Simple, practical, applicable
Mindful Mondays: Three Simple Ways to Create Space to Think March 3 2014 no responses
Last week, I took a break from working on my new book about mindful alternatives to being overworked and overwhelmed to speak to the New Jersey Human Resources Planning Group on the same topic. We had a great morning together and it was a terrific opportunity to pilot some of the ideas from the book with a roomful of smart people.
One of the things we spent some time talking about is how do you create the space to step back and actually think about what really needs to be done when the input is coming in far faster than the output is going out?
Based on the research I’ve been doing for my book along with some of the ideas that came up in the room last week are three simple ways to create the space to think:
Mindful Mondays: What’s Your Organizing Principle? February 24 2014 no responses
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time reading through the transcripts of interviews I’ve been conducting for my new book. It’s been a fun process because I’ve had the great good fortune of speaking with some very compelling leaders who take a mindful approach to their work and life.
Two of those interviews were with Kaye Foster-Cheek and Danae Ringelmann. Most recently, Kaye was the Senior VP of Human Resources for Onyx Pharmaceuticals and, prior to that, was the global head of HR for Johnson & Johnson. Danae is the co-founder and Chief Customer Officer of crowd funding innovator, Indiegogo. She’s received a lot of high profile recognition the past few years including being named to Fortune’s 40 Leaders Under 40 list and Fast Company’s list of the 50 most influential women in technology.
Kaye and Danae both bring a lot of strengths to the table. In interviewing each of them, some common characteristics stood out for me. One of those is that they each live their life in accordance with what I would call an organizing principle. By doing so, they make a big difference in the world through their focused sense of purpose.
Here’s more on the organizing principles for Danae and Kaye, the difference they’ve made and what their experience might mean to you and me.
Mindful Mondays: What Can We Learn from a 10 Year Old Girl About Making a Stand? February 17 2014 one response
The adorable 10 year old girl in the picture with my wife, Diane, and me is Vivienne Harr. We met her at a party at the Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Valentine’s Day evening. Earlier that afternoon she spoke to 2,000 people (video below) about how her lemonade business has raised over a million dollars to help free 18 million child around the world from slavery.
Yes, you read that right. Vivienne, with the help of her parents, has raised over a million dollars – in a year – to end child slavery. It started when her parents shared a photo book with her of child slaves in Nepal and it made her “really sad.”
She decided to open a stand to sell enough lemonade to make a big enough donation to an organization that could end child slavery for 500 kids. That would take $100,000. She raised the money in 170 days. Selling lemonade. Here’s how she did it.
Accepting Reality February 12 2014 9 responses
Every so often, one has to face reality and accept the circumstances as they are. This is one of those moments for me.
I’m very excited about the work I’m doing on my next book which will be published by Wiley this Fall. And, in the category of accepting reality, I’ve come to the conclusion today that I’ll be blogging less frequently until I deliver the manuscript to my editor in May.
Since the book is all about simple and practical things leaders can do to be more mindful in their work and life, I’ll still be posting the Mindful Mondays feature most weeks between now and May. I’ll likely be posting on other days of the week as well but not as often as I have been.
Wow, I feel better already. It’s important to me (and I hope to you) that when I post on this blog it’s worth your time and attention. In accepting reality, I realize that there’s only so much writing I can do in a week while meeting the needs of my clients, writing a quality manuscript and doing a good job with this blog.
So, something has to give and, for the next couple of months, I’ll be focusing on quality over quantity or frequency when it comes to this blog. Thanks for being a loyal reader. I’ll still be here over the next two or three months, just not as often. Please hang in there with me during this hybrid hiatus.
In wrapping up for today, I’m reminded of a line I heard somewhere – you can do everything, just not everything at once. Who knows? Maybe there’s an area in your work or life where you need to take your foot off the gas for awhile. It’s worth thinking about.
Mindful Mondays: What Brings You Joy as a Leader? February 10 2014 no responses
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who first became publicly known for his efforts to negotiate a peace treaty during the Vietnam War. Since then, he’s taught around the world and has written more than sixty books that have had an influence on people in all walks of life. (I’ve only read a few of his books; my favorite is Being Peace.)
Last week, a friend of mine, Alanson Van Fleet, sent me a note to share how some of Hanh’s work is making a difference for leaders in corporate America. Alanson is a senior executive in a financial services firm and a longtime mindfulness practitioner who’s also doing some leadership coaching inside his company.
A well known Thich Nhat Hanh quote is “If you touch one thing with deep awareness, you touch everything.” Based on that idea, he has an exercise called “deep touching” in which he encourages people to be in touch with all of their senses and intentions as a part of being fully present in the moment. To make that tangible, Hanh suggests taking out a piece of paper and writing down all of the things that bring you joy and nourish your body, mind and spirit. Creating that list enables you to notice and appreciate those things as they come up throughout the day.
Here, in his own words (and with his permission), is how Alanson adapted the practice of deep touching into a conversation that helped one of his colleagues step back and slow down for a few minutes to recognize what brings him joy as a leader and the difference that makes for the people he leads.
Mindful Mondays: A Bunch of Yogis Just Won the Super Bowl February 3 2014 one response
For the first time in a long time, the Super Bowl was blowout. The Seattle Seahawks best defense in the NFL totally shut down the Denver Broncos league best offense in a 43 – 8 rout. While Peyton Manning and his team struggled to get anything going, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks seemed focused, faster and, if its possible to be so in the biggest game of the year, relaxed and having fun.
In a post game gabfest on ESPN, Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young was almost giddy in talking with Seattle coach Pete Carroll about how he had prepared his team to win so big. Young repeatedly called Carroll a visionary for the way he had (a paraphrased quote here), “taken care of his players holistically – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.” It was almost like Young couldn’t quite describe what Carroll was doing but was desperate to understand it. The Seattle coach talked a lot about how he and his staff make a consistent effort to treat each player with respect as an individual and to help each of them realize their full potential.
What Carroll didn’t mention last night but has talked about before is that a lot of his players meditate daily and all of them practice yoga every day.
The Seventh Circle of Conference Call Hell January 31 2014 no responses
One of the theories about what makes comedy funny is when the bit does such a great job of describing everyday reality that you laugh out loud in recognition.
That’s what made Jerry Seinfeld a wealthy man and it’s what makes this video on the seventh circle of Hell known as a corporate conference call from comedy duo Tripp and Tyler so hellaciously funny.
I first learned about the video from a post by Seth Godin at the beginning of the week on conference call hygiene. He linked to it and when I first watched it it had about a million views on YouTube. As I write this four days later, it has over four million views. It’s viral because it’s funny.
I’ve yet to find the person who loves conference calls and, yet, they are a fact of professional life. We can all at least do what we can to make them more bearable and less frequent. Seth offers an excellent list of ideas about how to do so in his post. They’re all good. My favorite is “when in doubt, don’t have one.”
What say you? What rules should every conference call convener or participant be required to follow?
Three Tips for Leaders Who Want to Keep It Real January 29 2014 one response
In case you missed it, here’s a link to a great article by the Washington Post’s Alexandria Petri in which she describes how Hillary Clinton attempted to make a connection in a recent speech to the National Association of Automobile Dealers. She shared a story that since the last time she drove a car in 1996, the Secret Service hasn’t allowed her to get behind the wheel. The response, apparently, was confused crickets.
Petri doesn’t just pick on Hillary. She also shares stories about how Mitt Romney and John Kerry tried to connect with voters when they were running for President and missed the mark. Her larger point is that it’s a dangerous thing when you’re a leader who’s so far removed from the experience of every day people that you can’t connect.
As a leader you’ve got to stay connected to keep it real. Here are three tips on how to do that.
Mindful Mondays: Making the Most of Your Limited Engagement January 27 2014 no responses
Over the weekend, I came across a video and an article that reminded me to be present and make the most of now because my time here on earth is what you might call a “limited engagement.” It’s sort of like a Broadway show with a limited run.
Of course, that’s true for all of us. Seventy, eighty or even ninety years of life sounds like a long time until you consider it in the greater scheme of things. Someone once described to me where any of us fit into the span of time with a compelling visual metaphor. Imagine that you’re in a large room that has a thick metal cable extending from end to end. The cable is so long that it actually enters the room through a hole in one wall and exits the room though a hole in the wall on the other end of the room. When you step outside the room to take a look at the cable, you lose sight of either end of it on the opposite horizons. You step back inside the room and make a nick on the cable with a screwdriver. That nick represents your life on earth. The cable represents time since the universe began.
Like I said, the time any of us have here is a limited engagement only. The question is “What do you want to do with it?” For Sam Berns, who recently passed away at age 17 from a rare condition called progeria, the answer was, among other things, realizing the dream of playing snare drum in his high school’s marching band. Paul Kalanthini, a 36 year old neurosurgeon who wrote in the New York Times about dealing with his unexpected diagnosis of lung cancer, is grappling with the question every day.
None of us really have any idea on just how long our limited engagement is going to play. Here’s some advice from Sam and Paul on making the most of it:
How to Not Be a Weenie Leader January 23 2014 one response
Earlier today, someone I care about a lot was the victim of weenie-like behavior from someone in a leadership role who should have known better. Unfortunately, weenies are all around us. You can recognize them by their unique combination of spineless and thoughtless behavior. That and their lack of nutritional value.
I doubt anyone starts out in life or even in a given day with the goal of being a weenie. And, yet, weenie-like behavior abounds. It’s enough to make you a little paranoid, actually. “Am I a weenie and just don’t know it?”
Who am I to say? For all I know, I’m a weenie too. Here, though, is a start on my list of behaviors that weenie leaders exhibit. How can you avoid being a weenie leader? Do the opposite of these things. I’m working hard on not doing these. (What else would you add to the list?)