November 3, 2009
I was reading an article in Harvard Business Review that caught my eye. (Yes, I subscribe to Harvard Business Review and probably will until my death… you can all stop laughing now:-) The article is titled "The Five Minds of a Manager" by Jonathon Gosling and Henry Mintzberg.
By looking at the juxtaposition that the current culture puts business leaders in (collaborate vs. compete, be global vs. be local), the authors have isolated five primary "management mind-sets." These mindset perspectives are:
- Managing self: the reflective mind-set
- Managing organizations: the analytic mind-set
- Managing context: the worldly mind-set
- Managing relationships: the collaborative mind-set
Managing change: the action mind-set
I can hear you wondering, "What does this have to do with me – a homeschooling mom, keeping a home, and hanging out with my kids all day?" You'd be surprised at the parallels that can be made between a homeschooling mom and a corporate manager. I have taken the liberty of using the HBR article's very insightful framework to examine how we can be more effective at homeschooling, running our household, knowing ourselves, and building better relationships with our husbands, kids and friends.
My own framework is probably less professional, but I hope it will be something you can relate to and find useful in your own way. Without further ado, I present you with the "Five Minds of a Mom":
1The Contemplating Mind
As moms, we are often caught up in the "doing" that comprises so much of our days. If you are anything like me, a description of your average week would be dominated by action words. Teaching, driving, cooking, coaching, dressing, soothing, cleaning, talking, correcting, training… these are all the things we do. Those things are the bread and butter of our lives as mothers. Those things are valid and important.
We can't, however, underestimate the importance of reflecting. In reflection, we find meaning in the doing. This is more natural for some people than others. We can all benefit from taking the time to process what is happening in our lives.
How? For me, this means taking a few moments to write in a journal or otherwise sit down to revel in my life. I think of funny things the kids have said, savor the memory of time outside with my husband on a beautiful day, or reflect on a relaxing conversation I had with close friends. I sit still with God to just be present and relaxed. Life flies by at lightening speed, and the world is full of challenges and hardships. If I didn't take a few moments here and there to look back on and contemplate the gifts, I think my heart would grow a little harder and my smile would be a little less bright.
2The Evaluating Mind
So, what exactly is the "evaluating mind?" For a mom, the evaluating mind is the piece of you that reviews what happened today, this week, this month, this year. You are looking for patterns in your behavior or in the behavior of your family. You are deciding if you feel good about your activities and whether those activities really fit with your goals.
My evaluating mind has recently been trying to find congruence between my business-related tasks and my desire to be fully present for my family. I am not only a Professor Mom (homeschooling) and the Professor Mom (blogging), but I also need time to be a wife, to give service to the church and community, and to have a little humor and downtime in my life. I have been reflecting on how all of these roles intersect.
I analyzed where my time is spent and discovered that I was taking life in big chunks of time. That worked better for me BC (before children:-) In this season of my life, it's important for me to be more flexible and ready to live in the moment. I have to do a little of this and a little of that, rather than sitting down for 4 hours and focusing on one project. It really isn't the way I enjoy working, but it creates a better environment for all of us when I make flexibility a priority. So, I have learned to adjust.
3The Exploring Mind
Have you noticed that the world holds a contradictory image of motherhood? Typically, mommyland is viewed as stable and non-adventurous, sometimes bordering on the mundane. I am quite certain that we have all felt that at one time or another. I have to tell you, though, being a mom has also been one of my greatest life adventures. In between the mundane, trivial and downright boring moments, lie moments of joy, fear, risk and inner battle.
When each of my sons goes through a new phase in his growth or behavior, I am basically embarking on new territory. Have I already learned from former years or older children? Of course, but every child has his or her own unique being and way. It is my job to anticipate and work with that unique nature. I feel a sobering fear when I see something undesirable in my child's heart - maybe selfishness or defiance - because I am never quite sure that I will be able to help them past it. I persevere until I see improvement. I take risks everytime I let them try out new things. And, I feel the most inexplicable joy when I see our faith and family values alive in our children.
No matter how many days are filled with changing diapers, washing dishes and healing boo-boos, your life as a mother will continue to have a component of adventure. Allow your mind to see your world through this lens. Use it to explore the world around you, regardless of whether you are hanging out in your backyard or traveling to a new country.
4The Relating Mind
Moms have the distinct honor of relating to multitudes of different groups. Homeschool groups, church groups, work groups, parent groups, sports groups, scouts, book clubs, etc. each bring with them a distinct subculture. How do we handle the people who get on our last nerve? How do we reach out to kindred spirits?
Our relational styles have an element of genetic predisposition to them. However, as we get older, we find that we have this awesome ability to broaden ourselves and the way we interact with other. By developing the areas toward which we don't naturally tend, we can connect with the mom down the street who may seem quite different.
If you are a very boisterous person, you can work on your listening skills and attempt to tone it down a bit for the quieter person you'd like to develop a friendship with. Likewise, by creating a conversation script, someone who is quite timid and shy can venture forth into new groups confident that they have the ability to start a conversation.
5The Engaging Mind
The engaging mind encompasses you as a whole person and how you interact with others. You take each day and incorporate its experiences into your essence. The people you have met, the things you have done, the sights you have seen, are each absorbed. Your authentic self works with those experiences, judging them good or bad, helpful or irrelevant. You keep what works and discard what doesn't. Wisdom is the filter for all of it.
I find this happens almost subconsciously. The payoff comes when I realize that through the engaging process my mind has come to a hard decision or I have broken a bad habit that I've been struggling with. God guides us through this mind. I find it encouraging when I hear Him 'speak' like this.
After examining each of the "Five Minds of a Mom," you probably find yourself drawn more readily to some of these perspectives than others. We each have distinct personalities that draw on different strengths.
Let's look at the term introvert. Introverted people are not the stereotypical shy, social outcast types. Introversion really means that you draw your energy from time alone. Introverts are typically more adept at using the Contemplating Mind. Their nature draws them to reflect on their experiences and draw meaning from them.
On the flip side, extraverts draw their energy by interacting with others. Extraverts will often feel quite comfortable with their Exploring Mind. They look outwardly and engage in experiences outside of themselves with enthusiasm.
We all can benefit from utilizing our less-natural minds more often. As with everything worth doing in life, practice makes perfect. Over the next few weeks, check in with yourself to see which of the minds you tend toward. Then, try to work on one of your under-developed minds. By rounding yourself out in this manner, you may stumble upon ways to bring more light to all of the different facets of your life.