Are you a Worrier…? A Warrior…?
Either way, this is your time!
For worriers, it’s an embarrassment of riches. There’s an old joke about a Jewish mother who sends her children a telegram that reads: Start worrying…details to follow.
Here are the worrisome details that follow us these days, wherever we look.
If we adjust our gaze towards the macro-economic picture, we can worry about sovereign debt and insolvency on a global scale. In the USA, the same regulatory structure that brought us the 2008 financial debacle is substantially unchanged and vulnerable to the next multitrillion dollar derivatives black hole. Or we could worry about natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes. And let’s not forget the political paralysis in Washington and upheavals in the Middle East. Many people are a pink slip or an illness away from losing their homes. Pensions are evaporating, and it looks like a jobless recovery is no recovery at all.
Against this backdrop, there are the challenges in our personal lives. This is a good time to adjust our disposition toward life and move from worrier to warrior.
In the cowboy movies of my youth there was often a moment when things seemed darkest for the hero. He would gather his gang or posse, and we would see a narrowing circle on the screen and our hero say in a near whisper, “Here’s my plan.” I found that very exciting. It’s good to have a plan, a strategy, and a backup plan.
Regardless of the plan, it’s how you carry yourself that makes you a warrior.
Worry, by definition, is future related. Imagined problems are the fuel of anxiety. If we tune into the present moment and take a deep breath, we find to our surprise we are all right. If we really are in life-threatening danger, chances are we’re too busy dealing with it to worry. Being in the present moment leaves no room for worry, and it clears the mind.
The question is how do we stay in the present so that we’re effective and free from worry?
Like many of the skills and capacities that are the foundation of a successful and fulfilling life, this one is not developed overnight. With advances in neuroscience we know that the brains of meditators are different from those of non-meditators. The trouble is many of us need relief now, and changing the brain through meditation is notoriously slow.
Moving from worrier to warrior today:
1. Do nothing. Take a longer, slower, easier breath, and shift your attention to a more panoramic focus – a diffused attention that includes all sensory (auditory, visual, touch, smell, and taste) experience. This puts you in the present moment and enriches your experience of it. Enjoy the moment. Chances are, you’re all right.
2. Plan the future – mind map it, then prioritize it. (Either by yourself of collaboratively).
3. Network – call colleagues, key players, experts, friends and loved ones. Run your strategic plan by them and make adjustments. Even the Lone Ranger had the help of a posse now and then.
4. Get organized and tactical in your implementation. Rather than multitask, stay focused on one task that is the best use of your time at this moment. (Your planning will have helped choose this task and the proper sequence of the tasks to come. Stay agile, look for emergent solutions and adjust your plan.)
5. Stay open to emotions that arise, along with opportunities.
6. Dissolve the emotions into the bigger field of your awareness. This will make you courageous without blunting your emotions.
7. Optional: set a repeat timer to go off every ten minutes. When you hear the chime ask yourself the question: How am I attending? Adjust your attention from a narrow focus to a more panoramic, present centered one. Enjoy yourself in this moment. Even the tough stuff is enjoyable right NOW! (Thanks to Les Fehmi, author of Open Focus Brain for this suggestion).
Each day, before you plan and spring into action, ask yourself: What’s better today? What’s emerging that informs how I can be agile in moving in the direction of my goal. (Thanks to Mark McKergow for Rutenso and Solutions Focus Work).
Practice improves all of these skills.