I had a number of challenging moments the past few months. As I walked through the struggle, which wasn’t what happened, I was carried by many friends until I could walk, I started a new practice. One that has helped me stand on my own two feet.

I’ve been teaching the VitalSmarts Crucial Conversations course, coaching people through them, and even certifying others to instruct the course. And with all this knowledge, I limited the skills taught in the class to holding difficult conversations or coaching people through difficult moments. I didn’t think about ways I could use the skills in my daily life.

I needed a new experience with the challenge put in front of me. And “Start With Heart” became part of the solution. Start With Heart encourages us to get clear on our motive. It asks us to seek within ourselves what we want for ourselves, others, and our community/organizations. Once we get clarity on that, it asks us to ask ourselves, “What would I behave like if I really wanted these things?”

Over the past two weeks, after my morning meditation, I started a new ritual. As I review my plans for the day, I begin to think about what I want for myself, what for others, and what I want for my community – and how would I behave if I really wanted those today.

Let me give you an example of what how this works for me.

This morning I reviewed my plans for the day.

7 AM Coffee and conversation with friends

8 AM Meet with a friend in the process of going through a marital separation

9 AM Meeting with my friend and business partner Amy

12 PM Lunch with a client

5 PM Pizza with Neice and Nephew

As I think about my day, what is it that I want for myself today: I want to be present and available to myself and others. I want to be creative and inclusive of others creativity.

What do I want for the people I’ll be with: I want them to feel listened to, understood, and cared for, and part of the creative problem solving.

What do I want for my community/organization: I want a community that is kind and open-hearted, and inclusive.

So, how will I behave based on what I want?

1) I will take a moment between meetings and breathe, letting go of whatever came before. If needed, I will pull out my meditation app and ask it to guide me through a calming/focused meditation.

2) I will listen first, to understand – not to be understood or to respond.

3) I will do my best to limit my input to that which I have experience and knowledge.

4) I will pass on this new practice to others.

At the end of my day, I will review how I did. Was I present? Did I listen to understand? Was I kind? Did I acknowledge and say hello to those with whom I came in contact? Did pass my experience with this new practice to others?

The act of putting pen to paper in the morning and getting my heart right sets in motion a way of being that more closely aligns with how the universe would want me to behave. This act of starting my day with heart isn’t perfect. And on those days where I don’t meet my expectations, many of them, but fewer than my history, I remind myself, there is another day tomorrow to begin again.

Originally published at www.linkedin.com