For a long time, I have heard people talk about “centering oneself,” “being centered,” and “finding center.” However, aside from thinking about centering as being balanced emotionally and spiritually, I never really knew what being centered entailed nor how to reliably go about centering myself.
Erica Ariel Fox’s book Winning from Within actually delivers a mental map for what it means and looks like to live from a more centered place by being aware of and having access to the full range of our styles, tendencies, interests, motivations, and agendas for thinking about and engaging with the world.
“When we anchor ourselves in our center, we are mindfully aware of our reactions and choices.”Erica Ariel Fox, p. xxv
The truth is that our center is actually the expression of ourselves that is most comprehensive, multifaceted, and uniquely diverse. The outward expression of this comes from within, particularly how the different aspects of our being, or as Fox refers to it, our inner negotiators, come to an agreement based on the situation, the intended outcome, and the interplay between the two. The more centered you are, i.e., the more in tune you are with all of your inner negotiators, the more capable you are of intentionally and actively choosing which parts of you to draw on or nurture for future recruitment.
“Learning the behaviors of leaders doesn’t translate into performing the practices of leadership. To generate real change–to see new behavior and get new results that last over time–you need to activate something inside you that enables you to perform the skill.”Erica Ariel Fox, p. 11
Your inner negotiators are a composite of four primary voices, points of view, and bias for action. They act as the C-Suite of your psyche:
- The Chief Executive Officer: CEO, or DREAMER
- The Chief Financial Officer: CFO, or THINKER
- The Chief Human Resources Officer: CHRO, or LOVER
- The Chief Operating Officer: COO, or WARRIOR
- Your DREAMER is what enables you to have vision. This is the negotiator that projects your mind into the future to envision the possibilities of life that are meaningful to you and purpose driven. Your DREAMER is clear about what it wants and what it doesn’t want and desires to innovate based on what intuitively seems right for the future it is drawn toward.
- Your THINKER is what enables you to analyze. This is the negotiator that thinks critically and prefers to rely on logic, reason, inquiry, and reflection as the means with which to understand before taking action. Your THINKER is more attached to pursuing things in a thorough manner in order to clarify perspectives and ensure the security of outcomes with a high amount of quality control.
- Your LOVER is what enables you to be more in touch with your feelings. This is the negotiator that allows you to engage with an energetic presence of empathy, excitement, and genuine interest in other people and your relationships with them. Unlike your DREAMER, which is focused on a future in the distance and your THINKER, which is focused on evaluating the past, your LOVER is very present with the moment and is more concerned with being helpful rather than thorough in order to build trust through the act of sincerity.
- Your WARRIOR is what enables you to take action and prioritize getting things done efficiently. This is the negotiator that helps you to accomplish your goals by being protective of your own time, space, and attention. While your THINKER is more concerned with doing things in a detailed and deliberate way, your WARRIOR prefers to do things in a diligent and pragmatic way. It serves as a fantastic task master.
Think about the times in which you felt centered. Instead of feeling tension between these differing world views, you likely perceived a sense of balance in how these world views all felt authentic and accessible. On the contrary, feeling off center is when the big four are in opposition with one another, perhaps one or two are very loud and dominant while the other one or two are very soft or silenced.
“Self-mastery involves a process of gathering all four of them together, and practicing how to use their strengths to balance each other.”Erica Ariel Fox, p. 38
Call to Action: Go take Fox’s free Big Four profile assessment . This assessment will give you a current snapshot of whether you are low, balanced, or high in each of the four–DREAMER, THINKER, LOVER, AND WARRIOR. From there, you can practice training self-awareness more often by learning to recognize your inner negotiators moment to moment as well as learning to “accept and appreciate them.” You can practice training self-regulation by learning to “negotiate with them to broker new deals.” Tomorrow, I will write about using the big four framework to more holistically reflect on a day of your life (go here to see that post).