The Art of Mindlessness

Perhaps one of your 2018 resolutions is to try some meditation. You’ve been reading about the benefits of meditation and now that it’s gotten scientific validation and has been westernized, you’re ready to see if you could actually quiet that incessant chatter in your head. Before you embark on apps like Headspace or Calm and YouTube videos that walk you through a mindfulness experience consider the possibility that you already create a peaceful state of mind through mindlessness. Mindlessness is an underappreciated skill whereby you engage in some activity that absorbs your thinking and allows you act freely and without conscious thought. We almost always experience it in the car when we drive on an open road and forget about Read More

Purpose or Happiness

As I reflected in my annual year in review exercise I asked myself the question about what gave me deep meaning last year in my work. Despite have done some great work with my client companies the one clear message that came to me was my work done in my volunteer activities. Research tells us that to create a sense of well-being in our life, we benefit more from achieving meaning and purpose in our lives than in pursuing happiness, for its own sake. In one research study of group programs with patients who had metastatic cancer, those in a group that had “meaning centered” discussions such as “what has been important to us in the past and what is Read More

“You Got This”

When my friend Jack posted on Facebook that his wife Kate was going out for her run when the wind chill was -4 degrees, he asked his followers “foolish or impressive?” Responses were mixed but mine was clear. “She is building hardiness…Go Kate.” I suspect that Kate had to get herself up for her run with some kind of mantra like “I got this,” or “I love my runs” or “hey’ I’ve been doing this every day for three years, today is no different.” Mentally preparing ourselves for a challenging event or responding to a difficulty with a readily accessible phrase not only gets our head into the proper frame but also allows us a moment to respond to a Read More

A New Year

I’ll be taking some time this week between visits with family, doing some cooking and playing around to reflect on 2017 and to consider what I hope to achieve in 2018. I don’t think of this activity as work as much as mindful reflection. I’ll wind up writing my ideas down as I’ll look to review them at this time next year. Some of the questions I’ll be asking myself: What brought me deep satisfaction and enjoyment this year? What challenges did I have that I overcame and from which I learned new things and perhaps grew stronger? What do I want 2018 to be for me personally, professionally and for my family? What one thing am I going to Read More

The Big Turn

The sun will reach its nadir tomorrow at 11:28 AM EDT and for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it will begin its 6-month march back to its zenith at the next moment. It’s no wonder that we are built for resilience as nature showers her experiences of recovering from the depths of winter’s darkness towards the fullness of summer’s long days like the clock that she is in our lives. At our home on the Allegheny River, we always joke about the Two-Suns that we see on many of these winter days. The sun is low in the sky over the hills, across the way, and her reflection on the River both brightens and warms our house. It’s Read More

Go Ahead and Freak Out, It’s the Holidays

I’m starting to see the flood of articles showing up in my Google alerts about the “Seven Ways to Survive Holiday Stress,” or “Six Ways to Make This the Best Christmas Ever…Without Getting Stressed Out.” We were out shopping over the weekend and as we approached the overcrowded parking lot, I first thought, “oh boy, we’re not even going to get close.” I gave myself a second to consider my options and then just asked Sheila if she was up for a nice brisk walk to the store. She agreed and we parked far away. The walk was invigorating. In times of even small adversities (and this one was miniscule) our brains react in one of two ways. They can Read More

Make Meetings Exciting Again!

One of my clients told me that she had 6 meetings several days this past week which meant that she was only able to get her work done after hours. Additionally, she commented that most of the meetings were longer than they needed to be, were reporting in nature, and had several people checking their emails or drafting off memos. She even received a text from a colleague across the table with an eye rolling emoji! It’s been estimated by the Wall Street Journal and others that there are over 11 million meeting held in the US daily and that participants consider up to 50% of them to be a waste of time. The primary draining factors are that there Read More

Being Excellent

I ran into a couple of business colleagues a few weeks ago and while we were catching up we had a discussion of how excellence is related to resilience. They told me that they enjoy video games and jokingly tell each other that they can either be great at doing their job or that they can be great at video gaming but not both. They concluded that being great at their job puts food on the table and so that was that. While no one would disagree that going for excellence at work is going to lead to a better financial outcome as well as other positive outcomes, I’m not sure being excellent at video gaming and your job are Read More

The Art of Thanksgiving

A couple of weeks ago, my wife Sheila Collins did a remarkable presentation on The Art of Grieving. Her work has led her to become a thought leader in how we approach this universal experience and how we can deal with it more effectively. Sheila believes that art is a deliberate process of arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses and the emotions. To live life in an Artful way means to be fully present, giving mindful attention to each aspect of an endeavor, enlisting common folk arts to deepen, heighten, invigorate and savor each precious moment. Tomorrow, we’ll all be celebrating Thanksgiving, the most psychologically correct holiday on our calendar. It’s all about gratitude and appreciations Read More

The Little Secret That No One Wants to Admit

Everyone feels overwhelmed and when I meet with teams and leaders I have to admit to them that their perception is correct. They are overwhelmed and if something is not done about it, the next step is burnout or worse. While much of the blame has to do with the volume of work that we all are managing, there is another little secret that its time to begin discussing. Much of the cause may be self-inflicted. We are conflicted between our desire to stay focused on our world and how we can influence it and the bigger world (the global stage) and how we want to be a part of it. A few weeks ago I posted a video from Read More