“The way to do is to be.”~Lao Tzu
We’ve become, in many ways, a culture of doing. We all (at least most of us) have endless to-do lists, and the pleasure surge of crossing things off our lists actually compels at least some of us to write things down just so we can cross them off.
We have been counseled to set goals (SMART goals), to get accountability partners, and to break long-term objectives down into achievable short-term tasks. I coach my clients through these processes, and they all make sense. But they’re all also about doing. About achieving.
Which is important. Clearly, it’s very important. But I’ve come to learn that we all need to spend at least as much time being, and, in fact, when we build those muscles, we’re often better equipped to do more, and more effectively.
So, what do I mean by being?
- Being present and where you are. Notice the sounds and smells around you. Become conscious of your feet on the ground, or your seat in a seat. Pay attention to this moment and be Thoughtful.
- Being true to who you are. We all spend so much time learning – and I spend so much time teaching – the “best” ways to do things. The best way to manage, and to give feedback. The best way to lead. The best way to lead through change. All of these are useful and true, and it’s also true that we each need to do a bit of self-reflection to learn what makes us tick and how we see and filter the world and the people around us, and then to lead and manage (and give feedback) from there.
- Being willing to go a bit slower. When we rush to get things done, or to make it all happen, we often don’t pay as good attention to how we do what we’re doing. When we slow down, and breathe and move forward Thoughtfully and consciously, we – or at least I – make fewer mistakes and drop fewer balls.
- Being human and real. I used to hate being human, but whether or not I hate it, it is what I am. I used to hate having flaws, and not being perfect. I used to hate having my emotions seemingly get in my way. I used to hate not knowing things already, and not getting things done and done right. I’ve learned, and I coach, to embrace humanness – because I’ve learned that our imperfections and our flaws can actually make life fuller and richer. They can bring us together so that’s there’s strength in numbers; they can help us brainstorm and problem solve for even better answers when we get stuck. By being human, and being real, we show up and allow others to be the same.
There is always so much to do, and always so much pressure to do rather than be. But by allowing ourselves time to breathe, reflect, slow down and be, we allow ourselves, and others, to be and do our best.
How have you learned to make sure you’re being?
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