I’m sure you’ll agree, we all have stuff we know to be important – but don’t actually do anything about it. You know, the common statements most people make;
- “I know I should stop smoking, but I can’t (or won’t)”
- “I know it’s important to plan ahead, but I just never get to doing it”
- “I know I’ll have more energy if I get exercise more, but I never do”
- “Yes, it’s essential that I talk to my staff/partner more effectively and listen more attentively, but I just feel uncomfortable doing it”
Excuses and rationalisations aside (that’s a whole other subject), we can want to do something and just not do it. And this can cause internal conflicts as well as external problems like missed opportunities, poor health and erroneous decision making. In my field of expertise of Neuro-Semantics; human potential, growth and development, we call this the Knowing-Doing Gap.
So what exactly is the problem? The last example in the bullet points gives us a clue. There tend to be emotions involved, either overt ones like anxiety or fear, or more subtle ones that lurk in the background of consciousness. But there are other factors aside from emotional ones. Sometimes it’s the ideas about what needs doing that stop us – the concepts, i.e. the concepts inherent in the examples above like health, planning, relationship and communication.
In the Self Leadership training, we close this gap and make you more engaged and pro-active in everything you do. But before we can do that you need to be able to master your emotions and conceptual thinking. But how?
- Master your emotions. To become emotionally masterful, first learn be aware of, and recognise your emotions. This sounds like a no-brainer but most people are completely emotionally unaware. Sure, they recognise the strong emotions like anger, fear and joy, but to be emotionally aware in every moment is a skill that needs to be learned, especially if you want quality relationships at work or home.
To begin to master your emotions a good tip is to set a timer on your phone to go off every hour or two during the day. When it does, take a moment to become aware of what exactly you’re feeling in that moment and to give it a name, i.e. curious, bored, resentful, slightly annoyed, restless, childish, etc. Doing this creates emotional awareness. Writing these feelings down and tracking them gives you the critical skill of being able to step back to a place in your mind where you control your emotions, rather than them blindly driving you. You learn to choose your emotional state. Choice is another aspect of mastery we cover in Self Leadership.
- Master your thinking and self-knowledge. Knowing yourself and your relationship to not just the outside world but to your own ideas and thinking (your internal world) is also critical. You may discover that you have bad relationships with certain ideas or concepts; taboos, can’t’s, unrealistic thinking and self-doubts. To examine and think critically and realistically about concepts that are ‘in the back of your mind’ is another essential skill of personal mastery taught at Self Leadership
One way to begin to master your thinking-self is to identify the concepts that are inherent in any problem or challenge. For example you might not ‘fear’ talking to your staff but if there is a hidden concept that ‘people can’t/won’t understand’, then you’ll never close the gap of actually learning the communication skills necessary. Addressing these hidden unhelpful concepts or assumptions and deconstructing them makes them easier to change.
These are just a couple of aspects necessary for self-mastery. There are more but these two are critical in making a huge difference to the results you get. Together, poor thinking-emotional management creates what we call in the Self Leadership training ‘Dragon States’ (this is just a metaphor!). Not the nice dragons of eastern philosophy, but the dragons of medieval mythology that destroy and create all kinds of trouble. Naming, taming and mastering our dragons is another critical skill that can definitely be taught and used to close the Knowing-Doing Gap.