Is this ‘best self’ stuff working?

I knew that I felt better after getting more sleep, working out, exercising and setting morning intentions. But is it all worth it? It is a lot of work.

I mean, really, I work full time, have a side hustle that requires at least 10 hours of work on a regular week and can frequently require time sensitive critical turnaround times. On top of that, I teach in a master’s program at St. Thomas University. The class is eight (yes, EIGHT) hours long every other Saturday. Oh, and I’m working on my own ICF coaching certification. And yeah, I do executive 1:1 coaching on the side. And I have another side gig where I teach full day programs at St. Thomas. Did I mention the hockey mom thing? During the winter that is 5-6 days a week for my son to be on the ice. And this blog thing requires some time. Four hours and 10 minutes today, to be precise.

But back to the question, is it all worth it? The real answer is that I couldn’t do all the things that I do if I weren’t intentional about where I spend my time and energy. However, it can be kind of easy for my best self to get lost in the shuffle. To that end, it is sometimes had to know what habits to focus on and what habits to drop. It can be even harder to focus on the 12th best self principle.

Agile Best Self Principle #12: At regular intervals, reflect on how to become your best self, then tune and adjust.

True story. My son recently got suspended from school. Without going into details about the situation, my kind, generous, insightful, creative son made a bad choice. I’m grateful that growth mindset is so prevalent in his school that the situation was summarized this way: “A good kid that made a bad choice”. I’ve been working hard on the cornerstone, first principle primarily because I want to help my son be his best self:

Agile Best Self Principle #1: Our highest priority is to be our best self and enable others to be their best selves.

When I got the call from school, my first thought was: “Here we go with the concept of ‘adulting’. At that moment, I decided to focus on the desired outcomes from the suspension situation. ‘Adulting’ outcomes: 1). My son would understand the impact of his bad choice; 2). My son get to apply the Brene Brown concepts of courage and vulnerability. Essentially, he would be vulnerable enough to tell the truth. Every time I started to slip back into the frustration mode, I focused on the sixth principle. Only mindfulness and intentional focus on the outcomes listed above would keep us out of a tailspin.

Agile Best Self Principle #6: The most effective way to be your best self is to be mindful and intentional. 

I was focusing so much on the outcomes I wanted from the suspension situation that I missed noticing how my meditation practice had incrementally changed me. The change was subtle in normal situations and normal conversations, but going into this suspension high stress mode, it became very clear very fast how I had built of the habit of responding intentionally (as opposed to reacting unintentionally – also known in tween parlance as “losing my s@#^”). So, I avoided losing my s@#^ partially because I had worked on my daily meditation habit – my overall outcome was more patience. Looks like principle #3 RSVPd to the party:

Agile Best Self Principle #3: Build daily self-care habits.

Another one of the ‘sneaky’ best self principles also showed up. In retrospect, I find it interesting that I didn’t notice this one enter the party because the agile version of this principle is one of my go-to principles. In the suspension situation, I lived it by giving myself and my son the support we needed while also trusting myself, him and the process:

Agile Best Self Principle #5: Create a best self environment of motivation, trust, and support for yourself and others.

Ultimately, my son and I are still working through understanding the impact of his actions, but I’m very proud of his ‘adulting’ skills. He is taking responsibility, changing his actions and we are having conversations around trust. He knows that trust between us has been eroded, and he understands the value of us having trust.

If I had been in my pre-best self principle mindset, I would have made my last couple of days very difficult. In the past, I’ve frequently been the fixer, plan creator and problem solver (even if it was not my problem). Add these characteristics up, and it is the perfect algorithm for “doing more” just to make sure “all contingencies are planned” and “all bases are covered”. This brings me to the last activated principle:

Agile Best Self Principle #8: Prioritize “being more” over “doing more” for sustainability.

‘Being more’ meant being clear on adulting outcomes and just being there – in this case hanging out with my tween while he worked through some of his thoughts and feelings.

So yes, I think this best self stuff is working. If you are a data driven person, and looking for the data, it can be summed up this way:

0 incidents of me or my son ‘losing our s@#^

Copyright © 2020 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson

Published by MichaeleBestSelf

Connector, Catalyst.

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