Has a former Destination Imagination coach (IDODI.org), I marveled at the creativity of kids between the ages of 7 and 15. There was one particular aspect of working with them that took a long time for me to figure out. The team would work very hard to create all kinds of intricate, sometimes fragile constructions, and then, to what I assumed clumsiness, step on something they just created.
Over time, I realized that these accidents were almost predictable. These kids didn’t seem to be aware of where their feet were. They would step on things all the time; their projects, their toys, even their bowl of chips on the floor. Maybe it’s because they are growing and not used to a larger leg or foot, or maybe they’re just so interested in something else. I don’t know why, but they definitely are not aware of where their feet are.
Are You? Not literally, but are you present? Are you clear on what’s happening around you? In a situation, at work or at home, are you clear on what is occurring, what the issue is, what the problem is, what the consequences of your actions might be?
Social and Intellectually aware: You may have heard the expression “socially aware”, i.e. tuned into the reactions, body language, signals and social interpretations that you and others make. Knowing where your feet are also includes being “intellectually aware”. Understanding a situation, who’s directly and indirectly involved, knowing if you’ll step on something (create a negative consequence), as you take action to solve a problem or address an issue.
In a stressful or crises situation, we think that we don’t have time to thing, and must immediately do. However, in the vast majority of cases, we do have time to ask a few questions regarding the interpretation of a situation. Just take a moment to plant your feet and ask if you might be misinterpreting the situation, or if you take a particular action what result you expect and might there be any detrimental side effects or consequences of that action. Ask yourself, if you are both socially and intellectually aware of your surroundings.
The Takeaway: Whether in business or at home, you might think a particular action is warranted. Are you present to what your actions will affect? How will it affect others, who is impacted, what’s the downstream effect, what are the ramifications. If your actions were feet, do you know what you will be stepping on?