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Here are a range of activities which will help you to extend your learning beyond what we we covered earlier in the year.

Are you above the line or below the line?

Something leaders often ask themselves is ‘Where am I?’ 

A simple line can provide us with some insight - are you above the line or below the line in terms of how you respond to what is going on in any given moment?

Below the line:

  • This state is characterised by being closed, defensive and committed to being right. When we are below the line we are heavily invested in certain beliefs and the need to be right about them.
  • Scarcity belief is strong, that there is not enough (fill in the blank)... time, money, space, love, energy.
  • There is also a belief that someone or something is a threat to our need for approval, control or security.
  • The view from here is serious and the deeper below the line we are, the more serious the situation is.
  • We know when we are below the line because we behave in certain ways - we find fault or blame elsewhere, we gossip, explain, rationalise and justify,  get overwhelmed and either avoid or pursue conflict all for the sake of winning.

Above the line:

  • This state is characterised by being open, curious and committed to learning. When we are here we believe that learning and growing are more important than being right.
  • We believe that all people and circumstances are allies and here for our growth.
  • We believe that at a distance, almost everything can be funny.
  • In this state we behave with curiosity, listen deeply, speak unarguably, question our beliefs and experiment.

Interestingly, we are hardwired to go below the line. Our brains are pattern recognition machines scouring the world around us for perceived threats and as they do this a chemical cocktail courses through our veins forcing us below the line. This reaction is part of our evolutionary history and is designed to help us react to a real threat to our physical survival.

A difficultly in the modern world where our physicality is less threatened than when were were hunter/gatherers is that our brain can’t distinguish the difference between a threat to our physical self and a threat to our ego or identity. So whilst we are hard wired to go below the line, it isn’t a particularly useful state for us to be in when the modern working world needs us to be creative, collaborative and innovative.

Building Awareness

The first step is self awareness. So some questions to help you:

  • When are you above the line? 

  • When do you go below the line?

  • What is going on that triggers you to go below the line?

  • How might you be able to take responsibility (focus on the things that are in your direct control - your business) to help move you back above the line?

Watch this video by Navy SEALs for some useful insights into how to move your thinking and behaviour above the line.