One of the least exciting facets of growth is your personal foundation. Most people gloss over it with happy feel good sayings. You have seen them…
“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.”
“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”
“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.”
“It’s not the load that brings you down, it’s the way you carry it”
They make you feel good, usually for a short period of time. They are the snack food of the motivational world. Unfortunately, they are easy to use but don’t help you achieve much of anything, at least long term. They become destructive when used as a foundation for someone’s growth. That creates false foundations which can easily come crashing down.
Your foundation represents the most basic needs you have as an individual. In our GAP Inspiration Model, we call this your Preservation level. It is the things you need to be happy, healthy and ready for growth. The tricky part is that they are hard, scary, and uncomfortable. In some cases you may need professional help to tackle them, maybe a coach or maybe a therapist.
What a strong preservation level means is different for everyone because our needs are unique. However, there are basics that must be met at some degree for everyone. There are 4 personal preservation laws, that if not satisfied will jeopardize your growth and well-being. I have had some clients describe the lack of a good preservation level feels like wearing a happy mask. They play the part of being happy but deep down they don’t feel it.
Security is the most basic need for anyone is to feel secure. That is general security. It means feeling safe, financially secure, secure at work, secure at home, etc. Without a feeling of security, it is hard to trust others, engage in activities, and really build other areas of your preservation level.
To improve your security, take time to write down the things that make you anxious. Many of them will be related to security aspects. You can review them and see how you can improve/mitigate/control them. Financial security is one of the bigger elements here. Make sure you have a budget and are in control of your finances.
Control is your organization of priorities and responsibilities. It can be expressed more simply as your task management system and can be both for home and work. Without a good system in place, you lose control over your life. Even a simple, modest system can work. The fact of having one is the critical piece.
Improving control is achieved through some sort of organizational method. It could be as simple as post-it notes or as complex as an online electronic system. The key is that the system works for you, captures everything you need (so you can get it out of your head) and is flexible. Start out small, maybe a notepad, then work your way to a more advanced online system.
Acceptance is a very important piece to your wellbeing. It is deeper then associations and social interactions. It is the feeling of acceptance and being part of something else. For some, this is achieved through marriage, friendship, gangs, or even online communities. We desire the feeling of being part of something else, which brings safety and can lower stress.
Improving acceptance is not an easy act, it is the hardest one in fact. The main reason is that acceptance is highly unique to each person. For some it is marriage, for others it is having a group of people that share a common bond. You have to decide which is best for you. What makes you feel like you are accepted and needed as a person.
Stress is the accumulation of all others and a critical needs itself. It is also something we can never fully get rid of. Stress is part of humanity and will also be there as long as we want or need for something. The key is managing stress so that it does not negatively impact our lives in destructive ways. You cannot run away from stress and feel-good sayings won’t make it disappear.
To manage stress you first have to ensure your other preservation areas are being satisfied. Stress is its own thing, but it is also fueled by imbalance. For example, if you do not feel secure your stress will be much higher. Once you address all preservation areas, you can manage stress through release actions. Those are actions that help reduce stress levels. Exercise and games are two of the most effective. Exercise is easily the more healthy option.
Addressing the preservation level is hard and uncomfortable. However, it is critical to any future success. Be honest with yourself and seek out honest help. Avoid feel-good (snack food motivation).
For leaders, it is important to address the preservation level of your employees. This may seem like crossing a line into people’s personal lives. However, for employees to be at their best they need to be happy. TO be happy, they need to have strong preservation levels.