Entering and Exiting with Grace

Despite our best efforts to plan and prepare, much of what happens is not in our control. Life comes at us hard.  From all directions.  

In the midst of the chaos, however, there are moments where we have a bit more control: entrances and exits.

This week we are exploring the wisdom of Dr. Daniel Friedland and the specific ways we can learn to self-coach ourselves and teach others to so the same.  

Understanding that we exert more control over beginnings and endings is a significant insight.  A meeting, for example.  Once it starts, it takes on a life of its own.  With practice, however, we can learn to prime ourselves prior to the start of the meeting. For how we will show up. Are we fully present or are we preoccupied with what just happened or what will happen later?

This does not have to be a lengthy process.  Perhaps just a few moments before we enter. 

We can pause to ask ourselves: what outcomes matter most and why?  Or, what is my highest intention with this person?  Or, given the current situation, what’s been most successful for us in the past?  

We can also ask one of these questions to the team assembled as a way to kick-off the meeting.

In past blog posts, we’ve explored the concept of the organization as a machine vs. as a living, breathing system or organism. In the mechanistic paradigm, meetings are all about efficiency and getting work done quickly.  

In the living, breathing metaphor, the purpose of meetings is to advance the relationships in which work gets done. If relationships are frayed, it takes immense effort to get anything done.

Understanding this, the goal is not to optimize the meeting, but the relationships. In An Everyone Culture, Robert Kegan, Lisa Lahey, and Andy Fleming share that at the Decurian Corporation, meetings begin with a check-in. “It’s about what the individual needs to do to be fully present,” says COO Bryan Ungard. “Our full humanity is required, and to have that, you need authentic engagement.”

We can also close in a way that humanizes the meeting. If we are leading it, we might end on a note of genuine gratitude or finish with a round of appreciations.

Some things to consider:

Schedule meetings for 50-minutes rather than an hour to allow for 10-minutes of built-in transition time

Capture any action items immediately afterwards

Prime ourselves for the next appointment by asking creative mindset questions like: What outcome matters most and why?  Or, what is my highest intention with this person?

Then, it’s on to what comes next. 

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Reflection:  What would be the benefits to me and my team by becoming more present?

Action:  Experiment with being more intentional with entrances and exits today.

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