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The practice of groundedness

I just finished reading an excellent book called “The Practice of Groundedness” by Brad Stulberg.

What struck out to me was the way it spoke to modern first world issues of seemingly doing well but still being unable to relax, take a break, be in the moment and generally always feeling like there’s more to do. It delves into the science, philosophy and timeless wisdom of six core principles that we need to practice to feel connected and grounded.

The six principles of groundedness are Acceptance, Patience, Movement, Presence, Vulnerability and Deep Community.

There is also the need to drop ego to be grounded.

In some wisdom from a surprising place, in Mike Tyson’s podcast he explains that when react to someone from a place of ego, you are a slave. You’re not the master, that person or incident is now controlling your behaviour, instead of you deciding with a clear alert mind what the right path is. They changed you.

You are successful if you’re able to stay grounded. You are successful if you realise you’re not grounded and take action to do so. This will happen every day.

Practical application

I’ll illustrate with how this might play out in the world of consulting. Consulting is hectic. Intense client demands, problems, aggressive timelines and an incredibly high benchmark. In a crisis, firstly Accept. Pause, breathe, accept that this is not where you’d choose to be, but it is where you are. Be where you are. As soon as you do this, time will feel different, you’ll feel more in control, the intensity dials down a bit and you can see things from a higher place. If you pull this off really well, it can feel like everything is in slow motion around you.

When you accept and drop your ego, you’ll be able to calmly, from a grounded place say to yourself and your team “we didn’t choose to be here, but this is where we are, the most important thing is how we operate today, which is with focus, presence and engagement”. The worst thing we do in a crisis is spending our energy on things that don’t put the fire out. We run between meetings, calls, emails, instead of logically outlining what the most important items are, telling our client “yes we aren’t where we want to be, but this is how we are going to get out of it”, and then working in a linear, unstressed fashion through that list.

As a leader, this is the number 1 thing you can do. Be the person who provides direction and focus to your team. If your team is spending all day in large meetings in the crisis, you have failed. They need focus.

Another important item of groundedness is movement. You need to sweat every day. The best cure for a bad day is a good workout, we all know how a short 20 minute jog at whatever pace we can muster can 180 degree change our outlook for the day. Literally, it turns a bad day into a good one. Deep community is also critically important. You need a crew, you need people to share with, be yourself with, be silly with, be vulnerable with.

The final point is that the practice is the path, the path is the practice. In the original Matrix movie Morpheous said “there’s a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path”. You will fall off every day, just like I have this week, the most important thing is getting back on the path and practising, this is our only job. A fantastic quote from Jordan Peterson “measure yourself against how you were yesterday, not how others are today”.

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