Making 2015 a Great Year!

Accountability Growth mindset Well-being

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Key Point: You can make 2015 a great and even better year if you turn wishful thinking into mindful action. Most of us recognize that forward movement and personal growth evolves from self-awareness, learning, and intentionally taking action to improve our way of feeling and being. The mindful action that becomes more routine and habitual is the tricky part for most of us. Scott Eblin, the author of Overworked and Overwhelmed has helped thousands of clients with a planning tool he calls Life GPS. You may want to use the entire planning tool. At minimum, Eblin challenges us with three BIG questions noted below. You may recall from my last blog that there was preliminary work that Eblin suggested we do to better answer the following:(You can download an editable Life GPS® worksheet here).

1.0 How Are You When You’re at Your Best?

“This first big question is all about recognizing the characteristics and behaviors that reflect how you are when you’re showing up as the best version of your self. Your answers to that question should be based on the self-knowledge that comes through a bit of quiet reflection on the times in your life when you’ve felt most comfortable and productive. What you’re looking for is the non-sports equivalent of what athletes call being “in the zone.”

Eblin believes, as we get increasingly clear about when we’re at our best, we’ll begin to see where the leverage is in showing up that way on an integrated basis in all aspects of life.

2.0 What Are the Routines Will Help You Show Up at Your Best?

“If you want to be a certain way (excellent for example), you have to do things that reinforce that state. It’s one of those ideas that is so simple it’s brilliant. That’s why it’s so important to identify and implement “easy to do, likely to make a difference” routines that help you to show up at your best more consistently and more often. The routines that will become part of your Life GPS® fall into four domains:

Physical: Your physical health – energy, strength, flexibility, balance and stamina – is the foundation for everything you do.

Mental:  Your mental acuity and capacity to make mindful choices about your life and work can be enhanced by routines that keep your brain healthy and your neural networks strong.

Relational:  The important relationships in your life – with family, friends, co-workers and loved ones – can be enhanced through mindful routines that keep them vibrant and resilient.

Spiritual:  Regular routines can help keep you connected with your answers to the biggest picture question of all – ‘What am I here on earth to really do?’”

Eblin notes that effective routines often have a ripple effect that enable us to show up at our best more often by cutting across one or more of these four domains. We don’t need to overload ourselves with a bunch of new routines that just add more things “to do.” Rather, the more mindful approach is to do a few that are relatively easy for us, and likely to make a difference in our lives.

3.0 What Outcomes Do You Expect to See in the Big Arenas of Life?

“The last of the three big Life GPS® questions encourages you to consider the outcomes you would expect to see from showing up at your best in the three big arenas of life:

  • Your life at home,
  • Your life at work and
  • Your life in your broader community.

Before 2015 moves into overdrive, take a little bit of time to get clear about your expected or hoped for outcomes. You won’t be looking for answers that need to last you for the rest of your life. Rather, you just want to get clear on the outcomes you’re hoping for in each of these arenas as of now.”

Eblin wisely emphasizes that we don’t need to solve for 100 percent: “There are so many variables at play in life that none of us control that spending a lot of time trying to solve for 100 percent just doesn’t make a lot of sense for most endeavors. Life is just not that linear. By the time you have enough information to solve for 100 percent, the variables will have changed anyway. You don’t want to get attached to specific outcomes that are not within your span of control, but it’s good to have an idea of the quality and nature of the outcomes you want. It’s the classic example of the idea that the quality of the journey is as important as the destination.”

Character Moves: 

  1. Take 30 minutes or so to reflect upon and answer Eblin’s BIG THREE. If you’re more ambitious, do the GPS worksheet noted above. Hopefully you would have invested time already reflecting on 2014, (see the 2014 reflection blog). If you don’t mindfully plan and act, are you just reacting to daily events? Are you continuing to do the same things and hoping that somehow things will get better? You and I are capable of being more tough minded!
  2. Don’t expect perfection, fall into quick self-disappointment and just quit. As an example, most of us know how well intended people are on Jan. 1 about getting in better physical shape, then “quit” that gym membership by Feb. 1. So let’s not allow you or I to be that person. Let’s focus on a few routines where we can be at our best and build positive habitual momentum. 

A great 2015 in The Triangle,

Lorne 

P.S. Garrett and I would like to wish readers a very Happy New Year! 

One Millennial View: This reminds me of a simple concept I recently heard discussed: Think about the last time you were truly in a bad mood. You know, just one of those “rut” days. Chances are, you didn’t do much that day. Unless it was something truly significant, that day’s mood was likely because you didn’t make any positive plans, spice up or change your route, you didn’t achieve something (or put the effort in to do so), and basically you stood still and didn’t take even the simplest step forward. Fine, some days are like that! But we all know that life is better when we’re planning, progressing, with something exciting on the horizon. Sure, those rut days are going to happen… But isn’t it scary how some people can have YEARS with that feeling? Here’s to a great 2015 where we’re not falling into that trap.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Wear a Leadership “Posture Shirt”

Accountability Growth mindset Well-being

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Key Point: What if we could add positive leadership habits and behaviors by simply putting on a shirt? Is there a metaphor for improving our personal leadership? 

Alignmed’s Posture Shirt is getting is getting some very positive reviews. Just put it on, and it apparently does all the rest with it’s sewn in neurobands that provide controlled resistance and create a form of passive therapy to fix poor posture. It has been FDA registered, granted prescription approval, vetted with research and has over 80,000 users to date. 

Fox TV segment talks about how adjusting your posture by wearing the shirt helps prevent injury and even treat some existing injuries. Dr. Joanne Halbrecht of the Boulder Institute for Sports Medicine says, “It brings your neck into a better position… And changes your center of gravity to a more normal center of gravity so it relieves neck, back and shoulder pain.”

In one study done in conjunction with USC’s Keck School of Medicine, 96 municipal workers were monitored, to gauge the effects of wearing a Posture Shirt on musculoskeletal wellness and health in the computer workplace. After four-weeks of wearing the garment, there was a significant difference in forward shoulder posture, forward head posture, grip strength, and more. Additionally, general fatigue and muscular fatigue decreased by 21 percent and 29 percent while energy levels and productivity increased by 20 percent and 13 percent, respectively. 

We know we should improve our posture and if we do so, our health will likely improve. Yet just having that information and knowledge is often not enough to change our behavior. But, when wearing the posture shirt we are “firmly encouraged” by the neurobands. What if we could apply this “posture shirt” concept more broadly to other behaviors we would like to habitually change? E.g.  Could we find some way of wearing a personal leadership shirt? Ok… Just try the following for 30 days, and see what happens. Does your personal leadership “posture” improve? 

Character Moves:

1. When you wake up in the morning, (perhaps when you’re brushing your teeth) consciously think about putting on your “personal leadership shirt.” Take five minutes and ask yourself questions based on the Character Triangle. They could be like, “How can I be more abundant towards others throughout the day?” “What can I start doing today to be more accountable?” “How will I be more respectful?” You pick what works for you.

2. At the end of the day, (perhaps when you’re brushing your teeth before bed), reflect on just one thing: Did I give much more than I took and bring real value to others through the day? This may be a stretch (no pun intended) but if you make this process habitual, it may be somewhat akin to putting on a personal leadership posture shirt . 

Good leadership posture in The Triangle,

Lorne 

P.S. I want one of these Alignmed shirts.

One Millennial View: Thanks to design, putting on the shirt is a great way to improve posture… Just as putting on the hypothetical “leadership shirt” will help encourage you to develop better habitual leadership habits. But, there’s no such thing as leadership “neurobands,” aka the things forcing your shirt to work whether you really want it to or not. They literally give your posture no choice but to stay in line. Unfortunately, mental self-will isn’t such a sure thing. Keeping that in mind, there will never be a “personal leadership posture shirt,” but if you can keep your posture good all by yourself, you’ll be a whole lot more fashionable than anyone relying on a shirt with neurobands. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

2014… What Happened in You?

Accountability Books Transformation

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Key Point: Between now and the end of the year is a great time to look back on 2014 and do a personal, “lessons learned” analysis. If we don’t do this with thoughtful and mindful intent, how will we really learn more about ourselves? And if we don’t “breathe in from the belly,” we are likely to transact and react to our buzzed schedule into the New Year without any meaningful, positive changes. Also, as part of building our PERSONAL EQUITY, it is important to invest in our self-awareness.

How to approach the New Year?

I’m currently reading Scott Eblin’s  Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative. If you want to give yourself or some one you care about an important read, this is a great choice. In a recent blog, Eblin comes up with a few short questions to help get us started on our 2014 personal review. Find a great place to reflect, and reserve a half hour or so to take some notes on Eblin’s coaching questions below: 

“What went right this year? – There’s almost always something that’s going right. How can you acknowledge that, celebrate it and build on it? Make a list.

What am I proudest of, most grateful for or happiest about this year? Out of all the things you listed, which ones most warm your heart or charge your batteries? What steps did you take to help make those things happen? Get as specific as you can about actions you took, behaviors you exhibited or habits you set and followed through on. Connect the dots in reverse from the outcome back to the sequence of decisions and actions that eventually led to those outcomes. What patterns do you see that inform your goals and plans for 2015?

What changed this year? – Of course, there are lots of factors in our lives that we can’t control. List the big changes in your life this year that seemed to be more out of your control than in your control. That’s all of the extrinsic or external stuff that was going on around you. Once you have the list, we’ll move on to a more important question.

What was my response to the big changes? – Now we’re into the things you can control and that’s your response to all of the big changes that occurred this year. Focus in on three or four of the biggest changes and take an honest look at your internal or intrinsic response to them. Did you do happy dances and victory laps when good things happened? Did you freak out and throw a pity party when bad things happened? Did you stay more or less even in your response no matter what happened? If you graphed your range of responses or reactions would it look fairly steady or more like a seismograph during a big quake? No matter what the shape of your graph is, consider what impact your responses had on your actions and subsequent results this year. Does your pattern seem to be working for you or do you need to make some changes next year?

What did I start doing this year that I want to keep doing next year? – All of us human beings learn by doing. When you look back on the past 12 months, what have you started doing that seem like good things to continue doing in the coming year?

What habits or routines have I had this year that don’t serve me and my goals? – And, of course, you want to take a look at the flip side. What have you been doing this past year that, when you take a really objective look at it don’t serve you and your goals? Take a few notes on the most important things you want to do differently next year.

When you boil it all down, what do you have? –One last step for now. Mentally step back and take a look at everything you’ve written down. Look for the patterns and connections. When you boil it all down, what do you have? My guess is that you have a greater sense of clarity about what worked and what didn’t work as well in 2014”

Character Moves: 

  1. Eblin is encouraging self-reflection on these questions as a jumpstart to a more complete review process; what he calls Mindfulness Monday. It is scheduled for the last Monday of the year December 29th. Check out his blog, if you’d like to participate.

Less overworked and overwhelmed in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: One of the most commonly experienced, unspoken, unwelcome but ironically appreciated (I guess?) aspects of being a young professional is a concept I know as, the “Sunday Scaries.” Maybe you can relate… Every Sunday, the hours start to click by, and as the wondrous freedom of a weekend slips away, the realities of the coming week start creeping in. Mentally planning the week turns into a whirlwind tornado of thoughts bouncing between WORK, BILLS, ERRANDS, DEADLINES, RESPONSIBILITIES, ANOTHER WEEK WENT BY? WHAT HAPPENED? THAT HAPPENED? THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN? WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE? – And, now, you’ve arrived at the Sunday Scaries, a too true, semi-hilarious over-think that not even an NFL game can quiet down sometimes.

My point is, year end reviews can bring similar concerns… But if we actually take action, take those notes, make those lists, and actually formulate a plan instead of rocking back and forth on the couch, maybe 2015 will be a lot less scary. I’ll think about it on Sunday. 

– Garrett 

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Intentional Goofing Off Makes Us More Successful.

Abundance Productivity Well-being

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Key Point: Stop overworking and accepting that you have no choice but to feel overwhelmed. That mindset is a classic lose-lose situation. The people you care about, the organization and you, all lose when you’re in the overworked/overwhelmed position. I’m looking into research on this because it seems to be the current hot topic in many organizations; a mantra of, “How can I sustain this pace and momentum?” The fact is, overworking and the sense of drowning in work is not sustainable and actually is detrimental to achieving great results. The following is from a research-based article on the topic: 

“Here’s how overworking fails our problem-solving skills and creativity: research by former Harvard Psychology professor Dan Wegner suggests that too much concentration on set goals can lead to the exact opposite of the desired goal. He coined the term ironic processes to describe the failure of positive mental processes when performed under conditions of stress. For instance, the more you obsess about having to hit a perfect golf tee shot, the more likely you are to choke; or the more you try to maintain a strict diet, the more likely you are to eventually binge. Similarly, the more pressure you put on yourself to come up with the perfect solution to a challenging problem in your work, the less likely you are to see it– especially if you are already tired, stressed, or anxious. According to a line of research by Jennifer Wiley, too much focus can actually hurt our creative problem-solving skills.”  

Leaders need to intentionally promote fun and a reasonable amount of goofing off as PART of work; NOT something additive. And anyone who tells you they’re overworked or feeling overwhelmed needs support to determine how to do things differently. This includes building in breaks and intentional goof off time. I’m not talking about some projects/times that have a critical deadline or work under life-threatening situations. As an example, most tax accounts feel overworked and even overwhelmed during tax deadline season. They often party hard and take serious breaks after the tax deadline. And I know first responders can find themselves in situations where they are exhausted. They need to “come down” after an intense situation. They are aware constant fire fighting… Literally… Is not sustainable. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Do something different than “work” during “work”: Resting, meditating, dreaming, going for a walk… Anything to “get your mind off of work” and clear space in the brain for new thoughts and insights. If you’re a leader, promote and encourage this! 
  2. Be social and take time to hang out with others as part of work. Socializing deepens relationships and strengthens bonds in our professional network. Instead of non-stop sitting in that cube or working by yourself at home, have that coffee and lunch with others to connect.
  3. Take some time to serve others as part of work. Exercising empathy and compassion for others increases our well-being (and that of others!). I’ve been writing a lot about this lately. It’s important and puts perspective into our jobs.
  4. Most of all, enjoy your time doing “non work” stuff during “work.” The time you enjoy not working on results is obviously not wasted time if it minimizes the sense of being overworked and overwhelmed. 

Goofing off in The Triangle,

Lorne  

One Millennial View: It seems some of the most progressive, best organizations out there all adopt this mentality. It’s why Google’s campus literally doubles as a playground. Yeah, yeah, Google might be the pipe dream, but even small companies I know about have everything from Ping-Pong tables to fully stocked kitchens… Why not yours? I know, sometimes it’s easier said than done. To put it in perspective, I work for a Bill Gates owned company, and I’m still dreaming that Santa brings my office a Keurig this year… That would be a nice start.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

What’s Your Sentence?

Accountability Contribution Kindness

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Key Point: An exceptional leader is a person who can bring ordinary people together to achieve extraordinary results. An even more effective one has a way of finding extraordinary people to achieve exponentially valuable results. This ties into leadership guru John Maxwell‘s belief that leaders have three primary responsibilities: Achieving results, building relationships and developing others. 

I recently read a blog by Bruce Kasanoff where he reflected on his desire to help and develop others in a meaningful way. To guide his daily actions, he came up with an intentional sentence. It reads as follows: 

Be generous and expert, trustworthy and clear, open-minded and adaptable, persistent and present.

Each word is vital to his mantra: 

Generous means to help others long before—and after—you need their help.

Expert means to be competent in one or more areas that others value and to use this expertise to benefit them.

Trustworthy means to be a person who stands behind others, especially in tough times.

Clear means to help people clarify what they want and also help them express this in a simple and straightforward manner.

Open-minded means never stop listening and learning and make it easier for others to do the same.

Adaptable means sharing one of the most valuable insights anyone can gain, which is that we all have a greater ability to change our situations than it often seems.

Persistent means to help people even when it is hard, and they don’t immediately succeed.

Present means to set your thoughts and agenda aside so that you can listen to others and prove that they are important to you.

Read his entry to see more specific examples of how these words translate into action.

Character Moves:

  1. What’s your sentence? Whether or not you adopt a sentence similar to the one above, one of our leadership obligations is to bring out talent in other people. How do you do it? What guides you? 
  1. Mine is: (Not surprisingly) By being relentlessly self-accountable, respectful and abundant, I will bring exceptional value to others and myself. Write yours. Live yours. Be intentional first, accept imperfection and persistently continue. You will connect with ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results. You might even bring together extraordinary people to do something profoundly great. 

Having a sentence in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: At this point, it’s easy for a millennial like me to be like, “you want me to have a sentence? Like what? ‘Yes sir, I can get that done right away.’” Seems accurate. But you know what? No, mine will be: “Keep grinding, stay challenged and continue ascending.” Even if it might not always feel like it’s applicable to every workday situation, maybe my sentence will help me be in the mindset to get there.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis