Thank you for inspiring me to document musings and learnings from the field of leadership, team performance and conscious change. I trust you'll find the exercises, resources and insights useful whether you are a leader, team player, coach/consultant or change agent.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Mind "Full"?

Fulfilling the incessant, unrealistic and demanding expectations of a noisy mind is an exercise in futility and yet it is a common occupation for many of us. 

Michael Singer, in his book “The Untethered Soul” recommends that we shift our attention from reinforcing the model we've created about how the world should be to cleaning up our inner state. Instead of resisting, perseverating, believing, justifying or re-suppressing what rises to the surface of our consciousness, we can choose what to keep and what to let go of in each moment by:
  1. Honoring and respecting reality through conscious self-talk. When we find ourselves complaining about a driver, for example, we can simple name what is going on and consider the bigger picture. “I like to drive 5 miles over the speed limit and you prefer 10 miles under, who am I to impose my will on you? How can we all get to work safely and peacefully?"
  2. Training our mind with a mantra. Whenever we notice our consciousness dropping into a lowered state of fear, anger, anxiety, guilt or lack of self-worth where we seek to control, protect or comply, we can reset our consciousness to a higher state. Rely on an internal statement such as, "I can handle this. There is a peaceful solution here. I can be of service. or We are here to learn and grow."
  3. Relaxing into our experience. As an unkind, critical, defensive or blame-based thought arises in your mind, let go of any resistance to it. Allow the person, place or situation to be what it is. Release the tension and a painful thought has nothing to hold it in place and can't be stored for later use. 

 “There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing you are not the voice of the mind, you are the one who hears it.”- Michael Singer

For more:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Psychological Safety = High Performing Teams

Psychological safety is the foundation of high-performing teams because it invites vulnerability-based trust that is necessary to take risks, have healthy conflict, innovate, make good decisions and deliver collective results. With it teams thrive!

A recent Harvard Business Review article shares some research on how to engender psychological safety from a study on high-performing teams at Google:

1. Make friends with conflict as a collaborator, not an adversary. Ask yourself, what is trying to happen here vs. what is wrong.

2. Speak human to human. Meet each other as equals in your humanity regardless of title, class, gender, culture. Instead of thinking you are higher (better) or lower (worse) ask how is this person just like me?

3. Anticipate different perspectives. Focus on content not identity.

4. Replace judgment with curiosity. Go for understanding vs. being right.

5. Invite and give feedback. Illuminate blindspots productively. Capture lessons learned. Correct vs. punish.

6. Create team agreements on how you will handle conflict and mistakes.

Click here for the entire article "High Performing Teams Need Psychological Safety" by Laura Delizonna

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Path of Realization

David Whyte, who brings poetry to corporations explores his experience of the "conversational nature of reality" in a recent Ted Talk.  

He lyrically asserts that what we desire of the world and what it desires of us will not happen as we would like because we tend to follow "three abiding manufactured illusions." 

If we believe that "we can somehow construct a life in which we are not vulnerable, will not have our hearts broken and can plan enough and arrange things to see our path from end to end" we are bound to miss the magic and the point. 

Yet as we are willing to meet ourselves and people, places and things  authentically, walk in presence fully grounded in our Being and in choice and release that which no longer serves, each step is revealed and we realize that we already are that which we seek.

Check out David's recent Ted Talk for more.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

G.R.O.W. Your Capacity to Deliver Results

John Whitmore's GROW framework enables us to focus on what we are trying to accomplish and the context within which we are operating before determining a solution or strategy.

It helps mitigate common leadership traps such as:
  • Trying to control outcomes or people
  • Solving the wrong problem
  • Going for decision speed over understanding
  • Discussing being perceived as agreement
  • Explaining, blaming or justifying low performance
  • Ignoring, complying or protecting the emotional state of stakeholders
  • Defaulting to limited solutions
  • Focusing on the future without consideration of the past or present
  • Wasting time second guessing decisions
Slow down to go fast and focus on what you can influence by clarifying 4 things:

G-Goal Seek clarity and alignment on the what and why

R-Reality Discuss and name context or what is going on (vs. what is wrong) including constraints, barriers, perceptions, experiences, environment, marketplace, what is working, what is not, etc. 

Do not go to O until you are clear and aligned on G and the stakes are lowered or acknowledged regarding the R. You may need to change the G.

O-Options Explore alternatives or the how based on G&R

W-Way Forward Identify the who, when, where and support needed

The more time you spend on G&R the better and faster the O&W. Try it to find out!

Thank you Amy for the resource.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Seeing with Fresh Eyes

Many leaders find it helpful to end each day in gratitude by writing down what they are thankful for. Over time, this practice shifts attention to what is working (vs. what isn't), what is accomplished (vs. not) and how precious life is (vs. isn't). Rachel Remen in her book "My Grandfather's Blessings" suggests 3 questions to experience life with fresh eyes:

1. What surprised me today?
2. What moved me or touched me today?
3. What inspired me today?

Try it each night for a month and notice what happens to how you sleep, wake up, move through your to do list, interact with others and evaluate your impact. You may find your work is filled with more meaning and humanity than you realized!

For more info check out: Rachel Remen

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Feed Forward instead of Back

Providing helpful feedback is a challenge for many leaders and teams. Why? We:
  1. Limit it to a once a year annual review
  2. Believe we will hurt someone's feelings 
  3. Focus on the past vs. the future
  4. Judge (what is wrong) instead of share an observation (what is)
  5. Don't have feedback protocols or permissions in our team agreements
  6. Discuss behavior only and miss impact
  7. Muddle the communication for fear of reaction
  8. Forget that we need others to help us see our blindspots 
  9. Don't align feedback with desired results
  10. Give one-way feedback instead of dialogue 
  11. Wait too long to provide it
Feedback is a key practice on high-performing teams and not just from leader to team member. To address #3, shift your approach from feed "back" to feed "forward".  Instead of pointing out "what is wrong" (that often has a pinch of punishment energy to it) explore "what might be".  Instead of looking back at what can't be changed, look forward to what is possible.  

Try it for yourself with a direct report or colleague:
  • Ask, "What is a behavior you would like to change or grow in? Why? And what difference would it make to goal achievement?"
  • Brainstorm ideas and discuss solutions together 
  • Invite him/her to select 2 ideas that most resonate to practice
  • Discuss ways you can support
You may experience this as a generative, energizing experience and actually enjoy it. For more on FeedForward check out Marshall Goldsmith's research. Thanks to Liz for the discovery! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean in your leadership?

"A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them boil for twenty minutes. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?" "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft and mushy. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hardened egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its deep flavor and inhaled its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What's the point, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity - boiling water - but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin, outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water. "Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I in my leadership? Am I the carrot that seems strong? But with pain and adversity, do I wilt and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid Spirit but, after adversity, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water - the very circumstance that brings the adversity, the pain, the hardship – into something quite wonderful. When the water gets hot, it releases its fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better, and change the situation around you for the better." --Author Unknown

Thank you to Clint for the resource!