Knowing Me, Knowing You.

Whether we like it or not, our emotions play a large role in how we respond to the world around us. Learning to manage them effectively is a lifelong practice. Knowing ‘me’ enables me to know ‘you’ better. And understanding what motivates our thoughts, feelings and actions, helps us find our way in the world better too.


When our stress levels are elevated, like they are at the present time, we’re more likely to over-react. If we’re all feeling a little out of kilter due to the pandemic, that’s obviously going to affect how we engage with our families, teams and clients too.


So, how do we create a supportive work/home environment that supports our emotional management when we’re all distributed, but subject to similar stressors?

Regulating our emotions is essentially about creating space to pause and reflect, so that we can respond constructively instead of reactively.

Understanding the science behind emotional control is a starting point.


Author and psychologist Dan Siegel references a method called “name it to tame it”, to recognise which part of our brain is in control when we’re feeling stressed, scared, or overwhelmed.


Our “upstairs brain” does all our thinking and planning. Our “downstairs brain” (also called our lizard brain or reptilian brain) activates when we feel emotions.


The downstairs brain can’t reason through negative emotions. It can only assess things from a safety scenario and tell our body to freeze, fight or flee.


But if we pause long enough to name what we’re feeling, we trigger the upstairs, reasoning-part of our brain, which makes more sensible decisions and responses. It then sends soothing neurotransmitters to our downstairs brain to calm it down.

Learning to pause, identify how we’re feeling and then naming that emotion, enables us to choose how to respond to something, in spite of how we may really feel.

Read more about how to name and regulate emotions, particularly in a remote work environment.


Slab Work Smarter Blog:

Empowering Your Team To Regulate Their Emotions at Work (RC Victorino)

Creator Economy Resources

Understanding Our Motivations

``When we see the behaviour patterns we fall into, and understand the motivations and fears that lie beneath, we begin to have a choice in how we respond where we previously didn’t see one.``

Bonnie Frieden

Since last month’s Cadence edition about reframing productivity from a place of personal value, I’ve been delving further. I was recently reminded about a personality identification system called the Enneagram.


The Enneagram is a tool used to help people better understand themselves. It’s rooted in ancient traditions but was popularised in the 60s and 70s. It’s also used by companies “to maximize strengths, address weaknesses, and increase empathy and cooperation among people who approach work and life in different ways.”

Enneagram - Source Doist Blog
The Enneagram - Source: Doist Blog

``It works in the short term and the long term, providing insight that can help you choose the tools to get work done now, but also opening a path of self-discovery that can lead you to a healthier relationship with work (and yourself) overall.``

Bonnie Frieden

I haven’t pinned down exactly which of the 9 types I’m most like yet, as I see a lot of myself in several of them.


I found the following Doist article really helpful in understanding the different motivations that may affect my approach to productivity. It offers a succinct breakdown of each Enneagram type, the core beliefs which drive them, their typical strengths and challenges in a work setting, and how they can get things done. The big picture questions are also a useful practice exercise for understanding our motivations.


Which of the 9 are you?


Doist Ambition & Balance:

Productivity Advice Based on Your Enneagram Personality Type (Bonnie Frieden)

Cadence 17.1 Knowing Me Knowing You

Educating for Awareness

``We suffer because we don’t understand ourselves properly. And we suffer because we don’t know how to manage relationships. It’s on the rocks of our emotions that we founder - and on which our tragedies are made.``

Alain De Botton

One of my favourite philosophers and the founder of The School of Life, Alain de Botton recently shared his thoughts about revising education curriculums. He advocates for the need to incorporate skills development that better enables us to address the themes which affect and “unanchor” our adult lives.


Alain is astute in recognising that whilst we may need an induction into science, history, geography and the like, we also need more opportunities to build our transversal (or soft) skills, and our understanding of self and what supports our self development, from a much earlier age.

``In a future curriculum designed for flourishing rather than productivity, we might be guided to understand who we are and what our true enthusiasms might be, so that we could marry up our skills with the causes and projects that fundamentally matter to us.``

Alain De Botton

Read the full post on Instagram here: Alain De Botton on School Curriculums

Cadence 17.2 Knowing Me Knowing You

Regenerating Ourselves & Our World

``This is the time to dream up new realities, and to find the courage to not know, to listen, to experiment, unlearn, co-create, act and bring them forth. Working off the design principles of care, responsibility, love, kindness, compassion, creativity, collaboration, generosity.``

Dan Burgess

When we know ourselves better, we develop a deeper understanding of what drives us, what sustains us and what helps us flourish. This involves both internal and external loci of control. Like an onion, there are layers we must create, grow and build to support ourselves, our communities, environments and economies.


During this current process of transition, we’re juggling with immense financial uncertainty as a global recession starts to bite. But even in dark times, we have opportunities to explore other ways of doing things.

Now is a good time to consider how we can support the regeneration and emergence of economies which can be in service to all life, instead of just a powerful few.

Dan Burgess, a change strategist and co-design activist, covers 10 specific areas where we can focus our efforts. From transport, urban rewilding, sustainable food production and slow living, to infrastructures focused on generosity, kindness, resilience, inclusive decision-making and community.


This is a long piece and Dan only gets to recommendations half way through, but it’s a worthy read to inspire thought and offer direction on where you and your business can take action.


Medium: Roads to Regeneration (Dan Burgess)

Cadence 17.8 Knowing Me Knowing You

Flexifying Our Lives

Yes I made that word up, but that’s what the last few months have essentially been about. Adapting, adjusting, pivoting, and making dramatic changes because of dramatic circumstances.


And we’ve still got some big challenges to figure out.


Some examples of ways forward…. Taiwan’s G0v Zero approach to digital democracy has been referenced as a means of collaborative solution-finding (and they may be faring better than some other governments I won’t mention). Also, Jacinda Ardern is advocating the four-day work week as a way to rebuild New Zealand’s economy post Covid.


Andrew Barnes, with a team of over 200 people, transitioned his business to a four-day workweek in 2018. In the Guardian article about Jacinda, he offers a suggestion of how we can leverage our situation

“We need to retain all the productivity benefits working from home has brought, including cleaner air, a lack of gridlock or lost productivity from commuting, while helping businesses stay afloat. We have to be bold with our model. This is an opportunity for a massive reset.”

Andrew Barnes

We know it’s coming. And we know we need to be prepared.


So I’ll end off with this question…


How can we be bold in resetting our business ecosystem, protecting our environments, flexifying our lives, and rebuilding our economies, whilst supporting our wellbeing and emotional needs?


To make regenerative change, we need to start with a deep knowing.


Knowing ourselves – me, you, us.


Knowing what drives us, what supports us, and what matters.

Do you know what matters to you?

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Original Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash