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!

 

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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.

Be Mindful

Be Mindful

Mindfulness.

It’s a term that has started to become more and more popular. But what is it?

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, mindfulness is:

“The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”

Who has time for that?!

As our days are packed, back-to-back, and often feeling like we are running behind schedule, it can feel like if we didn’t automatically breathe – we’d forget to do it!

And yet, staying present and not letting the stress and busyness of life carry us away can be really beneficial.

Need some easy places to start?

  • The next time you find yourself getting frustrated in a meeting (or at home), take some deep breaths … in through your nose, into your belly, and with a long exhale – out through your mouth
  • Or, the next meal you eat, pause to smell your food. Think about the flavors you are tasting. What do they remind you of?
  • Pause between your actions. So, the next time you are running to your meeting – stop to notice your surroundings before you walk in. Or, the next time your phone rings – listen to the sounds and breath before you answer

Sound a little different? Totally!

Try it out this week and see if it makes a difference in your temperament or the stress you may be feeling.

And let us know what works or doesn’t work for you!

How to Be a Great Manager If You’re Introverted and You Have An Extroverted Team

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Did you stop by last week and think “I have the opposite situation! I’m introverted and have an extroverted team!”?

This week we’ve got Coach Peter Pintus here with some tips on how to most successfully manage your extroverted team, while staying true to you.

Take it away Peter!

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“Managing a high impact team successfully is critical for any organizational project. This can be a challenge when a manager’s personality type is introverted and the personality type of his/her team members is extroverted.

 Why is this a challenge? Because introverts and extroverts tend to process information and approach tasks differently. Eric, an introverted team manager, prefers to process ideas internally while his extroverted team members prefer to process ideas by dialoging and openly interacting with others. Sara, another introverted team manager, prefers to spend time deeply thinking about and developing strategy and then implementing that strategy, while her extroverted team members prefer to think in broad terms, put a strategy in to place now (whether it is clearly defined or not) and then take the necessary time to critically evaluate that strategy. These two scenarios illustrate potential challenges for any introverted manager.

 How can an introverted team manager with an extroverted team go from being a good manager to a great manager in these types of situations?

 Following are six techniques that can help you manage your team toward success!

  1. Be willing to model your role as leader by releasing your way of doing things so that your team can function optimally. The important thing is that the end goal is reached. By allowing team members to work in their extroverted way, you encourage engagement, collaboration, and accountability, rather than stifle it.
  2. Make sure that the team task (e.g. deliverables and time frames) is clear and agreed to by team members. This will minimize confusion regarding your expectations and allow you to redirect the process if it goes off course.
  3. Establish team rules. Make sure everyone has a chance to contribute, listen actively to others, and agrees to time frames and goals. Establishing agreed upon rules in advance circumvents potential issues associated with differences in the way an introvert and an extrovert approaches a task.
  4. Allow sufficient time for team members to process externally through verbal interactions.
  5. Create engaging team process activities such as visual strategic flowcharts and plans that provide team members opportunities to use their gifts and talents in an outward-focused way.
  6. Request that team members provide you with pertinent information before any meetings so that you have the chance to review the material beforehand. This will help you feel more prepared when engaging in dialog with your team members.

 The mark of a great manager is one who is willing to adjust their style so that their team members can successfully apply their uniqueness and strengths to achieving team goals!”

Thank you, Peter!

How to Be a Great Manager if You’re Extroverted and you have an Introverted Team

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So, your extroverted. You love to be around your team and to talk out all our ideas and plans.

You get energized by having some alone time and you despise small talk.

And, your team? We’ll they despise small talk and need thinking time (alone!) to come up with their best ideas.

It can feel like a challenge when you want to hear their ideas on the spot.

This week we have Coach Judy Laws with us to share some thoughts on how to most successfully manage your introverted team, while staying true to you.

Take it away Judy!

 screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-3-29-38-pm“A great manager appreciates the difference between extroversion and introversion and finds ways to adapt and leverage these differences. To do this, they first need to understand the extroversion and introversion preferences.

Extroversion and introversion is about the direction in which we focus our attention and energy. Extroverts focus their energy and attention outwards; they are attracted to the outer world of people and events. Extroverts are more likely to: Speak-think-speak, speak out easily and often at meetings, favor an energetic atmosphere, find too little interaction stressful, and desire an action-oriented leader.

Introverts, on the other hand, focus their energy and attention inward; they are attracted to the inner world of thoughts and reflections. Introverts are more likely to: think-speak-think, be quiet in meetings and seem uninvolved, favor a calm atmosphere, find too much interaction stressful, and desire a contemplative leader.

As an extroverted manager, here are some things you can do if you have an introverted team.

Manage your Extroversion

  • In conversation or in a team meeting, pay attention to how much you are talking. Ask yourself, A.I.T. – Why am I talking? If the answer is I am doing most of the talking, stop and let the other person speak.
  • Moderate your approach at times, in order not to overwhelm introverts. Practice silence i.e. Stop, Look, Listen first.

Allow Introverts Time and Space to Think and Speak

  • Extroverts (including Introverts conditioned in an extroverted world) need to develop sensitivity to the impact of their behaviour on introverts, particularly with respect to leaving “silences” to encourage introverts to take their share of the air in discussions.
  • Allow introverts the space that they need to produce their best work, which will be on their own or with a couple of their team members, in a quiet space.

 When Working as a Team

  • Send out team meeting information ahead of time to allow introverts time to think about the topic, agenda items, etc.
  • Use Meeting Guidelines / Ground Rules, established by the team, to manage team dynamics.
  • Create opportunities for small group interaction.
  • Ensure that airtime is shared amongst the team. For example, “I noticed that we have heard from many of the same people and want to open the discussion to others who haven’t had a chance to share their thoughts.”
  • Devise methods for including everyone in a discussion, e.g. silent brainstorming, round robin allowing individuals to pass, surveying the team before the meeting, sharing the group’s input and then discussing it, etc.
  • Before proceeding with a decision or action, allow time for team members to think about it before proceeding.
  • Coach your introverted team members to let their peers (and you!) know when they are thinking and/or need time to think.

 Finally, it is important to treat each team member as an individual, recognizing that individuals show up differently on the extroversion-introversion scale. Observe and learn more about each team member so that you can leverage their strengths and adapt your management style accordingly.”

 Thank you, Judy!

Let us know how these tips work for you! And, if you’re an introverted Manager be sure to stop by next week for some tips for you!

Reflecting on Where You’ve Come From

Snowy MountiansWe made it!

It is the last week of 2014. Can you believe another year has already gone by?

Let’s take a few minutes to think back about the year that just passed by.

Like the picture of the mountains, sometimes before you look at what you are going to conquer next it is helpful to look back at all the mountains you’ve already hiked.

Regardless of how this year was, here are some questions to direct our thoughts about the year:

  • What was best thing that happened this year?
  • What was the most challenging thing that came up this year?
  • What was the most unexpected joy?
  • What was the most unexpected obstacle?
  • What are 3 words you would use to describe 2014?

Let’s use the best and most challenging things from this past year to help us dream about where we want to go in 2015.

What If…?

what-ifDeadlines. Projects. Holiday celebrations. Family events. More projects. Children’s plays. More Deadlines. Rise and repeat.

Right now, it probably feels like your focus is to make it to December 31st. Then you can go home early, celebrate the new year, and have a day to breathe before going back to work in 2015.

But, what are your plans when you get back?

Many times the new year is filled with resolutions and goals, determined by who we think we should be.

But, what if we started thinking about things differently?

Instead of determining our goals from feelings of obligation, what if we started to ask questions starting with what if?

What if I want to be better than I currently am? What would that take?

What if my staff knew that I was committed to their development? How would the team change?

What if I got the promotion I’ve been working for? How would that benefit my company/career/family/etc.?

Starting with what if gives us the chance to start to dream again.

So, what is your what if question for next year?