Retire ‘Retirement?’

Abundance Happiness Purpose

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Key Point: Retirement may need to be “retired.” When life expectancy was averaging about 70 years in the western world, somebody came up with the idea of retirement at age 65; even early retirement. Of course, defined benefit pension plans that were common until the last decade (when you’re guaranteed a certain percentage of your best income when you qualify), helped with the process. Also, the middle working-class often had jobs that involved a fair amount of manual labor. After 65, there is no doubt that the body just isn’t the same. However, the concept of retirement today may be a misguided idea for many of us? I’m at a chronological age where people ask me “when?” quite often. My response usually includes the following: 

  1. In my current work I get to live my life’s purpose to lead, teach, coach, love and transform everyday.
  2. I deeply believe in the purpose of the company I work for and am able to contribute to that in a meaningful way. 
  3. I work with people I genuinely love. They stimulate my personal growth, make me laugh, and just invigorate the heck out of me.
  4. I make darn good money that I use to mostly invest in other people and purposes I deeply care about.

So, I ask people if retirement means I have to find new channels for my life’s purpose, seek out new people to thrive with, and make no money for investing in others; well why would I want to intentionally do that? Yes, I would like to be in fewer meetings, travel a little less, spend more time with my family/friends and maybe read a few more fiction books. I think I can do that while I’m “working” if I prioritize better. However, the idea of getting up and primarily self-indulging is not appealing. In my framework, that means I’m “unemployed” not retired. And I believe my life’s very best work and contribution is still well out in front of me. My fondest wish is to have all my loves around me when I die (ideally at age 100+) AND earlier in that day (with all my loved ones joining in), I would have had rich conversations, written a blog, read some cool stuff on Flipboard, ate a filet with a great red Zin, a Titos martini with three giant olives as an appetizer, and belly laughed many times… Oh, and sent out two invoices for work I recently completed for a customer.

A friend of mine sent me this the other day. I thinks it’s simple and profound. It was written by Neil Pasricha, for quietrev.com.

“Never retire.

There’s a big reason the healthiest societies in the world have no word for retirement. I believe retirement is a false concept based on assumptions no longer true. Age 65 retirement was invented when average lifespan was 70. What’s the solution? Keep working. And make sure whatever you’re doing includes the 4 S’s of meaningful work:

S – Social

 We are the most social mammals on the planet for a reason, and it’s not just the extroverts who can master this. Look, according to Stumbling on Happiness by Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, our social relationships have a greater effect on our happiness than our income, religion, gender, or even health. What does a good workplace foster? Small team dinners. CEO AMAs. Lunch walking groups. Work sports leagues. If these are missing, start one. 

S – Structure

There are 168 hours in a week. Fifty-six are for sleep (eight hours a night if you can get it), 56 for work (including things like commuting and extra work at home), and 56 for your passion. On structure, there are two things to point out. One, work helps create and pay for your third bucket—the fun bucket, the passion bucket. And two, if everyone in this structure has a third bucket, what can each person bring in from outside of work? Can the word nerd start a book club? Can the hospital volunteer start a company volunteer program? Can the late night DJ plan the Christmas party? Work structure should allow outside work passions to be big parts of our lives. 

S – Stimulation 

Always be on the lookout to learn something new. In every job you have, ensure the steepest possible learning curves are between ‘value giving’ and ‘value getting.’ Examples to make sure this happens are things such as staying a maximum of two years in roles, initiating job sharing or job trades, planning regular development sessions, and scheduling quarterly growth meetings with one and two-up managers. Make sure you can always say yes to the question ‘Am I learning a lot and adding a lot?’ If your answer is tilted one way, it means you’re giving something else up. 

S – Story 

‘Story; is all about feeling that you’re part of something bigger than yourself. It’s about first ensuring the company’s mission and higher-level purpose capture the heart and then bringing the mission to life by regularly sharing customer stories, hanging anecdotal posters on walls, and talking about it at open or closed meetings. …What’s your company story?”

Character Moves:

  1. Forget thinking about the day you’re going to retire. Live the perpetually imperfect life you love and appreciate NOW. (Although financially, plan for a time when for some reason you can’t work). There is NO guaranteed happiness in retirement. 
  1. Focus on making your work/life more meaningful by progressing on the 4 S’s! And then one day, you die happy knowing that you were still moving for most of the day.

Meaningful in The Triangle,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: Heck! Yes! As we approach The Masters next week, this gets me thinking about the life of a professional golfer. To me, these players have it figured out… They are professional athletes who get to make an incredible living, and travel to the nicest courses in the most beautiful places on the planet, playing the game they love. Unlike other pro athletes, it’s low impact and they can potentially swing clubs forever. (Of course, golf is also a very charitable oriented game as well). We are probably not going to be pro golfers, but with whatever you’re most passionate about, it would be great to approach it like a golfer instead of, say, a pro football player who maxes out earnings and retires with a mangled body by age 30. Keep walking that course as long as you can.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Who is to Blame?

Accountability Growth mindset Personal leadership

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Key Point: The headline on CNN news on Friday evening, Mar. 24 was: “Who is to Blame?” This was a reference to the disappointing outcome (per the Republican Congress and Trump Administration) that day, when the health care repeal and replace bill, now known by many as  “Trumpcare,” did not even get a vote in congress. This is NOT intended to be a political statement, however I clearly intend it to be a leadership comment.

Note President Trump’s tweets and/or comments referring to the health care fiasco, where he searches for someone else is to blame: We left it “all on the field,” so don’t blame us. It was the Freedom Caucus, the Democrats, Paul Ryan, others? Not me, your president! It seems that it is always someone else who is at fault with Trump. Actually, the pattern of finding blame seems to be a growing theme in today’s world. The disturbing aspect of this is that I strongly believe ALL blame is WASTE. Yes, of course all involved should ask themselves questions: “Why we’re we not able to meet our objectives?” “What did we learn from an honest assessment of failure?” “How could we have done it better?” “Where do we go from here to become successful?” Etc.  Blaming others and finding fault does little if any good at all, other than feeding egos by putting down others and deflecting responsibility. It doesn’t move anything forward. In fact, finding blame slows us down and serves as a forum for metering out punishment rather that finding progress. (Of course I’m not referring to criminal matters or the due process of law, which ideally has an appropriate and just framework for finding fault).

Note the late, great Dr. Wayne Dyer on the subject matter of blame: 

“All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with

another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change

you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you

are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or

frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about

something by blaming him, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it

is about you that is making you unhappy. ”

Great leaders at a local or global level invest zero time on blame. However, they spend laser-focused time on determining what went wrong and how to fix it. These enlightened leaders understand that everything is a process and subsequently every process can be improved. Yes… Attacking a process… Challenging the specifics of poor behavior is necessary.  But, if you attack and blame the personal essence of another, it will deter progress. People do not like to be blamed or attacked and most will fight back vigorously.

Character Moves:

  1. Be on the hunt to expunge the act of blaming, including and perhaps most importantly, self blame. Remember ALL blame is waste. We do not move anything forward with blame. 
  1. Be fierce attacking ineffective processes, unacceptable behavior, and/or situations. Do not make it a personal matter. Never attack based on assuming or judging the integrity of another. Be objective and precise in pointing out the actual specifics of what people do, don’t do, say or not say. Be curious and ask “why?” We are usually grateful for doing so.
  1. Be wary of people or organizations that promote finding blame. Their uninformed intent is often to avoid self-accountability. And that does little to promote meaningful forward movement. Remember that when something goes wrong, the most important question is: “What could I have done to make it better? What will I do to advance matters from here?”

No blame in The Triangle 

Lorne 

One Millennial View: I agree that blame is pretty much useless. I can’t pretend I have a clue what it’s like to be the President of the United States, or how to navigate the enormous stress that comes with a below 40 percent approval rating from 318 million citizens, but focusing on blame instead of improvement likely isn’t going to help raise that statistic.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Calm is Contagious

Abundance Resilience Well-being

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Key Point: I think all people in leadership roles could benefit from training as biathletes. Why? Because learning how to become calm in stressful situations is contagious. I like the way Tom Weede, a former editor of Men’s Fitness, describes being a biathlete: “A man with an Anschutz .22-caliber rifle slung securely across his back swiftly cross-country skies through rugged Alpine terrain, churning his legs forward and back as fast as he can, his heart rate pounding out 200 beats per minute. Suddenly, he pulls up, unslings his weapon, and in the space of a few seconds, slows his heart enough to steady his hands and mind and take aim at a tiny, unsuspecting target 50 meters away. He fires rapidly several times, the bullets tearing into their mark. His objective realized, he immediately takes off again, quickly pushing the lactic-acid levels in his legs back up to dangerously critical levels.”

These superb athletes can lower their heart rate from 200 beats per minute to 50 beats or less in about 20 seconds. They can get calm, literally on command. 

Former SEALS commander Rorke T. Denver knows something about being calm in positions of leadership. The former 13-year Navy SEAL claims the best leadership lesson learned in military training was simple: “Calm is contagious.” As a keynote speaker, according to an article in Business Insider“Denver tells the story of his final training exercise as a Navy SEAL, where students in training have to plan, organize and execute a mission all ‘under the watchful eye of the lunatic Navy SEAL instructor.’ His team was behind the clock, and they were in trouble. He recounts how his ranking officer (also a student in training) was ‘screaming his head off like the Tasmanian devil… The fevered pitch level of everyone’s behavior was just unsustainable.’ Amidst the chaos, the master chief petty officer, the senior ranking enlisted man in the United States Navy — who Denver said is out of central casting and a basic training “god” — came over and told all the officers to gather. His commanding message to the Seal officers in training, according to Commander Denver, was as follows: 

‘As officers, at a minimum, the boys are going to mimic your behavior. In our line of work, based on our personalities, they’re probably going to amplify your behavior, and athletes are the exact same way. As leaders, as captains, as officers, if you keep your head, they’ll keep their head. If you keep it together, they’ll keep it together. And if you lose it, they’ll lose it.’ So I’m going to share with you the best thing I learned as a master chief when I was a new guy from a master chief in Vietnam: Calm is contagious.’ And as he walked away, Commander Denver heard him say, ‘Because if you keep your head in our line of work, you keep your head!’ Denver emphasizes that this advice can be applied to any leadership situation. ‘You can supplant any word you want for ‘calm’ — chaos is contagious, panic is contagious, stupid 100% is contagious,’ he said. ‘So we like ‘calm’ because it lets you keep your head, it keeps you focused on the mission at hand.’”

I really resonate with Denver’s message and want to combine it with the lessons learned from high performing athletes. Under stress, we need to clam our mind and lower our heart rate to put teams and ourselves in a position to win; to stay focused on the mission at hand. Too often I see leaders (and I have been susceptible to this as well), creating more of an environment of chaos versus calm. Yes, we want a winning pace, sense of urgency, and top-notch results. However, uncontrolled speed, or a sense of panic, gets in the way of a winning outcome. The following guidelines can help.

Character Moves:

  1. Learn your stress/panic triggers and how to control your heart rate and breathing to help you “calm down.” One needs to know when to, “Pause, concentrate our breathing for four seconds, and then course correct.” That’s the advice of highly respected author and psychologist Peter Bregman in his book “Four Seconds.” Yup, according to Bregman’s research, we can get in a better, calmer zone in just four seconds if we pause and breathe.
  1. Be aware of your pace and the impact. Like the biathlete, there is the time to sprint and time to slow right down to hit your targets. The correct balance is the key to winning. Go out too fast and you exhaust yourself… Go too slow and you never get across the finish line, or end up last.
  1. Timing is everything, of course, but often the ability to use humor is exactly what you and your team needs. The great calming effect of a laugh helps the team focus on purpose, and reinforces the belief that it’s “going to be OK!”

Calm in the Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I’ve brought up the “Sunday Scaries” before. It’s a very “Millennial” thing. Check out this link to the tongue-and-cheek examination of this phenomenon where users send pictures of their “Sunday Scaries Panic Rooms.” (On Sunday nights, Millennials convert their living spaces into “panic rooms,” which is equally eye-roll and smile inducing). It’s funny because of its ridiculousness, but it’s a real thing! Many console their dread with food, wine, coconut water, premium television, fireplaces, the company of pets, scented candles, and much more; all to calm the storm of tackling the next week (clearly no one is truly in panic). By laughing at and sharing these overreactions, Millennials get a sense of calm… For us, that’s contagious.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Too Busy to Create

Productivity Respect Well-being

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Key Point: Having a constructive way of thinking about the idea of being “too busy to be creative” is interesting to me. Frankly I’ve had a hard time getting my head around the idea of “too busy” being much more than wasteful blame or an excuse. People that get stuff done (GSD) are just busy. Often, I think people are talking about needing a break more than actually being too busy. We all need a breath… Some space… Some quiet… And it is more than fair to recognize that it’s so darn hard to get off the daily spinning wheel to do so, unless we are intentional about it.

For most of us, a large percentage of the available hours we have are full of obligations we willingly, even happily accept; just the normality of having commitments in work and life. And there is also this background whisper in the mind, “maybe I should call my kids more, visit my Mom more, connect with that friend I’ve haven’t heard from for a while, catch up with more emails, start that project, send out more recognitions…” All the other “should do’s.” So what about room for new ideas for the creativity required navigating all this “stuff“ more effectively? I thought I might listen to a little jazz to help me with an answer.

The following is from Dr. Charles Limb, a professor of head and neck surgery, and the Chief of the Division of Otology, Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco…. “I started looking at jazz musicians playing the blues as a way to understand how the creative brain emerges from a neuroscience perspective. When musicians go to an improvisation, the brain switches, and the lateral prefrontal lobes responsible for conscious self-monitoring became less engaged.” His research notes the following when the improv isn’t clicking: “When you’re trying so hard to come up with ideas you can’t do it, you can’t force it… When the stakes are higher and the brain is actively over-thinking something, it can interfere with processes that have become routinized, causing behavior or performance to suffer.” So what helps when we want to a switch on a little more creativity and get into a flow? Well, how about a little QUIET?

Hal Gregersen writes in a recent HBR article, that cultivating quiet “increases your chances of encountering novel ideas and information and discerning weak signals.” When we’re constantly fixated on the verbal agenda—what to say next, what to write next, what to tweet next (perhaps what to play next)? —It’s tough to make room for truly different perspectives or radically new ideas. It’s hard to drop into deeper modes of listening and attention. And it’s in those deeper modes of attention that truly novel ideas are found.

Jazz certainly isn’t quiet. However, quieting the mind leads to better more creative jazz riffs amongst musicians and I believe the same applies in all parts of our lives.

Even incredibly busy people can cultivate periods of sustained quiet time. Here are four practical ideas the HBR article suggests.

Character Moves: 

“1. Punctuate meetings with five minutes of quiet time… It’s possible to hit reset by engaging in a silent practice of meditation or reflection.

2. Take a silent afternoon in nature. You need not be a rugged outdoors type to ditch the phone and go for a simple two-or-three-hour jaunt in nature.

3. Go on a media fast. Turn off your email for several hours or even a full day, or try “fasting” from news and entertainment.

4. Take the plunge and try a meditation retreat.”

 5. Invest in your breathing process. Connecting to my previous blog on Wim Hof, the science of having breathing intersecting with a little quiet, is as a powerful way to detox and open up the creativity channel.

 Quiet and all that jazz in The Triangle,

 Lorne

 One Millennial View: I create and write for a living, and recently I had to coach one of my editors how to write articles for the first time. One of my first pieces of advice dealt with how to tackle the end of a piece, the final sentence that can be difficult if you let it. I’ve learned to just write it… Get words on that page. Anything is better than nothing. Sometimes it’ll be great, sometimes it won’t, but just like a jazz song, the tune has to end. If you’re too busy overthinking it, the last riff will never sound good.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Culture Cast Podcast 9

Podcast

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Hey Character Triangle fans! Listen to this latest Culture Cast podcast featuring Lorne Rubis and Lynette Turner, where they discuss the blog “Thinking Harder and Smarter.” Topics include delivering and accepting feedback, and, well, “thinking harder and smarter” when confronted with all sorts of situations at work. Please listen here or look for it via Soundcloud and iTunes and don’t be shy to comment and give us a rating (preferably 5 stars), it really helps us out! 

Please listen to it on SoundCloud here

Or on iTunes here.