What does coordination have to do with improving relationships?
Unrelated as they may sound, there is a magic relationship between the two. In general, I find that wellness (consciously serving the wellbeing of your whole self–physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) contains many invaluable lessons for leadership (consciously serving the wellbeing of a greater whole beyond yourself–people, relationships, your environment, or anything in between!). The following is just one example.
Coordination: Knowing and Choosing Your Parts
Well, first, let’s talk about coordination. One of the 10 core skills of CrossFit, it’s something you need whether you’re deadlifting (i.e. lifting a barbell off the ground) or dancing.
Improving your coordination involves 2 steps:
- Getting to know your different parts. Sounds simple…but try coaching a newbie on the proper deadlift technique. As soon as I ask someone to bend forward from the hips while keeping their lower back neutral, confusion often abounds. Hmm…lower back, hips, butt, thighs…where does one start and the other begin?? People aren’t always used to thinking about these parts of their bodies individually, and are used to moving their bodies in habitual ways.
- Choosing which of your parts to use. Even more difficult than Step 1. Executing a proper deadlift requires you not only to be aware of the difference between your upper back, middle back, lower back, hips, thighs, and knees–but also to issue different commands to each one, all at the same time. No wonder it takes so much practice to get it right!Coordination is critical to the deadlift. Do it wrong and not only can’t you get the dang bar off the ground, but you risk serious injury. While your glutes and hamstrings are capable of supporting a huge amount of weight, your lower back just isn’t suited to carrying a 300-pound load.
Yikes! This poorly executed deadlift makes me want to cringe. Do NOT try this at home.
Step 1 to Better Relationships: Get To Know The Parts of Your Being
Now let’s take the leap to relationships.
I’ve spent the last week studying for the final written exam for CTI’s professional coach certification program (hence my relative inactivity on this blog–don’t worry, I’ll be back!). It’s the culmination of 6 months of improving my mastery of life and leadership coaching, and I’ve learned so much!
I’m repeatedly inspired by the lessons that coaching holds for any effective and powerful relationship. One statement from my study materials jumped out at me in particular this week, which I’ll paraphrase here:
So often, we interact with people’s smaller selves, while holding the space and possibility for their higher selves to show up. As coaches, we must hold space for our client’s fears and internal Saboteurs to show up–but we choose to interact with their highest selves.
How cool is that?! Think about it. We all have different “parts” of us. But we’re not talking body parts this time; we’re talking about parts of our being. We’ve got parts of us that are generous, loving, and compassionate. We’ve got other parts that are adventurous or courageous. And we’ve got parts that are afraid, insecure, or suspicious. And many, many more.
Again, the first step is to know your parts. Consider yourself first. What “parts” of you do you see often? Which of them feel expansive, and make you feel proud, motivated, and connected? Which of them feel contracted, and make you feel ashamed, stuck, or isolated?
Now choose someone close to you (or someone that you want a better relationship with). What different parts have you observed in that person? What parts do you admire…and what parts are you not so in love with?
Step 2 to Better Relationships: Choose What To See and How To Be
Now that you are aware of the different “being”-parts in yourself and others, the second (and last) step is simply to choose which part(s) to focus on and use.
Another concept that sounds simple, yet takes discipline, practice, and courage to actually live into.
Our habits often lead us to focus on the contracted parts of ourselves because we wish we could fix them. And many people choose to focus on the contracted parts of others because we think we’re being realistic, and that we’re protecting ourselves from getting hurt. “Sam can be so selfish…so I’m not going to expect him to do me any favors. If he does, great–I’ll let myself be pleasantly surprised.”
But now that you know what your different parts are, how do you want others to see you? Do you want them to evaluate you according to the smallest, most contracted parts of yourself?
Or do you want them to see and empower the best parts of who you are at your core–to know that you are loving and generous, smart and vibrant, even though you occasionally make mistakes or act out of fear?
Giving someone the gift of believing in and seeing their highest selves, even when they’re feeling small, is a powerful way to support, acknowledge, and call them forth into their greatness.
Here’s the catch: In order to know and choose to empower the highest parts in others, we must first do the same for ourselves.
Because just like your lower back is not as equipped as your glutes and hamstrings to lift a heavy barbell, your contracted self is just not as well-equipped as your expansive self to appreciate the gifts that others bring.