Skills for being whole

Skill of being whole is about acting with integrity. What I mean by that is respecting the fact that all the roles you play make up one whole person and encouraging others to view you the same way.

To do that you must be able to:

  1. Clarify expectations.
  2. Help others.
  3. Build supportive networks.
  4. Apply all your resources.
  5. Manage boundaries intelligently.
  6. Weave disparate strands.

One of the most important skills here is knowing how to apply all your resources (such as your knowledge, skills, and contacts) in the various aspects of your life to benefit the other aspects. An exercise that helps you do that is called talent transfer. It involves writing a résumé listing all the skills you’ve developed during all your years including from mentoring colleagues, organizing family activities, or running a church bake sale and thinking of how each might be used to achieve different ends.

Organizational psychologists call this a strength development approach: You identify your talents and then apply them in new areas, enhancing them further. Another way to do this is to reflect on something that makes you feel good for example, a work accomplishment, a fruitful friendship, your commitment to salsa dancing and then consider an area of your life you’d like to improve. How might the skills in your inventory can help you in areas of your life you’d like to improve?

To manage boundaries intelligently is another key challenge. I advise people to practice something I call segment and merge, and then decide which strategy works best.

  • First, think about ways to create separation (in time and space) between your different roles. You might try setting limits on yourself. For example, if there’s an ambitious work project that you’ve been putting off, try dedicating the first two hours of each Saturday morning for the next month to tackling it, and then give yourself the rest of the day off. Or, if your job keeps monopolizing your evenings, you might experiment with a “no smartphones at the dinner table” policy.
  • Now do the opposite: Think about opportunities to bring together two or more parts of your life. You might take a child to a company-sponsored charity run or bring a coworker to a block party in your neighborhood.
  • After you’ve tried a new way of segmenting and a new way of merging, jot down your insights about what worked and what didn’t, for both you and the people around you. Were you more or less productive? Did you find yourself more or less distracted? How did others react? Were they put off, or did they seem to feel closer to and more trusting of you?

Does it work? Please share your experience if you have tried the method in the comment section below.


Categories: Personal Development


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