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What’s Your Default?

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March 24, 2020

Last week, we surmised about how the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to stop the earth on its axis.  This week, many of us are caught up in a whirlwind of remote learning, failed “attempts” to work from home, treating the most severe cases of cabin fever and, despite our best efforts, realizing that sustainable #socialdistancing is to no avail. 

Indeed, these uncertain times are marked by a downward economic spiral, critical tipping points for our health care system as well as business casualties experienced most sharply by hospitality, gig economy, and low wage workers.

Yet, we’ve also seen glimmers of hope and humanity like DJ D-Nice’s epic Home School  party @ Club Quarantine which attracted over 100K individual participants at one time last weekend.

C’mon, when else would you or I be at the same virtual dance party with MC Lyte, Justin Timberlake, Michelle Obama, Ellen, Oprah,  Joe Biden, Janet Jackson, Bernie Sanders, Rihanna, Jlo, John Legend and Mark Zuckerberg??.  Plus, who could forget the almost 2500 folks who participated in Venture Café Virtual Gatherings across the globe!

With more time outdoors and less hectic schedules, if you’re like me, then you might find yourself defaulting to childhood pastimes or forgotten DIY talents that lay buried beneath the business of our pre ‘Rona virus lives.   

So this week, we’re exploring our defaults — AKA the state to which we subconsciously revert to under pressure or stressful situations. Specifically, the what, why, and how we connect to experiences and others.

Attachment theory is rooted in psychologists Ainsworth and Bowlby’s work examining individual tendencies to develop strong affectionate bonds with particular others. As with most behavioral idiosyncrasies, how we form attachments originates in childhood.  

Basically, our  attachment style dictates how we relate to other people, particularly in situations that trigger stress. This conversation becomes particularly relevant as we don close quarters and rapidly transition our daily routines of life and work. 

Are You OK? Are you sure ?

Anxious preoccupied attachment is typically marked by the fear of upsetting others. This often manifests as constantly checking in. (please, don’t use this definition to go psychoanalyze your mom)  When I think of this style, the discomfort of nervous energy comes to mind.

 Does your level of “check in” straddle the lines of incessant and overbearing?  This subconsciously anxious behavior may not only reprise as overstepping personal boundaries, but also an inability to address conflict.

Awareness hack:  schedule meditation breaks, download a mindfulness app, surround your working space with positive affirmations (like the kind the reassure you that the world is NOT ending). And most importantly, give yourself permission to trust the process and leave a thing or two unresolved.  Perhaps it’s time to give HeadspaceCalm or Simple Habit a try.

An Answer For E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.

Remember the know-it-all who seems to have the answer for everything?  As the de facto team leader, maybe this person is you. Not pointing fingers here, so a neutral avatar for purposes of this discussion is Hermoine from Harry Potter.

Are you the first to dictate what others should do and rarely, if ever, provide an opportunity for input or feedback?  This attachment tendency often breeds mistrust among teams due to micro-management, over-monitoring, and lack of democratic engagement.  People who work with dismissive avoidants may embody the adage about small children: they are neither neither seen, nor heard.

Awareness hack: practice the Golden Rule, level up on your EQ (emotional intelligence), and finally, remember the most applicable clichés:  “there’s no ‘I’ in team” or “teamwork makes the dream work.” Adding Emotional Intelligence 2.0 to your reading list won’t hurt either.

The Worst Case Scenario

The COVID-19 pandemic is the ultimate trigger point for fearful avoidants.  The most likely to avoid action based on false-negative perceptions in their interactions with others- whether virtual or in person. Fatalistic approaches, much like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, hardly yield high performance. 

  Do you stick your head in the sand in hopes surmounting problems will miraculously disappear? If so, then it’s likely you default to fear— often ending up stuck in its paralysis. 

Awareness hack: compartmentalize your tasks and digitize your time management system.  Often, automated platforms are all-too-honest about how much time we spend avoiding our responsibilities with distractions such as social media binges, Netflix marathons, or anything but what’s on our schedule.  My favorite tools are Asana, Google Calendar or most of the High Performance Habits.

Steady & Secure

Like a well-trained Jedi master, the optimal attachment style is secure. 

It is characterized by confidence, reciprocal engagement, non-reactive temperament and emotional resilience.  If the secure attachment style is not your default, the good news is that it’s totally achievable.  Adopting cognitive awareness practices like mindfulness or self regulation are great starting point.


Leigh-Ann / Venture Cafe Miami

P.S. see you at this week’s #VCMVirtual Gathering

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