Zen Leader Blog

How to recognize - and free yourself - from coping mode.

Posted by Diane Chencharick

Jan 22, 2013 8:05:00 AM

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I was in a conversation recently with some other coaches that really struck home. We were talking about one of our biggest challenges - leaders who take transformational advice and try to make it fit into their current situation. Or, as one coach put it so well:

 "The challenge is how to bring something into a world that doesn't have space for it and which automatically co-opts it into the prevailing mindset, which perpetuates the problem."

This got me thinking: How can we help leaders see the "flip in consciousness" that is needed to get to the next level?

Leadership development has long been about fixing problems, utilizing strengths, and amplifying personal resources that improve one's ability to successfully implement change and drive toward goals. Doing things better, faster, and with less resistance is the goal. So we help patch here and fix something there and see signs of improvement that lead us to believe the current paradigm is still working, but it's often not the case. If we look deeply, what we often find is a leader in coping mode - someone who's barely hanging on and has maxed out their ability to make refinements that deliver. Not only that, but a study at the Kings College of Psychiatry in London showed that when people multitasked, their effective IQ dropped 10 points! These are the same leaders who think their performance is not affected at all.

The "Aha" Moment
Have you ever had a stroke of brilliance, where you suddenly realize the answer you've been puzzling over in one immediate flash? Then you've already experienced a flip in consciousness. It is immediate and goes from this to that. It is a quantum leap without steps or process, which are both inwardly profound and outwardly physical. As Ginny Whitelaw states in The Zen Leader, "Not only will you find YOUR energy transformed by these flips, but the tools of leadership are transformed as well: how you set vision and strategy, create the future, develop and inspire others, and optimize had choices."

The very first "flip" that The Zen Leader walks you through takes you from coping to transforming. Coping mode immobilizes us. It keeps us stuck in the present situation. "Accepting 'it is what it is,' the Zen Leader in us flips from defensiveness to curiosity, from resistance to creative engagement. What can we learn from it? How do we fix the damage, change the game, or leverage larger forces at work," asks The Zen Leader. In this mindset, we allow the flip to happen.

Look at things upside down
In art, when we are starting an experimental painting, it is important to put it on an easel and turn it in 90 degree rotations to look at it from every angle. Quite often, we choose to finish it from a very different angle than the one we started with. Why? Because we are pleasantly surprised by how things look when turned sideways or upside down. It can become more dramatic and less expected. The focal point can change. Shapes take on an entirely different look. This is what the flip from coping to transforming allows you to do. It changes your perspective, widens your field of view and gives you more alternatives to consider in your leadership.

The Zen Leader walks you through 10 flips in consciousness to help you become a better leader, but this first one is the foundation for all the rest. If you'd like to read this first chapter, From Coping to Transforming, a free download is available here.

Enjoy your journey!

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Topics: zen leader, leadership development, flips, Ginny Whitelaw, awareness, the zen leader, coping to transforming

A Little Help From My Zen

Posted by Anthony Attan

Oct 11, 2012 9:30:00 AM

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Topics: zen, zen leader, leadership, zen leadership, whole leadership, the zen leader book, whole self, Ginny Whitelaw

Realizing the Zen Leader: Recounting the Journey

Posted by Anthony Attan

Sep 23, 2012 11:52:00 AM

We often hear from readers of The Zen Leader, talking about their reactions, experiences or insights as they read the book and work through the activities.  Since some are just too good to keep to ourselves, here is a note we received from James Murphy, who described his own reaction to several of the chapters.

What has landed for me are the following:
 

Chapter 5: From Playing Your Strengths to Strengthening Your Play
 

While I’ve done a lot of these personality tests in the past and pretty much know where I am, this was a fun chapter. It was also unique in the sense that this is the first book or course I’ve seen where it is proposed to develop personality attributes that are not your strengths. I think this makes a lot of sense and I will try to do this. Instinctively, for example, I know my collaboration skills are weak and I’ve been trying to get my wife to join a ballroom dancing class to help me to improve this skill. I also know my driver skills are weak and my main physical activities are running and weight lifting. So it is curious that these activities have not resulted in stronger driver attributes.


As a side note, I chose to read this book not for work but for personal reasons. I am building a sailboat racing team and quickly realized that I was not performing as a leader properly. At work, I am not a manager, I am an architect, but I know to turn concepts into reality I need to lead so the concepts here will help me in that role.
 

Chapter 7: From Driving Results to Attracting the Future.

While reading this chapter and doing the exercises I was able to see a future that I hadn’t seen before. In a sense, I knew what some of the components of the future might be but I didn’t put them together into a larger whole. With this exercise I was able to do that. The unfortunate part of the results of this exercise is that if indeed my vision is the future and I am to lead the world to it, then I’ve got a lot of work to do because the future is very big indeed and fundamentally different than what we currently see. The silver lining is that I can see a path that starts with limited scope and can be incrementally expanded. (Note, this vision applies to my work, not sailing)
 

Chapter 10: From Delusion to Awakening

This chapter is good since it sets down some practical steps to make the lessons from this book stick. Indeed practice is required to acquire a Zen mindset. This chapter makes that clear and provides some good guidance. Indeed much of the book, and this chapter in particular were incomprehensible to me mostly because I have not experienced the mind state described in the book. Specifically I am talking about the concepts from the Surangama Sutra and understanding self and host versus guest, etc. I believe that in order to become the whole I will need to consistently practice and probably re-read this book a couple of times. As an ex-competitive runner, I believe my approach will have to be similar to athletic training. A plan, a schedule, making time and being consistent and disciplined.
 

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Topics: zen, zen leader, leadership, zen leadership, managing energy, the zen leader, the zen leader book, spirituality, mindfulness, well-being, Ginny Whitelaw, energy patterns

The Zen Leader Animated.

Posted by Anthony Attan

Sep 10, 2012 2:49:00 PM

Check out this animated video explaining why we might want to flip around our sense of self, and how it's possible.

 

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Topics: zen, zen leader, meditation, zen leadership, the zen leader, the zen leader book, mindfulness

Turning Your Vision Statement Into Reality

Posted by Diane Chencharick

Aug 1, 2012 5:14:00 PM

Every company seems to have one - a Vision or Mission statement that defines the type of company they aspire to be. Many hours, and often considerable expense, go into the development of this written platform of hope. They are plastered on walls, given prominent positions in Employee Handbooks and used as rallying cries by management - but that's where it often stops. Turning that statement into reality is a much harder task. Lets look at some of the reasons they fail, along with a flip that may help you make it a reality.

The Power of Engagement
Any company can share a vision, but unless their people become truly engaged in the common purpose, it rarely becomes a reality. The best leaders begin by building a sense of ownership and responsibility in their people. Empowerment, sharing progress, listening and responding - these are all things that draw people in to serving under an inspired leader. I worked for one company who opened their books and discussed the situation and outlook to everyone each quarter. People knew exactly where the company stood financially, which made everyone rally together when times were tough. And when times were good, the desire to see greater possibilities unfold was an equal motivator. Engagement is key.

Pull not Push
One of the biggest mistakes leaders make in trying to realize their vision is to try and push their people toward it. "To drive results is to push the present toward the future. It always comes from behind, and relentless habit of it makes us feel like we're always behind," states Ginny Whitelaw in The Zen Leader. "To attract the future is to create the pull of working with larger forces."

So what does this mean "to attract the future" and how do we go about doing it? I'd like you think of a time when you had a moment of inspiration. Inspired thought is very different than regular thinking. It's what The Zen Leader calls "a Samadhi-inspired insight that we translate into thought." When we flip from driving results to attracting the future, we "flip into this connected state, which also flips our relationship with time." For those of you who would like to delve into this a little deeper, here's a very eye-opening little timeline exercise from The Zen Leader that will illustrate the cause and effect of your own past and future events.

"Attracting the future is not a heroic act, so much as unifying our intention with what's ready to happen and bringing it about with our actions," says Dr. Whitelaw.

Listen And Make Adjustments As Needed
"If your future vision is able to be realized, joy will accompany your progress, and a wave of enthusiasm will build." This natural state will pull others along with you. If it's unrealistic, you'll hit stuck points where there is no path forward, no learning and no joy. This is where adjustments need to be made, but done so from a connected state. Keep listening - "…your vision will auto-adjust… and will inform your rational mind what to do next."

So much of our potential for growth and happiness is wrapped up in our own connectedness with Now. Through this ability to sense the hearts of our people, the practicalities of cause and effect and the natural timing of situations, "we become the transforming agent," that is, expressing the Zen Leader in you.

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Topics: zen leader, happiness, the zen leader, Ginny Whitelaw, vision statement, mission statement

Step Back, Reflect and Practice What You Preach

Posted by Anthony Attan

Jun 24, 2012 10:02:00 PM

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Topics: zen leader, leadership, tension, stress, zen leadership, managing energy, flips, control

Overworked and underpaid? How would Zen Leadership help?

Posted by Ginny Whitelaw

May 6, 2012 12:19:00 PM

In connection with a webinar we hosoverworkedted last week around The Zen Leader, a premier coach in Singapore contacted me, wondering how a Zen perspective would address issues he typically hears from clients.  Here was his list:

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Topics: zen, zen leader, leadership, zen leadership, Maslow's hierarchy, the zen leader, the zen leader book, flips

Ginny Whitelaw on the Stu Taylor Show

Posted by Anthony Attan

May 4, 2012 10:00:00 AM

Ginny Whitelaw is interviewed on the Stu Taylor radio show (www.stutaylor.com) about her new book, The Zen Leader: 10 Ways to go From Barely Managing to Leading Fearlessly.  Listen to the full interview below.

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Topics: zen, zen leader, leadership, managing change, leadership development, managing stress, zen leadership, managing energy, whole leadership, whole leadership development, the zen leader, the zen leader book

Video: Workshop Experience

Posted by Anthony Attan

Apr 26, 2012 9:38:00 AM

In the final installment of our video series, Dr. Ginny Whitelaw, author of The Zen Leader, discusses what type of experience a participant can expect from one of her workshops or speaking engagements.

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Topics: zen, zen leader, leadership, leadership development, zen leadership, the zen leader, the zen leader book, speaking engagement, leadership workshop

A Business Case for The Zen Leader

Posted by Anthony Attan

Apr 19, 2012 11:15:00 AM

The Zen Leader
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Topics: zen, zen leader, leadership, leadership development, zen leadership, paradox, the zen leader, the zen leader book, business coaching tool

Welcome to the Zen Leader Blog

A blog that transforms:

This blog is dedicated to the concepts described in the book The Zen Leader by Ginny Whitelaw.  In this blog we discuss how these concepts are applied to a variety of current situations and applications, helping us all unleash the Zen Leader within us!

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