The Prepared Mind: Skills v States

To tackle the wicked problems of our present and future, we need to embrace a strange, counter-intuitive irony: as organizations across all sectors continue to create and adopt technologies like artificial intelligence, employees need to stay relevant by increasing their subjective intelligence.

My research on master craftsmen and how they gain mastery might be the place to seek initial solutions. One way to do that is to increase self-awareness with your inner experience. As you learn to manage your feelings, you clear the way to develop a greater feel for your work.

Credit: Alina Grubnyak

Credit: Alina Grubnyak

Living and working with Craft is about being confident in your vision, knowing how to get there, and what it will do for your life. Most of us focus on the how—those more tangible skills that map where we need to be.

Because the idea of mission and fulfillment are more ethereal—they require a bit of a leap of faith. In the space between hard skills and soft skills lies the unknown. In the unknown is where a whole spectrum of emotions from excitement to anxiety reside.

When we are confronted by emotions that trouble us we reach for the concrete. We focus on the result.

For example, constructive self-talk is the skill to mastering a state of confidence in any condition—but how many of us think of that while we are beating ourselves up for not being confident? Regulated breathing is the skill to mastering a state of being calm in any condition—but how often are we gaining awareness of our breathing when we feel under attack by a manager or peer?

When we get into environments that are stressful or have pressure and consequence, and we abandon our goals and skills only to survive, it’s because we lack the mental skills. Effective self-management comes through honed skills like constructive self-talk and regulated breathing while one is under pressure. We have to be tested over and over and over again to develop mastery of mental skills.

 

As you explore your inner world, your outer world will come more sharply into focus.

As you face your imagined barriers, you will encounter real ones, as well.

—Julia Cameron

 

PRACTICE: How do you apply this idea yourself?

Write in a journal. Write without stopping for 15 minutes every day. Increase that time if you can or want to. If you can be honest on paper, you can find out who you are.

For people new to journaling, there is a pressure to choose certain words to express. Sometimes you self-edit, sometimes you gain clarity. With clarity comes conviction.

Everyone has a voice. When it comes to being effective, it's critical to listen to its tone and content.


If you find yourself blaming your (mental) tools, do something about it. Learn about mental models, learn from how Craftsmen talk about how they learn and get better at what they do and more importantly, take ownership. Moving forward requires change but change by itself does not mean that you are moving forward. As Socrates said, “The un-examined life is not worth living.”


Christine Haskell, Ph.D. is a leadership consultant and adjunct faculty at Washington State University. She helps busy leaders take responsibility for their learning and development. She writes on the topic of “Craftsmanship and The Future of Work.” sharing lessons from master craftsmen and women on personal and professional mastery, is due out late 2019. Sign up for her (semi-regular) newsletter here.

GOOD HUMANING: Coming together and falling apart..on the road to repair.

“Things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” ~ Pema Chödrön


Important to consider when shooting for resolution or results. The tangible outcomes we favor are often more ethereal than we would like to admit. Sometimes a friendship lasts for a time, sometimes a lifetime. What resolves a situation today might only be a band-aid for what we need to reckon with tomorrow.

If change truly is the only constant, then any “resolution” is impermanent by definition.

Which brings me to this visual.

Photo Credit: unknown  Wabi Sabi bowl.

Photo Credit: unknown Wabi Sabi bowl.

In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".

In essence, the process is the result.


This post-series is about trying to anchor my experience by exploring within and reminding myself about what it means to practice "good humaning." It's about moving forward imperfectly. To follow this thread in my posts, look for these tags: #NotesFromMyYogaJournal

Christine Haskell, Ph.D. is a leadership consultant and adjunct faculty at Washington State University. She helps busy leaders take responsibility for their learning and development. She writes on the topic of “Craftsmanship and The Future of Work.” sharing lessons from master craftsmen and women on personal and professional mastery, is due out late 2019. Sign up for her (semi-regular) newsletter here.


GOOD HUMANING: Start in your own backyard

 
Photo by  Annie Spratt

Photo by Annie Spratt

 

It’s so easy to comment on other people’s yards, isn’t it?

But insight, the kind that broadens who I am as a human being, is gained internally, first. Starting with my own weeds of pride, aggression, self-denigration, etc. is where I need to begin. The trick is doing it with compassion.

If I were tending a garden, I would see these weeds for what they are. I would be more neutral about tending to them. They grow, I tend.

What would it look like to understand them with compassion?

Compassion is the ultimate and most meaningful embodiment of emotional maturity. It is through compassion that a person achieves the highest peak and deepest reach in his or her search for self-fulfillment. --Arthur Jersild

That gives me something to strive for, the well-tended garden—but doesn’t show me how to be compassionate toward myself. Seeing the flaws is not the problem, it’s treating them with kindness, being the wise gardener to the garden plot.

A well-tended garden needs

…to be embraced for the kind of habitat it is.

…to be tended, with neutrality. (weeds grow, some weeds are noxious)

…to know that all habitat needs good stewardship.

…imperfection is part of the process of growth.

…supportive friends, coaches, therapists, partners help to tend, tend, tend.


This post-series is about trying to anchor my experience by exploring within and reminding myself about what it means to practice "good humaning." It's about moving forward imperfectly. To follow this thread in my posts, look for these tags: #NotesFromMyYogaJournal