How to use 4 dimensions of knowing as a navigation system for personal growth

Some people choose for themselves to change something others are forced to do so by outside circumstances – such as the pandemic that we are experiencing right now. Every deep-level change throws us into unknown territory. The level of uncertainty rises and it can be hard to navigate through times were solid prognosis are just not possible.

We are educated to use our intellectual mind, logical thinking and rational deductions to make decisions. We make lists of Pros and Cons and analyse possible risks before trying out something different or take a decision.

This is definitely helpful to some extent. Let me introduce you to three more dimensions of knowing, which have helped me to smoothly navigate through uncertainty: Emotion, Intuition and Embodiment.

In addition to the intellectual mind, emotion, intuition and embodiment, used as data source, help you to follow your path and take decisions that are right for you.

Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Steve Jobs

Emotion

In our professional lives we are often trained to store away our emotions. Especially for women emotions at the work place are not received positively. Often they are labeled as “too emotional” or “too sensitive”.

Also in our private lives we are often expected to be happy and well. How are you? as a welcoming question is not expected to result in an emotional drain.

Research shows that tapping into our emotions – even the messy, difficult ones – and accepting them, leads us to thrive and be truly happy.

As Susan David says in her TEDtalk:

Our emotions contain flashing lights of things that we care about. When we are open to the difficult emotions, we are able to generate responses that are values-aligned.

Susan David

If we take a look at our emotions with curiosity, compassion and some courage, we can take values-connected steps in our lives.

Intuition

Sometimes all facts and logical thinking clearly favor one option – but then you instinctively go for the alternative. Like turning down a job offer from a great company just because it did not “feel right”.

In times on uncertainty – like we are today – we often even lack the rational information part. Everything is really hard to estimate, surprises happen and things evolve dynamically and often with unexpected domino effects.

According to Gary Klein, ex-Marine, psychologist, and author of the book “The Power of Intuition: How to Use Your Gut Feelings to Make Better Decisions at Work,” 90% of the critical decisions that we make are made by intuition in any case. Intuition can actually be a far more accurate and certainly faster way to make an important decision.”

Psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer argues in his interview with Harvard Business Review that

gut feelings are good tools for an uncertain world. They’re not caprice. They are not a sixth sense or God’s voice. They are based on lots of experience, an unconscious form of intelligence.

Gerd Gigerenzer

Even tough most high level managers don’t admit it in public, research shows that about 50% of all their decisions are at the end gut decisions.

Gigerenzer continues saying that instinctive decisions are often rationalized afterwards. People look for evidence that backs up their intuitive decision in order to present it as fact-based.

Embodiment

Another dimension of knowing is your body. Researchers conclude that psychological processes are closely linked to the body.

When you are dealing with change take a look at your body’s responses. Observe yourself to find out, what is working for you: When are you tensing up? When can you breathe easily? Where do you feel pain in your body? What outside events or context is it linked to?

I myself found out, that my belly makes noises as if a was hungry, when I feel trapped in a meeting and cannot express my position on the matter of discussion.

When do you feel the urge to eat chocolate, smoke a cigarette or drink a glass of whine? This is mostly a sign that you are about to numb an emotion.

Being tired every morning, forcing yourself to get our of bet, can be as sign that something is off.

Or the other way round: How can you practice self-care and do yourself something good? Be it a looooong nap, a walk, healthy food,… Even if it feels strange or esoteric, try out some yoga practice to become more aware of your body. Calm your mind with some meditation exercise to also sense what’s happening in your body.

Observing ourselves how our bodies react to certain situations can be a helpful data source to find out what is right for us. Taking care of ourselves including our body, we make sure that we respect and worship this part of us.

To grow as a person and advance in your transformation make use of all four dimensions of knowing: intellectual mind, intuition, emotion and embodiment.

By using multiple sources of data, we get a clearer picture of where we are heading to. Not everything seems logic at the first sight. Some signs that we receive from other dimensions of knowing are contrasting to what we is “the norm”, what is accepted” or “expected”.

If we observe these signs with curiosity and appreciate them as valuable source of information we might surprise ourselves. Then we only need the courage to follow up.

I am happy to share how these four dimensions of knowing have helped me navigate through my personal and professional adventures in an upcoming blog post.

Thank you to  Daniel Gonzalez for providing the picture on top!

Finding the courage to step into unknown territory

A couple of days ago I was satisfied about my progress since I decided to start my personal transformation. I wanted to dive into the unknown, following my white rabbit down the rabbit hole.

My achievements, as I might call them, so far were:

  • getting clarity on what is important for me. Namely, the ground values that glue together who I am: love, creating with passion and natural authenticity.
  • defining HOW I want to live my life going forward. Creating a vision of a future life where I can wear sports-gear most of the time, have room for creativity, can work from home a lot, have space for my family and friends and can enjoy physical exercises and nature.
  • taking the first steps into this direction by exercising, writing articles and contributing to a book, making time for my future husband and friends who need my presence.
  • giving up -or let’s call it in a more sophistical manner: “letting go” half of my managerial duties, which has never happened before in my company and required a talk with the CEO.

Looking back, these are things that I can be proud of – and I am. I feel like the world has given me so much already that fits into my vision of life.

Here’s the BUT.

I realized that I am “not there yet”. As if there was a hurdle which I have not crossed yet. I know that this wall represents quitting my well-paid, managerial job in the midst of a global pandemic. This in turn means letting go of financial independence, my comfortable lifestyle, my career and my dear colleagues.

Deciding if I should let go of my job seems like I am standing in front of a big stone wall and can’t get over it. It reminds me of Harry Potter’s platform 9 3/4. To get to the magic train, young wizards and witches have to run towards this wall. Eventually they will experience that the wall is a secret door that lets people pass through the moment they touch the wall.

Like the young wizards and witches I am f***ing scared to run towards the wall. How do I know that this wall is truly magical? What if I run full speed, hit the wall and end up only with bruises on my head?

Even if I pass this wall – what lies behind it? Is it a magical world full of wonders, adventures and excitement? Or is it more of a horror movie that I will enter? Where everything is so terrifying that I will not be able to open my eyes to eat a bit of popcorn. Plus, I will have bad dreams for weeks.

Will I ever be able to pay for my bills by myself again? Will I ever find a job again that I feel fulfilled, joyful and passionate about? Or will I – after some months of leisure come back to the realization that I have to serve burgers at McDonald’s to make my living. Will I crawl back on my knees and move in with my parents having to clean my room every second day?

In my heart I know that I am going to run towards this f***ing wall. There is no way around it. It is right in front of it and I need to to do something about it. Going back is not an option. Just like Alice said:

I know how I want to live my life differently in the future – actually I already started to do so. I am certain that “now” doesn’t fit me any longer. I loved the past. I learned and I grew – but it seems I grew out of it.

My only choice seems to be “when” I will run towards that wall.

Hitting the wall (in case it is not magical after all) won’t be too bad. My future husband is a doctor 😉 And I am way too curious about what’s behind that wall not to go through.

If I land in a horror story, I will learn how to run fast and defend myself super-hero-style. Which is not too bad, now that I think of it.

In case I find a magical wonderland evolving when I easily pass the gate, I will take my time exploring it full of curiosity. I will be enjoying every minute and every adventure it brings.

So the main question will be: What the hell do I need to finally take this step? When will I overcome my damn fears? Maybe they sound so insignificant to you but for me they give me hell.

When will I find the courage to run towards platform 9 3/4? WHEN??? What else is needed to take this final step?

Writing about change, authenticity is valuable to me. So, it is important to me to also share how I struggle with change. How I face my fears and deal with them. If you look for a polished version, just jump over to Instagram or the social media platform of your choice. 😉

I dealt with personal and organizational changes for all of my professional life. So I think it is safe to say, that any profound change is not easy. It comes with its struggles.

“New” are fighting “old”, habits or fear. Maybe some setbacks are luring you back to where you were. The “known” sometimes feels more comfortable than the “unknown”. Especially if you feel like you need a break.

Here’s the catch: the shortest way to come out of the storm is to go through it. So let’s go.

The shortest way to come out of the storm is to go through. So let’s go.

If you are in the midst of changing something in your life as well, let’s go. It might be f***ing frightening but we will make it. We will either succeed or learn. We will be proud that we overcame our fears. We will look back at this magical wall, shrug our shoulders and smile about how insignificant our fears turned out to be. We will enjoy ourselves, smiling at the world and will be ready to explore it further.

Let’s go!

Heart Attacked

Yesterday LinkedIn notified me that my close friend from university got promoted. The simple act of congratulating him resulted in not being able to sleep for half of the night.

It was not the first time this happened. Over the past 10 years my mind has decided to go back to those times more frequently than I wished.

Every time I lie in bed, remembering how close we were. He was the perfect friend, supportive, a great sense of humor, down to earth – and handsome. We studied Economics together, both feeling a bit like we didn’t belong to those rich kids striving for great careers, already driving their BMWs to university. Being different than the other students and struggling with the overwhelming drop-out exams didn’t matter too much, as we had each other laughing about every challenge we faced.

Did I mention that he was handsome?

Okay let’s not beat around the bushes, I completely fell for him.

So it might be understandable that from time to time “friends” turned into “friends with benefits”. But when we met again the next time everything was back to “friends”. I don’t remember exactly how things developed. What I remember though is, that even my best friend got annoyed by my hopes for a romantic relationship with him.

Than one day, out of the blue, I met my prince (as my father calls him) who is my partner ever since. Maybe as a result, my friend and I grew apart soon and he moved to another country to start his career.

Now when my heart attacks my mind at night, when I am up thinking about him, I can’t help but wonder what could have been, would have been, should have been. It haunts me. The more time passes, the more I fill the gaps in my memories with imagination, probably with the most romantic scenario that I am able to construct.

What haunts me is not the wish for a different partner or a different life. I am so blessed to have my future husband as a partner in crime and couldn’t wish for anything else. What keeps me sticking to these what-if-thoughts is the feeling that I didn’t go for it. I did not try. I was too embarrassed to talk openly. I never found the courage to say what’s on my heart. I was too afraid to be rejected, to be humiliated, to be weak or sad.

Did I thereby fulfill my own prophecy?

I recently heard a tedtalk about the power of vulnerability. Brene Brown – the speaker – talked about the original meaning of courage which is “to tell the story of who you are with all your heart”. How you need to make yourself vulnerable in order to be fully seen and deeply connect to other people.

You need to make yourself vulnerable in order to be fully seen and deeply connect to other people.

It seems I was not ready for this back then. Which makes me think: now that I want to change my life and this thing still keeps me up at night – am I ready now? Do I have the courage to tell him how I felt when we were together, with the risk of embarrassing myself? Maybe he has fully forgotten about it. Maybe he doesn’t give a shit.

Still it fells important to me. Firstly, to close this chapter and come to peace with it. Secondly, to prove to myself that I a am strong enough today to be weak. And Thirdly, because I want to tell my friend that I miss him as my friend. Even if he is doing great without me, I would love to know that he knows he is valued, missed and important to another person out there.

So I am going to call him. I am going to talk to him. Break the circle of hiding behind nonsense-jokes and distance. Given my journey into the unknown I think it is a suitable challenge for me to do something I avoided to do for so long.

Wish me luck. Or better than that: Push me. because I am already f***ing scared.

Klare Schnitte

Was bisher geschah…Vor ein paar Wochen habe ich eine persönliche VerĂ€nderung gestartet. Mein bisher durchwegs als glĂŒcklich und erfolgreich zu beschreibendes Leben ging mit einer unspezifischen, latenten Unzufriedenheit einher. Lange habe ich mit mir gerungen doch schließlich beschlossen dieses Alles-was-man-sich-wĂŒnschen kann-Leben gegen ein neues, komplett unbekanntes einzutauschen.

Um dieses neue Leben zu gestalten, habe ich mich intensiv mit meinen Ängsten, WĂŒnschen und Werten auseinandergesetzt. Dabei habe ich verstanden, dass ich zwei wesentliches Antriebsenergien in mir trage:

Zum einen der Wert von Liebe und Geborgenheit, den ich in meinem Leben mit jeder Faser meines Seins erfĂŒllen will (auch, wenn ich noch nicht genau weiß, wie…). Zum anderen ist es das “Freie Schaffen”, der Wunsch etwas zu kreiern, zu bewirken, mit Mut, KreativitĂ€t, Disziplin und Leidenschaft in etwas Gutes in die Welt zu bringen.

Diese Ekenntnisse beflĂŒgeln mich und seither geschehen unvermutet schöne Dinge. Gleichzeitig bringt diese Klarheit unweigerlich Konsequenzen mit sich. Auch wenn man sie zunĂ€chst nicht sehen will oder nicht wahrhaben kann, sie sind da.

In meiner Geschichte spĂŒrte sich diese Entwicklung an wie ein Topf mit kochender Milch. Und wer so grauenhaft schlecht kocht, wie ich, weiß, dass man meistens erst das Brodeln bemerkt, wenn die heiße FlĂŒssigkeit zischend zwischen Topf und Deckel ausbricht, sich ĂŒber den ganzen Herd ergießt und sich der Feueralarm lautstark meldet.

Bei mir war dies der Fall, als an einem Abend vor ein paar Tagen meine berufliche Opponentin mein Team in höchst unangebrachtem Ton und ohne jede Grundlage attackierte. Ich bin normalerweise ein Mensch, der als ausgeglichen, gefasst und stabil gilt. Meist um Konsens und Harmonie bemĂŒht, mindestens aber um einen Kompromiss. In dieser Situation wurde ich unerwartet emotional. Ich konnte das GesprĂ€ch gerade noch -nach westlicher Firmenkultur-Standards- professionell beenden. Doch anschließend saß ich fassungslos auf dem Sofa, zitterte vor Wut und wusste, dass eine Grenze ĂŒberschritten worden war.

Ich rief meinen Vorgesetzten an, den ich zum GlĂŒck nicht erreichen konnte. Ich rauchte. Ich schĂ€umte weiter, zitterte weiter, war den TrĂ€nen nahe. Als mein Chef zurĂŒck rief, riss ich mich mit aller Kraft zusammen, um wieder den beruflichen GesprĂ€chsstandards zu entsprechen. Immer noch mit zitternder Stimme aber bestimmt erklĂ€rte ich ihm, dass ich einen bedeutenden Teil meines Verantwortugsbereichs abgeben wĂŒrde. Er spĂŒrte die EndgĂŒltigkeit der Entscheidung war erstaunt aber akzeptierte es. (interessanter Weise, hatte er bei bisherigen GesprĂ€chen, die in eine Ă€hnliche Richtung gegangen waren, immer auf zukĂŒnftige Lösungen verwiesen, an mein Durchhaltevermögen appellliert oder Konsequenzen angedeutet)

NachtrĂ€glich ist mir klar, dass dieser Moment der notwendige Auslöser, ein hilfreiches Ventil fĂŒr eine lĂ€ngst getroffene Entscheidung war. Wie das Blitzlicht des Fotoapperates, das der Auslöser fĂŒr einen besonderen Bildermoment ist. Mit der Weisheit des RĂŒckblicks bin ich dankbar fĂŒr das kindliche, unreife und aggressive Verhalten der Kollegin. Es war das, was ich brauchte, um den ersten klaren Schnitt in meinem VerĂ€nderungsweg zu machen.

Vielleicht klingt das jetzt fĂŒr den ein oder anderen nach einem “so what?”-Problem. Vielleicht ist es das auch. Gleichzeitig möchte ich die Frage stellen: Wer von euch hat schon einmal bewusst auf gut 40% seines Verantwortungsbereichs verzichtet, weil “es nicht dem entspricht, wie ich arbeiten möchte?” Darunter die Zusammenarbeit mit dem CEO zurĂŒckgelegt “weil es mir mehr Kraft raubt als, dass ich gestalten kann”. In dem Unternehmen, in dem ich aktuell arbeite, war ich laut HR Chef die Erste. Das gab mir ein GefĂŒhl von GrĂ¶ĂŸe, StĂ€rke und Stolz.

Als ich am nĂ€chsten Tag aufwachte, fraß mich die Angst. GrĂ¶ĂŸe, StĂ€rke und Stolz hatten sich ĂŒber die Nacht in Reuhe, Relativierung und Schwere gewandelt. Ich ĂŒberlegte ernsthaft den Weg zurĂŒck einzuschlagen. Wie dumm konnte man sein? Diese Chancen beiseite zu legen, kann nur unvernĂŒnftig sein. So etwas tut man nicht.

Das Geheimnis außerordentlicher Menschen ist in den meisten FĂ€llen nichts anderes als Konsequenz.

Buddha

Eine Woche spĂ€ter ist der Schritt vollzogen, soeben habe ich das Abschluss-GesprĂ€ch mit dem CEO gefĂŒhrt. Es war wertschĂ€tzend, offen, klar und ich habe Erkenntnisse fĂŒr mich mitgenommen. Ich gehe aus dem GesprĂ€ch mit einem GefĂŒhl von GrĂ¶ĂŸe, StĂ€rke und Stolz.

Warum ich das erzĂ€hle? Ich denke es ist wichtig zu verstehen, dass persönliche VerĂ€nderung, persönliche Weiterentwicklung und Wachstum mit Konsequenzen einhergehen. Man wird klĂŒger, die Optik schĂ€rft sich und plötzlich kann man nicht mehr akzeptieren, womit man sich bisher arrangiert Die unheimliche Scheiss-Angst vor dem Unbekannten ist weiterhin da. Nur: wenn man Dinge klarer sieht und nĂ€her an seinem Kern ist, KANN man gar nicht anders, als etwas zu Ă€ndern. Und plötzlich hat man eine Entscheidung getroffen, die man vielleicht schon im Innersten lange wusste aber nie den Mut hatte, es zu tun.

Was folgt ist wie ein Sog, in den man gezogen wird. Wörter wie “Persönlichkeitsentwicklung” oder “Learning Journey” klingen so romantisch, nett und gemĂŒtlich. Aus meinem Empfinden ist die Beschreibung realistischer, dass VerĂ€nderungung es wie ein unkontrollierbarer Strudel ist, bei dem man sich fĂŒhlt als wĂŒrde man sich an das letzte StĂŒck Holz eines gesunkenen Schiffes klammern und von den Wellen hin und her geschleudert werden.

“Werden sie dich kĂŒndigen?” fragt meine Mama. “Verlierst du damit Macht?” fragt mein Kollege. “Musst du auf Gehalt verzichten?” fragt mein Freund, “Wie werden deine betroffenen Mitarbeiter reagieren?” fragt mich mein Chef.

Honestly: I don’t know. Was ich in der Tiefe meines Herzens weiß, ist, dass das die einzig richtige Entscheidung fĂŒr mich ist. Egal was kommt. In jedem Fall habe ich daraus gelernt, dass ich Grenzen setzen, fĂŒr mich einstehen und mein Leben formen und gestalten kann, dass ich Mut habe und ĂŒber meiner Angst stehe. Das fĂŒhlt sich nach GrĂ¶ĂŸe und StĂ€rke an und macht mich stolz.

Habt ihr so etwas schon einmal erlebt? Wie seid ihr damit umgegangen? Ich freue mich eure Geschichten zu hören.

Love,

Florence