Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Are Distractions Heading You Into a Wall?

I was walking my dog in my neighborhood with a friend, and we saw a great blue heron standing in the middle of the road with two large crows frantically and repeatedly dive-bombing within inches of the heron’s head. The crows were very loudly squawking, and the heron was fixated staring at the tree wherein laid the crow’s nest. (I later learned from a wildlife rescue friend that blue herons eat baby crows.)
My 72 lb. hunting dog was exceedingly attracted to this bird display, and I thought I would “help” the crows’ efforts by encouraging the heron to move on. I allowed my eager dog to take a few steps in the blue heron’s direction, and sure enough the bird lifted and flew. HOWEVER, the crows steepened their brutal onslaught of dive-bombing during its flight, and the heron flew straight into a condo building wall, falling into a bush, a stick through its neck, dead. We were shocked, checking on the bird for any signs of life. I was horrified that I may have had anything to do with prompting this untimely death. The crows immediately shut up, calmed down, and went back to their tree.

The image of the poor bird’s demise churned in my head over and over throughout the night, and I thought, in my naturally returning optimistic way, what good information or message may I glean from this sad reflection to share with others? Given the challenges of focusing in today’s version of the modern world, the concept sparked in my brain –

Are distractions heading you into a wall and killing your efforts to fly?

My friend kept saying, maybe the bird was sick or blind; didn’t it see the wall? It flew straight into it! My wildlife rescue friend said the heron could have been distracted by the crows’ dive-bombing in flight and did not see the wall.

I am perpetually being distracted and flying off in different directions from my intended goals. I witness the commonality of others who are focused on their goals; however, at times they get blindsided by the obstacles they are dodging; they neglect to shift their flight pattern, or like me, fail to come up with a good plan to start, and fly into a wall.

Many leaders and organizations are operating in stress-panic mode. Unwittingly, they may be operating in firefighting mode or are stuck in analysis paralysis mode. When you are fixated on your target (a.k.a. another baby crow), take moments to notice what is coming in to you (including the wall straight in front of you) and does it need your attention. 

In my coaching school training, we learned a basic Aikido “two-step” (not the kind in country dancing). Like other martial arts, it trains the person in many aspects including movement, agility, and seeing-being ready for anything coming from any direction. It also keeps the master from defaulting into survival instinct that takes the logical thinking brain function offline. I teach this simple step to my clients and they frequently practice it when feeling stuck or in sorting out a challenge.

Take a break from the target/goal and review or create a process, mending or preventing a crisis that can be averted; adjust your position without flying off in crisis mode (not your best mental state from which to make decisions or take action).

Consider an “exit plan” prior to embarking on a challenging target. Not to be used as an excuse to give up too quickly, but an “if this, then what” plan that helps build awareness of noticing alternate routes available to you as you assess what is going on.

Is it time to give up the target of the “baby crow” that is fiercely being defended and go hunt for “fish”? Or are the crows easier to deal with than the alligators in competition for food?

What is your daily practice that keeps you on your plan, being prepared with exit and regrouping options to conflict, encouraging awareness and agility to change flight plans without flying into a wall?
The Dalai Lama is attributed to saying that on normal days, he meditates for one hour in the morning, and on extremely busy days, he meditates for two hours in the morning. What is your practice for maintaining clarity of vision, handling distractions without panic, and steering clear of obstacles as you adjust your flight plan?

I commit to this – I will never again encourage my dog to intervene in shooing away another animal!

Robin Fernandez PCC, NCC is a trained and certified ontological coach through Newfield Network and a professional certified coach by the International Coach Federation. *Ontological coaches help individuals/leaders and teams develop awareness in how they are “being” to evoke new actions that produce transformational results. Please contact Robin to hear more about learning development that transforms your leaders and teams: www.natureofbeing.com.