February is socially known as the month of love, with specific reference to and focus on romantic relationships. More often than not, we are inundated with commercial invitations to do something special for that one person that one love of our life. Dinner reservations, flowers, chocolates, lingerie and other intimate commodities make up the language of the month. This in and of itself is fine, it serves a purpose. But in this podcast I want to focus only on one of the most important relationships, a relationship with yourself.
In general we spend very little time considering how we relate with ourselves, yet that relationship determines how we present ourselves in the world, at work and even to those very romantic relations that are highlighted in February. So this month I invite you to take a journey within, and observe how you participate in the world and how in turn the world responds to you. Please remember that getting to know you is a process not an event, so take a long term view on this one. Remember also that there is a direct correlation between self knowledge and achievement of meaningful goals. Some of the greatest leaders of our time, and high achievers in varied disciples have demonstrated depth in knowledge and awareness of self. This is one of the cornerstones of emotional intelligence.
- Spending time alone, away from the distractions of a busy life is a beneficial first step. Most people don’t intentionally switch off from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This means that they deprive themselves of time and space to reflect. If you are one of those, I invite you to start small, perhaps a few minutes away from your phone, yes that technological extension of your torso and just be. Ask yourself what am I feeling? What am I thinking? At this stage there is no right or wrong, just time for observation of you and who you are. Remember you are unlikely to have a beneficial relationship with anyone or anything if you don’t invest time in that relationship! So investing time with you will pay off in time.
- Once you have overcome the difficulty of spending time alone, well done. It is now essential to turn that time into actual quality time, and derive value from that time. Do you like you? What are the specific things you like about you? Why do you like those things about you? What are the things you would like to improve about yourself? Why would you like to improve these? There is not right or wrong at this stage. So it is important that you do not approach the reflection with a scoreboard. Scorecards tend to lock us into judgment and justification. Rather use the time to seek understanding rather than seek to correct or give brownie points. Remember when you go into a relationship, the starting point it usually curiosity and the joy of understanding another. The very same approach must apply to your relationship with you.
- If you have been consistent in setting aside a little time with you, as stated above, you will notice that you tend to get a little more comfortable doing it over time. You might even enjoy extending the initial time you had invested in this activity. But it takes being faithful with a few minutes at a time (in a day, in a week etc) whatever timeframe you choose, before you can be comfortable with and even be excited about. Some people even start to look forward to their reflection time! Think about it, when you are interested in something or someone, don’t you want to increase time with them or in that activity?
- The next steps after increasing non-judgmental quality time with your self is completely dependent on what you find in the privacy of your relationship. But investing in a course of action is paramount. One of the most instructive steps is to invest in a guided process with an appropriately skilled, and trusted advisor. A coach is one example. A spiritual guide is another. He or she will take you through a more structured and perhaps deeper journey into self knowledge and healthier relationship with yourself. I must emphasize that this is a never ending process, we continue to evolve as we face different life events. Most likely, with much knowledge of self, comes acceptance and desire to improve.
One who has a better understanding of themselves, is more aware of their gifts and their development areas, is a better asset in any relationship they walk into. So the gift to your world is a better understanding of you!
It is ideal that an average person embarks on this journey of self discovery, it is imperative that leaders and managers invest in self knowledge. This will go a long way in them having more insight into how they impact those that they lead. In turn improve that impact. Can this month be more about ourselves than about romantic relationships? Enjoy your me time.