What happens when you lower the water level in the lake?

I’ve been thinking about self-deception lately. How is that I can be rolling along without hardly a bump in the road and then land up in a pothole? This pattern seems to be a part of many of our lives. I’m curious about what’s creating this obviously not so pleasant roller coaster ride.

As I was musing about this, I saw a connection between my personal experiences and what I’ve noticed about myself and others as leaders. When everything seems to be working, whether it’s at home or work, I’m not particularly reflective about several fundamental questions such as, “ Am I feeling joy?” or “Is what I’m doing connected to why I’m here?” I seem to be under the influence of the vapors, or emotional happiness. I know that emotional happiness (rather than joy) is tricky. When I’m on the up slope of greater and greater happiness, I’m already creating the downslope of despair. Yet, follow the yellow brick road I do, without any apparent awareness that there is a consequence of this rising emotional feeling.

I suspect all this is connected to an old adage that says, “You can’t see the rocks in a lake until you lower the water level. (I’m from Louisiana where they say, “You can’t see the cypress stumps until you lower the level of the bayou”). When my lake is filled with the happiness euphoria I overlook so much. My higher energy lulls me into believing that this feeling will go on forever (it never works out that way and I’m surprised each time). A bit like my version of Lucy always pulling the football away just before Charlie Brown can kick it.

I’m noticing that the highs are changing. I remember feeling so excited when something good was happening (a new relationship or new client contract or receiving praise from someone I held in high esteem). This excitement would “lift my feet off the ground.” This high was addicting. When the crest of the hill was breached, I stayed in my high feelings for a while. I just couldn’t believe I was on the down slope again.

Today, I’m in the process of coming unhooked. At first, I was worried that I wouldn’t have any fun anymore (when I thing of that inner story I smile, because I know the price of that “fun”). This fear delayed action for some years. I just got so tired of the up and downs that I said, “The heck with the fear of no fun, I’m going to see what it would be like to step off the emotional gerbil wheel.”

The road hasn’t been without fits and starts. That’s always how it is with change. Yet, it’s worth it. My highs aren’t so high, but they are real. My feet are mostly touching the ground and I can sense the truth of my experience rather than the false story that is choreographed by the emotional high.

It’s the weekend and maybe it’s time to lower the water level in your lake. How about taking stock of the up and down cycles of your life and honestly see if it’s time to change them. If it is, talk to a friend about your decision and ask them to give you feedback when they see you moving away from reality. Your authenticity will deepen your friendship and carve a new direction for your life.

Author: Thomas White

Over the past thirty-five years, Thomas White has created and led private and public organizations that initiated breakthroughs in areas as diverse as computer software, publishing, printing, market research, leadership development and organizational change. The common ingredients in his success are simple. He looked beyond the limitations that others believed and found real solutions to needs that business leaders have. He attracted the best talent to translate these innovative solutions into practical products and services that were of high value to customers. He created cultures where people love what they do, work at their best and produce extraordinary results. In addition to his role as a business leader, Thomas has been a pioneer and inventor of technologies in the computer-networking field. He is a patent holder for innovations in business process and workflow technology. As part of his passion for educating others about the interface of human and computer systems, he was the co-author of “New Tools for New Times, The Workflow Paradigm”. He has also written articles for numerous publications. In 2001, he turned his attention from leading companies to supporting leadership teams in creating organizations of excellence. After many years of being a part of the machine of change, Thomas recognized that business is the most powerful force in the world. It has a major impact on public policy and governments everywhere. It is a key influence on how we use our resources and sets an example of the values that shape communities from local to global. He formed the consulting firm of Profoundly Simple to be a guide for exemplary leaders - leaders who wisely uses the power they are entrusted with to serve their constituencies first and themselves second; leaders who know that it is good business to treat people with respect, honor the environment and act with impeccable integrity – leaders who inspire greatness in those around them and by doing so create great organizations that are notable examples of success. Feeling the itch to get back into the game again, Thomas joined with two long time friends, to start the C-Suite Network. This network of business leaders offers an online network, events, services, and insights to its 500,000 member community. In addition, the C-Suite Network produces and distributes television and radio content to an audience of over 5M per month

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