Think of all the roles and relationships in your life — personal and professional.  Take me for example.  I’m a husband, father, son, brother, uncle, cousin, friend.  I’m also mentor, leader, business-owner, teacher, author, speaker, student.  And I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting.

And with all of our roles and relationships, come expectations.  And when those expectations are not met, we get disappointed.  Upset.  Frustrated.  Do you know why?  That pesky little thing called “ego”.   When the ego is left unchecked, it can cause all sorts of problems.  I’m not saying ego is a bad thing — you need some ego for sure!  (Stay tuned for future blog posts on this…)

When the ego is running amok however, it prevents us from seeing situations and relationships clearly.  And without that clarity, we can’t attain Mushin — that wonderful state of “no-mind” where you are free to see the situation for what it is.  Free to decide powerfully.  Free to act.  (Or, NOT act.  For some of us, not acting on something is the toughest thing in the world to do.)  Free to succeed.

Here’s the good news:  You don’t have to sit and mediate for 20 years to attain the Mushin mind.  Like anything you want to get better at, you need to practice.  You have to get out and exercise your “Mushin muscle”.

One way to exercise your Mushin muscle is to practice forbearance — patient self-control and tolerance.  So when expectations are not met — for example, a vendor bottlenecks a project with a delayed deliverable — don’t go nuts.  Do you really think that will make the vendor work any harder or prevent future delays?

Practicing forbearance is an exercise in having tolerance for yourself.  For slowing down and being patient to see the situation clearly for what it is.  Is it about letting the other person or organization off the hook?  Sometimes.  And sometimes it isn’t.  Like anything, it depends.  I can promise you this though:  If you practice patience with yourself, and get your ego under control, you will gain the clarity to know when to let something slide and when not to.

For example, I remember a few years back when my sales team failed to hit their revenue numbers, even after I had trained and showed them a sure-fire way to easily hit their goal.  And when they didn’t, I was livid.  I immediately drafted a scathing email ripping the entire team to shreds.  I planned to send the email, call a meeting, and micro-manage the heck out them to ensure they didn’t miss their next revenue goal.  Thank God I didn’t.  I practiced forbearance and started to exercise my Mushin muscle by deleting the email and taking time to reflect.  What I found was this:  The “sure-fire” way I showed my team to hit their sales quota was a sure-fire way for ME — not my team.  When I created the space for them to succeed THEIR way, they thrived!  The following month they not only made up the revenue difference, but they also crushed the current monthly goal by over 200%.  All while having fun, being creative, and empowered to achieve their goals their way.

So when your expectations are not met, what do you do?  Have you ever sent a scathing email to your team or colleagues that you soon regretted?  How about getting on the “tolerance treadmill” and exercising your Mushin muscle by practicing forbearance?  Let me know how it is going by posting a comment below or tweet me at @mpveltri  — look forward to hearing from you!