Honoring Leadership: Deep Self-Diving

Self-diving is a cognitive ability that empowers us to adequately comprehend our strengths, shortcomings, and controlling qualities just as others perceive them. Self-diving is the most significant way for us to access our capacity to control our outcomes. Self-diving is similar to self-awareness, which incorporates our capacity to perceive what’s going on within us and peruse the sensations inside our body. In simple terms, it is our capability to perceive our emotions and deal with their driving forces as well as our response to them.

Let’s imagine for a moment . . . Melanie is a physician who is doing rounds on the patients in the intensive care unit (ICU), but on her way there, she gets an unpleasant text message that makes her upset. Melanie is fully aware that she can’t afford to make any mistakes in her patients’ care or fail to recognize important changes in their status. She is faced with the decision of whether or not to acknowledge that the text message is disturbing her before entering the first patient’s room, or whether or not to put her anger to one side and continue with her rounding.

Self-diving means that Melanie should be aware of what she is experiencing on the inside of her, give it a name (for example, “I am unhappy about the text message”), watch and regulate her reaction to that feeling, and take into consideration how it may affect the others in her immediate environment. In the event that this does not occur, there is a significant likelihood that Melanie will carry her negative feelings with her and project them either onto the other practitioners who will be rounding with her or even onto the patients whom she plans to visit.

Melanie was fortunate in that she possessed a high level of emotional self-awareness, because she was aware that in order for her to be successful as a healthcare provider, she needed to be caring; and that she would not be able to have therapeutic relationships and assist others unless she had a firm grasp on her own identity. After the traumatic experience that caused her distress, she began engaging in self-diving with the intention of reading her inner world so that she could comprehend, exercise control over, and have an effect on her outer world (patients and their families, other practitioners).

The insight and understanding she gained regarding what was occurring on the inside of her enabled her to deliberately look at herself in an objective manner and witness the process of the information that was generated by the ignition of her negative emotions. As a consequence of this effort, she was able to effectively control her response to such feelings.

Melanie did not have it easy when it came to getting to know herself, (which is not an easy task for anyone). The importance of deep self-diving lies not only in the fact that it facilitates our understanding of ourselves, but also in the fact that it is a continual process of discovery, analogous to a game that features a variety of different challenge levels. After completing one level with success, you are advanced to the next one, which is much more difficult and is resistant to whatever adjustments you made in the level before it.

The question that has to be answered is how to complete the entire process successfully. The best way to assimilate difficult concepts is to break them down into manageable, step-by-step processes that are both structured and actionable. This process will allow for a smooth implementation even while we deal with the difficulties of everyday life.

Strengths and Weaknesses

It’s vital to pay attention and identify the impact that our ideas and feelings have on how we act; for instance, if we’re pleased, we’re more likely to do good things, whereas if we’re furious, we’re more likely to do unkind things. The same principle applies to being conscious of both our strengths and our weaknesses.

Having an awareness of both our capabilities and limitations provides us with a deeper insight into who we are and how we function. There are a lot of people who find it hard to talk about their strengths and weaknesses, or simply to recognize what they are. But identifying them is incredibly important during crucial moments like when looking for a new career or when intending to run a business.

When we are aware of our weaknesses, we have a better idea of the factors that may be preventing us from achieving our goals. In addition, having this awareness can help us zero in on specific areas in which we may concentrate our efforts to enhance the overall quality of our life.

One good example of weaknesses, is when we frequently find ourselves overwhelmed simply because we find it difficult to say no to people. This can be at work, at home, or even to ourselves. When we become aware of this frequent flaw, we will be able to make major strides toward improving the quality of our life. We should put the question to ourselves: “What feelings are we aware of having right now?” Label them, give a description of each one, and then choose the one that stands out the most to us. When we get that emotion, what physical changes do we notice in our bodies? What if we suddenly felt the complete opposite of that emotion? What do we think would happen to our physical self? For the purpose of developing a high level of emotional self-awareness and preventing emotional hijacking, it is highly necessary to gain an understanding of what causes our feelings.

It is very obvious that we should not define our strengths with the purpose of comparing ourselves to others in order to determine who is more or less capable. People are different from one another, and this plays a significant role in how each individual identifies their own strengths. Instead, being aware of our own capabilities can enable us to build on those aspects and push ourselves further. When we feel confident about ourselves, we are able to tap into our full potential and do anything that provides us with a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment. Strengths are the things that usually come naturally to us and make us feel good about ourselves.

Unfortunately, a great number of people have either forgotten about their abilities or, as I indicated earlier, are simply unaware that they even exist. Those are individuals who pass up enormous opportunities to make substantial improvements. As a general rule, they are the ones who get a great deal out of complaining about their current predicament while doing nothing to improve it.

The strengths inventory may help us save a significant amount of time due to the fact that we already possess them. All that is required of us is to put those strengths to work. This will lead to increased self-confidence as well as an attitude that is more open to change.

Keep an Open Mind

Dr. Dan Siegel (The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being Daniel J. Siegel, April 2007), in his attunement approach, said that attunement is where we sense a clear image of our mind in the mind of another. This is also known as empathy.

Attunement is emotional mirroring, the ability to connect with others. And its polar opposite, emotional detachment, hinders our capacity to express our feelings, which can cause difficulty in developing and sustaining relationships.

Because our brains contain mirror cells, our actions are able to accurately reflect our feelings. Because of this, many of us are capable of shedding tears while hearing a tragic narrative because we can empathize with how others are feeling. However, emotional mirroring is an unconscious tendency, and it may have detrimental repercussions if the person we are emotionally mirroring is struggling with the same issue we are. We run the risk of getting buried in repeating our complaints about it over and over in a manner that prevents us from resolving the issue and moving on. Because we continue to share our worries and gloomy feelings with one another, the difficulty of the situation keeps growing.

This behavior happens rather frequently in teams, and it often reflects the closed attitude of the team’s leader, because the rest of the team only views the problem from the perspective of the leader, and they do not take the initiative to think creatively or even to communicate their own personal opinions. This results in a prolonged state of stagnation, which not only has an adverse effect on the performance of that team but also puts the accomplishments of the entire organization at risk.

According to a number of studies, it is impossible for corporate leaders to be successful if they do not have a genuine interest in the people around them and an openness to their perspectives and ideas. This is the only way to get leaders to diverge from their usual modes of thinking and come up with new ideas. Embracing an open mind not only allows them to gain a fresh perspective on a situation, but it also fosters a sense of collective ownership and responsibility amongst the team.

An open mind isn’t just for receiving other people’s views; it’s also for expressing our own. There is a psychological foundation to the art of being understood. The majority of people are unable to effectively communicate their ideas to others. The key is to be able to mentally reverse-engineer and cultivate sensations that are already familiar within one’s own head and imagination. Making our case, or at least letting others listen to something that they can identify with, will result in people loving us for who we are and making sense of our actions.

Nabil Bouassaba