The World Café method is an engaging and thought-provoking process to bring employees or community members together in conversation around a particular issue. One of the challenges in facilitating this process is: What are the questions people will dialogue around at their tables? Let me shed some light on this question.
As 2016 winds down, a number of people I know are still bummed out about the election, the cold weather and overcast days, or are ill. You may find this to be true in your workplace either with co-workers or your staff. Just a lot of grumpiness and pre-holiday stress right now.
So, if you are a leader, you may be wondering, “What can I do to respond to this grumpiness from my staff?” I offer you two responses for your consideration. [Read more…]
We all have our perspectives about how we see, sense and know our world. If we lock into our perspectives and dismiss others, we lose relevance and trust with those we work with. Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes help us to break free from our perspectives. One excellent way to do that is to listen and suspend judgment.
I attended the third Mindful Leadership Summit in Arlington, VA. earlier this month with over 700 people with 27 countries represented. I had the good fortune to attend Finding the Space Lead workshop lead by Janice Marturano, Founder and Executive Director of Institute of Mindful Leadership and Mark Prior, an instructor.
Here are just a few thought-provoking concepts I gleaned from the Summit about mindfulness.
“Happiness is a state of mind. You can be in heaven in your environment, but hell in your mind.” [Read more…]
I recently facilitated a half-day retreat for a school’s community education staff on cultivating emotional intelligence (EI). I want to share several insights that came from their experience.
- Self-awareness is only helpful if you make a change in your behavior. This insight surfaced when someone recognized they were highly skilled in understanding their emotions. However, the challenge for them was to act on that information and make changes in their behavior, which is the self-management EI competency. Interestingly, their highest EI score was self-awareness and their lowest was self-management. Not a surprise.
- To be an active listener is to clear your mind. This insight surfaced when a person stated that they need to take intentional steps to become an active listener. How does one do that?
- Pause before engaging as the listener,
- Be aware of the clutter in your mind,
- Take one or two slow breaths and then announce to the person, “I’m now ready to listen and be present with you.”
Being intentional in our preparation to listen is critical.
- Slow Down. This insight surfaced when a person stated that they realized it takes time to cultivate EI. It takes practice, a change in one’s habits. So, be patient with yourself.
- Ask for Feedback. It is important to ask for feedback about your behavior and the changes you are attempting to make. How do you do that? Know the person(s) you are extending this invitation to; it takes a lot of trust. Be clear about the changes you are practicing and why you want the feedback.
Mindfulness and EI are learning companions. There is no need to compartmentalize them. When you are cultivating EI, you are being present and deeply aware of your surroundings, training your brain to engage in new habits for the purpose of deeply connecting with your inner self and with others. Isn’t that what mindfulness is about?
Why is it we do the same things over in the same way? Drive the same route to work? Eat with our dominant hand? Find the same locker at the Y? Sleep on the same side of the bed?
We do it because it is familiar, comfortable, we don’t have to think about what we are doing and it is faster than changing to a new habit. However, these are the precise reasons to change our habits – they become routine and we are not engaged.
This is one reason why change is so difficult for us to make – I have to be astutely aware of what I’m doing and feeling so I get it right, I don’t get lost, or I have to remember new co-workers names.
I’ve been asked this question numerous times: “So how does one become mindful in one’s life? What are the practices?”
When I respond that it could be something as simple as enjoying your food, tasting the flavors and enjoying the aroma, I get quizzical looks. Becoming mindful is starting with baby steps, to bring a beginner’s mind to any activity.
Recently, I started using my non-dominant hand (left) to shave with a razor. What a challenge! After several times, I decided to give up. Then, I tried it again and was very conscious and aware of how to position my left hand with the razor on my face so the razor would glide on my face. It’s working and I’m delighted especially since I think of shaving as a waste of time. Now it is not a waste of time and I look forward to increasing my adeptness at shaving. Just a little thing like this brought a sense of joy to me.
So, when we change our habits, we learn how impatient we are, how entrenched we are with the way we do things. But we also learn how many abilities lie dormant within us that can bring joy to our lives.
What are your “baby step” stories of change?
Recently, I discovered a book How to Train a Wild Elephant & Other Adventures in Mindfulness by Jan Chozen Bays. I was drawn to it because Bays lists 53 simple daily mindfulness practices for living life more fully and joyfully. Wonderful.
But here is what really caught my attention. Bays lists six benefits of mindfulness, several I’ve not read before or put in context the way she did. [Read more…]
Unconscious bias is a life reality. We can’t escape from it. It does no good to deny it or to feel guilty or judgmental about it. It’s what our brains do that help us manage our lives and creates short cuts to make decisions.
I thought I knew how to breathe properly, until I read an article about breathing, stress and anxiety. Back to the drawing board. [Read more…]
In Thich Nhat Hanh’s Buddhist community, the members practice the 14 Precepts of the Order of Interbeing. They serve as a way for connection to all members, e.g., one’s happiness is not separate from the happiness of others. You can review the list here: 14 Precepts of the Order of Interbeing
This is my attempt to translate the 14 Precepts to leadership behavior. Here I go.
- Do not be bound to any process, system or ways of doing things. None hold absolute perfection.
- Do not think that you know everything. Avoid being narrow-minded and let go of your attachment and possessive nature to your ideas.
- Do not use your corporate position to coerce others to your way of thinking or doing things.