In quite a few stages or chapters of my life, I adopted what I’ve dubbed mantras to remind myself to keep laser-focused on my ethics, objectives, and goals at the time.
For instance, while we were building a service network for working migrants in Moldova, my team often heard me say, “learning by doing.” That was an invitation to all of us to innovate, to experiment, and to make mistakes and fail. All was good as long as we were stopping to reflect on the fails, continuously adjusting our processes (kaizen), and improving our services.
Joining many others, I plead guilty to appropriating the term mantra, because of course mine are not meant to be a spiritual practice in any formal sense. My mantras are not used as a portal to meditation.
Rather, my mantras are to express and energize my values and intentions. They are personal principles, some call them mottos, that guide me. They are reminders of what’s important to me and serve to bring me back to that.
I have a little mantra: ‘My fear grows fat on the energy I feed it. And if it grows very big, it probably happens.’Scilla Elworthy
Whenever something went wrong in our work in Moldova, I’d not seek to blame or berate anyone. I’d just remind all of us that we were learning by doing, our collectively understood shorthand for what or how can we do better next time? To my mind, that mantra created a safe space for us to excel through countless trials and errors.
So, what are my mantras now as I’m going through my anti-cancer treatment program?
Two have already emerged, and more may come up later still.
The first one relates to my coaching business: Slow down to speed up.
Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.Eddie Cantor
The moment I understood what I was in for over the year, I knew I’d have to re-prioritize the use of my time. I’ve rarely ignored self-care, but now it would take a much, much bigger portion of my 24/7. Marketing to grow my business—which was gobbling hours a day—had to take a back seat. I had to slow down.
In fact, I had to pause. And I did without hesitation.
This mantra popped up because I found that even without direct marketing efforts, my client load was growing! Somehow the seeds I had planted before were doing their magic.
My business was speeding up even as I had slowed down.
As a business thinking partner, I also encourage my clients to slow down to speed up. To me this involves evaluating whether needless busy-ness is causing them the feelings of overwhelm they so often complain about. They get better and faster results not trying to do everything on their long to-do lists at once. I help them get calmer by prioritizing their objectives and tasks, removing distractions, and then implementing the tasks more intentionally the right way, step-by-step. This way, less time is lost undoing the sloppy kind of mistakes on tasks that then hog time fixing or redoing.
And, as the quote above says, we get a better sense of where we’re going and why.
After I had written the above, I found this 2017 TEDx Talk by executive/leadership coach Ralph Simone. His core message, too, is to slow down in order to create more time to get inspired and tap into your intuition. I completely agree.
The second mantra that has emerged for me is a familiar old idiom and I find myself saying it frequently these days: Roll with the punches.
We got to roll with the punches, play all of our hunches, make the best of whatever comes your way. Forget that blind ambition, learn to trust your intuition – plowing straight ahead, come what may.Jimmy Buffett
This mantra is about staying resilient.
About adapting to blips, or simply put, to sh*t happening. Which it always does in life, especially in new and difficult circumstances.
- Could be unanticipated tech glitches encountered when doing a live online workshop
- Could be unexpected side effects of drug treatments
- Could be officialdom being callous about citizen needs
- Could be social media giants not having accessible support
- Could be a doctor not coming through on their promise
These were just a few of my most recent blips.
What blips are on your radar that you’re rolling with?
Everyone has their own mantra.Russell Brand
Do you have mantras you live by? What are one or two of your current ones? Can you think of a mantra that you say to yourself that holds you back instead of moving you forward?
PS. Did you know you can sign up to get notified when I post? Go and click on the top right of the screen. Your email is safe with me.