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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.

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

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No Complaining

No Complaining

No Complaining

I’m glad you’re here.  In the spirit of the time of year, I want to offer a gift, mixed with a challenge.  This idea is founded by Will Bowen of www.acomplaintfreeworld.org, details below.  The reason for this gift is that there continues to be more and more evidence to connect our thoughts, statements, actions and feelings to our overall experience of the world. This challenge offers the opportunity to consider our statements, if only for three weeks.   Basically, no complaining.   One strategy in tackling this seemingly insurmountable task, is practicing gratitude.   We all have much be thankful for.  Ok, I’ll start.  In this card you’ll find a few reasons why I am grateful to have you in my life.  I hope you find this gift intriguing and interesting enough to experiment with.

Love,

Michael

The paragraph above was the beginning of a card I wrote for about 20 members of my family this year, as well as some other loved ones.  I wanted to take the opportunity to give back some gratitude and a chance to put some intention into action for the New Year.  I learned about this through A Complaint Free World, here is a video that is worth a watch about this project.

The basic idea is that you get a bracelet that stays on your wrist until you can sustain 21 days without complaining.  Every complaint means you switch wrists and the timer starts over.   According the website, they say that this experiment typically takes 4-10 months to complete! What a great opportunity to challenge ourselves!

We often here about studies on changing our mindset, practicing mindfulness, being positive or other non-tangible pieces of advice.  While I am totally on board with the previous suggestions, I like this 21 day challenge because it has an activity attached to it, which I think helps to build the likelihood for success.  Whenever we are practicing a new way of thinking or feeling, there should be an associated new way of being or doing.

I was really thankful for my family’s response to this gift as it seemed very heartfelt and appreciative.  There were some tears shed, lots of joking and I think some added thoughtfulness about our individual attitudes and statements, which was my hope.

However, I don’t think that just passing out bracelets and offering the challenge would have been as meaningful without the added gratitude.  With every bracelet I gave I wrote a personalized note regarding why I was thankful to have each person in my life.  I believe that expressing gratitude as a part of this gesture was important because it was an example of how to pursue the task of – no complaining.

If you are reading this blog, then you most likely have everything you need. You have shelter, food/water and probably some people in your life that you care about or care about you.  There is much to be grateful for.  Expressing gratitude is one strategy in combating the pattern of complaining.

Care to experiment?  The next time you notice yourself complaining, see how this could be shifted into a statement of gratitude.  Alternatively, practice expressing gratitude more often and see if that shifts how much you are complaining.

Wishing you a prosperous, fun, challenging and growth filled 2016!

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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Productivity, Napping and Dinners at Midnight

 

Productivity, Napping and Dinners at Midnight

Productivity, Napping and Dinners at Midnight

When I was in college I did a summer abroad trip to Spain.  I traveled, learned about a totally unfamiliar culture and learned to speak more Spanish in three months than I had in three years of class. This was one of my favorite memories from college.  There are many stories to tell, but the one that I was recently reminded of is the difference in scheduling there.  The cultural difference is significant and views productivity from a different lens in some areas.   For those that have not been to Spain, a typical day, (at least for a college student in 2004) looked like this –

  1. Wake up at 7am, wake lethargic roommate up, have some light breakfast and start the walk to school. This walk was 1.5 miles one way, a great way to start the day!  School 8am-12pm or so.
  2. Break around noon, walk back to the house, lunch and then Siesta! Siesta translates to ‘rest’ or “nap”, more or less.  This is the time when the majority of activity slows down for a few hours and people just relax or sometimes actually take a nap.  It’s wonderful!
  3. Wake up around 3pm, walk back to school and have class from 4pm – 7pm or so.
  4. The rest of the evenings were spent socializing and often would result in dinner sometimes not until 10pm or later, then more socializing and bed around midnight…..sometimes much later.

Reminiscing this week had me wondering about what this schedule may do to one’s productivity? Here are a few of the pieces I discovered in searching through some data/research –

  • Napping helps you be more alert

According The National Sleep Foundation who references a study done by NASA on sleepy military pilots, it was found that a 40 minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 100%.   However, be mindful that the time of day, personal disposition and length of nap may increase or decrease its effectiveness.  It may be best to experiment with napping in order to find the right fit.

Whether it is napping, relaxing, going for a walk or finding some other way to decompress, there is value in taking a break. Having regular breaks in your day can help you to mentally, emotionally and physically re-charge, allowing you to be more effective with your time working.

There is building research available to show that napping can improve long term memory and task performance.

  • Having a mid-day break is controversial

According to an article in the NY Times, there is some mixed research about how productive Spain is based on the schedule of including the daily siesta.  While some research shows productivity is low, other research shows that Spain is more productive than many other European countries.   There is currently some push to move to a more regular schedule, which some of the country already embraces.

So why bring up this idea of the Siesta and productivity?  I think it is an interesting example of how our lifestyle and culture impacts our experience.   Certainly implementing the siesta in our western culture wouldn’t really fit, given the demands and cultural scheduling that we already have in place here.  However, we do have the option of implementing other ways to improve self-care.

One of the most consistent topics that come up with both groups and individuals that I work with, is the idea of a self-care practice.  Practices look different for everyone but common themes include exercise, meditation, time with loved ones or a variety of other hobbies.

There may be some controversy about including a long nap in the middle of the day.  But, there is certainly strong evidence to show that when we take time to take care of ourselves our productivity, relationships, happiness and health improves.    If you are interested in testing this out, consider answering one or both of these questions –

 

What can you commit to for 10 minutes every day for the next two weeks that will help you to slow down, reduce stress or improve your ability to be present?

 

What is one thing you can take out of your life for the next two weeks that you know distracts you?

 

Thanks!

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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Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

 

Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

In my experience in working with individuals dealing with depression and anxiety or both, there has been a consistency I have seen.   I hesitate to use the term “always” but certainly often, taking a mind-body approach to depression and anxiety seems to yield positive results, in my experience.   In my own life I have found this to be true also.  I have always felt better when exploring challenges from multiple lenses.  This is not necessarily surprising that long lasting change would be achieved through tackling multiple components of the human experience.

I’m certainly not alone in this belief either.  According to an article in The Journal of Palliative Medicine, it was found that a multi-modal treatment approach including mindfulness meditation, yoga movement and breathing exercise helped to reduce anxiety and depression in Japanese cancer patients.   In addition, in The Canadian Journal of Psychotherapy there was a study showing the efficacy of using Yoga as a complimentary treatment to psychotherapy in treating depression and anxiety.  These are just a couple of examples of how a mind-body approach can be an effective treatment philosophy.

4 Tips for a Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

Mind your body We now have extensive research to show how lifestyle has such a great impact on our body and mind.  When considering how to care for your body and mind, the basic tenants remain – eat whole foods, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.  If someone is experiencing anxiety and depression these lifestyle factors may be harder to work towards. However, when you follow these principles often times there is symptom reduction.  For more information on nutrition, wellness and some great insight into mindset I recommend – The Model Health Show.

 

Talk to someone – If someone is having a particularly hard time it may be valuable to call a therapist or doctor for consult. If you already have a therapist, there may be value in seeing them more regularly during more challenging times.

 

Have compassion – Be patient and have compassion with yourself. During times of depression and anxiety this may be difficult. Remember that there are resources available to you.  Remaining present, compassionate and patient when working towards reducing symptoms is an important strategy.   One way to exercise compassion is doing an exercise in gratitude.

 

Self-Care – Engaging in some sort of regular practice is very important.  This practice can be different for everyone.  However, usually the focus of the practice is related to self-development.  Self-care could be related to physical fitness, meditation, time with loved ones, reflection, intention or any combination of activities that help to de-stress or remain present.

What mind-body practices have you found to be effective in your life?

Be well!

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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Telling Your Story

Telling Your Story

Telling Your Story

I recently wrote a guest post for The Cheerful Word on what it means to take a deeper look at your life story.  I also just came back from a few days in WI, where I grew up.  This trip had me thinking about my story and what informs my success, experience, challenges, relationships etc.   Since I recently wrote about the power of telling your story, I thought I would take a shot at telling some of my story.

In this post you’ll learn a bit about my background, my family and the Midwest.  If you haven’t been to the Midwest, then you should go.  Yes, I know it’s not on the way to anything.  However, lots of good pockets of entertaining cities as well as beautiful countryside and friendly people.  If you do go, don’t go in the winter time.  The summers are great though.   The picture for this post is actually right down the street from the farm I grew up on.  So, why does this matter for this post?  I am telling this story because I think the lessons are valuable things to highlight regarding personal development and self-improvement.  Since this blog is all about individual and organizational self-improvement, I thought this would be a good fit.

Once a year my grandmother hosts a party “Christmas in July” (actually August this year).   It used to be a Christmas party actually held in December but due to conflict with weather, we moved it.  It’s mostly family and close friends that have been friends with the family for decades, some many decades.  It’s a great chance to reconnect with people I don’t get to see often, but have spent time with for most of my life.

Whenever I go home I also have the opportunity to connect with some of my oldest friends, which is great. Through this process of reconnecting with old friends and family members, I was thinking I have much to be grateful for.  Below are some highlighted areas of gratitude and lessons I appreciate.  My guess is that this will resonate with some of you.

Some of the things I’m grateful for that I was reminded of while back in WI this last weekend –

Work Ethic – Whenever I go back to “the farm” (my family still owns the farm I grew up on) there are endless requests for help.  Although some may argue, this is actually something I’m grateful for.  Having grown up on a farm where there is always something to work on, taught me how to work hard and I think gave me a positive work ethic.  This is a quality that I see as being crucial in all the role models I have had over the years and in those that are truly successful.  Hard work pays off, always.

Humor – My friends and family are hilarious…or at least we think so.  Whenever there is a larger gathering there are usually no dull moments.   Humor can be so helpful in de-stressing, changing perspective or shifting the tone of a day.  I can often get too analytical and serious with things.  I am so grateful for my friends and family, who always put a smile on my face.

Nature – Being in a rural environment just feels more relaxing sometimes.  Even though my family’s farm is filled with work, it is also filled with a sense of relaxation and beauty.  Not being surrounded by commerce, vehicles and constant advertising is a great way to refuel and gather a new sense of energy.   It can be so easy to get swept away with the “to do” lists and constant distraction from media, technology and fast moving pace we set ourselves at.   Being closer to nature often allows me to take a step back, take a deep breath and remain grounded.

These are a just a few pieces of my story that I am grateful for.

What lessons or pieces of gratitude do you have from your story?

Share or comment below.

Thanks,

Michael

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The 100 Day Intention Experiment – Part 2

The 100 Day Intention Experiment Part 2

The 100 Day Intention Experiment Part 2

I recently finished an experiment on intention that I had started about three months ago.  My intention was to complete 100 days of a regular morning routine.  To see some details read The 100 Day Intention Experiment – Part 1.  I had been in an accident that gave me some new perspective about how focused and present I was being with my time, a great lesson.  Basically, through this 100 day experiment, the idea was to build more intention to the start of my day, in order to positively impact the rest of my day.   I have been starting my day out with different forms of meditation and exercise and then writing.

I wanted to write a reflection of this experience since as I suspected, it was great!  At this point it’s hard to imagine not going through this routine, as I have come to enjoy it so much.  However, some things will continue to evolve and change, as they should.  I have already started another 100 day challenge but am setting specific goals for exercise, business, and personal development.

I recently read my last 100 daily entries of journaling and noticed some themes come up.  Some of these ideas stood out and I thought I would highlight them, as they may be valuable to other people too.

Lessons from 100 Day Intention Experiment 

  • The importance of gratitude – I recently wrote a post about this, but in summary – when I am feeling stuck or irritated I can remind myself of all that I already have as well as the difference between my needs vs wants.
  • Follow through – Being diligent with tasks, keeping focused on my One Thing (which is a book I read recently and worth checking out if you haven’t read it)
  • Patience – I have found that my timeline and how things have been unfolding are a bit different. A great opportunity to practice patience and continue with follow through and direction towards goals.
  • Self-Worth – Through this experiment and refection I am reminded that my self-worth is not dependent on the goals I reach.
  • The importance of sleep – I have noticed that the more I get regular sleep (at least 7.5 hours a night) the more productive, focused and aware I am.
  • Abundance – Thankfully I am in a community were this idea is supported. There is lots of opportunity to look at all the other practitioners in my field as competition. I am reminded though that this is a perception and the truth is that there is plenty of work available for all of us.
  • Remaining present – Having spent more time recently meditating, remaining present has been an important focus. I have noticed that the more I can focus on the now the less stress I experience.
  • Making connections is important – I have surprised by how making connections in the community continues to lead to more opportunity. I believe that speaking about our work and passions with others will bring more opportunity to have these passions and work expressed in our lives.
  • Writing about my dreams has been helpful – I have been finding some interesting insight and themes in my dreams as I have been writing about them daily. Some themes make sense (based on what I’ve been involved with recently) while others have brought me more insight into the ways I interact, think and feel.

How does your daily practice impact you?

Share or comment below [udesign_icon_font name=”fa fa-smile-o”]

Thanks,

Michael

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Self Care

Self Care

 

Self care does not often come up as being a priority in our world of high expectations, busy schedules, constant distractions and technological bombardment. However, there is a shift happening with the awareness about the importance of self care.

As we build our understanding about the biology and neuroscience behind behavior, emotions, productivity, focus and fatigue we continue to bridge the gap between body and mind.  Some research implies that self care not only has an impact on one’s ability to perform but also an impact on organizations as a whole, as it relates to overall function.

Often times stress leads to conflict.  When we are stressed our patience is more limited.  So when we have conflict with loved ones, co-workers or the general public, our ability to respond appropriately is reduced.  The solution to this may be to take time out to care for yourself, so that you can reduce stress.

This is not surprising news.  When we feel better, can think clearly and are less stressed, we are more effective human beings.   So, regardless of what you do and what industry you are in, consider making your own care a priority.

I know that in my work, the better I feel the better I am at my work and relationships.   Since I initiated a more regimented self care routine, I have gained more clarity, productivity and a calmer presence.  But you shouldn’t take my word for it, or the research available.  Experiment, and see what you find when you start making yourself a priority!

Ways to Take Time Out for Yourself

Physical – Lifting weights, running, walking, snowboarding/skiing, surfing, take a class (spinning, cross fit, yoga, martial arts, Zumba etc.), hike, bike and sex.

Relational – Spend time with your family, partner and friends, go to a concert, get involved in a regular hobby or group oriented activity or sport.

Reflective – Journal, meditation, listen to music, go for a walk, deep breathing exercise, read.

General Health – 8+ hours of sleep per night, drink lots of water, eat nutritious whole foods.

What other ways can you take care of yourself?

Challenge of the Week!

  • List out your weekly self-care routine or goal.
  • Tag someone on social media that you think is interested in the challenge.
  • Share this post with the person you tagged.
  • Feel good about expanding awareness of why we should be taking care of ourselves so that we can take care of each other!

Cheers,

Michael

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The Importance of Gratitude

The Importance Gratitude

 

I was on a flight last week heading out to California for what I expected to be a very transformational conference, and it was.  I was excited to be going in the first place but returned with even more gratitude.  The conference was called – The Most Awesome Conference, and indeed it was.  It was put on by a group of savvy therapists, consultants and business strategists.  This conference was unique, not only did we get to hear presentations on important strategies of running a business but we got to participate in creating new ways to market, promote and manage our business.  The amount of connection and support I felt from this weekend conference was intense. I was reminded of the importance of gratitude.  It is with this gratitude that I continue to be propelled forward.

I would like to give thanks to the following people for putting together such a great weekend full of learning, laughter and action! A special thanks to – Joe Sanok of Practice of the Practice, Kelly & Miranda of Zynnyme, Dr. Julie Hanks, Jo Muirhead, Mari Lee of Growth Counseling, Ernesto  Segismundo of Fylmit.com, and all the wonderful attendees of The Most Awesome Conference!

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from them and to have had the chance to share ideas and explore how to build the field of counseling, coaching and consulting.

I reference this story for a few reasons –

  • It is important to me to be thankful.
  • Gratitude can improve our lives socially, psychologically, and even physically.
  • Gratitude impacts others, thus impacting the world!

Three reasons why expressing gratitude may be beneficial to you

  1. According to Robert Emmons, a leading researcher on gratitude, there are a number of benefits from offering regular gratitude including – stronger immune system, higher levels of positive emotions, more forgiving attitude and less feelings of isolation.

  2. Gratitude can have an impact on your relationships. According to John Gottman, a leading expert in marital relationships, it is very important for a couple to maintain a ratio of more positive interactions than negative, for the marriage to be successful.

  3. Gratitude has an impact on others around you. If you want to make a difference in how you interact with others, consider adding an element of gratitude. This shift in interaction style may have a great impact on your relationships and communication.  Others are more likely to respond to gratitude than discontent.

When I think of the times in my life that have been particularly challenging, one of the things that brings me back from feeling like nothing is working, is to be thankful for all that I have.   The truth is that when we cut out all the things we have from the things we need, most of us are richer than we think.

So the question at times may be – “What am I grateful for?”  This may be an easier or harder question to answer, depending on the day. However, just like everything, if you practice it becomes easier.  So, please see the following challenge –

Challenge of the Week!

  • Think of someone or something you are grateful for and why.
  • Express this gratitude by writing a small thank you message and tagging them via social media.
  • Share this post.
  • Move through the day with ease.

Thankfully,

Michael

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Letting Go of Fear

Letting Go of Fear

Letting Go of Fear

The question of “how to let go of fear” often comes up with the clients I work with, as well as in my own life of course.  I think this is a complicated issue. There are many kinds of fears that exist in our lives, each one presenting specific challenges.  In starting this new business I find myself wrestling with lots of professional fears.  Questions like – Am I qualified for this?  What can I charge?  Can I afford to take this professional risk?

These questions are all based on fear of failure or incompetence.  The truth is that I have many years of educational and professional experience to draw from and that I am definitely qualified for what I am doing.  So why is there still fear?

In my work with individuals regarding professional fears, what often comes up is the fear of pursuing what is most meaningful to them.  This fear is often based in belief that says “there are not jobs available,” “the market is too saturated,” “I don’t have the credentials,” or many other beliefs. While some of these fears are more concretely rooted in actual barriers, I believe that letting go of the limiting belief is the first fear to address.

Letting go of limiting beliefs is liberating

Consider the following ideas –

  • There isn’t enough (work, money, opportunity etc.)
  • There is only scarcity
  • All others in my field are competitors

What if we shift our perspective to thoughts like –

  • There is more room for my service or business
  • Other people in my field can be my collaborators
  • There is an abundance of work available

This shift in perspective can of course be applied to other kinds of fears as well, not just professional.  Changing a belief or perspective may create some paths to progress.  Fear inhibits progress in a number of ways –

  • Inhibiting creativity
  • Reducing insight and understanding of alternative perspectives
  • Acts against motivation for action

How would this shift in perspective open up new opportunities for you?

What I have found in my own life, as well as what works for my client’s, is taking small steps in the direction of a change I want to pursue is the best course of action.  It’s easy to say – “you just have to decide to let go of your fear” but this is a bit vague.  I think that creating some kind of regular, consistent practice that promotes empowerment can help to reduce fear, as long as it is practiced regularly.

For example, if your practice is to attend networking events in an effort to improve your business and challenge your introversion, then this should be practiced weekly in short periods rather than attending long events but inconsistently.

What I have found in my own life as well as those I’ve worked with is that overcoming any professional fear only opens up new opportunity and possibility.   Letting go of fear is empowering.  Empowerment is often accompanied by change.  If you are choosing to face a fear, be prepared, things may not be the same afterwards.  For example, addressing a professional fear may result in the following –

  • New awareness about a direction to take
  • Career change
  • Promotion
  • Retirement
  • Going back to school
  • Increased confidence

Three Tips for Addressing Fear –

  1. Take time to understand what you really want.  What is the fear really based on?
  2. Taking the time to figure out where the fear comes from and what it is connected to may open up new awareness about a direction to take.  Once you understand what you truly want, then start taking small steps in that direction. Do the research to determine some of the steps that you need to take to set you on the path that you want. If you are unsure, consider working with a coach or mentor.
  3. Set small achievable goals that can be built upon. Put into place a daily routine that works towards overcoming the fear.   Prove to yourself that your fear can be conquered, and then your belief in what is possible will change.

Best,

Michael