Turn Relentless Focus into Attentiveness

Attentive Leader

Jody* is a leader on the rise. He’s been promoted twice in the last two years, having proven he can adjust to a growing portfolio and increased demands. By carefully laying out his priorities and staying ruthlessly focused, Jody seems to be thriving when others might drown. So why hire a Coach?

In his 360-degree feedback report, Jody learns that others see his intense focus as rigidity and disinterest. Try to speak to him about something that’s not on his agenda, and you’ll be disappointed, they say. He’ll either ignore the request or delay it for another time. He seems to have his mind on the next thing. His sense of urgency is expressed as impatience for others.

To his Coach, Jody admits to a low level of anxiety. He is finding that his well-laid plans are not the comfort they once were. Stuff is happening – but he has a sense its not always the right stuff. He’s missing information that he should have known and is second-guessing his decisions. He feels each day as though he’s moving through someone else’s life script.

Jody and his Coach talk about the idea that our strengths – when overused – become our weaknesses. Jody’s method of staying on top of heavy demands is to uber-organize his day. He’s become expert at compartmentalizing his life. As a way to minimize distractions, he gives focus to whatever he deems important. To keep work/life in balance he never mixes the two. This splitting of his day in increments is creating a sense of splitting of himself. Instead of Jody flowing with his day, he is standing outside of it to maintain control and composure. It’s like he is fishing from the bank of a fast-moving river.

As a way of re-entering his life, Jody begins to practice mindfulness. He uses his ability to focus to really inhabit each moment.  Jody starts to pay attention to what is going on with others – and within himself. He gets curious about what is arising. He speaks directly to what he sees and feels, asking others to share their own impressions and hunches as he does. He begins to swim in the river.

Jody feels himself relaxing his grip on the world. When he plans and schedules his days, he leaves “wiggle-room” for surprises. He checks his priorities with others, before he feels fully committed. Now, when he is focused, it’s on people and situations instead of outcomes.  And finally, Jody begins a practice of reflection, taking time at the end of each week to consider what he has been doing and where he’d like to be in the upcoming weeks.

*This fictionalized learning case is created to help leaders with common challenges and to showcase how Integral Coaching works. Coaching sessions are always confidential.

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