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Good Fences Make Good Leaders


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Healthy boundaries identify and separate the self from others and consequently are the foundation of the Blue Zone. Boundaries are the  fences, both physical and emotional, that mark off our world, creating zones of safety, authority and privacy.

Simply put, we can’t live in the Blue Zone consistently without healthy boundaries.

Boundaries are essential components because they fulfill many functions:
-They define who we are – what we believe, think, feel, and do.
-They restrict access and intrusions.
-They protect priorities.

It’s important that our boundaries are neither too open (everyone and everything gets in) nor too rigid (no one ever gets in or has access to me).

We have to start with internal boundaries. Internal boundaries allow us to define ourselves – and absolutely critical component of leadership. When I am self-defined I have a good answer to the question “Who am I – other than an extension of you?”

Here are eight steps towards creating healthy internal boundaries:

  1. Learn to recognize your own internal responses.
  2. Become aware of when you are reacting (in whatever way) to an authority figure, a peer, a stress, or a given situation.
  3. Become aware when another person is reacting to something in you.
  4. Recognize situations where you repeat the same behavior and produce the same result.
  5. Recognize situations that create fear for you and acknowledge that fear to others.
  6. When conflict arises talk it over with someone you trust. Avoid focusing on the behavior of the person with whom you are in conflict.
  7. Become aware of the people who provoke emotional responses in you. Identify the characteristics that provoke that response.
  8. Recognize that if you are unable to resolve an issue with another person after talking with them about it then there is a deeper issue at play. Bring in a disinterested third party for conversation or help.

This is a pretty challenging, in-depth list. But to invest in creating healthy boundaries is a wise use of your time, which will pay off in your own contentment, lessened anxiety, and effectiveness in relationships – both personal and professional.