Competition can be useful if channeled expertly. Competing with ourselves – as distinguished from “against” ourselves – in creating personal bests is a worthwhile goal.
If you’re an athlete, do you track your time? If a business professional, your finances? If a student, your grades?
What do you find it useful to track, and what is the attitude that you bring to tracking? I recommend that you embrace competition in service of mastery.
Think about how you can increase the quality and quantity of what you do by focusing your intention on specific improvement. Not rocket science, yet not something that most of us have done regularly either. Let me know how it goes.
With competition comes the notion of competitors – a word that can sound anywhere between exciting to deadening. How do you conceive your competitors? Often, I’ve found in working with business owners that they either diminish the competition or make too much of it.
It’s arrogant and risky to say, “We have the best – they can’t touch us.” It’s perhaps more risky to think that the competition is to be feared and allow oneself to be intimidated by it.
Consider the following:
“The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable advantage.”
Does that ring true for you – that learning faster is perhaps the only sustainable advantage? What competitive advantages do you have? Do you nurture those advantages? How do you compensate for and expand beyond your weaknesses?
Staying away from toxic people and situations is an extremely important element of self-care. Coming into contact with people who treat others negatively and even cruelly, often the best response is simply to get out of harm’s way.
Among the key delivery systems for toxicity are projections which are usually given in the form of “You are . . .”
How aware are you of projections – either giving them or receiving them? We learn projecting at an early age; and the effects can be debilitating. Taking care of yourself means watching for and refusing to accept projections.
Think. Is there anyone in your life who projects toxic thoughts onto you? Projecting is not the same as expressing feelings, although the two seem almost identical. When projecting, one is asserting what is true for another; and, if done in a damaging way, the results can be very difficult to deal with.
Self-care is ultimately about loving yourself. It’s thinking enough of your own body – your being – to be attentive to ways that you can nurture and healthily soothe yourself.
Our culture gives us very mixed messages about our lovability. Much of marketing is designed to convince us that we’ll only be lovable – only be enough – to the degree that we consume the things that advertisers want us to consume. We’re graded and judged and categorized almost constantly.
Without the self-care of actively loving ourselves, sometimes it’s been easy for us to forget to do things that are good for us and that we enjoy.
Play, for example, is a profound form of self-love. How playful are you? How able are you to be relaxed and fun with friends, family, colleagues? What are the primary influences on your attitudes toward play? Can you see how being playful is loving yourself by setting down your burdens while you’re playing?
How can you actively cultivate the habit of loving yourself? Who can support you in this self-care? Are you willing to experiment and see what kind of positive difference loving yourself as a form of self-care can make?
How is your self-care reflected in your environment? Is it cluttered and filled with stacks of things that you can’t discard? Or is your space clear and free of distraction? Many believe that our outer worlds reflect our inner worlds. One of my best friends refers to unmanaged stacks of papers and things as “piles of unconsciousness,” and I think he’s right.
Do you find that you can’t find things or that your forward progress has been hindered by too much stuff? Excellent self-care would indicate taking care of this, perhaps by hiring an experienced professional organizer.
Take a moment to assess your level of organization and how it correlates to self-care. Taking care of yourself is not limited to yoga, massage, flossing and the like. How you manage your time and the materials in your life are equally important self-care components.
Feeding your soul is perhaps the most profound form of self-care. The ways are almost infinite: the challenge is in making the time to do it.
Ask yourself daily – and perhaps several times daily – “Where is the joy now? How do I access it? What brings me joy?” Often, being playful and open with others brings out the kid in us and we’re able to find joy more easily – and joy feeds our souls.
What feeds your soul? Music, family, nature, service, intimacy, art, laughter, growth, prayer, cuddling, friendship, animals, the ocean, poetry, the expansive night sky?
Care for yourself enough to remember to make time to feed your soul in the variety of ways that work for you. If you’re so inclined, please log on and let us know your favorites.
Self-care: your practices and habits relating to how well or how poorly you attend to your own health and well-being.
How would you rate yourself on self-care on a scale of 100? Where have you had the most difficulty in the past in self-care?
Consider, for example, the topic of sleep: how attentive are you to getting a solid, high-quality night’s sleep? Do you monitor the foods that you eat in the evening to make sure that nothing you eat will interfere with great sleep? Do you cultivate a habit of going to bed approximately the same time each night to maintain consistent sleep cycles?
In the category of flexibility, do you have any sort of regular program or practice that keeps you limber? Yoga, stretching, bodywork, physical therapy? How often do you interrupt working at your computer to stretch your limbs?
As we consider self-care this week, please be mindful about what areas of self-care would produce the greatest amount of improvement for you. Develop a higher awareness about opportunities for self-care and please consider discussing them with our group on the Study Hall Blog for feedback and community.
Among the primary reasons advanced for command and control cultures is risk management – that is, how does a group best prevent bad things from happening while doing it best to accomplish its mission?
Perhaps the most notorious command and control entity was the Soviet Politboro which famously created the Soviet Five-Year Plan for Agriculture in the belief that results could be mandated and commanded. Dismal crops year after year proved that their assumptions were wrong in large part because motivation was missing.
Margaret J. Wheatley writes: “Successful organizations, including the military, have learned that the higher the risk, the more necessary it is to engage everyone’s commitment and intelligence.”
Do you ever buy into the idea that command and control is “necessary” for the “benefit of all concerned”? How does that square with your personal values? How do you believe these kinds of risk-reward questions are best resolved? How, if at all – in your personal life and / or your professional life – do you engage the “commitment and intelligence” of others?
Among the most resonant pieces of advice that I ever received from one of my mentors was never to treat my body as if it were a horse that I was whipping to go longer and faster (not that I would ever literally do that). Her point was that we have often pushed our bodies to the point of excess and exhaustion in service of our jobs or other achievements?
I wonder if treating ourselves harshly comes from living within a general cultural context of command and control. Have you ever had the experience of feeling as though you were being so demanding of yourself that you were actually being abusive?
Command and control often feels dictatorial and capricious. Are there any areas in your life where you feel as though you are dictating and controlling in excess? An easy way for me to examine that question is to think how well I take care of myself. How about you? Are you pushing yourself too hard in the interests of a highly ambitious and difficult goal?
Generally, nurturing and consensus are antithetical to command and control. If you had to choose, what would you say your more pronounced style of leading your life is? Is it something you’d like to change?
Edward Deming, the famed management consultant credited with engineering post-war Japan’s economic recovery, believed that organizations are holographic of their leaders. He said that companies – and all kinds of human groups – emulate and embody the values of their leadership.
People within command and control cultures also often model the same kinds of dominating behaviors of their leaders. This dynamic is particularly interesting when one observes family units, romantic relationships and social relationships.
Have you been part of a command and control relationship in your family, friendships, romantic or social relationships? What role(s) have you played? How did it feel to be part of that kind of energy? Can you theorize about where it came from?
Most importantly: is command and control an energy that you want to characterize any kind of relationship of which you are a part?