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What‘s the worst that can happen?

What‘s the worst that can happen?

Ever heard the advice that only when you get over your fears do you actually stand a chance at accomplishing much of anything in your life? While I believe that the advice is well intended, my own experience suggests otherwise. Rather than rid ourselves of fear we actually need to face them full on. This means naming them, accepting them and getting to know what's the worst that could happen because of them. 

  1. Name your fears: so many of us are ruled by fears without even knowing what they are. Especially when faced with a personal challenge or aspiration we would like to reach, without identifying our fears we find ourselves stumbling across the same trip-ups and coming up against the same walls. If you notice this pattern taking place, try taking a step back and understanding what is keeping you from reaching the next level. What are you afraid of that holds you back from really taking a leap of faith, trying something entirely new or investing in a risk? Like meeting someone for the first time, once fear has a name it is no longer a complete stranger to us. 

  2. Accept your fears: while fears may prevent us from attaining some dreams, they may also be protecting us and keeping us alive. Rooting back to our hunter-gatherer days, the survival mechanism that is fear functions as a checks and balance of sorts, making sure that we double and triple think about our goals and plans before we pursue them. Accepting and even appreciating the benefits that fears can have for us begin to change our relationships with our fears altogether. Perhaps we can view them as guides or even friends, helping us navigate our dreams while still looking out for us and our safety. Sometimes, our fears served an important role when we were younger in protecting us. These same fears may still be around today even though the dangers no longer are. Understanding our fears in this way also allows us to begin changing the relationship we have with them.

  3. What's the worst that can happen? While some fears consume us like a bottomless pit, the truth is that even our deepest fears at some point come to a dead end. Although it's not easy, try a game of engaging with your fear. Ask your fear, "What's the worst that can happen if I do ____?"  When you find the answer, then ask, "And then what would happen?" Keep asking the "And then?" question until you arrive at the very end of the absolute worst chain of events that could happen if you pursued whatever it is that is provoking the fear. Perhaps you now have a written list of 10, 20 or even more events in this chain. Now take a step back and look at how many things would need to happen before that very worst fear-based scenario came true. Consider how much is in your control to actually turn things around for each of those events. Reflect on how many safety measures are most likely already in place that would prevent you from even moving through the first 3 or 4 events. For many of us, it can be empowering just seeing this and realizing how far away the worst reality is from our current reality. 

Once you've gone through these three steps, sense into whether the fear still has as much of a dominant a grip on you as before. The fear may not need to disappear at all for you to have developed a much friendlier and more self-aware approach for how to manage it. In fact, it might even make you stronger. 


Unlearning everything you know

Unlearning everything you know

Nowadays even a Masters degree doesn’t grant you a round of applause. It seems like the pressure is only increasing to acquire as many degrees, diplomas and certifications as possible in order to stay competitive, sharp and ready for an unknown tomorrow. However, when it comes to heart intelligence what we actually need to start doing is unlearning everything we’ve been taught.
Have you ever noticed what an awareness children have about their bodies from a very young age? Even before being able to speak, children have an incredible capacity to sense through smell, touch, temperature and sound. Their ability to rapidly connect with other children is incredible when compared to the amount of time it can sometimes take adults to connect. As we get older, mainstream schooling focuses our attention more and more on our cognitive capacities, placing emphasis on intellectual intelligence over emotional and somatic intelligence. As a result, we start interpreting the world around us only through facts, judgments and rational thinking. We start losing the capacity to really feel and sense our surroundings through our hearts. In fact, most of us completely shut off our physical sensing capacity and spend time in busy cities, crowded subways and packed elevators trying to pretend that we are completely alone.
Despite the fact that many adults go decades without using their heart’s intelligence to navigate their worlds, this capacity to physically connect remains intact and ready to engage whenever we allow it to. In order to start feeling again, we actually have to unlearn the educated tendency to process everything through our rational minds.
One way to get a sense of how powerful that connection can actually be is to stand on a subway platform and just notice all the people around you. Notice the direction they are facing, how far they are from you, and whether they are sitting, standing or leaning against a post. Also take note of the patterns that groups are forming: are people standing in a straight line, in a circle or clump, individually or in pairs? Who is still and who is moving? While you bring your awareness to all of this notice what feelings arise in your heart. Does your heart automatically respond to some people more than others? Do you feel a tingling in some places or discomfort anywhere? What images and pictures come to you while you take in all that is around you on the platform? This simple but profound experience of extending your awareness beyond your own bubble while simultaneously staying mindful of what it is feeling may give you an incredible sense of how powerfully your heart relates and connects to what is happening around you. While it may not be able to communicate through words, it does express itself through feelings, metaphors, sensations, images and other methods unique to you.
If you bring this subway platform sensitivity with you to other parts of your life -- when driving in a car, when walking down the street, when entering a room full of strangers or when waiting on line while shopping -- you may begin to notice that there is an automatic and natural connection that your heart has to everything going on around it. In fact, your heart is always connected whether you allow yourself to notice this or not. It is the most basic aspect of being human. This connection isn’t something that needs to be improved and practiced. Rather, when we unlearn the habit of rationalizing everything and begin suspending the mind’s constant chatter we start to notice the richness of experience that our physicality can take in and process. With time even the most simple of shapes, gestures or movements from people and beings around us invite us to notice their incredible beauty and the feelings and intelligence they provoke in our hearts. And if we notice our mind trying to jump in and analyze all of that heart intelligence, best is to try settling it down and putting it temporarily on hold. There are already enough other moments in which to process our worlds through our very educated heads.

Active listening vs. Real listening

Active listening vs. Real listening

With a culture so focused on leadership and public-speaking, much of our Western education model makes sure to offer plenty of opportunity to develop our capacities in these areas. However, very little if any attention is given to counterpart roles of followers and listeners. As a result, we are living in a society where our understanding of good followership is nearly non-existent, and our capacity for listening is mostly summarized under the skill-set of “active” listening while missing the much more profound capacity of “deep” listening.

The most alarming side-effect of active listening is the power of listener to manipulate what a speaker actually talks about.

Active listening often involves a type of participatory, affirming set of techniques that has the listener employing behavior like regular eye-contact to show connection, head-nodding to demonstrate understanding, the use of “uh-huh, mmm, yes” to encourage and support, and the use of lots of supportive questions and paraphrasing to make sure the speaker feels heard. While this approach to listening is great in many circumstances and is a sure-fire way to make a speaker feel heard, there are also unrecognized side-effects. 

The most alarming one resides in the power of listener to manipulate what a speaker actually talks about. Through our use of affirmations, paraphrasing and body gestures, we send strong signals about whether we approve and agree or not, and this can often lead a speaker to continue their course of thought or shift and change to another one, accordingly. Active listening also suggests that a listener must somehow demonstrate their level of participation and engagement, and this often leads to a “thinking about what I’m going to say/ask next” monologue. We often try to jump in with opinions or stories to show how we can relate. The problem here is that while we are busying ourselves with all the effort required of actively listening, we aren’t fully paying attention to the speaker and tends to keep conversation at a relatively generic level. It also often leaves listeners feeling tired at the end of the conversation, suggesting that active listening also requires extra effort and energy. Active listening can be attributed to Level 1 or Level 2 listening, sometimes called downloading or factual, and remains on the level of polite conversation or debate, often producing results by the end of the conversation that could have already predicted by everyone at the onset.

As such, active vs. deep listening is a matter of paying attention to our attention, and practicing and experimenting with the various levels of listening whenever possible so that we can fine-tune or sense of how to best use all 4 levels.

Deep listening on the other hand requires a whole other set of techniques and presence, and allows for Level 3 and 4 listening, when empathic or generative dialogue are sought after. In this case, the goal of the listener is to give full and undivided attention to the speaker in a way that holds space for the speaker’s greatest possible wisdom to emerge and remains curious about essence and source from which the speaker shares. The invitation here is to restrain from any verbal or physical affirmations and simply support the speaker in following their own deep sharing thought-process. In deep dialogue, we often encourage speakers to imagine they are speaking from their gut, rather than their head, and to only share the truth that comes out from there. Many people often notice that the volume of a conversation often decreases when people start speaking more from their bodies than their heads. Additionally, listeners pay attention to their own inner monologue and notice voices that can distract them from deep listening, such as voices of judgement, cynicism, or fear. When the listener notices the voices he/she simply lets them go and returns to giving full attention to the speaker. Lastly, the listener focuses on staying fully mindful and embodied in their own presence, and only asks questions that feel truly in service of the speaker and the generative dialogue. Often the results of these types of interactions are a new understanding and emergence of wisdom on whatever topic is being explored. Results are often different than what participants had expected and energy is notably higher. People note a sense of speaking from the whole rather than from their own individual perspective or needs.

Ultimately, it is the quality of our attention that dictates the outcomes we see and experience . As such, active vs. deep listening is a matter of paying attention to our attention, and practicing and experimenting with the various levels of listening whenever possible so that we can fine-tune or sense of how to best use all 4 levels.

MOVE workshops always use education and practice about deep listening as a foundation for our work with clients. For more information about deep listening you can also check out this fantastic brief article by Alan Seale

Newspapers interview Daniel and MOVE's story

Newspapers interview Daniel and MOVE's story

MOVE founder was interviewed by two separate publications. In an article which appeared in the German newspaper, Deutsche Welle, the background story behind the creation and history of MOVE Leadership is explored by writer Michael Scaturro and includes details about the evolution of the company’s methodology. It also addresses the reasons that using embodied and alternative learning tools and practices is more important now than ever before. Hendrik Backerra, one of MOVE’s associates, is also quoted in the article when he speaks about some of the great problems in today’s business world and the incredible solutions offered by his collaborative work with MOVE. 

In an interview from the Hungarian coaching magazine Magyar Coachszemle Daniel is interviewed by Csetneki Csaba about the development, philosophy, challenges and future work of MOVE Leadership. The article looks into the opportunities and challenges behind consulting companies using alternative and creative learning strategies and methods.