Frustration & Growth: Weekly Review - 4/19/2020
Last week was frustrating. My major source of frustration was professional: our application for the SBA's PPP program was not processed even though we had submitted our paperwork in the first hour the application was posted. Fortunately, we are not in financial trouble but it would have been nice to strengthen our cash position.
I’ve always had cycles of manic work followed by crashes that come with feelings of being deflated. In the grand scheme this may have been a very productive week, but by Friday I felt apathetic and unproductive. By deliberate reflection over the past year, I've noticed these feelings often arise in the aftermath of heavy intellectual lifting. Last week I reconceptualized my role at Green Hill (focusing more on coaching and mentoring moving forward) and I completed a ton of work regarding insurance contracting. So I should probably give myself a break.
My contemplative practices of effortless mindfulness and nondual awareness have been immensely rewarding. That said, I was frustrated by my apathetic feelings on personal and contemplative fronts. While it’s unrealistic to think that mere glimpses of nonduality or self-realization will replace my old egocentric tendencies overnight, that’s exactly what I was hoping for! When I'm feeling disconnected and tight or contracted, I slip into an apathetic state of mind. Fortunately, this is familiar terrain and I found a great quote by Loch Kelly that helped me shift my perspective.
Whenever we feel disconnected, and contracted, we’re probably in a part of us -- a part that somehow got cut off from the whole and has forgotten ‘home.’ When we’re fully identified with that part, thinking that that is ‘me,’ we end up living life through its lens and act through its beliefs and agendas, which might create havoc! - Loch Kelly
I became too identified with one of my sub personalities that expects hyper productivity. When I’m identifying with that aspect of my personality and I’m not “getting shit done,” feelings of frustration arise. Fortunately, as I become more aware of these patterns, I'm learning to relax and disidentify with those aspects of my ego. The "productivity sub personality" is quite the anxious fellow and anxiety rarely lends itself to good decision making.
Just getting these thoughts on paper has allowed me to take a step back and reorient contemplatively and professionally -- precisely the goal of a weekly review.
BCBS of NC: I had my much-anticipated meeting with the Chief of Behavioral Health at BCBS of NC. The ultimate goal is to forge a partnership with BCBS (an in-network contract) that benefits both parties. I’ll find out more in the coming weeks!
Insurance Contracting: We’ve now submitted our paperwork for in-network contracts with the four insurance companies we most frequently work with. Once we have contracted with these companies, we’ll move on to some of the ubiquitous insurance companies.
CEO Role Evolution: As Green Hill matures organizationally, my role continues to evolve. One year ago there was a lot of work that required my direct input. Now that we’ve established and maintained a cohesive leadership team, others are far more likely to have subject matter expertise than me. I have occasionally been frustrated with the lack of creativity from members of the leadership team; however, when I do a root cause analysis, I realize that I’ve never taken enough time with others to share my vision and provide coaching and mentoring on how to best accomplish the vision.
I’ve avoided having weekly one-on-one (121) meetings with members of the leadership team. That changes tomorrow. I’ve always gotten a lot out of 121 meetings with mentors, coaches, etc. but I hadn’t implemented 121s at Green Hill for a few reasons.
Time: We have plenty of meetings as it is and I didn’t want to add another commitment to everyone’s calendars,
Reporting lines: As I’ve taken a step back from direct management, I didn’t want to blur lines of accountability (I'm only one person's direct supervisor).
Confidence - I didn’t think that the leadership team would want to take an hour to talk with me each week, I worried that carving out an hour with me would feel like a distraction from the “real work.”
Our Executive Director (functionally our COO), told me during our 121 that it would be a great idea for me to meet with everyone on the leadership team -- I got excited. I’ve wanted to devote more time to coaching and mentoring, but I wasn’t sure how it would be received. He assured me that our 121 sessions are incredibly useful and that he looks forward to the meetings. So with that, I began scheduling 121s with the members of our leadership team. It’s going to be a lot of fun, but this is also a challenge for me to provide coaching and mentorship as opposed to launching into monologues. Here’s what I’m thinking about:
Ask questions: the goal is not to solve problems or discover solutions, rather the purpose is to develop a common map of the current terrain and share problem-solving mental models.
Go slow and be patient: I tend to speak very quickly after someone finishes their thought. I’ve received feedback that this tendency makes it seem like I'm not paying attention.
Context > Content: How can a one hour conversation be most impactful? If a conversation is going to have a lasting impact, it must do more than address a current to-do list. It’s got to help shape an effective mental model that can be generalized beyond the content of the conversation.
What I'm Contemplating
I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between self-development (personal improvement) and self-realization. For the longest time, I tried to approach self-realization from a very goal-oriented perspective, not understanding that the entire experience of realization inherently transcends concepts such as goals and striving. As I’ve begun to have glimpses of egolessness, the feeling of operating from a sense of ego has become increasingly frustrating. Learning to recognize when I’m thinking and operating from an egocentric state is allowing me to take the “backward step” as they say in Zen. This is largely an exercise of giving up control and it’s a fun, challenging, and paradoxical game: the more I try to control situations, the less in control I feel. When I take this “backward step,” shifting into awareness, I’m not functioning from a goal-oriented perspective; however, that doesn’t mean that it’s not the best way to accomplish the ego’s goals.
Meditation: For the past six years my “spiritual seeker” sub personality has been a dominant one. My experience is that deliberate mindfulness can strengthen this sub personality -- the meditator is perceived as a separate, more enlightened “me.” Thus the meditator wants me to identify more with a “spiritual seeker” sub personality. Meditation is the shift from doing to being.
Ashtanga: I strained a muscle in my back on Saturday, but otherwise it was a good week of practice. I have not been rigid about when I’m practicing throughout the day, which is a big change from my former mentality. Because seated meditation has become my primary contemplative practice, I am not striving for anything out of my yoga/asana practice. Thus it continues to be a great opportunity to work on nondual awareness.
Running: I hit my goal of running 10 miles. It’s doubtful that I’ll ever love running, however, it’s one of the most effective stress reduction strategies I’ve found. It also gives me a chance to catch up on a few podcasts.
Reading: I’ve identified as a voracious reader for the past five or six years. Exposing myself to new concepts has been incredibly useful. What isn’t useful is the feeling that I need to read more and more -- that what I’m looking for is in the next book. Having found a few contemplative teachers whose work resonates deeply, my practice is not about gaining knowledge through new material but it’s about unlearning habitual patterns and deconstructing rigid concepts and identities (including the ‘voracious reader’ one). Similarly on the professional front, I’ve found a number of books with timeless wisdom. I’m going to focus on integrating the applicable information and the timeless mental models that I’ve found useful, not on looking for a “silver bullet” in the next book. With that said, I’m excited to dig back into some of my favorite books from last year. Here’s what I’m reading this week:
The Knowledge Project #77 Mike Maples: Living in the Future
The Knowledge Project #80 John Maxwell: Developing the Leader in You
Boom: A Serial Drama - I started listening to some fictional podcasts last year and this is one of the best. The “modern American radio drama” section in Apple Podcasts has tons of captivating stories.
Prior Week's Goal Review
Meditate 80-90 minutes/day - COMPLETE
Practice yoga six days/week - COMPLETE
Use mindful glimpses throughout the day - NEEDS IMPROVEMENT
Finish the three main books I’m reading - 80% COMPLETE
Run 10 miles - COMPLETE
Go mountain biking - INCOMPLETE (outside my control)
Quality time with Kelsey - NEEDS IMPROVEMENT
BCBS Presentation - COMPLETE
Optum Application - COMPLETE
Co-create Q2 Priorities - NEEDS IMPROVEMENT
Meditate 80-90 minutes/day
Practice yoga six days/week
Use mindful glimpses throughout the day (specifically, find 5 glimpsing practices I’d like to use and then employ them each day)
Run 11 miles
More quality time with Kelsey (2-3 bike rides, cook dinner nightly, 3-4 long walks with Gizmo)
Shift into a coaching and mentoring role with my leadership team (conduct five 121s)
Focus on supporting Green Hill’s community program
Develop one lesson for our mindfulness curriculum
Develop one lesson for our personal growth curriculum
Write down my conceptualization of Green Hill’s needs/growth over the next year