Life is a series of transitions!
During our day we transition between different environments and different roles. Each environment and role requires a very different and specific mindset. For example work has a very different mindset to home, an internal meeting has a very different mindset to a meeting with a client. If you are a manager doing tasks at your desk requires a very different mindset to leading and interacting with your team.
When we can align our mind set with that of the environment or role we are more engaged and get greater performance.
If we don't, the fall out can be detrimental!
I first got interested in this concept of transitions when I was doing work with some special forces soldiers. Their biggest challenge they face was not to stay alive their biggest challenge was to stay married. Some of their units have huge divorce rates. The reason is that their day job (if you can call it that) and their home life are incredibly different and they struggle moving from one environment to the next. In my conversations they all said, "I don't find it hard to be away from home doing the job, the hard part is when I come home. For the first couple of weeks I really struggle reconnecting with the family, because I have to think, feel and act very differently to when I am away doing my job".
During the day if we don't manage our transitions right it makes it very hard to be engaged in the environment we are moving into.
Karen Matthews (the CEO of Elle bache) once said to me I used to show up at work with the mindset that I was a bad mother because I was not at home with my kids and then when I went home I had the mindset that I was a bad CEO because I was not at work. I was miserable!
Do you ever feel like you are reacting to each environment rather than controlling them?
Do you feel like you have so many different roles and not pleasing anyone in any of them?
I said to Karen "how did you fix it?" She said "I realized that I'm only human and I will no longer apologise for my life. Now when I am at work I am at work, and when I am home I am at home.
In the last 14 years I have had the honour of working with people in many different fields and many different levels. What I noticed is that some people seemed to make like look easy while others seemed to make it look all so hard.
I started to research what was the difference between the two groups.
What I found is that the people that make it look easy show up with the right mindset! Specifically they show up with the right:
Thoughts Emotions Physiology
Busy people who achieved work life balance did so not because of the time they spent in each part of their life. They got it because they showed up with the right mindset. When they were at home they were engaged, present, compassionate, tolerant and attentive. When they turned up at work they were focused, had clarity of vision, positive mindset, positive emotion and energized physiology.
Our thoughts, emotions and physiology determine our performance we need to manage these three things when we transition.
For example most people fear Public Speaking. If you fear public speaking how what thoughts are going through your head as you walk up to present?
"Don't stuff up", "Whats my first line?", "They are looking at me"
What emotions do you feel?
Fear, Anxiety, Terror.
How is your physiology?
Tense, stressed, stiff!
I ask you how do those thoughts, emotions and physiology set you up for your presentation. Well they set you up to fail!
Contemplate this how do you show up at work?
Hewitt's survey's have shown that 55% of the work force have no enthusiasm for their job, NONE! Not a shred! Moreover, 18% are so disengaged that the company would be better off if they stayed at home.
Now if you are in that 55% or heaven forbid that 18%, what thoughts do you have as you show up at work.
"Here we go again, I cant believe I am stuck in this crappy job!" "When is Friday coming?"
What emotions do you have?
Sadness, disengagement, frustration, guilt, anger
How is your physiology?
Low energy and slumped.
How do you show up when you get into work? What thoughts, emotions and physiology do you bring into the work place.
How do you affect your environment?
Many people believe that culture in an organization comes from the top down. I believe that it also comes from the bottom up.
Our thoughts, emotions and physiology have an impact on our environment and the culture of our organization.
You have to ask yourself how do I affect the culture of my organisation?
Even just our emotions affect our environment. Scientists have discovered mirror cells in our brain which pick up on the emotion of those people around us. Following the identification of the emotion they then replicate that emotion within us.
When you have an internal meeting how do you affect the culture of your team? Are you the pain in the bum that brings everyone down or do you lift them up by focusing on solutions, and being engaged.
The only thing you have control of is how you show up. You cant control the fact that your manager has been taking pain in the arse pills for the last couple of years you cant control that the board you report to is very intrusive and set unrealistic expectations. You can only control how you show up. We need to park the victim mentality of my life is so hard. It may be but regardless of circumstances we can control how we show up.
So what is the solution?
Start to manage our transitions!
The question is what do we do in the transitional space between environments. This transitional space is called the 3rd Space. Do we use the 3rd Space where we regulate our Emotions, Thoughts and Physiology to help us in the next environment.
Managing this space takes us away from having a victim mentality to an empowered mentality.
Lets look at one transition in detail.
The transition from work to home.
As a workplace performance consultant working with thousands of people each year, the number one complaint I hear is that people don't get enough time to spend with their family. Yet when most people get home what are they thinking about? ....... WORK!!!! Due to the rising levels of stress and pressure fewer and fewer people are truly engaged and present with their family members at the end of the day. Most people arrive home and even though they have physically left the office, mentally they are still there.
In affect we are taking the work mind set home with us.
For example the mindset during most peoples working day is one of fast pace, time scarcity, competition, high expectations, and decisive decisions. Compare that to the mindset of our home, which is slower paced, nurturing, supportive, and far less focused on outcomes and performance. Obviously these two environments are very different and making the mistake of entering one environment with the mindset of the other is a recipe for disaster. The research I have done into this issue revealed that most people are carrying the mindset of the work environment home with them and they are expecting their home to run like their office. One executive from a large financial institution articulated this problem perfectly. "Because I work such long hours I rush home at the end of the day, the problem is that my mind is still in work mode and I try to run my home like my office. I walk in the door and I finish my wife's sentences because she doesn't talk fast enough, I yell at the kids because they are not time efficient. I drive my family crazy!"
The result of this inability to switch into the home channel, leads to family tension, disengagement and a serious decline in personal relationships. The key to switching from work to home is managing your "Third Space". Your third space is where you alter your mind set to suit that of the environment you are going into; it is a formal time where you consciously switch over. A coaching client of mine who works in a high-pressure environment has his third place down to a tee, the result is that despite the stress of his job he manages to be incredibly patient, supportive and attuned to his home environment.
When he enters the house at the end of the day, he goes straight to his room without talking to the family, takes off his suit, has a shower, does 5 minutes of meditation and then writes down all the things that were bothering him. Then he goes out to greet the family. This ritual allows him to release the stress of the day and switch onto the home channel by altering his mindset to suit his environment.
Other people I have worked with have their own variation of the third space. Some people use the train trip home, while others uses the gym. One female executive parks her car three streets away from her house and sits in her car for 5 minutes practicing meditation to calm down before she walks in the door. That is her third space.
One thing that the third space does is that it helps you to be more "present" when you are with your family. "Being Present" is a term to describe living in the here and now. It's about focusing on the current task so much so that you lose yourself in what ever you are doing. If you are writing a report, focus entirely on that report without thinking of the other things you need to do later in the day. Likewise if you are having a conversation with someone totally immerse yourself in that conversation, don't let your mind drift. So often we have conversations and we are not really present, we might be talking to that person but we are thinking about other things. Business is built on relationships, the greatest complement you can give another person is your undivided attention. We all have a highly tuned BS detector, and we know when people are not truly engaged or listening to us. Some people believe that being present is the key to team building.
In addition some psychologist are now talking about the concept that people are creating fewer and fewer memories. The reason for this is that memories are created in the present and the fact that most people are either obsessing about the past or worrying about the future means that they are not laying down current memories.
The third space facilitates the chance of choose how you show up and what thoughts, emotions and physiology do I bring to my new environment or role.
Are you managing the Third Space?