We all want a life of balance. In the daily rush of things, we however lose focus on reflecting on that. How does one even start reflecting on how to have a balanced life?
I have just the right thing for you.
The Wheel of Life (WoL) is a great exercise and tool for helping you create more balance and success in your life. It is often used in coaching and is a great foundational exercise for goal-setting.
As in the image below, you can see that the Wheel of Life is split into different life areas: Career(/Business), Money (financial health), Health (physical, mental & spiritual health), Friends & Family, Significant other (romantic partner), Personal growth (one’s level of self-awareness and growth), Fun & leisure (time spent enjoying hobbies, me-time, family time, etc.).
On each of these areas, rate and record your current satisfaction levels out of 10, where 1 is closest to the centre of the circle and 10 is at the edge of the circle. Use the first number that pops into your head, not the number you think it should be.
With that, you’ll be able to reflect and gain insights into how satisfied you are in life’s different areas. With this workbook, you can further delve into appreciating the areas that are already wholesome, those that you’d like to improve on, and the steps you’re inspired to take.
Below you can see an example on the right and a blank template right next to it. Whenever you’re ready, you can start the exercise and then move on to the questions below.
Reflections: Here are some great questions to think about:
- Are there any surprises for you?
- Which of these categories would you most like to improve?
- What steps are you inspired to take to bring that life area into balance?
- What steps are you inspired to take to bring the whole WoL into balance?
- How could you make space for these changes in your life?
I’m eager to hear from you. How did you like this exercise? What insights did you gain? Please share in the comments.
Recently, I attended a 10-day Vipassana course where one observes silence for the entire period (no phones, no eye contact, no sign language) while learning this 25-century old meditation technique, said to be preserved in its ancient form as taught by the Buddha.
I had my reservations all along, however, since, in the larger scheme of things, it’s just 10 days of my life to experience something that has been on my bucket list for long, I decided to give it a go. I am absolutely happy I took that decision.
The richness of experience and learning in that environment is not something I can capture in one article. Hence I will share that over the coming weeks, with the intention that it helps you too in your daily life.
My key takeaway – Equanimity
Today, let me talk about one of the key lessons from the course – Equanimity. The state where the mind doesn’t sway between extreme likes (cravings) and extreme dislikes (aversions), where one accepts transience as a constant. A state that when practised enables one to be more at harmony at whatever happens in life.
Woah! I know that sounds like new age bulls**t. But hang in there while I explain with some examples. I’m by no means an expert, but ever since the start of the course I have been giving this (practising equanimity) a fair shot and I have to admit, I see subtle but noticeable changes in and around me, for the better.
We all have wants, needs and desires in life – for it to be a certain way, for people to behave a certain way with us or for us to achieve certain goals. What starts off as a simple wish grows into a strong desire which in many cases becomes a full-fledged craving – probably to obtain a certain career success, a material possession or to have a certain someone be more present in your life. When we are caught in the middle of that craving, we are actually miserable, very often wavering between the extremes of hope and despair, sadness, anger and frustration. We tell ourselves it’s miserable without that certain someone or something. Neither is that a satisfying place to be, nor is it productive (for us to reach those goals).
For many of us, especially those super ambitious go-getts amongst us, that is a recurring scenario. What if there is a middle way which we can follow and still get to our goals? That is the path of equanimity.
Trigger and Reaction – the magic of a pause.
Sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of a cravings-fit, or an aversions-fit (where we simply dislike what’s happening, for example, body pains or an irrationally angry spouse or partner). What if we give ourselves a few seconds between trigger and reaction?
The easiest and most damaging response we can give to someone or experience is a spontaneous reaction. That response comes from a mind in agitation, our own mind. A spontaneous response usually aggravates and multiplies the misery of an unpleasant situation. What if, we start practising taking a pause between trigger and reaction? What if we curiously observe the changes in our body and the biochemical reactions that result in bodily sensations when triggered?
Be a curious scientist.
When something triggers anger in you, you most likely will feel heat and perspiration on your skin, your heartbeat rate go up, etc. Your body is in agitation— when you pause and observe it, you stay present with your body and the emotion you feel, with every passing moment your mind regains calmness, helping you give a more equanimous and productive response thereafter. Notice this is different from suppressing a feeling which isn’t healthy because sooner or later it manifests itself with even greater force, but about staying with the feeling, but not letting it overpower you. You truly are then the master of every moment presented to you.
When it comes to your dreams and desires, check in with yourself. Are there moments where you feel desperate and frustrated at things not going the way you wanted? How about taking a few moments to pause, count your blessings, review the scenario and make the necessary changes? How about releasing the need for instant gratification and allow things to unfold at their natural pace?
I have been taking baby steps and it’s been incredibly helpful. The environments inside my body, home and office have been more harmonious, productive and peaceful.
A gentle encouragement
If this resonated with you, how about you give this a shot too. If you manage to take a pause 1 out of the next 10 times you’re triggered, pat yourself on the back. You have your first win! Over the next 10 such instances, you might pause and provide a more equanimous response 2 out 10 times. The frequency of productive, equanimous responses thus keeps increasing steadily.
I’m curious to know what you think of this article and if you have any questions. Please share your thoughts. Thank you.
As always, I’m sharing some insights from a client conversation I had this week. This is for the business owners, managers and those amongst you who collaborate with people on a daily basis (well, basically, all of us!).
A well-functioning team is what everyone dreams of, whether you’re a business owner or manager. You feel supported and free when your team works seamlessly and efficiently. On the other hand, it can lead to stress and sleepless nights when there’s trouble in the team, even if it’s just one team member’s performance that doesn’t meet expectations.
So what can you as a business owner or manager do when faced with team members whose performance seem to be suboptimal?
While firing the person might be an immediate, tempting choice, it may not be the best at hand in most instances. Why? This is because most human beings bring some strength or the other to the workplace. As a leader, it is up to you to identify, nurture and use those to the advantage of the company, your team and the individual’s career progression. In this blog, I delve upon ways how you can do that.
1) Understand that not all of your workforce may comprise of the superstars you desire to have
This understanding alone can take the pressure of expectations off your back. It will help you realize that you have the responsibility and power to create the team that you want, even if things aren’t going great right now. While great teams can be nurtured over time or can also happen as a rare natural constellation, as with everything in life change is a constant. People switch teams, leave the company, you add new team members, etc. which change the structure of the team. With the addition of every new member, there’s a steep learning curve – not just on the specifics of the work topic, but also in integrating into the team and company culture. This requires effort from everyone in the team if it’s a high-functioning team that you desire. While as a leader, you can hope and dream that the person is motivated to learn, integrate and thrive, the onus falls upon you to create the space within the team for the person to feel accepted, provide support and have regular conversations to understand how things are shaping up. More on that in the points below.
2) Trust is key
Take time to know the person and what their professional aspirations are. Be human. Over several interactions show genuine interest in the person and treat them as a human being. I see our society is very uncomfortable with this, but here is where the gold lies. You see, every human being is wired for human connection. We thrive in environments where we feel connected and appreciated, where we feel we are valued. We then are motivated to contribute our best. On a Monday morning, when a person steps into the office, s/he doesn’t remove that requirement from their personalities. We are all habituated to wearing armored selves at work, but at the core, we all still crave to be understood. Can you imagine the difference it will make when your manager take the time, sits down by your side when you are going through an exceptionally challenging situation in your personal life and work, and offer her/his support? It doesn’t mean you have to pry open your entire personal lives to each other, but why not go beyond the usual superficial pleasantries?
Trust is built in small increments through such seemingly inconsequential steps. When someone knows that you as a leader have their back, that they can rely on your support, their motivation skyrockets. It helps during those tricky performance feedback meetings as well, when you can share your feedback (clearly, honestly and kindly – more on that in another post), where the person will understand that you’re coming from an empathetic space where the only desire is to create exceptional results for the company including the individual.
3) Communicate clearly
You might have the best intentions but if they are not communicated clearly in a way your employees understand, it can only lead to confusion and poor performance. Ask yourself these questions, reflect on the answers and see what changes you can make.
- Am I regularly sharing updates and expectations with my team?
- At the end of key meetings, do I summarize or ask someone in the team to summarize the key priorities, ownership structure and desired outcomes?
- Am I being approachable and open enough for my direct reports for clarifications, feedback and sharing ideas?
- Do I set regular milestones, through regular touchpoints, to review progress and provide feedback?
- If something didn’t work, what could I have done better in hindsight to clarify and follow up on expectations?
- Are there regular SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) in place that teams can follow for important, repetitive tasks?
4) You are the leader. Mindset is key and, everything starts with your mindset
What’s your attitude when it comes to your team? Do you have stressful thoughts when you think of a particular team member? What’s the quality with which you’ll show up at work when your internal software (thoughts) is mired in resistance?
Instead, what if you choose to take a positive stance, to understand the motivations and strengths of each individual, and how to build a coherent team using everyone’s unique skills, knowing you are completely capable of creating an exceptional team? Feel your state shift. It’s a more empowering stance, isn’t it?
5) With that empowered mindset, take a look again
Is that person or people in your team really unsuited for the job? Can there be skills that can be taught? Am I ensuring that the people in my team have enough time to build the skills? Or can you re-assign jobs based on individuals skills? With the right support, training, and feedback, you’ll notice improvements.
Thinking of parting ways with a person (aka firing or severance through a mutual agreement) should ideally be the last option in my opinion. The more humane and empathetic workplaces become, the more motivated individuals and teams will be. This is the ideal foundation for exceptional results for the business and a highly satisfied and motivated workforce.
Teamwork, performance and business results – I’ve touched upon some key areas here. I’m eager to hear from you. Do you have insights to add or are struggling with something related to team performance? Let me know in comments.