Leadership Between the Lines

Blind spots, slippery slopes, and meltdowns

Last August I decided to put myself through my program. A lot had evolved in the model over the last 18 months and I was feeling the urge for an intentional reboot. I called it my own personal "7 week leadership experiment". After all, if I fully engaged in my stuff, and walked my talk, what could I create? I knew 2013 would be a big year for this work given some of the things I'd put in motion, and I wanted to go in fully aware and congruent. My business, life, relationships, and health had nothing to lose.

The Essential You DiagramFrom August 6 to just about the end of September, I worked every component of the model. It, if I do say so myself, was super life enhancing for me. So much so that at the end of September, realizing it would be silly to "stop", I kept going.

Buzzing along, I made big decisions based on my most authentic values (even though some were difficult). I addressed, strengthened and cleaned up core relationships (even though some were easy to overlook). I redesigned things in my environment to support me better, I re-negotiated or completed agreements that had run their course. I said yes to the "hell yes's", no to the niggling "not sure's" and "should" driven decisions, I set new intentions that were in alignment with my "why", my essential self, and my business plans... and I put them all into action. I made some big moves in my writing, biz and speaking, and I took my self-care regimen to a whole new level - joyfully and in a way I was able to sustain way beyond my original intention.

Before I knew it, I'd taken things in my life, on all fronts, to a new level. Even I hadn't anticipated how great the results could be for me personally. At this point, I also hadn't anticipated I could ever slip in any of this... things were humming. It was locked in. "I was never leaving this place!"... (Been there??)

Taking incredibly great care of myself (mind, body and spirit) was an essential part of this and I suspected, and can confirm now, that it was foundational to my success. Eating intentionally. Nurturing my body. Engaging in activities and thoughts that felt good. Talking nicely to myself. All contributed to GOOD. On the other end of self-care - sandwiching my life, presence, and actions - was impact - being aware of the impact I wanted to create in core areas (and who I wanted to impact through those core areas). What results was I going for? The good stuff in the middle was the "doing", the "being", the little steps, the competencies I had to master or at least get a bit of a grip on... (or hire for!)

Hum hum, buzz buzz. Cool, cool. Zoom, zoom. Yes, yes.

Until December. December 1st to be exact.

Our dog got sick, and had to be put down. His death, without me being dramatic here, was incredibly dramatic. (Even the Vet said it was the worst euthanasia he'd ever seen... really.) I was haunted. I was heart broken. And somewhere in the midst of turmoil, comforting my beloveds, and going for "run it out" runs and a "sweat it out" Bikram Yoga classes, Macaroni & Cheese comfort food (and rice crispy squares) were lovingly offered up. And then scarfed down. By me. And a flood gate of cravings, and an emotional vulnerability to said cravings, opened right up. Sugar was back in my life.

Now... in the habit of new things in place and choosing my response to all of this... all could have been just fine. There's nothing wrong with a bit of comfort food here and there. Enjoying that meal or something sweet, whipped up for you by someone else. (Yes, please enjoy! Delicious!) But that's not why I share my little story in this post...

I share it because looking back, I can see the blind spot that had what could have been a "temporary, and even conscious slip" move into something much bigger and trickier and more painful to recover from.

What was the blind spot? It was the "taking for granted how good 'good' feels" blind spot. And I see people head into it all the time. In this case it was me. (Yay, me. Fodder for writing!)

So... I headed towards that infamous "slide". The infamous "slippery slope slide". Just a bit. Nothing big. I knew it. I could make some exceptions. Carbs brought comfort (especially that kind!) The holidays were here. I'd been "on it" for 4 months. Tis the season! Go joy! I could work with all of those, no problem. But those little exceptions weren't actually the "problem" -- with intention they would have been just fine. It was the blend of blind spots that "got me"; the biggest blind spot being taking "feeling good" for granted, and the most subtle being taking "intention" for granted.


Here's how it progressed... Shortly after my "mac'n'cheese and rice crispy treats" episode, I missed a workout. Then... I let some more sugar slide into my previously magical and energizing non-sugar food plan. Skipped a wake up call. Delayed engaging that "thing" head on. Let a weekly intention setting and "getting in front of it" session go. Lost focus on my plan (just a little bit... and...) Super super super subtle. While each step off the path had a quick ping of awareness, and wouldn't have been bad alone, eventually my lack of intention (and sugar brain) clouded the land of awareness, intention, and rigor, and fogged my lens like tulle fog. The slide was subtle. Until it wasn't. Oddly I still performed, you wouldn't likely have known this was even happening for me, but it was harder for me. Things were not humming inside. It took me more energy to "stay in front of it". And that didn't feel good.

Halfway through the holidays I realized I'd lost some valuable rigor. I'd muddied intention. My energy wasn't as clean. Wake up calls that once invigorated me, now exhausted me. Workouts no longer were joyful, they were a chore. While I still had a great last month of the year, and an amazing holiday, things were "off". It was harder to stay on track. I gained 4 pounds. I injured my hip. My schedule got loose. Things I'd have put as priorities in the previous 4 months, started to take a back burner. None of this by the way was about the pounds, the injury, the holidays, the fact that I was on vacation, or even the end of the world - to me, this was all a manifestation of what was happening in my inner world.

Our outer world always reflects back what's happening inside. And vice-versa. Regardless the "slip event", I had created my slide.

Now, I'm taking some creative dramatic license here to serve the story (and because, while not dramatic, I do have a bit of drama queen in me). None of these things alone, or even really together, were horrible or debilitating... but they were definitely worth noticing. They gifted me a new level of awareness in sustaining behavior change, and what it takes to "get back on" after the "slip" or the "meltdown". Have you ever been there?

Meltdown Moments are gifts.

My Meltdown Moment graciously appeared right after Christmas. What was it? While I'm not proud of it, I'll share it with you just to prove that meltdowns come in the oddest of places (after all, there is no "right" or "wrong" way to meltdown.) Mine, in this case, was catching myself reaching for a Red Velvet Cupcake (in Whole Foods, no less, so I could kind of make a case for it - ha!) and saying "I could have just one". (I'm allergic to 90% of the ingredients in those bad boys - they do me no favors - and yet, as you sugar addicts out there can likely relate -- you can't have just one, and the price is high). My other meltdown cue, closely tagging along with this moment was then blaming my trainer, and program, for not being more on top of it. Yes. Sugar and Blame. Gotcha.

I've come to learn that there are certain cues (ie. cloudiness), behaviors (sugar), thoughts (blame), red flags (anger) I'll have when something is "up" for me, when something "needs attention"... And when that happens, there's a moment, a window, to move through it consciously - or not. My decision impacts the next week of passion or pain, connection or disconnection, love or fear. My decision impacts the level of growth I will have from that experience. In this case the Red Velvet Cupcake and Blame was my window and my blind spot spotlight. Thank you Red Velvet, I've always loved you. Thank you Blame - you teach me what I need to know in the moment.

See, in the blind spots, slippery slopes, and meltdowns are gifts... Seriously great gifts.

And there are ways to mine the deeper gold (or platinum if you prefer) out of those gifts and make sure that they become a part of you.

Don't worry, even if this doesn't happen to you (wink), this happens all the time to the rest of us wee humans.

I'm reminded of clients who used to do a lot of work with me, exceed all expectations, integrate positive change, hit their outcomes, and then when they figured they were "cooked", "done", "graduated", they'd release all rigor and intention. This would not necessarily send them back to where they were before, but it definitely would not move them forward like they could. In fact, three months later, they might call me in a panic because things had gone "off the wires". Easy to happen when life gets busy and consciousness dilutes.

Or, when I was working in the wellness industry; people who would hit their goals for health, get the doctor's pass, exceed that body comp goal, win that competition or game, and then stop (we're not talking just a break, we're talking, DONE) only to be back in the office or training room worse, or close to, where they started. It happens.

Or in my case... Me, I did my 7 week experiment (heck, I teach this stuff and I'd turned into almost a 16 week experiment - can anyone say "Supa Star!"?), "I had this in the bag". It was now fully integrated, a full part of me. Only to find that it wasn't. Woops. What gives? Well... Life throws curve balls, we're human, we're vulnerable, we're meant to fall down so we can learn how to get back up... and sometimes we just slide.


Suffice it to say.. in all three cases: Nothing was "in the bag".

While results were great, spirits high, life to be celebrated... something was missing. What was it? I can think of several things all subtle, powerful, self-guided, and free: Humility. Gratitude. Ownership. Compassion for self and others. An extra "ask" for support. Vulnerability to vulnerability. Continued intention with gentle rigor. Continued connection with the "why" and what's next. Continued connection to what "good" feels like. And a continued environment and collaboration to support ongoing change.

All of these are blind spots. And these blind spots lead to slippery slopes and meltdowns. Yay us.

Which of these are yours? As we enter the New Year with Intentions/Goals/Resolutions and illusions of grandeur dancing in our heads, which blind spot(s) are you most vulnerable to? Which one can you call your own? Which blind spots are not on here but should be? Create your own.

Hello dear fellow human being.

Here's the deal... blind spots, slippery slopes, and meltdowns are all part of it. They're part of our growth, evolution, charm. They're what make us human. The more open we are to them, the more resilient we become. The more we face them head on, the better dance partners we make. They're gifts. They offer us insight into what works and what doesn't. Into what our spirit and soul needs, and doesn't. Into what feels good, and what feels forced. And they offer us a place to climb back on more powerful than ever.

They also offer us a do-over on:

  • staying intentional,
  • asking for help,
  • being vulnerable to vulnerability,
  • remembering what "good" feels like (in mind, body, and spirit),
  • making sure our environment supports what we're up to,
  • listening to our most inner needs, complaints, and cries,
  • being compassionate with ourselves and others,
  • creating new plans that build upon the old,
  • humility and gratitude,
  • staying connected to our WHY.. .why did we do this thing in the first place?
  • and unfolding more of who we become intentionally.

Enjoy your intentions and goals. Bask in the celebration of becoming more and more of who you are and having the impact you want to have. Love a lot - of yourself and others. Give yourself the gift of big goals. And be kind. Blind spots are "blind" spots because we're not supposed to be able to see them. So learn from them when they show up to teach you. And take the short cut by asking those who care about you to help you out. And stay intentional.

Yes, stay intentional, love yourself a lot, take amazing care of yourself, and get out there and do good. Yep. That about covers it. A good RX for climbing back on and doing it even lovelier the next time.

Happy New Year. xx

(If you're interested in doing you're own "7 week experiment" make sure to opt in in the box "energize your leadership" offered on the right and at the bottom of this page. I'll announce the next program soon.)