There’s Always Downward Dog

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I’ve done several 30 day challenges related to blogging and drawing over the past few years and on January 1, I decided to go in a different direction with yoga.

I chose yoga for 2 reasons, to increase my flexibility and become more mindful, as my past forays into meditation weren’t all that successful! Today, day 24, I came to the following insights:

  1. Yoga slows me down for at least a few minutes every day.
  2. I’m getting out of my head (a big relief trust me!) and into my body.
  3. I do feel more calm, more centered and more optimistic after I’ve done it.
  4. I feel I’ve made progress on something every day which might not be what true yoga practitioners would say is the point of yoga. I have so many big abstract projects, however, that accomplishing this one little thing a day is comforting.

It seems to me these are all great leadership practices as well. Yoga doesn’t have to be your thing but what do you do to slow down, get out of your head, become more centered and make progress everyday?

Antidote to Cynicism

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We had just spent two days with a very diverse group of participants facilitating a Future Search process and had asked for closing comments. I was struck by two of them:

“I am excited by what we have created and feel hope for our future.”

“If you all follow through on the projects we identified, things might change.”  

The second comment struck me as somewhat cynical and it got me thinking about what distinguishes hope from cynicism. As I reflected on how these two people had participated in the two days and thought about other situations, four themes emerged:

Own your part – Hopeful people own their role in situations, both the good and the bad, and don’t look to others to “fix things.” Cynical people only own the good, are oblivious to the bad, and expect others to “fix things” for them.

Assume good intent – Hopeful people trust that others are doing the best they can, while cynical people assume others are out to make their lives miserable.

Accept reality – Hopeful people don’t sugarcoat or assume doom and gloom, they accept current circumstances and don’t wish they were different. Cynical people are always searching for some perfect condition that is different from the current one.

Give – Hopeful people give their time, energy and resources to others without condition. Cynical people wait for others to give to them.

As we approach the holiday season, are you hopeful or cynical? Which of these four areas might hold insight for you?

Take a Break from the Backpack

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Today’s blog is inspired by a recent book, The Best Advice in Six Words, an inspiring and provocative book full of advice from famous and not so famous authors. 

The holiday season can be full of unpleasant memories, high expectations and emotional stress. Take a break from that backpack.

Embrace what is possible from there. (Second 6 word advice 😉

But I Have No Time …

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“But I have no time,” is something I hear myself and my clients often say in relation to expressed desires about what we’d rather be doing. What I have learned from my 30-day blogging challenge is that by not prioritizing our creativity and making time for it, we just drift through our weeks, and one day jumbles into the next.

When we make time, however, things come together, they fall into place, we complete puzzles. And, according to Amabile and Kramer of The Progress Principle, engagement relates to our ability to see progress everyday.

For people who work on complex, long term projects with lots of moving pieces, doing something tangible every day that nurtures you and your creativity is not a nice to have, it’s a need to have.

Silence Is Not A Problem To Solve

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Learning to manage anxiety in the presence of silence is another insight from the work of Weisbord and Janoff. As they suggest, “We are mindful that each time we break the silence, we deprive someone of a chance to make a valuable observation.” Waiting even 10 seconds will seem like an eternity, but it allows people to experience whatever is happening and come up with insights about what’s next.

I Had Big Plans For Today …

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Many are talking about FOMO, fear of missing out, and Brene Brown has recently talked about how it kills our mojo in her new book Rising Stong. 

This past August and most of September I experimented with this idea and didn’t check into any of my regular social media. I did check blogs and newsfeeds on my news reader but I avoided Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. 

It was an empowering couple of months which allowed me to continue work on my book and reinvigorated me for my blogging. More importantly though, I was more at peace and happier overall with my life and work. By saying no to FOMO I regained a sense of my own passions, priorities and dreams. I lived in gratitude instead of comparison.

I am now back to my social networks but am trying to put some boundaries around it – like no checking evenings and weekends or when I’ve had a bad day or am just not feeling my best. It’s a work in progress!

When does FOMO get you and what are you doing to manage it?

Are You Drowning?

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I’m a big fan of Julia Cameron’s work and have completed the Artist’s Way at Work many times over the years. Her latest blog on social media and creative energy is brilliant and this quote stood out for me. What’s interesting is the transition between immersion and submersion – how do we know when we’re heading towards submersion?
For some,  it might be when the spa just doesn’t cut it anymore but here are a few other signals for me:

  • I spend more time trying to figure out other people than trying to figure out me.
  • I don’t protect my creative time.
  • I find myself striving for perfection.

What are your signals?

And a big thanks to my friend Claire Abbott for sending me this quote. Dear readers, if any of you have an idea or quote for the blog please send it my way. This 30 day challenge is challenging my idea generating skills!

The Spa Just Isn’t Cutting It Anymore

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 As leaders we do need to look after ourselves and I know many who make a visit to the spa with girlfriends a regular self-care ritual, myself included. (Not to overly stereotype but in my experience more women than men do this.) 

When one of my clients said to me that the spa just wasn’t cutting it anymore, I took real notice. In the conversation that followed she explained her desire to take stock of her life, and bring some new energy and insight to it. 

This takes courage and reminds me how important it is to make time for inner personal development work. The spa, while a temporary reprieve, just doesn’t really cut it when your soul is yearning.

On Loss

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I’ve observed and personally experienced different approaches to loss over the years. Whether it is personal or professional, minor or devastating, it seems that those who consistently “numb” (whatever that might be – working, drinking, dwelling, exercising too much, etc) seem to get stuck, often regress and sometimes even bring about their own death, metaphorically and physically. 

Those who engage in learning reinvent themselves, often creating meaningful legacies around their particular loss or just finding new meaning and energy in their lives.

Some would say that without loss there is no growth or movement, that it’s actually necessary in order to create or bring about something new. As I reflect on my life, I agree. Our challenge it seems is to know when to stop circling the drain and get on with reinventing ourselves.