settle down, stay focused and keep moving forward. Your ability as an executive leader to maintain a peaceful and calm demeanor through the ups and downs of life can be a critical factor in reducing drama and building a powerful and productive culture.
But, staying calm in the midst of trouble can be a challenge. Many of the leaders with whom I have worked in my executive coaching do quite well at exuding confidence when things are going well. But, when the storm clouds build, they begin biting the nails. Their fear begins to show. They become “dense.”
One of the best skills for cultivating calm is to take on the Buddhist challenge of non-resistance. So, what is non-resistance?
- Noticing what is occurring without labeling it “good” or “bad”. Those labels are the source of almost all of our anxiety. Eckhart Tolle has much to say about this concept in his book, A New Earth.
- Embracing change. One certainty in life is that tomorrow will not be the same as today. When we attach ourselves to anything in our lives such that we don’t want it to change, we are misaligned with life. Change will come whether or not we welcome it. Embracing change allows us to flex with whatever shows up.
- Cultivating appreciation. It is so easy to develop entitlement for all of the blessings we have received. We come to expect raises, promotions and such. When they don’t come, we become angry and resentful. We are in a much better place when we see every blessing and allow ourselves to be filled up with appreciation; for the sunshine, the people in our lives, the ham sandwich you had for lunch and for the opportunity to breathe.
- Give up the illusion of security. The birds wake up each day and search for worms. They don’t create work bank accounts, worm farms or worm IRAs. When they are too old to find worms, they die. Human beings like the idea of security; that by earning and saving and worrying we can protect our lives from difficulty. While it is certainly a good idea to earn and save, there is no protection from difficulty. We all have accidents, get old and frail and die. Rather than seek security (which cannot be found), we can embrace the adventure of living. Just like being on a roller coaster, we can enjoy the scary times and well as those that are calm and easy.
I know many successful people who have not yet mastered the skill of non-resistance. Despite their wealth and resources, they experience life as tense, difficult, frustrating and frightening. When things are going their way, they can be difficult to be around. They lose track of the joy of living and fail to find pleasure in the success they have earned.
I would be delighted to assist you in cultivating the skill of non-resistance.