Some famous people are famously impolite. Coach Bob Knight. Billy Bob Thorton. Justin Bieber. But to be fair these people have a disadvantage. Fame. Fortune. People clamoring to be close to them.
What’s your excuse? 😉
Some leaders are miserable human beings. They’re unpleasant, impolite and rude much of the time. I know that’s not you ’cause such a person wouldn’t be caught dead listening to a podcast like this.
Being a better you doesn’t require movement from miserable human being to pleasant human being though. That may be one of the more dramatic transformations that no doubt many need to make, but for most of us, the changes are likely far more subtle, but no less transformational.
Rick Carlisle is the coach of the Dallas Mavericks. He’s got a solid reputation as an unpleasant person. I don’t know him except by reputation and by his public displays with the media. I admit he strikes me as very insufferable. And I wonder if he thinks it benefits him professionally or personally. I don’t get it, but I’m not him so I suppose he can act any way he wants. Maybe he’s uninterested in changing anything. Maybe he thinks being a better version of himself includes that sort of demeanor. But again, he’s in the public light and I’m not.
Reflection. That’s how we learn from past experiences. It helps us figure things out. In short, it’s thinking about things. It’s thinking about ourselves, how we’re feeling, what we’re thinking and how we’re behaving. It’s looking at our past behaviors and experiences.
I wonder how many of us have become proficient at facing our feelings. I suspect most of us don’t do it as deeply or as often as we should because it’s hard. And it’s hard because we’ve moving so fast it feels unproductive. Who has time to stomp down and ponder their feelings?
Abstract thinking and pure logical thinking don’t produce improvements and change. We don’t improve our behavior based on those. We have to be in closer touch with our feelings (our emotions).
You can improve your perspective by involving others in the process. Find out what others think and feel. How do they see things? This doesn’t mean you have to agree. You simply need to take advantage of different perspectives. It can help you see more clearly.
You can improve looking past all the extraneous things and getting to the core of the matter. We’re often tempted to concentrate on the thousand little ancillary things orbiting the main thing – without looking as seriously as we should on THE thing. Look past all the smoke to the source of the fire.
Becoming a better you requires time spent in sober reflection. It’s how we can get in touch with deeper feelings, deeper emotions and deeper drives. Reflection will help you find the truth. But there’s an implied action attached to reflection. Resolution. As we more deeply reflect on things we’re drawn to resolve that we’ll learn some things. Improve some things. The Bible calls it repentance. It’s a turning. It’s going from doing things one way…to doing them in a completely different way. It puts power behind our resolve or resolution to grow and improve.
Sadly, we’re likely more shaped by the bad stuff that happens to us than we are the good stuff. That’s why gratitude is hard. It’s easier to reflect on what we don’t have than to acknowledge how blessed we are. We’d all grow if we’d be more intentional in feeling and expressing our gratitude. But that requires focus, attention and deeper devotion to the effort.
Some talk of it as reframing. It’s looking at things through a different lens. Flipping a negative into a positive. Turning mistakes into lessons.
We have to work past the instantaneous emotions, especially the ones that erupt immediately after a failure. Some of the most famous examples are those baseball dugout tantrums where a pitcher or batter enters the dugout throwing things, knocking over water coolers and pitching a wild-eyed fit. Emotions are out of control because the person hasn’t hit their emotion’s pause button so they can find a calmer place – a place much more profitable for reflection and growth. It’s why 2-year-olds act like 2-year-olds. They can’t yet regulate their emotions. I don’t know what excuse the 20 or 30-something-year-old pro ball player leans on. And I’ve seen senior executives behave in a similar fashion.
Reflection is how we’re able to process our feelings. It helps us understand our feelings, and figure out our questions so we can move past them. It’s largely why we have the adage, “time heals all wounds.” It doesn’t really, but time provides the prime ingredient necessary for reflection. And we all know what happens after we reflect. We figure out what we’ll do next.
Becoming a better person will translate into us becoming better leaders and better family members, too. There’s a congruency in our lives that we all crave – the ability to be the same person no matter who we’re with or where we are. Reflection helps unchain us from being victims to our feelings. Or our past.
What have you done with your past? Ignored it? Focused on it in a negative way?
Reflect on it. Spend time figuring it out. Try to understand it. Then figure out what you’ll do about it now that it’s over. It won’t determine your future unless you neglect to properly reflect on it.
Every day you behave and make decisions based on big truths that we believe in, but also in big lies that we also believe. Many of those lies are about ourselves. And our fears. Our daily lives are filled with the conflict between these two. We want to suppress our fears, but the more we think about them the more pronounced they become. The more we hope to move past our failures the more we think to think about them. The bigger they grow.
Reflection allows us to resolve that. Reflect on your experiences until you better understand what happened, why it happened and what you can do to learn and grow from it. It’s the path forward — toward becoming a better YOU.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!