By Kevin Bailey, CEO, Idaho Nonprofit Center
I just finished reading Brad Stulberg’s The Practice of Groundedness and one line in the first few pages just hit me right away with that “Oh da** that’s me!” feeling.
“They tell themselves how much they want to turn it off...And yet when they do, they feel unsettled and restless, fluctuating between aimlessness and angst. They know that always being on isn’t the answer, but they never feel quite right when they are off. Many men describe it as a cumbersome need to be bulletproof, invincible. Many women report feeling like they must be everything always, continually falling short of impossible expectations.”
Putting this principle into practice has made me a more grounded leader these past two years
Stulberg calls this: Heroic Individualism. Guilty as charged.
Heroic individualism is that sneaky under-the-surface nagging that says, if I don’t keep going and doing more, I’ll fall behind and, ultimately, fail. The natural result of this is burnout and, worse, a path toward anxiety and depression.
As nonprofit leaders circumnavigating our organizations through a two-year pandemic, it is natural that the tendency exists to feel the constant urge to do more and get our organizations through to the other side. Leaders at any level in an organization have fallen prey to the tendency to say: Failure or success falls on me. I must persist!
Stulberg lays out the antidote with his six principles of groundedness – each presenting a practice which can help us escape the trap and vicious cycle of heroic individualism. Note the fact that each of these principles is a practice which, to me, implies that they may take some getting used to or some rearranging of our daily or weekly habits to build these principles into our daily lives.
1) Accept where you are to get where you want to go.
2) Be present so you can own your attention and energy.
3) Be patient and you’ll get there faster.
4) Embrace vulnerability to develop genuine strength and confidence.
5) Build Deep Community.
6) Move your body to ground your mind.
I’ll comment on just one of these principles that has helped me these last couple of years and encourage you to pick up the book (or, if you’re short on time, check out Stulberg’s article summarizing the concepts) and explore for yourself how these principles can lead to a more grounded life.
I’ve found movement to be so crucial to setting my sense of place and establishing some additional groundedness in my life. Nine out of ten days my morning begins with a short 10 minute walk with our golden doodle, Scout. The fresh air and slow awakening of my body through movement helps me find some semblance of a ‘center’ before a busy day begins. I’ve also tried to incorporate midday walks into my work routine. When I’m on a group zoom call that doesn’t require my camera to be on, I enter ‘listen only’ mode and usually take those calls while walking. It’s so easy to get caught up in the inertia of the screen and inbox right in front of us, but even a short walk through the office parking lot can provide the reset between meetings for me to come back with a bit more clarity and groundedness.
What practices have worked for you these past two years to build some groundedness into your routine?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
I challenge you to think about putting one of these principles into practice...as nonprofits doing tough work, our clients, colleagues, and communities will be better off for the little extra care we put into our daily existence.
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