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Archives ~ October 2013 Entries

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Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable #4: In Costume

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Wisdom Leading

When we're children, we don't restrict the wearing of costumes to Halloween. Kids take every opportunity to dress up as ballerinas, cowboys, superheroes...you name it. There's no consideration of being made fun of. Rather, exercising our imaginations is cool, and way more important than what other people think. Then we become adults. We might get into costume once a year. If we don't have a Halloween party to attend, we may not get into costume at all. We judge dressing up to be silly, frivolous, immature; certainly, it's out of our comfort zone. As adults, we worry we'll feel ridiculous if we let loose our inner pirate or vampire. We're uncomfortable pretending to become someone else. But isn't that the point of putting on a costume - to unleash something different from within without fear of running afoul of the ordinary restrictions of polite society? What would it make possible if we let those unexpressed parts of ourselves loose more often without worrying to the point of inaction what others might think? Wise leaders not only encourage those they lead to express their unique talents, passions and experiences-they express their own and lead by example. What aspect of your hidden talents, passions and experiences are you uncomfortable expressing? How might expressing them inspire those you lead?

When we're children, we don't restrict the wearing of costumes to Halloween. Kids take every opportunity to dress up as ballerinas, cowboys, superheroes...you name it. There's no consideration of being made fun of. Rather, exercising our imaginations is cool, and way more important than what other people think.

Then we become adults. We might get into costume once a year. If we don't have a Halloween party to attend, we may not get into costume at all. We judge dressing up to be silly, frivolous, immature; certainly, it's out of our comfort zone. As adults, we worry we'll feel ridiculous if we let loose our inner pirate or vampire. We're uncomfortable pretending to become someone else.

But isn't that the point of putting on a costume - to unleash something different from within without fear of running afoul of the ordinary restrictions of polite society? What would it make possible if we let those unexpressed parts of ourselves loose more often without worrying to the point of inaction what others might think?

Wise leaders not only encourage those they lead to express their unique talents, passions and experiences-they express their own and lead by example.

What aspect of your hidden talents, passions and experiences are you uncomfortable expressing? How might expressing them inspire those you lead?

10.28.13 0
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Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable #3: No Resorts, Please!

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Wisdom Leading

I've been blessed in my life to travel to many locales around the world. Along the way, I've been out of my comfort zone many times, dealing with unfamiliar languages, customs, and cities. That's one of the most broadening aspects of travel: you're placed in a situation where you have no choice but to deal with your discomfort and grow as a result. Embracing discomfort in business is like traveling to an exotic country with nothing but a backpack and a phrase book. In contrast, you could choose to visit an all-inclusive resort whose grounds you never leave. You might say you visited, say, Croatia, but in fact you stayed on the resort grounds, never spoke the language, and never interacted with the locals. Traveling that way might be more comfortable as you've simply recreated your present existence in a new place, but it doesn't help you grow, truly discover, or connect with new people and new ways of living. In your organization, are you more likely to operate as a backpacker trekking from Kathmandu to New Dehli, or as a guest at a Sandals resort in Jamaica? The less-comfortable option, where you have no choice but to lean in to new situations and learn how other people get things done, leads to new skills and a broader point of view. Consider what kind of travelers your people are-and how you're encouraging them to travel. Whether an explorer or a comfort traveler, what can you be doing more of to model the imperative to grow through challenge?

I've been blessed in my life to travel to many locales around the world. Along the way, I've been out of my comfort zone many times, dealing with unfamiliar languages, customs, and cities. That's one of the most broadening aspects of travel: you're placed in a situation where you have no choice but to deal with your discomfort and grow as a result.

Embracing discomfort in business is like traveling to an exotic country with nothing but a backpack and a phrase book. In contrast, you could choose to visit an all-inclusive resort whose grounds you never leave. You might say you visited, say, Croatia, but in fact you stayed on the resort grounds, never spoke the language, and never interacted with the locals. Traveling that way might be more comfortable as you've simply recreated your present existence in a new place, but it doesn't help you grow, truly discover, or connect with new people and new ways of living.

In your organization, are you more likely to operate as a backpacker trekking from Kathmandu to New Dehli, or as a guest at a Sandals resort in Jamaica? The less-comfortable option, where you have no choice but to lean in to new situations and learn how other people get things done, leads to new skills and a broader point of view. Consider what kind of travelers your people are-and how you're encouraging them to travel.

Whether an explorer or a comfort traveler, what can you be doing more of to model the imperative to grow through challenge?

10.21.13 0
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Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable #2: Beyond Belief

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Wisdom Leading

Jerry DeWitt was in the news quite a lot this summer for his book, Hope After Faith: An Ex-Pastor's Journey from Belief to Atheism. He was a Pentecostal pastor in a small Louisiana town, part of the community's spiritual fabric. But after 25 years of ministry, he decided that he didn't believe in the idea of Hell. This led him to question first his faith, then all faith, and ultimately the existence of God. Today, DeWitt has become an atheist activist. I'm dumbfounded by the courage of such a change. To turn your back on a belief system that has defined your entire life-and the community and culture that surround that belief system-seems impossibly difficult. DeWitt has said that when he first let go of his faith, he lost all possibility of hope. But he didn't rush back to a belief that he no longer held; he went looking for people who had already gone through what he was going through. We all have beliefs we cling to, and in many ways, define us. Some they are about religion or politics, while others might be about ethics or the best way to lead an organization. In every case, those beliefs are comfortable. What if they're wrong? What if the best way to reach new heights of performance and growth is to question them - examine them in the harsh light of reality and how they are serving you at this moment? This is never easy. It can leave us feeling frightened, alone, and without support. Yet doing so can also open new doors to growth, discovery and purpose. Sometimes, leaving the safe harbor of comfortable beliefs is the only way to find the truth. What unquestioned beliefs are you clinging to that limit your highest levels of performance, growth and fulfillment?

Jerry DeWitt was in the news quite a lot this summer for his book, Hope After Faith: An Ex-Pastor's Journey from Belief to Atheism. He was a Pentecostal pastor in a small Louisiana town, part of the community's spiritual fabric. But after 25 years of ministry, he decided that he didn't believe in the idea of Hell. This led him to question first his faith, then all faith, and ultimately the existence of God. Today, DeWitt has become an atheist activist.

I'm dumbfounded by the courage of such a change. To turn your back on a belief system that has defined your entire life-and the community and culture that surround that belief system-seems impossibly difficult. DeWitt has said that when he first let go of his faith, he lost all possibility of hope. But he didn't rush back to a belief that he no longer held; he went looking for people who had already gone through what he was going through.

We all have beliefs we cling to, and in many ways, define us. Some they are about religion or politics, while others might be about ethics or the best way to lead an organization. In every case, those beliefs are comfortable. What if they're wrong? What if the best way to reach new heights of performance and growth is to question them - examine them in the harsh light of reality and how they are serving you at this moment? This is never easy. It can leave us feeling frightened, alone, and without support. Yet doing so can also open new doors to growth, discovery and purpose. Sometimes, leaving the safe harbor of comfortable beliefs is the only way to find the truth.

What unquestioned beliefs are you clinging to that limit your highest levels of performance, growth and fulfillment?

10.14.13 0
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Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable #1

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Wisdom Leading

"Embrace the Suck" is a phrase popularized by Chris McCormack, the great Australian triathlete. It means that in the course of training or competing, you're going to hurt, sometimes a lot. The only way you'll get to the finish line at your top level is by not only accepting the fact that you're going to be uncomfortable, but by learning to love your suffering and discomfort because they are making you stronger.

I can relate. As some of you know, I've spent the last year working to get fit and healthy and to run my first triathlon in 25 years. The results have been gratifying: I've lost about 50 pounds and feel the best I've felt in decades. But it hasn't been easy. My day now includes long runs at sunrise, grueling cycling sessions and a diet free of gluten and sugar. Sometimes, it's all been so hard that I didn't think I could continue.

What kept me going was the understanding that's gotten me through most of the important changes in my life: we don't grow when we're comfortable. An easy walk on a treadmill won't get you in shape like a spin class that leaves you gasping for air. Facing uncomfortable truths about your organization may be unnerving, but it will also transform your organization in a way that ignoring those changes won't.

In facing change, high performers get comfortable with the fact that they're going to be uncomfortable. They prepare themselves to understand that when the discomfort comes and they're tempted to run in the other direction (or more frequently, not at all), they can redirect their thinking and say, "Cool, here it is. I got this. This is when champions rise."

Where does your desire for comfort torpedo your highest talents and aspirations?

10.7.13 1
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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams