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Learning through inaction and distraction

This is the third in the series of posts about ‘relational learning’; how we learn about ourselves through our relationships with others. This week, I'm exploring my relationship to something other than a person - inaction and distraction. Click for posts one and two.

This week’s writing is feeling difficult. I can’t seem to find the words or flow to create a coherent message. I’ve written a number of paragraphs but can’t work out how to join them together. The good news is twofold:

  • firstly, that one of the reasons for writing this series was to explore my relationship with regular writing

  • secondly, that my block fits in with the theme that had emerged during the week

This recurring theme in both coaching and personal conversations has gone along these lines….

  • I’m not quite getting around to doing x, but I’m not sure why?

  • I’m struggling getting on with x, why do I find it so difficult?

  • I find myself doing everything and anything other than what I should be doing (in this case, defrosting the freezer!)

So I have to laugh… my struggle with writing fits with my theme! What can we learn about ourselves through our inaction, our frustration and in my case today, lack of focus, flow and time? I'm as connected to the writing as the seal is to swimming.

What I re-learn about myself in relationship to writing, is that if I’m going to do something which is not natural for me, I cannot have distractions. I need to allocate it a chunk of time and I need to switch off email and other little temptations. I also have to go through a process to get myself ready. This involves thinking about the week that’s gone by and seeing which conversations have stuck in my mind and looking at what connects them.

So what are you doing or not doing? Can you identify why you are not doing something or choosing to do something else? Here are some of the reasons I heard last week:

  • I know I have to do it, but it doesn’t really interest me

  • I don’t know how to start

  • I don’t know how to do it

  • I’m scared of failing

  • I’m scared of what might happen if I succeed

  • It’s going to take longer than I have time to give it

  • I’d love to do it, but I don’t have the time

3 steps to learning from inaction & distraction

1. Catch yourself procrastinating or using distraction techniques. Brilliant! It’s a chance to deepen your understanding and awareness of yourself.

2. Ask & answer yourself three questions:

  • What’s really going on here?

  • What’s the value for you in taking action?

  • Out of 10, how much do you value getting progress or action in this area? (If it’s low, then that’s another conversation).

3. Deepen your understanding of feeling blocked and stuck:

  • Where do you feel it in your body?

  • How do you first know you’re distracted?

  • What do you find yourself doing, thinking, feeling?

  • Imagine your ‘stuck’ sas a river, describe the river.

  • What’s not being said or done?

Note what I’m not saying. This is not about working out how to overcome the ‘stuck’, instead I'm suggesting you just stay with exploring how it feels. My fear of being incomprehensible is like a tarry black river getting stuck in the riverbank and clogging it up. It may still not make sense to you, but it has helped me move to action! And it takes courage to press 'post' knowing it may not make sense. It's how I choose to experiment and stretch myself.

What can you do this week to learn about yourself?

Felicity Hodkinson is a leadership coach working with individuals and groups, creator of ‘relational learning experiences’ and founder of Bend the River. She combines her marketing, commercial and change management experience of 20 years gained in small business and corporate FTSE100 companies with her passion for coaching individuals and organisations.

Email Felicity to explore how this coaching approach could help you develop your leadership practices. Alternatively, read her recent article on 'Softening the Goal Mindset' in Global Coaching Perspectives, July 2016 (the magazine from the Association for Coaching).

#relationallearning #leadershippractices #coaching

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