Discernment: the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure; the ability to judge well.
If there ever was a skill for these times, discernment is one of them. Amidst change, there is so much to decide. Your ability to choose well is crucial to your balance and happiness. Discernment requires you to be present to the choice you face, to carefully examine the situation before you and to have the ability to make a choice when there are unknowns involved.
How would you rate your powers of discernment? Sharpening this skill will create ease and improve your life and work.
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Every once in a while, you gotta do it – lighten your load by saying “no”. When your time and attention are maxed, there is no room for anything new. In addition, too much to do and focus on scatters your energy and resources.
So, what is one thing you can say “no” to today? Pick something related to your work that is taking up your time and space needlessly or is an energy drain. What you say “no” to can be a way of being or doing. You could say “no” to being inefficient or “no” to doing that extra task you are not required to do.
Go ahead – say “no”. Do you feel any lighter?
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For many years, I studied personal growth and development with Lynn Andrews. One concept she taught was that of surrender versus sacrifice. The idea was that when an uncomfortable situation arose, you had choice regarding how to respond to it. Surrender, in this context, was accepting how things were and then choosing a response. Sacrifice was responding by harming yourself in some way – giving up on goals, not taking care of yourself, giving your power over to someone.
Say, you are in a circumstance where someone is saying you must do something that you do not want to do. First, look honestly at what is happening. Where do you have control and where do you not have control? If there are aspects of the situation where you have no control – surrender to them. If you have control, maintain it and avoid sacrificing yourself.
Can you see the power in surrender? It is being in the present moment and acting realistically. Once you surrender, you are fully present and can decide where to go from there.
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Can you have certainty when you declare “never”? You do not know the future or its circumstances. Give some thought before saying ”never”. Is doing so a reaction or a response? Is it a result of fear or confirmation of a value you currently hold, but may not in the future?
Saying “never” is a strong statement that can box you in. Use the phrase sparingly or not at all.
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Sometimes waiting is wise and sometimes it is foolhardy. How can you discern how long to wait?
At one point in my career, I had been promised a promotion. A raise came but no advancing in title or level. Senior management often complimented my work but something was wrong. I decided to give myself a time frame. I would wait six months and if the title did not come, I would plan to leave. And leave I did, to start my own business. It was a very positive move. I took the message from management by their actions, not their words.
Are you waiting for something to happen or for the right time to act? Take some time to delineate a strategy regarding how long you will wait, whether what you are waiting for has a chance of happening, what you see from those around you and what is best for you. Sure, good things may come to those who wait but not in every circumstance.
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You have an intuitive voice within that sometimes tries to quietly caution you. When you are not sure whether to act, best to wait. Stop for a while and assess what you are about to do. By waiting, you build confidence in your intended action, uncover better approaches and identify any obstacles involved. Then, once you have waited, you can act with the prospect of much better results.
Is there anything you are considering doing, but something tells you it may not be good for you? Try waiting and make your path forward a clearer one.
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At work you form relationships. Do you ever think about the nature of those relationships? This is something that is worth your attention, as missteps can have negative consequences.
Relationships form at work as a result of common goals, mutual advantage, the dictates of others and organizational ties. They are not always formed by choice or preference, as personal friendships are. Hidden agendas can be present and self interests or competition can create discord.
A “work friendship” is possible. Just make sure you know its nature and the boundaries to keep.
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You know from experience that there are things you can control and things that you cannot. Still, you can find yourself trying futilely to control something that is beyond your reach. Yes, it is difficult to acknowledge that you cannot influence a situation, but thinking that you have control when you do not, can really mess things up. When you attempt to exert control that you do not have, it’s like trying to get a stuck car out of the sand by gunning the motor. It only spins your wheels and gets you deeper in.
How do you discern the level of control you have in a situation? Get good at doing so. Then, you can create a winning strategy that recognizes reality and has you making moves that matter.
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Double-edged sword is a phrase I often heard as I grew up. Its meaning is that something has two sides to consider. Something that looks great could have a negative side. A course of action may have both positive and negative effects. Something has both advantages and disadvantages.
You don’t have to run away from a double-edged sword. Best, however, to develop the ability to see beyond one edge to the other. Cultivate discernment as you evaluate situations. Make sure you see the whole picture and don’t get caught by the glitter of one edge.
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Part of the change and chaos of our times is that things once thought to be “out there” are coming to be found out as more regular than others wanted us to believe. The focus of the moment is sexual harassment. With recent allegations, “systems” built by harassers and methods to silence victims are out in the open more than ever.
What’s the lesson in this? It is to look critically at any statements made that you or someone else is “out there”. The phrase can be used to intimidate and cover up. Make your own analyses and always stay aware of others’ agendas when they accuse you or others of being out there. Most likely, it’s the situation that is out there and needs to be handled.
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