How do you feel when you suddenly, or finally, get it–when you clearly understand something that had been perplexing? For me, it’s the a-ha moment when the light comes on and I feel like a mystery has been revealed.
The Greek scholar, Archimedes, shouted, “eureka,” when one day he noticed the water level rise in his tub as he stepped into it. It was his sudden realization that the amount of water displaced by his foot and leg equaled the volume of his foot and leg that was submerged. Eureka means, I found it, or I find. Archimedes had an a-ha moment.
There is an INPowering energy in a-ha. We experience a surge of enthusiasm that propels us even further into exploration and discovery. The more we learn, the more we want to know.
An INPowering leader helps make that happen for you. A dis-empowering leader wants you to think like he does and spends a lot of energy trying to keep you from learning on your own. That leader wants you to take their word for it and check your ability to think for yourself at the door. Beware of that so-called, leader.
The enemy of a-ha is propaganda
I had a recent encounter with a new acquaintance over a difference in opinion. They would hurl an opinion they had heard at me as if it were a fact. I would go research the opinion and, where warranted, cite facts refuting what they claimed. This happened several times, and on a couple of points I gave them back a fact providing information that either directly contradicted their assertion or revealed their conclusion was more exaggerated than the facts logically allowed.
When they objected to my replies, I simply asked them to provided the facts that supported their opinions. Our discussion ended with them insulting me and accusing me of being closed minded. No “a-ha” for them.
You are under no obligation to agree with me
To be an INPowering leader, you are obliged to explain your conclusions with verifiable facts. And you can take it to the next level by insisting others go learn for themselves.
A fact is verifiable. You can seek independent information that affirms the fact or dispels it. An opinion is one’s conclusion about what a fact means to them. You might disagree with my conclusion about a fact, but the fact should, itself, be verifiable.
Propaganda is information that has been intentionally slanted to promote a point of view. They spin the information, often distorting facts, to convince you of their opinion. Just know that most of the information you hear on cable news is spin.
Be an “a-ha” maker.
Here are some ways to promote a-ha possibilities:
Be a guide to knowledge instead of a propagandist. Point others to information. Ask them what they think the information means to them. Have discussions about what they learned from the information.
Seek counter points of view. Just because you are willing to listen to contrary information does not mean you are wishy-washy or flip-flopping. Others might cause a shift in perception and open your mind and eyes to other possibilities.
Take the fear out of changing your mind. It’s not a character flaw to shift your opinion or conclusion based on learning something new. Celebrate revised opinions as a sign of vibrant thinking.
To INLarge the expectations of living in yourself and in others, you must be an “a-ha” maker. The greatest compliment I ever receive as a teacher is, “you made me think today.” They might even say they are not sure they agree with me. That’s OK. They are thinking, and that’s what matters most.
Promote the power in “a-ha,” and be
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All business is people business, according to LaShon Ross, Deputy City Manager for the City of Plano, Texas. In this podcast of The Spirit of Leading I asked LaShon about her career in public service and what she learned that contributed to her success.
LaShon shares her personal A-ha moments as well as offering her insights into what she looks for in potential young leaders looking to move up in their careers. Among other things, she mentions:
- The need to be genuine in all your relationships,
- To be collaborative and solution oriented versus being problem focused.
- The ability to work with and understand others.
- The ability to manage resources.
- Maintaining productive relationships.
- Being authentic. You are what you say you are.
- Understanding your own motivation as to why you want to be a leader.
- Owing the leadership role and being willing to accept challenges as well as admit your own failings and work on them.
The advice she offers to young leaders is to have your own mind, know what matters to you, and be willing to do the work.
LaShon came to Plano, Tx as Director of Human Resources and was eventually promoted to Deputy City Manager for Community Services. She has done extensive work in success planning, leadership development, and conflict resolution.
Have you ever lashed out at someone and a split second later you wish you could take it back? You wish you had not said or did what you did which, in a split second, damaged a relationship or harmed someone–either physically or emotionally?
Join the club.
That flash reaction is not a character flaw. But one’s repeated failure to control it, is.
There is a microsecond when we have a choice–not much time, but enough time–to redirect and choose a positive response instead of a negative reaction.
What was I thinking?
This applies to any situation, not just anger. Any time you react impulsively, without thinking, you risk making a poor choice that you cannot easily take back. Have we not all been overtaken with enthusiasm about something and made a commitment or spent money that we later regretted?
The charge builds up before it flashes.
When it comes to anger, the flash of rage does not come out of nowhere. It builds up, usually little by little, then BOOM!
Lightening is the result of atmospheric conditions in which turbulence in a cloud makes the water and ice droplets bump against each other causing electrical fields to develop. The lighter positively charged protons end up in the top of the cloud, and the heavier negatively charged electrons go to the bottom. When the difference in the charge gets large enough, electrons leap across the distance to equalize the distribution, and we see the spark, or lightning.
The flash of rage is like the lightning: it comes as a consequence of the turbulence and polarization of ions.
We can feel the anger building inside ourselves as our muscles tense, our breathing becomes more shallow and rapid, and we feel the pressure building up inside our head. Our mind perceives a terrible imbalance in things that must be reconciled. If we don’t find an insulator, a flash of rage is about to spark.
The best insulator
Find an insulator. Preempt the strike.
The best way is to get your mind off whatever is causing the disturbance by intentionally engaging in an activity that distracts you from the problem. Avoid aggressive actions such as hitting or breaking things.
A number of possibilities are available.
- Focus on an object and breathe deeply.
- Take a walk and focus on something more relaxing and refreshing.
- Write out your frustrations and different ways to resolve them.
- Tense and relax your muscles slowly and feel the tension release.
- Listen to calming music or sounds.
When you become calm, your are in a better mental frame to make better choices.
These techniques work anytime you are faced with emotionally laden decisions. The goal is to clear your mind so you can think and focus on the best outcome that keeps you from making a rash decision that does more harm than good.
Not only will you become more confident in your ability to make rational choices, others will see your example and trust you to help them do likewise.
You can make a calm choice to be more
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Your philosophy of life drives who you are and what you do. If you are not sure what your philosophy of life is, this podcast will help you think about why it’s important for you to spend some time thinking about yours.
I have built my professional and personal life around the 7 Tenets of INPowered Living and Leading that I discuss in this podcast. I describe how I came by them and what they mean to me.
I hope that as you listen, you will reflect on what drives you and how you can express them in your own personal philosophy. You can apply the process I went through to identify mine to y our life and business.
Download a copy of the 7 Tenets of an INPowered Life and Leader.
If the podcast play button does not appear at the top of this post, go directly to the INPowered2 LEAD blog site.
I watched everyone before me edge up to the precipice, look over, hesitate, then take a flying leap as they plunged into the warm lake water twenty feet below. I cheered each one of them on, mimicked their screams as they flung themselves over the edge, and heckled those who hesitated.
Then, it was my turn.
It was my first time. It looked a lot higher, and more life threatening, now that I was looking straight down into, what looked to me like, the throat of a watery abyss.
“Go ahead! What a’ya ‘fraid of?” My turn to be heckled.
Five seconds turned into fifteen, which turned into thirty, that seemed like an eternity. And with each passing second, the lake surface looked farther and farther away. It was 200 feet if it was 20, I was convinced.
“Come on. Jump. It was fun.” Sandy called up to me from where she was treading water below. She had gone immediately before me. “You can do it. Jump over here close to me.”
Determined not to lose face in her presence, I hurled myself in her direction. Five seconds later I came up for air a few feet from her, “Wow. That was awesome!” I yelled. “Let’s do it again.”
I was now a proud, official member of my gang’s “leap of life club.” No one could ever take that away from me.
Looking back on my life, I would say I have been least happy with myself when I chose playing it safe over taking a risk. I let my apprehension hold me back when I would have liked to try something different.
Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. I believe it’s more true that the unlived life is not worth examining.
Some say they regret the things they did not do more than the things they did. I, too, have some of those regrets, because I wonder how my life would have been different had I done them. I know I held back because I perceived a potentially negative consequence that, in reality, was not likely to happen.
Go ahead! What a’ya ‘fraid of?
Every time after my first leap, I got braver and more inventive with the way I ran up to the edge of the overhang and hurled myself into the air–higher, farther, a cannon ball, a flip, spread-eagle–anything to add to the thrill.
With each attempt, I learned something new about how I could jump and feel safe but still push myself a bit farther. I knew there were dangers, but I had them under control.
To me, the risks were calculated. To the casual observer, I looked fearless.
Eventually, newbies to the cliff turned to me and asked how I did it, how I got so brave, if I would teach them how to dive like I did.
I had become
Go ahead. Jump!