Discerning the Storm Within You

Julie was uncomfortable. For weeks, she felt the need to rearrange each time she entered her office. The desk had been in several places, the corner, the middle of the room, and next to the door. She also moved the seating area in her office, the whiteboard, and even the plants. She was experiencing inner unrest. At one point, she stopped moving things around long enough to ask herself a question, “what is this about?” She was listening inside and out.

She felt that she could and would be in her position as the COO of a manufacturing company forever, but sensed it was time to go. Julie had inner unrest that was moving her forward. She resigned from her position and went home. There was no foreknowledge of what she was going to do, she just knew she was done. Julie was not impulsive and had never decided so quickly like this in her life. She was known for and prided herself on being structured and steady. In this instance, she could not deny that something was leading her forward that felt neither structured nor steady.

The following week, she was invited to take a position in Malaysia. She never dreamed of making such a radical change but without hesitation, she packed her bags and left. She was there for two years learning to lead in a completely different way. When she returned to the states, she was offered a position to work on a project as a mediator, another new venture. She enthusiastically said yes! While she was driving home from that meeting, she got a phone call from her last company inviting her to take her old job back. It was a nice offer, but she didn’t take it. Because of the work she did in Malaysia, she exceeded all expectations in her new position and was given her division of the company.

Deep listening

Julie is not alone when it comes to having an inner nudge. Many of us have felt that nudge but may not have acted on it. Sometimes the nudge says to pull up roots and head for a new place. Other times the nudge says it’s time to rest, time to strengthen a relationship, time to go in a new direction, time to forgive, time to express gratitude, and even time to complete something.

The nudge or your gut is that inner feeling when your intuition is trying to get your attention.

In the HBR article, Listening to Your Inner Voice Makes You a Better Manager, Vineet Nayar says:

“Some of the best advice we have all got — be it while making big personal decisions or making critical business decisions — is the same: Follow your inner voice. Most of us have heeded that counsel, yet if we were asked to list the elements that enable better decision-making, we would cite experience, research, data, even polls — but never our inner voices.”

Checking in with your inner voice requires time and space to listen.

What space are you giving to listening to yourself? Are you busy moving the furniture around or otherwise preoccupied that you can’t hear an important message?

Stillness at the Right Time is a Successful Strategy

As leaders we value movement, being on the go, and getting things done. The other side of the movement is stillness.

In the stillness, you may find new insights waiting to be discovered. When was the last time you intentionally stood still or listened to your heart? Pause for a moment and think about it. Giving space for your intuition to show up can guide you to lead more holistically and cause you to be informed on the inside and outside.

What type of questions might you ask while doing internal reflection or listening to your intuition?

  1. How is my health?
  2. What projects might need to be adjusted, changed, elevated, or discontinued?
  3. What else is possible in this situation?
  4. What’s going on inside me that is causing me to be so reactive right now?
  5. What has been tugging at my heart?
  6. How often do I want to bump up against this same pain before I decide I’m willing to make a change?
  7. What is about this person or that situation that is making me so irritated?
  8. How can I have a greater impact or influence on my company?

These are sample questions that I hope inspire you to ask yourself, which can lead to intuitive listening, leading and decision-making.

Nayar says:

“The question isn’t whether rational reasoning is better than intuitive decision-making; it’s how both can be combined for optimal results”.

Internal unrest. Talk to yourself, listen to yourself, and give attention to the voice you hear. It could lead to the clarity that is needed to unlock the door to a delightfully unexpected future.

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