Gravitas: A serious or dignified demeanor.
Gravitas was a virtue that was particularly appreciated in leaders in Ancient Rome. It still matters today. Is there anything going on in your work life right now that needs your gravitas? Taking things lightly can be a benefit or a detriment, depending on the situation. In some cases, seriousness is what moves you forward in the best and most efficient way.
There are a number of things that indicate when your gravitas is warranted: others involved are taking the situation very seriously, the possible consequences of how you proceed can cause problems for you, the outcome of the situation matters greatly to you or others who matter, you have something to lose if the outcome does not go your way or your own values are involved and you want to honor them.
What needs your gravitas today?
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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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In tennis, there is a space on the court where you are not close enough to pick a ball off the net and not far enough back to reach a hard-hit ball. This space is called no man’s land.
You can find yourself in no man’s land in your work as well, when your next move is not clear to you or you are not in a place that allows you to move. When you are in no man’s land, the first step is to recognize that you are there. It is not a place for blame, giving up or staying still. It is a place for movement. Do what you have to to get yourself where you want to be.
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Some see retreat as a failure. Others see it as a strategic win. How do you view retreating?
Pulling away from something is not a failure in itself. It can be the best answer to a situation that is not working for you. Some have a hard and fast view of retreating – you can find many quotes that say “never retreat”. What if you realize you are going in a wrong direction? What if you are up against a no-win situation? Are you supposed to keep going until you drop, just for the sake of never giving up?
Not necessarily. You are supposed to make the best of every situation you are in. Sometimes, retreating is the best course. Temporarily retreating allows you to rethink and regroup. Retreating for good lets you put your energies to something that will pay off for you.
Deciding when to retreat is a serious undertaking. It requires your discernment and strategic skill. You do not need a ban on retreating. Instead, you need the ability to perceive when it is the right time to retreat.
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Have you ever found yourself tightly squeezed by one or more people or situations? Life and work can certainly create such circumstances.
When you find yourself pressed, get yourself fully to the present moment so that you can see what is going on. Then, take a look at what is happening and how it is affecting you. Do you know which way you want to go? Do you see no good way out? When you find yourself squeezed, keep your best interests in the forefront. Do not allow them to be bullied or rerouted by the pressure. Allow yourself to respond, not react. When you react you are rigid, so to speak. When you respond, you are in control.
Actually, being squeezed can bring good results. It can help you change form, move forward or strengthen your resolve. Next time you are squeezed, make the most of it!
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Sometimes, staying right where you are is the best thing to do. Life and work can keep you moving, extending your reach and setting new goals – endlessly. However, there are times when staying in motion can create problems and, actually, keep you from where you want to go.
Here are some times when staying in place may be to your advantage:
- Your energy is low and you are not functioning at high capacity. You need a rest.
- There are obstacles in the way of getting where you want to be and you are not clear how to overcome them.
- You have other priorities that take precedence.
- You need a strategy to get there successfully and do not have one.
- There are benefits to derive from staying where you are.
Always “going” is not a balanced circumstance. Staying in place, when the time is right, can help get you where you want to be.
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Always, there are multiple ways to view things. Keep this in mind, when you get into a difficult situation. Take a moment and step away. Identify the lens you are looking through and try out other ways of looking at the situation. Stepping back and identifying multiple ways to view a situation allows you to breathe, to innovate and to find your best path forward.
There’s no question that a precipice is indicative of danger. When you find yourself on a precipice, best to watch out for yourself. It is your decision whether to jump or pull back – you don’t want to stumble. You want to choose your next step.
Organizations and careers are fraught with precipices, some steep and some not. Examples of precipices are: facing a decision whether to take a significant risk, someone having it out for you and setting you up in a lose-lose situation, having to deal with the fallout from a failure or a mistake you made or misjudgment of a situation that brings you to a precipice.
When you are at a precipice, what do you do? You had best be aware of what’s happening, be fully present, look out for your interests, gauge the dynamics of the situation correctly, have a strategy and make a realistic assessment of your options.
Be ready for precipices that are bound to come. You can survive them if you know when they’re coming or that they are already there.
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In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy followed the yellow brick road to find the Wizard. Sometimes, when you think there is a yellow brick road before you, you encounter a yellow brick wall.
A yellow brick wall asks you to change direction. Yellow brick walls can be subtle or they can be unmistakable. The hard part is acknowledging the yellow brick wall is there, especially when you’ve set your path and you want to continue in the same direction. It behooves you to acclimate your senses to be able to see a yellow brick wall, when it appears. Doing so will allow you to change to a more productive course, to avoid hitting your head against it, to no avail and to see reality as it truly is.
You are the CEO of your career. If you embrace that, you want to have a strategy. There’s always something you can do to develop your career. A teacher once advised me to live like an arrow, not a target. That is what’s involved here-setting a path and knowing where you are aiming. If your strategy is in your mind, it will positively influence the choices you make and the direction you take.
So, what’s your current strategy? Where are you heading in the next year of your career?
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