We held our end of year HRoundtable session this week with an amazing group of leaders and a very special guest facilitator. Jeremy Hunter is a long-time friend. He is Associate Professor of Practiceand Founding Director of the Executive Mind Leadership Instituteat the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.We were able to snag him from his teaching, speaking and coaching of senior leaders and teams to facilitate a conversation with our group on Resilience and Adapting to Challenges.
Why this matters so much now
It mattered to our HRoundtable, comprised of 15 top HR leaders and for this session their bosses. They wanted to talk about how they can build capacity for more positive energy and resilience to face constant and unexpected challenges. They also wanted to learn about where the human aspect of our work is going in light of AI, machine learning and robotics. We talked about specific methods to move from mindless reaction to clear intention and ultimately effective action.
The essential skills we never learned in school
Jeremy states that while school teaches us to think, it doesn’t teach us to see. Yet, executives need clear perception in an intensely changing world to be able to effectively adapt to it. Without these tools leaders will revert to being reactive, overwhelmed with work and settling with unwanted results.
No one ever taught us to train our mind to transform our results. It reminds me of the Keith Yamashita book, Unstuck. He writes about change and how getting stuck is just part of life. In Keith’s change model he suggests that we must perceive the change before we engage in it. Jeremy started us with an exercise on seeing an image and how each of us has different perceptions based on unconscious biases. We discussed how our immediate experience is in part a unique construction based on our past, our cultural assumptions, our biological condition, and our emotional state. Learning to see how these non-conscious forces limit our perceptions, actions and results is the necessary skill leaders need to move forward and thrive.
We have to master both the inner and outer games.
We excel at the outer game. We historically spend a lot of our time in the external game skilling up in strategy, communications, management and more. We have perfected the learning in this area with MBA courses, how-to workshops and more. The inner game is all about self-awareness, self-management and self-transformation. Much less time is spent on building these skills. Yet, they are key to effectively meeting quickly changing conditions. With over 16 year’s experience Jeremy created and teaches The Executive Mind, a series of demanding and transformative executive education courses dedicated to Drucker’s assertion that “You cannot manage other people unless you manage you first.” This is the essence of inner game.
How effective are you at managing yourself?
Managing ourselves means managing our nervous system. He introduced the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the nervous system. One branch raises our adrenaline and energy level while the other slows us down to relaxation. When kept in balance, you can engage, connect, adapt. When energy shifts too high, we experience a frenetic sense of scatteredness, rigidity and irritability, and an inability to relax. In extreme cases, we withdraw, isolate and experience low energy like depression or lethargy. Where are you most of the week? Are you engaged and connected or running in overdrive to meet unrelenting demands and tapped out of personal energy? Where are you your best self?
I see in the HRoundtable members a desire to connect and learn from each other. They do have huge plates of work and responsibility so finding the balance is a struggle at times. I guess what keeps me committed to the HRoundtable (now 15 years+) is that I curate opportunities for self-awareness, learning and connection. That is what matters and where we experience positive impact and wellbeing.
What is one method for building resilience?
We all have resources to call on in times of stress. Resources bring balance to the nervous system. Jeremy suggests that a resource can be a positive experience you reflect on, a treasured place you enjoy or even a beloved pet. He had us all explore three resources that help us feel strong, loved and safe. Then we detailed one resource and in doing so, we talked about how that experience positively and immediately impacted our breathing, sense of calm or muscle tension.
You could sense the calm and the energy shift in our group within ten minutes. That was pretty powerful – just imagine if we took a few moments each day to reflect on a positive resource and allowed us all to breathe. I can’t help but imagine that this builds the capacity to stay calm and steady when things are not? The new norm is the opposite of steady.
If you would like to learn more about building your own and leaders capacity for change or resilience, reach out to Jeremy Hunter. His site is jeremyhunter.net
More about Jeremy
Jeremy is Associate Professor of Practiceand the Founding Director of the Executive Mind Leadership Instituteat the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. His work redefines productivity by cultivating quality of mind. He graduated with a PhD from University of Chicago in Human Development and from the Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government with a Master’s in Public Policy. His work is also deeply informed by more than twenty years' experience with Asian contemplative practices.
Jeremy draws on the work of management philosopher Peter Drucker, who believed that a healthy society rested on good management. He understood that managing oneself was the first and most essential management challenge. After all, we can’t manage anything well without first managing ourselves.
Jeremy sees life as an ongoing series of moments. How present we are for these moments determines our quality of life and the quality of our results. When we are scattered and unfocused our life becomes stressed and frenetic. “In the midst of a multitasking we react to our emotions. Misguided actions then lead to unwanted and wasteful personal and professional results. When we live with greater attention and presence we act more deliberately, prudently, and effectively. Life starts to work as it should. In short, we find peace amidst the chaos, “ says Jeremy.