Budge yourself closer to the mindset of creating great change, Any of us can switch from the ordinary to the awesome with surprisingly small changes in daily thought and action. Start with a bigger plan.
One of the only antidotes to the poisonous black-sap from the Méxican chechén tree is nectar from another tree called chaca, which grows very near it. From this Mayan legend* has grown the lore that in the wild, every poison is accompanied by an antidote within the radius of human vision.
For example, for poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, the jewel weed grows nearby. The antidote ‘horsetail plant’ grows very near ‘stinging nettle.’ I believe that these seemingly opposite and contradictory elements aren’t limited to the physical realm. They form the basis for psychological growth and healing.
Last week, Kriya yogi Eric Klein (www.wisdomheart.com) gave us a powerful reminder at meditation: “whatever is in your way, IS your way.” Whatever annoys us is our gift, and points to the direction we need to move. Rather than be upset, one gives thanks for the opportunity. Yeah right!? Actually, yes. That attitude removes reactivity and allows room for responsiveness and growth.
Today, on Father's Day, our meditation focused on the gifts of the father. Our work was to honor our fathers for their gifts, and return to them the healing energy that we received. What was revealed for me was that the pain I had experienced was accompanied by concomitant strengths that helped heal the damage. Both the poison and the antidote were available to me as a singular gift.
My father was funny, outrageous, curious, and bold. He also had bipolar disorder and took his own life over 50 years ago. Most of my early life was focused on trying to help him out of his depressions or being confused and hurt by his aggressions. The last memory I have of him was watching him die, desperately trying to keep him alive.
Today I’m grateful to my dad for the depth of hurt, confusion and pain that I’ve been able to incorporate and use in my healing work. His strengths became my aids as I fashioned hurts into strengths ... into white flowers.
Given that every poison is accompanied by it’s antidote, move beyond limiting poison and give gratitude for the antidote. This is your strength.
*In the Mayan legend, two warrior princes, brothers of enormous strength and skill, were of opposite natures. The younger brother Kinich, was kind and loved by all. The older brother Tizic was filled with hate. They both fell in love with the same woman, Nicte-Ha and declared a battle to death for her hand.
The battle tore the earth in half and the heavens went into hiding, and ended with the brothers dying in each other’s arms. After death, they begged the gods for forgiveness, and to return to the living and see Nicte-Ha again.
Tizic was reborn as the poisonous Chechén; Kinich was reborn as the Chaca, whose nectar neutralizes Chechen’s poison. They both watch over Nicte-Ha, who died of grief but was restored to life as a beautiful white flower.
Years ago, my honour's thesis at Concordia University in Montréal was on Event-Related Slow Potentials of the Brain. The findings of the studies we conducted were compelling.
In that pre fMRI era, we did surface EEG recordings of three “diagnosed” groups and compared results with a “normal” control group. The experimental paradigm was as follows: subjects listed for a “warning’ tone (P1) that signaled that another tone (P2) was about to occur. On the second tone, the job was to push a button and – task done. Without exception, an expectancy wave arose in the brain while it was anticipating the second tone.
The EEG recordings showed that the waves of the undiagnosed or "normal" group returned to baseline within 200ms, often less. Their brain was able to let go of the task and await the next. Not so in the diagnosed groups; all three groups showed a delay to return to baseline (P3), with the group with the most severe diagnoses showing the greatest delay.
fMRI studies have repeated the findings; healthy brains release attachment to irrelevant stimuli better than unhealthy ones. If your brain latches on to past events, it is because:
a. the event(s) do not make sense, so your brain gets into an endless loop of trying to figure them out. You never will, because they doesn’t make sense. The person or thing you’re attached to is not healthy, or way outside of understanding, you got dragged in, and you got trapped. This is the basis of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
b. it is causing too much pain. Your survival instincts are forcing you to stick around until you figure it out. If you drop it, it might attack you at a later time and devour you.
I've written and spoke at length about letting go, not just because of the early brain research, but because latching on captures people and holds them hostage to the past. This makes it impossible for companies or careers to move ahead. It’s expensive, it’s rampant and it’s untreated.
What to Do
Yank yourself out of your lower reptilian survival brain into your cortex where you can handle this. That means consciously letting go. Do this as if your brain and mental health depended on it, because they do.
Work these three steps:
1. Ask yourself: "Do I have any control over this? Can I say or do anything to make it better/ solve it?" Yes, do it. No, go to 2.
2. Move to a higher place. Don’t be stuck at the level that created this attachment. You’re better than that. When the resentment/obsessive thought/regret comes up, repeat a mantra or just say STOP and distract yourself. It’s hard to repeat the word ‘stop’ and continue to obsess. You are re-training your brain.
3. Read numbers 1-5 on your card. Add your own.
Order packs of cards at lapp.com/books
You might have a mild form of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
PTSD has risen sharply over the past month subsequent to the presidential election in the USA. More and more reports are appearing. Why?
1. Whenever we try to process something outside the range of normal human expectation, our brains go on reverb loops trying to make sense of it. This process can be addictive, especially if the source is erratic and unpredictable.
2. Brains are lazy. They avoid conscious decisions when they take too much energy. Decision-making ability deteriorates with complex and repetitive decisions. Over the period of the presidential campaign, we have tried and failed to force reality and evidence to make sense. After many efforts over time, the brain becomes immune to further effort.
3. Neurons that Fire Together, Wire Together. Neurons activated together create stronger connections. Trump creates a strong and enduring brand memory (pairing of emotion and visual image) which continues the PTSD.
Symptoms may start any time within three months of a traumatic event (November 8, 2016). They're evidenced by any or all of these signs.
1. Intrusive memories
Recurrent, unwanted memories of the traumatic event
Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event
Emotional distress to something that reminds you of the event
Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
3. Negative changes in thinking and mood
Negative feelings about yourself or other people
Less likely to experience positive emotions
Feel emotionally kind of numb
Hopeless about our future
4. Changes in emotional reactions
Guilt or shame
Steps to Take
1. Acknowledge symptoms and know that you're healthy and "normal" because you do.
2. Speak openly; support groups have formed in most cities. Avoid blame and derision, just focus on your own reactions. You need affirmation that how you feel makes sense.
3. If you can't avoid the news, watch it consciously. Note how Trump creates division and mass addiction by his erratic, unpredictable and inappropriate behavior.
4. When thoughts and memories intrude, thought-stop and replace with action (write, call, support movements that can restore sanity, help someone else) or a substitute another thought."It will be OK in the end, if it's not OK, it's not the end."
Years ago, my honour's thesis at Concordia Montreal was on Event-Related Slow Potentials of the Brain. That was partly because the title was cool, but mostly because the findings of the studies were so compelling.
In that pre fMRI era, we did surface EEG recordings of three 'diagnosed' groups and compared results with a 'normal' control group. The experimental paradigm was set up as follows: subjects listed for a warning tone that signaled that another tone was about to occur. On the second tone, the job was to push a button and task done. In all four groups, an expectancy wave arose in the brain while it was anticipating the tone.
EEG recordings showed that the waves of the undiagnosed group returned to baseline within less than a second. Their brain was able to let go of the task and await the next. Not so in the diagnosed groups; all three groups showed a delayed return to baseline, with the group with the most severe diagnoses showing the greatest delay.
fMRI studies have repeated the findings; healthy brains release attachment to irrelevant stimuli better than unhealthy ones. If you're brain is stuck on something, it's reverberating on something that:
a. does not make sense to your system. It's attached to an endless trying-to-figure-it-out loop. It never will figure it out. Because it doesn’t make sense. The person or thing it's attached to is not healthy and it got dragged in.
b. is causing too much psychic pain. Survival instincts are forcing you to stick around until you fix it. If you drop it, it might attack you at a later time and devour you.
Getting stuck in the past is our #1 trap - both personally and professionally. It captures people in the workplace and holds them hostage, making it impossible for companies or careers to move ahead. It’s expensive, it’s rampant and it’s untreated. For a good philosophical chat go to "What's the Use of Regret" an November 12 Op Ed in the NYT. For concrete steps to move on, continue below.
What to Do
Yank yourself out of your lower reptilian, survival brain up to your cortex where you can handle this. That means learning to let go.
Do this as if your brain and mental health depended on it, because they do.
Work these five steps:
1. Do I have any control over this? Can I say or do anything to make it better/ solve it? Yes, do it. No, go to 2.
2. Move to a higher place. Don’t let yourself be stuck at their level. You’re better than that. Practice thought-stopping and replacement. It takes a while but keep at it and you’ll move past it ... thanks to your higher self. When the resentment/obsessive thought/regret comes up, repeat a mantra or just say "STOP!" It’s hard to repeat the word ‘stop’ and continue to obsess. Try it, you can’t. “STOP. Thinking about that hurts me.”
3. Read numbers 1-5 on your card. Add your own statements that help.
5. Get busy doing something that absorbs you. If you don’t have anything that absorbs you, that’s another issue. Make a list of things that could absorb your attention, rank them, pick the top one and go do it.
* Two traveling monks reached a town where there was a young woman waiting to step out of her sedan chair. The rains had made deep puddles and she couldn’t step across without spoiling her silken robes. She stood there, looking very cross and impatient. She was scolding her attendants. They had nowhere to place the packages they held for her, so they couldn’t help her across the puddle. The younger monk noticed the woman, said nothing, and walked by.
The older monk quickly picked her up and put her on his back, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other side. She didn’t thank the older monk; she just shoved him out of the way and departed. As they continued on their way, the young monk was brooding and preoccupied. After several hours, unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. “That woman back there was very selfish and rude, but you picked her up on your back and carried her! Then, she didn’t even thank you!”
“I set the woman down hours ago,” the older monk replied. “Why are you still carrying her?”
From StoryPeople: “Of course I’m not happy, she said to me, but I’ve got a degree in psychology so at least I can explain why.”
Those of us who know better are supposed to hold immunity. But we don’t. The election cycle is dragging up old and new issues in a lot of us. Many of us are reliving past trauma, whether it’s been ‘treated’ or not. Children of holocaust survivors, adults abused as kids have a high sense of dread and report flashbacks, general anxiety, mild depression, headaches, waking up at 3:00am for no reason.
Here’s what I’m doing to pull out I hope it helps.
1. Remember that it’s “normal” to react. The good news is that if we are ‘reacting’ we have not bought into the delusions. We’re overexposed to situations that are outside the range of human understanding.
2. Reduce news consumption. There is nothing we can do to control it.
3. Take some positive action. Make a stand. Get out to vote. Get your friends out to vote.
4. Reframe what we can. “We’re lucky to live in a country that supports freedom of speech.” “It will be OK in the end; if it’s not OK it’s not the end.”
5. Cut ourselves some slack. I don’t feel like working, my energy is low. So I go to the beach, light a candle, practice more meditation, get out into nature, be with positive friends. Give in to self-care; it's only for a little while more.
A few days ago I woke to the sound of scampering feet in the attic, sighed, did the research, and bought a dozen T-Rex baits.
The instructions were clear: Lay the traps for a few days without setting them or baiting them.
Rats are smart enough to avoid novel objects in the environment when there is no prior record in their brains (or a negative experience).
Our brains haven’t evolved that much after all. Whenever we encounter a new idea or a change, it takes less than a second for our brains to compare the new experience with our prior records. If there’s no match, the intuitive response is to reject the new stimulus.
Here’s how we can be smarter than a rat. Don’t avoid the “trap.” Wait 90 seconds before reacting. Train yourself and your team to respond with a neutral “that’s interesting.” or “let’s thing about that” then start to think about ways in which it could work.
Make this a best practice; it’s one of the components of Google’s “psychologically safe” teams, in which no idea is immediately judged.
During the 90 seconds, gather from the team ideas why it could work, or part of the idea that could work, no judgment allowed.
Your final decision can go either way. All you have to do is to fight off your instinctual response to discard novel stimuli before your “new brain” has a chance to evaluate them.
This one small switch should make a big difference in psychological safety and trust, as well as to generate a whole bunch of useful ideas.
As soon as I woke up last Thursday, I reached for my iPad to check tennis scores, emails, and NYT headlines. Everything that I didn't need to know. One of the emails was a request from Derek Sweeney of The Sweeney Agency who asked a thoughtful question:
"What’s the first thing people should do every morning to have a successful day?"
Oops. I was guilty of breaking my own rules. Since I couldn't respond to him in integrity without changing my own behavior, for the next three days I tried the three steps below and it has made all the difference. Focus, productivity and mood are all higher. It took me less than 90 seconds each morning. These are my three suggestions:
Our minds are the most suggestible right after awakening. Messages that invade us during that time can have a surprisingly powerful effect. Take control from the start.
1. Set your alarm to a ring tone that supports the intention for your day, either upbeat and motivational or meditative and peaceful.
2. Avoid external messaging of any kind during this period; that includes the news and emails on your iPhone.
3. Review the three intentions for the day that you wrote out the night before; make them trait rather than action-based. For example, “Today I am focused, thoughtful, and confident.” If you focus on traits, actions fall into line.
Forget the 21-days-to-habit. You’ll see the difference after 2-3 days. Whoohoo!
If, like me, you grew up before computer and video games, fMRI and PET studies show that you might be missing a part of your brain that Millenials have.
The exercise below, similar to the Stroop color-word test, seems to discriminate among Boomers and Millenials. It demands fast mental switching. Millenials zip through to the end with almost zero error; their brains are future-fit and ready to go. Most of us boomers, high achievers that we are, start strong but then fizz out near the middle. By the end, we have entered that-part-of-our-brain-where-there-is-nothing. Try reading the color not the words and see if you can get to the end with 90-100% accuracy in 25 seconds or less.
Many of our Boomer leadership and social skills are based of our societal structures of the 1950’s to 70’s. The image below highlights some clear differences.
Time to update! It’s our job to adjust to their social structure, it’s not their job to adjust to ours. Here are five suggestions to make that happen:
1. Adore them, keep the positive reinforcement flowing. You might believe that if you praise them that they will begin to demand more privileges. They won’t. They grew up getting trophies for everything, even for showing up at soccer practice. If you praise them the way you were praised, they will feel punished. Ramp it up.
2. Get real and be real. They spot hypocrisy quickly and will turn off if they sense you’re not being real. Millennials are looking for leaders and role models with honesty and integrity.
3. Have fun. Having fun wasn't a value of the 50’s or 60’s, and seems the antithesis of getting things done. On the contrary. From Zappos to Flickr (left, below) to Google to ZestFinance to Dormify to Amazon to Yelp - having fun is among the top priorities despite grueling work pressures. Humor, silly stuff, irreverence works; make it relevant and go for it.
4. Make it about something bigger. Millennials don’t just want and need to learn, they need to connect this to a higher purpose. Their world view is more expanded than was ours. Teach them even though you know they might split as soon as something better comes along. The only thing worse than training them and having them leave is not teaching them and keeping them.
5. Let them work with friends. Boomers are hesitant to let friends work together because of the fear that they’ll waste time. Millennials can get as much done as we can while texting their friends and posting on Instagram. Loyalty is to their friends rather than to a company They need to work with people they click with, and like being friends with coworkers. Some companies interview and hire groups of friends. Zappos build their culture to create friendship.
Take one or two small actions in each area and keep those actions up on a consistent basis and I bet the generation rift will shrink.
If you or your team are stuck on any of these outdated myths, you’ll spin your wheels no matter how hard you push on the gas!
Myth #1: “People don’t like change.” It’s not change that’s the problem; we’re born to change and adapt. It’s natural. People resist losing self-esteem, resulting from looking foolish, losing face, feeling like a failure. If these factors are shored up and protected in your people, change will be less of an issue.
Myth #2: “Personality is ‘set.’” It can’t be changed or fixed, as in “Oh that’s just the way he is.” This myth forms the basis for a convenient cop-out both for the leader and the ‘personality.’ It lets you both off the hook. This could be true for an organization as well. “That is the way we do things.” “That is who we are.” A personality is never set. We are a sum of our beliefs, actions and attitudes; these can change if needed for survival.
Myth #3: “Change takes time.” “Too much stress will make people sick.” Some processes do take time: System upgrades, complex expansions. But people can change overnight if need be. Feet to the fire, people can change instantly. You just have to get clear, make a compelling case, expect immediate change and follow through. They won’t break.
Myth #4: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” How many employees over 55 are sliding because of this myth? How many over 55 have cut back or cut out? Recent brain research shows that the brain rewires the same way at any age. With persistence, people can learn as much at 90 as they do at 20.
Myth #5: “Uncertainty, confusion and mistakes are signs of weakness and failure.” These can stop progress short. ‘Psychological Safety’ means that no matter what, all questions are positive, not knowing is a sign of intellectual curiosity and mistakes are supported as long as something’s learned. Confusion means you’re weighing options and able to simultaneously hold them in mind. Make ‘not knowing’ acceptable. High performing teams do.
Because myths are belief systems, they're not easy to uproot. Start by spotting them, start digging, replace them with the truth until they become your new reality.
Blocks refer to either persistent outdated beliefs of a company, or to a description of people who are stuck in the past through denial. If you have a critical mass of an outdated belief system and stuck people (33% or more), you’ll spin your wheels no matter how hard you push on the gas.
How to Identify Blocks:
Behaviors vary according to style and situation, but these are tell-tale language cues: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” “We’ve always done it this way.” “That would never work here.” “We tried that once and it didn’t work.” “This is just another fad, it’ll pass.” “I’ll hide until this computer trend passes.”
On a trip to the Galapagos Islands a few years ago, I discovered a prototype for our Block: Lonesome George. He was the last of his species of Giant Tortoise, and he refused to mate. His captors were desperate, to the point of building a heart-shaped swimming pool on the Research Station to try to get him in the mood. Nothing worked. One clear identifier that you are working with a George is the frustration and helplessness you feel around getting him/her to change. Blocks don’t budge without dynamite.
1. Don’t buy into their denial. Don’t rescue them. Don’t nag them. Don’t try to figure them out or react to them emotionally. Denial is a protective mechanism that protects them from reality.
2. Get clear about what has to happen. Stop tip-toeing around them or backing off from their inappropriate behaviors. Be clear about what new behaviors are needed, and that you expect them to adopt them. Be strong.
3. Give lots of support and encouragement: After all, George is scared.
4. Check the Psychological safety of your culture. Work toward zero errors, but never punish mistakes as long as the company’s values were upheld. Some organizations meet monthly with awards for the ‘Best Mistakes this Month,’ meaning the greatest lessons learned. Fear of making mistakes helps lead to block formation.
4. Keep moving. Don’t wait. Use the old Mexican saying: “Cuando caballo está muerto, déjalo” or “When your horse is dead, get off it.” Use your ‘Let it Go’ Cards liberally and with compassion.
Tangles develop in companies that have been told to speed up, and are trying to move faster without first streamlining their focus. They form most often when vision is fuzzy, priorities unclear, ambiguity and uncertainty high, workload high. The greater the anxiety, the more tangled. People in Tangles are used to them, and don’t know that they are dysfunctional. Tangles will stop progress in its tracks.
How do you know if you're Tangled? Here are Five Signs:
1. Increased paperwork, whether the increase in paper moves the action along or not.
2. Meetings are long, wandering, and often end with items tabled rather than action planned or taken. When action is planned, there is little if any meaningful followup.
3. People rush around looking very busy, almost frazzled. There is a common underlying agreement that this is constituting progress. People come to work earlier and leave later “to get it all done.” They feel overwhelmed and burned out.
4. Priorities are unclear. People are unsure what the priorities are, or whose direction they should be following. Most are not clear about the vision for the future.
5. Communication is obscure. Rarely do people speak directly to others, there’s a lot of beating around the bush. Talking about it can substitute for doing it.
How to Break them Up:
Tangles can be treated by just one person who has to strength to call out the truth and start the untangling process.
1. Get VP’s or regional directors together and figure out how priorities can be meshed, streamlined and funneled down in a humane manner.
2. Examine all meetings for purpose and outcome. Stop those that aren’t productive or future-focused; develop an alternate was of connection. Make meetings more efficient that move action forward.
3. Question every piece of paper. What purpose does it serve? Is there a better way to get the information out there?
4. Simplify. Ask “why are we still doing this?” Have employees compete for prizes for naming the most useless and time-wasting activities.
5. Get action agreements at the end of every meeting and hold people’s feet to the fire. One company put up deadlines and commitments on a public bulletin board. Another hacked computers on the deadline date.
6. Get bold. Speak up. Deal with people directly. Break up triangles. Set a clear vision, and make it visible. Remind people of it every day.
De-tangling the workplace not only speeds things up, morale zooms up too.
Many organizations don’t recognize them. Those that do spot them don’t do well at fixing them. Triangles, Tangles and Blocks side-swipe energy, blur focus, and strangle change.
If they take a stranglehold on your company, you won’t move. They grow with vague, un-prioritized goals, fuzzy communication, and an overwhelmed workforce. Best is to fix the root cause, but in the meantime, these steps can help to clear things up and create a healthier workplace.
Today's blog is about TRIANGLES, common strategies used by people who feel victimized. Those who feel threatened by change create triangles to gather support for their own inaction.
This is how it works: Somebody (a sister-in-law or boss) or something (e.g. the government) acts like a bully or is perceived as acting as such. The Victim feels overwhelmed, unable to respond, and so adopts the role of helpless victim, in which he feels mistreated and misunderstood.
The triangle forms when the Victim, who is reacting to and blaming the Bully, is rescued by the Hero, who plays the Good Guy. The Hero’s role is to listen, perhaps sympathize, and probably try to to fix the situation.
How to Break A Triangle
1. Firmly, with kindness, stop the Victim. Rescuers must develop a mindset of “do not do anything for people over the age of 18 that they should be doing for themselves.”
2. Don’t debate with the Victim or try to convert him. That’s not your job. All you need to do is to stop listening. “That might be true, but let’s focus on what will work.” “No offense, but it’s getting old talking about what’s wrong and what won’t work. There’s a lot we can do. Let’s talk about that.”
3. Create a zero-tolerance policy. Victims will find the last remaining rescuer. We thought that one company with which our team worked was successful at a zero-tolerance campaign, until we noticed that a supervisor of the payroll department was very popular. Many employees dropped into her office during the day. Others marveled at her leadership ability and the magnet that she was for the team. Closer inspection revealed that she was the last rescuer and was enabling all the Victims in the department. Only when the triangle was exposed and she was stopped did morale improve.
Good luck, get agreement and Be Strong.
Triangles, tangles and blocks are psychological strategies used to divert energy, de-focus, and stop movement. They work best amidst vague and un-prioritized goals, fuzzy communication, and with those lacking in emotional skills.
Triangles, tangles and blocks are psychological strategies used to divert energy, de-focus, and stop movement. They work best amidst vague and un-prioritized goals, fuzzy communication, and with those lacking in emotional skills.
The Triangle is in full force.
a. The Bully or 'Bad Guy' attacks.
b. The Victim is threatened and adopts the role of mistreated and misunderstood victim. This Victim is the central character in the game, without whom the Triangle would not exist. Their Identifying Phrases are: “It’s not fair.” and “Look what they are doing to us.”
c. Victims rely on another character to complete the triangle: A Rescuer or Hero who plays the 'Good Guy.' The Hero or Rescuer’s role is to listen, sympathize and optionally to fix the situation.
d. If Rescuers can’t or won’t play the Role, the Victim will shift to Bully mode and attack both the Rescuers and attack the Bully. The Triangle is constantly shifting among Sanders, Clinton and Trump, and nobody is stopping it.
Bullies can play their roles only as long as there are Victims.
1. The worst thing that a Victim can do is to become a bully and attack back. Late advice for Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush: “It’s the Bully’s game. Don’t go there.” Sanders, and Clinton, you’re both getting sucked in to his playing field. You will never win.
2. Never ever play the Victim game, not even with your staff. Of course “it’s not fair.”
3. Play your own game using your own natural skill and talent. Clinton, you’re a strategist. Bernie, you’re a radical idealist. What strategies can you push to expose the Bully in his oh-so-obvious weaknesses? That's your game, play it. Play it so that the Nation becomes the Rescuer and helps you out, not because you’re playing Victim but because deep down we really don't like Bullies. If you play it right, play your own game and let the nation help you out.
At some point, it becomes time get clear about what is expected during change. With compassion, try sharing these thoughts with your team.
1. Changing isn’t an emotion. It doesn’t matter how you feel about changing to meet the requests or demands of someone else. You will never feel like it. The good news is that change is a decision, not an emotion. You make this decision to stay employed and contribute to the greater good for all.
Changing is a decision you make to be different, better, or stronger. You begin by making a decision. If your company, department, industry is changing, and the writing is on the wall, just make the decision. What choice do you have? Where will you go? The world is changing, there is no place left for you if you don’t adapt. Sorry, that’s the way it is.
“Ride the horse in the direction it’s going.”
2. You get energy by moving. Don’t feel like it? Or, don’t believe you can learn these new skills, or cope at a higher level? The action of moving toward a goal creates energy. As you grow, you’ll uncover new talents and skills. Your brain grows new neurons with each uncomfortable change you make. So you will learn more as you move, more will be revealed on the path. Trust me on this one. The worst thing you can do is to do nothing. The best thing you can to do is just start. You don’t have to know how to finish, just start.
3. Changing and growing is part of nature. If you don’t want to change and grow, you’re not fulfilling your contract here on Earth. You are in life to let it rip, not wither and die. You are a part of nature. Birds fly at 100% velocity, trees grow to their maximum height, flowers radiate full-on scent. Does nature hold back? Is it reluctant to grow, refusing nutrients? If you’re alive, play full out in your job, in your life.
“If you ever wonder if your purpose in life is over, if you’re alive, it’s not.” Richard Bach
You don’t lose enthusiasm because you get old, you get old because you lose enthusiasm. Who you are and what you do, begins right now. Not at tonight’s party, not tomorrow on your way home, not next week at the quarterly meeting, but right now. You create your own future. Imagine what you could do, knowing that you know that.
The question is: what will you do with it?
Here are some recent observations and musings about what it is taking to get people to change these days. These points are based on what I see is lacking in many change efforts and what has worked.
1. Help your resistant folks understand that change keeps the brain young. Its good for not just the company but for their own survival. The brain grows when it learns difficult things, not easy stuff. Besides there aren’t any places they can go work anymore that won’t expect you to have a digital brain. So get over it, essentially.
2. Teach them survival skills of emotional flexibility, optimism and mental toughness or courage. Trying to change them without teaching them how to change is almost willful abuse. It creates morbid anxiety.
3. Create a clear vision of what the new world will probably look like. Expose people to what the new system looks like and what it can do. One company we worked with had not even demonstrated the new software because it wasn’t customized yet and they didn’t want people to get “wrong ideas.” Show people what you know, tell them it will change and that you’re all learning together.
4. Tell them where you want to be in this new world and ask their help in how to get there. One Midwest hospital was advised that they needed to centralize X-Ray bookings for efficiency but the bookings for a specialized unit in an adjoining wing were so complex that only half the X-Rays were being done. After lots of staff and patient frustration, they were taken off the new system and their old system restored. People hate to be told what to do but will go along if they understand what has to happen and why, and if they felt that they were part of the process. They know their work better than you do. Just ask first.
5. They don’t get that they need to change. They say things like “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” or “We tried that and it didn’t work” or “We’ve always done it this way.”
a. Play the Put Us Out of Business Game, where competing teams create new companies that can spot your company’s flaws and beat you up with them. That puts it out there and is hard to avoid or deny.
b. Create something visual and dramatic to demonstrate the urgency for change. One company piled 85 different pipes on a huge table in the employee cafeteria - “This is what we are ordering every week. Every pipe is different and comes from a different manufacturer. But each manufacturer makes all pipes. We would save (millions) every month by orderings from the same manufacturer.” Another department piled the table high with papers stating this is how much paper we waste every 15 minutes because we won’t use the (software system). One HR director did a time analysis and was shocked at how much time people were spending in wasted (not useful) meetings. She blew up beach balls of different colors, red for creative time, blue for operations-getting-stuff-done-time, yellow for employee coaching time, and green for wasted meeting time. She demonstrated that by removing the green balls, others could be substituted. Finally people could get what was happening and meetings dwindled.
6. Create a Change Leaders Network. Instead of trying for top down compliance, use a networked approach where flourishing forward-thinking (probably millennial) employees are identified as change agents, given special titles, bonuses and opportunities. If you’re worried about the hierarchy, that’s part of your problem. The agents are scattered strategically throughout the company and will create entrainment among the resistant.
7. Make top management visible and interested. Take employees to a banquet served by the senior team. On a boat, have the senior team at the boarding dock with flowers. Greet them at the door one morning with a Starbucks cart. If you say we don’t have time or budget, that’s part of your issue.
8. Take this quiz. There is no cutoff point and the statements are not standardized. But if you check off more than a couple, I’d pass the quiz around and get going on getting things moving.
- We don’t talk about failures or mistakes.
- We don’t speak up if something is going wrong, or if we are afraid of looking stupid or not fitting in.
- People won’t speak up about processes they know about that slow down change.
- We talk about our inside procedures instead of competitive markets, technologies and opportunities.
- We shoot down ideas if they pose any threat or even if they offer a huge (but scary) opportunity.
- There is a fair amount of blame and finger pointing, not just among employees but across departments.
- We know we’re supposed to break down the silos but never find time to do that.
- We rely on outside consultants and somehow they just muddle things up.
- Human Resources puts out complex change models that nobody really understands.
- We don’t even meet on important matters because we’re always putting out fires.
- We use words, not actions.
- Meetings end without taking action; rather items are tabled until the next time.
- We use PowerPoint presentations a lot.
- Meetings take up a lot of our time. When we are asked if we really need to go to them all, we admit we don’t but we do anyway
Hope these help. Back with more.
Changes you’re going through at work seem never ending. Some days I bet you just want to lie down and let it all go by. I get it.
I wasn’t acting or feeling very pilgrim-y during the first couple of weeks of my 40-day pilgrimage across Spain to Santiago de Compostela. The trek was more difficult than I had anticipated, with long daily walks of 20-30km of ups and downs in rain, snow and everything in between. My pack was heavy, my shoes hurt, my toenails were off. I was tempted to check into a hostel and check out six weeks later and saying that I had done it. Who would know?
The hostel the night before the day of my ‘lesson’ had been crowded and noisy. Hairy legs dangled from the top bunk, for no good reason. Breakfast was a stale little muffin in sterile plastic and Nescafe instant coffee.10km after the morning launch, there was still no café. It was cold, drizzling rain with a 20 knot headwind. Everything hurt way beyond my daily allotment of Ibuprofen.
I bottomed at exactly 11:14am. I know this because I checked my iPhone in case I needed the exact time of death. I lay face down on the side of the road in my red poncho and waited to be hit by a car. It made perfect sense; if I was struck I might be transported to the hospital and get a free ride, a real bed and maybe a meal.
I also wanted sympathy. Didn’t the others know how hard it was? Maybe one of them would stop, offer food and drink, even carry me a short way. After an eternity that lasted probably 10 minutes, I got that nobody was going to stop. Nobody was going to carry me. Oh, they wished me a “buen camino” as in – “I see you lying there face down in the drizzle. We chose our own caminos, and you have chosen to lie down at the side of the road. I acknowledge that.”
Direct translation from my angels and guides: “Stop moaning, get up and walk.” “You don’t have to like it to do it.” “Don’t spend energy on what you can’t control. Control you things you can. Just walk.”
Tis the season to be jolly? Not for everyone. If it’s not jolly for you, you’re not alone and there is nothing wrong with you.
The top reason why it’s hard? Social comparison. You look around at all the fun that others are having, or pretending to have, and your life sucks. You check Facebook and note all the fun everybody else seems to be having. If you’re kind of lonely or disconnected anyway, you tend to get even more so and you note that, frequently.
Your family is nowhere near what the images look like in the media. You cringe with the very thought of going home for the holidays. In fact, there might not be a home to go home to.
Where do people get all the money they’re spending anyway? The stores are jammed. You not only have no extra money now, but there’s nothing coming up in 2016 that looks like its going to change that.
What To Do?
If you can just master the social comparison piece, you can get through it. And that’s 100% a result of your thinking. That’s right! Change your thinking, change your life! In this case, it’s true.
Grab your thoughts about how lonely you are, how it isn’t fair, how much everyone else has and how happy they are — within the first 2-3 seconds you have them. Stomp on them with all your energy. Make up something to say that helps you get past those thoughts and onto something better. Maybe a prayer you know – maybe the serenity prayer (a good one to memorize). If you can start to break the habit of social comparison masquerading as self-pity, you’re half way there!
Here are other pointers that really work.
1. Choose where you want to be. There are no rules about where you have to go. If its toxic for you around your nuclear family or your in-laws, you have permission to switch it out. You might want to tell them why (diplomatically) if you have the courage. If you don’t want to say why, you don’t need to. Just say you prefer to do something else. No-one can argue with your ‘wants.’
If the holidays jolt an old memory that you can’t shake – like you break down in tears when you think of your Golden Retriever who just passed away – remember every time you put that silly Santa hat on him? Paradoxically, maybe you need to be around puppies or somebody else’s dog. Does going to a certain family member’s house trigger bad feelings – remember the fight you had there last year? Go somewhere else. Meet in a neutral third place. Make changes that make you feel better.
2. Alcohol is your best friend, right? At least you have your eggnog. I wish it weren’t so, but alcohol is a depressant. Whatever sad feelings you have will double with every rum and eggnog, along with your waist size. Show yourself more love this year. Drink tea (Tazo Orange is good). Really, I promise it’s better.
3. Dump the stressors. Parties can be stressful for the introverted. I’ve learned to cope by volunteering to help, going for only a short time at the beginning so I can establish territory. If you follow my advice in #2, you’ll walk around with a glass of bubbly 7-up, who will know?
Buying presents can be stressful. They seem so forced, so mandatory, not the spirit you’re going for at all. Shake it up a bit by giving a donation to Liga International :) or Heifer or the recipient’s favorite charity. Or do a White Elephant exchange. Make a collage of their lives with you, gather all your favorite pics and send them to Apple books.
4. Start Self-Care Now. I know, if you’re already mildly depressed you don’t care. You don’t have the energy. You don’t feel like it. And you don’t think you’re worth it. Been there. But listen, if you can just do ONE thing on this list, just one, it will probably set off a chain of dominoes and things will get easier. Feeling like doing it is irrelevant here. You are way past feeling like doing it, you just have to do it.
If you were going to wait until 2016 to begin the Year of Self Mastery (that’s what the year is, really!) why not start your regime of self care now? Start small.
a. Use that electric toothbrush that’s just sitting there. Floss. For example. Choose something else if you want, just make it easy.
b. Make up a healthy food list and go shopping in the morning when all those happy people buying for their large happy families aren’t in the store.
c. Self-nurture. Choose one thing you love to do, and just do it even though you don’t feel like it. See #a above.
d. Make a list of 3 things you’re grateful for. Settle for one.
e. Sit still for 5 minutes. Repeat a random phrase like Om Shanti and see the red sun sinking in the horizon.
f. Try your hardest not to check Facebook. It’s only hurting you. Why lie in poison ivy if it itches you? Get out of it. Why drink arsenic if it poisons you? Stop. Why put a scary picture of a monster on your bedroom wall if it freaks you out every night? Take it down.
g. Bite the bullet and call or text somebody who you know likes you. Remember you don’t have to want to do it, you just have to do it. If you put a comment in the space below, I will answer you. That’s a start!
So I won’t wish you Happy Holidays. That’s too much pressure. I will wish that you have the holidays of your choice, and I hope that you choose well.
I love that quote from Plato. Reality is in doing, not wishing or wanting. Making the Decision. Starting. Persevering. When Diana Nyad was asked how she accomplished the swim from Cuba to Florida, she responded: “Just do it, find a way, never, ever quit.” Sounds easy.
Start with What – Not How
“How did she do that?” OMG that’s amazing – how do you do all that you do?” Questions involving ‘how’ lead you into a jungle of confusion. Never ask how. Only decide what. In an ideal life plan, you’ll have created your matrices of overriding life visions (e.g. happiness and joy, creative and meaningful work, health and fitness), then broad actions that will lead to the fulfillment of those visions, then specific actions that can be accomplished now. Always start with the vision, then work back to broad action. When an action shows up that is part of the vision, make a decision to do it. It wouldn’t have shown up if it weren’t meant for you. Make the decision to do it, despite all reasonable evidence that it wouldn’t be possible for you (the hows don’t line up).
Once you decide, and become committed to the decision, then committed to your commitment, all sorts of ‘hows’ will show up. The time off will appear. Extra money will show up. People and events will conspire to show up to help lead you to complete the commitment. But if you don’t decide, then commit to the decision, these hows never show up. I don’t know how it works but Goethe was absolutely right. It just does.
Don’t Know Your Vision or Purpose?
Flip a coin. Turn right. Do something. Move. Don’t wait until you uncover your meaning. The meaning develops while you’re on the way. Move in the direction of your most probable purpose, or one that draws you more than others. If you wait until you find your perfect purpose or your “why” before moving, you might never move at all. A completely new life can begin any day of the year, any hour of the day any moment of the hour, at the time that you make a decision that it will.
If you are reading this in context of organizational change, know that a clear direction is never needed for you to take charge and change your section or area of work. If you are aware of your company’s values and mission, you have the authority and responsibility to continually move in the direction indicated by the mission. As a leader, you need only begin to act like one. Behavioral change creates attitude change.
Make the Decision and Start
A wish won’t do it, a dream won’t do it, a Vision Board won’t do it, a resolution won’t do it. If you just ‘think’ and ‘believe’, you won’t ‘grow rich’ unless you take action. Self-mastery and accomplishment involves ‘acting upon,’ not just ‘wishing about.’ You have to actively work on what you want to accomplish in order to make it happen.
Do you find that you keep enrolling for new courses yet fail to apply what you learned in the last one? Attending seminars to find out more, taking sales courses to learn better closes – might be a beginning, but it’s only when you undertake and complete the thing that is hard for you, that your self-confidence grows.
How Strength Grows
Strength grows with the actions you take during the journey toward the finish. The steps are only the externals. The real reward lies in what happens in between. It is in the striving that self-esteem grows the most. The more you actively and positively engage in the challenge, the more you realize that you have the potential to emerge stronger. Henry David Thoreau said: “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
Thomas Paine’s 1776 treatise proclaimed that, “we are standing at a point where we can create a new world.” He didn’t say we are standing at a point where we can imagine a new world. The word create is an action verb that involves movement, or the ‘doing of.’ You might be standing at the threshold of new ventures or new decisions that might take you to where you have never been before, and you have a choice to make. ‘Trying’ to do it, starting it tomorrow, working only when you feel like it, allowing yourself excuses, wishing for it – these neither begin it, nor complete it. Just do it.
Burnout is a gradual loss of energy that develops from wanting to succeed, caring a lot, and lacking a turn-off switch that makes you stop when you’ve done enough. You’re probably even missing the system that monitors “enough.” Here’s a link to a quick assessment to find your Zone: Safe, Caution, or Danger.
Burnout creeps up, stealing energy as it gobbles up your life. The best way to deal with it is to prevent it.
Below are the seven usual steps. They’re not symptoms–just a description of the progression of the disease. The steps reflect the assessment.
1. The Need to Prove Yourself. You have a new job. Your want to prove yourself. You’re determined.
2. Work Harder. Because you want to prove yourself, your expectations are high. You focus only on work, and take on more and more. You like to do everything yourself. People will admire that.
3. Neglect Basic Needs. You now have no time and energy for anything else. Friends, family, and basic needs are unnecessary or unimportant. They cut down the time and energy to spend on work.
4. Isolation. Being cut off (you’re working so hard), you don’t have energy or time for activities and friends. Your emotions get narrowed.
5. Warning symptoms. Physical symptoms begin. Your neck is stiff. Maybe mild digestive issues. Your eye twitches.
6. The Spiral. Your mood had changed – you’re more irritable. You have an extra glass (or two) of wine in the evening.
7. The Steep Spiral. You have lost track of your personal needs. Your focus has narrowed. You feel kind of empty and use overeating, sex, alcohol, or drugs to cope. You might feel exhausted, hopeless, indifferent, and believe that there is nothing for you in the future. You’ve hit bottom, and can stay there, or re-charge. It’s not a good place to stay very long.
The Law of Circulation mandates that energy circulate throughout your life space. If events and tasks are added to your world and not enough is removed, then a blockage or overflow must result. As you add each new task, consider what can drop off the bottom. In the meantime, list every task or activity you carry out in a sample day. Rank each from 0-100 in long-term consistency with what you say is important, and with its pay-off. Drop the bottom 20% of the list. Ink in dates with children, spouse or friends, favorite exercise, a hobby. It’s not too late. Do something about it now.