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Posts tagged: positivity

Keep Your Cool

Are tough times making you irritable and short-tempered?

It makes sense: the economy is stressed and so are we. When things get tough, we tend to tap into our worst selves. Try these three ways to be your best self and keep your cool under the increasing pressure:

  1. Stay alert. Pay attention to what’s going on around you and take action. But don’t panic; panic only inhibits your ability to make good decisions.
  2. Focus on must-do’s. It’s easy to feel swamped with a to-do list a mile long. Decide what is absolutely necessary and focus on those items. Try not to let the fire drills creep onto your “non-negotiables” list. Balance it with those things that will ensure your company’s survival in the long term.
  3. Ask people about what they’re going through. Demonstrate care and concern. It may not be in your power to fix others’ problems but you may hear a story that helps you feel less alone in your own thoughts.
…and remember: you’re not alone.

 

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Stressed on the job? Add rude co-workers to the list of headaches. ”Workplace incivility” is on the rise, researchers said last week at the American Psychological Association annual meeting.

The APA academics define workplace incivility as “a form of organizational deviance… characterized by low-intensity behaviors that violate respectful workplace norms, appearing vague propecia and drug interaction as to intent to harm.”

Translation: rudeness, insults and plain old bad manners.

Research suggests “75% to 80% of people have experienced incivility. It’s a growing and prevalent problem,” says Jeannie Trudel of Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion.

Read more of this informative USA Today article here … No More Mr. Nice Guy

Disconnected: Loneliness & How to Combat It

The more I’ve learned about happiness over the last few years, the more I’ve come to realize just how terribly depleting and unfortunately common the state of loneliness is for many people.

Two months ago, after reading John Cacioppo’s book Loneliness, I talked about loneliness with some of my friends, family, colleagues and even a few clients. Several people mentioned that one question really occupies them as it relates to loneliness:

When I’m lonely, what do I do about it?

I recently finished another fascinating book, Lonely — a memoir by Emily White, about her own experiences and research into loneliness. White doesn’t attempt to give specific advice about how to combat loneliness, but from her book, I gleaned these strategies:

  1. Remember that although the distinction can be difficult to draw, loneliness and solitude are different. White observes, “It’s entirely reasonable to feel lonely yet still feel as though you need some time to yourself.” Loneliness feels draining, distracting, and upsetting; desired solitude feels peaceful, creative, restorative.
  2. Nurturing others — raising children, teaching, caring for animals — helps to alleviate loneliness.
  3. Keep in mind that to avoid loneliness, many people need both a social circle and an intimate attachment. Having one of these elements may still leave you feeling lonely.
  4. Work hard to get your sleep. One of the most common indicators of loneliness is broken sleep — taking a long time to fall asleep, waking frequently, and feeling sleepy during the day. Sleep deprivation, under any circumstances, brings down people’s moods, makes them more likely to get sick, and dampens their energy, so it’s important to tackle this issue.
  5. Try to figure out what’s missing from your life. White observes that making lots of plans with friends didn’t alleviate her loneliness. “What I wanted,” she writes, “was the quiet presence of another person.” She longed to have someone else just hanging around the house with her. The more clearly you see what’s lacking, the more clearly you’ll see possible solutions.
  6. Take steps to meaningfully connect with other people. Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change. The pain of loneliness can prod you to connect with other people. Unfortunately, loneliness itself can make people feel more negative, critical, and judgmental. If you recognize that your loneliness may be affecting you in that way, you can take steps to counter it.

Most people have suffered from loneliness at some point. Have you found any good strategies for making yourself less lonely? What worked — or didn’t work?

On Happiness and The Vanishing Rattle

Jean Piaget was a Swiss developmental psychologist and a philosopher in the early 1900′s. Unknown to many people outside the fields of psychology and social work, his theory of cognitive development has had a profound impact on what we know today about a child’s thoughts and actions growing up.

I first read about Piaget as an undergrad in an Early Childhood Development class; where I was introduced to a concept he called object permanence. Object permanence is the understanding that things continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, heard or touched. It’s a level of development achieved by all of us as infants (typically between 8 and 12 months old) when we learned that just because mommy left the room, that didn’t mean she’d left the planet. And when the rattle went hidden under our blankie, it wasn’t gone forever. It’s when we discovered that out-of-sight didn’t necessarily mean out-of-mind; that just because we’re not experiencing something at the moment, that doesn’t mean we’ll never experience it again.

This is a concept we grasp as little ones, and apparently forget when we’re older; especially when it comes to happiness. We feel joy one moment – connected to the things in our lives that bring us gratitude and fulfillment – and those good feelings disappear into the proverbial kitchen the next. Then we struggle to get our happiness back, fighting a tendency many of us have to view positive emotions as nothing more than fleeting conditions, as opposed to embracing the idea that positive emotions can become permanent objects in our lives. Good feelings – like joy, serenity, hope Cialis, interest, pride, amusement, inspiration and love – don’t have to remain out-of-mind for us for too long. Sure, they’ll leave us sometimes when life creeps in and replaces the good stuff with the bad. And we’ll allow people and situations to take our rattle away from us every once in a while. Just remind yourself that the joy will soon return, the hope will come back, your inspiration will reveal itself again and love will fill your heart in due time.

Here are three tips to help you reconnect with those good feelings you might be searching for:

  1. Make a gratitude list. This will shift your mood and remind you of all that is good in your life right now. It’s an especially great technique for feeling better when you’re fearful, angry or impatient.
  2. Do good things. Recapture some positive energy and emotion by getting out of yourself and doing something for someone else. Go volunteer at your child’s school or call up a local homeless shelter and see what you can do to help. I guarantee (yes, I said guarantee) that you will be better afterwards.
  3. Let it go. Don’t let anyone steal your joy. If you find yourself voluntarily stuck in a negative emotion (as opposed to experiencing a normal and natural state of discomfort such as grief or temporary anger) then ask yourself what you have to gain by letting him/her/them/it continue to rent space in your head. It might be time to let it go and move on.

Now…go find your rattle. It’s gotta’ be around there somewhere.

Organizational Rehab: A 12-Step Program for Dysfunctional Companies

Many people have emailed me about a blog entry I posted back in December, 2010. It seems that the insight I shared, describing many organizations I’ve worked with (and for) as being “addicted” – hooked on self-centered policies and practices that mirror an active drug addict’s destructive behaviors; really resonated with a lot of people.

One on hand, I feel a sense of humility and deep gratitude for the positive feedback I’ve received on this topic. Equally profound (and surprising, even to me) is the enormous number of emails, phone calls, Facebook posts and Twitter DM’s I’ve received over the last three months from employees around the world. Messages from many, many people whose personal and professional lives have become unmanageable as they struggle to cope with life inside an addictive organization.

To those readers, and to you as first-time visitors to the Live the 8 Blog, I offer you hope in the steps that follow. Because there is hope for you and the organization you work for, just as the possibility exists everyday for the thousands of addicts that will find a new way to live a happy, healthy and productive life free from their drugs/behaviors of choice.

Here are my 12 Steps to Organizational Recovery.

  1. We admitted we were powerless over our dysfunctional behaviors, and that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that only WE could restore our organization and our people to sanity.
  3. We made a decision to stop doing things just because we’ve always done them that way.
  4. We made a searching and fearless assessment of all of the policies and practices we did well, and the things we needed to improve.
  5. We admitted to ourselves, and to each other, the destructive behaviors that we had to surrender.
  6. We prepared our organization for how tough it was going to be to stop destroying our company, and the employees and customers we said we loved.
  7. We asked every one of our employees for forgiveness.
  8. We made a list of all of our team members, and made amends to them by getting to know them individually, and learning about their strengths.
  9. We redefined people’s roles and responsibilities around their unique talents.
  10. We continued to take an organizational inventory every quarter, and where we had relapsed into dysfunctional behavior, we promptly admitted it.
  11. We established new processes to continually measure success, and recognized those team members that were exceeding the company’s expectations.
  12. Having had an awakening as a result of this cultural transformation, we tried to live our new healthy, happy, productive behaviors daily, and to practice our guiding principles in all that we did.

To continue to do my part, I’ll revisit this topic often throughout 2011. In the meantime, share your story with me at david@livethe8.com. Whether it’s passing along your own experience (in organizational addiction or recovery) or posing questions related to this topic, I’m obligated to be of service to you and always happy to help.

Oh…and FYI:

This version of the twelve steps is an adaptation of the original twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous which can be found here.

Shift Can Happen

Several times since my book came out, people have come up to me with copies of The 8 for signing. “My [boss, wife, sister, colleague] doesn’t understand what matters to me,” some have said, “So I’m going to give them your book.”

“Thanks,” I have replied a few times … although I feel a little squirrely about signing books for people who don’t necessarily want them. I’ve invented a specific dedication for these copies, though:

“To John: I’m not sure you’ll like my book, but your coworker isn’t crazy.”

“John” could have been “Mom and Dad” or someone’s business partner or brother or manager at work, who sincerely cares about the people around them, but sometimes (he said with a real positive spin on it…) cares a little too much to let them have their own happy, healthy, productive life. Sometimes the generational gap is reversed, and it is the kids who worry about their parents. Sometimes coworkers are so wrapped up in their own journeys to see you on yours, and how your pursuits impact them and theirs. And sometimes bosses fail to see that an employee’s purpose-driven life is directly connected to their company’s profit-driven motives.

Guess what? I don’t think that simply reading any book (let alone mine) can change perspectives like that. That’s the bad news that I’ve discovered in my short time on this planet: it’s rarely that simple to change someone’s mind. To those on the outside, examples of successful people (or companies) who are living their values and getting more done aren’t very persuasive sometimes, because people (and organizations) always find reasons why someone else’s success can’t be replicated.

But thankfully, there’s also some good news. If you want to influence the people around you, you don’t have to buy my book (oh boy, the publisher’s gonna’ love this post) but instead, you can lead the way through your own peacefully productive actions. They are not going to change their worldview or their perceptions of you based on something you post on Facebook or Twitter, or by what I write in the front of my book. But when people see you following through on your dreams – and living your life on purpose – they can’t help but notice. Then the shift happens.

The challenge you face, therefore, is to be courageous in the face of opposition from those around you – “John the Colleague”, “Barbara the Mom”, “Frank the Dad”, “Betsy the Boss”… all of them. This is no small challenge, since you would much rather fight dragons or vampires or something that is clearly evil. Your family isn’t evil (despite what may be evidence to the contrary), your boss probably isn’t wicked (regardless of how that last performance evaluation went) and you probably can’t ignore these people and their perceptions. But I’ve learned something else in my short time on this planet, and it became especially clear while writing The 8: you can’t ignore your power and your purpose for very long without eventually losing your connection to both.

Some battles are better won by example than by persuasion. So you can talk forever about the shift you want to make at work or in your life; why you want to study a subject you’re interested in instead of one people think would lead to better career options, or why you want to communicate more openly and honestly to coworkers and customers, or whatever. And by following this well-trod path of just talking about it, you may make marginally incremental progress in the form of compromise. But while you’re judging yourself by your great intentions, the people around you are judging you by your actions.

More than just talking about making a shift in the direction your life’s headed,  you can put it in perspective for the people around you: I’m doing these things in my life today because they are important to me. I’m willing to give up other things to make it work. I am willing to do what matters today. I am willing to walk the talk.

More often than not, people will get used to it over time. You may always be thought of as the black sheep at the office, the strange one on your sales team, the outlier in the family. But you’ll eventually earn your right to freedom and maybe even some grudging respect from some of the “evil-doers” around you.

Then they’ll say, oh, there goes _____ again. That’s just what she does. Or they’ll think,  _____ has another crazy idea to fulfill his purpose in life… but the last one worked out pretty well for him.

And once in a while, a funny thing happens: they’ll learn from the decisions you made and the actions you took, and how you stepped out, faced down your fears, tapped into your talents and focused on what’s most important to you in your life. (They may or may not realize that some of your fears had to do with them, but by then, it won’t matter.)

So for those of you on a dysfunctional team at work, in an “interesting” family or embedded in a workplace culture where doing what matters is implicitly misunderstood; or for anyone else who feels pressured to be like those around them and dare not blaze their own trail, it’s all up to you now to lead by example. Who knows — maybe John, Mom, Dad and Betsy will end up shifting with you. Because (in one last insight I’ve gained in my short time on this planet) …

Shift can happen.

Now…go make it happen.

Everyone Has a Story

I live in Miami, Florida and it’s a city I’ve loved for forty years. One decidedly unlovable consequence of being here though, is the apparent overrepresentation of completely clueless drivers compared to other cities I’ve been in. As an example of how treacherous the roads can be here, a few weeks ago I was driving home after a softball game when the person in the lane next to me decided to switch lanes – right into the side of my car. The driver accepted responsibility as she admitted she was texting when she hit me. Luckily, we were all unhurt. But boy was I upset.

My friend Pete once told me a story about how a similar experience happened to him; how we was just driving along (on the exact same street, coincidentally) when he, too, was run onto the median after being broadsided by the car in the lane next to him. Pete sprung out of that car “like a bat outta’ hell” (as he tells it) and started to launch into this guy with a full-force verbal assault; not smart in Miami, for many reasons. Pete learned his reason when he neared the car during his tirade and saw that there was a crying little girl in the backseat; the driver’s daughter. The dad was out of his car and opening his own back door as he apologized profusely to Pete and checked on his little girl who was about eight years old. The driver, noticeably shaken and in tears, told Pete that he was rushing to the hospital because his daughter had a fever, hadn’t slept and had been vomiting all morning. Pete looked in the backseat at the sweaty, crying, scared and frail-looking girl and his heart sunk.

Quickly, Pete got on his cell phone casino gratuit en ligne and called the local ER’s back line (he’s a physician there) and after doing a cursory examination of the little girl (and both cars), told the dad to head safely to the hospital – that the nurses would take his daughter right in and that she would be okay. Pete went by the ER an hour later. The girl had a bad stomach virus but she was going to be fine. Then Pete made his way over to the frightened father and they eventually exchanged insurance information. That’s when Pete was the one profusely apologizing for his inappropriate outburst. “Everyone has a story…” is the moral he shares from this experience. As Pete reminded me after my accident and about $4000 worth of damage to my brand new car: “We have to remember that – even in the most frightening and disappointing situations, Dave. Everyone has a story.”

In my work as an individual and organizational coach, I’ve learned that there are some empathetic companies out there; organizations that “get it” and understand that every employee and every customer has a story. Chick-fil-A – a company we’ve partnered with in the past – is one of those great companies and they actually made a short movie on the topic. Enjoy it; it’ll be worth the three minutes, I promise.

Every Life Has a Story

You have a story. Your colleagues and your friends have stories. Your customers have stories. So when someone “broadsides” you at work, your boss “cuts you off” in a meeting, a customer “blindsides” you or a family member “dings” you during Christmas dinner, remember…there’s a story in there.

Be patient.

Respond, and don’t be too quick to react.

Open up the story and read it. You’ll probably be glad that you did.

I Did What Mattered…

Write Away...Over the Halloween weekend, I accomplished a BHAG (a BIG, HAIRY, AUDACIOUS GOAL). I finished the manuscript for a book, entitled The 8 – Basic Elements to Greater Happiness, Health and Productivity. It’s set for a Spring, 2011 release – likely in March.

So here are exactly 7 things I learned about myself (and about writing) while writing The 8

1. It’s not as easy as it looks. Being a decent writer is very different from being a good (read: credible) author.

2. Writer’s block does exist. There were times that I couldn’t even think of the next word to write, let alone a chapter.

3. My family is phenomenal. I pretty much knew this one already, but boy did online poker player my wife and two children love and support me during this arduous task.

4. My “prime time” is early morning. I wrote 90% of the book between the hours of 6AM and 8AM over a three month period.

5. My prime motivation is to share my message. It started out as an ego-driven thing. That changed and then I changed…so did the book.

6. Damn, I’m pretty good! I always remind people of their strengths and I try to be very positive and uplifting. I am one of my people…can’t forget that!

7. People don’t suck. So many people – and many were once complete strangers to me – were gracious and very generous with their time and feedback.

———-

David