Leading a Community-Focused Culture

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Philosophy, while equally loved and despised by people all over the world, has a valuable lesson to teach each one of us (yes, even in 2018!). Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be looking back into the corners of Ancient Rome, Greece, and China to examine how Ancient philosopher’s can show us new ways to think about Leadership.

Our first philosopher stems from Ancient Rome. Marcus Aurelius was the Roman emperor from 161 to 190 AD. His Meditations offer unique insights into who he was as a leader of this great Western Civilization.

Marcus believe that people exist to help one another.

Marcus believed that even though there will always be people who seek to harm others and live selfishly, humanity was meant to live in harmony and unison.

He writes,“…We came into the world for the sake of one another,” and within that society, leaders emerge and rise to the occasion. It is the Leaders duty to be the guardian of their followers, the Leader exists for the sake of their followers, and the followers for their Leader.

Interesting food for thought. How can we apply this thinking to our twenty-first century leadership?

Take a moment this week to think about how you can best serve your Team this week. How can you help create a culture that perpetuates the philosophy of existing to help your Followers?

  • Maybe it’s sending an encouraging email
  • Maybe it’s lunch
  • Maybe it’s popping by their office or cubicle to ask about their week and how you can help

Whatever that something is, we urge you to take the 5 or 30 minutes this week, to make a difference in the lives of those whom you Lead.

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Minimizing the Conference Craziness

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You made it! You’ve been looking forward to this conference for a long time.

The only drawback to the last conference you attended was that you went back to work completely exhausted from trying to make it to all the sessions you were interested in (which, let’s be real, were most of the sessions they had!).

This conference, you’re already torn between a couple of the break out sessions and the keynote speeches. Each day looks fantastic!

As you’re planning out your week, we’d recommend a couple of tips!

Be intentional about where you spend your time.

Take a couple of minutes to look at your schedule, the time you’ll be spending in different sessions, and prioritize.

Even if you make it to all the ones that look interesting, we all know your brain will be mush by 3pm, and dinner will not be fun!

Think about your year ahead, the team or corporate goals you’ve got, and what you know the most (or least!) about. Where is there a gap, or where do you need your thinking challenged or pushed a bit?

Choose what you attend strategically verses just what looks interesting.

Meet someone new.

 At these types of conferences, it can be easy to flock to those you know (maybe team members are there with you or you know other people in your region who will be there).

Even if meeting new people gives you the hives, try it out. In addition to the knowledge you’ll learn while there, just as impactful (and sometimes even more so) can be the people you meet.

Grab lunch with someone sitting in-front of you at a session, or choose to sit with someone new for dinner (even bring a colleague along with you!).

Communicate back

It can be so easy to go to a conference and then share these little bits and pieces with some of your team. When that happens, we sell ourselves short of the impact we can have of all growing towards the same thing together.

Even if you’re not sure that anyone would care that you learned about “x,” consider taking a little time to share some key learnings or next steps with your team.

HAVE FUN!

Cultivating Gratitude

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How many times have you said thank you without actually feeling… well… grateful? Muttering thanks to the person who held the door for you earlier, the barista who made your latte, and even your sign off “Thanks!” on all your emails can sometimes ring hollow. The sentiment, and most importantly, the good feelings you have behind the words are lost.

Honestly, if you did keep track of “moments of gratitude”, you would have a dozen things to be thankful for just in that morning on your way to work!

Don’t worry. You don’t have to keep track of ALL of it. How about five things? That sounds almost doable, right?

Putting your problems in perspective by focusing on the positive is the first step in overcoming them. And, there’s so much more. Here are some more unexpected benefits to starting a gratitude journal:

1. Good things DO happen and you finally have the “receipts” to prove it! A gratitude journal is literally your important paperwork of life.

2. You keep only memories that bring you joy. Have you ever gone through your old teenage journals and think … “What was I so upset about?! I had free food and wifi!”? If you want a happy life, record only the happy memories and let the bad times slip into oblivion along with your high school locker combination.

3. It’s the perfect way to end your day. Who doesn’t want to have their stress levels lowered right before bed? Skip the Tylenol PM and grab your gratitude journal instead.

4. Your future self will thank you. This is a little bit meta, but by writing out what you are grateful for now, you give your future self something to be grateful for. Gratitude is simply happiness you recognize at a later date.

5. You will find that you go through life extra attuned to “gratitude inspiring” events. How cool is that?

Starting and maintaining a gratitude journal sounds daunting, but it is so worth it. Here are some handy tips and tricks to get started.

1. Keep a small notebook and pen next to your bedside table. You can later invest in a fancy personalized journal. Whatever you have on hand will do just fine.

2. Write – don’t type. Research shows that the physical act of writing is soothing in and of itself.

3. Take a moment to think through what you are grateful for today. Just today. It may not make sense to anyone who is reading it, and that’s okay!

4. Stay the course. This isn’t a journal of events. This isn’t a place to write out your frustrations. Stay positive and keep out the negative.

5. Keep it secret. Don’t share it with anyone. It will only stymie your true thoughts and feelings. Your gratitude journal is a judgement free zone.

Are you ready to smile at the end of every work day? Keeping a gratitude journal is a hidden life hack for being healthier, happier, and more productive.

Try it!

 

Meditation Isn’t What You Imagine

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No, you don’t need to be sitting quietly in a candle lit room, or listening to Tibetan chimes downloaded from iTunes. While it does sound amazing to go to a wooded retreat to reach inner peace, it isn’t necessary — or very likely for that matter.

The reality is that you spend most of your life following the same routine, but somewhere in the chaos you need to find a little peace. The good news is that self-care through meditation is easier than you think!

Pay attention to your breath

Try this. As you breathe in, count to 1 in your mind; and as you breathe out, count to 1. Breathe in — count 2. Breathe out — count 2. Continue all the way up to 10, and then go backwards back to 1. If you get distracted and lose count, just start over.

Funny how once you get your mind involved in the process of breathing, it takes up a lot of mental bandwidth! That’s because breathing is your true “life’s work” essentially.

Be mindful

At the office you are busy prioritizing your thoughts for the deadlines coming up. Often you are still mentally putting out the fires of yesterday at the same time. Meditation quickly and efficiently allows you to leave regrets in the past and anxiety in the future, where they belong.

It only takes a couple minutes to focus on the here and now. When you get it right, your breath becomes a center of soothing calm. That is meditation through mindfulness.

Find your trigger

There is no wrong time to listen to your breath. But in the beginning, it’s a good idea to pair it with something you do everyday. It could be while waiting in line in the parking garage, or taking the recycling out. You can do it while conditioning your hair in the shower!

Practicing meditation daily and consistently develops a powerful habit for mindfulness. It forms like any other habit. You have to do it daily, even if it is just two minutes a day.

Meditation in practice

The beauty of your practice is that it is ready for when you need it most. When you do find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the size of your inbox, frustrated by an important document lost, or the gnawing anticipation before public speaking, you can instantly transport yourself to the tranquility of your practice.

Find your zen! And go there whenever you please!

Let’s talk about self-care

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“In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, please put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”

Flight attendants diligently remind us to suppress our instinct of wanting to help others before helping ourselves. After all, how can we help anyone while running on literal fumes?!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at the how, when, where, and why of self-care!

Don’t embrace the grind

Smart leaders make self-care their priority because they know it enhances productivity and success in themselves and others. Ignoring self-care mimics a state of oxygen deprivation: you make messy mistakes, and things inevitably grind to a halt.

The World Health Organization estimates stress related illness causes a loss of 300 billion dollars a year in workplace productivity. Often defined as “Presenteeism”, you are technically at work but your health problems choke any attempts at true efficiency.

On some level, you already know this to be true. Your job feels like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. Your body and mind are screaming to be tended to as you plow through the work day.

Self-care feels like another thing to do in your already overscheduled day.

Yes, you know that ideally you wouldn’t scarf a burger at your desk or shun sleep to respond to that one last email. And wait, wasn’t there a meditation app you’ve been meaning to download? It all feels like too much! Even the things that are supposed to help.

Taking care of yourself ends up going from #1 on your list to falling somewhere between organizing your desktop and getting your tires rotated.

Put yourself first

In this series, we explore what it means to put your oxygen mask on first.

How do you make it a habit? How can you quickly integrate it into what you are already doing? And most importantly: how do you know you are doing it right?

Don’t worry – you got this! For now, just take a moment to put your own mask on… and breathe.

Prepping for Fall

Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 2.52.24 PM.pngCa you believe that it’s ALREADY September 1st?

We can’t!

It seems like just yesterday we were talking about You in 2017 and the words you were going to use for this year.

Now that we are jumping into fall, let’s take some time to look at those words or phrases you chose and think about what else you want for the rest of this year!

Step 1: Grab your calendar and block off 30 minutes

Step 2: Look at the word you chose for your professional life. Write down a couple of ways you’ve seen this word show up in you (purposely or not!). Now, write down a couple of opportunities you might have to grow in that area in the coming months (only 4 more full months of the year!!!).

Step 3: Look at the word or phrase you chose for your personal life and do the same reflective activity.

Step 4: Look at the hobby or interest you wanted to grow or expand on. Did you have a chance to? If so, AWESOME! If not, look at what you could do in the next few months to accomplish that. J

We find that just after the fun and chaos of summer is the perfect time to take some time to reflect and reset on what you are hoping for the rest of the year!

So, You’ve Got a New Job- Part 2

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 9.39.29 AMPreoccupied with the exciting possibilities of your new role, you’ve totally forgotten that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step – your first day. But not to worry – we’ve got your back! These tips are sure to keep you cool under the pressure of what to do when you’re new.

The Commute

During the interview process, your trusty GPS guided you to your new office in just 15 minutes. However, your route may have been contingent upon the time of day and weather. A drive at 1 pm on a sunny Wednesday could be much shorter than one on Monday at 8 am during a torrential downpour.

A good practice is to take a trip to the office beforehand to make sure you’ve accounted for traffic and detours. By testing your hypothetical drive, you can feel confident in the fact you’ll arrive at work early rather than late.

If your preference is to crank up Pandora while you get ready for work, you may have to put down the air guitar and devote a few minutes to listening to your local news or radio to find out if there are any road closures, accidents, or inclement weather that could impact your driving time. You and Pearl Jam can thank us later.

The Attire

You know those papers and/or booklets you received when you accepted the position? It serves well to read them, as these documents are often the keepers of clandestine information related to your new role.

Read your employee handbook thoroughly and carefully to ensure you’re in-line with your organization’s expectations. Of course, you’ll dress professionally, but your interpretation of sandals may be Birkenstocks, while your company’s expectation of sandals is open-toed dress shoes.

The Layout

While interviewing, you parked in visitor parking and stopped at the front desk to indicate your arrival. Easy, right? But now that you’re “official,” you’ll have to park in the fourth deck and ride the elevator to the 17th floor. Yikes!

No sweat. You’ve gained an extra fifteen minutes from properly planning your commute and can navigate your way to your new desk like a boss. An east and west elevator, or stopping to ask for directions from passersby, will be a breeze rather than panic-inducing since you’ve got time to spare.

The People

During your interview, you were congenial, charming, and attentive. Let’s let the good times roll! You’ll be inundated with new names and faces all day, so be just as authentic and personable as you were when getting the job as you are in keeping your job. Scientific research suggests that our facial expressions influence our emotions, so smiling and being pleasant when meeting your coworkers will serve both you and your new crew well.

Displaying a positive, can-do attitude not only signals to those around you that you are receptive and capable, it also breaks the ice when asking job-related questions. Those gray skies of uncertainty will clear up when you put on a happy face.

Well, look who’s survived the first day? Go you! You’ve given yourself a head start on fulfilling the expectations of your new role just by putting your best foot forward on day one.