Are you All Lined Up?
Do you have kinks in your hosepipe?
To be ALL LINED UP, one behind the other, connected and congruent. Our natural tendency to order or tidy as exposed by games like Tetris is well known. The mental health benefits of a routine or a de-clutter are also much acknowledged. Who else bought into Marie Kondo?
Humans like how organisation feels because in short it is visually satisfying and make life easier. Think about a crooked picture on a wall. It creates irritation and friction that can get in the way of thinking about something else. Of course creatively these irritations are useful at times, they are the grain of sand in the oyster. But outside of the studio, not so much.
Another way to think about this is streamlining. The way that geese fly in V formation or the shape of a dolphin. Being lined up creates ease of movement or less friction. Do you have kinks in your hosepipe? I am full of analogies.
So how do we apply this to our lives/work? What exactly are we lining up?
I propose that we take this notion of congruence and apply it to the necessary ingredients for making progress or achieving ambitions.
Purpose – What are you here for?
I have come to believe (a nod to my good pal Johnny Cullen here) that purpose should top even vision and values. In business parlance vision and values usually sit at the pinnacle of this tree. Good questions to ask to get to some understanding of your purpose are are “What am I ?” “What personal qualities do I possess? “” What do the people that love say about me?” “What am I good for?” As in if a team were formed in an emergency situation what would my role be? My favourite versions of these are the most reduced and simple.
I am an explorer (This could be physical, spiritual or psychological for example)
I am a runner
I am a carer
I am an artist
Equally, it could be an overriding drive to make change in the world. But the true answer, I have noticed, rarely comes from choosing, it is more a case of recognising and accepting.
Values - The things that you believe are important.
We know what these are generally, so I won’t labour the point. I will say though that if the values you write down are not congruent with the way you act in the world, then it’s time to be more honest with yourself.
Are your values congruent with your purpose?
Vision - What does success look like to you?
The keyword here is YOU. What is your idea of success? It is easy to be swayed by what we think is acceptable to want, or to work towards by the general trajectory of pervading culture of course. What can be a little more insidious though is that there seem to be, at times, unsaid “rules” for the artist about authenticity and its relationship to material success? This is probably a subject for a future article!
Is your vision congruent with your values and purpose?
What you do - How do you act in the world?
Making decisions about what to do when you are clear on all of the above becomes simple. Notice I didn’t say easy! If you are an Explorer whose values include, supporting those worse off than yourself and, your vision of success, is to live without an anchor always on the move, we have a pretty good steer on what we should do or even what we shouldn’t do.
Making decisions even big ones becomes a matter of weighing up this balance. Should this person take on a commitment to buy an expensive car? What would a (insert purpose) do?
A note here. Sometimes the answers of what we “should” do are inconvenient. They aren’t always possible given that we already have lives that we have built, potentially out of need rather than desire, or by fulfilling some sense of duty that no longer fits.
But simply if it is obvious that the answer is one thing and you do not or cannot take that route to acknowledge the effect that this will have on your trajectory. It is not the end of the world but it may mean you need to adjust some expectations or make a plan b to get you to your North star.
Strategy and Tactics
Matching long term strategies to short term tactics is a challenge I see often in coaching. Persistence in a daily activity despite evidence that a) it is not working and b)it isn’t getting us further towards our goal. Habits are hard to change. We can make a start on a small scale. One change at a time.
What you say - And how you say it.
How you talk about yourself and what you do or aim to do should be congruent with all of the above. It is probably time to stop apologising or asking permission. If you have a talent, a skill then talk about it and find out from people in what way they might need it. We don’t need to be overly hard or tough but we need to show ourselves the same care and respect as we would others. With all of this lined up and someone asks you what you do and why you should be able to state it simply and clearly with confidence and enthusiasm.
I encourage you to spend some time really giving these areas some thought. Recognising just where the kink is in the hose is the first step. You will quickly notice the effect this is having in building pressure back up towards the top or hampering full flow further down.
Talk this over with a friend, peer or mentor as it can be easier to see from an outside perspective.