Let’s face it: we judge.
Most of us judge often, looking critically at the choices and actions of others. Whether it’s what’s in their cart at the grocery store, or how they are handling their two-year-old mid-tantrum, or their tone in today’s staff meeting, we have a lot of feelings about the way other people behave. Often this judgment gets in the way of our ability to connect with others. Moreover, when we judge we waste a LOT of energy thinking about how we wish other people could be different.
This month we’re focusing on FLEXIBILITY which is the FIRST external component of Thoughtfully Fit®. Flexibility is about stretching to accept people just as they are. Rather than holding them in judgment and expecting them to change, it’s about accepting them right where they are and doing your best to meet them there. (Pro tip: If you find that you can’t accept them fully and unconditionally for who they are, maybe you can at least accept that you don’t have the ability to change them!)
Trying to change others never works
A month or so ago I was teaching a Business Coach Approach class. It’s designed for managers to learn how to use coaching skills to improve communication, work more effectively with teams…all that fun stuff. While most of the participants were engaged and enthusiastic, there was one guy who barely said anything, sat there with his arms crossed, and seemed pretty annoyed by the entire experience.
For the first day, I found myself thinking—what a waste! He’s here in this class and not trying at all to get anything out of it. I was also annoyed since his bad energy could be felt throughout the room. AND I felt like I should be doing something to try to get him to participate. I wanted him to be different in the experience and was continually frustrated by his unwillingness to get on board with my plan.
And yet…I tried everything to change him!
I tried everything I could think of to get him engaged, without one single drop of success. Nothing. Zero participation, arms still crossed, brows furrowed. So, on the morning of day two, I decided to let it go. I just accepted that, for whatever reason, he did not want to be there and he needed all of us to know that. He was not interested in making the best of it, and I let go of my judgment about that and got on with the workshop.
Did this change his experience? Not at all! He had decided it was going to be terrible before he even arrived, and I am pretty sure (in his mind) I delivered. But it completely changed my experience. I was able to relax and not worry about trying to make things different for him. Needless to say, day two was a lot less exhausting for me mentally, and I was able to focus on those who were truly engaged. So next time I’ll try to be more accepting from the get go!
What can you accept?
My challenge to you is to find little places where you can let go of judgment and just accept people as they are. As with so much of Thoughtfully Fit, this will be easier to do in some cases than others, so feel free to start small! Work to accept differences of people you don’t know, or even just be less judgmental of the person next to you in line at the grocery store.
This will require you to give something up. Maybe it’s your need to be right, maybe it’s a belief about how the world should work, maybe it’s your desire to change someone. Giving that up is what makes flexibility one of the hardest pieces of Thoughtfully Fit to master, but also makes it one of the most rewarding.
Thoughtfully Fit® is a leadership model to help you coach yourself to a life you love.