Next Level Blog

Simple, practical, applicable

Are You Fit to Lead? October 22 2014 no responses

fit-leadersThe question posed in the title of this post is one that I’ve heard asked a lot over the years. Usually, it refers to someone having the right mix of temperament, ethics, experience and the like that’s needed to be an effective leader.

My guest in the podcast interview that accompanies this post would likely ask the question from a different perspective. Carol Himmelhoch is a professor of leadership at Siena Heights University and she’s recently published a monograph titled Transformational Leadership and High-Intensity Interval Training. If you’re familiar with CrossFit, you know what High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) is. Himmelhoch is a HITT devotee herself and started wondering about the connection between her avocation and vocation. She decided to explore whether or not physical fitness has an impact on leadership effectiveness.

book-himmelhochHer research leads her to believe there is a connection. We recently had an interesting conversation about her work which you can listen to here. Give it a listen and let me know what you think. Does the path to more effective leadership run through the gym or the CrossFit box?


Mindful Mondays: How to Feel Amazing in Five Minutes October 20 2014 no responses

listeningOne of the ironic effects of the hyper-connected age we live in is that there is very little true listening going on. As I write about in my new book, there’s a lot of transient listening in which we’re so preoccupied with all the thoughts of our multi-tasking minds that we hear each other but don’t really listen.

Higher up the value chain is transactional listening in which we’re listening with the goal of accomplishing something or solving a problem. That’s important but doesn’t really do much for the heart and soul.

Then there’s transformational listening which is when we slow down, focus and listen to another person just for the sake of listening. It’s listening without distractions or in service of a particular agenda.

In a lot of my workshops and presentations on mindful leadership, I ask people to practice transformational listening. It’s a really simple process of asking people to work in groups of three where the first person talks about something important to them (it could be a family matter, a trip, a book they’re reading, something at work, anything really). The second person just listens and asks any questions that come to mind. The third person observes the listener. We do three 7-minute rounds made up of five minutes of conversation between the speaker and the listener followed by two minutes of feedback for the listener from the observer.

It’s a simple but powerful exercise. It’s not uncommon to hear sincere laughter or see people leaning in closer as they talk. Sometimes there are tears as people talk about things that are really important to them. It’s always hard to end the exercise because people want to keep going. Invariably, they’re struck by how engrossed they became during a five minute conversation where the only agenda is to listen. They are usually thirsty for more.

I say thirsty rather than hungry because you can survive longer without food than you can water. What I’ve learned from conducting this exercise over the past year is that people are in desperate need of transformational listening. The good news is you don’t have to wait for a workshop exercise to experience it. Why not try it today or this evening with someone who’s important to you? Sit facing each other and commit to taking five minutes each to listen to the other person talk about something that’s important to them. That’s only ten minutes of your time. My guess is you’ll feel so amazing afterwards that you’ll decide to go longer.

Please take five minutes to give transformational listening a try and let me know through a comment or email what difference it made for you and the other person in the conversation. 

Wow, What a Week – Thank You!!! October 17 2014 no responses

Have you ever worked hard on something really important to you and worried if anyone was going to notice when you finished it? I think most of us have had that experience. To be really honest with you, I had that experience a couple of weeks ago as we counted down to the launch of my new book, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative. What if I released the book into the world and nobody noticed?

Like so many things I worry about, it turns out that that was wasted energy. As we wrap up the official launch week of the book, I am humbled and overwhelmed by the response to it. Earlier this week, Overworked and Overwhelmed was the number one best selling book on both the stress management and workplace culture lists on Amazon. It hit number four on Amazon’s business motivation and self improvement list. The last time I checked, there were 13 five-star reader reviews on Amazon.

I’ve been so fortunate to share perspectives and takeaways from the book with executives and professionals in corporate presentations this past week and with coaching colleagues and clients, friends and family at a book launch party last night. (You can see as many guests as we could squeeze into the frame in the picture that accompanies this post.)


We’ve had an amazing social media launch team that has done a fabulous job of spreading the word online and have been so fortunate to receive great coverage in the press and on some of the major blogs. Here’s the latest sampling:

Like I said, all of that worrying was wasted energy. (What a great lesson in mindfulness for me! Just because you write a book on the topic, that doesn’t make you perfect!). Thank you so much to everyone who has been so supportive these past couple of weeks and months by helping me spread the word on Overworked and Overwhelmed and to everyone who has bought the book. I hope you enjoy it and get great value from it.

52 Ways to Feel Less Overworked and Overwhelmed October 15 2014 no responses

Wow, it has been quite a launch week for Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative. The response to the book in terms of sales, reader reviews and responses and media coverage has been overwhelming (in a really good way). I’ll share more on Friday about what I’ve learned from talking with people about why they’re interested in the book along with some of their stories.


For today, I thought I’d point you to some of the articles that have run this week that share ideas from the book or additional tips I’ve been offering for people who want to feel less overworked and overwhelmed. There are a total of 52 tips – one for each week of the year – in these five articles. My hope is that at least one of them will help you feel less overworked and overwhelmed.

Launch Week Special Offer Ends on Thursday

To say thanks for being a part of my blog community, I’m offering two companion resources to Overworked and Overwhelmed to readers who buy a hard cover copy of the book from Amazon between October 13 and 16. The first resource is a Group Discussion Guide designed to help like-minded people use the book to support each other in making essential changes in their lives. The second is the Life GPS® Personal Planner which includes a self-assessment, scoring guide and instructions on how to use the book to create a Life GPS® that helps you show up at your best and create the outcomes you want at home, at work and in your community. If you’ll send an Amazon receipt for your October 15 or 16 purchase of Overworked and Overwhelmed to, we’ll get those two resources to you right away.

Mindful Mondays: The Choice That Saved Husamettin’s Life October 13 2014 no responses

nyc-trafficLast week, I had one of the more interesting and amazing conversations I’ve ever had with a cab driver. His name was Husamettin. I’ve been in New York for the past week for a series of client meetings and interviews related to the launch of my new book. (Be sure to check out the special launch week offer at the end of this post.) On the way to one of those interviews, I was talking with Husamettin about how he stays sane navigating the crazy traffic of Manhattan. He told me that he has been driving here for 30 years but if he hadn’t changed his approach to his job 25 years ago he probably wouldn’t even be alive today, let alone driving.

For his first five years behind the wheel, he told me, he used to lean on his horn, yell and stress out every time he was cut off in traffic. Years of that kind of stress led to stomach ulcers so severe that he couldn’t even take a sip of coffee or orange juice without it feeling like someone was sticking a knife in his gut. He chose to make a change that likely saved his life.

“I decided I was going to wake up smiling every morning and keep smiling throughout the day. I wanted to start enjoying life again,” Husamettin told me. Based on the way he engaged with me and the fact that I had the smoothest, most pleasant cab ride I’ve ever had in New York City, I’d have to say that smiling and relaxing is working for him.

It was really a beautiful way to start a couple of weeks of activities related to the launch of Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative because it was such a perfect illustration of what I’m writing about in the book. So, Husamettin, thanks for the great reminder that simple, mindful choices can not only make life feel less overworked and overwhelmed, they can save your life.

Launch Week Special Offer for My Readers

To say thanks for being a part of my blog community, I’m offering two companion resources to Overworked and Overwhelmed to readers who buy a hard cover copy of the book from Amazon between October 13 and 16. The first resource is a Group Discussion Guide designed to help like-minded people use the book to support each other in making essential changes in their lives. The second is the Life GPS® Personal Planner which includes a self-assessment, scoring guide and instructions on how to use the book to create a Life GPS® that helps you show up at your best and create the outcomes you want at home, at work and in your community. If you’ll send an Amazon receipt for your October 13 – 16 purchase of Overworked and Overwhelmed to, we’ll get those two resources to you right away.

Do I Ever Get Overworked and Overwhelmed? October 10 2014 no responses

scott-radioOne of the interesting things that happens when you launch a book is you do a lot of interviews about the book. I’ve been doing a lot of those lately as the official publication date of Monday, October 13 approaches for my new book, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative.

In an interview for a radio show last week, the host asked me, “Do you ever get overworked and overwhelmed?” My answer was immediate and clear – “Yes, absolutely!”

Coming Clean October 8 2014 17 responses

Scott EblinIf you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re undoubtedly aware that I have a new book coming out, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative. I hope you’ll read it and get a lot of value from it. But before you do, there’s something that I want to share with you, as a regular reader of this blog, that has, for the past five years, been a private issue between me, my family and a few friends. That private issue is now public. Because you’re a regular reader here, I want you to hear about it from me in this setting before you read about it in the new book.

In the summer of 2009, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. That came as a shock because I was pretty healthy up to that point, had run a couple of marathons and thought I was pretty much bulletproof. Within a few weeks of my diagnosis, I could barely walk around the block and had to pull myself up the stairs by the banister to get to bed. I had bad days and somewhat better days the rest of that year and through the end of 2010. I tried some of the MS drugs but they didn’t agree with my liver and I had to stop taking them. In October of 2010, my wife, Diane, encouraged me to go to a yoga class because she had read that it helps people with MS function better.

I nervously went to a class and when I got there I took the instructor aside to tell her about my condition and to please keep an eye on me in case I passed out or something. She told me not to worry, that they regularly had people with chronic illnesses in class and that she would take care of me. She also told me if I came to yoga three times a week it would change my body and if I came more than three times a week it would change my life. She was right. I chose the more than three times a week option and it changed both my body and my life.

Today, I’ve written my second book, completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training program, been to Paris with Diane for our 25th anniversary and travel all over the place coaching and giving presentations. (I’m writing this post on a plane from Washington, DC to New York). I’ve gone from not being able to walk without support from Diane for balance to doing head stands, hand stands and arm balances most every day of the week. In short, I’m living at my best.

Managing stress is very important in managing MS. Yoga has been a big component of a system that along with intentional breathing, vibrant relationships and regular routines of reflection helps me do that. None of that is to say that I don’t get overworked and overwhelmed. I do just like everyone else does. The difference for me is that I recognize that feeling more quickly now and have learned how to respond to that feeling to get back to a more productive and healthier state.

That’s one of the big reasons I wrote the new book. I wanted to share the system based on mindful routines that keep me at my best physically, mentally, relationally and spiritually. The other big reason I wrote the book is that see a need among so many of my clients and audiences to an alternative to the overworked and overwhelmed state they often find themselves in. At this point, I’m passionate about sharing what I learned through interviews with successful executives and thought leaders, reviewing the latest research and my own experience. It feels like a mission for me.

I’m confident that I would not have written the new book if I had not had MS. Because my experience with not just surviving but thriving with the disease was so pivotal in writing Overworked and Overwhelmed, I felt like I had to make the private story of my illness public and write about it in the book. So, that’s what I mean by the title of this post, “Coming Clean.” Because you’ve been a regular reader here, I wanted to share the backstory with you before you read the rest of the story in the book

And, like I said earlier, I hope you’ll read it and that you take insights and action steps away that will strengthen your leadership and improve your life. Please share your stories and thoughts with me if you do.

Mindful Mondays: The Spiritual Routines of the Mindful Road Warrior October 6 2014 one response

purpose-woodblockAs I write this post this morning, I’m sitting in the airport waiting to board a flight that marks the beginning of a two week tour in support of my new book. The next 12 days are going to be filled with speeches, interviews, conferences, meetings and a couple of parties. It’s going to be a lot of fun and also a bit of a whirlwind.

You can bet I’ll be following my mindful road warrior routines during this trip. All of the physical, mental and relational routines I’ve written about these past few Mindful Mondays will definitely be in play. I’ll also be following some spiritual routines this week. That’s what I want to focus on in this closing installment of my series on the routines of the mindful road warrior.

Spiritual routines can look like a lot of different things depending on your beliefs and traditions. One thing I think just about all of them do is connect or reconnect you with your sense of purpose. For me, spiritual routines help me connect with and reflect on answers to what’s one of the biggest picture questions of all, “Why am I here?” In other words, what’s my purpose in life and how am I showing up for that day in and day out?

My spiritual routines give me the time, space and stimulus to reflect on those questions and stay connected with the answers. I have three go-to spiritual routines that I practice together or separately almost every day. That will certainly be the case over the next two weeks as I know that my schedule is going to make it even more important than usual to stay grounded.

Here’s what I’ll be doing:

Reading: My early morning routine usually starts with 10 to 15 minutes of reading in a spiritual classic or a commentary on them. I find this a great way to get my brain going in the morning and start the day in reflective way. When I’m on the road, the book is usually stored in the Kindle app on my iPad.

Meditative Breathing: The next step is ten to thirty minutes of meditative breathing. The time depends on my schedule. When I’m on the road and dealing with time zones and early meetings, it’s usually shorter. No matter the length of time, I find that the breathing makes me aware of the chatter in my mind and opens me up to listen to and pay attention to more important things.

Journaling: I’ve been journaling for almost 20 years and have a very worn leather covered journal that I use to write a page or two of thoughts down as I wrap up my morning routine. They can be really mundane thoughts like a recitation of what happened the day before; they can be about joys or concerns in my life; they can be about things I need to do. It doesn’t matter. Whatever’s in my head at that point goes on the page. Over time the journal has become a great reminder that most of the things I worry about in a given day really aren’t worth worrying about. I’ll be journaling a good bit on this trip.

So, those are the spiritual routines that help me stay grounded when I’m out doing the road warrior thing. How about you? What do you do to stay connected to your purpose when you’re out on the road?

Tough Conversation Ahead? Get into The Discomfort Zone October 2 2014 no responses

book-reynoldsFor this episode of The Next Level Podcast, I’m joined by coaching leader and former ICF President Dr. Marcia Reynolds, discussing her new book, The Discomfort Zone: How Leaders Turn Difficult Conversations Into Breakthroughs. During our discussion, Marcia shares her perspective on how leaders can transform difficult conversations with team members into opportunities for a new perspective and deeper trust.

Among other insights, Marcia shares the importance of fostering mutual respect. When good intentions are present, real breakthroughs can occur.

There’s more in our conversation. Listen in here:


Mindful Mondays: How Mindful Road Warriors Stay Connected September 29 2014 one response

connect-colorsSo, you might be thinking, “Any 21st century road warrior worth their salt knows how to stay connected. You’ve got your smartphone (maybe two), your tablet, your laptop. How hard is it to stay connected?”

Yeah, with all of the tools we have it’s not that hard. But that’s not what I’m talking about. The topic of today’s installment in my mini-series on the Mindful Road Warrior is how to stay connected with people (the three dimensional kind, not the faceless pixels on a screen kind) when you’re away from home base frequently.

My interest in this stems from personal experience and from my belief that relational routines – along with the physical, mental and spiritual routines that I discuss in Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative – are vitally important in both showing up at your best and getting the outcomes you hope for at home, work and in your community.

Keeping your relational routines strong can be a challenge when you’re traveling for business. The process of getting there and back, the hotels, the long hours, the time zones and such are all challenges to staying connected with the people you care most about as well as the people you meet along the way.

Here are three relational routines that I practice when I’m on the road that have been working for me over the past year. Like most good routines, they’re pretty easy to do and make a difference. Would love to get your tips as well. What relational routines work for you when you’re in road warrior mode? Please leave a comment after the jump.