Categories: interpersonal skills
Somatic Balance for Project Managers - Change Leaders
A few years ago when I certified as a coach, I was introduced to the concept of somatic balance as the balance between four elements that make the body complete: body, mind, emotion and spirit. Later I found other similar definitions and some different ones.
Tracing the etymological origins of the word somatic we find that the word comes from two terms of the Greek language. The noun "Soma", which means "body" and the suffix "-tico" which is equivalent to "relative to". In other words, somatic is relative to the body.
Psychosomatic disorders on the other hand are those psychic processes that have influence and effects on the somatic. This means that certain somatic symptoms (with physical evidence) may have their origin in emotional processes.
In the current times with the increasing complexity of the projects, project managers, as well as the team members and even the sponsor face situations of stress and conflicts very frequently. Additionally, it is a fact that nobody achieves a significant change without winning some "enemies". Failure to adequately control these situations leads to reduced productivity, absenteeism, among other problems that affect the objectives of the project.
In this context, all professionals, but in particular those with greater responsibilities and challenges, require maintaining a balance between the four elements. A variation in one of them can affect any of the others, reducing the ability to cope with complicated situations.
Let's start with the body. We all need to take care of our health, which should at least include an annual medical check-up and exercise. Many times under the pressure of having many pending things we end up having a sedentary life, which eventually causes us to have less energy and it costs us more to fulfill our tasks. The truth is that I personally never considered myself an athlete, but someone who likes challenges. Some years ago I set myself the challenge of starting to run. At the beginning I could not run a couple of blocks. Now I can run 10 Kilometers and when everyone gets sick at home my immune system resists getting sick. Outside of enjoying better health, exercise is also a good way to control stress.
On the subject of emotions, positive emotions give us strength to continue, while negative emotions reduce our energy and ability. Therefore, it is important to know how to identify and control our emotions. Quoting Daniel Goleman intense negative emotions absorb all the attention of the individual, hindering any attempt to attend to something else. In fact, if you have had the experience of meeting a person who has been seriously ill and recovered, you will probably find that his state of mind had something to do with his chances of recovery. On the contrary, when the body is dominated by negative emotions, the natural defenses stop fighting. It's like an army that lowers its weapons when it sees its leader fall.
In the same way you have probably observed that solving problems in projects is much easier when you are surrounded by positive people and that it is not advisable to make important decisions when you are upset about something. Remember that, if emotions are not controlled properly, "emotion usually overcome reason"
On the subject of the mind. As professionals we know that we must always stay updated and that means reading, attending events and learning from the experiences of others, among other things. This allows us to propose better solutions and therefore be more effective. However, if we are dominated by negative emotions, the predisposition to continue learning or thinking in a logical way diminishes and if you have ever tried to study or elaborate an important work feeling ill, you will understand that the physical state (body) also affects the ability to think clearly.
As for the spirit, connect with nature and get away from the maelstrom of work, do meditation, yoga or if you are a religious person give yourself a time to pray, it also helps to keep the other elements in balance. Although this can be done a few minutes a day, vacations are also an important opportunity to find balance.
In summary, the four elements are related to each other and affect our ability to make decisions and fulfill our functions. In that sense neglecting any of the 4 can affect our potential as managers, change leaders or professionals in general and it would be even more important that we know how to identify when one of our employees faces problems due to health issues, knowledge or emotional state. Sometimes it is important that the manager recognizes when a collaborator needs a physical or mental rest.