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The Doing and The 'Being' or The Hand & Heart

"Loneliness is the symptom of a disconnected heart. It’s important to sometimes let your heart unfold, like a flower in the sun, and open up to caring, connection, and compassion.

It’s hard to hear someone’s heart when you’re living in a loud crowd of superficiality. We humans have myriads of unobserved commonalities but too often focus on our differences."

Steve Simms

Posted August 2021

OK, every now and then I will write what some may consider a mushy post. Warning: this might be one of them. Let's start with a question: What would happen if our leading was less about the doing and more about intentionally connecting with the 'being'. (I did warn you).


I became a coach because I was curious about the disconnect clients consistently experienced between the work of their hands and the 'beat' of their hearts. The hands were busy accomplishing things: meeting goals, leading teams, strategizing next moves -- you know all the stuff we do. The hearts of many of these leaders, though outwardly successful, seemed out of sync with the work of their hands. Passion and enthusiasm were absent. Work was done well outwardly, but the leader and the team couldn't quite put their fingers on what was missing. However the missing ingredient resulted in low engagement for the team and limited success for the organization.


I had been working as a consultant for a few years around 2011.   While my practice was moderately successful on the surface, I also had the nagging feeling that something was missing in my work; the same thing seemed to be happening with most of the clients I served.  I sat across the desk from brilliant, successful leaders who were trying to understand the void and the success they were experiencing simultaneously. Something wasn’t connecting.  Exploring this disconnect is what led me to study coaching.


I wonder if the disconnect between the hand and heart as leaders is reflective of what we are experiencing as a society. A survey from 2023, published in Fortune Magazine, indicates that loneliness has been increasing since the 1970s, and social media is part of the driver of that loneliness. ( As a society we are “technically” more connected than we have ever been through the vehicle of social media. Yet factors like loneliness are at an all-time high.  According to the article, loneliness was experienced generationally like this: “Gen Z (38%) and millennials (37%) feel the most lonely compared to Gen X (31%) and boomers (19%).” Compare those percentages with these: “Over half of Americans spend more than 50% of their time online (73% of Gen Z, 64% of millennials, 56% of Gen X, and 40% of boomers).” This isn't a blog about what's wrong with social media, though. This post is about finding the connection between your hand and heart -- finding "the being" in "the doing." 


Are you feeling a sense of disconnect between what you are doing for work and what is happening (or not happening) in your heart? Do you increasingly rely on your workplace function to identify you? Are you leading authentically, or as Chris Rock once said, "sending your representative?"   If those questions resonate with you, recognizing the disconnect is only the beginning. Brave leaders understand the responsibility to first reconnect your own hand and heart by remembering the "why of your work". If you are courageous to reconnect hand and heart, your team and organization can benefit by learning to do the same.

Michele Aikens is CEO & Lead Coach of Clear Sight Coaching and Consulting.

PS: I ran across this video and was further inspired to encourage us to stop and reconnect with what is happening in and around us.

PPS: Feel free to share with another leader who could use some clarity.

In 2007, the world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell conducted an experiment in Washington D.C.'s L'Enfant Plaza metro station. Bell, dressed in casual clothes, played his $3.5 million Stradivarius violin for 45 minutes, performing some of the most beautiful classical music ever written. The experiment aimed to see if people in a hurry-hurry world would stop and appreciate the beauty of classical music. The result was surprising.

During the 45 minutes, Bell collected only $32.17 in tips, and only a handful of people stopped to listen to the music. The experiment showed that people are often too busy to take the time to appreciate the beauty of classical music, even when it is performed by one of the world's greatest violinists.


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