Our 2022 Living Unlayered Mastermind is coming soon! This July in Gatlinburg, TN, we are teaming up with Richard Flint to deliver an intimate, small group experience designed to identify your biases and assets, choose commitments to help you self-lead, and establish bridge-building habits that will strengthen both your personal and professional relationships.
This mastermind experience will include 7 virtual, small group sessions and a 3-day all inclusive getaway in Gatlinburg, TN.
Bonus sessions to begin identifying your assets and biases start march 31, 2022.
03/31/22 Self Leadership Introduction/Creating an A-game approach to the Life Wheel Commitments
4/28/22 Developing and Reframing a WHOLE Perspective
5/19/22 Addressing Cognitive Biases and Jail Cells Holding us Hostage
I choose to meet people at the layer we are both aligned to meet at
As leaders, we get to empower people to work together toward a common goal. Often, this means many diverse personality types are working together, which could potentially lead to conflict, disagreement, or disconnection.
Alignment vs. Agreement
So what’s the difference between agreement and alignment, and which matters most for you and your team? Sometimes success requires both, but it’s important to first understand the difference so you can decide which is a better fit for your team’s culture and goals.
Agreement is a meeting of the minds in a common intention. When in agreement, each individual feels that their ideas play an active role in the company’s decision making process.
Alignment is less about the individual’s perspective and more about the state of the group as a whole. Alignment can be defined as “bringing parts into proper relative position; to adjust, to bring into proper relationship or orientation.”
The defining difference between the two is this: in an agreement, there’s a consensus about the goal and the means of achieving the goal. When you’re in alignment, you may disagree about how the goal should be achieved, but you’re on board with the trajectory of the goal and are committed to making it happen.
An organization doesn’t necessarily need complete agreement for the team to succeed. As long your crew is aware and aligned with the ultimate vision, your team will be inspired, empowered, and self-motivated.
The Layers of WHOLE
As a leader, it is your responsibility and opportunity to discover, connect, and align with the perspectives of your team. The good news is, each of these layers presents countless opportunities to do so! Actively seek to acknowledge where your team shines and struggles— and guide them to do more of what they love, what they’re good at, and what makes them feel fulfilled.
Investing in your team this way will not only strengthen your personal connection; it will also create an environment where your team is comfortable to be creative, experiment, and grow. This is where innovation happens!
CHOOSING TO ALIGN
If you feel disconnected in your work, or even in relationships with friends and family, you’re likely out of alignment and/or agreement with the overall mission. So… what do you do when you’re the one that’s out of alignment? How do you maintain integrity and authenticity while still moving forward? The key here is to choose to meet people wherever you’re aligned and build from there.
This looks a little different whether you’re in a personal or professional setting.
On a personal level, this looks like intentionally connecting however possible. Between your worldview, history, your views on organization, love, and mutual experiences— there’s always a layer you can align with. Find it, invest in it, and nurture the connection to help it grow. If you can communicate openly about the overall goal of the relationship (for example, you may want to work toward being lifelong and loyal friends, a strong a healthy example of marriage for younger generations, or committed accountability partners) it becomes much easier to identify when you’re veering off-track and need to realign.
Professionally, it’s a little more straightforward. Focus on the larger goal of the organization and what you can do today to help make it happen. Direct your attention to the bigger picture instead of yourself, and when necessary, approach disagreement with humility. Help your team see the values they bring to the table that contribute to the growth and success of your organization, and acknowledge how their gifts align with your focus and direction as a company.
Validate the perspectives that you discover in this process, carefuilly listen to others’ experiences, and be flexible enough to make changes when you need to realign. Your effort will create more meaningful relationships and you’ll love what you do even more!
As we close out the commitments from Chapter 1 of Slaying the Onion: Looking in the Mirror, it’s only appropriate that this would be the last to address: I choose to engage in the Living Unlayered Community to encourage and be encouraged!
Being Your Mirror
We at One Light Ahead get to be your mirror; we get to help you discover your own perspectives and how you can use them to make an impact. Choosing to engage in our community will surround you with a team of supportive individuals willing to encourage you and keep you accountable along your journey.
The Power of Encouragement
The pursuit of your professional goals is an intense adventure! Proactively finding a supportive community will help ensure your stability when things don’t go as planned. It’s important to surround yourself with a group of people willing to build you up, because sometimes life can really get you down. When you’re putting in the hard work and mastering the balancing act, you often neglect to acknowledge what you’re doing well. Engaging in this community will work as a mirror for you to see and refine the gifts that are propelling you forward– and eliminate your biases that are holding you hostage.
“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” —Proverbs 11:25
5 Benefits of Accountability
Accountability helps you grow in self-control as you know you’ll have to answer for your choices and actions.
Sharing your goals with others will help keep your plans cohesive, focused, and specific.
Talking with your trusted community about your performance will increase your awareness of different perspectives and strategies to reach your goals more efficiently.
Sometimes we hit a barrier and need a fresh idea to keep moving forward. Engaging in community will expose you to diverse approaches that you can test and verify yourself.
We believe celebration is an integral part of successful goal-setting. A positive community will remind you to acknowledge your milestones and celebrate your achievements!
This process is never done… you’ve never arrived as an onion slayer. As you get better at removing layers in yourself and others, you begin to realize that the process never really ends.
But that’s the point. As in life, you’re never done learning. However, you have the opportunity to build your toolbox and fill it with resources and experience to help you learn faster and more effectively.
“You might think you’ve slain that onion layer and then be surprised when another layer emerges from beneath. Be prepared to give yourself grace and walk away from the experience for a season if need be.”
– April Ballestero, Slaying the Onion
We all have four areas of competence.
In unconscious incompetence, the learner isn’t aware that a skill or knowledge gap exists.
In conscious incompetence, the learner is aware of a skill or knowledge gap and understands the importance of acquiring the new skill. It’s in this stage that learning can begin.
In conscious competence, the learner knows how to use the skill or perform the task, but doing so requires practice, conscious thought and hard work.
In unconscious competence, the individual has enough experience with the skill that he or she can perform it so easily they do it unconsciously.
growth starts in the unknown
When we tie this knowledge with our understanding of our layers, we understand that each has its own stage of competence. Our first introduction to new ideas happens in the Conscious Incompetence realm, because this is the stage that learning can begin. When we are introduced to a new idea, we are aware of the idea’s existence but have not yet moved into Conscious Competence, where we can start actually building our knowledge and skill. When you discover you’re in the conscious incompetence realm, don’t be discouraged— it’s time to celebrate! This is the stage where learning and growth begin.
When this happens in relation to ourselves and our layers, it can sometimes be a painful process to constantly discover layer after layer, after layer… after layer. It can feel exhausting! Each time we peel another layer, we discover something new about our mental assets and biases. Our past experiences create our current biases, and it’s a laborious task to discover the origin of your beliefs. This is why we say, slaying onions is a lifelong process that’s meant to be done one layer at a time.
Keep your Slaying Sword Sharp
So as you’re peeling back your layers one at a time, remember that granting yourself grace is a necessary part of the process. Prepare yourself for continued self-discovery as this exercise reveals the biases that live in each of your layers. Commit to addressing one at a time, and keep your slaying sword sharp— another layer is waiting for you.
“We were in the middle of discussing the Slaying the Onion process during a group session, when a curious coaching client asked, ‘When you get stuck in a conversation, and you know the other person is resistant to going into the next layer of their onion, then what?’ I realized her question was so profound, even while the group members were struggling to understand why they would even want to slay the layer without any motive or purpose. It was obvious to me then, she was ready to be an onion slayer. The onion development process actually originated when I realized so many did not know how to look in the mirror, face their fears, and challenge themselves and their so-called comfort zones. Slaying is an intense process. It requires us to delve into our hearts, minds, and souls one layer at a time.”
A life-long commitment
This excerpt from Slaying the Onion is actually about me (Hailey, Operations Specialist). Before I worked for One Light Ahead (and before the release of this book), I competed in one of April’s Master’s League Competitions where she introduced the Slaying principles to us for the first time. I was intrigued… and honestly a little confused. I had so many questions! I understood the concept of the layers, but how did it all play out in my life? I asked, “When you get stuck in a conversation, and you know the other person is resistant to going into the next layer of their own, then what?” I wanted to know how to speed through this process and just get through it. Check all the boxes, peel all the layers, find the hack, and complete the task. Turns out, this is a life-long process, and not just a task we can tick off our to-do list.
Sometimes when we’re slaying onions, trying to dig deeper and connect further, we cut through tender layers— and it’s painful. We can damage or cut off valuable relationships by jumping the gun, trying to peel layers too quickly, and overstepping others’ boundaries. Being able to determine when it’s appropriate to slice through multiple layers at once and when it’s necessary to show restraint is a honed skill that comes solely from our own experience (trial and error) and learning from the experiences of others. The important thing to remember is that this is a lifelong process, a honed skill, and necessary to take slowly— one layer at a time.
For more commitments and a deeper dive into the principles of slaying, get your copy of Slaying the Onion today!
I choose to give myself grace as i need it— without beating up on myself
As leaders, our inner voice is often our most critical influence. We are taught from a young age to be kind and quick to forgive others. Extending grace to ourselves seems to be a completely different story.
In a world that says, “Hustle. Do the most. Be the best,” we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to have it all together. When we don’t meet our own expectations, the pressure builds and releases in the form of harsh self-criticism.
It’s hard to forgive yourself for your own mistakes, perhaps because you were never taught how to. Or maybe you don’t give yourself grace because you’re a perfectionist; you know the ins and outs of your shortcomings and mercy feels disingenuous. Whatever the case may be, the vast majority of leaders struggle with the concept of forgiving themselves.
But why does it matter? Why should you strive for forgiveness and grace in your own self-talk?
It’s impossible to experience freedom if you’re bound in the shackles of your mistakes— and ultimately, neglecting to extend grace to yourself will limit your ability to serve others. Being unkind to yourself serves no purpose. In fact, grudges you hold (even against yourself) take up negative space in your mind and distract you from performing at your best.
“We mistakenly think that being competitive and pushing ourselves hard is required for success. Research, however, is proving these theories wrong. Most of us don’t stop to consider whether our self-critical and competitive attitude are helping us achieve our goals. We don’t realize that they are actually standing in our way. Scientific data shows that self-criticism makes us weaker in the face of failure, more emotional, and less likely to assimilate lessons from our failures. Studies are finding that there is a far better alternative to self-criticism: self-compassion.”
Less likely to assimilate lessons from our failures.
When we understand that failure is a normal part of the human experience, we allow ourselves the freedom to grow and learn through our errors. Mistakes are inevitable and often painful, but they provide a unique opportunity for growth in wisdom, compassion, and empathy. When we identify and meet our own flaws with grace (and understand how much we really need), it becomes easier to forgive and extend that grace to others. Recognizing where things went wrong and how you could have acted differently brings great wisdom, often more powerful and memorable than success.
“Remember this journey is for your benefit, not for beating up on yourself. We may never change the past, it is done!” -April Ballestero, Slaying the Onion
Choose compassion over criticism when talking to yourself. Face your failures head-on and greet them with grace.
Self-reflection can happen anywhere. Every person is different, and a simple assessment of your daily activities can help spark ideas of where you can regularly practice this skill. You’ll want to search for something that happens consistently on your schedule and doesn’t take up too much mental energy. For example, if you commute to work, your drive time could double as an opportunity to survey your day and look back on how your decisions and circumstances (both good and bad) have molded your current perspective. Are you in a sour mood? Do you feel rushed? Are you more productive than usual? We are a product of our choices. You are the driver of your life. An honest look back at the turns you’ve taken and the roads you’ve chosen will give you a better understanding of where you currently are and how to move forward with better direction.
If you’re having a hard time finding any free time in your day, schedule a few minutes in the beginning or at the end of your day to reflect. The busier you feel, the more you may want to consider writing down your thoughts. Having a running record of your reflections will help you identify both constructive and harmful thought patterns and make your time more effective.
I LOVE WHO I SEE
Perhaps the first part of this commitment is easy for you; self-reflection may come naturally. But loving who you see… that can be a different story altogether. For many of us, self-reflection is our inner critic’s prime time to shine. In this case, the practice is often maladaptive and works against you. If you avoid self-reflection because you end up more upset than when you started, you may be ruminating more than reflecting.
Another term for ruminate is “to chew the cud.” Animals (like cows) chew their food, partly digest it, and regurgitate it to be chewed on again. Many of us do this when reflecting on our negative experiences. We chew on it, swallow it, and bring it back up later to be chewed on again. This type of rumination isn’t constructive. By doing this, have you changed anything about your perspective? It’s not likely.
So how do you avoid ruminating on your bad experiences or choices? No doubt, it’s no easy task. The challenge is to become an expert at investigating your emotions and asking yourself the tough questions—
“Are you operating from opportunity or obligation?”
“Does that mistake actually make you a failure, or does it make you imperfect, just like everybody else?” ”
“Did your boss really give you a dirty look because he hates your guts, or could he be having a bad day?”
There’s always an alternate perspective. We get to choose for ourselves which perspective is aligned with who we want to be.
Once you’ve thoroughly and honestly investigated, reframe your mindset around how you’re going to use these answers to improve yourself or better serve others. This is key to effective and constructive self-reflection. It can turn some of the darkest experiences into powerful testimonies of resilience and victory for others to cling to.
MAKE THE COMMITMENT
Before you start slaying any onions, you have to first be comfortable and familiar with your own layers. Can you commit to looking in the mirror daily and loving who you see?
For more commitments, get your copy of Slaying the Onion and follow with us as we visit a new commitment each week.
The holidays are upon us! Most of us will be surrounded by family and friends more often than usual. We want to share three gifts that living unlayered will bring you this holiday season: understanding perspectives, developing connections, and building bridges.
This isn’t the first time you’ve heard, “Each of us has a unique perspective.” Yet, how often do we get so caught up in our own point of view that we forget how many other valid perspectives exist in the world? The holidays are the perfect time to embrace new perspectives, as you’re surrounded by loved ones that, let’s face it— you may not be totally aligned with. Embracing new perspectives doesn’t require that you adopt them as your own. Rather, simply affirming other perspectives as valid, though different than yours, will open up opportunities for growth and connection.
When perspectives are limited, your decisions are limited. Your perspectives are valid, and they matter, but they are limited by your own experience. This is true for all of us. If your experience doesn’t cover something, turn to someone who has the experience you lack. Build an arsenal of perspectives to use when life brings you into uncharted territory. Opening up yourself to understanding new points of view will expand your options and ultimately improve the pool of choices you use in your decision-making.
Understanding different perspectives will also help you develop more authentic connections, which brings me to gift #2.
Developing Authentic Connections
Living Unlayered is impossible without authenticity. Honestly sharing your perspectives and inviting others to share their own is an excellent way to build trust within your teams and with the people around you. Leaving that open line of communication generates feelings of significance in others, which bolsters your connections and relationships.
In physics, Newton’s 1st Law of Motion (simply put) is: an object at rest stays at rest, or if in motion, remains in constant motion unless acted upon by an outside force. Surprisingly, this principle is also true for our relationships and connections with other people. You are the outside force! If we want to make a difference in others’ lives, unless we make a direct connection, there is zero chance that our ideas are going to make any impact. The object will stay at rest. Focus on making the authentic connection first, and your influence and ability to make a difference will follow.
One great way to develop real connections is to be purposeful about finding common ground. T.D Jakes said, “I like to see myself as a bridge builder, that is me building bridges between people, between races, between cultures, between politics, trying to find common ground.” Chapter 5 of Slaying the Onionis dedicated to mastering this skill.
“Your opportunity is to learn to listen, hear and confirm your understanding. The message you give back is, “This is what I heard you say—tell me more about this—” You will start to watch each person you walk with slowly start to release a bit of their guard.”
As you traverse this path, one other item to remember at this very sensitive time is to not to attempt to move anyone over to your side of the bridge. It’s so easy for us to want someone to experience our conversations from our side of the bridge— forcing them into our perspective. A bridge with only one anchored post is bound to be unstable! Yet, to be powerful and effective bridge builders, we must not lose the opportunity to root the foundation posts on both sides. Our relationships have to be deeply rooted on each side to withstand any weight. Otherwise, the bridges we build have no integrity and are quickly destroyed. We get to show each other the value of our initiative when we meet them where they’re at.