We’ve all been there.
You’re picking up pizza five minutes before your in-laws arrive for dinner because, with the week you had, you had time to either clean the house or cook—not both. Your son just mentioned he needs cupcakes for school tomorrow—looks like you’ll be baking all night. Seeing others’ New Year’s resolutions just makes you grumpy because who has the time?
Stress brings out the worst in us. So we sat down with Joni Fedders, Aileron President, Facilitator, and Leadership Coach, and Sara Wiggershaus, Client Services Manager, to discuss how conscious leadership can impact your life both at work and at home.
How have you seen the philosophies and beliefs of the conscious leadership program play out at your home?
Joni: A lot of us have unrealistic expectations for ourselves, especially at home. We think we need to measure up to the “perfect” families we see on social media. But we need to be intentional and conscious about how we’re choosing to spend our time, and what activities cause unnecessary stress.
“A few years ago when I was going through the conscious leadership training I had an “aha moment”
when I realized that I needed to change the definition of success.”
For a lot of people, success at home looks like getting your shopping done, making dinner, or keeping your house clean. Success becomes about checking things off the list. But when I went through the program, it challenged me to ask myself, “how can I look at success differently?” And what I really want to do is enjoy time with my family, not just check them off a list.
What does that shift look like?
Joni: I think it helps to put your own needs into the situation. Like when you say, “I need to clean the house” what you’re really saying is “I’m going to wake up early on Saturday morning and be exhausted all day so that I can get the house clean.” But what do you really need out of the situation? Maybe you’re really doing it so that you can feel confident about your space, or so that you can host friends for dinner. But I think you need to identify your needs, rather than doing it because of some hidden rule like, “you’re supposed to be a good mother, and good mothers have clean houses.”
I love that I can say with confidence that these days, having a clean house or getting my to-do list done is not what would make this season successful for me. I’ve taken it off the list of the things I feel I have to do. You know, just because everyone else’s home is perfect—at what cost would I make that happen? If it’s only going to cause me stress, at the sacrifice of time with my family, it’s not worth it.
Do you feel it impacts your relationships as well?
Sara: We have two girls in this house that are teenagers and one that is five so the gap there is quite large. With my teenagers, I’ve found that when I ask open-ended questions like “how’s your day?” I really don’t get an answer. I’ve really benefited from empowering questions like “what’s really going well for you at school?” or “what’s not going well?” I love pulling those sort of questions out of my toolbox so that they actually have to sit and think—because we get more of the root of what’s going on instead of them just flippantly saying “I’m fine” and moving on with their day. I feel that approaching them from that perspective has made a way for us to get more deeply into conversations.
How does this plays out in your everyday life?
Sara: Prior to understanding the “thought, emotion, action” model I would see their behaviors and not really understand where they were coming from. I would assume I understood and try to direct their behavior by making comments like “don’t do that” or “that’s not okay.” But now I really try to approach those interactions with curiosity rather than being harsh.
“It’s been interesting because if I start off curiously, I can immediately see how they soften up a bit
and realize I actually want to listen to what they have to say.”
Prior to understanding this model I would only focus on their action and not work to understand the thoughts and emotions driving the action. I would take on the “what’s wrong with you” attitude, which doesn’t feel good to them and doesn’t help the situation. Being more conscious of that myself and bringing that knowledge home—it’s powerful. It completely changes conversations. I show up totally differently if I’ve talked myself through this approach beforehand.
Is it difficult to apply the principles of the conscious leadership program at home?
Joni: Honestly, right from the beginning it’s so mixed together. I really think it happens so naturally—the way you do anything is the way you do everything. So if you start to learn to suspend judgment about people and how they’re going to respond, it’s probably going to play out at work and at home.
Sara: Conscious leadership is a journey—it’s not something you can learn even in two years. I think you continually evolve into understanding all the principles and parts of it. So I agree, I don’t think you can just turn it off when you get in your car and drive home, even when you’re first starting to learn. That’s the cool thing about the program You’re not just working on your work self, you’re working on your person.
“I’ve told so many people this, but the Conscious Leadership program has made me a
better mom and a better coworker—in that order.”
It’s easy to apply these things at work, but at home when you’re the only one who’s suspending judgment or coming at things from a different angle, it’s exhausting. It can be pretty challenging, especially when first applying these tools at home. But I think that even if you do one thing better today than you did yesterday, that feels good.
As with any new habit or shift in mindset, it may not always play out as hoped. It takes practice and time! Taking time to reflect and try to think about how you can better approach it next time is how you will find success in this journey. That’s the power of being curious—not judgmental.