‘Tis the Season – Reflecting on What You Learned

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Welcome to December, friends!

How exciting that we have made it to the last month of 2017! What a ride it has been.

We’re not sure if you’ve ever dabbled in project or program management, and either way we’ve got a best practice from some of Coaching Right Now’s PM’ing team this week!

At the end of each project or program we love to capture our “lessons learned”. What are those things that either worked amazingly well that we’d LOVE to make sure we do again? Or, what are those things that did not work so well that we hope to never experience again?!

So for all of us, as we are closing up 2017 and moving into 2018, what if we were to take some time to think about our personal lessons learned?

Need some questions to get you started? Try these!

  • What are three things you are most proud of this year?
    • What made you proud of those things?
  • What is one thing that if you could do differently you would?
    • What is it about it that you’d want to change?
  • What are two things that surprised you about yourself, and would you want to do those things again?
  • What are two things that gave you a lot of energy this year?
  • What are two things that took away a lot of your energy this year?
  • What is something I wish I could have spent more time on this year?

Hopefully these will give you a starting place!

“The future depends on what we do in the present.” – Mahatma Gandhi

‘Tis the season for reflecting on what you learned!

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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!

Innovating Through Failure

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So, did you have a chance to think about your philosophy or failure?

If not, check out our post from last week to get you started!

Let’s jump back in!

To innovate, you must learn to fail well

How are innovators treated on your team?

How is failure treated on your team?

If your thinking is big enough, no failure should be total. You always learn something from it – whether it’s how to not do something, or maybe it’s extracting one piece of the project that did work, that was ingenious, and that can be salvaged for the next idea.

Don’t stigmatize the team that failed. The next innovators will be watching to see how the first team was treated.

Don’t get us wrong, failure is not the objective. Failure should not be celebrated – innovation and daring should be though; and often, the two come hand-in-hand.

Think about how you encourage or discourage innovation within your team.

Are you celebrating daring-ness on your team? Or are you the runner or the steam engine?

Do you stop and think about how your actions impact those around you and how you can improve?

Or do you blaze ahead – blindly and without thought or care for who and what is tossed in your wake?

This week, make a conscious decision to create something – to risk innovation. Because even if you fail, you will do so while daring greatly.

And — you just might succeed!

To fail is not really to fail – you’re merely collecting data points.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

 

First Block Quote from:  How Google Works. Schmidt, Eric and Jonathan Rosenberg. Grand Central Publishing, New York, New York. 2014.

Reinventing Failure

Reinventing Failure

In 1919, a young twenty-year-old was fired from one of his first animation jobs at the local newspaper. As rumor has it, his employer cited his “uncanny lack of imagination and creativity” as the cause for his termination. This wasn’t the last of his failures – a few years later he started his own animation company that he eventually drove to bankruptcy.

Out of these failed attempts to create something meaningful (and many more that we’re not listing), grew an idea and a dream. This same man later founded one of the greatest innovations in entertainment and hospitality that the world has ever known.

The Walt Disney Company.

Disney has been sharing Walt’s ideas, his creativity, and his passion with the hearts of people all over the world for the last 90 years.

How we fail is important.

What is your philosophy of failure? How do you innovate?

In our experience, most people do one of two things:

  1. The first person runs as fast as they can from every opportunity that could implode to escape from the feared collateral damage of failure. Their self-worth and value as a person and employee is so intricately intertwined in the success of what they do, that they are terrified to fail – so they never innovate. They never challenge.They never grow.
  2. The second type of person charges forward in most every situation. Like an out-of-control train, they never looking back and never realizing the impact of their actions, the people and things they harm, or asking questions about why this or that failed. They skip the step where they ask themselves “how and why did this happen?” or “what can I do differently next time?”

There is, however, a third type of person. A person who innovates – who has a strong philosophy of failure, and who daringly defies the status quo -all the while, learning, asking questions, being sensitive to their failures, but not letting the failures define their success. 

In 2009, Google launched Wave, a technological marvel that seamlessly integrated emails, messaging, social networking, and online collaboration for it’s users.

It was genius.

It was also a complete and total disaster.

By 2010, Google announced that it would be sunsetting the program, and discontinuing all future development.

By 2011, it was, for all intents and purpose, dead. The program never hit the mainstream, it never collected a critical mass of users, and it fizzled out almost as quickly as it was developed. The media lambasted the project, calling Wave an “overhyped bust and a tremendous failure.” And they were right – Wave was a flop.

However, the 60 person team at Google that worked on the project was praised internally. Each of them was highly sought-after for other high-profile, internal projects.

No one lost their jobs.

None of them achieved the creation of something that was successful, but each of them did push the boundaries of innovation. They created something new and different. They dared to think outside of the norm, and made something really special and unique.

Curious about what comes next? Us too!

This week take some time to think about your philosophy of failure and next week we’ll keep talking about how to reinvent your failure.