Of Check-in and Ahas

There was pin drop silence in the room. Everyone was posing to be deep in thoughts; scratching their heads and eyes tightly closed. And then one person raised his head and asked, “what are we thinking about?” Does this situation sound familiar? It should.

On many occasions, now I can see, I have allowed myself to worry about the problem – not the solution, without fully understanding the situation and my position. Whenever there is a problem, adrenaline rushes, and emotions overwhelm rationality. That has always been the case and so my approach has always been to just start with something – anything. In such situations, I have spent hours with lots of noisy things swirling in my head, and drank gallons of tea to dissolve thick fog around my brain. But it has always, with no exception, resulted in what is commonly known as anxiety, confusion and waste of time.

At Acumen Fund, first thing they do is to acuminate you to avoid such traps. During our training as Fellows, this concept was discussed multiple times with different names: self-awareness, presence, objectivity, and Check-in. In fact, the first thing that fellows cohort did was to check-in. We all jotted down, in quickest manner, what we wanted to achieve in the year fellowship, and how it’d fit in grand schemes of our ambitions, and what efforts we are going to make to achieve our goals, what we will need to be most effective etc.

The basic idea of checking-in is that before you step in a situation, you think about it objectively. Understand what needs to be worked on, how you are going to do it, what resources you have, what else you may need/use and more important, how you are feeling about it.

Adrien, author of the Change in 30 Days, talked about the emotional position in a very interesting way. The feelings of love, hate, fear etc are all very natural and there is absolutely nothing wrong about feeling in a certain manner. But one needs to objectify the feelings which mean knowing why you are feeling fearful, or knowing exactly what you are disliking about something.

My idea of checking-in is to determine a clear direction and contexts to think and act. Almost in all situations, some parts/characters/incidents are more valuable to us than others. It’s in a way better to be very clear such about priorities beforehand so that when actual situation arrives, one knows what to focus on.
Self-Awareness through Reflection

Sounds useful? But it doesn’t end here. While Check-in prepares you to plan ahead, AHAs help you maintain objective focus and open mind in middle of action. An Aha is a bright spot, learning or an observation that you bring back with you. It is a norm in Acumen Fund culture to share Ahas at their gatherings (Insider’s scoop: those who don’t come out of the experiences with any nuggets, get an excellent opportunity to reflect in real-time to come with one on the spot :)

So next time when you are about to go on a thinking trip, don’t forget tocheck-in, and on your return, be prepared to share you Ahas.