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Step 12 - Behaving Congruently

Picture credit: sheba_also Here we are, at the last of the 12 steps again. Have you been following the whole series, taking notes, thinking about how you would approach each step?

Come to think of it, they remind me a lot of the 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted living! :-)

Congruent living brings together the practice of all other steps, knowing what your values are, who you are, and what you want to stand for in the world.

How do you know when you're living congruently?

You'll know you're in alignment with your values and your passions when you're sleeping well, feeling rested and content, enjoying frequent full-belly laughs, and greet each day like a new friend with a smile on your face. When you have time to play and do meaningful work. We might even throw the word "purpose" around - when you know why it is that you're doing what you're doing.

Is it hard work? Hell yeah.

Is it worth it? I think so.

The hardest part for me is cognitively and emotionally knowing that congruent living isn't a destination, it's a journey. Accepting that I'll have to have the same action items on my to-do list every day.

The good news is, we can start with just one little step right now:

  1. Try to reflect on yourself, a little more every day.
  2. Try to stand in your own power, a little more every day.
  3. Try to make peace with yourself, a little more every day.
  4. Try to make better choices, a little more every day.
  5. Try to see the big picture, a little more every day.
  6. Try to be kind, a little more every day.
  7. Try to be a little more in everyday moments, every day.
  8. Try to nurture your whole self better, a little more every day.
  9. Try to learn something new, a little more every day.
  10. Try to be more aware, a little more every day.
  11. Try to look forward to better things, a little more every day.
  12. Keep trying for just a little more and a little better, every day.

Which one are you going to start with today? Let me know how it goes?

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How to give and take feedback like a leader


How to give and take feedback like a leader

Today's lesson comes from the The West Wing, a TV show about White House staff and what they get up to.

The scene you'll find transcribed below, courtesy of is between the President Dr. Bartlet and his aid Toby. Wish I could show you a clip, but that would be illegal.

The observation here is this:

Great leaders ask for feedback, hear it, acknowledge it, and accept what's true.

Great team members provide feedback, even and especially if it's constructive, as a sign of respect.

And guess what: that makes you a leader, too. Taking responsibility.

When was the last time you reminded your boss of his shortcomings?

Takes courage, no doubt about it, but if it's the congruent thing to do, do it.

TOBY Was David Rosen your first choice for my job? BARTLET [looks away] Yes. TOBY Well, I'm glad we had this little talk, sir. I feel a lot better. Thank you, sir. [laughs] BARTLET We were up all night on that one, Toby. Me and Leo and Josh. They were screaming at me, 'Governor, for God's sakes, it's got to be Toby. It's got to be Toby.' When I held my ground, and we went to David Rosen, and Rosen said he wanted to take a partnership at Solomon Brothers, thank God... I couldn't live without you Toby. I mean it. I'd be in the tall grass. I'd be in the weeds... I know I disappoint you sometimes. I mean I can sense your disappointment. And I only get mad because I know you're right a lot of the times, but you are not the kid in the class with his hand up and whatever it was you said to C.J. You are a wise and brilliant man, Toby...

The other night when we were playing basketball, did you mean what you said? My demons were shouting down the better angels in my brain? TOBY Yes, sir. I did. BARTLET You think that's what's stopping me from greatness? TOBY Yes. BARTLET I suppose you're right.

TOBY Tell you what though, sir. In a battle between a President's

demons and his better angels, for the first time in a long while, I think we might just have ourselves a fair fight. BARTLET Thank you, Toby. [beat] Now, go away.

Image by Cliff, Flickr, Creative Commons License.





I tried to walk home from the gym with my eyes closed today. Guess what? I didn't last more than a few steps! It got me to thinking about my senses and intuition and gut feeling though. Here's why:

Last night, a friend and I came to the conclusion that "there's always something". Be it in a relationship, or work, or nutrition, or health, or well? Life in general! There's always something, isn't there? Something to worry about, to think about, to fret and vent about, even to cry, scream, and shout about. Then what usually happens? Anxiety. Dis-ease. Discontent. Fear. Sadness. Some things even get blown out of proportion and take up huge amounts of space in our heads and energy in our systems. And what for?

I'm a big fan of the venting and sharing, going over details of whatever situation is making me feel bad, sad, or mad. I usually feel a little bit better afterward, because it's not all bottled up inside me anymore, I got somebody else's opinion - sharing and communicating is great! The question I came to earlier today on my "blind" walk though was, what if I trusted my senses to know where to step? What if I trusted my feelings to guide me? What if - and this is a kicker - I trusted my self to be able to survive and figure out what to do, or not to do, in any given situation? And you know what? I felt bit tingly, as if my cells were whispering excitedly "ooh, that could be interesting, yeah! Let's try that!" but at the same time, calmer.

I invite you this week to look at what's causing you stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, and think about who you would be if you trusted yourself to know what to do. If you're not ready to address the cause of your pain, start with the symptoms. They can be crying for no apparent reason, overeating, procrastinating, fighting with your partner. What is it that your body and soul are already telling you that you're not hearing yet? Who told you that you can't trust yourself, where did you learn that your responses are wrong? Because, hey, what if they aren't?

Further thoughts: do you trust yourself more or less when you lose one of your senses? Can you trust yourself directly or do you go via a deity? Does having faith in yourself make you an atheist? Do you children trust themselves? How do you encourage or discourage them? Discuss!

Til next week, have a good one!


Image by Mukumbura, Flickr, Creative Commons License



Step 12 - Behave in a congruent manner

This concludes (until further notice) the series of articles based on this "12 Steps to Happiness" post. Saving the best for last, this is the one that's supposed to pull it all together. Personally, I find this one the most difficult to accomplish in everyday life.

Congruent behaviour to me means that a person lives and behaves according to their beliefs and values. To me, for example, this means that I'm most comfortable when I'm surrounded by openness and honesty. The freedom to speak my mind and go in a strop (have some bad five minutes) if I so please is important to me. At the same time, I am accepting that this is a long road - not unlike healthy eating or getting exercise - that I choose to get back on every day, one step at a time.

What's important to you? In which situations are you uncomfortable, and what can you do about it? How can you change your behaviour to feel more in tune with your self? Is your work keeping you up at night? How's your conscience doing?

Every person has a different view of reality and of what the truth is; our perceptions are all based on the filters we apply. Those filters are a consequence of our upbringing, the behaviour and relationship patterns we learned as a child, and I guess to a certain extent our genetic make-up. Add to that the different communication channels we prefer and the different emphasis we put on the various aspects of what's going on around us and boom! there's your mosaic of truths.

Since you cannot change anybody else but yourself, start by finding out who you are, what your values are, and learn to live with them (Steps 1 to 3). Make the necessary changes, if any (Steps 4 to 6) and do the best for your own prosperity and fulfilment (Steps 7 to 9). As you get more and more comfortable in your own skin (Steps 10 and 11), you will come to rely less and less on outside knowledge and things. Eventually, you will trust yourself and find your answers within, and living in congruence will come naturally.

Taking it one step further, the challenge lies in bringing all those values together so we can co-exist peacefully, i.e. while I live according to my values I don't get in the way of yours. (hmmm... where does that leave sociopaths or those who value killing and destruction? Any suggestions are welcome!)

Take care, til next time!

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I'd like to take this entry and talk some more about something we touched on in this post a few weeks ago.Allow me to paint you a wee picture. It's holiday season and we're looking through the window into the house at the end of the street. The whole family is there and about to sit down for a nice meal. The table-legs are aching under the weight of the splendid foods offered, there's a fire crackling in the corner and the mood is festive and happy. The young couple is a bit nervous as this is one of the first proper family encounters with the new in-laws. You see the woman take the first bite and choke - wow, she really doesn't like that food! She can hardly swallow without grimacing, poor thing... Why is nobody else screaming in horror? They all seem to be enjoying their meal!She gently taps her mouth with the napkin and sits still for a moment. The way you see it, she has two options: tell the truth and disappoint/insult/anger the cook and face a possible argument with her spouse or be sick for the next three days. What would you do?

The answer I'm going for is to tell the truth, and I don't see why that should create a problem. Yes, time and effort have been spent in order to prepare that meal, and she's the only one at the table who seems to have a problem with it while all the others are digging in and helping themselves to seconds. But there is a way to make everyone happy, and that's to behave in a congruent manner.

Congruence is a term most of us have tried to avoid since highschool geometry and algebra, but fret not - in the words of Billy Connolly: I have no intention of going there. In this case, congruence is the term for being true to yourself. I mean this not just in a fashion-sense, but rather in your dealings with yourself and in your relationships with other people. You may find it has to do with self esteem and honesty. As far as I'm concernced it's all interlinked, which means by changing one behaviour (or even just your attitude), you can change them all.

To be congruent implies that you laugh when you're happy and cry when you're sad, and what's more - you don't feel bad about it. You live according to your values and you're not afraid to admit to your fears. Being congruent also means giving unpleasant feedback, but if you find a way to communicate without putting blame on the other person, nobody's feelings will get hurt. In this case, the young woman has the option to thank the host for the wonderful meal and acknowledge the love that went into making it. She should then also be able to confess that it is not to her taste and ask if she can go fix herself a sandwich.

There's no point in being overly mortified or humble, because she should not have to apologise for her taste. She may want to acknowledge it if she thinks the situation is awkward, but I'm convinced the less of a deal one makes of it, the easier it will be for the host to gracefully accompany you to the kitchen and point you towards the pantry. After all, nobody's attacking them as a person, and if their self esteem is intact, i.e. not depending upon everybody loving their food, they will see that this is just a case of someone preferring their meals prepared in a different manner. The easiest comparison here is that not everybody loves steak, and even amongst those who love it, they don't all eat it done equally.

Over the next few weeks I'd like to talk some more about self esteem and congruent behaviour, and give you some markers what to look out for as well as some tools to work with.

Til next time!

For those of you unfamiliar with the Billy Connolly reference, you can watch the stand-up sequence here. Caution, contains explicit and strong language!