Leaders and Integrated Living
What almost dying taught me
I laid there on the floor at the staff meeting surrounded by familiar faces. I knew where I was and assumed everything was fine. It all shattered when my co-worker and friend asked me to recall the birthdays of my beautiful daughters. I could not do it. If someone was able to look inside and see how hard I was working they would see a hamster running full speed on a wheel. That is what probably landed me on the floor in the first place, and now the hamster was trying to help me retrieve the most precious things I have, my life.
On that November day in 2015 I had an aneurysm rupture in my brain. I thought I had a migraine and I ignored it because I had work to do and I was intent on getting it done. This event is where the B3 Philosophy was first birthed. It would take months and years of recovery to get to a point of sharing it with the world, but it happened. I have delivered a TED-style talk, given keynote speeches, written a memoir, and started a podcast to share and build others through my professional and personal experience. The one thing I have not done is write about it so that it could be disseminated through networks where leaders and influencers may benefit.
The B3 philosophy is simple to explain; execution takes practice.
Be present, Be Open, Be Intentional.
The gist of being present is reduce distractions and enjoy the moment. Being transparent about this pillar it is one that I struggle with. The reason being present is hard is because I hold the false belief that I can multitask. The reason I say it is false is because it is actually not possible for you to effectively do two things at the same time. If you are doing two things, one of them is not getting your full attention. A good example, is when you are “listening” to someone and reading a text message or email at the same time and you do not hear everything they said. Has that ever happened to you? I am embarrassed by the number of times those precious kids, I wrote about above get frustrated with me for making them repeat themselves. Yet, I do it over and over again. I am a work in process.
When we are not present we miss the small whispers. We miss the special moments.
We miss the things that matter.
The second thing I learned is to accept help and be open to new experiences. Having a stroke is certainly a major experience. Yet, as I healed I learned that the lessons also applied to life in general. The help that people were offering me was available all along, I did not ask, nor did I accept it. There were new behaviors that I had to adopt, including releasing control. In practice this included things like delegating more, setting expectations and boundaries, and identifying priorities. I thought I was open to change but the truth was I was open to change that was led by me.
The bottom line about life is that it moves really fast. In the blink of an eye you look back and wonder where the time has gone. This is partly why I pushed myself so hard every single day and found myself flat on my back in that meeting. However, when I recovered, I knew that I could not go back to “normal”. That normal was not sustainable. Instead I learned that I could achieve my goals and live and integrated life that is healthier and fuller than the one that I was living. To do that I set my intention on being present and being open to learning best practices for self-care that would sustain me and keep me well.
My goal was to be a better version of my former self. Some of the intentional practices that I implemented were taking more time off work, more consistent prayer and meditation, journaling, and changing the way I think. The last action is one I work on daily and requires ongoing personal development. The key for being intentional is to mentally set the intention and to follow through with goals and actions.
Why does this matter?
The endgame for being present, open, and intentional is to have a life that is integrated. When life is integrated, home and work are aligned. I did not think it was possible since I have a corporate job and my sphere of control is limited there. I learned that although I have some limitations, the biggest limits in my life are the ones I put on myself. After that realization and the decision to move more fully into who I am I have experienced more peace, promotions, and most of all joy and love with my family. I really am not making this up! It happened and is still happening!
From time to time I think about revising this philosophy but it continues to stick. Be Present, Be Open, Be Intentional. I stand by it.