Harnessing the Power of AND

The power of AND

How often do you find yourself using the word BUT or framing a situation as an EITHER / OR scenario? 

If you are anything like me, it’s often!

When we use the word BUT when we could say AND, we reinforce an EITHER / OR mentality.

We frame something as one or the other, rather than both options, or a continuum that encompasses a range. This OR that. This BUT not that.

What about if we reframed our thought to be inclusive — this AND that?

In doing so, we connect ideas instead of separate them. We bring concepts together. We place value on both options. And we are inspired to think about how both possibilities can co-exist, rather than in exclusion of each other.

Try This Experiment

In fact, I’m running an experiment on myself right now. I am paying attention to my words and when I find myself saying BUT, I immediately try to reframe the same statement with an AND.

It’s a subtle but powerful shift.

Listen to how the following two statements sound:

  • “I’d love to do that today, BUT I have another commitment.” — When said this way, it sounds like an excuse, like one is better than the other.
  • “I’d love to do that today AND I have another commitment.” — When said this way, it sounds like both are important and valued.

I’m catching — and correcting — myself multiple times of day saying BUT when really AND would be more accurate to what I mean and and authentic to who I am.

Imagine what our world could be like if we had more AND?

What possibilities might we create?

What more might we value?

I challenge you too to pay attention to how often you use the word BUT, and to experiment with replacing it with AND!

Being a leader doesn’t mean you need an EITHER / OR mentality. 

Let’s continue this concept of the power of AND.

When you think of yourself in a leadership role, how often does it feel like you have to make tradeoffs between two things?

While it may often seem like you are faced with EITHER / OR scenarios, I believe we can achieve more when we consider the power of AND. 

For example:

  • Just because you have goals to achieve doesn’t mean you can’t help your team achieve theirs.
  • Just because you are charged with delivering outcomes doesn’t mean you can’t support your team in the process of discovering them.
  • Just because you want to support someone doesn’t mean that you can’t also challenge them.

Like my experiment to use less BUT and more AND, I encourage you to examine the mindset that limits you and your team’s potential when you use EITHER / OR or BUT.

Instead, adjust your mindset to include AND. 

  • You can provide challenging goals AND empower your team to be innovative in finding new solutions.
  • You can seek success AND embrace failures as a source of learning.
  • You can care about business outcomes AND genuinely care about your team members.
  • You can grow as a leader AND grow as a team.
  • You can lead with strategy AND lead with heart.

You just have to consider how they can co-exist.

There is always an AND, and people-centered leaders and coaches know this, live this, and embody this. They are leaders not just in title, but ones their team chooses to follow and coaches that their team needs.

My Journey Towards Intentional Leadership – of Embracing AND

I’ve had my own journey to learn how to become a more intentional leader and I’ve used my story, my key learnings and my leadership framework to help thousands of other leaders do the same.

I discovered over a decade ago that to be a more effective leader and coach, I had to create the conditions for others to be successful AND find ways for me to be successful at the same time.

To do so, I had to change how I was showing up. And this meant learning how to hold seemingly polar concepts in place at the same time.

I needed more AND, and less EITHER / OR.

In the video below I share some of my own leadership journey of becoming a more effective coach and people-centered leader.

As I describe, I was passionate about developing people and supporting their growth, AND unknowingly [note that when I was originally writing this piece, I used the word “but” there], some of my habits that had led to early career success as an independent contributor, and how I responded as a new manager to being stressed and overwhelmed, held me back from focusing on the AND. 

  • I was juggling multiple goals, organizational challenges, and management tasks as part of my management position, and I was not sure how to achieve them all while also developing my team at the same time.
  • I was struggling to not jump in with my own ideas and solve team members’ problems for them, all done in the spirit of being helpful yet undermining their learning opportunities.
  • I was also telling more than asking because it felt easier and faster to tell others what to do rather than ask the questions that would allow them time to explore and learn. 

I bet you know these feelings. 

At the time, it felt like an either/or situation. Get it all done OR coach and develop my team.

Yet it wasn’t.

AND is always an option.

Lead with Intention: Align Your Actions With Your Heart and Purpose

To become a more effective leader, I had to learn how to navigate the continuums of leadership — to embrace the AND. 

As I describe in this 10 minute “Lean Talk” several years ago, I had to “get out of the habit of telling”.

And in doing so, I learned to lead with intention.

Through developing a greater awareness of myself, connecting with my purpose as a leader, and examining my leadership practices,  I learned how to shift how I showed up so that I could better align my actions with my purpose as a leader and coach — to help people learn, grow, and achieve.

My purpose as a leader and coach — help people learn, grow, and achieve.

I put deliberate focus on improving myself to orient my actions to align with who I wanted to be, honing my skills as an intentional leader.

And thus began my own journey of intentional leadership by focusing on the power of AND.

Navigating the Continuums of Leadership

By recognizing that leadership and developing other people did not need to be an EITHER / OR situation —  rather a continuum that included both ends of the spectrum —  I realized that leadership is not about one end of the spectrum OR the other.

Instead, it is about knowing how to embrace the journey between the points AND how to hold two concepts as true at the same time. 

With practice and self-awareness, I learned to navigate those leadership and coaching continuums based on the situation:

  • It’s not about asking OR telling. Instead, it’s knowing when to ask and when to tell. I call this the “Advocacy-Inquiry Continuum” 
  • It’s not about being a content expert OR a coach to help someone move forward. It’s about knowing when someone needs your knowledge and when they are better served by creating their own. I call this the “Helping Continuum”
  • It’s not about just providing a challenge OR supporting their journey. Instead, it’s understanding when and how to provide both challenge and support to help them move forward. I call this the “Challenge-Support Continuum”

And it’s a balance of knowing how we can achieve two multiple things at the same time.

  • It’s not about just focusing on business outcomes OR only developing your people. Instead, it’s focusing on how to achieve business results AND simultaneously developing people at the same time.

As Mr. Yoshino says about Toyota’s philosophy: “We make people while we make cars.”

Note: If you want to learn more about how to navigate the Advocacy-Inquiry Continuum, check out this blog post “How to Ask Effective Questions” where I write about Isao Yoshino and I approach asking questions to help others learn AND you can download my guide on “How to Ask Effective Questions” by CLICKING HERE.

Intentional practice towards AND and BOTH

As I practiced with intention to align my actions with my purpose, not only was I enabling those that I coached to become more capable and confident in solving their problems, my team was moving more quickly towards achieving our goals.

I was becoming the leader that my team wanted to follow and the coach my team and my clients deserved. 

And, perhaps most importantly, I felt fulfilled knowing that I was aligning my actions with my heart. I was becoming the leader and coach I wanted to be.

I hope today’s post helps you to do the same. 

Your reflections

As you reflect on this post, consider your own actions and intentions:

  • What subtle shifts do you need to make? 
  • What actions can you take today to better align what you say and what you do with who you want to be?
  • How can harness the power of AND?

I’d love to hear your journey of AND! Please write to me or reply in the comments below.

My Mission: Help YOU Live and Lead with Intention

If you want to become a more intentional leader that leads from the heart AND is able to navigate the many continuums of leadership, you might be interested in joining my Leading to Learn Accelerator, which begins February 2nd. 

Our world needs people-centered leaders, those who know how to lead with the heart and inspire the mind, and I am passionate about helping make that happen. It gives me great joy to be able to share my own leadership journey with you, in the hopes that it can help you too.

Through this 60-day experience, you will learn more about the power of AND, and discover how you can accelerate your own practices to navigate the continuums rather than focus on the polarities.

The Learning to Lead Accelerator isn’t just a course; it’s an accelerator for your personal growth as a leader and a learner.

Part book study and self-paced reflection based on the lessons within my best-selling book Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn, part facilitated course, part group coaching, the Accelerator is designed to support you in becoming a more intentional people-centered leader in just 60 days.

If you are committed to being the best leader and coach that you can be, and want some support along the way, learn more and register for the Accelerator today.

Spaces are filling up – course starts February 2!

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