Simone Biles’ recent unparalleled performance in gymnastics caused me great pause, how she balances on a narrow beam, flips multiple times in the air, glides from high to low bars, and jumps with style over a horse then…lands on her feet. I notice how she is a master at redirecting the booming noise from the audience and likely the noise in her mind.
Surely, she has fallen many times, but redirecting the noise in her head of disappointment and frustration – she gets back up. She has expanded her comfort zone instead of getting out of her comfort zone. Rethinking comfort zones.
High performing leaders do acrobatics, too; it just looks different. In a world of continual change, deepening divides, and rapid-paced technology – redirecting noise separates those with focus and balance from those living in fear or who are overwhelmed.
Noise seeks avenues for our attention from every direction; Unfiltered noise is the enemy of excellence.
In the Spiral Impact model, I use the analogy of a hurricane. There is both a calm eye at the center of the storm and the turbulence in the outer bands. Do you live in the calm eye or the noisy turbulence? The calm eye is what generates the power and direction of the storm; its where I want to be!
Noise may take the form of:
Giving too much attention to drama
Colleagues who complain without a willingness to self-reflect and look for solutions are noise. How willing are you to either disengage or redirect the conversation toward solutions. For example, “What would you like to do moving forward?” Indeed, the world news is also mega-drama, how can you be in the know without letting it take over your life?
Internal voices in our head
Feedback can be really useful! But one type of feedback that often goes from useful to noise is self-feedback. You know, the little doubtful voice in your head telling you what you are doing is wrong. This type of feedback is occasionally useful–catching a mistake in a memo before it went out because doubt motivated you to proofread one more time. But I posit that MOST of the time that voice is just noise. Always doubting and judging yourself is disorienting and inefficient. I have found that shifting the voice of doubt to the voice of appreciation helps turn that noise into something more lyrical.
Is it essential to interrupt whatever you are doing to check in with social media, read clickbait, or receive constant messages on a variety of platforms from people you used to spend actual time with in person? We truly live in a time of connection, but it’s important not to allow that noise to disconnect us from ourselves.
How well do you redirect noise?
It’s a practice for me. Here are four tips that will help:
Practice centering meditation
I observe many people don’t know inner “quiet.” I’ve been a meditator for decades. For brief intervals, I have stopped my meditation practice. Inevitably the noise returns. And, I soon restart my practice. There are many ways to meditate. I find that spending 15-20 minutes a day standing or sitting and focus on my breathing is an excellent place to begin. If you find yourself thinking, gently let the thoughts go. Replace thinking with:
- Feeling your breath going in and out of your nose
- Listening to a continuous sound like the HVAC blower, the sound of a river or ocean, crickets – something that doesn’t provoke judgment
- Feeling the physical sensations in your body, a spiral from your center that gently sways you, your belly moving in and out with your breath
When you have internal quiet, the noise from the outside has less power – just like the calm eye in the storm.
Clarify your intention – what is important to you
The difference between going in circles or Spiral Impacting is all about intention, which gives direction to your energy. So often, noise throws us off balance when we are not focused on our intention. Intention can be as simple as to be happy or as complex as bringing what we value into the world, or becoming a world champion.
I began an appreciation journal several years ago. When writing what I appreciate, it puts my mind in a place of gratitude. This creates more awareness of what is good in my world. Appreciation and noise don’t co-exist. Make appreciation bigger, and those voices in your head will quiet down.
Reduce noise both written, auditory, and things
Unplug, turn off, unsubscribe, delete those things that don’t add value, get rid of things (they are visual noise) you no longer need or use.
For most, controlling the noise around us is pretty near impossible. Though, we can manage and develop our inner quiet; it just takes consistent practice. The eye of the storm is a pretty magical place – I believe being in that calm is Simone’s secret! Is it simple? Yes. Is it easy? No! It takes commitment and lots of practice. It is time well spent.
Karen Valencic is the founder and president of Spiral Impact.