Jordan, the Chief Executive Officer of a large software company, was talking with Jane, his coach.
“I’m really struggling with these exercises you suggested to get in touch with my heart, body, and spirit,” Jordan said. “All I hear is my brain saying, ‘This is stupid! This is stupid! This is stupid!’ What am I supposed to gain if I ever manage to connect with my heart and body and spirit?”
“Remember how you were saying that you keep thinking something is the right thing to do, yet it turns out horrible?” Jane asked.
“Yeah,” Jordan affirmed. “That’s one reason I started working with you.”
“The best way to change that is to listen to your heart, body, and spirit along with your mind,” Jane declared.
You’re used to listening to your mind
“Oftentimes, when people say they ‘think,’ they’re reflecting what their mind had to say,” Jane continued.
“That’s certainly all I’ve been using,” Jordan agreed. “My whole job is making objective decisions using objective facts.”
“Let’s go back to the meeting we discussed last week,” Jane suggested. “You and your engineering leaders were deciding whether to postpone the release of your new product.”
“Whether to postpone it yet again,” Jordan corrected. “We’ve already postponed it four times already.”
Jane nodded. “That’s right. And, what did you all discuss?”
“We looked at defects, test pass rates, all the usual metrics,” Jordan explained.
“And, then what happened?” Jane asked.
“We argued over what those metrics meant,” Jordan said.
“So, you moved from objective facts to subjective meaning?” Jane inquired.
“Umm, I guess?” Jordan said hesitantly. “I’ve never thought about it like that. But, now that I do, that is a good description.”
“Almost every one of my clients starts out doing this,” Jane said. “They think they need to be objective in their decisions, yet they keep falling into subjectivity. The truth is, we always use both.”
Jordan nodded. “That maps with my experience,” he said. “And, there’s that ‘think’ word again,” he noticed.
“That’s right,” Jane agreed. “That’s our mind talking. And, we are more than just our mind.”
Your heart, body, and spirit are always there too
“How did you feel after that meeting?” Jane asked.
“My gut was churning,” Jordan remembered. “That meeting went on for an hour and a half, and we still didn’t come to a decision. Johannes, the release manager, looked close to tears. None of us were smiling or jaunty.”
“That was your and their bodies talking,” Jane said. “Do you remember what emotions you were feeling?”
Jordan paused a moment. “I felt despondent. This was the fifth time we’ve had this discussion, and the fifth time we ended without a clear decision. I felt a little heartsick when I realized we’d have to talk about it a sixth time.”
“That was your heart talking,” Jane explained. “What did you feel like you should do?”
“We should just go ahead and ship the darn thing,” Jordan responded immediately. “Our beta customers all love it. We release often enough that we can easily respond to any issues our customers report.”
“That’s your spirit talking,” Jane explained.
Jordan considered all this. “I think I’m starting to understand,” Jordan said. “Well, my brain believes so,” he added, laughing.
Listening to your heart, body, and spirit increases your available information
Jordan reflected over everything he had learned. “If I had engaged my heart and body and spirit along with my mind,” he said, “we would have had a different meeting. I would have described how frustrated I feel with our inaction. How roiled up in my gut I am about that. I would have voiced my feeling that we should just ship already.”
“What effect do you imagine that would have had?” Jane inquired.
“We at least would have had a specific proposal to discuss. I would have driven us to decide. Or at least identified what was holding us back from deciding. Even just having that would have been progress.”
Jordan fell quiet for a moment, reflecting. Then, he said, “So, by engaging my heart, body, and spirit, I increase the information I have available.”
“That’s right,” Jane concurred. “What effect does that have?”
“I don’t know that it necessarily leads me to a decision I’m happy with,” he stated. “I do, however, feel I would be more confident and assured I am making the right decision.”
“Exactly,” Jane declared. “The more we listen to our heart and body and spirit along with our mind, the more we leverage our full wisdom. That, in turn, tends to increase our confidence and assurance about our decisions.”
“I’m confident I’m making the right decision, getting in touch with my heart, body, and mind,” Jordan said. “Even though my mind is still confident I’m wrong,” he said with a grin.
Your mind may take a while to come around
Jane smiled in return. “Let’s check in with your mind,” she suggested. “You say it still feels these exercises are worthless. What does it have to say, exactly?”
Jordan was still for a minute, listening. “It’s less doubtful,” he reported. “Still not willing to believe my heart, body, and spirit can be helpful.”
“That’s ok,” Jane said. “You’ve made your mind number one for a long time. It may take a while to change that. Every time you do the exercises, you help that happen.”
“Coolness,” Jordan said. “I’ll remember that, if my mind tells me again that the exercises are stupid. Although, I suspect it is more open to them now.”
“That’s great to hear,” Jane said. “I’m looking forward to hearing all about it next session.”
“I’m sure I’ll have a story or two to tell you,” Jordan responded with a chuckle.