Doing vs. Being


Conversation with L

I started working with a new executive coaching client this week. L is the head of HR for a medium sized technology firm. 

During our introductory meeting, L said she really likes my integrated approach to coaching - integrating work and life; integrating thoughts (head), emotions (heard), and actions (body); and integrating Doing with Being. 

“But what’s the difference between Doing and Being?” Asked L with a slightly confused yet highly engaged face.

“One way to look at the difference is that Doing is the observable actions we take, and Being is how we show up before and as we take any physical action.” I paused and checked for her reaction. 

“Let’s take one of your coaching goals for example.” I added.

One of her coaching goals is to focus more on developing others vs. getting involved in all the details

“What do you think is the Doing part of your goal?” I asked.

“It's the part of physically doing less of work and allowing others to do more of the work?” L seemed confident but raised her tone at the end.

I smiled and continued to encourage her, “OK. Then what could be the Being part of that goal then?”

“I am not sure what it means by the way I show up...” L’s body languages echoed her words, her voice pitch and volume lowered, and her pace slowed. 

“The observable physical action of delegating work to others is an external manifestation of one’s internal mindset and belief. The internal state of being drives how you show up, and how you show up drives how you do everything.” I slowed down for emphasis. 

“You can have a mindset and belief that YOU have to do the work for the work to be good, and the measure of success as a leader is to do as much work as productively as possible. In that scenario, you could have much desire at the cognitive (head) level to delegate but not actually being able to execute it at a physical (embodied) level in real action.” L was nodding her head and clearly resonating with what I was saying.

“On the other hand, you can have a mindset and belief that OTHERS have the potential to do a good job to if given a chance, and the measure of success as a leader is the ability to achieve desired business objectives through OTHER people and your ability to help others grow. In that scenario, you show up entirely differently, with different actions and results.” I allowed an extended pause to give L some space to process and respond. 

L is clearly a thinker, I could see the gears in her head turning. 

Soon, her facial expression shifted to a sense of understanding and clarity, “I think I get it.”

“Besides the underlying mindset and belief, Being also entails the energy we carry when we show up, and it’s an internal decision we make.” I could tell that L is ready to explore a bit more. 

“As you delegate work to others, you can choose to be pushy and demanding, and you can choose to be compassionate and caring. How do you think that impacts the outcome of your actions?”

“I think it has a huge impact. I see what you mean. This Being comes before any physical action, and it’s almost a decision we make internally first on how we want to be before we do anything!” L’s energy went up visibly and she was getting a bit excited about her new perspective. 

“Being is how we show up. It’s our mindset and beliefs. It’s the energy we choose to carry.” L summarized her take-away.

“I get it. I like this.” L declared. “I think this view will really help me.” 

Reflections - YOU Personally

  • What % of your daily energy is spent on busy Doing vs intentional Being?

  • How often do you pause to reflect on the above percentages and ratio?

  • What impact might it have on your effectiveness (at work or home) if you were to shift 5% of your daily energy from the Doing bucket to the Being bucket?

  • What is the impact or cost of not trying out this perspective

  • What is one baby step you can take to first shift just 0.5% of your waking time to reflecting and deciding on how you want to show up for the day? This means 5 minutes at the beginning of the day.

Reflections - Beyond YOU

In addition to paying attention to Being on a personal level, one can also be intentional about Being at a team and organizational level.

  • How is your team or your organization showing up in the workplace and marketplace?

  • What collective mindset and beliefs are in the subconscious level of your team or your organization?

  • What is the energy or mood of your team or your organization?

What insights do you have to share about Doing vs. Being?