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Y Wellness: Speaker Series-Leadership & Personal Development

Welcome to our seven part Y Leadership and Personal Development Series. Dr. Steve Patty, PhD will take you on a journey that details how you are able to grow and nurture your personal leadership. In each of the seven episodes, Dr. Patty will walk you through one key idea and invite you to try an action step. This page will help you think through these key ideas and action steps in order to get the most out of the series.

Session One: Identifying Your Growing Edge

Characteristics of a Growing Edge:

  • It’s about you, not your team or organization
  • It’s not a technical skill to get better, but rather a personal capacity to develop
  • It’s oriented towards having an impact or in service to something significant
  • It pushes you into a zone of “stretch” or “productive discomfort”
  • If you could make progress on your growing edge it would have implications in many areas of your life and/or work

Growing Edge Rules of Thumb – You’re on the right track if:

  • You’re not sure how to grow in this area
  • It might be a game changer for you
  • The thought of working on it holds a little dread
  • In discussion with friends/family, they say “yes that’s it!”

Before the Next Session:

  • Write down your personal growing edge
  • For help with your growing edge, talk with trusted friends, family, and or colleagues.

Session Two: Adaptive Parts of a Growing Edge

Now that you have identified your growing edge, it’s time to explore how to move forward and develop your ability to evolve in this area. How do we pursue the things we want to pursue in life?  How do you become the person you want to be in life? How do we let go of the things that no longer serves a purpose for us? And finally, how do we show up in new kinds of ways that can help us be the best we can be? These are the kinds of thoughts we need to have in order to work on our growing edge and ourselves.

External parts of your growing edge:

  • What you cannot control
  • Things that are effecting you from the outside.

Internal parts of your growing edge:

  • What you can control
  • What you need to do to grow despite what happens elsewhere.

Before the Next Session:

Write down the internal and external parts of your growing edge.

Try this exercise: Take a blank piece of paper and draw a circle. On the outside of the circle, write down all the things that are impacting you from the outside and are effecting your growing edge. On the inside of the circle, write down things that you can do that will help you develop your growing edge. These are the things that are your responsibility and are about your evolution, your adaptation, your development and your growth.

Session Three: Productive Disequilibrium

In this session, we will be looking at how to continue to move forward and develop in your growing edge. We will be starting in an unlikely place: resistance. As much as you need encouragement and the right environment, you also need resistance to help you progress and develop your growing edge.

“Disequilibration is the engine of growth” – Jean Piaget, genetic epistemologist

To be disequilibrated, it means to disrupt the comfort, the status quo, the settle-ness. Sometimes we have to introduce disequilibration into our growing edges in order for us to grow. We don’t want to traumatize ourselves but we need to push ourselves, and stretch ourselves in uncomfortable ways in order to grow and develop. This is the engine that helps people grow and develop. 

Productive Zone of Disequilibrium final.png

Before the Next Session:

Identify one step that pushes you into productive disequilibrium.

While thinking about your growing edge, consider what might push you into productive disequilibrium. Think about one step that makes you feel uncomfortable and may make you exercise courage, vulnerability or be forced to settle yourself despite the chaos around you. Make this step modest (don’t traumatize yourself) but see if you can get into the zone of disequilibrium. 

Example #1:

Growing Edge:  I need to get more comfortable and better at providing constructive feedback.

Productive Disequilibrium Experiments:  I will intentionally set aside time to have a coaching conversation with one my employees who’s in need of constructive feedback.  

 Example #2:

Growing Edge:  I want to get better at taking personal responsibility and ownership for the advancement of my organization.

Productive Disequilibrium Experiments:  I will set a clear a vision of what I want my organization to achieve within a defined period of time.  I will clearly state what my role is in making this happen and the help I may need from others.  I will communicate this vision/goal with my team and colleagues and I will keep them updated throughout the process.  

Session Four: Holding Environment

In this session, we will be looking at how to use holding environments to develop your growing edge. When you step into change or a new challenge, you may be creating discomfort for yourself which typically makes us want to run, disengage and ultimately stop working. How do we keep moving ourselves into the challenge of developing our growing edges while experiencing discomfort?

Holding Environments:

Relational Holding Environment:Recruit people who know you and have an understanding of what you are working on to support you through this work. Consider forming a “triad” or a group of individuals who are also looking at developing their growing edge. Meet with your triad regularly to debrief, process, encourage and challenge each other along the way.

Structure Holding Environment: Create a structured plan to ensure you are taking steps towards your goal. Having structure will hold you accountable and create an environment that will keep you going.

Vision Holding Environment: “Without knowing why, the cost is always too high.” Until we know what our vision is and what this would mean for our future, it is hard to dedicate ourselves to growing and going through the tough steps it takes to develop. Consider this question: If I could move forward in my growing edge, how would this change things for my future and what are the implications in my life?

Before the next session:

Design the three elements of your holding environment. Think about who in your life you can meet with regularly to discuss your growing edge and support you through the journey. Think about what kind of structure you need in your life to continue challenging yourself. Carve out time to sit down and form a vision for yourself that indicates what you want in your future to inspire you to keep moving.

Session Five: Balcony Perspective

In this session, we will be looking at what you don’t know about yourself. You can only see what you can see from your own vantage point. When thinking about your growing edge, what would it be like to see things from a new or different perspective? Might you be able to see things about yourself you can’t see right now? Marty Linsky and Ronald Heifetz from the Harvard Kennedy School uses the metaphor, get on the balcony. Our lives are on the dance floor and we “dance” through the day without taking time to get on the balcony and observe your life and your dance. What would it be like to get off the dance floor and get on the balcony to observe yourself? The balcony perspective can give you insight into how you are progressing in your growing edge and what you can be doing differently.

How do you get on the balcony?

  1. Practice some form of mindfulness that will allow you to pull back and think about how you are showing up in your life in regards to your growing edge. Learn to gain perspective on yourself as you reflect from your own vantage point.
  2. Get someone else’s perspective on you and learn from their vantage point. Look for someone who is close to you and regularly observes you but also has a reliable perspective.

Before the next session:

Spend time practicing mindfulness and reflect from your vantage point about your growing edge. Next, find someone in your life with a reliable perspective about your growing edge. Ask them to get on the balcony with you and provide you with insight on your life and how you can progress your growing edge. Ask them how am I showing up in my growing edge? Tell me things to encourage and challenge me about who I am and how I am showing up.

Session Six: Immunity to Change

Why is it hard to move forward in your growing edge? You may be really committed to progressing your growing edge but you are still feeling like there is still something weighing you down preventing you from moving forward. There are theorists out of Harvard University that uses the metaphor of immunity to describe this feeling. They describe an immune system that is activated that keeps us from changing. Consider how your commitment to move forward can be undermined by a competing commitment that holds you in place. For example, let’s say your growing edge is to be more courageous in your conversations. You may be committed to your growing edge and are taking the appropriate steps to move forward. However, you may also be committed to something that competes simultaneously, such as having people like you. You have one commitment to progress your growing edge but you have another commitment that conflicts and prevents you from moving forward in the way you want to be.

Before the next session:

Ask yourself what is your competing commitment that might be the counter veiling force holding you back from progress. Design some experiments in the space of your competing commitments. See how you feel after only focusing on your growing edge commitment. Were you able to endure it? The research says that if you do a series of experiments to see if you can endure the discomfort of your competing commitment, you will be able to have more control of each commitment and be able to move forward on your growing edge.

Session Seven: Celebration

In the final session, Dr. Steve Patty reminds us to celebrate our accomplishments during this series on leadership development. We’ve gone through a lot together and it’s important to remember every step and recognize the progress you were able to make, even the small ones. Growing, developing and leading yourself is certainly not an easy thing to do. Sometimes we feel discouraged or feel we’re moving backwards despite our best intentions to move forward. But remember, any steps forward is worth celebrating. Dr. Patty leaves us with the following thoughts as we continue to work on our growing edges:

  • It’s important to exercise hope. Because your life is so valuable and becoming the person you are meant to be, or dream to be, is a worthwhile task. Keep moving forward on your dreams.
  • Continue to embrace productive disequilibrium in your life. The very ways we engage with our challenges will help us grow if we are intentional in learning through them. How do you use the stressors in your life to move forward in the things that are important for you?
  • Renegotiate your relationship with perfection. The path of development and growth is not quick or painless. If you find yourself in a mess along the way, don’t be hard on yourself as you are making progress and you are headed in the right direction.
  • Watch your heart in the midst of it all. Sometimes when we try to move forward and improve ourselves, we experience shame. Shame of the past, shame of how we’re showing up now and shame that we cannot move forward more quickly. Shame is not very productive. Responsibility, learning, curiosity is productive. Watch your heart, lift your gaze and believe in your potential.
  • Be motivated by love. For love helps us see what is possible and helps us believe in the best of ourselves and others. Be motivated by the love that you have for your life. Invest in yourself. Love those around you because in order to love them well, you need to bring the best of yourself to them. Your life can have the kind of impact you want it to have and you can leave the legacy you want to leave. Continue to be motivated by love.

Remember to lead ourselves well and lead others well.