I had, what I call a “growth experience” with my daughter yesterday. (Some would call this an argument.) I’m learning the ever-changing dance of parenting a highly intelligent teenage girl (who I love more than air) who is also learning her own ever-changing dance of becoming as she learns how to navigate a mom who asks a lot (a lot) of questions. Despite the fact that I write books and help people show up and collaborate better for a living, it never pains me more than when one of my kids and I are in our own “missed collaboration.” In the end of course it all worked out – after some back and forth, mutual disagreement, and love and respect as the solid truth throughout, we had an agreement to create a new plan moving forward that we could both be “good” with. Yay.
Digging into my Sunday night review/prep, and what had worked for the week, I kept coming back to this disagreement. We’d landed well. I’d felt clear. We were both heard. My kid is a rock star. Cool. And… personally, for me, there’d been some tricky parenting and leadership moments in the mix, any of which had I chosen, could have led us down a very different path and result.
For example, I could have been reactive, gotten angry, taken things personally, projected my own stuff on her, and escalated the argument, creating more chaos and tension, leaving the situation worse, and netting no learning or value for either of us. Fortunately, it didn’t unfold this way. I’d been present, I’d taken care of myself, I was responsible for my energy, and I was clear on my intention. I’d worked my “IEP” (my intentions, energy, presence – Intentional Energetic Presence®) and while I am far from having this parenting thing nailed, this helped me immensely.
While I was going to write an article today for navigating conflict in the workplace, I realize this scene is right on and may be even more valuable as it applies to everything: stressful meeting, feedback conversation going off the rails, you need to have an important conversation with your partner or spouse, your kiddo needs you to show up as a solid parent, or you’re simply having a rough day… the leadership act is the same: reboot, catch your breath, take a moment, and work your IEP.
Here’s how it goes in simplest form:
Be present. Period. Breathe. No matter what thinking or concerns are weaving through your head, keep coming back to presence and this moment with this person or with yourself. With presence comes awareness of how you’re showing up and what kind of contagious you are. For example, if you’re showing up defensive and contracted and angry, that’s contagious – they’re likely to catch it and follow suit. If you’re showing up present, open, and calm – that’s contagious too. Note your presence and what you’re creating.
Be clear on your intention. What is your intention for this moment, this person, this meeting, this argument? What are you committed to? Get clear on that, and hold it, and you have a stake to keep coming back to and an anchor to keep you from getting too off course. [In my case, my intention was clean relationship, that my daughter knows she’s loved and I think she’s wildly brilliant, and also that we co-created a solution that made us stronger together and also addressed the issue at hand.]
Be responsible and response-able for your energy. What energy are you bringing to the table? How is it impacting your presence and how you’re showing up? If you bring the energy of overwhelm, defense, judgment, and blame – it impacts your presence, they feel it. If you bring the energy of presence, accountability, curiosity, and care – that also impacts your presence, they feel it. (Again, it’s all contagious.) Be response-able for shifting your energy and presence in a way that helps things go better. With energy, and to support your energy and presence, comes the art of self-care. How you take care of yourself (i.e. your nutrition, hydration, sleep, self-talk, exercise, meditation, mental health, anything that impacts your well-being and the space you create for yourself) will have a huge impact on your ability to not get hooked or triggered or reactive but rather to hold space, stay present, be resourced, be proactive, and influence the situation in a more positive and helpful way. Your self-care is all on you – it is truly one of your most essential leadership skills and responsibilities.
Conflict, tension, disagreements, and missed collaborations are all part of relationships, growth, parenting, making things happen in the world, and building true intimacy. We create our experience in every moment and every moment is an opportunity to shift the trajectory, create value, and ultimately create an outcome that serves all. The clearer our intentions, the cleaner our energy, and the more positively and usefully contagious our presence, the easier it will be to influence our experience and honor those we love and lead.
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