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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 want to learn more about how to improve your listening skills at work, in order increase influence, engagement and build effective relationships, we can help.  Schedule a free consult today to see if are a fit to work together

 

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Corporate Training, Personal Development and Equine Therapy

Corporate Training, Personal Development and Equine Therapy

Corporate Training, Personal Development and Equine Therapy

Based on the title you may be thinking that these things are totally un-related, but you’re here, so thank you!  I lead a group therapy session a couple of times a week with about 10 attendees and the topic of animals and our connection to them recently came up.  We discussed different kinds of therapy approaches, like dog therapy, or equine therapy for example.  The same day I had a friend bring this topic up, which I figure is enough for me to write down some thoughts, since this is something I have experience with.   The interesting part is corporate training, personal development and equine therapy, are in fact, connected.

A few years ago I went through the process of getting certified through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).  This association is the international leader in equine training specifically for mental health and personal development purposes.  What this means is that they certify psychotherapists and horse professionals, to work together to facilitate different kinds of experiential learning. These experiences can be for the purposes of individual development, individual therapy, group therapy, couples therapy or corporate/group training.

So the question may be, what one thing has to do with the other?  For someone that has never seen this process unfold, it may not seem like a relevant fit.  The way horses and horse professionals can help to work through challenges with individuals or a group, is essentially through observation.  For example, a typical Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) or Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) session, consists of the facilitators (therapist and horse professional) giving the individual or group a task to accomplish with the horse.  This task could be to help move the horse through a gate, move the horse around an object or help a horse move in a direction without touching it. There are many activities/tasks that can be implemented but they are all ground activities, not requiring the participant to ride the horse.

During and after these activities both the therapist and horse professional make observations of how the person or people are engaging with the horse and each other.   What shows up here is powerful.  Just like in experiential education, when giving a group a task to accomplish together there are markers that form organically – personality styles, communication style, natural leaders/followers, conflict and/or resolution of conflict etc.  What is most interesting about the EAP/EAL process is that the horse acts as a mirror for behavior and engagement.

During my time training as an EAGALA practitioner I was astounded by how fast things came to the surface through this process.  For instance, when watching a family interact with an animal and attempt a task, it became immediately obvious what kinds of challenges the family had in their communication with each other.  In this example it was easy to see which member wanted to control and override the input from other members of the family.   This created conflict of course and made it more challenging for the family to accomplish the assigned task.  Part of the feedback came from the horse as it experienced the intensity from one individual.  Part of the feedback came from other members as they became frustrated with the challenge of the task, which the horse also reflected.  It was powerful to watch.

So how did their communication styles come up you ask?  This is the value of working through an EAP/EAL program. The response you get from a horse is authentic, immediate and not bound by the same kind of bias that people have.   In addition, the horse professional helps to make observation of behavior of the horse while the therapist observes how the person is engaging.

Horses are able to pick up on the subtleties of behavior and intention because they are sensitive prey animals.   So this means that if there is fear, anger, ease, curiosity or frustration – the horse will give feedback to these emotions/behaviors.   Because the horse is so sensitive it gives immediate clues and reactions to the behaviors and intentions of individuals and groups.  Some of these behaviors would be easily recognized while others are more subtle, which is why it is helpful to have a horse professional present. In the therapeutic context, understanding and processing behaviors and emotions can impact personal development and resolution of some of the challenges.

At this point you may be asking if this type of intervention has any credibility from research. The answer is yes, it absolutely does.   For example, one study found that well-being and reduction in psychological distress immediately improved after EAP and held stable after six months.   For a more detailed look at research as it compares to traditional therapy approaches, consider this article that acts an overview and comparison.

So how does this therapeutic approach have anything to do with corporate training or leadership?  This is where EAL enters the picture.  EAL differs from EAP in that EAL focuses more on education and learning rather than a therapeutic approach of resolving mental health issues or challenges.

In an EAL setting valuable skills can be obtained that would certainly impact the effectiveness of an organization.  For example, often times EAL is done with teams on an organization in order to improve communication skills, leadership or team building.  This process is still facilitated by a mental health professional and horse professional, but the intention is different.

In an EAL session with a team of professionals for instance, a simple task will be given to the team to accomplish with the horse.  This task results in emerging behaviors and communication styles that will then be valuable for the team to later process.  For instance, within a given task there may be leaders that emerge, communication that happens (or doesn’t), response style of collaboration or anger. In addition, there may be partnerships that naturally form on the team that previously did not exist or resentments that manifest that perhaps hadn’t previously.

The same question may emerge regarding efficacy of this particular kind of experiential education.  One of the more interesting pieces of research on EAL has to do with Emotional Intelligence, a current point of focus in many leadership and team building approaches.   This research is a great review of the field of EAL as well as Emotional Intelligence. The research found positive results for EAL as an intervention for improving Emotional Intelligence.

So, as we’ve seen, horses, therapy and leadership are in fact related!  For more information about EAL and EAP, I recommend visiting the EAGALA website – http://www.eagala.org/.  For more information on Emotional Intelligence as it relates to leadership, consider this article by Daniel Goleman.   If you are interested learning more about this topic or discussing a potential workshop to build team or leadership skills, please contact us!

Keep Learning,

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.

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

The Power of Blogging

The Power of Blogging

The Power of Blogging

I was recently asked to speak about the power of blogging to a group of fellow colleagues who also have private practices.   Upon reflection of my recent history with blogging, I have definitely found it to be very beneficial, in a number of ways.

First of let me say that I am a relatively new blogger.  However, I have done my research.  For instance, I recently read Pat Flynn’s article on how to not be a newbie blogger, and determined that I had been following most of these best practices.   I definitely recommended reading content by people like Pat Flynn to understand how to build a blog.   I have found that there are many strategies, suggestions and best practices when it comes to blogging.  I have also discovered that the power of blogging for me has been somewhat related to my business and some just related to my own personal development.

Consider these aspects of blogging that may be powerful for you and your business –

Blogging to keep up with your specialty and serve your clients

Blogging is a great way to hone your own specialty as a clinician or coach…..or in any industry really.  Blogging can apply to any field because it can be a way to research, keep up on trends and practice explaining concepts.  Blogging can be an additional way to serve through your own self-development as a researcher, writer and communicator.   Blogging helps to push limits of understanding within any concept and continue to dissect and explore ways of communicating particular practices or philosophies.

Hone your writing skills and ability to communicate through blogging

Blogging can help to improve your own ability to communicate.   According to an article in The Journal of CyberPsychology and Behavior, a study showed that blogging has a positive impact on well-being, particularly in perceived social support.   In an article in The International Journal of Information and Educational Technology, it was found that blogging is a potential tool for the development of linguistic skills.

Connecting on social media through blog posts

Connecting on social media can be a little tricky if you don’t have a place to start.  Blogging regularly can be a wonderful conversation starter as well as a way to engage with your friends/followers/audience etc.  Posting regularly on social media about topics you are writing about and engaging in conversations about these topics offers up a way to build an audience and ultimately your own brand.

Blogging for SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complicated thing.  One of many strategies for this is blogging.  Having lots of content on your website around a particular theme can help you to rank higher in google searches and help you reach more people in the long run.  Here are some very basic SEO tips –

  • Adding subheadings
  • Research around specific keywords or phrases and including them in your post
  • Adding pictures, video if an option ( I recommend using Canva for picture alteration)
  • Tagging words and phrases

For a more comprehensive list of tips and SEO strategies I again recommend following Pat Flynn.  Here is a great webinar to get you started. Pat is great!

Guest blogging and feature opportunities

Writing does not have to be limited to your own website.  There are many opportunities to guest blog or be featured on someone else’s website.  Connecting with others within your niche or related niches or fields may lead to blogging exchange and an opportunity to write more and expand your audience.  For instance, I recently met with a health coach and after some discussion we determined that her audience would benefit from an article on How Therapy is Keeping you Stuck.  Even though this person wasn’t in the same field directly, there was still an opportunity to collaborate.

Alternatively, there may be opportunity to get featured on someone’s website.  This may take a bit more collaboration, but certainly possible. For instance, I have been following a consultant for the last eight months or so and implemented some of the strategies that he has recommended which have been really helpful! If you have a private counseling, coaching or consulting practice he is definitely worth checking out and can be found at Practice of the Practice.  At a conference recently he offered to do a write up featuring my practice and how I’ve used some of his suggestions.  Of course this benefits both of us!  He gets to show how his audience is being impacted and I get to have more exposure to a larger audience.  However, I’m not sure I would have been as comfortable submitting the writing sample if I hadn’t been practicing regularly through blogging.

Here is a list of sites that you can pursue guest blogging opportunities through  –

Connecting with the media

Blogging takes regular practice and if it is a successful blog there are posts regularly.   One way to practice, outside of writing for the blog, is to get featured in the media.  This has been an easier thing to do then I expected.   A resource called Help a Reporter Out has been a great tool for getting featured in the media, in addition to being an avenue to practice the craft of writing.   Basically this avenue allows you answer questions from reporters on topics that you have a specialty in.  Reporters post questions and if you feel you can contribute, you write about what they are requesting.  When submissions are not “picked up” to be featured in the media, these submissions can be repurposed into a blog post.

Blogging for your own personal development

Writing and blogging can be a great way to exercise your own development as well.  Here are some areas I have noticed that have been impacted through regular blogging –

  • Builds discipline
  • Improves productivity
  • Pushes me to be more scheduled
  • Helps me to explore areas that I am interested in and blog about them
  • Allows an avenue for some self-reflection through including my own insights and stories through blog posts

 How has blogging been helpful to you?

Best,

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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Maintain Change Through Coaching

 

 

Maintain Change Through Coaching

Maintain Change Through Coaching

I was thinking recently about my own personal philosophy about how to really maintain change when searching for it, as well as how I bring this philosophy into my coaching practice.  As with most things I do, I take a holistic approach, which is the same for my coaching philosophy.   The following ideas can be taken as a guide to maintain change through coaching as well as a guide to understand how I work as a coach.

When working towards change, particularly when it comes to personal development, it is important to see all the aspects that may be helping or hurting progress.  We are complicated creatures.  Working towards the best version of ourselves is not just about thinking in a different way or practicing good habits (although these are pieces of the puzzle).

True change comes from evaluating all the aspects of our human experience.  When we look through all of our different lenses, we have the greatest likelihood for success.  We need to explore how we think, feel, act, take care of ourselves, strengths we have as well what/who we surround ourselves with.

As a helpful reminder for you, I’ve created a way to remember how you can check to see if you are evaluating the different parts of yourself and what may be helping or hurting your progress.  Consider the acronym CHANGE –

C – Cognition

H – Heart

A – Action

N – Nourishment

G – Greatness

E – Environment

Each part of this acronym has some important components to consider –


 

Cognition – The way we think.  Do you analyze, make decisions quickly, not quickly enough, make strong judgments, think poorly of yourself or too highly perhaps?  Both the way we think and what we focus on may be impacting our ability to change.

Heart – How we feel.  Our emotions play a big part in our ability to be successful.  If we can remain confident, happy, grateful, curious and positive then we may have a greater chance to work towards change.  If we are negative, depressed, sad, angry, overly reactive or closed off from our emotions we may have a harder time moving towards the change we are working on.  How we feel can also be related to our relationships and how they impact our ability to change.

Action – Habits and routines play a big role in our ability to change.  Thinking and feeling are important but it is the actions that we take that impact how our feelings and thoughts change.   Our action or inaction can play a big role in our ability to push things forward towards our desired outcome.

Nourishment – How we take care of ourselves.  It is not news that the way we eat, how much we exercise, and our general lifestyle all impact multiple facets of our lives.  This is the same for any change we are after. How we treat our body impacts our motivation, energy, creativity, strength and focus.  Considering how we are nourishing ourselves is important.

Greatness – What are your strengths, purpose, and passion? This is what makes up your greatness.  Exploring what is great about you not only leads to creating better leadership but also fulfillment, higher energy, better coping methods and a happier lifestyle.

Environment – What we surround ourselves with. I believe it was Jim Rohn who originally quoted – “We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.” This is a powerful quote and I believe it to be relevant.  When it comes to our own development, our environment goes beyond the people we are around.  Our environment could be our family, work, our city, community, or how our house looks and feels.   For example, if you know you function at a higher level when things are organized then keeping your house clean and in order may be an important factor in your own development.


All of these factors within the CHANGE acronym are important to explore during coaching.  When I work with clients this is part of the process I take them through.  My belief is that unless we focus on all of the potential areas that may be influencing our ability to make a change then we are leaving opportunity on the table.

It is also important to remember that any change one may be working towards takes time.  Remember that there is a particular pace that change takes. Be kind to yourself along the way.

Enjoy the journey,

Michael

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Dealing with Uncertainty

 

Dealing with Uncertainty

Dealing with Uncertainty

This week as I was searching for a topic to write about, I felt uncertain.  It’s not like there is a lack of things to choose from in the personal development, counseling or consulting arena.  There are a ton of topics to choose from.  However, I was feeling uncertain.  So, why not just write about it.  I think as a culture we are dealing with uncertainty on a daily basis.  Having access to 1,000 choices in every avenue of life will do that.   However, there are strategies to battle this uncertainty.

Feeling stuck is common.  We often are wanting a change from a career, a hobby, a relationship or a habit.  In my experience, getting caught in the weighing out of which decision to make can sometimes be exhausting. So how do we deal with uncertainty?

I was talking with a friend recently about a new relationship they are in.  We were talking about the draw to this new partner, the things they have in common, the fun they have etc.  When the idea of how or if to move forward came up, I had thought to ask the question – what is the motivation to be with this person?  Obviously we feel connected to others, we fall in love or we have a connection that isn’t so strong.  So my curiosity is about where this connection is coming from.  Understanding our motivations may help us to deal with uncertainties and move on from a place of “stuckness.”  Understanding what motivates your direction is a good starting place, below are five more tips to resolve uncertainty.

Five Tips to Resolve Uncertainty

Learning to Follow Your Gut – This may seem obvious but there is lots of power in understanding what our instincts tell us.  Since there are so many options in most things we come across, this may distract us from our own wisdom. Practicing ways to reflect on our own thoughts or feelings like journaling, therapy, meditation or some daily practice may help in learning to follow your gut.

Take a Break – It’s easy to get caught up analyzing a choice to death.  Analysis Paralysis.   Walking away from a decision or giving yourself a temporary break from deciding may offer up some new clarity in which direction to choose.

Unbiased Third Party – Speaking with an unbiased third party like a coach or counselor can be an effective way to work through a decision.  Having someone who does not know your situation may be able to offer questions or insight that a friend or relative may not see.   Sometimes when we are asked a unique question this helps to switch our perspective and make things clearer.  

Meditate – Meditation is a great tool to help with staying present.  More and more we see the benefits of meditation in reducing stress, anxiety and even have an impact on us biologically.  Being present is another way to tap into our own understanding of what is the best decision for us to make, and what our own intuition tells us.  In addition, meditation may also offer relief from dealing with the discomfort that often accompanies uncertainty.

Get Up and Move – The mind/body connection is present in everything we do, even when we are dealing with uncertainties in life.  When we are unclear about what decision to make, this creates a particular stagnation in the mind, and perhaps even in the body as we sit and weigh all the pros and cons of our decisions. Getting involved in some kind of regular exercise or even simple movement may trigger a new way to look at the problem.

What will you decide to take action on this week?

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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Planning a Workshop – An Introduction

 

how to plan a workshopPath to Synergy will be presenting a workshop this spring. The workshop is titled – “Are Our Brains Holding Us Back? Understanding and Managing Unconscious Bias.” This workshop will be held in Asheville, NC on March 13th, 2015. For more information, or to register, CLICK HERE.
When forming our initial idea around how to create this particular workshop, we went through a couple of drafts and approaches. We learned a number of things from this process which I would like to share. Here are five basic considerations for building and planning a workshop.

1.) Getting specific about a training topic

In my experience with both attending trainings as well as providing them, there always seems to be less time than content. This is relevant when determining a topic because being very specific will not only help to flesh out the idea but this may also help in pairing down the time.

2.) Do some research

Seeing what other kinds of similar workshops are out there can be great way to decide how to make a training stand out. In addition, if it seems the training topic is overly saturated and there are limited areas to expand, then perhaps another topic or variation would be better.

3.) Outline the time, day or number of days

Filling out the main objectives down to the hour can be a great way to start seeing the training take shape. Consider some blocks being 30 minutes while others may go to an hour or 1.5 hours. In addition, if the training is more than one day, fill in the larger time frames for all days. Be sure to include breaks and lunch time.

4.) Fill in the times specifically, down to 15 minute intervals

Being specific about how things may flow with every 15 minutes will help to reduce the chance for either over planning or not having enough material to fill the expected time frame. When building in breaks, be sure to space them out appropriately so that attendees have time to get engaged with the activity or session but also don’t get too restless.

5.) Be prepared for things to not go as planned, i.e.; be prepared to improvise

Rehearsing the training is a must! Depending on how much opportunity you offer for questions, this could drastically change the flow of your design. In addition, questions may inadvertently come up, so be prepared to be flexible. For longer activities or presentations it may be helpful to have a second plan for how to cover the material. Also, consider prioritizing what material is most important, in case time runs out.

As a consultant, counselor, educator or therapist, hosting a workshop can be a great way to connect with the community and share expertise on a number of topics. Remember, finding an idea that is within the field is of course relevant, but finding an idea that you are really passionate about may make the difference in the overall success of the workshop. If you can find something that you can speak about intelligently and also feel energized by, this will not only make the experience more fun to create and facilitate, but also more impactful on your audience.

Best!

Michael