“What we think about when we are free to think about what we will – that is what we are or will soon become.” ―A.W. Tozer
Intent, purpose and self-belief may be in place, but something else can get in the way of our success—I call it ‘the noise’. It’s the thick, static noise, like a dark cloud ruining a perfectly clear blue sky or the white noise annoyingly projecting from a radio that's out of range.
How many times are you side-tracked, disrupted or focused on the noise? It may begin as a wispy white cloud but as you give it more airplay and focus, it grows and becomes darker, thicker and louder.
As a leader the noise doesn't serve you, it subtracts from you and takes you away from the clearly defined and articulated ‘voice’. It dilutes the voice—the clearer message you should be taking on board. We all have an inner dialogue, yes even you; that voice in your head.
I want you to separate the two. Imagine the voice is white; it can serve you well. The noise is dark grey; it is static and does nothing but dilute your intentions. The voice provides clarity while the noise is muffled, uncertain and downright confusing. Learning to distinguish between the two can be challenging as the noise can assist in self-sabotage and procrastination.
Often we aren’t aware of what the noise is or the consequences from letting it guide us. One of my first client coaching sessions was on the phone, and my client kept saying, they wanted resolution on what sport to play. Now, remember, I'd just left a fantastic career to pursue my own practice, and as I paced up and down my office, I was seriously having second thoughts about my newly chosen career path.
How could someone be paying me to find out what sport they wanted to play? Surely there were bigger fish to fry or eat. I removed my thoughts from the picture and focused back on the client. After asking a few powerful questions and embracing uncertainty—and ignoring the noise in my head—together we unwrapped the layers. After ten minutes of silence, my client had a breakthrough.
He realised he had been procrastinating in every area of his life including work, moving forward with his spouse, and yes, even choosing a new sport. He couldn't move forward with the noise in his head resulting in the thickest procrastination blockage I have ever witnessed.
I learnt that in order to serve my clients and use my full potential, I needed to cancel my conversation with the noise—tap in, identify the noise and block it out. I have used the analogy of The Voice Vs. The Noise for many years, and it's a great way to separate the two.
There is a saying, Only after confusion can there be clarity, but don't stay confused for too long, clear the heavy fog—the noise—and let the sunshine in.
Learning to differentiate the two is imperative, and the key is to keep your mind focused by having clarity in your outputs, energy and the message you are conveying. We all know that feeling of tossing and turning late at night, worrying about something, only to get up in the morning light and realise our restlessness was caused by something trivial.
This is because, late at night, confined to our bed in darkness, there is nothing we can do to change the thoughts that disturb us and, therefore, they are amplified and blown out of proportion. The diagram model above clearly shows where you may be sitting as far as your mindset goes, right now.
The clearer the voice and the softer the noise, the more fulfilling your mindset will be. Focus on the voice that serves you as a leader and don't give the noise any airtime. Remember that where your attention goes, your energy flows. Stop having conversations with the noise. Listen to and strengthen the voice.
Here are three tips to get you there.
Stop! Yes, you, stop! Sit alone and reflect on what is really going on for you. As a leader of people, self or a leader of conversation and influence: what is driving your mindset? Mindset can come from your intuition, or your enteric nervous system—let’s call it your gut-brain.
Did you know this brain has as many neurons as a cat and can influence your mood and wellbeing? It is referred to as your second brain. It is tied to commitment, belief and purpose. mBraining explains further the primal connection between our brain and our gut. Hence, I have a gut feeling about this (Soosalu & Oka).
Some of the thoughts that have derived from a deep sinking feeling in your stomach are associated with the noise.
Is the inner dialogue you are having working for you?
Can you think of a time, even right now, when that confusing unadulterated noise was at play? Distinguish when the voice is at play and when the noise is creeping in.
Can you think of a time you listened to your voice, and the outcome led to a successful result? Monitor what your gut is telling you as a response to the thoughts you have. I have many clients who keep a journal of this as a way to track patterns and predict when the noise will hit. External factors, like certain people in your life, can contribute to the noise and the voice.
Simple, yes. Easy, no. Awareness is the majority of this journey. In short, stop having a conversation with the noise. Do not give it exposure. Do not flip the noise into a positive, as this will only get you more focused on it. Instead, tell it to nick off and get into massive action around what the voice you believe in is telling you.
Watch your results from the outside in, and check in to stay on track. Creating a mind-shift that works for you will be a work in progress―this won’t happen in a day. The house you had bought before you had children is no longer big enough. Like your mind, change it to serve where you are going. Distinguish the dark and light and see what changes and evolves for you, your team and your organisation.
Have a great week!
Renée has published her first book “Limitless Leadership” – A guide to leading from the inside out.
Renée Giarrusso is an accomplished author, facilitator, speaker, trainer and coach who works with high performing leaders and their teams across a myriad of industries and organisations.
She passionately helps leaders fulfil their full potential resulting in increased motivation, communication and connection. Working with executives and SLT teams she maps and designs motivation to maximise performance and engagement. Her expertise in growing and developing capability and behavioural change around leadership, communication and transition leave her clients inspired, re-energised and with improved results.
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