There’s a practice that my coach, the late Doug Silsbee, often used with his clients who had been able to make a significant shift, or to see themselves or their world in a different way.
He called it, “Taking in the good.” And in short, it means to enhance the effect of a change, or an insight, by being grateful for it. It’s the perfect practice to share in a time of thanks.
Beliefs that no longer serve
Most of the leaders I work with have beliefs about themselves or their worlds that no longer serve them.
And as we work together, some of those beliefs dissolve. Or they are replaced by newer, more useful beliefs and ways of being.
I was working with a client recently who I will call Jill. Jill has been given a lot of additional responsibility during the time we’ve been working together. She’s gone from leading a team of ten to a team of several hundred, and there are likely more people on the way.
Jill is seen as someone who has a good balance between being an excellent people leader and having a holistic view of the business. She prides herself on being able to look at complex problems and find and fix the root cause.
Jill is now at a point where her strength is getting in her way.
She is responsible for so much that she can’t possibly understand everything at the level of detail that she once did.
Jill was reflecting on this in a recent call, and was seeing that overwhelm would sometimes enter the picture when she tried to manage too much.
Seeing and reinforcing a shift in perspective
But suddenly, Jill got what she needed to change and how to do it.
In that moment, Jill saw that her role is no longer the person who figures out the root cause. She is now being asked to be the person who finds the people, who creates the team, that will figure out the root cause.
She is no longer the doer. She is a builder now. A creator and motivator of teams.
In that moment of insight, Jill literally became a new person.
I reflected this back to her and talked about the practice of taking in the good.
“I want you to reflect on this shift for a moment,” I said. “Be grateful that you have seen it. And let that gratitude sink into your body as you ground this new way of being.”
We spend so much time doing what has been automatic to us that when we see a different possibility, it’s important to highlight it, to sit with it, to let the new psychological wiring solidify.
And this is what the practice of taking in the good accomplishes. If you can do this regularly, even if it’s only for a minute or two, you can help ease the path to making major changes.
When we take in the good, we give our bodies time to assimilate what our minds have seen. We hard wire the shift. Through the practice of taking in the good, my client was able to shift in her being in a way that was permanent, rather than a fleeting glimpse.
Most people instinctively go back to the thing that has always worked when stress shows up. The old way of being.
Even if it doesn’t work any more.
The practice of taking in the good can help prevent these relapses.
The journey never ends
My experience, both for myself and the clients that I have worked with, is this. One insight can change everything. But people seldom have just one insight.
When Jill and I started working together, she could not see that it would be possible network for another job. Then it was seeing that more money and more satisfaction could coexist. Then, in a big shift, Jill say that her stories of being an imposter were just stories. And now, she is working on the shift from doer to leader. She has shifted into bigger and bigger versions of herself, and become a more present and powerful leader in the process.
Everyone works through some version of this, of formerly solid parts of their identity dropping away as the next version of themselves emerges. And from what I can tell, so long as we are willing and curious, there is no end to our capacity to evolve.
A key element in lasting change
Taking in the good, as a regular practice, can help shorten the time it takes to change a habit, or a perspective. And it can lay a foundation for future change.
And as we approach Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate to share with you, much as I am grateful that Doug shared it with me.