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Being an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

 

Being an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Being an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Being an emotionally intelligent leader may sound like a challenge, or a farce or maybe a task that may not reward?  However, the evidence continues to build for emotional intelligence and how it impacts everything from productivity to rapport to leadership.   Here is an excellent business case for emotional intelligence.  For instance, according to the Center for Creative Leadership, one study shows that the primary causes for derailment in executives involves deficits in emotional intelligence.  This research points to qualities like difficulty working in teams, problems with interpersonal relations and challenges with handling change.

Being an emotionally intelligent leader doesn’t mean losing track of specific goals, directives or the hard data that often drives decisions.  Having emotional intelligence may mean changing how we communicate and engage with others.  First let’s define what emotional intelligence is –

What exactly is Emotional Intelligence? 

My short answer for this is that someone’s emotional intelligence is their ability to understand, communicate and empathize with their own emotions and other people’s emotions.  However, the standard definition is – emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.

How to Improve Emotional Intelligence?

Often time’s organizations will bring in individual executive coaches or leadership coaches to work with employees within the organization on building emotional intelligence.  In addition, utilizing assessment tools with individuals and teams that help to build empathy and understanding of each other’s strengths is another way to build emotional intelligence in the individual or group.

Within the context of leadership, leaders may benefit from working towards building the following skills (all related to improving their emotional intelligence).

Three tips to improve emotional intelligence

  • Improving empathy towards employees through exploring their strengths and specific styles as well as how these styles can be complimentary to others within the team/organization.
  • Improving empathy towards one self through improving self-care practices, self-reflection, and self-awareness.
  • Exploring communication style and understanding strengths and blind spots in how they communicate as it relates to the leader’s ability to connect with employees.

Leadership is certainly not limited to the organization.  We can improve our leadership skills as individuals through understanding how we engage as friends, partners, relatives or parents for instance.  There is always opportunity to build our leadership skills.

Here are a few examples of how to improve your leadership in other avenues of life outside of the corporate world –

Emotionally Intelligent Leader as a Parent

Emotional Intelligence is quickly becoming recognized as a key factor that determines not only good leadership but also a crucial factor in how people communicate, interact and collaborate as adults.  The implications here are huge as children move into becoming independent adults. Consider these tips –

  • Teaching children to communicate their feelings at an early age can help with development of emotional intelligence.
  • Supporting children in expression of their own emotions, recognition of emotion in others and providing guidance in ways to be expressive can be helpful.

In my professional opinion, teaching children how to express themselves and recognize emotion in others is just as important as academics.  Given the later implications for how this may impact career and relationships, it seems that this is a crucial part of educational development.

Since we have seen such a rise in emotional intelligence being an important factor in an employee’s ability to lead as well as interact with others, the risks of not developing emotional intelligence may be great.  In addition, we see communication and ability to express one’s self being influential factors in relationships, both intimate and professional.  The risk of not developing emotional intelligence may be multifaceted for adults.

Emotionally Intelligent Leader as a Partner

Being able to improve our ability to empathize and understand our own emotions as well as others is particularly important with our significant others.  But how does one lead with these qualities?  Building a strong connection and leading with emotional intelligence in relationships can be expressed in a number of ways. Consider these tips to practice emotional intelligence with your partner –

  • Practice offering empathy, asking questions and being curious. Instead of making assumptions about your partner, remain more curious about truly understanding their feelings, perspectives and states of being.
  • Explore your own assumptions and sense of feelings. Being willing to be vulnerable with your partner shows leadership in emotional intelligence and offers an invitation to connect on a deeper level.

Emotionally Intelligent Leader as a friend

Even in our friendships we always have the opportunity to model what kind of relationship we are wanting to engage in and how we want the dynamic to exist.  Part of the challenge around this is first understanding what kinds of friendships you want to cultivate as well as how you want your current friendships to change, or not.

Being an emotionally intelligent leader among friends doesn’t mean you are guiding your friend’s behavior.   Being a leader is about setting example, inspiring and living congruently to your own values and principles.  This way of being is always possible in any relationship, leaving the opportunity to be a leader always an option.

Consider these tips for being an emotionally intelligent leader as a friend-

  • Understand your own boundaries, values and principles and be willing to communicate them. Some people may push back on this but the kind of friends that truly identify with you will resonate more strongly if you are clear about who you are and where you stand.
  • Communicate the kind of friendship that you expect. Being able to communicate clearly with friends about your own expectations, feelings and experiences will help to build stronger connections and model the kind of dynamic you hope to create.
  • Remain curious. When in conversations don’t wait until someone is done speaking so that you can respond.  Really try and remain curious about who they are and the message they are portraying.  Building curiosity rather than response will strengthen connection and impress upon your friends that you are truly invested in what they have to say.

 

How have you worked towards building emotionally intelligence in your life?

How was it helpful?

Did this shift any of your personal or work relationships?

Share in the comments below.

Have a great day!

Michael

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

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The Best Listener at Work

 

The Best Listener at Work

The Best Listener at Work

You may wonder why being a good listener at work is really valuable.  However, if you experiment with improving your workplace listening skills, you will see changes.   In the fast past, high demand jobs so many of us have, really good listening may be something of a novelty.  This may because of the ever-impending deadlines, the many distractions we have or the workplace stress.  If you commit to being the best listener at work, you may notice that some of these challenges shift.

So how might listening skills impact your work place experience?  Well, consider your experience now.  How well do you feel heard at work?  What do you notice about people how are really present with you when communicating vs. those that are anxious to move to the next “to do”?  I would imagine that when someone is really present with you that it is easier to talk to them, you may feel more connected or more at ease. What if you were that person for everyone else?  How might this impact your workplace experience if people knew that when they spoke to you, that they could count on you to really pay attention?

Particularly if you are a leader, really good listening skills go a long way.   Being able to connect, understand and communicate effectively with your employees is a crucial component of an effective leader.   According to a study in The Journal of Occupational Health, it was found that… “psychological stress reactions were lower in subordinates who worked under supervisors with high listening skill, while no statistically difference was observed among older subordinates.” 

So if we know that our listening skills have an impact on our overall work stress, it seems like a great advantage for us to actively improve these skills.  Below you’ll find three tips to improve your listening skills

1.) Offer more clarity

Repeating something back to someone in the way that you heard it will help to reduce miscommunication.  Repeating a statement also offers the opportunity for this person to add additional clarification if necessary.  This way of “active listening” ensures that this person is being understood correctly and shows them that you are paying attention.

2.) Focus

Sometimes we can get caught up in how we are going to respond to something.  Thinking of what to say next reduces our ability to listen to what someone is saying.  Attending to what someone is saying without focusing on how to respond will create stronger communication.  Remain focused on the present moment and really digesting what it is that someone is communicating. 

3.) Breath

Often times at the workplace we are moving a million miles a minute, which reduces our ability to take in information in any given moment.  Taking a few moments to breath as you speak with someone will help you to be more present and process what they are saying more effectively.  Before you speak or when you are feeling overwhelmed, stop and take a deep breath.  This may sound trivial but can do wonders for not only stress but your ability to communicate and listen effectively. 

After you’ve had the opportunity to put these behaviors to the test, I would invite you to make a comment below.   I would suggest that in order to notice results you may have to practice one or all three for at least four times a week for three weeks.   After you’ve practiced, consider answering the following questions –

How did they work if they did at all? 

What did you learn?  

How long did you practice each new behavior?  

Best,

Michael

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

 

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The Value of Showing Up

The Value of Showing Up

The Value of Showing Up

One of the first rules of life – show up.   What does this mean exactly?  I believe it can mean lots of things but perhaps first it means, give it your all.  Always be participating in your life rather than being a passive observer.   This is great advice, however, this article is more about the value of showing up in a literal sense.

Being actually present with someone rather than emailing, calling, Facebook messaging, Tweeting, texting or otherwise communicating.  I recently had the opportunity to be mentioned in an article in Entreprenuer.com.  This article goes in to great detail about the value of in person communication.  In today’s Vlog I want to emphasize three components that I find particularly important –

  1. Intention

  2. Subtleties

  3. Immediacy

For more information and detail about the value of in person communication, please see this article.   If you have questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  If you have interest in continuing the conversation, consider answering the following the questions and then commenting below –

What have you found to be valuable when communicating in person? 

How has in person communication impacted your personal or work relationships?

Cheers,

Michael

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

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Beat the Post Vacation Slump!

 

Beat the Post Vacation Slump

Beat the Post Vacation Slump

It’s that time of year.  You may have recently returned from a trip, visiting relatives, vacationing with friends or maybe just enjoying a few days off.  However your holidays were spent, I hope they were rejuvenating and enjoyable.  Getting back to the grind can be a challenge.  I’ve certainly experienced it and I know many friends, family and clients have too.  Today I want to talk about how to beat the post vacation slump!

Whether the holidays were filled with fun, laughter and excitement or anxiety, busyness and overwhelm, coming back to a routine may be tough.   Below you’ll find some strategies about how to get back to being at the top of your game in work and in life, in addition to some tips for the next time you go on vacation.

Be Clear 

Personal Life – This is the time for New Year’s Resolutions, woohoo! The truth is that the majority of them don’t stick.  According to some data, only 8% of people accomplish their New Year’s Resolutions.  However, there are many strategies on how to improve the likelihood for change that lasts.  I would argue that part of the reason people don’t accomplish their resolution is that there is not enough clarity around the goal.  In order to get back in work mode and also work towards new goals you have, consider outlining the details in order to build clarity.  This could mean creating a yearlong vision and then working it backwards to a six month goal, a three month goal and eventually an action step you can take today!

Work Life – Meetings often are less productive after many people have been out their routine or away from work.   You may see less productivity in the meetings outside of work too.  To remedy this, set clear expectations for what the meeting will review and accomplish and do not veer away from this objective.  Make sure there are clear action steps for all members of the meetings you attend.

Stay Focused

Personal Life – In order to stay focused on our personal goals and re-engaging in our routines post-break, there needs to be some way to stay motivated.  Build focus through keeping reminders around that are visible and related to your goal.  Alternatively, creating a writing practice that explores the reason for working towards this goal can help to stay motivated and focused.  Also, creating accountability in some way may be helpful in building focus.  Accountability could be created through working through a goal with someone else or hiring a coach to help explore what is holding you back.

Work Life – Lack of focus at work often shows up in the context of getting tasks accomplished or having a productive meeting.  Often times meetings set out with many things to accomplish and by then end have not completed their intended outcome.  Stay focused on what is most important and do not add too much to the meeting, always expect that things may take longer than anticipated.  Have no more than three main objectives per day that are on your “must complete” list.

Action Items, Expectations and Deadlines

Personal Life – Reaching goals is all about combing process and product.  It’s great to read self-help books, follow thought leaders, or engage in philosophical debate about mindset, intention and positivity.   The next step is combing all of this wonderful theory with small steps in the right direction.  Keep in mind that these steps can be small, but should be consistent.  Keeping after deadlines and continuing with actions items after exploring ideas will lead to progress.

Work Life – The same issues exists in the work world when we have meetings or discussions around an idea.  Ideas often need to be translated.  People feel that meetings are a waste of time when there is no clear outcome, objective or “to do” item.  Always be clear about expectations for all attendees.  Have attendees commit to their particular action item as well as deadline so everyone is clear on each person’s objective.

Keep your Routine in Check

Personal Life – Having some kind of routine in your personal life will do wonders for your mood, clarity, energy and productivity.  The holidays are an easy time to get thrown out of a routine, whether is exercise, eating healthy or a daily practice, it’s a challenging time of year to keep up with our best intentions.  Here is a great resource from The Model Health Show about holding onto a good routine, even during the busiest time of year

Work Life – Getting back into a routine is easier to do with work when it isn’t totally avoided during a break. This certainly doesn’t mean you have to be checking email every day or doing work on vacation….that is definitely not recommended.  But keeping sleeping in to a minimum may be helpful when it’s time to get back to work. Also, reading while on vacation may help to keep your mind active and productive so that it may be easier to re-engage when its time.

Push Yourself!

Personal Life – I hold the firm belief that we are much more capable than we often give ourselves credit for, in every sense.  Care to experiment with this idea?  Try pushing yourself past the invisible finish line that you’ve set for yourself.  Go to the extra class, read the extra chapter, do another set, run the extra mile, take the risk in a relationship. Make a consistent effort to go past your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised what you learn.

Work Life – The same concept of going past where we think we are capable of applies to work.  Consider how much you get done in the typical day and see if you can double it.  No, I don’t recommend working 16 hours instead of eight.  Working more efficiently and pushing past some of the self-set boundaries is a better (and healthier) experiment to try.  Consider how much time you spend during the average day being distracted by non-work related issues or work that doesn’t necessarily make you more productive but makes you busier.   Evaluate how to be the most productive version of yourself and push out any limiting beliefs that may have held you back previously regarding how much you could accomplish in a day.

Re-Evaluate

Personal Life – This time of year is a great time for downsizing, clearing out, resetting, cleansing and letting go.  What has been serving you this last year and what no longer helps you to become the best version of yourself?  You can pose this question to any facet of your personal life from your relationships to your diet to how you spend your time.  Evaluating the different aspects of your personal life allows you to set clearer goals and intentions for the year ahead and also helps to come back stronger from time off.

Work Life – Is the job you’re in the one you want to be in? Taking the time to evaluate how much you are really committed to the work you are doing can be a helpful way to not only improve your re-engagement post vacation, but also help you make changes to your current situation.  If you are certain the work you’re in is for you, great!  Take the opportunity to evaluate how you will make this coming year a better one than the previous.  If you determine that your purpose is elsewhere, come up with an exit strategy. Outline your strengths, objectives and timelines.  This will help make the rest of your time in your current position not seem as daunting.

*Challenge of the week*

Pick one of the strategies above and take action!  Just one.  After you’ve experimented for one week, come back and leave a comment below and share what you learned. Let’s help each other make significant changes this year!

All the best,

Michael

 

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

 

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Expressing Your Anger at Work

 

Expressing Your Anger at Work

Expressing Your Anger at Work

Getting frustrated at work is common.  However, how you express it or don’t, may greatly influence the environment that you’re in, as well as future opportunity.  While expressing your anger at work may be generally frowned upon, there are certainly strategies that will help with this process.  Consider these three tips below when expressing your anger at work.


  1. Timing is important – Remember that when you are anger this may not be the time to resolve an issue. However, coming back to a situation after decompressing and letting the parties involved know how it impacted you will allow you to be a better communicator and express the importance of the situation, improving the likelihood of resolution.
  2. Understand what helps you decompress – Having an understanding of what kinds of strategies are most effective for you in reducing anger is important.  This may be walking, exercise, writing, listening to music or a wide variety of other things.  Taking the time to explore what works best will benefit you in the long run and give you the chance to effectively express and reduce anger instead of letting it become a problem.
  3. Remember the context – This is a very important component. Even though telling someone exactly how you feel may seem like the best idea at the time, the context may suggest otherwise.  Being mindful of how and where you are expressing anger, if at all, may be a very important factor to consider.

The better question to ask may be how to reduce anger in general.  Understanding how to control our feelings may be beneficial in many different environments. Having the ability to respond to events rather than react, may serve us well.  If we know how to control our sense of reactivity then we may respond in a more appropriate way. Understanding ourselves, how we respond/react and triggers that we have, may involve some self-exploration.

Interestingly, the expression of anger may be totally culturally contextual anyway.  In our culture we tend to look at the expression of anger to be generally unfavorable.  In other cultures expression of anger may actually be of health benefit.  In a study by The Association for Psychological Science, they found that expression of anger in Japanese culture was associated with better biological health.  This suggests that anger isn’t necessarily positive or negative but the meaning that it is applied to it may impact the results of its expression.

This idea of exploring our anger to identify what kind of meaning we apply to it may give us another reason for self-exploration.   Certainly the negative or positive consequences of expressing anger are still being studied.  In the meantime, we do know that improving our understanding of self and how we respond and react can have a great impact on our work and home environments.

 

Thanks,

Michael

 

If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

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The Human Side of Business

The Human Side of Business

The Human Side of Business

 

Welcome to my first Vlog!  I may be experimenting with these more in the future.   I was recently featured on an article via Askmen.com titled Ways Relationships are like Business.   I thought this was interesting and a good tie in to the idea of the human side of business, which I often reference.

Please see three tips below on how relationships are like business.

 

I would love some feedback about your experience with the dynamic of relationships and business.  As a spring board for comments, consider answering any of these three questions below –

 

How have you seen the human side of the business you are involved in impact the success or struggle of that business?

What other examples can you provide regarding the commonalities between business and relationships?

What is one thing you would change about the interpersonal dynamics of your workplace?

Thanks,

Michael

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5 Strategies for Effective Boundaries in the Workplace

5 Strategies for Effective Boundaries in the Workplace

5 Strategies for Effective Boundaries in the Workplace

I was recently featured on Livestrong in an article about setting effective boundaries so that you do not become emotionally or even physically drained.  Sometimes not having clear boundaries can do this. Without good boundaries we can feel exhausted.  Since for most of us the majority of our time is spent at work, I wanted to elaborate on how to set effective boundaries in the workplace.

Having clear workplace boundaries not only impacts you, but all those you work with as well.  Having clear boundaries in the workplace helps to improve productivity, decrease stress, helps foster good relationships and improves motivation.   Although setting boundaries is complicated based on the nature of the work and relationship, a study that examined boundary setting in the workplace found that evaluating and setting boundaries did in fact impact relationships.  According to The University of California San Francisco, when boundaries are clear organizations work more efficiently and groups within work more productively.

 

5 strategies for effective boundaries in the workplace

 

  • Responsibility – Having a clear idea of roles and responsibility is crucial in a work environment. If this is unclear, then meeting with co-workers and supervisors may be important for clarification in order to understand who is responsible for what.

 

  • Self-Care Self-care may not seem as obvious when looking at boundary setting. However, this is more of a preventative measure.  It is easy to become unclear about where appropriate boundaries should be when we are run down, stressed out, irritable or overwhelmed.  Having good self-care practices will allow us to not only function at peak level but also remain clearer about where appropriate boundaries should be.

 

  • It’s not Personal – Remaining aware that work relationships may differ from personal relationships is an important perspective to hold. This doesn’t mean that there is not a certain level of familiarity or closeness with those you work with.   Some decisions in a work environment may be out your control.  In addition, there may be decisions that are made that don’t make sense due to components that you be unaware of or are not privileged to know.  Just like in all relationships – learning to not take things personally can be a game changing perspective to hold and a way to reduce stress and anxiety.

 

  • Clear and Friendly Communication – Setting clear boundaries does not mean needing to be dry, cold disconnected from your fellow co-worker. In fact, having a positive friendly attitude can generally impact the environment in a great way.   Remember that there can be a balance between clear boundary and a friendly, positive attitude.

 

  • Be the Leader – In an environment of unclear boundaries there is an opportunity. This opportunity is for someone to establish a leadership role and be a model for how to set clear boundaries of relationship and responsibility.  We always have the option of being in a position of either following the trend or stepping up as a leader, regardless of our position in any environment.

 

How else have you been able to set clear boundaries in the workplace?

Thanks,

Michael

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Meditation for the Individual and Organization

Meditation for the Individual and Organization

Meditation for the Individual and Organization

I have been meditating for some time, with more consistence recently.  I have experienced a wide variety of meditation practices.  Practices from basic breathing exercises to guided meditation to Chi Kung, a Chinese based practice of held posture or soft movements related to energy cultivation.  All of these have found to be valuable in particular ways.  Mostly I practice Chi Kung in addition to daily seated meditation.  See the link to learn more about my daily practice.   However, this post is not about my daily practice.  It’s about why meditation for the individual and organization are both so important.

Recently I came across a device call MUSE: The Brain Sensing Headband™ (affiliate link).  The device is a headband that gives immediate feedback on brain activity through a synced app on your device.  For a detailed account of the process see this link.

Basically, this device works through first calibrating your current brain state (different all the time of course) and sets that stage for how active your brain currently is.  From there you get to pick the length of meditation, from three minutes to one hour, and a scene (rain forest or beach) that is associated with your meditation session.  You get feedback through sound from the scene you choose.  For example, crashing waves when active, soft waves when your brain is calm.  In addition, you hear birds chirping when your brain is particularly calm.

When the session is over you get a detailed report of your session and how calm or active your brain was.   The detailed account is presented in an easy to read graph of the ups and downs of activity during the session.

So the question may still be – what is the point of meditation?  It’s a valid question, with many answers!  Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and even improve productivity.  Please see highlights below –

Meditation for the Individual

Meditation can have an impact on the body, mind and overall well-being.  Below are just some highlights of the impact of meditation on the individual.

  • Impact on Aging – According to a study at UCLA, they concluded that long term meditators had less age related gray matter in the brain.
  • Management of Health Conditions – The Mayo Clinic sites meditation as having a high impact on both emotional well-being as well as helping people to manage symptoms of Asthma, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease and more.
  • Impact on Depression, Anxiety and Pain – In a meta-analysis last year at John Hopkins, researchers determined that mindfulness meditation practices had a moderate impact on depression, anxiety and pain.
  • Meditation and Self-Control – In a study in 2013 by three universities, it is suggested that meditation training can have an impact on self-control and smoking reduction.

Meditation for the Organization

The impact of meditation on the organization can be significant.  Implementing meditation can have an impact on productivity, absenteeism and even the bottom line!

  • Impact on Absenteeism According to an article by The Harvard Business Review – employees struggling with depression lose an average of 27 days of work per year. If we know that meditation can have an impact on depression, then this could be a way to improve absenteeism and ultimately save the company time and money.
  • Impact on Disability The World Health Organization estimates the depression will be the leading cause of disability by 2020 with heart disease as second. This means high cost to companies that don’t find ways to work towards helping employees reduce and manage such issues.
  • Impact on Healthcare Costs and Productivity Corporate mindfulness programs are on the rise. According to an article by The Atlantic, Aetna states that since instituting its mindfulness program it has saved $2000 per employee in healthcare costs and gained $3000 per employee in productivity costs.
  • Meditation More Common in the Workplace According to an article by The Society for Human Resource Management, meditation and mindfulness programs are being implemented into wellness programs more regularly because of the great benefits associated.

So how does all this great data relate back to MUSE™?  Well, for a few reasons –

Meditation for the Individual and Organization

  • Easy to Understand Feedback – The immediate feedback MUSE™ gives is unique when it comes to meditation. Often times when meditating it is harder to get immediate results, which is why it takes lots of practice. MUSE™ takes practice too, but offers a way to see the direction you are heading.
  • Fun in Competition – Meditation is not generally competitive. However, with integration into a company’s wellness program, using MUSE™ in meditation, could be similar to running a challenge of healthy eating, walking or drinking water. For example, a race to get to 75% relaxation or a meditation for 30 days challenge.
  • Measurable – For those individuals or organizations that want to see progress in a measurable fashion, MUSE™ could be a tool for this. Gathering data over time allows you to see where you started and how far you’ve come.
  • An Introduction to Meditation – If you have never meditated you may have views, opinions or an image in your mind. This device takes some of the mystery out of the practice and allows for a glimpse into what is possible through calming your mind as well as the relationship between your mind and body.  Any way to connect our understanding of how our mind impacts other aspects of our health, is a great opportunity for growth and development.

How have you found meditation to be helpful in your life or workplace?

Please share or comment below.

Thanks!

Michael

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Purpose, Passion and Leadership

 

Purpose Passion and Leadership

Purpose Passion and Leadership

I was recently with a client and we were discussing coping methods.  Coping methods are ways to deal with challenges that we face as well as ways we can help to reduce troublesome symptoms we are dealing with. There are many traditional coping strategies – breathing techniques, exercise, meditation, walking, art, distraction methods, spending time with others etc.  Some of these techniques work well for some people while other techniques just don’t seem to fit.   In my experience, the ultimate coping method is always the one that is most in line with the individual.  This means that for a coping strategy to be most effective it has to connect with the person’s passion or purpose.  What I want to address today is how passion and purpose is connected to leadership.

So what do mental health coping methods have to do with leadership?  More than you think.  Leadership is in the midst of a shift.  This is mostly well known, however, old ways of leading still seem to be prevalent within some organizations.  What we are finding through research and effective training programs is that true leadership comes from inspiration, not from authoritarian demands or unapproachable hierarchy that pushes work downstream without consideration of how it impacts others.  True leaders are followed by those that are happy to be working for them because they feel inspired to do so.  Effective leaders build the next generation of leaders within any system and work in a way that is fueled by purpose and resonance with the mission at hand.

According to research by the Center for Creative Leadership, survey results show that 84% of respondents in organizations see leadership changing in the last 10 years.  The focus is shifting from an individual outcomes perspective to that of collaboration, teamwork and longer term objectives.

Another article by HR Magazine emphasizes that leadership is shifting towards less hierarchy and more inclusiveness and understanding of the needs of others.  To build an inclusive environment, one needs to lead through effective listening, empathy and to be leading through inspiration rather than demand.

Even in some environments where leadership may looked at as a harsher more demand oriented situation, this is not always the case.  For example, I was recently listening to one of Tim Ferriss’s podcast interviews where he interviewed General Stan McChrystal about his experience in the military.   One of the questions was  regarding what was one of General McChrystal’s pet peeves about how military life is depicted in the media.  His answer was great!  General McChrystal went on to discuss how even though he knew the stereotypical “hard” leaders in the military, that were cold, demanding and difficult to approach, this type of leader was less common.   He went on to report that the most effective leaders, and the majority, led by inspiring their teams and those they were leading.

So the question remains what do coping methods have to do with leadership?  Stick with me, we are on the way.   Since we know that the most effective leadership methods have to do with inspiring and engaging others rather than cold, hard demands, then the first question is this –

How do we build leaders that inspire?

One answer to this is found in the search for finding ones ideal coping method.   To be able to lead through inspiration means leaders have to understand what inspires them.  Being inspirational is achieved through truly knowing your own passion and purpose and then pursuing it.  Through creating congruence between what we value and how it is being expressed, we can explore our passion and purpose.  The days of “do what I say not what I do” are fading away.  Understanding what we are passionate about not only gives us an opportunity to be better leaders but also helps us to cope with stress and challenges more effectively.  If we combine our contagious passion with our ability to self-regulate, people will be truly inspired.

Finding ones passion and purpose may be complicated.  We may have some passions that are present in our professional lives and some that are more active in our non-work life.  For instance, an organizational leader may have a passion for sales in the work world but also have a passion for lifting weights in his non-work life.  This person may also know that they function at a higher level when they are actively pursuing both passions, in a sales role at work while using weight lifting as their non-work passion.  This example of weight lifting may be this person’s coping strategy in dealing with work stress, conflict or anxiety.  This person’s pursuit of this coping method not only impacts their ability to function outside of work, but makes them happier and more productive while in their work role.

Understanding what we are passionate about in and outside of work is important – and certainly impactful in both directions.   Focusing on our strengths and where we exceed, in addition to tapping into what helps us stay balanced, will create a great expression of our passion and purpose, and allow us to become true leaders.

I’ll leave you with these questions below –

What is your passion or purpose?

How did you discover it?

How do you actively pursue it?

Best,

Michael

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15 Tips for a Path to Greatness

 

15 Tips for a Path to Greatness

15 Tips for a Path to Greatness

In my experience in relationships, with others and myself, I have found many qualities that stand out.  In those times when I’ve felt successful or times when I’ve looked up to others, I have seen particular qualities stand out.  These qualities seem to shine with importance.  I  have found that these qualities are ones that are present in those that I look up to or consider to be true leaders.  There may be some cross over here and a bit of redundancy, but that’s probably because those points are especially important.  Follow these tips to build a path to greatness in your life.

  1. Don’t Quit–When you think you are ready to give up, keep pushing yourself. You are capable of more. Need some more motivation? See these five key strategies on authentic motivation!

  2. Be Kind – Remember when you were told this in Kindergarten? It still applies.  This is such a basic principle that we often lose sight of. Remember that there is opportunity for this everyday – hold a door, leave a tip, express to someone their importance to you or offer a compliment.

  3. Don’t Assume – You know what they say….I hope. Our assumptions often prevent us from truly connecting with one another. Check them when they come up to see if they are really based on a current perception or something from some other time and place.

  4. Push Yourself Further Than You Think You’re Capable of Going – This is how you can build your own self efficacy. Try this in multiple areas of your life to boost confidence in relationships, fitness, finance and career.

  5. Be Uncomfortable – I had a professor in graduate school, one of my best mentors to date. He ran a class on group therapy that focused on being mindful of your present experience and expressing it authentically.  He said something once that has always stuck with me – “If you are not on the edge of your seat sweating, you are not working hard enough.”  His point was that these times of discomfort, uncertainty or insecurity are the times for action and areas we should move towards, not away from.  It’s OK to be uncomfortable, this is where we grow.

  6. Take Risks – Similar to being uncomfortable, taking risks is important. We cannot predict the future or know how are decisions will impact us, until we act! Taking risks towards growth in business, career or relationships is important.  Of course understanding the risk is important too.  Prevent “paralysis by analysis” through taking action.

  7. Take on Your FearsHow are your fears getting in your way? Challenging your fear and moving past it means facing it.  Moving towards your fear through embracing it in whatever way you see fit, is a road to development.  For example – if your fear is of never getting a raise, then maybe the opportunity is to make a case for why you should have one, and bring it your boss.

  8. Embrace Your Passions – Do you know what you are passionate about? This is part of what defines who you are.  Don’t let your passions come second, build a life around them and watch yourself flourish!

  9. Focus on Building Your Strengths – We often think we need to improve our weaknesses.  While there may be some good insight in understanding our challenges, improving our strengths is a greater predictor of success.  According to research by Gallup, identifying your top strengths and building them offers the greatest return on investment.  This is found to be true in many areas in life including work, hobby and interpersonal relationships.

  10. Lead by Example and Be Congruent – Take time to understand what your truly value. Let Your Values Show in how you live your life.  If you are unsure, consider working with a therapist or coachHave you ever dealt with a boss, teacher or mentor that seemed to act in a different way than they promoted?  How did this sit with you?  I imagine that it was harder to take them seriously.  Should you want to be a better partner, leader, boss, parent or mentor – it is necessary to be an example of what you state is important.

  11. Take Action – Our intentions, thoughts and plans are a great step but only part of a change we seek. Knowing is NOT half the battle. Remember this quote –“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” – C.G. Jung

  12. Challenge Authority and Ask Questions – I think I have my mother to thank for this one. This lesson was ingrained in me at an early age, which I am grateful for. Remember that just because someone is in a position of authority that this doesn’t mean that they are in a position of truth. If something doesn’t resonate with you then ask questions, do your research and discover for yourself.   Remember that it is OK to ask!  If you don’t understand something or want to challenge it, then do so.  Staying in a frame of mind of uncertainty or ignorance puts you at a disadvantage.

  13. Stand Up for Others – There are injustices all around us. We see this on a large scale when we watch then news, witnessing hunger, war, manipulation and other forms of chaos. However, we see this in our daily lives too.  At work when someone is isolated or picked on, in our social events when someone is not included or in our family’s when someone is scape-goated.  These are all opportunities to stand up for others.

  14. Ask How You Can Support Others – Want to become more successful? Start asking others how you can help them instead of how they can help you. Just like building any relationship, supporting others builds rapport and a sense of trust. Not only will this come back to you but you get the chance to see others do well (see numbers two and 13).

  15. Embrace Abundance – I could easily do an entire post on this….maybe I will. Our focus on what lacks, what isn’t working, what we are scared of, what isn’t available to us; is all a mindset. This can be countered with a simple shift in perspective.  What if we believed in collaboration instead of competition?  What if we were convinced that there is plenty of opportunity, clients, resources, love, support, money etc. out there?  Try it out, give yourself a challenge, and see what happens.

Thanks!

Michael