Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /var/www/vhosts/citrinconsulting.com/httpdocs/wp-content/plugins/cb-simple-video/shortcode.php:32) in /var/www/vhosts/citrinconsulting.com/httpdocs/wp-includes/feed-rss2.php on line 7 Citrin Consulting http://www.citrinconsulting.com Dramatically Improve Organizational Effectiveness Wed, 17 Jan 2018 13:00:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 The Art of Mindlessness http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-art-of-mindlessness/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-art-of-mindlessness/#comments Wed, 17 Jan 2018 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3864 Read More]]> 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 everything except the feel of the road and scenery before us.

When we lived in our big suburban home, our Saturday morning ritual of working in the yard gave us the chance to forget all our problems and just experience the simple pleasure of getting dirt under our fingernails.

While mindlessness leads to a relaxation of our thinking, one of the findings of researchers is that mindlessness may open creative ideas in our mind. Without the sharp focus on nothingness that is a hallmark of mindfulness, mindlessness may open up new neural pathways to insights and creativity.

Now you know that I fully endorse a mindfulness practice for building resilience and I also want to reinforce to you that our mind is already doing things to help us build our capacity for being successful in the face of challenges, so go ahead and let your head wander.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2018

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Purpose or Happiness http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/purpose-or-happiness/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/purpose-or-happiness/#comments Wed, 10 Jan 2018 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3859 Read More]]> 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 important for us in the future?” had fewer physical symptoms and a higher quality of life than those patients in a comparison group that discussed “what we need from others” or “how to talk to our doctors.”

In this past year, my work in assisting STANDING FIRM, an organization that helps employer’s address the dangerous issues of partner violence and its impact in the workplace, was particularly meaningful. The team has grown the program to a high level of success but our long-term sustainability was not ensured. One of our major goals for this year was to find a permanent for the organization that would allow us to grow the program. Through the hard work of many people, we achieved our goal by merging with the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

We build our resilience by having a firm footing about who we are and what is important to us. If you’ve not had a chance to reflect on 2017 and to set your aspirations for 2018 its still not too late. As the author Robert Bryne reminds us, “The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2018

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“You Got This” http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/you-got-this/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/you-got-this/#comments Wed, 03 Jan 2018 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3855 Read More]]> 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 difficulty before jumping in with our first response, such as “go ahead and take a breath.”

Consider some phrases that you already use in the face of your everyday challenges and make sure that they are positive and direct you to getting job done. These kinds of phrases are a great skill to add to your 2018 actions that you want to take to make this a great year.

If you can’t come up with one of your own, feel free to borrow others like the one which is actually Kate’s favorite and is time tested….”Just Do It.”

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2018

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A New Year http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/a-new-year/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/a-new-year/#comments Wed, 27 Dec 2017 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3851 Read More]]> 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 improve on during this year?

It’s almost as if this week is made for reflection, yet we rarely stop and give ourselves the pleasure of seeing our good work and using it as a springboard for more good things.

Best wishes to you and your loved ones for a happy and healthy new year.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Big Turn http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-big-turn/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-big-turn/#comments Wed, 20 Dec 2017 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3848 Read More]]> 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 a treat we have only in the winter, as the sun is too high to reflect in the summer. We love the light and warmth that fills our house on these short winter days and provides a bit of hope against the bleak landscape of brown and gray.

This is a good time to enjoy simple pleasures like family who warm our hearts and we wish you the best for a blessed and fun-filled holiday season.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Go Ahead and Freak Out, It’s the Holidays http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/go-ahead-and-freak-out-its-the-holidays/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/go-ahead-and-freak-out-its-the-holidays/#comments Wed, 13 Dec 2017 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3844 Read More]]> 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 either see the situation as a threat or a challenge. If it’s a threat then we have to do everything we can to arm ourselves but if it becomes a challenge, then we’ll enjoy the situation in front of us.

It is your call about how you approach the holidays. If you like to freak out and feel overwhelmed, then go for it. After all, you can’t manage stress. If on the other hand, you prefer to enjoy the moments, even given the extra amount of energy it needs, then give yourself a few seconds after your first reaction to see how you really want to spend your holidays.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Make Meetings Exciting Again! http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/make-meetings-exciting-again/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/make-meetings-exciting-again/#comments Wed, 06 Dec 2017 13:00:47 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3838 Read More]]> resilience-header

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 is a lack of structure and agenda, the meetings are usually not relevant for all who are invited, the rules of engagement are not clearly set out, and that few actions or time frames are established

If you are leading meetings that are not working, here are some ideas to implement:

  1. Only invite people who need to be there and keep the number as low as possible.
  2. Shorten meeting time. There is nothing sacred about 60 minutes.
  3. Make sure there is an agenda with time frames that allow for a realistic completion of what needs to be covered in the meeting.
  4. Start and finish your meetings on time.
  5. Begin with something interesting such as a controversial issue to discuss for the first few minutes.
  6. Ask the question, “what do you need from this meeting today to make it successful for you?”
  7. Ban electronics. Keeping hand notes is fine.
  8. Designate one person as the recorder (alternate for different meetings) who can keep notes on their computer and then distribute to everyone.
  9. Formalize the notes with follow-ups and dates. Indicate that you expect designated people with tasks to report into the group on assigned dates and not that they will be asked for updates.
  10. Close with a summary of what’s been accomplished and expected as well as an appreciation for everyone’s participation.

Remember that energy management is key to maintaining resilience. Effective meetings should create energy, not take energy.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Being Excellent http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/being-excellent/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/being-excellent/#comments Tue, 28 Nov 2017 21:14:00 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3835 Read More]]> resilience-header

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 mutually exclusive. Excellence is excellence and the more we demonstrate the effort and concentration associated with doing something well, the better we will be in all facets of our lives.

Additionally, the distraction achieved by engaging in play that is heartfelt and rewarding, the easier it is to return to more challenging activities that require greater concentration and effort.

Whether it is video games, walking your dog, playing squash or cooking, approaching your hobbies full out and with a mindset of engagement and excellence will yield worthy results. Excellence is not a skill, it is a way of thinking.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Art of Thanksgiving http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-art-of-thanksgiving/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-art-of-thanksgiving/#comments Wed, 22 Nov 2017 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3831 Read More]]> 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 for our blessings and on this special day it could be fun to make it an Artful event for you and your family.

Here are some ideas to try out to make your celebration artful that Sheila shared with me:

  • Enlist others to exercise their creativity in the Art of Cooking, the Art of Flower Arranging, or the Art of Table Setting or maybe even The Art of Football Watching.
  • Structure a time when people take their turn at the Art of Story Telling, remembering something that they are especially grateful since last year.
  • Engage the Art of your Forbearers by including ancestral recipes, new versions of old favorites, and something totally unfamiliar but for which you know your (great) grandmother would have enjoyed. Honor them by mentioning their names and encouraging others to tell their favorite stories.
  • Invite some friends to your table and include them, gracing them with the gift of your traditions and family love.
  • Remember to take a few moments to reflect on the Art of Appreciation for the love and beauty in your life.

Thank you for being blessings in my life and Happy Thanksgiving.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Little Secret That No One Wants to Admit http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-little-secret-that-no-one-wants-to-admit/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-little-secret-that-no-one-wants-to-admit/#comments Wed, 15 Nov 2017 13:00:32 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3827 Read More]]> 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 a TV interview where I was discussing The Resilience Advantage on my LinkedIn Page. When I checked back on my analytics a few days later that saw that I had close to 4000 views including large number of folks from Australia who connected with me through a fellow consultant. I was pretty excited and it got me thinking about how I could do more of that.

Of course, that kind of initiative is not on my 2017 work plan and while I may choose to build it into 2018, that would mean that something else would have to drop off or I’d have to put in a few more hours per week to go media.

We make choices every day about how we spend our time and in my resilience model I suggest that we focus on our energy management instead of time management. Finding the right connection between our wanting to be connected to the larger world and our smaller world at the same time may not mitigate the speed at which we feel we are moving, but it will certainly allow us to create a mindset that makes our decisions more honest.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Enjoying the Ride http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/enjoying-the-ride/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/enjoying-the-ride/#comments Wed, 08 Nov 2017 13:51:56 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3823 Read More]]> I did a workshop a few weeks ago on resilience and we discussed the 4 key ways that resilience can improve your workplace:

  1. Improving personal resilience and how you address stress.
  2. How the team manages workplace overload?
  3. How the organization addresses change in the workplace?
  4. How successes and failures are addressed?

This team wanted to discuss workplace overload which they all agreed they were experiencing. What was interesting about this group was that they stated that while everyone in the room felt overwhelmed, they were also excited about the work they were doing.

We talked about some early resilience research around the “3Cs” that suggests that employees who (1) have a sense of control in the work, (2) are challenged by what they are doing and (3) have a sense of commitment to the mission

builds a storehouse of resilience with which they can endure and even thrive in the face of workplace challenges.

As we explored these areas, they agree that their manager allows them to find their own path in getting their work done and that fuels much of their passion about their work.

Most articles about workplace overload suggest things like delegating, saying “no” to others and strategies to be more efficient as some of the remedies. For sure if you’re workload is causing problems with your health, family time, or your workplace productivity then you will want to do something about it. However, if all is going okay and you are enjoying what you do, you can let go of that anxiety and enjoy the ride.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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STANDING FIRM http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/standing-firm-2/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/standing-firm-2/#comments Wed, 01 Nov 2017 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3814 Read More]]> Later today, I’ll have the honor of introducing Bruce Kraus, the City of Pittsburgh Council President as the recipient of the 2017 STANDING FIRM Champion award.

It was just a year ago that I received that honor for my work on behalf of STANDING FIRM, a non-profit organization that works with busineses to addresses the issue of partner violence and it’s impact in the workplace.

Twenty-five percent of all the violence in the workplace stems from a domestic or partner violence situation. These events not only impact the victim of the violence being perpetrated but also co-workers who are concerned about the victim as well as the danger that is in place when a perpetrator may show up on-site and create a danger for all employees.

In recent weeks, we’ve read about the power of the #metoo campaign and the courageous women who are standing up against sexual harassment. This all seems like a watershed moment, not only because the male accusers are recognizing they can’t get away with this anymore but because these intrepid women are also committed to #nomore.

There is much work to be done in protecting the safety and dignity of all people and in our little world of addressing partner violence in the workplace, we’ll be celebrating the wisdom of over 350 employers who have signed on with STANDING FIRM.

I would urge you, regardless of where you live, to check out STANDING FIRM to support our mission and to help create a safe and dignified workplace.

Prevention is the best resilience.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Are You Living Your Name? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/are-you-living-your-name/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/are-you-living-your-name/#comments Wed, 25 Oct 2017 12:00:46 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3810 Read More]]> When we picked out our new puppy a couple of years ago, we started searching for a name. As we researched, we came across Cody, which means “helper.” We both though that we could always use an assistant in our lives so our little white bundle became Cody. He’s been a pretty good at it and brings smiles to our faces.

It got me thinking about my name, what it means and whether I am living the value that my parents ascribed to me.

The name Richard refers to a leader who is courageous in his actions. I mentioned to a friend that while I’d like to think of myself as courageous, I’m not really sure that I can ascribe that quality to myself. She responded that courage is not something that one judges in themselves but is derived from what others see in you and she deemed me as courageous.

I’ll take that compliment.

About 30-50% of our resilience is built into us and while some of it is genetic, a large part is based on our experiences and what we believe about ourselves. Our names represent the vision that our parents had for us when all was good and amazing but I suspect that in the excitement of the moment, the meaning of our names was not one of the criterion considered. So it is up to us to live our name and to contribute our gifts to the world. #liveyourname

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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This Week’s Resilient Learning…For Me http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/this-weeks-resilient-learning-for-me/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/this-weeks-resilient-learning-for-me/#comments Wed, 18 Oct 2017 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3807 Read More]]> I conducted a new program this week for a group of professionals. Afterwards I gave myself a solid “B.” Not bad but not great.

On the plus side, the program immediately engaged the audience through some good story telling, some small group participation activities, and some large group sharing. Everybody, including me, was having a good time.

As I started to drill down into my content, I began to realize that I was succumbing to one of my greatest speaking faults…trying to give people too much information in too short period of time.

I was intentional about my outline for the program but as I proceeded towards the end, I realized I had erred in my approach, but after sitting down and detailing where I had gone wrong, I realized that I had taken a bit of a risk in how I approached the program and that I had been wrong. “Ok, no big deal, so some of these folks probably didn’t feel like they got from the program what they were looking for, but hopefully they received some tidbit that helped them in their role,” I told myself.

Learning from my mistakes, I redid my outline (as I think this is still a great topic to speak on) and I am preparing to share these ideas with other some client companies in the next several weeks.

Most of our errors are not life critical but we often critical of ourselves over seemingly small matters. Being resilient means recognizing them, owning them, understanding the errors, making corrections, and then moving on. As one my teachers, Cynthia Winton-Henry says about performance, Get On, Get Off, Get Over It.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Root Causes of Success http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-root-causes-of-success/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-root-causes-of-success/#comments Wed, 11 Oct 2017 12:50:30 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3803 Read More]]> After the Viet Nam war, the children of that country’s poorer regions were suffering from malnutrition, a lack of clean water, and little health care. In a project undertaken by the Save the Children Foundation and discussed in the book, “Surfing the Edge of Chaos” Monique and Jerry Sternin moved to Hanoi to understand how this problem could be remedied.

Their approach was to study families of both healthy and sick children. However, they did a root cause analysis of why some children were well nourished and discerned that those families supplemented the primary rice diet with freely available fresh water seafood along with vitamin rich vegetables. They also fed their children more frequently than the undernourished children. They called their process “positive deviance” in that they looked at what worked and why. They disseminated their findings across the country and within 6 months of their study, over 2/3 of all children in Viet Nam were on the path to a healthy upbringing.

In challenging situations we get stressed and tend to focus on what is not working. A new leader comes in and we expect 90-day miracles without seeing the excitement that is permeating through the organization. A customer who always complains about something or other finally decides to leave your business and while some people are unhappy most are celebrating. Your business has a successful year but fails to meet “stretch goals” and so team members are punished.

We build resilience and success by focusing on what is working rather than what is not working and by understanding our successes, we find a path to repeat them.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Creating Your Own Happiness http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/creating-your-own-happiness/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/creating-your-own-happiness/#comments Tue, 03 Oct 2017 20:44:38 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3799 Read More]]> Later this week, I’ll be meeting, along with a small group of fellow consultants, with Dan Gilbert, a Harvard psychology professor who has written extensively about happiness. You may know Dan from the Prudential Insurance commercials on TV where he talks about planning for retirement.

Gilbert’s early research was in the area of synthetic happiness. His research suggests that “Natural happiness is what we get when we get what we wanted, and synthetic happiness is what we make when we don’t get what we wanted”.

You’ve heard people describe their own synthetic happiness when they’ve had some kind of setback but then report being happier then ever. Pete Best, who was the original drummer for the Beatles, was replaced when Paul and John decided they wanted Ringo to join the Band. When the Beatles became successful, Best went into a deep depression that even included a suicide attempt. He want on to form his own band and when asked 25 years later about this lost opportunity said that he’d never happier in his life and that he didn’t think he’d feel that good, even if he had been a Beatle.

Gilbert’s work emphasizes that natural happiness comes from external events and that synthetic happiness comes from our internal mindset. My dad had a unique ability to believe that everything he possessed was the best in the world, especially me. He just told himself that it was the truth and that helped him to find his own form of happiness. I think we should all find some more of it.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Unrelenting Season of Catastrophes http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-unrelenting-season-of-catastrophes/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-unrelenting-season-of-catastrophes/#comments Wed, 27 Sep 2017 12:00:13 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3795 Read More]]> A few weeks ago we heralded the Helpers of Houston and pointed out how helpers benefit from assisting those in crisis through the release of the stress hormones that bring a sense of connection and reduces the body’s anti-inflammatory response helping to bring a sense of semblance to even the most difficult situation.

Since then, the crises have continued in Florida and just this past week across Puerto Rico. First responders and neighbors are pitching in and doing everything they can to get their communities back up and running. My friend, Jon Brillman, a neurologist in Fort Meyers stayed behind during Irma and among his other work helped move patient beds away from windows during the hurricane.

For those of us who are not nearby, opening our wallets seems like the next best thing. I was recently talking with a non-profit CEO who told me that everyone seems ready to line up to give to “catastrophic giving” when these kinds of crises occur but “sustainable giving” is much more challenging. Her agency serves tens of thousands of adolescents in need of adoption, behavioral health, and educational services but charitable giving is a bit more challenging since they lack the big news worthy event that catches everyone’s eyes.

Making 1-1 connections is a powerful way to give. Pope Francis recently told us that we could give money to panhandlers “without worry” He pointed out that we all have your own “panhandler policy” whether it is walking on or dropping a loose coin in their container. The Pope suggested that it is always good to give and that you should make that human connection by looking the person in the eye and touching his or her hand. That small extra effort is what makes the giving dignified for both parties.

It has been a challenging season and those in need. They need us and we need them.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Back to School…for Everyone http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/back-to-school-for-everyone/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/back-to-school-for-everyone/#comments Wed, 20 Sep 2017 12:00:35 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3791 Read More]]> I pulled a colorful leaf off of one my neighborhood trees and have it by my computer to remind me of the changing season. As if the fall colors aren’t enough, the early arriving school buses welcoming yawning students is a fail proof assurance that summer is over and we’re off to a new school year.

Like January 1, I like to use this back to school month to reflect on my accomplishments and consider what I want to push through to the end of the year. I’m working on a new book with my colleague Michael Couch on Leadership Development. I’m also preparing for several speeches and conferences where I’ll be talking on resilience and other topics.

Of course, I’m always on the lookout for fresh information and that will happen when I attend my fifth “Thought Leadership Conference” in Palm Beach where a small group of global consultants, along with my coach, Alan Weiss will meet with Dan Gilbert from Harvard who will be discussing his work on happiness while helping the rest of us consider how we can be stronger thought leaders.

At one of the previous conferences, the author Dan Pink shared with us how he puts post it notes up in his office when working on his next book. One day his daughter came up to his room while he was looking at his wall and asked “Daddy, what are you doing?” He told her he was working by thinking about how he could integrate all his information into a cogent understanding. His daughter stridently responded, “Working! You’re just sitting at your desk staring at the wall.” “Honey” he told her, “thinking is what my work is all about and if we all took more time to do it, we would actually get more done.”

Taking time for ourselves sometimes seems like a lost art in our hectic world. Give yourself that gift this week to slow down and consider how things are going and what you can do to make them amazing.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Be Quick But Don’t Hurry http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/be-quick-but-dont-hurry/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/be-quick-but-dont-hurry/#comments Wed, 13 Sep 2017 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3787 Read More]]> John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach for UCLA would begin each of his training camps instilling this (and other messages) into the minds of his young players.

He must have been doing something right as the UCLA Bruins of the 1960s and 70 won 10 NCAA basketball championships and an amazing 7 in a row!

We are generally familiar with the idea of moving quickly. We see an emergency or an issue that needs resolving and we want to take action to make it better. This sense of urgency, that is a natural bias, works well and is an action of our reactive brain.

Practicing “not hurrying” puts a mindful moment between our perceptions and actions and gives us an extra few seconds to survey the situation so that we can take the best actions to resolve the problem. A good word to describe this skill is probably “deliberate.”

Building this capability means you can see the big picture. A quarterback, surveys the field before hiking the ball. A successful leader thinks about the mood of his team before he enters a meeting and a parent considers what actions he or she will take when challenged by an acting-out child.

Coach Wooden believed that how we think makes all the difference in how we perform. Taking that extra moment to consider options is a small step towards resilient success.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Resilience Of Helping http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-resilience-of-helping/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-resilience-of-helping/#comments Wed, 06 Sep 2017 12:00:46 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3783 Read More]]> While our hearts go out to the victims of Harvey, we’ve heard story after story about the people who reached out to help those in need.

Alison Regan and her family, who found themselves on dry ground in a Houston suburb, know they needed to help and took out their inflatable kayak and found 15 elderly couples who were surrounded by water in their homes. One of the people has a severe heart condition and they wound up steering the kayak right into his home to get him on board!

While its amazing to see how many people reached out to help, resilience research suggests that it was not all about doing good for others, but also doing good for themselves.

We know that in times of stress, our bodies emit all kinds of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. One of the other stress hormones that is released in times of crises is oxytocin. Known as the “cuddle hormone” because it promotes affiliation, oxytocin helps us recognize that when times are tough we need to reach out to others and help as well as seek support.

The cool thing about this resilience hormone is that it helps us be healthier by serving as a natural anti-inflammatory that keeps our blood vessels and entire cardiac system relaxed.

Taking some time today to help the people of Houston with a donation to the Houston Food Bank, the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund which gives 100% of raised money directly to victims of the Hurricane or even Houston Texan football player JJ Watts‘ crowd funding campaign that started off with a goal of $100,000 and now is targeting $20 million will go a long way to helping them and you to recover from this tragedy faster and healthier.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Who’s Training Whom? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/whos-training-whom/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/whos-training-whom/#comments Wed, 30 Aug 2017 12:00:35 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3779 Read More]]> Our little pup, Cody is just over two years old, is a barrel of fun.

Training him however…not so much.

One of my biggest issues with him is his barking at the TV. When he sees anything with more than two legs, he goes into his high stress reaction, jumping and barking at the perpetrator, whoever that might be.

I’ve read articles about stopping this behavior, tried Cesar Milan strategies, and even discussed with my dog consultants (vet, groomer, trainer and sitter) but so far, no luck.

It came to me this past weekend that, of course, I am the problem. When Cody gets agitated, so do I and I jump up from my comfortable position in front of the TV, get between him and the screen and give a verbal “no.” Of course that stops him for the moment but then he goes right back to it when I step away.

This weekend I decided to try some of my own resilience strategies (duh.)

Recognizing that I can’t keep his stress from happening, I am now allowing him to jump at the TV and instead of my reacting in a similar manner, I am just putting the TV on “pause” and waiting until he calms down and then rewarding him with a treat.

I recognize that this strategy may take some time and may not even work but the important lesson for me is that I am trying something different from what has not being working.

Now, I just hope Cody understands about his changing too. After all, dogs are suppose to be more resilient than us.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Breathless Man http://www.citrinconsulting.com/stress/the-breathless-man/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/stress/the-breathless-man/#comments Wed, 23 Aug 2017 12:00:26 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3773 Read More]]> I had a second meeting with a new senior leader this past week and as we sat and talked about coaching objectives, one of which was his wanting to be more comfortable when public speaking, that I noticed something interesting about him.

He wasn’t breathing very well.

It wasn’t as if he had some respiratory disorder but rather his breaths were rather shallow and his speech was somewhat halting as if he didn’t seem able to get enough air in to complete his sentences.

just-breathe

As we had just met, I didn’t want to be too intrusive but my job is to find ways to improve his conditions so I respectfully told him about my observation. He smiled and chuckled and commented that I was quite observant. His firm had sent him to a speaking coach who told him he wasn’t taking full breaths and that was inhibiting being an effective speaker.

He told me he understood the problem and that his nervousness caused him to not breathe fully and that his speaking coach’s ideas obviously weren’t fully working.

I suggested to him that there were two steps we could take to remedy this situation. The first is my that definition of non-clinical anxiety is “excitement without oxygen.” If we don’t breathe fully, our bodies get anxious but if we can reframe that anxiety into adventure and excitement, we can change our mindset. He liked that.

The second step was to introduce him to “upside down breathing” which focuses not on the inhalation but on the exhalation. We practiced this form of breathing for a few minutes and while he wasn’t able to catch his full breath it was better than before.

We had our first homework assignment…Breathe. It’s a great start to his becoming a resilient speaker.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Power of Mindset http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-power-of-mindset/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-power-of-mindset/#comments Wed, 16 Aug 2017 12:00:07 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3769 Read More]]> resilience-header

One of the questions I often hear about my resilience work is whether I really believe that “having a positive attitude is all it takes to overcome life’s difficulties?”

Uh, no…I don’t…

However having the right attitude is an important factor in how we recover and grow from adversity. Even more specifically, the power of our mindset is a key element in everything from happiness to longevity.

A research study recently conducted at Stanford indicated that people who think they are less active than others in their own age group die younger than those who believe they are more active, even if their activity levels are essentially similar.

The researchers retrospectively studied survey results from 60,000 US adults completed over 20 years ago and reviewed the mindset question about whether they thought they were more or less physically active than their age peers. They discovered that the people who believed they were less active than others were 71% more likely to die in a follow-up period than their age peers.

Adding positive mindset to our fitness routine can take on small acknowledgements such as recognizing the gains from walking stairs or taking a mid-day stroll. Expanding out mindset to appreciate how well we are approaching a problem at work or how much our sons and daughters relish our being at their sporting event adds time and joy to your lives.

Our mind is a powerful tool and when working in concert with our bodies instead of opposition to our bodies creates energy and success.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Stress Vaccine http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-stress-vaccine/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-stress-vaccine/#comments Wed, 09 Aug 2017 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3766 Read More]]> resilience-header

Inoculating yourself against stress is less painful than getting a shot in the arm and works just as effectively.

Vaccinations are intended to challenge the body by injecting a small amount of the disease your are trying to avoid into your body and having the body respond to it by building antibodies to those viruses.

Stress inoculation works by putting yourself into small and meaningful stressful situations so that you become more comfortable and ready to deal with the stress when it is for real. Want to get over the nervousness of presenting to your senior leaders, go ahead and rehearse your presentation in the Board Room with your boss. Starting a new job and concerned about not knowing anything about your colleagues? Check out their LinkedIn profile so that you can jump into the conversation armed with information.

According to research done by Donald Meichenbaum, there are three phases to become stress inoculated. The first is to educate yourself about the situation so that you know all you need to know about what might happen. Next, is the skill acquisition phase where you practice the behaviors necessary to help keep the stress down and your success chances up. Third is the “go for it” phase where you put your learnings into play.

And if it all doesn’t work out perfectly, you are still learning from your efforts, which mean you’ll do better later. That is the essence of resilience…to continue to bounce forward and learn more about how you create more success.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Lets Fika http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/lets-fika/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/lets-fika/#comments Wed, 02 Aug 2017 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3762 Read More]]> resilience-header

On our trip to Sweden this past month, we came across the concept of Fika, which is considered something of a social institution in that Scandinavian country. Americans might think of it as a coffee break but it is much more to the Swedes.

In a country that is considered to have a low stress level and high productivity level, some experts suggest that Fika may be part of that equation. The Fika (it is both a noun and verb) is not about multi-tasking while slurping down your cappuccino, but is instead a time to pause, reflect, and enjoy the moment with colleagues and friends. Usually paired with some tasty pastry, the Fika becomes something of a special but regular moment during the workday. In fact, it’s not unusual for senior leaders to join in to Fika with their employees.

Explanations for why Fika contributes to workplace effectiveness is that by taking an intense focus off of work for even a few minutes employees are provided an opportunity to reboot their attention to the tasks at hand. Additionally, of course, the collegiality and social informality allows people to get to know each other on a personal basis making work projects more effective. Its hard to not play well in the sandbox when you know about people’s lives.

Just imagine how much your colleagues will appreciate your bringing some fresh and tasty pastry’s, along with a hot cup of coffee into their workspace and asking them to Fika with you. Just think about how that little moment of time will bond you with your colleagues forever…and that is the stuff of resilience.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Luck of the Nobel Laureates http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-luck-of-the-nobel-laureates/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-luck-of-the-nobel-laureates/#comments Wed, 26 Jul 2017 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3759 Read More]]> resilience-header

While on holiday in Stockholm, we visited the Nobel Museum just off the main street in the Old District of town.

It is a small museum filled with stories and artifacts from the greatest minds of the past 111 years. In one room ran a constant stream of videos from different Nobel winners describing their work and their award.

While there were many similarities to what many of them said such as having a visionary ideal, or being dedicated and focused, there was one that particular quality that stood out for me.

James Watson and Francis Crick, who discovered the arrangement of DNA, our basic biological structure, described the certainty they felt about how luck played a critical role in their work. Crick, a British researcher decided he needed to change his field of study from physics to molecular biology (a change that he said was a chance decision to be more “adventurous.”) The researchers went on to describe how the luck of finding each other and their complimentary styles led to a logical path of discovery. In summarizing their good luck, they both believed that their timing was perfect. The field was evolving quickly and new techniques set the stage for discovering the double helix.

We oftentimes don’t understand why good or bad things seem to happen. I’ve always believed that there are more powerful forces in the universe operating in our lives than our best efforts alone. Building a path to resilience means respecting and honoring these forces without giving them all the credit or blame.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Art of Relaxation http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-art-of-relaxation/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-art-of-relaxation/#comments Wed, 19 Jul 2017 12:00:30 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3755 Read More]]> resilience-header

We’re on our summer holiday that includes a weeklong cruise along the Norwegian Fjords. Our first day, which was a “sea day” meant that we would be going from port to port without any stops and the only activities to engage in were those on the ship.

For me, that meant a day of ease.

I knew I was in the right place when the notice to hang on the door didn’t say “Do Not Disturb” but instead stated “Still Relaxing.”

For almost all of us, relaxation is a lost art. Our busy lives consume every waking hour which often means collapsing into bed, which is our body’s primary rest and recuperation period and a key to our resilience.. It usually takes getting away from everything to help us slow down and let go of whatever we are usually thinking of doing. There are some definite actions I’m committing to this week:

  • I have limited access to the Internet so I’m not checking messages or emails but once a day.
  • I’ve been spending time meeting new people and even found some new friends from Pittsburgh. Rediscovering conversation for its own sake.
  • Taking some naps
  • Making a conscious commitment to not doing any work…except writing my Resilient Wednesday.

I like to tell myself, “rest is part of the journey.” I’m rediscovering that lost art form this week. Now, its time for a nap.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Ritual of Refirement http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-ritual-of-refirement/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-ritual-of-refirement/#comments Wed, 12 Jul 2017 12:00:47 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3752 Read More]]> resilience-header

I like to say that when we are resilient, we move through life with more grace and ease. One of the tools that help us achieve that quality is ritual and we use them to help us with everything from our morning habits to our mourning customs.

My friend Lynn retired from the University and is moving into a new work setting for herself. She asked for help in creating a ritual to solidify that transition and my wife and ritual expert, Sheila Collins prepared a ceremony that we would celebrate over the 4th of July weekend. Lynn invited friends and family, academic colleagues, and other members of her community over for a big barbeque.

In addition to great food and delicious drink we added storytelling and dancing that applauded her career. We lit a fire pit and created the prime ritual where each person took one of her University business cards, threw it into the fire and expressed a wish for her future success. As Lynn listened to each person’s best wishes for her new life, her expression showed that the memories of the past were being blessed along with the hopes for her future.

We called this her “Refirement Ceremony,” not her Retirement Ceremony.

When resilience helps us “bounce forward” and not just to bounce back, we are at our best. Rituals ease the transition from the old to new and when done well create velocity to move us quickly into our new life.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Challenge Vs. Hindrance Stressors: One is Good, One is Bad http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/challenge-vs-hindrance-stressors-one-is-good-one-is-bad/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/challenge-vs-hindrance-stressors-one-is-good-one-is-bad/#comments Wed, 05 Jul 2017 12:00:14 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3749 Read More]]> resilience-header

A friend of mine recently left her sales position with a Fortune 500 company after spending 15 years with them. When I asked her why she left, she told me it was all the stress she was under. I inquired further whether it was the challenge of dealing with customers, the difficulties of closing deals, or having to constantly learn about new products.

None of that, she told me. In fact, she loved that part of her work. The real problems were the shifting priorities, bureaucratic hassles, and her manager who wanted to micromanage her every step. Those issues just sucked all the energy out of her.

New research points out that there is a difference between how different kinds of workplace stressors build or hurt our resilience. “Challenge” stressors are those pressures that are seen as driving us to learn, grow and achieve. Hitting her sales targets, although challenging were exhilarating. “Hindrance” stressors are those kinds of difficulties that that slow down or impede our effectiveness at work. When her firm said that the amount spent on client lunches would be reduced, she rolled her eyes and paid out of pocket.

The data, reported from Macquarie University pointed out that challenge stressors actually build our resilience (what we call “Building Hardiness” in our resilience model) while the hindrance stressors damage resilience (which means people get discouraged and lose faith in their organization) even in a relatively short period of time.

Meaningfulness of our work is consistently considered one of the most important factors in workplace satisfaction. Great managers will want to keep the big picture perspective around how to grow star performers and protect all their staff from senseless business hassles.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Silver Bullet (Redux) http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-silver-bullet-redux/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-silver-bullet-redux/#comments Wed, 28 Jun 2017 12:00:41 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3746 Read More]]> resilience-header

On my flight home from 3 days with my coach Alan Weiss in beautiful Newport RI, I wound up sitting next to a woman who was a professor of nursing and an expert in health care policy.

She shared with me that her husband had taken a new position in Pittsburgh and they would be moving here soon. She was facing many of the challenges of relocation and I could hear the fatigue in her voice and the expression of frustration in her words.

I thought, she might like to hear some of my ideas on resilience so I told her about my book and we started discussing how she could transform her perceptions about the move from the stress column to the fun column by thinking of it in a different way. We talked about great areas of Pittsburgh to live in, new and trendy restaurants, the Airport’s success in bringing in expanded air service, and how getting her support systems in place will help her feel that Pittsburgh is home.

After talking for a while, she told me all that “sounded good, but it was easier said than done.”

As we deplaned, I mentioned to her that the research around resilience and stress shows that incremental change is the best way to go and that she might consider suggesting to her husband that they could think of this move as a great adventure. When we parted towards baggage claim, she thanked me for my ideas and told me that she was going to tell her husband to head downtown to one of those cool new eateries.

How we think about our challenges is the great silver bullet for building resilience and overcoming our daily stressors. It takes a while to get there, but taking a deep breath and doing it right now is a great way to start.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Don’t Hold Back http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/dont-hold-back/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/dont-hold-back/#comments Wed, 21 Jun 2017 12:00:11 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3742 Read More]]> resilience-header

Early in my corporate career, I would, on occasion, keep my thoughts to myself even when I believed my ideas would help advance the discussion and that my contributions would make a difference. I was fearful that my ideas would be rejected or that my comments would be seen as irrelevant or even stupid.

Fortunately, I had a great boss who valued my ideas and encouraged me to speak my mind at meetings. He told me that our firm needed everyone’s good ideas and I was wrong not to share mine with the group. He was right.

This behavior, in some instances, is based on wanting to reduce stress by avoiding the stigma of failure. As it attempts to mitigate stress, it may be effective in that regard but not speaking our minds to avoid creating personal stress is basically a misuse of resilience. Having a resilient mindset means that we are not afraid to risk failure because we know we recover easily and are better for taking the risk.

All of us have amazing and creative ideas to share with others. It took me awhile and the words of my manager to assure me that my contributions would make a difference in our firm’s success. Today I recognize that my coaching and consulting practice isn’t effective unless I am providing my full thoughts and ideas with clients.

We all have brilliance, please share yours.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Appreciation Partner http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/appreciation-partner/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/appreciation-partner/#comments Wed, 14 Jun 2017 13:32:02 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3739 Read More]]> resilience-header

I noticed my wife talking with her accountability partner, Christine the other morning. Sheila and Christine speak most mornings, checking in with each other about their accomplishments from yesterday and their objectives for today.

For some reason, I stopped and listened a bit more than I usually do that morning. I noticed that not only were they checking in about what they had accomplished but were also sharing appreciations and compliments about what they had achieved. “That sounds so exciting.” ” What great news that is!” ” I knew you would get that done,” were all uttered within the space of their short check in call.

Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina has shown that the ratio of positive comments to negative comments makes a significant difference in workplace productivity with a minimum of 3 affirming to one negative being a baseline number. In marital relationships, the ratio is closer to 5:1 which is reported for what it takes to have a healthy relationship with your partner.

Having an accountability partner is very much in vogue these days and having that support can be helpful to ensure work gets done. The forward thinking leaders using our house phone that morning had taken accountability to the next step. They were not only acknowledging the work done but were praiseful about it.

Consider taking some time this week find yourself an appreciation partner. You can begin by acknowledging someone’s good work and looking for the word that puts a smile on their face. Share your successes as well and see how the excitement sets you up for your next success.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Your Non-Priorities http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/your-non-priorities/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/your-non-priorities/#comments Wed, 07 Jun 2017 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3735 Read More]]> resilience-header

Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference is happening this week in the Bay Area. Over 5000 participants will hear about Apple’s newest products and software and they, in turn, will share their latest and greatest ideas for apps, better ways to build iTunes and how Apple should improve the Apple Watch.

In a similar vein, a Tweet came to my attention this past week about how the continued additions to mobile software is creating so much complexity for users without adding significantly greater value. No I didn’t know that I could download stickers to i-message that I could then send to my friends. Or that “Digital Touch” allows me to draw sketches or show my beating heart as another way to represent “I love you” (or perhaps that my trip to the emergency room went okay.)

Sure, these things are cool but how much time do we spend learning them and then trying them out to the point that the recipients of our SMS go ahead and think…”is that really necessary?” Time is a finite resource and when it is spent one way, that means it can’t be spent another way.

We all talk about our priorities but we rarely talk about our non-priorities or where we are determined not to spend our time. In our facilitation work, we always clarify with the group what our “non-purpose” for this meeting so that we don’t get bogged down on some issue that drains energy away from our primary task.

Remember that building resilience begins before we subject ourselves to challenging events. We can always say no to using emojis and haptic interactions which means we may have more time for thinking about what make our work valuable and adds to the success of our enterprises.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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A New Way of Thinking http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/a-new-way-of-thinking/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/a-new-way-of-thinking/#comments Wed, 31 May 2017 12:00:56 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3732 Read More]]> resilience-header

In 1949 Saab Motor Company changed the way automobile designers thought about cars. It was at that time that their engineers began to think about the safety from a “big picture perspective” and their Saab 92 was the first car built with a full body safety cage modeled after how airplanes were constructed.

For sure, safety was on engineer’s minds before and after then, but incremental improvements that included such items as padded dashboards, safety glass and head rests didn’t create a mindset of safety. American car companies got on board in 1966 after the US Department of Transportation was established with the mission of creating safer automobiles.

No one obviously thought about the importance of safety enough to escalate to a top priority although no one probably denied that we needed safer cars even back then. Hanging onto past ideas limits our thinking and runs the risk of our being laggards instead of innovators.

Thinking ahead is what helps us mitigate stress and create a more graceful and successful life and lifestyle.

Consider this activity for the next few minutes. What is a big picture perspective that is critical to success in your work? What are some actions that you can take that will move you closer to success and will minimize or eliminate some future stressor or frustration. Getting ahead of our challenges before they strike is another strategy in our resilience quiver.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Out of the Shadows http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/out-of-the-shadows/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/out-of-the-shadows/#comments Wed, 24 May 2017 12:00:49 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3725 Read More]]> may24-2017

A weekend trip to New York City had us staying at hotel within sight of the World Trade Center. A walk over to that hallowed grounds brought me for the third time face to face with the 9/11 Memorial Pools and our collective memory of that tragic day.

The modern day resilience movement began that evening. How have we done from a resilience perspective over these past 16 years?

From an economic point of view (we are staying in the financial district!) there is no doubt that the country has recovered. The stock market is at an all time high, the unemployment rate is at an all time low and technology and health care are leading us down new paths like autonomous vehicles and robotic surgery.

On other fronts, we are not doing so well. We are still in one of the longest wars in our history. Our country is sharply divided politically with people hating other’s ideas. The middle class is disappearing as the economic divide between rich and poor widens. Passengers are fighting with one another on planes.

If some wallets are fuller, our spirits may still be diminished.

Resilience is about bouncing forward and not just bouncing back. If only the sun reflecting off the windows of that new Freedom Tower could help illuminate our souls as well.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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How A Company Can Promote Resiliency http://www.citrinconsulting.com/podcast-series-absolute-citrin/how-a-company-can-promote-resiliency/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/podcast-series-absolute-citrin/how-a-company-can-promote-resiliency/#comments Thu, 18 May 2017 17:19:58 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3720 Continue reading ]]> Richard stresses how important communication is from the leaders in the organization. He shares a story of a company using the “open-book” model so that everyone was aware of how the business was or was not growing. Communication, listening, preparation, the use of back up systems for both systems as well as people, strengthening the technology you provide your employees, creating a challenging work environment, promoting shared value across your team/organization, commit your company to your community so you can realize changes and adapt to them and hiring resilient people, not just concentrating on technical skills.

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Elements That Make A Company Resilient http://www.citrinconsulting.com/podcast-series-absolute-citrin/elements-that-make-a-company-resilient/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/podcast-series-absolute-citrin/elements-that-make-a-company-resilient/#comments Thu, 18 May 2017 17:06:58 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3711 Richard explains that things like adaptability, being innovative, improvising, being involved with their employees and they use strategic visioning to understand what challenges are coming their way are all ways of being resilient.

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Overconfidence or Optimism? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/overconfidence-or-optimism/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/overconfidence-or-optimism/#comments Wed, 17 May 2017 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3706 Read More]]> resilience-header

An article in this past weekend’s Wall Street Journal pointed out that most recreational golfers are overconfident of their abilities. The research, based on studies of over 6 million tracked golf shots indicated that most of these players overestimate their ability (not me of course).

Specifically, the investigators found that if a golfer needs to hit a shot 150 yards to reach a green, he or she will select a club that requires them to hit the shot perfectly to achieve that objective. Unfortunately, the research shows that they will only achieve that goal 37% of the time. Most of the time their shot falls short. The study’s authors point out that this tendency is referred to as the “overconfidence bias” where individuals think more highly about their skills than the objective data indicates they possess.

Of course you don’t need a study to tell you about this phenomenon. Ask any golfer, basketball or softball player, dancer, or even a darts competitor. The joy in playing is having that one special moment when it all comes together to create the perfect experience. It may not happen that often but when it does, it is what keeps us coming back from our usual mediocre performances.

That bias is called the “optimism bias” which helps us to believe that we are less likely to experience failure than others. It’s the optimism bias that refuels us after a botched effort and is central to our resilience. Optimism plays an important role in resilience in that it keeps us coming back and looking for more of those perfect moments.

We all want to believe that the best is yet to come, even though the data does not always support it. Besides, I never want to hear Garrison Keillor say “…and all the children are below average.”

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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How Much Risk Can You Handle? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/how-much-risk-can-you-handle/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/how-much-risk-can-you-handle/#comments Wed, 10 May 2017 12:00:41 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3702 Read More]]> resilience-header

Managing risk is critical to business and personal success. We saw it in how Wells Fargo’s business practices resulted in fines and loss of customers. Fox News has seen its franchise diminish because it failed to consider the impact of not addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. Hospitals, insurers and providers are in a state of panic thinking about another major change in health care models.

Risk tolerance is not just for business, however. It is also for individuals.

Our ability to take risks is directly tied to resilience in that we may be fearful of taking on certain challenges or wanting to avoid danger because we are afraid that we may not be able to bounce back (or forward) from that event. As we’ve said before, resilience is hard-wired into us so we can almost always take on more risk than we think.

Here are 3 things to keep in mind as you evaluate your risk tolerance:

  1. Know your big picture. In business it will be your company’s strategy. In life, it’s about whether your life goals are about getting your kids educated or traveling to new places.
  2. Check your experience of dealing with risky issues. Consider how you’ve handled difficult situations in the past. If you are energized by challenges, you may have a higher risk tolerance than if you choose a path that is more travelled.
  3. Create some scenarios that let you play out how different choices will lead to different outcomes. Our negativity bias usually leads us to conclude the worst outcome. Make sure you target best outcomes and go for them.

Understanding the role that risk management plays in our lives helps mitigate stress and strengthens resilience by showing us what we can handle and where we can take on more challenges. Don’t be afraid to leap, but do go ahead and look.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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A Veteran Tale http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/a-veteran-tale/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/a-veteran-tale/#comments Wed, 03 May 2017 12:52:07 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3692 Read More]]> This past weekend I had to the opportunity to co-facilitate a workshop for the 4th Community Leadership Course for Veterans, which is a program of Leadership Pittsburgh. This experience provides a group of post 9/11 veterans, from every branch of military services, the opportunity to participate in a six-month course that helps them become engaged community leaders.

One of their activities was a low rope course in which they work as a team to climb a big wall, balance their entire team on a big octagonal teeter-totter, and navigate their way across 3 stations and over an “alligator pit.” After each exercise, we had a chance to debrief and discuss their individual and team learnings.

Putting aside their physical capacity (these are all veterans!) it was amazing to see how their actions reflected a resilient mindset.

For example at the wall climb they chose the high wall over the low wall. When they approached the teeter-totter, they were planful about how they tackled it and engaged the engineer in the group so they had a plan and better chance of success.

As all teams do in these exercises, it took a number of failures before they reached success and with each passing failure, they studied what they did wrong and what they could do right. While they may have missed a few resilience strategies such as celebrating victories and seeking consensus, they caught on soon enough which then led to accomplishing the next goal more effectively and efficiently.

For sure, these young vets will make great community leaders and provide a solid future for our community and themselves. They know about adversity and how to grow from it.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Build It In, Don’t Bolt It On http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/build-it-in-dont-bolt-it-on/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/build-it-in-dont-bolt-it-on/#comments Wed, 26 Apr 2017 12:00:26 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3688 Read More]]> resilience-header

In the natural world, resilience occurs without forethought or planning. Forests recover from raging wildfires, beaches find a way to replenish their foundations after hurricanes and volcanic eruptions use spewed lava to create new land. Nature has a way of making triumphs out of tragedy.

Human resilience is a bit harder to recognize. Our flawed approach to addressing stress and challenges (which we call the “stress management model”) tells us that we can only try to cope with our stress since it is so much more than we can tolerate. Thus, we use words like “overwhelm”, “can’t take it” or “going nuts”, while the truth is that we mostly succeed at what we attempt because of our perseverance, hard work and innate smarts.

Changing our mindset to see that our resilience is built into us allows us to not be fearful as things get tough but to stick with it and let it play out in a natural way. This creates an amazing confidence that we can take on much more than we ever knew we were capable of achieving.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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She Did It Again http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/she-did-it-again/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/she-did-it-again/#comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 12:00:19 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3682 Read More]]> resilience-header

Katherine Switzer’s ninth run at the Boston Marathon was a lot easier than her first and much more celebrated.

I wrote about K.V. Switzer’s (the name she used to register for the race) in The Resilience Advantage. Her gritty first effort at that storied event 50 years ago, when women were not permitted to enter the Marathon, transformed long distance running. Her training that occurred during the cold New England winter of 1967 led to her quiet start where she hoped she would not be discovered.

At about the 11-mile mark, she was seen by the local media who immediately reported her presence on the streets of Boston. Race coordinator Jock Semple, determined to get her “out of my race” tried to pull the numbers (261) off her sweatshirt only to be tackled by Katherine’s boyfriend who was a college football player. Shaken but determined, she finished the race and proved that women could run 26 miles and beyond.

Katherine used her notoriety to form her own non-profit organization, “261 Fearless” that uses the power of running to help women connect and take charge of their own lives. Her efforts have created a global community of women runners.

It is never easy to break social mores. People thought that women could suffer irreversible damage if they ran in marathons. Katherine Switzer showed them that through her resilience and grit that women runners are empowered and embodied athletes.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Recharging http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/recharging/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/recharging/#comments Wed, 12 Apr 2017 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3678 Read More]]> resilience-header

I received lots of comments from last week’s RW regarding Time and Priorities. It seems that the idea that we beat ourselves up about not having “enough time,” resonated with many readers and that by reframing that message as a need to clarify our priorities, we usually serve ourselves better.

Another way to think about productivity is the evolving neuroscience research about work and rest. Studies tells us that our bodies and minds run in a 90-minute cycle from a state of alertness to fatigue regularly during our day. We usually power through low time with caffeine, sugar or our own stubbornness about not giving into our natural rhythms.

I discovered this phenomenon in graduate school when I recognized that I was able to get more writing done working in 3- 90-120 minute work sessions (with breaks in between) than I could if I just sat at my desk for 3 hours. With the latter approach, I would often wind up doodling time away as I had difficulty focusing on the work at hand. Today these extended sessions usually wind up on Facebook or Twitter.

In our resilience model this is our recovery phase that allows us to replenish the energy that is naturally spent during work. We can model renewal from our experiences at kindergarten where recess involved resting for a few minutes, going out into the playground to play or having a healthy snack. Recess only lasted a few minutes but recharged our energy so we could get back to being productive as a 5 year old (whatever that was!)

Like time, our energy is finite but unlike time, energy is renewable. Being mindful about how your energy flows during the day will help you keep more of it for yourself.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Time and Priorities http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/time-and-priorities/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/time-and-priorities/#comments Wed, 05 Apr 2017 12:00:32 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3662 Read More]]> resilience-header

I was facilitating a leadership workshop at a technology company this past week and the team got into a discussion about how they “do not have time” to meet with any other leaders in Pittsburgh’s increasingly impressive tech landscape. They agreed that from a strategic perspective it would benefit them to know more people at Google, Uber, and Carnegie Mellon but their work schedules prohibited such activities.

I reached a bit of a frustration point as I saw that several of them seem to beat up on themselves when they concluded that there must be something wrong if they couldn’t do everything that was on their plate (and potential plates).

As I discuss in The Resilience Advantage, time, like gravity, is a physical imperative that you don’t manage but instead are managed by it. I suggested that they may want to consider stop feeling bad about not having enough time and begin recognizing that their priorities, at this time, are not focused on building relationships with others and that that is perfectly fine. If individually or as a team they decide that this project idea rises in importance, then they could determine how to delegate or offload existing activities to make time for it.

Determining priorities and making time for ourselves is always challenging. Regardless, it is not necessary to consider ourselves ineffective because we aren’t able to do everything. How we actually spend our time is our determinant of prioritization and evaluating how we choose to do that is an exercise that is worth refining.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Challenges Build Resilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/challenges-build-resilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/challenges-build-resilience/#comments Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:46:34 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3659 Read More]]> resilience-header

In Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking Fast and Slow, he points out that our brain strives for the easiest path for a solution; thus we set up daily routines and habits that allow us to get things done efficiently. We have a morning practice that gets us out of bed, moves us quickly to take care of our hygiene and nutritional needs. We don’t spend a great deal of time planning our breakfast like we do our dinner.

While efficiency is good, it does not usually lead to person growth. To accomplish that, we must take on challenges that push us beyond our comfort level. Perhaps it is asking your boss to let you lead a meeting of her peers or maybe it’s signing up for a Zumba class at your fitness club that you’ve been thinking about. You may take a trip over to the local university to find out more about that advanced degree program.

When we push ourselves, we force our brain to create new neural pathways that provide new capabilities and confidence about conquering our world. I usually consider myself to be pretty lazy and will cite Kahneman’s work as proof that idleness has a place in the world, but then I often decide to stay on the treadmill for another 15 minutes.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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That Little Old Lady http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/that-little-old-lady/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/that-little-old-lady/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3649 Read More]]> resilience-header

Although it was an hour drive to get there by leaving at 7:15 I was assured of having plenty of time to catch up with my co-facilitator and review our notes before we met with our leadership cohort group at 9 AM. As I was tooling down the PA Turnpike, my phoned beeped at 7:45 to remind me that the workshop actually started at 8 AM.

In a bit of a panic I checked my agenda and sure enough the starting time was 8.

I could immediately feel my cortisol levels increase as I hit the accelerator increasing the speed of my car as if going another 10 mph would really get me there that much sooner. I texted my partner, Mike, and was now thinking about how I screwed up and left him in a bit of a lurch.

As I exited to Turnpike and got on the 2-lane road to my destination, a little old lady in front of me was ambling on at a speed well below the level that my mind was racing. I started talking to her to speed up but my pleas went unanswered.

It was about that time, when I took a deep breath, thought about how I was handling the situation and realized that the nice lady ahead of me had been sent my way to slow me down and help me arrive at the workshop a few minutes late but in a calmer and more relaxed manner.

Even if we don’t always navigate our stress gracefully at first, oftentimes a little reminder comes our way to help put things in perspective as they did with the slow moving driver ahead of me. Be on the lookout for those forces from somewhere else that help you remember that resilience is easier on your body than stress.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Resilients http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-resilients/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-resilients/#comments Wed, 15 Mar 2017 12:00:32 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3645 Read More]]> resilience-header

While it may sound like a women’s rock band, marketing strategist and resilience researcher, Chad Hinkle has coined the term “Resilients” to describe people who have overcome significant life challenges and as a result have, perhaps, rewired their brain to see the world in a different way.

I had the opportunity to talk to Chad this week about his study of hundreds of Resilients and noted how their success over adversity had granted them a unique sense of self awareness, emotional intelligence, agility and flexibility, and an understanding of how past events and potential future events have and can impact their lives.

In his work with companies, Chad finds that the Resilients bring a unique perspective to marketing conversations. Overcoming great personal challenges gives them a level of insight and perspective about what is cogent to the marketer’s needs that others may not see. It seems as if being resilient gives one another level of understanding about the world.

All of us are Resilients at one level or another. How have your life challenges changed you and what insights can you share with others? We’re planning a new podcast that will highlight ideas about how we all can build our resilience. Please let us know about your interest, we’d love to hear your story.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Teach Resilience These Four Ways http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/teach-resilience-these-four-ways/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/teach-resilience-these-four-ways/#comments Wed, 08 Mar 2017 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3642 Read More]]> resilience-header

Research tells us that about 1/3 of us are inherently and highly resilient. Those lucky folks have an inborn attitude that tells them that no adversity is too great to overcome. While the rest of us have some measure of that fortitude, we may have to do a bit more self-convincing that the world has not come to an end because we did (or did not) __________________(fill in the blank).

That is why we have to rely on our friends and colleagues to help us build our resilience. In the workplace managers fill the role of helping team members build mental toughness. Bosses can do this in 4 ways:

  1. Be a listener and let your team member fully describe what happened including their frustrations, fears and concerns.
  2. Engage in a conversation that honors what went wrong but doesn’t live there. Begin to move the discussion towards what went well by emphasizing the exact behaviors that were on target. Being specific is much more powerful than just saying, you did or did not do a good job.
  3. Parse out what was the responsibility of your colleague to improve and what were factors that were out of their control. Recognizing what is controllable and what is not controllable gives your team member a clearer view of what they can improve and what they have to learn from their experience.
  4. Set the stage for success by setting up an experience that will lead to a win. Accomplishments build on one another and incremental gains create a powerful momentum.

The tools of resilience are simple, the mindset is tough.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Out of the Blue http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/out-of-the-blue/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/out-of-the-blue/#comments Wed, 01 Mar 2017 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3638 Read More]]> resilience-header

I am honored to have a guest blogger this week. Author, speaker, performer and my wife, Sheila Collins had a unique resilience experience that she’s offered to share with this community.

People, especially health care professionals often comment on my unusual good health, for someone my age. My answer, “I do what I can do but I know we are healthy until we are not.” This mindset has helped me to never take for granted my good health, to keep up my exercising and eating programs and to appreciate the benefits being healthy.

But these past 16 days, my husband Richard and I have had the opportunity to actually live this truth.

A headache that began with what I thought was sinus congestion and intermittent shooting pains in my skull developed into head pains that moved from ears to teeth to eyes and jaw. Hot showers, cool compresses and Advil gave me intermittent relief enough to sleep and do some activities of daily living. But when the pain broke through it was excruciating. We visited the dentist, the pharmacist, the emergency care center, the ear doctor, (who ordered two MRIs) but still no answers.

The case got solved when a family member suggested we see a headache specialist and through some good fortune with a professional colleague and friend, we were able to secure an immediate appointment. The headache specialist had a hunch about the diagnosis and sent us directly to the ER where a thorough assessment led to an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Speed was of the essence as any possible delay in our taking action could have led to serious consequences like blindness.

As I know from facing other health challenges in family members, and as I wrote about it in my own book on resilience, “Warrior Mother,” the challenge doesn’t just happen to one person. Those who love and care for us experience a serious challenge too. “Having a network of social support to rely on” is how they talk about it in the resilience world. But I like the way the Beatle’s sing it, “We get by with a little help from our friends.” We definitely got by with a lot of help from our friends.

Check in with your peeps and make sure those bonds are strong.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Overcoming Overload http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/overcoming-overload/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/overcoming-overload/#comments Wed, 22 Feb 2017 13:35:14 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3635 Read More]]> resilience-header

I was visiting with a Division President this week who told me that he was concerned with the pace of work for his staff. His team had aggressive productivity targets dictated by their corporate office and they were scrambling, leading to disorganized meeting, long hours and late night texts. Folks were grumpy and not nearly as productive as they needed to be to get this work done effectively.

We discussed this being the classic definition of sensory arousal overload and that while it can be exciting, it is also exhausting. On the one hand we are ready for battle and on the other hand, we’re ready for a nap.

We talked about the resilience recovery strategy of perspective taking as being one path out of that wilderness. What often happens in these situations is that we are so overwhelmed by all that is in front of us that we lose perspective on the bigger picture.

We talked about his key strategic objectives and asked whether all their efforts were directed towards that goal. He soon realized that there were lots of tangential projects that they had taken on and which were draining resources away from his key objectives. Eliminating these distractions would be like sending in reinforcements to relieve his key players.

Keeping our eyes on the ball and not allowing diversions to drain our energy is a great way to keep our overload in control.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Check In Time http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/check-in-time/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/check-in-time/#comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3630 Read More]]> resilience-header

It’s been 45 days since the start of the New Year. How ya doing?

By this time of the year most folks have gotten caught up in the whirlwinds of their days and find it hard to step back and track how they doing in meeting those big goals they were talking about just 6 weeks ago!

We thought it would be easy to plan on going to the gym 4 times a week but it’s trickier when you don’t put that class into your schedule or sit down to talk with a trainer about your routine.

At the workplace, you planned to reach out to more clients and strengthen those connections, but you may not have put “Client Calling Time” into your Outlook calendar. Instead you used that time talk to some of your colleagues about how we need to make sure we are connecting to our clients. Yikes!

Remember that a key part of resilience is to be prepared before adversities come so that you mitigate any downside consequences. You may have been good at that planning part back yonder and now is the opportunity to make sure you follow through.

Build time into your day for reflection and mindfulness about your life and you may find yourself making ridiculous progress on those 2017 aspirations.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Don’t Inhale That Secondary Stress http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/dont-inhale-that-secondary-stress/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/dont-inhale-that-secondary-stress/#comments Wed, 08 Feb 2017 13:00:35 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3621 Read More]]> resilience-header

We know there is danger from being around tobacco users and secondary smoke is now a documented health hazard. How do the effects of secondary stress impact us in the workplace and in other settings?

Secondary stress is where we psychologically take on the challenges that other people face and somehow make them our own. The most common example of professionals would be health care providers who experience compassion fatigue, burnout, and other emotional experiences. However, anyone of us can experience secondary stress when a loved one gets ill, a co-worker screws up a project that impacts the rest of the team, or when we stand up because we see an injustice being put on others. We want to help but we don’t want to take on their pain.

Our resilience strategies can help us minimize secondary stress by using an old time medical approach. Inoculating ourselves against the possible effects of secondary stress help us build our hardiness and insure that our friends and colleagues are supported effectively. Some of those strategies include:

  1. Conduct an analysis of what could go wrong with a particular issue. We tend to focus on the idea the everything will somehow work out and while that is a good approach, recognizing the downside of possible situations, like how a new workplace project could fail, help us identify before hand what could go wrong.
  2. Act before the secondary stress becomes primary on you. You don’t want to wait until you are burnt out from other’s problems. You may notice that you are actually “browning out” where your fatigue is increased and sleep is interrupted. If that happens, take some action such as a day off with family, talking with a colleague, or escaping for a weekend of skiing.
  3. Take the high road. It’s easier to maintain a hopeful attitude when you have a mission greater than yourself at hand. Holding a belief about doing the right kind of work gives insulates us from the minutiae of others that drag us down.

It may be challenging to not inhale the secondary fumes of stress. It’s all around us and while we want to do good by others remember what they tell us on the plane, “put your oxygen mask on first.”

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Bending Reality http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/bending-reality/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/bending-reality/#comments Wed, 01 Feb 2017 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3617 Read More]]> resilience-header

Unlike the recent discussions about alternative facts, bending reality is about changing how the future plays out for us. Being more intentional about the way our days play out help us mitigate the challenges we face and create resiliency.

Steve Jobs was perhaps the greatest of our time in bending or reshaping reality. His visions about the iPod, iPhone and iPad accurately predicted what consumers would want and he would be dogged about sharing and convincing others that his reality was the right one; and he was usually right.

In one study researchers helped athletes deal with their performance anxiety by telling one group that their jitteriness actually helped performance while telling another group that their anxiety would hurt their performance. The athlete’s performance matched the message they received from the researchers.

To bend realities to your liking try out these three ideas:

  • Set an expectation for how you want an event to play out and visualize as much of it as possible especially your responses in different situations.
  • Strike a pose where you physically stand in a powerful position (consider Superman as an avatar) for a minute or so. Neuroscience research suggests that this physical action releases hormones that change our mind and behavior.
  • Tell others about how you are going about changing a situation or project at work. The power of commitment and consistency, (two influencing strategies) keep us focused and on track.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Work At Rest http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/work-at-rest/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/work-at-rest/#comments Wed, 25 Jan 2017 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3612 Read More]]> resilience-header

I had the pleasure of speaking to several attorneys the other day about the challenges facing those professionals who work in small groups or solo practice and how they can grow their business while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As with most small business owners, their major occupational hazard is the full consumption that is required of them to wear multiple hats from marketing director to service deliverer to billing coordinator.

We discussed their time pressures and I shared with them the idea that managing energy instead of trying to manage time is a more effective strategy to getting work done. After all, we can’t add any time to our day but we can replenish our energy allowing us to work more efficiently.

One direction to take in that arena is to turn to technology. Taking a mental break during your day could mean turning to a mindfulness app for a quick mental rest. Headspace is a popular app that’s helps build skills in taking a quick mental rest during the day.

Another approach to focusing your energy and concentration is to turn off the distractors that pull you away from getting things done. Stay Focused is a Google Chrome browser extension that limits the amount of time you spend surfing sites that take you away from getting your work done.

Most of us have lives like the attorneys I spoke with the other day. With an emphasis on building resilience through managing our energy, we take one big step towards doing more with less.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Five Kinds of Fitness http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-five-kinds-of-fitness/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-five-kinds-of-fitness/#comments Wed, 18 Jan 2017 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3602 Read More]]> resilience-header

I was laid out on my sofa last weekend and found myself drifting off for a little nap. In a bit of time I awoke and felt nicely refreshed. I thanked myself for that quick little workout and got on about my business.

Most of us think of workouts as going to the gym, getting on the treadmill, setting a 10 degree incline and finding the right pace to get our heart rate elevated. We might also work out with weights, take a Zumba class, and schedule ourselves in for a yoga session.

All these and a few others fit into the five categories of fitness that we want to shoot for to obtain an overall fitness level and which builds our physical and mental resilience. They are:

  1. Cardio—Getting our heart rate in order to strengthen our heart muscle.
  2. Strength—Building muscle strength and increasing overall energy.
  3. Endurance—Our capacity to sustain activity over a period of time.
  4. Flexibility and Body Awareness—Expressing a full range of movement and having an awareness of how our bodies move in space.
  5. Relaxation—Being able to turn all this off and allowing our mind and bodies to let go.

Fitness is an essential part of resilience and appreciating your efforts at all 5 of these provide a great balance to your routine. No need to feel guilty about that nap. You are building your resilience and fitness.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Extended Celebrations http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/extended-celebrations/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/extended-celebrations/#comments Wed, 11 Jan 2017 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3599 Read More]]> resilience-header

I’m a big one for extended celebrations and if I run into you anytime during the month of January, there is a good chance that I’ll be wishing you a Happy New Year.

I like extending New Year’s thinking out into the month so that it relieves the urgency to have to come up with “resolutions” around how I’ll do things differently this year and instead provides an opportunity to reflect on the year past and plan for all of 2017.

I like to start by asking myself some questions:

  • What brought me deep satisfaction and enjoyment this past year?
  • What challenges did I overcome and from which I grew stronger and what did I learn from them?
  • What would help me find another year of satisfaction and enjoyment for 2017 and what would be 2 or 3 actions that would help me put these steps into play?

One of my key actions for 2017 is to reach out to more friends and colleagues and reconnect with folks I haven’t seen for a bit. In my reflection I’ve recognized that some of my most enjoyable times last year was sharing time with others. So be on the lookout for a call and even if I don’t see you before February, Happy New Year!

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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The Silver Bullet http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-silver-bullet/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-silver-bullet/#comments Wed, 04 Jan 2017 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3595 Read More]]> resilience-header

We spent the New Year’s weekend at Esalen Institute, a retreat center located on the Big Sur coast in California, one of the most beautiful places in the world.

We attended a mindfulness and meditation workshop conducted by a Stanford professor and researcher who led us through a series of sitting and walking mindfulness exercises. Although I’ve meditated in the past, I was surprised at how easily I was able to sustain the practice of mindfulness during the elongated weekend sessions.

Between sessions, our teacher shared about the science of mindfulness and described how the calming effect of the exercises shifts our thinking from the automatic response of the stress reaction to one in which we can stop and consider how we want to deal with challenging situations.

People often ask me what is the most direct way to address stress and build resilience and the simple answer is to change the way we think and experience these events. The silver bullet is what they are looking for and developing a mindful life is the path to get there.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2017

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Happy New Year http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/happy-new-year/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/happy-new-year/#comments Tue, 27 Dec 2016 21:47:39 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3592 resilience-header

Best Wishes for A Happy and Healthy New Year!

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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A Winter’s Day http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/a-winters-day/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/a-winters-day/#comments Wed, 21 Dec 2016 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3587 Read More]]> resilience-header

The sun reached its nadir this morning at 5:44 AM EDT, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and began its 6-month march 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 most winter days. The sun low in the sky over Penn Hills and then the sun’s reflection on the River both brightens and warms our house. It’s a treat we only have in the winter, as the sun is too high to reflect in the summer. We love the light and warmth that fills our house on these short winter days and reminds us of simple pleasures.

This is a good time to enjoy simple pleasures and we wish you the best for a joyous holiday season.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Uh, Oh http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/uh-oh/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/uh-oh/#comments Wed, 14 Dec 2016 14:48:15 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3584 Read More]]> resilience-header

I’ve already made several mistakes by the time you’ve started reading this week’s memo. And there is a reasonable chance that I’ll have a failure sometime soon given my propensity to try out new ideas.

Mistakes and failures are inevitable and developing greater comfort and skills in managing failure is critical for success. I’ve just recently completed a corporate workshop for a new client that we called “Raising Phoenix” for its emphasis on helping the company’s business leaders address failures with their teams.

The greatest challenge to handling failures better is overcoming our tendency to look to blame someone or something as the reason why the failure occurred.

Culpability can be appropriate if we’ve been careless or disregarded procedures such as when we’ve opened up an email from an unknown source leading to a virus in our computer.

Other times however, we may make mistakes that are best credited to the complexity of the situation or unanticipated events that may make an error inevitable. Scheduling an “emergency” virtual meeting with a team around the globe will almost certainly run into technology or scheduling problems. Casting blame at that failure is wasted as anyone who’s ever tried that idea out, could have predicted that the odds of the meeting going amiss would be high.

Our first reaction to these kinds of experiences is to focus on the stress reaction of “fight” which almost always leads to “its not my fault but someone else’s.” Shifting our mindset to examine why and not who is another arrow in your resilience quiver.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Dad’s Birthday http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/dads-birthday/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/dads-birthday/#comments Wed, 07 Dec 2016 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3579 Read More]]> resilience-header

Today is Pearl Harbor Day, the 75th anniversary of that day that lives in infamy. It would also have been my father’s 101st birthday.

On that fateful day, my mother was preparing a birthday party for her fiancée. It wasn’t going to be a surprise party but there were lots of friends and family attending. The party turned out to be anything but a celebration and my dad’s enlistment happened a few weeks later. After training he was sent to Pearl Harbor, on a classified mission, assigned to the cryptography team responsible for tracking the Japanese military code.

While in Pearl Harbor, he regularly wrote letters to my mother. When she received the letters portions of them would be highly redacted.

My dad’s commanding officer called him into his office one day and asked, “Citrin, what’s your wife’s name?” When my dad told him her name was Pearl, the CO buried his face in his hands. Apparently the censors were snipping my mother’s name from wherever it showed up in the letters convinced that my father was trying to tell her where he was stationed.

Sometimes we try to get ahead of potentially dangerous situations by setting up procedures designed to mitigate problems before they happen…but that strategy can backfire unless we’ve done a careful job of making sure we’ve properly researched all the facts.

Happy Birthday, Dad

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Using Your Superpowers http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/using-your-superpowers/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/using-your-superpowers/#comments Wed, 30 Nov 2016 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3574 Read More]]> resilience-header

Our focus on resilience is not just about dealing with stress and challenges more effectively but ultimately creating more happiness and joy in our lives. Today, happiness is a highly researched area and there is no doubt a top 25 list of what we should do to be happy.

But perhaps it might be useful to consider a simpler approach to happiness.

While visiting family for Thanksgiving in Boston, we took time to check out the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. Like all the Presidential libraries, we gained a great perspective of the challenges JFK faced during his time in office and more importantly the values he sough to share to “create a more perfect union.”

One of Kennedy’s main themes was urging young people to engage in government, help others, and contribute to a better world. When speaking to a group of students about their future he told them that “The Greeks defined happiness as the full use of your powers along the lines of excellence…” and suggested that by applying their passions in their life, they would not only contribute more to the world but increase their own joy.

Sometimes we don’t have to look too far away to find what brings us a sense of satisfaction and delight. Go with what you do best and do it with zest.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Happy Thanksgiving http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/happy-thanksgiving/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/happy-thanksgiving/#comments Wed, 23 Nov 2016 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3571 resilient-blog

 

© Richard Citrin, 2016

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Crazy Thinking http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/crazy-thinking/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/crazy-thinking/#comments Wed, 16 Nov 2016 13:00:47 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3565 Read More]]> resilience-header

A few weeks a client told me about leaving a sensitive document related to compensation on a copy machine. He found the document back on his desk with a note from his manager telling him he had found it and wanted to see him first thing in the morning.

My client called me and told me he was “freaking out” about leaving this document on the copy machine and that he had made a terrible mistake. He kept imagining that everyone in the company knew of his blunder, he’d probably be fired on the spot, and maybe even sued by the people whose names and salaries were listed. I worked to settle him down and talked through the best way to approach the meeting with his boss.

The next morning, he followed up with his manager, listened carefully to what his boss had to say and took full responsibility for the error. The boss accepted his apology and plan for avoiding this problem in the future.

While my client was understandably concerned about his error, he exacerbated it by imagining the worst possible outcomes that might result from his mistake. That kind of thinking is called “catastrophizing” and represents what is known as a cognitive bias or cognitive distortion.

These distortions create behavioral inefficiencies when we are facing some kind of challenge and keep us from thinking in a more rationale manner. There are scores of these biases that include things like “jumping to conclusions,” “all or nothing thinking,” and “minimizing our successes.”

In some instances, imagining the worst possible consequences can be helpful in examining all possible outcomes, but more often than not it just creates anxiety and stress. The more we can become familiar with our own “crazy” thinking, the better we can help ourselves to find our resilience before we have to face our stress.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Helping Others Help http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/helping-others-help/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/helping-others-help/#comments Wed, 09 Nov 2016 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3561 Read More]]> resilience-header

In a highly shared op-ed in the New York Times last week, the Dalai Lama suggested that much of our anxiety and frustration as a culture and individually relates to our feeling that we are not making a great enough contribution to our fellow men and women. We all need to be needed and we are lacking that in our current cultural milieu.

He cites research that shows that older people who don’t feel they are giving back to society are 3 times more likely to die that those who do feel like they are benefiting others.

His suggestion on how to remedy this, however, is what makes his point so powerful. He and his co-author, Arthur Brooks, suggest that each of us can start off our day asking what we can do to “appreciate the gifts that others offer me.” Instead of thinking of what we can give, look for ways to help others share their gifts. By encouraging our friends and colleagues to express their greatest strengths, we are providing the gift of opportunity that then affirms their usefulness.

With the election ending, we all may want to run into our caves to have some time off to recover and recharge.

Fair enough.

Don’t stay there for too long, however. There is more work to be done to make our world safer and more compassionate and there are plenty of people out there who want to help.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Embracing Your Election Stress http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/embracing-your-election-stress/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/embracing-your-election-stress/#comments Wed, 02 Nov 2016 12:00:54 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3558 Read More]]> resilience-header

The American Psychological Association asked participants in their annual 2016 “Stress in America” survey about “election stress.” Over half of the respondents indicated that this election cycle caused significant stress This, of course, got the media into a frenzy with psychologists defining a new disorder now know as “Election Stress Disorder.” Along with the diagnosis, are tips on how to manage it like turning off your TV or not looking at your Twitter feed.

What hogwash!

While the APA frames this as stress, from a resilience perspective, your passion and excitement is really about your love of country and belief in what is right. It should more properly be called “Election Excitement Healthiness.”

If it didn’t matter to you so much, you wouldn’t be so affected. It’s appropriate to be enthusiastic about what you love!

Instead of trying to find ways to “manage” all this, why not consider embracing it and going with what you really want to do about the election. Some things might include:

  • Do some last minute “get out the vote” volunteering or make a contribution to your favorite candidates. You don’t want to wake up Wednesday morning wishing you had done more.
  • Go to your candidate’s local watch party and build on the energy. If things don’t work out, at least you’ll have friends to plot which country you are going to move to since you’ve already vowed to leave the USA if the other guy or gal wins.
  • Watch your favorite partisan 24/7 news channel broadcaster and cheer them on.
  • Reach out to a friend or family member on the other side and let them know that you understand and appreciate their passion. Be the reconciliation the country needs.

Remember that your passion is patriotism and that whatever happens, the country will endure. After all, the nation survived James Buchanan.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Standing Firm http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/standing-firm/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/standing-firm/#comments Wed, 26 Oct 2016 12:00:31 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3553 Read More]]> resilience-header

Today, along with 350 civic and business leaders in Pittsburgh I will be attending a luncheon for STANDING FIRM, a local non-profit organization whose mission is to alert employees to the financial, safety and human cost of partner violence and how it impacts the workplace.

Standing Firm promotes the business case that employers play a crucial role in protecting their employees and the workplace from violence that impacts both productivity and security.

I am being honored this day for my volunteer efforts with STANDING FIRM as their Champion for 2016 along with the Pittsburgh Pirates who have been named the Employer of the Year for their efforts to address this issue with their players and staff.

The issue of partner and domestic violence is like a cancer in our society. Despite our best efforts to stop it, we continue to see headlines about how rampant this disease in our culture persists.

By bringing the resources of community organizations and business together, STANDING FIRM is providing tools to help employers understand, take action and benefit both their team members and their bottom line.

I hope you’ll take a moment to check the STANDING FIRM website and to ask your employer or HR department to find out what they can do to create a safer and more productive worksite for all.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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The Resilient Entrepreneur http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-resilient-entrepreneur/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-resilient-entrepreneur/#comments Wed, 19 Oct 2016 12:00:02 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3548 Read More]]> resilience-header

I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. My mom and dad both built businesses from the ground up and my brothers both founded and built successful businesses during their careers.

My first foray was as a teenaged peanut vendor at NY Jets football games. I wasn’t old enough to sell beer so I never made much money. One particularly bad day, my boss told me that if I didn’t do better at the next game I should forget about coming back.

On my way home, I thought about what I could do sell more peanuts. I decided that my best strategy would be to hang around the guy who was selling lots of product to fans.

I came back the next week, got ahead of the beer guy and screamed “beer and nuts.” When folks would ask me where the beer guy was, I’d tell them “he’s right behind me, how many bags of nuts do you want?” My plan worked and when the beer guy figured out what I was doing, he liked it so much that he thought we should team up. That was the start of a beautiful autumn relationship.

Entrepreneurship depends on coming up with new and creative ideas. Sometime you throw a touchdown and sometimes you drop the pass. Being resilient is like the old Japanese proverb. “Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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The Samsung Debacle http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-samsung-debacle/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-samsung-debacle/#comments Wed, 12 Oct 2016 12:00:40 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3543 Read More]]> resilience-header

It’s difficult to know what is going on behind the doors at Samsung but you can bet their resilience and its kissing cousin agility are being severely tested.

After discovering that their new Galaxy Note 7 (not so) mart phone’s battery caught fire numerous times, they were quick to pull it from the market place. They thought they found the guilty producer and believed they corrected the error that ignited the lithium-ion batteries. Now round two of battery fires have sparked up and they’ve completely stopped production of the phone.

This is a not infrequent issue in manufacturing where the need for quick response often results in a second round of failure. It certainly is understandable, as Samsung’s customers won’t wait more than a few days for a safe device that will allow them to connect back to their world.

Organizations and individuals must have redundant systems in place to make sure that we are protected from potential failure. Biologically, we have two kidneys and two lungs to make sure we have these back up systems in place and in our day-to-day activities, we carry a spare tire in the back of the car. The usual complaint about redundancy is that it costs money to make sure we have the surplus supplies available to us when we need it but as Samsung may discover, their customers may fulfill their redundant need over at the Apple Store.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Should You Push Through? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/should-you-push-through/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/should-you-push-through/#comments Wed, 05 Oct 2016 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3540 Read More]]> resilience-header

One of my clients this past week told me that after a day of meeting with her manager mapping out an end of year plan, she kept working well into the evening hammering out the details of the plan to share with him the next morning. After his review, he told her to take a few days off from the project so she could get a fresh perspective. It seemed as if he thought that her project plan faltered as she persisted in trying to finish it in such a quick manner.

She asked whether I thought she was better off staying with the project in a focused manner or should she have stepped back and given herself some time to reflect?

The “heroic leader” usually thinks that powering through adversity is the way to go and this creates a kind “toughness” that means you can endure any and all challenges. Research reported in Scientific American points to the importance of giving our brains a mental break during the day. Improved memory, sharper concentration, better creativity are all benefits of hitting the pause button.

While we might think of breaks as being formal affairs such as going for a walk, doing a mindfulness exercise or even taking a power nap, we also benefit from looking at “in-between moment” breaks. Many of these we already do such as when our minds wander during a meeting. We can make these more intentional and effective, for example, by not abiding to 60 minute meetings so that we have time to transition during our day and getting up from our desks regularly so that we have a little time to catch our “mental breath.”

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Supporting the Good http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/supporting-the-good/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/supporting-the-good/#comments Wed, 28 Sep 2016 12:00:03 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3536 Read More]]> resilience-header

Ever since I wrote a book on career development over 20 years ago, I’ve always coached people on their careers.  I love talking to people about how they can get the most out of their calling.

I developed a tradition, early on, that whenever someone would tell me that they had left their job, I would congratulate them. It didn’t matter if they left of their own accord or if they were fired or downsized. Reframing their situation as an opportunity for celebration immediately created a context where they could look forward and not be bogged down by the past.

Researchers indicate that there are four ways that we respond to people’s good or bad news.  We are either passively supportive (nod support for their win but check our phone for messages) passively destructive (try to one up them or turn the conversation to ourselves) actively destructive (discount their success and make it seem small) or actively constructive (be genuinely interested, have desire to learn more, be understanding.)

Obviously option 4 would be one that we would aspire to using, however just having good thoughts about it are probably not sufficient. What is required is to build a habit that allows us to immediately understand the importance and value of what is being shared with us. My tradition of congratulating someone puts me into a headspace where I am paying full attention to his or her important issue.

Finding your own customs of support will require some practice to build but you’ll probably have a few opportunities today.

© Richard Citrin 2016

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Those Pesky Potholes http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/those-pesky-potholes/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/those-pesky-potholes/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2016 12:02:58 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3531 Read More]]> resilience-header

It’s easy to talk about building resilience when we have time to recover from adversity and difficulty. We can process what happened, build a plan for recovery and look for opportunities to do better the next time.

What do you do, however when things don’t go so well in the middle of the day. No one expects their day to be perfect and finding that you lose an important contract, forget to submit a report to your boss, or hear that one of your key employees is taking a job with a competitor can send even the most resilient person into a tail spin.

Here are 5 strategies you can use to win over these kinds of daily events.

  • Give yourself 15 minutes to pout, complain, whine, blame others, or cry. It is okay to grieve your loss, but you don’t want to live there. Not need to linger in that negative place.
  • Talk it over with someone else who is a strong supporter. Your perspective may be distorted and getting a second opinion from someone else who is not as close to the event can provide an invaluable point of view.
  • Use something to help yourself make an emotional shift. It may be listening to and singing along with your favorite song, looking at pictures of your kids playing on the beach during your last holiday or doing a 5-minute meditation.
  • Reframe the situation to see the silver lining. That employee who left…hey if they don’t want to work for you, you probably do not want them around.
  • Speed to action or urgency is essential when dealing with stressful situations in real time. Tailspins are dangerous and you want to bank out of them as gracefully and quickly as you can.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Those Gritty Kids http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/those-gritty-kids/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/those-gritty-kids/#comments Wed, 14 Sep 2016 12:00:33 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3519 Read More]]> resilience-header

My friend Facebooked a new picture of her 9-year-old daughter, Katie with a clarinet in her hand announcing that she was taking on a new challenge in the musical world. Along with her extracurricular activities in Tae-Kwon-Do, computer programming, robotics, and playing with her dog, this youngster has a constant smile on her face especially when challenged with something new to master.

I kidded my friend today about “forcing” her daughter to take on all these new projects and she laughed, as she would consider herself the last person to compel anyone to do something they do not want to do. The truth is that Katie has some serious grit.

We generally think of grit as perseverance and stick-to-itiveness but research done by Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania points out that while perseverance is an important quality of grit, of equal importance is the possession of passion.

Manifesting passion is not something that you can force anyone to do but instead comes from finding something of interest and then putting in the time and energy to build skills. For parents, that often means setting high expectations while providing high emotional support.

No doubt, Katie and her parents have uncovered a secret recipe for helping her become a budding renaissance girl.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Building Your Sabbatical http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/continuing-the-holiday/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/continuing-the-holiday/#comments Wed, 07 Sep 2016 12:02:26 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3513 Read More]]> resilience-header

We’re concluding our summer holiday in Amsterdam after a wonderful two weeks exploring the Rhine River. One of my observations about my own resilience is that it usually takes me about 4-5 days to really unwind and get into full relaxation mode which means I am not thinking about my regular life.

This aspect of resilience, which is tied to how we let go, recharge, and bounce forward can require a meaningful amount of time away from everyday existence such as through holiday breaks but finding little pockets of daily and weekly sabbaticals can prove refreshing and renewing.

I’m kicking around some new ideas for daily recovery strategies and here are some I’m going to try out:

  • Forget about a daily “to do” list and instead think about a daily “results” list. Checking off accomplishments may be more energizing than just saying I did something.
  • Acknowledge something new that I learn every day. Research shows that if you improve by 1% everyday in some new habit you want to improve, you’ll be twice as good in 70 days as you are now.
  • Become a local tourist. We’re here in Amsterdam and our first sightseeing visit was to the Anne Frank House which is a mere 300 yards from where we are staying on the Prinsengracht Canal. When I asked our host about the House, he told me he had never been there!. Parks, museums and great views exist in every city and town and you’ll find them refreshing and stimulating.

What are your favorite daily and weekly sabbatical strategies? Post a note on the link below and I’ll share your ideas with our community.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Learnings From Abroad http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/learnings-from-abroad/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/learnings-from-abroad/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 12:00:05 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3503 Read More]]> resilience-header

We are on holiday in Europe and during a lake cruise in Lucerne, on our way to the top of Mt. Rigi, we started chatting with a Brit who has become a Swiss citizen. Sitting with his little 7-year-old daughter in his lap, he told us that he thought Switzerland had the finest quality of life of anywhere he had been.

When I asked him to explain further he told me that in Switzerland people just seem to take things on a more even keel and between Brexit and the US elections, everybody’s anxiety and worry seems to be through the roof.

At that point, his young daughter asked who was the President of Switzerland and he told her he did not know as the President is only elected for a one year term and he could not keep up with who is in office. “I guess that is one of the good things about being a neutral country,” he told me. “One less thing to worry about and more time to enjoy this beautiful scenery.”

Once again, the best way to build resilience is to minimize the stress that naturally comes our way. I don’t want to give up my public citizenship, but it is good to remember that regardless of the events that get us riled up, we all can continue to search for beauty and fresh air that brings a bit of peace to our souls.

To join the discussion on this topic, please go to my blog at: http://www.citrinconsulting.com/blog/

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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A Simple Way to Help http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/a-simple-way-to-help/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/a-simple-way-to-help/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2016 12:00:33 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3497 Read More]]> resilience-header

Several years ago I was at the library looking for a book to check out when I noticed one written by Texas journalist Tim Madigan. I knew Tim from my time in Fort Worth, so I was intrigued. After picking it off the shelf, I saw that it was the story of his 8-year relationship with Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s fame, a beloved Pittsburgh icon and touchstone for tens of thousands of children. What a great way to bridge my Fort Worth and Pittsburgh connections, I thought.

The book, I’m Proud of You tells the story of what began as a media interview when Tim came to Pittsburgh to interview “Mr. Rogers.” Over time with shared letters and personal visits a deep and caring relationship developed between the two men. For Tim, who experienced a number of tragic events during these years, Fred provided a transcendent perspective that helped Tim survive depression, the loss of his brother and the healing from a broken relationship with his father. “I’m proud of you,” was Fred’s abiding message in their communications.

As adults, we don’t get much praise in our lives. We strive to do our best and are expected to know that our efforts and successes are supposed to be reward enough. Usually, however they are not enough as we rarely get the recognition we are looking forward to receiving from others. Looking for opportunities to acknowledge other’s work builds their self-esteem and ours. Share an “I’m proud of you” today and bring a smile to the world.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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A Mistake Worth Making http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/a-mistake-worth-making/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/a-mistake-worth-making/#comments Wed, 10 Aug 2016 12:00:50 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3492 Read More]]> resilience-header

My friend Pam returned home from the beach late at night and immediately went outside to water her garden. Starting the sprinkler she returned inside to unpack and take care of other details. Soon she headed off to bed exhausted after the long drive home.

At 6 AM she awoke with an “oh no” realization remembering she left the water running all night. She came downstairs to discover that not only was her garden flooded but so was her basement.

Basement flooding had been a problem for Pam and her husband over the years and no one repair person seemed able to remedy the problem. While she was “shop vacuuming” up the water she realized the source of the the water infiltration was different than what others had suggested and her own eureka moment leading to clarity about how the leak could be fixed. Her handyman is headed over this week to make the repairs.

While bummed out at 6 AM, by 11 AM she concluded that this was a mistake worth making!

Mistakes happen all the time and our imperfection as human beings means that we’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn from them. Don’t assume that your blunders and slipups are screw-ups. They may be openings to give us a fresh perspective on how to solve that problem once and for all.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Five Ways To Simplify http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/five-ways-to-simplify/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/five-ways-to-simplify/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2016 12:00:52 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3489 Read More]]> resilience-header

While life may throw her share of stress and challenges our way we also do a fine job of creating more adversity in our own lives than may be necessary.

In meeting with some business-coaching clients this past week I heard things like “I’ve really have to attend all those meetings. I’m the only one who can understand all the facets of the business,” and “I don’t know how I am suppose to respond to 200 emails a day and get anything else done.” As we discussed these challenges the idea of simplifying their days began to emerge. Here are some ideas we came up with in our discussions that you may want to try out:

  • Do a one-week time study to see how you do spend your time. Which meetings are really essential and are you building in time for “thought and reflection.”
  • Manage your emails by (1) deleting yourself from unread newsletters (except Resilient Wednesdays) (2) write shorter emails with a header that establishes the request (3) devote specialized time for emails and don’t stop your work when one pops up.
  • Stop back-to-back meetings and if you must have them, finish up 10 minutes before so you have time to get to the next.
  • Block out time in your schedule for “strategic thinking”
  • Forget about perfection unless you are building bridges or doing brain surgery. A “B” is an excellent grade and will suffice for most of our work. The extra 20% towards perfection does not yield a great ROI.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how making a commitment to simplification will eliminate anxiety and stress before they even happen. Getting ahead of challenges is the ultimate resilience.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Why Workouts Work For Your Resilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/why-workouts-work-for-your-resilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/why-workouts-work-for-your-resilience/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 12:00:18 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3482 Read More]]> resilience-header

Are you a morning exerciser or evening exerciser? In The Resilience Advantage I point out that, in many situations, people who exercise in the morning do so to get an extra burst of energy going for their day while folks who exercise in the evening often do so to blow off steam after a stressful day. Regardless of when you exercise, it is always good for you physically and for building your resilience.

In a recent article in New York Magazine, author Brad Stulberg cites research conducted in the UK showing how professional cyclists performed better than recreational cyclists in tests related to demonstrating an ability to use heightened “will power” to successfully manage the stress of a situation.

It seems that professional cyclists who, by the nature of their work, challenge themselves to face intense physical and mental pressure (they keep riding those hills even when their body is screaming “STOP”) are better able to quiet that message and to demonstrate endurance in the face of mental and physical fatigue.

While most of us are not professional athletes, we all can relate to times when we’ve been fit and have challenged ourselves to endure past a point that we did not think we could achieve. Building your physical strength creates your mental toughness.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Say a Prayer http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/say-a-prayer/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/say-a-prayer/#comments Wed, 20 Jul 2016 12:00:41 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3477 Read More]]> resilience-header

When we like to talk about skills associated with building resilience—creating the right mindset, building body wisdom, connecting with community, for many of us creating hope is often a default to dealing with our sometimes unbelievable challenges and adversities.

This past Sunday, I attended a prayer vigil at Freedom Corner up in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. Led by local ministers, community and elected leaders, and law enforcement officers, the speakers talked about the need to find a path to the cessation of the shootings we’ve seen over these past few weeks. “Black on black, blue on black, black on blue—it’s praying time,” said Reverend Glenn Grayson.

Seeking a way to help everyone, the minister first invited children to join him in reaching out and connecting with the four Pittsburgh police officers in attendance. Soon, most everyone moved in to the tightening circle resting our hands on each other’s shoulders in a show of support for the police and hope for the community.

I have a little card I usually include in copies of The Resilience Advantage that reads “Find Your Resilience Inside,” which is intended to suggest that my book will have some good ideas for you but that ultimately your resilience will come from the deepest part of yourself. Prayer followed by action are great places to start.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Your Resilience Bank Account http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/your-resilience-bank-account/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/your-resilience-bank-account/#comments Wed, 13 Jul 2016 12:00:14 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3474 Read More]]> resilience-header

It is much easier to be resilient to your big and small challenges if you have a little bit saved up in your resilience bank account. Like a rainy day fund that you might use to help pay for a car repair or for that extra vacation, having some assets (whether they be financial, intellectual or emotional) in the bank will help you weather the worst of the storms. In the model we discuss in The Resilience Advantage, my co-author, Alan Weiss and myself call that “Preparation and Building Hardiness.”

There are lots of ways to get ready for the inevitable tough stuff coming your way. Some of these include:

  • Anticipating and planning for predictable challenges. Leave for the airport extra early so you know you won’t fret going through security.
  • Start your day off with something positive so you get your mind in a good frame of reference. Read about an inspiring person or post a motivating quote by your desk.
  • Avoid energy drainers at work. These would be complainers, whiners and do-nothings who are just looking for you to bail them out.
  • Make a commitment to learn something new everyday. Improve by 1% every day and in 70 days you’ll be twice as good as you are today.

The easiest path to resilience is to minimize situations that juice your immune system. Getting ahead of situations that challenge you will always be easier than trying to catch up once the train is moving.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Oops! http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/oops/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/oops/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3467 Read More]]>

My first mistake of the day was to forget to take our puppy Cody out for a last pee before I put him to bed at 12:15 AM earlier today. He decided, instead, that it would be better to pee on the carpet in front of his crate than on the carpet in his crate. I got to spend an extra few minutes cleaning up the mess before I got to bed. I’m sure this won’t be my only blunder for the next 24 hours.

Call them errors, missteps, failures, gaffes, screw-ups or boo-boos, we are all going to make our share of them today and everyday. What we learn from them makes the difference between whether we merely bounce back (clean up the pee) or bounce forward (take Cody outside so he can do his business there.)

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Julian Birkinshaw and Martine Haas talked about maximizing your “return on failure,” by (1) learning something from every failure (2) sharing the lessons with others in your organization and (3) reviewing your pattern of failure to make certain that you are not making the same mistakes over and over and are learning from each error.

Don’t be discouraged or get mad about your missteps and failures. Taking a careful assessment of what happened and what you can do differently will bring about a better result next time.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Keep Calm and Carry On http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/keep-calm-and-carry-on/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/keep-calm-and-carry-on/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2016 12:00:32 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3460 Read More]]> resilience-header

It’s easy to see how quickly our stress reaction gets kicked into gear. When the news was announced last week that a majority of Brits voted to opt out of the European Union, the media went into a frenzy, political comparison were made from one side of the “Pond” to the next, and everyone else was checking their 401K balances. “OMG” was screamed around the world even though many people had to Google “Brexit” to see exactly what it meant.

It’s challenging enough reacting to stressful situations without having the flames doused by “Chicken Littles” scaring us about the future of civilization. We are surrounded by cortisol junkies intent on making our limbic systems work overtime. Without a “sense of perspective, it is easy to fall into the abyss of fear and anxiety.

The simple slogan that titles this week’s RW is, of course, of British origin, going back to 1939 as England prepared for the onslaught of Nazi Germany. Now we know the world isn’t in that kind of danger so whatever it is that is getting your cortisol flowing, take a deep breath and let it out with a big “relax.” It’s all going to be okay.

And if you absolutely feel that you have to do something, go ahead and consider making a trip to the UK. With all this craziness you can sneak into the country paying 20% less than what you could have done last week. Looking for the good in the bad. Now that is resilience.

BTW…This issue represents the 100th edition of RW. Thanks for your support and great ideas that you share with our community.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Going For the Challenge http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/going-for-the-challenge/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/going-for-the-challenge/#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3456 Read More]]> resilience-header

I’ve received several emails this week with suggestions for today’s RW which can most easily be summarized as Cavs=Resilience.

While there are certainly no shortages of resilience stories in sports, this past weekend’s Cleveland Cavalier National Basketball Association championship merits special notice, but not for what you think.

Most people will say that the Cavs resilience story was their unprecedented comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the best of 7 series (a never before achieved accomplishment) and that their never-say-die attitude sets them apart from other great teams. I would have another take, however.

My resilience perspective would be about LeBron James and his decision to return to Cleveland after having left the Cavaliers in 2010. LeBron was reviled in Cleveland labeled a “traitor” when he decided to “take his talent to South Beach,” where he won two NBA championships with the Miami Heat.

LeBron’s decision to return to his hometown, however, is where the real resilience story takes place. His decision to take on the pressure, hopes and dreams, disappointments, and ultimate success took an incredible amount of courage in recognizing and taking on a challenge that was not just not necessary for him to be viewed as one of the greatest of all times.. He signed up for and in doing so brought himself and the City of Cleveland a great and well deserved reward.

How many of us sign up to take on a challenge that is not necessary but do so because we believe in a cause, want to test our capacity, or just like the challenge of something new?

Now that is my kind of resilience!

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Our Resilient Country http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/our-resilient-country-2/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/our-resilient-country-2/#comments Wed, 15 Jun 2016 12:00:50 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3445 Read More]]> resilience-header

( I am repurposing a previously written Resilient Wednesday from last July and am striking out the outdated text from last year’s version and making the updated version in bold text. I’m saddened that I have to repeat this article.)

What an amazing country we live in. Just last week this past weekend our nation’s ability to address the worst of us and the best of us came to the forefront. We were tested and will probably pass but we are getting tired of the tests.

The horrific shootings in Charleston Orlando were punctuated not with violence and protests, but with prayers, forgiveness and the singing of Amazing Grace by our President “We Shall Overcome” by the Gay Men’s Choir of Washington in front of the White House.

Then our Supreme Court affirmed the right of all people to marry the person they love and that all the rest of us have to do is to respect and support that love. At the same time that the dead were being identified and the wounded were in surgery in Orlando, LGBT communities across the country were honoring the victims and their own hard work for equity in Pride Parades.

Sometimes when I talk with people about the idea that resilience is hardwired into our biology, they don’t seem to grasp this idea. They believe that we don’t deal with our challenges and stress very effectively and that all we can do is try to manage them, and presumably our lives, by just hanging on as best we can. They don’t get that we are built to recover from adversity.

Last week our nation No doubt, the events of this past weekend will show that we can adapt to change and even in the face of tragedy find ways to become stronger. There is work to be done in terms of equity and justice but we give ourselves the chance to make those improvements.

I guess the question at this point is whether we can find ways to achieve these goals without having to go through destroying ourselves with bullets, bullying and hate. I hope I don’t have to repurpose this article again but I suspect I will have that opportunity.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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The Champ: A Different Kind of Resilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-champ-a-different-kind-of-resilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-champ-a-different-kind-of-resilience/#comments Wed, 08 Jun 2016 12:00:56 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3441 Read More]]> resilience-header

Muhammad Ali never much cared about what other people thought. He knew who he was and what he wanted. He transcended almost everything and his life from pugilist to peacemaker is a testimony to how his power of self-belief was transformative.

I don’t believe that Ali was a particularly resilient figure as most people think of resilience with its singular focus on overcoming adversity.

You could say, of course, that he was amazingly resilient in how he beat back opponents in the ring and fought the US government in its efforts to deny his conscientious objector status for his refusal to serve in the military during Viet Nam.

Certainly, you could say that his innovative “rope-a-dope” strategy that helped his regain and maintain his title after returning to boxing was yet another sign of resilience.

Of course, you could point to the grace and graciousness he demonstrated in how he confronted and worked for a cure for Parkinson’s Disease over the past 25 years, raising over $100 million as yet another sign of resilience.

I would say, however, that Ali’s resilience came from what I refer to as the front end of the Resilience Continuum that having to do with building a storehouse of energy and focus that gets you through almost any tough time. Muhammad Ali got out ahead of his stress and challenges. He didn’t respond to events around him, he shaped events around him.

He built a belief system that was so strong and intact that it guided him in all that he did. And the rest of us joined in on the ride.

Muhammad Ali would probably want to ask each of us to find out who we are and be that to the nth degree. He did it and it served himself and the world very well.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Buckle Your Seat Belts: It’s Going to Be Bumpy Ride http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/buckle-your-seat-belts-its-going-to-be-bumpy-ride/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/buckle-your-seat-belts-its-going-to-be-bumpy-ride/#comments Wed, 01 Jun 2016 12:52:08 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3438 Read More]]> resilience-header

I am seeing more and more companies adding “resiliency” and its kissing cousin “agility,” to their list of leadership competencies. And it makes sense.

Business today is more complex, unpredictable, and decision making is usually ambiguous at best. Organizations cannot afford to stand still while they gather all the information required to make a decision. Sometimes you have to move and then pick up the pieces to see if you’ve won or lost.

Consider the transformation that has happened in the airline industry during this millennium. After 9/11 the reality of terrorism created a seismic shift in how they conducted their business. Next came consolidation of all the big airlines followed by a shift to “fees for value” where every extra dollar was squeezed out of the consumer shifting customer expectations of what flying should be. Like it or not, we’ve adjusted to baggage fees, paying for seats with more space, and anteing up for little boxes of cheese. The industry was on its knees 8 years ago and their response was to recreate their business model. Today the airline industry is thriving with profits three times what they were 8 years ago.

Necessity may be the mother of invention but resilience and agility are her best tools for creating new pathways to success. We’ll take a further look at building your personal and organizational agility next week.

Update on Resilience Advantage

A colleague told me he was ordering a dozen copies of The Resilience Advantage for his friends and coworkers. If you are interested in ordering some for your team, send me an email at richard@citrinconsulting.com. I have a special offer for you and your organization.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Launch Party http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/launch-party/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/launch-party/#comments Wed, 25 May 2016 12:00:19 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3423 Read More]]>

We had a great time at the Pittsburgh Opera on Monday night officially launching The Resilience Advantage. Friends, clients and colleagues all gathered in the former home of George Westinghouse’s Railroad Air Break Company building resilience over great food and wonderful conversation.

The highlight of the evening was a performance by one of Pittsburgh leading improv groups, Sheila’s Wing and A Prayer Players. Their performances have been seen all around Pittsburgh, the US, and in Europe where they “Perform the Book.”

In this improvisational form I read several portions of my book to which they responded through dance, story telling or song.

All in attendance enjoyed their portrayal of daily challenges from hip replacements to workplace conundrums. Using their own wisdom and resilience strategies the “Players” showed us again why art is such a powerful tool for understanding and overcoming life’s travails.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Spend Money. Feel Good http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/spend-money-feel-good/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/spend-money-feel-good/#comments Wed, 18 May 2016 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3418 Read More]]> resilience-header

I know what you are thinking. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. Research conducted at the University of British Colombia and published in Health Psychology, however, indicates that we can create an improved state of physical and mental well being by spending money on others.

The researchers divided their subjects into 2 groups, both of whom were diagnosed with hypertension. One group was told to spend $40 on themselves while the other group was instructed to spend money on others. At the end of the study with variables such as age and education taken into effect, the participants who spent money on others had lower blood pressures.

The researchers hypothesized a number of explanations about why this kind of prosocial spending enhances well being including the ideas that giving evokes positive emotions and that it helps us make better and stronger connections with others.

From a resilience perspective, strengthening social ties helps us both on the front end and back end of the Resilience ContinuumSM. It helps build hardiness which mitigates the stress before we even confront it and it allows us to recover more quickly by giving us a chance to defuse it after we’ve had a challenging day.

Go ahead and buy lunch for a loved one or pal this week and enjoy this simple pleasure.

BTW…Last night I had dinner with a client who had completely dog eared his copy of The Resilience Advantage and had tons of ideas of how he could apply the ideas in the book to his team and organization. You can pick up your copy at Amazon by clicking here.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Election Resilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/election-resilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/election-resilience/#comments Wed, 11 May 2016 12:00:48 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3413 Read More]]> resilience-header

This race to the White House has been absolutely exhausting. The other day I was at an airport lounge at O’Hare and realized I could not stand to hear any more from one of the candidates. Remembering that chronic stress can cause health problems I recognized that it might be time to take a break from the discourse being portrayed and check out for a bit from watching politics.

I love being an involved citizen but with 6 more months until the election, I think it is important to pace myself and now seems like a bit of a good to take a time out and build in some political recovery time. I moved over to another part of the lounge and just watched planes taking off from O’Hare while working on my New York Times Crossword Puzzle app.

When we personally overdo some things, we may unwittingly create more stress than we care to take on and so taking some downtime from the event helps us recover and restore our energy and focus. There is a long way to go until election time and I know I’ll need all my political energy to help my candidate of choice to win.

Don’t forget to order your copy of The Resilience Advantage. In the book, we discuss some great strategies for not just bouncing back from adversities and challenges but ways that you can bounce forward.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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The Oracle Spoke http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-oracle-spoke/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-oracle-spoke/#comments Wed, 04 May 2016 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3407 Read More]]> resilience-header

Warren Buffet held his 52nd annual shareholder meeting in Omaha this past weekend and in his usual folksy style unwittingly spoke to what may be one of the leading causes of stress in the workplace—over complication.

Buffet pointed out that only 25 people work at Berkshire’s corporate headquarters and that they don’t use committees to get things done and power point presentations are viewed as “make work” activities. Even in planning the annual meeting that gathered over 40,000 people, one employee was given the responsibility for organizing the entire program that probably included selling “Warren Bobble Heads.” In most companies, he said, there would be an entire department dedicated to event planning.

The “transform stress” model we present in The Resilience Advantage discusses the incredible value that is achieved by planning ways to avoid or mitigate stressful times before they occur. Buffet must have read the book…or at least suggested a chapter idea along the way.

By the way, book sales are going well and if you are interested in your own copy you can pick it up on Amazon.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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The Dog Hierarchy http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-dog-hierarchy/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-dog-hierarchy/#comments Wed, 27 Apr 2016 12:01:03 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3386 Read More]]> resilience-header

We’ve been doing some serious training with our 11-month-old Coton puppy, Cody. As we’ve been gathering tips, taking lessons, and buying treats, its come to our awareness that there is a hierarchy of actions that Cody and presumably other dogs take in response to the stimuli in their environment. Brought on by the excitement of the world, this hierarchy of actions drives their behavior so that they seem to have no other choices.

The hierarchy includes (1) chasing—(2) eating—(3)smelling. I brought this idea up to Cody’s dog trainer and when I asked what we could do to keep him from chasing after the rabbits in the yard, his instructions were clear. “Good luck,” she told me.

Biological forces are powerful and each of us possesses our own hierarchy of responses. Our advantage as humans is that most of us can think our way past our initial responses to arrive at a more balanced and effective response than chasing a rabbit that can outrun us. Taking that extra few moments to consider choices when we just want to act is what helps fuel our good stress hormones and builds resilience.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Resilience For Leaders http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/resilience-for-leaders/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/resilience-for-leaders/#comments Tue, 26 Apr 2016 15:10:21 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3403 Richard discusses five steps that leaders and managers can use to improve the workplace.

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Building Your Resilience Super Powers http://www.citrinconsulting.com/podcast-series-absolute-citrin/building-your-resilience-super-powers/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/podcast-series-absolute-citrin/building-your-resilience-super-powers/#comments Tue, 26 Apr 2016 15:07:30 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3400 In this podcast Richard defines resilience and how we can learn from it.

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Finding Your Happiness http://www.citrinconsulting.com/life-balance/finding-your-happiness/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/life-balance/finding-your-happiness/#comments Tue, 26 Apr 2016 15:04:45 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3397 Richard examines how to focus on changing your world for greater happiness.

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Resilience: The New Paradigm http://www.citrinconsulting.com/podcast-series-absolute-citrin/resilience-the-new-paradigm/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/podcast-series-absolute-citrin/resilience-the-new-paradigm/#comments Tue, 26 Apr 2016 14:57:01 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3394 Richard reveals what replaces the stress management model.

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The Fatal Flaw http://www.citrinconsulting.com/podcast-series-absolute-citrin/the-fatal-flaw/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/podcast-series-absolute-citrin/the-fatal-flaw/#comments Tue, 26 Apr 2016 14:53:08 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3390 Richard discusses how the stress management model is fatally flawed.

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The Universal Spirit http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-universal-spirit/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-universal-spirit/#comments Wed, 20 Apr 2016 13:25:51 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3382 Read More]]> resilience-header

As Ecuador was digging out from its 7.8-magnitude earthquake its security minister reported at least 507 people dead. President Rafael Correa said early Monday that the death toll would “surely rise, and in a considerable way.” But he added a note of confidence in his people — “The Ecuadorean spirit knows how to move forward, and will know how to overcome these very difficult moments.”

President Correa’s comments to his people provide a simple and powerful insight into how the biology of resilience is built into us individually and as a species. Even in the face of extraordinary trauma there is an inherent quality that we possess as individuals and as a community of people that allows us to come together and take on these challenges.

No matter the kinds of challenges that you may face today and this week, know that your resilience quality is inside you and is always ready to be manifested.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Watching Success http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/watching-success/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/watching-success/#comments Wed, 13 Apr 2016 12:00:04 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3379 Read More]]> resilience-header

This past week, I had the pleasure of accompanying my wife Sheila as we travelled to Las Vegas where she shared the story of her work at a Ted Conference at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. The emcee introduced Sheila as “appearing on a Las Vegas stage for the first time in over 50 years since she last appeared at the Desert Inn while performing as a dancer at the Tony Martin and Peggy Lee Show.”

Sheila’s performance was different this time, of course, as she shared the story from her book Warrior Mother, about how she accompanied her best friend and two of our children through “death defying” acts when each faced life-threatening illnesses. Her story was moving, passionate and full of “laughter and tears” for the audience.

Of course, no presentation by her can be done without some singing and dancing and her performance evoked cheers and applause at the end, no doubt as it did 50 years ago.

Sheila had established a goal several years ago to be a Ted Speaker and her persistence, hard work, and grit paid off as she told the audience her “ideas worth sharing.”

For those that know the story, it is easy to understand why resilience has become such an important part of our lives. Sheila demonstrated that in more ways than one when she got back on that Las Vegas stage and I am so proud of her work and as a person!

To view her Ted Talk click on this link and go to time 7:26:30

To join the discussion on this topic, please go to my blog at: http://www.citrinconsulting.com/blog/

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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The Resilience Advantage is Available! http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-resilience-advantage-is-available/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-resilience-advantage-is-available/#comments Wed, 06 Apr 2016 12:00:35 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3365 Read More]]>

I’m excited to announce that The Resilience Advantage will be officially released next week and is available for ordering in print and e-version on Amazon as well as through my web site.

The Resilience Advantage discusses why our current approach to dealing with stress, adversity and challenges is outdated and ineffective and why resilience provides us with a new way to see the events in our lives as opportunities for new understandings and growth for our families, our workplace and ourselves.

You’ll find many great ideas that you can put into play immediately such as:

  • How to hit the pause button so that you don’t lose it when a stressful event is happening to you in real time.
  • How to find balance and agility in your workplace.
  • The 3 big ways that you can make sure that you can be resilient to any kind of stress.
  • The 7 hyper-traits that will allow you to focus on building a positive bias in all you do.
  • How you can use your brain’s “all or nothing” capacity to gain better focus.

You can help me launch The Resilience Advantage by joining my Thunderclap campaign that will be getting the word out to tens of thousands of Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets by clicking here. Thanks!

In the meantime, check out my cool new book trailer that will give you some more information on The Resilience Advantage.

To join the discussion on this topic, please go to my blog at: http://www.citrinconsulting.com/blog/

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Creating Happiness? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/creating-happiness/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/creating-happiness/#comments Wed, 30 Mar 2016 12:00:16 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3341 Read More]]> resilience-header

I was talking to a owner of a small business the other day and he was bemoaning how hard he is working and how he can’t seem to find any time to relax or enjoy himself or his family.

When I asked him what he is doing to promote his own happiness he was taken aback. He told me that he didn’t think he had any control over his happiness but instead happiness would just come to him when he lands a new piece of business or his daughter hears about getting accepted to the college of her choice (although he chuckled that the cost of her education would cut into his enjoyment a bit.)

I suggested to him that he was the master of his happiness. He asked me for one idea that he could use to promote more joy and I suggested that he start upon opening his eyes in the morning. I asked him to not allow himself to focus on any negative thoughts and instead consider his blessings, goals, and personal hopes for the day. By starting off in a positive frame, he can help himself to build a bridge to enjoyment right from the start.

How are you creating happiness for yourself, your loved ones and the world?

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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If Wishing Could Make It So http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/if-wishing-could-make-it-so/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/if-wishing-could-make-it-so/#comments Wed, 23 Mar 2016 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3288 Read More]]> resilience-header

Building a “positivity bias” in place of our hardwired “negativity bias” is one of the important tools we discuss for building personal resilience in my new book, The Resilience Advantage.

There is a mistaken belief, however, that if we just “think positive” we can then overcome all kinds of adversities, but that is a bit of how thinking positively became know as the “Pollyanna Principle.” The truth is that using positivity takes a lot more than just wishing and hoping.

Research conducted by Gabrielle Oettingen at NYU showed that college students who focused on thinking about their next week as being fantastic actually reported less success than students who just recorded what happened. In follow-up experiments, she discovered that the key to making those dreams come true was to create a challenge for themselves by considering what could get in the way of their success. By identifying the problems or roadblocks the students would encounter in approaching their goals, she found that they created a kind of contest for themselves to see if they could succeed in spite of the impediment in their way.

Taking into account the threats to success may hold the key to helping each of us overcome our most difficult assignments. Don’t be thrown off by these, go ahead and embrace them.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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The Power of Bromances http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-power-of-bromances/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-power-of-bromances/#comments Wed, 16 Mar 2016 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3282 Read More]]> resilience-header

It was obvious when Prime Minister Trudeau visited the White House last week that he and President Obama had a love fest. They joked about hockey, shared poutines, told stories about their kids, and even did some work around green house gas reductions. Oh yeah, and there was plenty of hugging to go around.

A recent research study in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology discussed the role of male bonding in reducing stress reactions among male rats. It seems that when the rats in the study experienced some type of stressful event they were more affiliative when put in with other male rats than when they were unstressed. In the stressed situations, the male rats huddled more and touched more. The researchers noted that there was an increase in the hormone, Oxytocin which is sometimes referred to as the “cuddle hormone” because of its ability to promote more social interactions.

For we men the socially held belief is that when things get tough, we want to go off by ourselves to figure it out. It seems, however, that more and more research along with public displays of bromance just go to show that there are other ways to build our capacity for gaining support and with it, our resilience.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Art is Our Middle Name http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/art-is-our-middle-name/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/art-is-our-middle-name/#comments Wed, 09 Mar 2016 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3279 Read More]]> resilience-header

This past weekend I performed with our improvisational theater group, Wing and A Prayer Players at an art exhibit focused on “Breaking the Stigma of Mental Health.” We had an amazing audience who participated with us responding with their their ideas, thoughts and feelings as we danced, sang, and told stories related to the art work in the gallery.

At the end of the program, people used words like “enlightened,” “refreshed” and “alive” to describe how they were feeling after our performance.

Art does that for us. It provides new perspectives on old ideas. It encourages a sharing of our deepest feelings and it renews our faith and spirit in the beauty of the world. There may be nothing better to build and connect to our resilience than to bring more art into your life. Whether it is a show on Saturday night, a quick visit to an art gallery during your work day or joining in on some car karaoke. Art is definitely the pause that refreshes.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Your Approach to Life: Positive or Negative…or Both http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/your-approach-to-life-positive-or-negative-or-both/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/your-approach-to-life-positive-or-negative-or-both/#comments Wed, 02 Mar 2016 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3274 Read More]]> resilience-header

In The Resilience Advantage, we discuss the importance of the positivity and negativity bias to building a strong resilient system.

Since survival is life’s prime imperative (think of Maslow’s Hierarchy) the negativity bias, and its protective mechanism that makes sure we are safe, typically rules much of our day. We are always watchful to make certain that we don’t falter to the downside by making a seemingly terrible mistake. While the negativity bias was probably important to make sure Wooly Mammoths don’t trample us, we may very well overdo our negative perspective in today’s world. In most organizations, the negativity bias is now known as “risk management.”

On the flip side, the positivity bias represents a more subconscious hopeful state of being where we can create a more positive and optimistic view of our lives. The challenge with the positivity bias, which is also known as the Pollyanna Principle, is that just wishing and hoping for a good outcome rarely makes it so. Recent research of building positive perspectives, however, shows us that by taking your positive thoughts and putting them into some kind of action step not only improves our attitude but actually creates the new reality.

This internal battle between good and evil can be wrestled with successfully. Finding the balance between the two will help carry you through the rest of your week.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Your Home Town’s Resilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/your-home-towns-resilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/your-home-towns-resilience/#comments Wed, 24 Feb 2016 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3271 Read More]]> resilience-header

We’ve focused much of our discussions in the blog about personal or business resilience. In The Resilience Advantage which will be coming out in mid-March, I make a strong argument about bringing insights from community resilience models into our workplace and homes.

In my local community, Pittsburgh, we are seeing a renaissance of growth. After having endured the closing of the steel mines and the diaspora of much of the workforce, the City has come back with a vengeance Today, technology companies like Google, Apple, and Uber have offices here. Pittsburgh is the number 2 city where millennials are moving to this year according to a report from Realtor.com and In 2015, Zagat rated Pittsburgh’s restaurant scene as number 1 ahead of New York, Washington, LA, and San Francisco.

Pittsburgh transformation from the “steel city” to “the most livable city” is just beginning however. Over the past 30 years, there have been fits and starts to community innovation but what we’ve seen here is that as momentum builds, a tipping point is reached and our perseverance and hard work transforms into magnificent success.

You know your city is on a roll when people across the country are talking about your restaurants as much as your football team.

The key is to build and execute a plan that doesn’t just take you to success but through success.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Attention Intensity Disorder http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/attention-intensity-disorder/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/attention-intensity-disorder/#comments Wed, 17 Feb 2016 13:02:59 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3251 Read More]]> resilience-header

Most people are familiar with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) but few are familiar with a condition that I call Attention Intensity Disorder. AID is what happens when you are so focused on an activity that the rest of the world disappears and you become a bit obsessed with completing that task.

As someone who is challenged with it’s opposite, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD,) it wasn’t hard for me to notice the difference between people with AID and myself. I’d work on a task, like writing, for 45 minutes and then I’d have to take a break. After a couple of hours of this effort, it was time to move onto a new project. Whereas the folks I know who have AID are just getting warmed up after 2 hours. They can stay focused on their work for another 3 or 4 hours, sometimes without even taking a break.

In The Resilience Advantage, I borrow a term from two of my teachers, Phil Porter and Cynthia Winton-Henry, founders of Interplay — “the wisdom of the body.” This term suggests that each of us need to pay attention to how our own unique physical bodies operate. This could include what kinds of foods work best for our digestive system, what kinds of messages our emotional intelligence is conveying to us, or how our energy fuel cells drive our actions and productivity.

Each of us has our own style of how we get things done. We don’t want to allow ourselves to be distracted by what others say we “should do.” The key is to notice and honor what works best for you and find your own road to success.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Taking a Tiny Risk http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/taking-a-tiny-risk/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/taking-a-tiny-risk/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2016 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3144 Read More]]> resilience-header

An article in last week’s Wall Street Journal caught my attention with its headline about making my digital life more secure. I had just gotten an email from a friend telling me she got a hacked email from one of my social media accounts and when I went in to change my password, I realized I’d forgotten it.

All this effort was taking time away from more valuable activities and although I’ve shied away from the idea of keeping all my passwords in one secure place, the idea of “saving me 50 hours per year” as one of the password sites promised got me rethinking my security game plan.

In the early days of the Internet, I had to overcome giving away precious information like my mother’s last name. Then it was providing a credit card account. Today it’s about keeping my passwords all in one place.

There are risks in every action we take yet as our lives become more complex, we have to find a way to simplify them as well. Building resilience means making the most of the precious time we have in our day.

I’m going to see if I can save an hour a week not having to track down lost or forgotten passwords. Hopefully you won’t get a hacked email from me but if you do, hopefully it will only take me a minute to get it cleaned up

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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The Happiest Man in the World http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-happiest-man-in-the-world/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-happiest-man-in-the-world/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3139 Read More]]> resilience-header

How does the happiest man in the world earn that moniker? Over a 12-year period cellular biologist turn Buddhist Monk, Matthieu Ricard participated in a research study at the University of Wisconsin where his brain waves were monitored while he was meditating. Researcher Richard Davidson had a group of meditators, including Ricard and a group of non-meditators focus on the ideas of compassion. After comparing their results, Ricard’s brain’s activity was “off the happiness chart.”

At a recent meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (a meeting where there may not be too much happiness, but where meditation would benefit many of the attendees) Ricard was asked about being happy. He identified 3 keys:

  • Look for opportunities to be benevolent and to give back to others.
  • When you are in a stressful situation, recognize whether there are actions you can take to improve your circumstancestake them. However, if there are not, cut back on your worry as that only creates more stress.
  • Engage in a meditation or mindfulness practice.

I’m glad to see that ideas we promote in The Resilience Advantage follow Ricard’s advice. We even include 5 simple mindfulness exercises that can help you focus your mind on everything from walking to eating.

By the way, now that we’ve found the world’s happiest man, anyone have any ideas about where the world’s happiest woman is residing?

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Focused Capabilities http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/focused-capabilities/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/focused-capabilities/#comments Wed, 27 Jan 2016 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3134 Read More]]> resilience-header

Not surprisingly, much of the stress we create each day is self-imposed and it may not be just the negative thoughts that ramble through our minds. Much of the daily angst we experience may be related to the inefficiencies we put in our own way.

In The Resilience Advantage we discuss the idea of “focused capabilities” and why it is important to develop skills in identifying and acting upon what is important for our success every day. Creating focused capabilities translates into efficiencies that allow us to not waste our valuable energy. A few of these include:

  • Success over perfection. Much of the time we strive for perfection when good enough is good enough. The return on investment for that last 10% of effort towards perfection does not usually return a significant value to warrant the effort.
  • Speed up decision-making. We are never going to have enough information to know everything with which to make a decision and it is better to act than think. Even if we make a mistake due to a lack of complete data, we can almost always make up for it.
  • Protecting the plan means that we can do examine any and all ways our ideas can get derailed and work to limit any downside danger.
  • Try out different meeting formats. No need to assume that a 60-minute meeting is necessary. Try one for 20 minutes and perhaps make it a walking meeting.
  • Our daily rhythm. There is a basic biological flow to how our day works and it usually breaks down to a cycle that lasts approximately 90 minutes. Look for ways to rest and reenergize using this time frame and you may find your focus is more attuned.

A focused day leaves us much more satisfied and pleased with what we’ve accomplished. It is always better to move a few things a mile than a lot of things an inch.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Going Negative http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/going-negative/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/going-negative/#comments Wed, 20 Jan 2016 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3131 Read More]]> resilience-header

One of the themes we discuss in my soon to be released book, The Resilience Advantage may surprise you.

It’s good to think bad.

It can be a dangerous world out there and part of our biological tendency is to be vigilant against any and all dangers that ranged from walking on the Serengeti during primitive times to driving defensively on today’s interstates.

We want to get away from the rubric of “stop thinking so negatively” when it is only prudent to do so.

This past week, one of my clients told me about a contract rejection and how disappointed he and his team were to get that notification. They had ruminated all week on why their efforts had failed. He was also caught up in the frustration, but then realized that in order to build resilience in his team he put them through an exercise we had discussed where they focused on “what happened, what they learned, and what could they do differently” Having a structure to their discussion allowed them to take time to think about the bad without overdoing it.

Thinking negative can be a good strategy for protection and reflection. You just don’t want to live there.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Leave the Wall http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/leave-the-wall/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/leave-the-wall/#comments Wed, 13 Jan 2016 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3126 Read More]]> resilience-header

In visiting with some family members this weekend they were telling me about the swimming classes their daughter took as a child. It seemed that she was a good young swimmer but lacked confidence in letting go of the wall to swim out into the pool.

Her mom and swim instructor eventually recognized that she really did know how to swim but she was still afraid to let go of the wall. They gave her an important message — “You will have to let go of the wall.” She did, and this became a mantra for other things her life that she still uses as a successful college student.

In a few weeks my new book, The Resilience Advantage will be out and available for purchase. This feels like a “leaving the wall” moment as I promote my resilience model through this book release. I’ve gotten some great early reviews on the book. Here is one of them.

The Resilience Advantage is packed with practical techniques for turning life’s unavoidable stresses into power packs that propel you forward in the areas you care most deeply about. Whether it’s rebuilding a relationship, achieving a significant career goal or upping your performance to play your best, this book has tactics and strategies that will help you get better results in every area of life.”

Seth Kahan,
Author of Getting Change Right and Getting Innovation Right

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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Don’t Let Pre-traumatic Stress Get Your Year Off to a Bad Start http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/dont-let-pre-traumatic-stress-get-your-year-off-to-a-bad-start/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/dont-let-pre-traumatic-stress-get-your-year-off-to-a-bad-start/#comments Wed, 06 Jan 2016 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3122 Read More]]> resilience-header

A whopping 73% of employees surveyed by MetLife reported that they are expecting to be stressed out when they return to work this week. Adjusting from their time off, trying to get caught up with work missed during their holiday, and addressing financial problems caused by Christmas spending constitute the three biggest issues identified in the survey.

Interestingly, people often get themselves into a frenzy expecting their world to be stressful before they even discover whether it is. Pretraumatic stress or anticipatory anxiety as this phenomenon is known, does not usually help us address the stress situation since it tends to get us off balance before we even can find our balance. In addition, it is counter to the ideas of resilience which wants us to focus on realistic solutions to upcoming challenges rather than catastrophizing and creating worst case scenarios.

You may still find yourself wishing folks a “Happy, Healthy, and Successful New Year” for the next several weeks as I will. Make sure that you are applying that meme to yourself so that you keep your focus on how you are going to make the year a good one, from day one.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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A New View of Resilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/a-new-view-of-resilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/a-new-view-of-resilience/#comments Wed, 30 Dec 2015 13:00:10 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3117 Read More]]> resilience-header

Every thing I read about resilience tells me how its most important quality is the ability to bounce back from tough stuff. That is definitely the traditional definition of the term but in my book, The Resilience Advantage and for other resilience thought leaders the idea of resilience is now expanding to focus on how we prepare for these challenges, navigate them in real time, and use those experiences for new learnings or how we “bounce forward.”

As you begin to think about your goals for 2016 consider that you can deal with your life in a more graceful and easy manner. Imagine how your 2016 could be if you found yourself, your workplace, and your home less pressure filled and more open to the experiences the year and your life have to offer.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and resilient new year.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Holiday Cheer http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/holiday-cheer/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/holiday-cheer/#comments Wed, 23 Dec 2015 13:00:47 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3113 Read More]]> resilience-header

We’ll be travelling this holiday season visiting family in the Motor City. Our bags will be packed with gifts and our hearts will be full of love as we celebrate our time together.

While I am excited to connect with family and share greetings of the season, I am also aware of my wanting to take some time to decompress from my daily routine and use these 2 weeks for some fun, recreation and rejuvenation. Maybe that will translate to sleeping in a bit, trying out a few more sweet desserts, listening to my wife’s sisters share stories of their childhood shenanigans and seeing Star Wars. The Force Awakens…IMAX version.

I hope that your holiday is filled with love, joy, fun, peace. Make sure you look for it because it is out there in abundance.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Bouncing Forward http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/bouncing-forward/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/bouncing-forward/#comments Wed, 16 Dec 2015 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3108 Read More]]> resilience-header

People usually laugh when I suggest that stress can be good for you. “Oh yeah, tell me more…Not” Stress has gotten such a bad name and we feel so powerless over it that all we want to do is avoid it. This is what creates our victimization mentality to stress situations.

Research completed by Anthony Mancini and his colleagues indicated that even people subjected to even significant traumatic events might thrive given the right support. Their recently released research study done following the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007 surveyed 358 female students at Virginia Tech who took assessments for depression and anxiety before and then after the shootings.

While the vast majority of respondents (60%) were resilient and returned to normal functioning, close to 15% of the sample had significant relief from their anxiety and about 20% showed an increase in symptoms. The researchers concluded that those people who received significant social support did better as it allowed them to increase their connections with others, which was viewed as a key element in recovery.

While no one wants to have high levels of stress in their life, taking a step back and looking for he silver lining in any challenge helps keep our energy focused on doing what we need to do to get the best out of the situation. Too often we ruminate about how the negative will create the “worst of situations” and that winds up draining us and creating a catastrophe that will never happen.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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The Great Differentiator http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-great-differentiator/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-great-differentiator/#comments Wed, 09 Dec 2015 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3104 Read More]]> resilience-header

With my book, The Resilience Advantage due to be released in early 2016, I wanted to begin sharing with you some of the ideas that I’ll be discussing in the book. Of course, as you know from these posts, my resilience work has focused on creating a new paradigm for how we view the stress in our lives.

The “stress management” model, which is how we’ve been taught to address stress is inherently flawed since, as a biological imperative there is no way to manage it. The stress reaction is physiologically built into us so it is impossible to manage it. It’s like trying to say that we can manage gravity which is a physical imperative.

Instead our true biological response to stress is to look for ways to combat it, overcome it and grow from it. This is our resilience advantage.

Gaining this approach to the challenges in our lives also means that we put ourselves in position to take on new adventures and challenges. One of my clients was telling me about his new workout routine at a Cross-Fit Box. It’s like no other workout he’s ever done and while its tested his physical and mental toughness, he’s feeling stronger and more confident as a result. Stressful, yes. Rewarding, even more so.

Of course, not all challenges are ones we are looking for but even seeing these as opportunities for growth means that we move from just trying to just merely manage our life to embracing our life. It’s the difference to being a victim to our life events to being in control of our life events.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Follow-up Your Holiday Gratitude http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/follow-up-your-holiday-gratitude/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/follow-up-your-holiday-gratitude/#comments Wed, 02 Dec 2015 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3099 Read More]]> resilience-header

In a 2011 New York Times article, author John Tierney called Thanksgiving the most psychologically correct holiday. Not politically correct, but psychologically correct. His rationale is clearly related to gratitude.

Gratitude is a pillar of personal resilience in that it helps us appreciate all we have to be grateful for in our lives. No doubt, last Thursday we all went around the Thanksgiving dinner table speaking about what it was we are grateful for in our lives. Hopefully nobody was thinking, “Thank God I don’t have to do that for another year!”

Building a gratitude practice is an excellent way to sustain a perspective about what is important in our lives. In my new book, The Resilience Advantage coming out in February, 2016, I talk about gratitude and will be providing readers with a link to download a 28 day Gratitude Journal that has helped me to become more aware of the good things in my life. The simple exercise of acknowledging good stuff helps keep the negative energy out and the blessings in.

This was tested this past weekend as Sheila and I went out shopping and upon returning at the end of the day, discovered that her wallet had been stolen from her purse. Not sure when, not sure how. Frustrating and aggravating but after a few phone calls to banks and credit card companies she went out and bought a new one and all was good. I was reminded of a quote that my grandmother use to say. “If it’s a problem that can be solved with money, then it is not a problem.”

Keeping that mantra in my mind helps me focus on building gratitude of what is important and saves me the energy of ruminating about what is not important.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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La résilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/la-rsilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/la-rsilience/#comments Wed, 18 Nov 2015 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3090 Read More]]> resilience-header

Resilience will be a buzzword over the next several weeks as we watch the citizens of Paris recover from the horrific events of last Friday. Already we hear of their courage as they venture out back into the streets honoring the victims with flowers, tears, and moments of silence. Soon this will be replaced with children playing, tourists sightseeing and lovers hugging. La résilience is inevitable.

The healing begins immediately with a call to arms—our fight response—justifiably derived from our wanting to seek vengeance against those that hurt us. This is our biological response to what happened. While governments try to determine what action must be taken to address these terrorist acts, each of us does whatever helps us to explain and cope with the crisis. For one of my relatives it was taking out his arsenal of weapons and cleaning them up in preparation for what he sees as a battle of civilizations. For another it was changing her Facebook profile to include the colors in the French flag in sympathy with all of France.

The resilience model suggests that there is usually nothing that can be done to keep these kinds of events from happening. After all, terrorism in one form or another has been going on since living beings appeared on earth. Yet, resilience also shows us that we will recover from this attack on our culture and will learn something about it and ourselves. The question each of us has to ask is what we can or are able to do to make some small contribution to bring peace and sanity to the world.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Turn that Conflict Around http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/turn-that-conflict-around/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/turn-that-conflict-around/#comments Wed, 11 Nov 2015 13:02:47 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3086 Read More]]> resilience-header

Last week’s column on criticism struck a nerve with lots of folks and several asked me to discuss conflict in the workplace. If we think about what is a major cause of stress at work, dealing with conflict has to be near the top of the list. Thinking resilience in the face of conflict will help resolve the matter efficaciously and help keep your stress level down.

Conflict is more than unavoidable; it’s desirable. Leading team building researchers say that teams go through different stages and one of them is called “storming” where team members must address differences of opinions and find common ground so they can grow into effective team members. Furthermore conflict provides the opportunity to confront toxic situations in the workplace before they turn cancerous. Here are some tips to turn stressful conflicts into resilient solutions.

  • Don’t be a scaredy cat: Take a deep breath and ask yourself how you can turn this negative energy into something good. First responders run towards danger while the rest of us run away from it. In your workplace, become a first responder by embracing the opportunity being afforded to you by the conflict.
  • It’s all in the words: Effective communication salves the conflict wounds. Being a great listener and acknowledging legitimacy of feelings can go a long way to defusing the situation. Everyone has a “what’s in it for me” perspective. Recognizing how it operates for everyone is invaluable.
  • Put time on your side: Emotions usually drive conflict, so while people are passionate about their issues they may also gain a new perspective after they’ve had a chance to vent their frustrations.
  • Define acceptable behavior: No reason not to hit conflict head on and is someone is out of bounds, let them know. Sometimes people just don’t realize what is appropriate, in part, because its never been defined. One of my clients realized that his team was fighting all the time because he did not define how he wanted meetings run so everyone thought it was a free for all.
  • Pick your battles: Even though we want to view conflict as good, we don’t have to look for it everywhere. Most of us want to avoid conflict and sometimes that is the correct choice. Play out the scenarios ahead of time and make sure your choice leads to a good outcome.

Thomas Paine once said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” Being resilient to conflict turns those negatives to positives.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Conquer Criticism http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/conquer-criticism/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/conquer-criticism/#comments Wed, 04 Nov 2015 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3083 Read More]]> resilience-header

Odds are you are going to get criticized this week. It may be your partner, a colleague, or your workout coach. There is almost certainly something that you will do wrong, someone will notice and want to make sure you know you screwed up and then to add insult to injury, they will want to point out how to do it better next time. Afterwards, you’ll feel bad about yourself for messing up and then feel worse for taking in all that criticism. I call that the double dump.

One way to build resilience from that situation is to develop a bit of a thicker skin to criticism. It’s not written anywhere that you have to accept criticism and making sure that any feedback on a mistake you make is (1) asked for (2) accurate, (3) fairly given and (4) helpful. Here are some ways you for you to be more in control about blame you may get:

  • Don’t accept unsolicited feedback: Even if your boss wants to give you some negative feedback, ask him or her if you can do an analysis first of what happened and then get back to them. This will give you a bit of time to figure out the situation first and will give the other person some time to consider what they want to say.
  • Frame the discussion: Take charge of the situation by acknowledging the mistake. This takes all the air out of the other person’s criticism. After all even your toughest critic doesn’t want to hit you while you’re down.
  • Keep the big picture in perspective: Remember the ideals you are targeting. Most of your efforts are outrageously successful and mistakes are a way to self-correct. If your critic is equally supportive when good things happen, as they are critical when bad things happen, then they get to give input. If not, then they are just blowhards.
  • Don’t take it personally: Keep in mind that it is the situation that is being dealt with and not you as a person. Usually events happen that are out of our control and all we can do is to hold on and get through it.
  • Practice selective listening: You are not going to make everyone happy and some people are going to be disappointed in your choices and decisions. While their feedback may be interesting, it may not be relevant for your situation. Listen appropriately and then you can decide if it’s helpful.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Time on Your Side http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/time-on-your-side/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/time-on-your-side/#comments Wed, 28 Oct 2015 12:00:15 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3079 Read More]]> resilience-header

I like to mention at my resilience workshops that when it comes to time, we don’t manage it but it manages us. After all, there are only 1440 minutes or 86,400 seconds in a day. No more, no less. How you spend that time is how you define your priorities.

The Rolling Stones in one of their earliest classic songs Time is On My Side, are not singing about time management but we’ll get our interpretation this weekend when we get a bit of time on our side as we transition back to Daylight Standard Time.

While this adjustment is easier on our bodies than losing that hour in the spring (in the spring there are more heart attacks, car accidents and lost work productivity) the real consequences are not around the clock but the amount of light we have in these shorter days of the fall. The onset of DST is another indicator of the inevitable seasonal march to winter. And while the number of hours of sunlight is the same regardless of our cultural clocks, the shift from early morning light to early evening darkness does change the amount of natural light we may get during our day. We want to maximize our light acquisition as much as possible to maintain a healthy and resilient mindset. In order to do so try out these ideas:

  • Get out on bright days as much as possible so you can get around natural sunlight.
  • Add mirrors in strategic places in your house to reflect sunlight and brighten your spaces.
  • Consider buying full spectrum light bulbs for your house that mimic natural light.
  • If you are in your offices, use opportunities to stand in front of windows and catch some rays during the day.

Of course, there may be days where your urge to hibernate just takes over and you should feel free to give in to it and just let the gentle flames of your fireplace lull you off to a good night’s sleep.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Overhauling Overload: Part Deux http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/overhauling-overload-part-deux/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/overhauling-overload-part-deux/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2015 12:00:23 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3075 Read More]]> resilience-header

We received some great feedback from readers last week about addressing personal workload management and in a meeting with one of my clients this week, he told me that while the personal strategies were working, he was more excited about his success in addressing this issue of work overload as a team. He reminded me that just a year ago his team members were working 6 days a week on several of their projects and just recently several of his direct reports told him that they had capacity to take on new projects. His strategies included:

  • Shining a light on the workload issue. Everyone is afraid to bring up the topic except in a few dark corners of the office. This client laid the workload issue out on the table and insisted his team address it in both a personal and organizational manner. Some of their success was related to project’s finishing but other aspects included redistribution of workload among the team.
  • Asking the critical workload questions. What has to be done fast? What has to be done with the best quality? What has to be done regardless of cost? You can have all three if you are doing brain surgery but short of that you may want to look at what projects can be done at 80% and still have success. Even within some of his projects he was able to carve out some that could be done with less intensity.
  • Building team effectiveness: Most teams are not teams but committees. Everyone is protecting their turf rather than committing to the greater good. This approach creates enormous inefficiencies as energies are wasted making sure that “we don’t do more than we have to.” This leader understood the 5 key aspects of team effectiveness and used them to make sure everyone was on the same page.

Openly discussing workload issues will help to defuse a major concern and complaint among many people in our organizations. While it is undeniable that people are doing more with less and that it creates a great deal of pressure in today’s workplace, the situation can be improved.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Overhauling Overload http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/overhauling-overload/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/overhauling-overload/#comments Wed, 14 Oct 2015 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3072 Read More]]> resilience-header

I was talking with a friend of mine recently who was telling me how overloaded she was at work. When I asked her how come, she told me that they just have a lot of projects going on and she just gets work piled on her. As we discussed the situation a bit more, she soon began to describe the two key aspects of work overload that befalls many us.

The first is the fact that there is a lot more work to do and our organizations usually don’t have any methodology to address it while the second is that many of us lack personal systems to better manage our own priorities. We’ll take a look at organizational ideas next week but for now, here are some activities guaranteed to help you get back on track.

  • Work less. Research shows that long work hours decrease efficiency. Map out your daily schedule to emphasize getting key work done early (if you are a morning person or reverse if you are an afternoon person) and get out of the office at a reasonable time.
  • Start saying “no.” This is one of the hardest things to say to colleagues or bosses but by explaining your priorities and commitment to the mission, you make a powerful statement of your own self-management.
  • Control your devices. Look around and see how much time is spent checking email, Facebook or sports scores. All worthy activities in their own right but time wasters that have you working until 9 at night. Your call.
  • Chunk your work. It may be not possible to get everything done in the prescribed time frame and that can lead to feelings of frustration and anticipatory failure. Instead work on what you can get done today and you’ll soon see you are making steady progress.
  • Talk to your boss and team: Shine a light on workload so that you and your team can discuss all that has to be done and how it fits into your workplace mission. More brainpower=better solutions.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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That Gene Kelly Moment http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/that-gene-kelly-moment/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/that-gene-kelly-moment/#comments Wed, 07 Oct 2015 12:00:25 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3067 Read More]]> resilience-header

My friend Susan and her husband, Robert have taken to bicycling around the globe. She recently told me about their trip to the Dolomite Mountains in Italy and how their most challenging day became the most memorable.

Riding their bikes to a train station to head over to their next destination, a light drizzle soon became a persistent rain. Riding with their fellow travelers, they began to fall behind in their schedule and by the time they reached the station, they had

missed their train. Recognizing they had few choices, they all hopped back on their bikes and rode another 7 km to meet up with another train at a different station.

As the rain continued, they pulled out shower caps from their saddlebags and placed them over their helmets to help keep their heads dry. That action, no doubt, began to change their thinking about their rainy bike ride helping them embrace the moment and seeing that this little bit of rainy adversity was a gift making their trip more than memorable. It was a Gene Kelly moment where they weren’t singing in the rain but riding in the rain.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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The Pause http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-pause/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-pause/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2015 12:00:36 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3063 Read More]]> resilience-header

A story on National Public Radio this weekend told the story of how Jonathan Bartles, an emergency room nurse at the University of Virginia Medical Center has introduced a way for his colleagues to take a moment to collect their energies following the passing of one of their patients.

Bartles described how his colleagues would usually find themselves stressed after the death of a patient but would just move on to the next emergency until one day a minister walked into their room and asked them to join him in a prayerful moment in memory of the patient. The next time a patient passes, Bartles changed the ritual a bit asking his team to take a moment of thought for the person who just a few minutes had been a mother, father, son or daughter. His team took those few moments allowing themselves to transition from life to death and then back to life. It was a pause in their busy day that helped them renew their focus.

While most of us won’t be dealing with life or death issues on a daily basis, intentionally taking a taking a momentary pause to notice and collect our thoughts and feelings during a hectic days is a perfect example of the power of resilience.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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The Dolphin Effect http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-dolphin-effect/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-dolphin-effect/#comments Wed, 23 Sep 2015 12:00:56 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3059 Read More]]> resilience-header

When we lived in Texas, we would visit the Gulf coast and enjoy Padre Island. On our annual sojourn to watch the whooping cranes, leaping dolphins that would mesmerize me by their ease and grace always accompanied our tour boat. I found myself an appreciative witness to their beauty.

Last week I took an Interplay class with one of my teachers, Cynthia Winton Henry. She talked about appreciative witnessing as a way of separating ourselves from the criticality we go through every day. Instead of judging why the check out person at the grocery is so slow or why our boss didn’t smile when she said good morning, Cynthia suggests that in the same way we enjoy the easiness of watching the dolphins, we can simply observe what is happening without having to decide whether it is good or bad. In this rather elegant way of enjoying the world we are able to see all its beauty and not have to beat ourselves down by finding the negative in everything that exists.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Go Ahead, Predict your Future http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/go-ahead-predict-your-future/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/go-ahead-predict-your-future/#comments Wed, 16 Sep 2015 12:00:16 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3055 Read More]]> resilience-header

Researchers at the University of Bath in the UK are working on predicting weather patterns over the next 85 years through the end of the century. Their forecast work is designed to help identify temporary potential temperature variation swings from extreme heat waves to deep cold snaps. These kinds of events cause more weather deaths than tornadoes, hurricanes and all the other more dramatic weather events. Preparation as resilience.

The term “Big Data” is used to describe what sophisticated companies are using to create options for their future. This is what they are using to analyze their reams of data in Bath, but no computer including IBM’s Watson cranks through more information than we do in our mind every day.

Research on predictions suggests that going with our one big idea is almost always a short route to failure. Instead we want to focus on diversifying our information sources to make sure we are getting as much data as we can and then using our own strong analytical capabilities to discern the possibilities.

Start with a simple question: Where do I want my life to be in 1, 3 and 5 years. Then go ahead and start talking to others about your plans and theirs. Dream big and play out different scenarios to see which ones bring a smile to your face and theirs. Plenty of data points in that exercise to draw on to help you predict and create your future.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Maybe It’s Not Resilience At All http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/maybe-its-not-resilience-at-all/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/maybe-its-not-resilience-at-all/#comments Wed, 09 Sep 2015 12:00:08 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3052 Read More]]> resilience-header

Over the past several weeks, my friend Pat Meadowcroft has endured the visits by Presidents and other dignitaries to her hometown New Orleans, to commend that city on its resilience in the face of Hurricane Katrina ten years ago.

For her it is not about her City’s resilience but its survival. Unlike others who flew over or saw the video on TV, Pat lived it and the images of body bags, endless football fields of trashed refrigerators and the stench in the air that lingered for weeks still haunt her, although she has somehow found a way to compartmentalize it.

Tragedies are all around us, and starting with myself, we can look at these situations and hope for the best but recognize that for those living it, they have to do it in their own way and in their own time. Calling someone or something resilient does not make it so and each of us alone must define that for ourselves. Pat has come up with her formula and thankfully it seems to be working for her.

“So these images of destruction and defeat……well they are best left in the darkest caves of my mind. The images bubble up occasionally just as the toxic, stinking stew that surrounded my home during those days. Yes both what happened and the memories are toxic. Much better to focus on today and the future. I say “keep moving.”

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Some Days Suck http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/some-days-suck/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/some-days-suck/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 12:00:49 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3047 Read More]]> resilience-header

Lets admit it. Sometimes no matter how well we try to be focused on our resilience, the day or our life is just too overwhelming and we need to call in the cavalry. For many of us that may mean a trip to the chocolate store, an ice cream stand, or just making a gooey grilled cheese sandwich along with a bowl of tomato soup.

Finding comfort and solace when things are not going well is a good strategy for our bad mood and research shows that it does help. Its not so much the comfort food itself that helps us feel better but the memory of the hugs and love that usually accompanied the eating of those fun foods. It’s a bit like classical conditioning where as a small child we were comforted by our mother or father who helped us feel better by making sure we had some of our favorite food to make sure “everything felt better.”

Just to be a bit of a spoil sport, however, some of our friends from the University of Minnesota recently published some research showing that we’ll generally bounce back from life’s little challenges with great success regardless whether we’ve had some comfort food, or any other food or even no food.

It’s all about giving ourselves more choices in how we recover from our daily travails. For some it might be a favorite book or magazine, for someone else it might be watching a favorite movie. Whatever it takes for you to get yourself going after a rough one, enjoy it.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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The Happiness Equation http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-happiness-equation/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-happiness-equation/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 12:00:49 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3043 Read More]]> resilience-header

Jo Craven McGinty apologetically pointed out to her financially focused Wall Street Journal readers this week, “money isn’t everything”. She was discussed the global movement towards Gross Domestic Happiness that started in the 1970s in the Buddhist country of Bhutan.

The World Happiness Report ranks 158 countries based on how people report on their quality of life such as life expectancy, generosity, social support and their emotional well being including how they deal with stress.

Switzerland was the highest ranked country with Scandinavian countries filling up the bulk of the top ten rankings. The US came in 15th.

When I think about times of happiness for myself, I consider occasions when I give back to others. Certainly my work as a psychologist fuels that but even when I make charitable donations to my favorite causes, I find a deep sense of satisfaction and pleasure.

Certainly, happiness is a great strategy for building resilience as it produces positive stress hormones, recharges our batteries and passes good feelings onto other.

What gives you happiness?

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Robust Yet Fragile http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/robust-yet-fragile/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/robust-yet-fragile/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 12:00:43 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3036 Read More]]> resilience-header

Train derailment causes massive oil leak in community. Drought conditions in California foster massive wildfires. Thunderstorms and lightening strikes in Ohio causes east coast power failure.

These and other disasters underscore the fragile conditions that we live in. Despite being able to transport oil usually safely across the country, accidents happen. The California drought, as bad as it is could be worse if California officials had not started planning for it 20 years ago. And Mother Nature’s fury in one place easily resonates across the country.

We take it for granted that our lights go on when we flip the switch even though there are no guarantees of it and the system can easily go down. The phrase robust yet fragile, depicts what can happen when our core infrastructure systems cannot maintain their activity and in the same way, our own robust systems sometimes fail which can lead to illness, accidents or unhappiness.

Try out some of these ideas to build your own robust systems:

  • Look at challenges as opportunities. One of my clients has to change procedures based on some state regulations. Upon further examination, they think they may be able to increase revenues by making the changes.
  • Have backup systems so you have personal redundancy: Talk to friends about helping you car pool kids around.
  • Consider the possibility you don’t have all the answers: Ask your millennial colleagues their views on different topics and gain some new perspectives.
  • Embrace your crazy ideas: Call them your “crockpot thinking,” but by embracing ideas that you usually don’t talk about with others, you may be creating some new paradigms for yourself and your team.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Our Moment of Zen http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/our-moment-of-zen/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/our-moment-of-zen/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 12:00:01 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3032 Read More]]> resilience-header

I’m showing some early signs of Daily Show withdrawal symptoms now that Jon Stewart has left the building.

I see Jon Stewart as a philosophical observer of cultural events rather than just reflecting on the daily news of our political world and so I was not surprised by several of his closing ideas that he shared with us because I think they tie in perfectly with helping us maintain our resilience.

  • Making peace with near perfection: Jon recognized that he will probably never have sweeter arrangement than he had at The Daily Show. A great team, great management support and an enthusiastic customer base are rare… Most of our work situations are far from perfect so if you have that kind of environment, be grateful. Stewart mentioned that the team gives it all every day. Another tip for finding fulfillment that helps us deal with the daily grind.
  • See the BS that is all around: We easily get distressed by the way the world is not working and how others try to cover it up or make it seem like its not there. He pointed out that we all are actually pretty good and detecting it and when we do, we should say something about it. You don’t have to have the reality of stressful situations be ignored.
  • It’s a conversation and it will continue: Life is a marathon and not a sprint. Just because something didn’t work out or it ended doesn’t mean it’s actually over. It just means it is taking a break for now. The sun will come up again.

I’ll be keeping that last episode on my DVR for a while just in case you want to come over and take another look at one of our modern day philosophers. Humor is one of our key prescriptions for resilience.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Book Update http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/book-update/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/book-update/#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 12:00:01 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3028 Read More]]> resilience-header

As most of you know, I am currently writing a manuscript for BEP Press on resilience in the workplace. I wanted to update you on its progress and how I am maintaining my own resilience through the process.

I’m halfway through my 6-month contract period for writing The Resilience Advantage and more than 65% done in writing the book. I am looking to finish all the writing by September 15 giving me 6-weeks or so for reviews, graphics and whatever else needs to be completed before the manuscript goes off to the publisher.

I’ve had to develop some new habits to keep the focus and energy in place. These actions have included:

  • Mapping out my schedule and having friends ask me how I am doing with my timeframes helping to hold me accountable.
  • Have a regular time to write which is usually in the early morning as my creative juices dry up later in the day.
  • Taking a morning walk to help collect my thoughts as I discussed last week regarding 30-day sprints.
  • Just writing without self-critiquing every word or sentence. Keeping the mantra of “success not perfection” in front of me.

So far, so good. Still looking for your ideas and thoughts on how you maintain your resilience.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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30-Day Development Sprints http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/30-day-development-sprints/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/30-day-development-sprints/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:00:21 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3024 Read More]]> resilience-header

We’ve talked before about the idea that building resilience is like building a muscle. You have to exercise it and go beyond your comfort zone to attain the kind of strength you want to achieve.

Undertaking a 30-day sprint to try out a new behavior can be a great way to build your resilience and overall improvement. Based on the software development technology known as scrum, you can use this same methodology and call yourself a techie for using it. Credit to my friend Larry Hokaj who introduced me to how “sprints” are changing how companies are trying out new ideas and getting them rapidly into play in their workplace.

The 30-day model is great because you see your progress rapidly and put a fixes time frame on the ideas you are working to achieve. You want to keep the project timeline short so you build a bit of urgency and commitment into your activity. This approach also allows you to then go ahead and add a new one next month.

Last year, I started going for a mile long walk first thing in the morning and kept it going all through the Pittsburgh winter and now into our summer. This month I’ve added the action of walking mindfully to my early mornings. I am seeing if I can make my walks a bit more of a moving meditation, helping to settle and quiet my mind for a few minutes before I get my day going.

In building your sprints, keep your objectives simple; feel free to change them around (called churning) and evaluate your success not in terms of perfection but in terms of progress.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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“Yes, And…” http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/yes-and/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/yes-and/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 11:34:14 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3021 Read More]]> resilience-header

For many years, I’ve been involved with an improvisational arts community called Interplay that uses the arts of movement, singing and storytelling to advance people’s professional and personal growth. Interplay is an amazing process for improving how we deal with real life challenges in real time and practicing improv forms helps develop key skills for resilience.

One of my favorites is the “Yes, and” form where we move away from the “yes, but” negative thinking and instead create a can do approach to most any challenge. A fun way to practice this form with your own team is to begin a discussion about some challenging problem that is facing your group. It could be about how to work with a difficult customer or how your group is going to have to reduce expenses for the next fiscal year.

Instead of getting into potential negatives about why something may not work insist that everyone support building positive ideas by using “yes, and.” Go around the room with your group one or two times and track the level of engagement and creativity with your team. This little exercise will show you a lot about what your got.

Changing negative thinking requires practice but the effort is well worth the time. Everyone does better when they are on the page of success rather than the page of no-can-do.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Delivering the Goods http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/delivering-the-goods/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/delivering-the-goods/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 12:00:58 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3018 Read More]]> resilience-header

I hope you had a chance to watch the US Women Soccer Player win the World Cup last week. I had a triple interest in that my granddaughter is starting her collegiate soccer career this fall, a buddy of mine’s granddaughter plays on the team (Lori Chalupny) and I’m a sucker for USA sports (USA, USA, USA, USA, USA!)

What I found so interesting was how the confidence of the team seemed to strengthen after each game. There was tentativeness and maybe even open fear about whether the team had it to get out of the first round and into the knock out round, where they beat China (1-0). Their confidence built after playing the perennially tough German team and seeing that they had the win in them, (2-0). I tuned into the finals against Japan, who were the defending champs about 15 minutes late and was pleasantly shocked to see Team USA up by 2 goals. Yikes I already missed the headlines.

Confidence builds on success and confidence can carry us through a lot of adversity on the playing field or on life’s field. Celebrate your small wins and they’ll start to build up your confidence so that you’ll start chanting “We Believe that We Will Win!”

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Do You Unplug? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/do-you-unplug/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/do-you-unplug/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 20:56:54 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3014 Read More]]> resilience-header

You are headed out on vacation soon and as you pack up your office work, your “tween” daughter comes over to you and says, “mommy, you are not going to take all that work with you to the beach, are you?”

An immediate feeling of sadness and pride pour over you. You feel bad that your daughter has called you out for not taking the full vacation free of work that you know you deserve while you are proud of her for being so smart to know that a vacation is suppose to be a vacation.

“Afraid so,” you tell her as her comment reminds you about something else you have to take along.

About 60% of all vacationers take work with them on holiday according to researchers. We will check email, take phone calls and even attend meetings virtually. No doubt the work effort creates a bit of comfort in not forcing a total switch in lifestyle and the challenges associated with change. And of course, it makes it a bit easier to get back into the flow of work once we return.

What is your preferred mode of vacationing? Have you ever completely unplugged and how were the withdrawal symptoms. If you stayed plugged in, did you feel like you had a holiday.

Post a comment so we can collect some info on how we holiday.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Our Resilient Country http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/our-resilient-country/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/our-resilient-country/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 12:00:33 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3011 Read More]]> resilience-header

What an amazing country we live in. Just last week our nation’s ability to address the worst of us and the best of us came to the forefront. We were tested and passed with flying colors of red, white and blue.

The horrific shootings in Charleston were punctuated not with violence and protests, but with prayers, forgiveness and the singing of Amazing Grace by our President. Then our Supreme Court affirmed the right of all people to marry the person they love and that all the rest of us have to do is to respect and support that love.

Sometimes when I talk with people about the idea that resilience is hardwired into our biology, they don’t seem to grasp this idea. They believe that we don’t deal with our challenges and stress very effectively and that all we can do is try to manage them, and presumably our lives, by just hanging on as best we can.

Last week our nation showed that we adapt to change and even in the face of tragedy we find a way to become better. There is work to be done in terms of equity and justice but we give ourselves the chance to make those improvements.

That is the way it’s been for 239 years. I expect it will continue for many, many years.

Happy Independence Day

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Try Civility http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/try-civility/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/try-civility/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3008 Read More]]> resilience-header

A recent article by Christine Porath in the New York Times discussed civility in the workplace. That’s right…being nice to one another.

Her article pointed out that the bad behaviors we share with each other and from managers contribute to everything from increased health problems to decreased workplace productivity to loss of customers (think about how much tip you leave to a snarly waitperson in a restaurant).

Managers often think that they have to be hard nosed and rude to get employees to do what needs to be done—the old control and command model—but her research and stories, particularly around how millennials expect to be managed support the ideas that rudeness is out and regard for other is in.

Some easy ways to demonstrate more civility with your colleagues and presumably friends and family include:

  • Full engagement listening where you look and attend to the person with whom you are talking.
  • Acknowledging successes and victories.
  • Smiling at people and striking up simple conversations that convey genuine interest.
  • Put down technology and focus on the work at hand.

At the Ochsner Health System in Louisiana employees are encouraged to practice the “10/5 way” where they make eye contact and smile at folks within 10 feet of them and say hello if within 5 feet. Results indicate improved patient satisfaction.

Treating people nicely is an excellent resilience strategy for mitigating your own and other’s stress. It helps cut off negative events before they even happen and it gets everyone working together in a positive manner.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Don’t Take It Personally http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/dont-take-it-personally/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/dont-take-it-personally/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3004 Read More]]> resilience-header

In a recent team development meeting I was facilitating, one of the staff members told me that he was expecting some negative comments from his boss that he did not feel he deserved. He asked me how I thought he should handle it? I asked him what he liked about his boss and he told me that good or bad, his boss always spoke in a respectful manner and what he said was usually fair and often right. I asked him to keep his mouth shut for now and just focus on the manner and content in what his boss was saying without judging it.

He was surprised that I wanted him to focus on his boss’s best quality but that is a great way to separate the person from the issue. I told him that by using this approach, he’ll have time to consider the comments and can more appropriately respond to his boss after he’s had some time to consider the information. Turns out that his boss had a different and legitimate perspective on his performance and even acknowledged that some of the failure was related to some miscommunication on the boss’s part.

Taking negative feedback is tough whether its at work, with our family, or with friends. Sometimes these comments, which are usually not intended to be hurtful hits us right in the guts. If instead of taking a direct hit you can make it more of a glancing blow it becomes less personal and you control how that stress affects you. Get out of the way of the direct hit by focusing on the good.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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My Resilient City http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/my-resilient-city/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/my-resilient-city/#comments Wed, 10 Jun 2015 12:00:06 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=3000 Read More]]> resilience-header

The Rockefeller Foundation provided grants for 100 cities around the world to address resilience in their community. My home town, Pittsburgh was recently named one of those cities.

For the Foundation their grants are intended to help these communities understand and develop resilience plans that develop both prevention and response strategies for potential natural and man made environmental and social events. These can include everything from fires and floods to homelessness and unemployment.

Of course, if there is one city that is the poster child for resilience, that has got to be Pittsburgh. Starting with its early history as the battleground for control of the 18th century frontier to more recent challenges such as the closing of the steel mills in the 1980s, Pittsburgh has endured and transformed herself into a globally recognized “best place to live.”

The connection to community and personal resilience is not as far fetched as one might think, either. Identifying potential stressors and developing strategies to avoid, manage and learn from challenging events is the cornerstone of both models and if we can help our communities deal with disaster better, than that can only help make our lives and world a healthier place to be.

Check out the Rockefeller Foundation’s Resilient City page to see if your city is working on this important topic.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Going at the Speed of the Body http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/going-at-the-speed-of-the-body/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/going-at-the-speed-of-the-body/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 11:28:11 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2994 Read More]]> In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal was a story about chronobiology or what we use to call “circadian rhythms” relates to the 24 hour cycle our bodies experience and how our  internal clock drives a great deal of our behavior. While I am a big believer in our ability to address our behaviors, over the years I’ve developed a healthy respect for biology.

Examples of how powerful this biological imperative is on our bodies include the facts that acid production peaks at nighttime to help digest our evening meal.  The morning sunlight mobilizes cortisol which is the stress hormone that readies us for the day and our body sends out a blood clotting chemical which is thought to have been helpful to ancient hunting man but is problematic for modern day people in that it may contribute to AM heart attacks.

Disruptive patterns as they relate to sleep can cause mood difficulties so you probably shouldn’t be surprised if you are grouchy if you are not getting enough sleep. Of course age plays a key role in all this as well for infants and elders who may already have sleep patterns that are disrupted.

Within the resilience model and based on work by Phil Porter and Cynthia Winton-Henry, two of my teachers, we call this “going at the speed of the body”. How can you recognize what your body needs and how can it respond to biological demands so that you are attuned to your body’s reality and can respect it so that you create greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Some ideas to consider:

  • Create as much routine as you can. Get to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time. Eat regularly meals at about the same time as well
  • Watch your sleep and get on a regular schedule
  • Pay attention to how your body responds to certain demands including food. Last week I had an Italian Ice (for the first time in a year) and I was wired for about 45 minutes from all the sugar.
  • Get as much light as you can in the morning once you awaken and create dark at night
  • Track your body energy from the time you wake up until you go to bed for a week or so to notice how you respond during the course of the day.
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Sometimes the Answer is “No” http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/sometimes-the-answer-is-no/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/sometimes-the-answer-is-no/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 11:29:13 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2997 Read More]]> resilience-header

We may hear “no” many times. It may be in response to a request for a salary increase or in a negotiation on a contract critical to your business. Our teenage children will certainly say no and sometimes in the face of a health crisis, the doctor’s response may suggest that there is nothing that can be done about an illness.

While our resilience approach would suggest that we can always carry on and find a path to overcome the challenge, sometimes the best path can also be acceptance that we cannot control or make things work the way we want them to in all situations.

Acceptance is a unique art form as it means letting go of what we want and allowing something else to come to pass. Acceptance has the advantage of putting ourselves back in control by allowing us to decide a new priority. As a result we determine where we put our valuable energy so that it is not spent being wasted on something that won’t happen.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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They’re Not The Soft Skills; They are The Essential Skills http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/theyre-not-the-soft-skills-they-are-the-essential-skills/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/theyre-not-the-soft-skills-they-are-the-essential-skills/#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:00:42 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2989 Read More]]> Time and again, I hear leaders in organization refer to listening, ethics, patience, humor and understanding (among many others) as the “soft skills”. They are referencing them in comparison to data driven quantifiable skills such as creating a spread sheet, analyzing productions schedules, and tracking sales projections.

While their intent may not be to demean human relations skills, the net result is usually that people see these people skills as less important than the quantitative  skills.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The feedback from the CEO was that one of his team leaders was a great technical leader but that he approached everything in his work with “pointy elbows” and a desire to always get his way. When I asked him about his reputation within the company, he told me that he believed everyone thought he was a great leader. After completing a 360 with his boss, peers and direct reports, the findings revealed that he earned his respect through fear and intimidation. He was viewed as effective but his interpersonal skills was so rough that people mostly responded to stay out of his way.

He was, of course, shocked by these findings and recognized that his ability to influence others as well as his future with the organization hung in his ability to improve these so called “soft skills.” Over the months we worked together, he began to see the benefits of improving his interpersonal and relationship skills and that he became more successful at building his own team along with strengthening other part of the company where his technical skills delivered great value but only because he was able to effectively communicate and relate to others. At the end of our work together, he was the one who told me that these are not soft skills but are essential for his success.

In my corporate consulting work, I see that technical competencies are actually far easier to obtain and/or develop than are the personal and interpersonal skills.  People are prepared to study and focus on technical skills but assume that the interpersonal skills are not that important and are easily developed.

But they soon find out that without the development of these competencies, all the technical expertise is for naught if you cannot get people on your side.Furthermore the importance of the interpersonal skills have become critical in work situations where communication is essential, teamwork is expected and resilience to challenging situations is demanded.

I’m grateful to this reluctant client who nailed the importance of these skills and competencies in becoming a great leader, effective employee and nice person

Lets build a bandwagon around the “Essentials” and make them the operating foundation in the workplace. Don’t let anyone get away with calling them “soft skills” again.

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“Feelin’ Groovy” http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/feelin-groovy/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/feelin-groovy/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 12:16:51 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2985 Read More]]> resilience-header

Engaged individuals, whether at work or play use discretionary energy to achieve success. They try harder.

Research done by the Gallup organization shows that only about 30% of all employees are engaged in their work and even more surprising only 35% of their managers are fully into their jobs.

A metric to improve engagement is to increase “subjective well-being (SWB)” which is feeling good about ourselves and our life situation. Factors such as health, having a sense of purpose, social relations and financial security all contribute to SWB.

Subject well-being builds immunity to difficult times. We are able to endure challenges with more energy and optimism if we feel we can conquer the world or at least sense that we are doing okay.

Take a moment to ask yourself “how am I doing?” The answer is probably pretty good. Build on that by recognizing the good things you do to take care of yourself and how that helps you stay focused and engaged in what you are doing this week. It may be about an additional push on a project or reaching out to a colleague to repair a wounded relationship. Take some of your discretionary energy and help make your world a little better.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Go Slow to Go Fast http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/go-slow-to-go-fast/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/go-slow-to-go-fast/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 12:00:09 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2980 Read More]]> resilience-header

I had a golf match this past week and going into the 18th hole we were all tied. I missed my putt for par that would have given me a win and instead of taking my time to line up my little 3 footer, I proceeded to putt away and missed, and with it my chance to continue the match and a chance for victory. Oops!

It’s easy to get on the fast track runway. We reach for our smart phones first thing in the morning to check the temperature outside instead of opening the patio door. We look at our Outlook calendar to see what we are going to do today instead of thinking about and then writing down what we hope to accomplish this day. And at the end of the day we collapse into our sofa’s to try to get away from it all instead of considering what it is all about.

There is a movement afoot to bring back the slow lifestyle. There is slow food, slow parenting, slow travel and even slow technology, all geared to help us unhurry our pace so that we have more time to think, use our time successfully and make 3 foot putts.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Celebrating Success http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/celebrating-success/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/celebrating-success/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2977 Read More]]> resilience-header

What great things have you already gotten done this week and how are you acknowledging your victories? Most of us fall back on our modesty and humility and don’t want to be seen as being braggadocios and tooting your own horn.

Building confidence in our ability to get things done and persevere through the tough stuff is built on our successes and not failures and owning them builds our hardiness and faith.

So this week, I am going to brag that I am thrilled to announce that I’ve received a contract to write a commercially published book on resilience in business. The book’s working title is The Resilience Advantage and the manuscript is due November 1, 2015. I’ll be working hard this summer focusing on getting my ideas in my computer and am looking to talk with folks about their experiences with resilience in the workplace. Let me know if you have a great story or idea.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Change Resilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/change-resilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/change-resilience/#comments Wed, 06 May 2015 12:27:33 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2960 Read More]]> resilience-header

I had the pleasure the other day to talk with a newly retired Air Force Colonel who had spent 25 years in the military and had flown missions all around the world.

He was most excited, however, about his transition to civilian life and his new job with a large family owned company where he would be leading the charge to help the company transition from their “family owned mindset” to developing a more “corporate business mindset.”

He told me he went to meet with his new staff the other day and used his upfront and plain speaking approach to management. “This is what I do and this is how I like to work as a team,” he told his new colleagues. He assured them that while this project would be big it was doable and that there would be significant challenges to change the hearts and minds of long time employees.

We talked about this from a resilience point of view and I mentioned about my perspective of the importance of preparation in successfully addressing high stress events and he thought that his enthusiasm and can do attitude would probably make the biggest difference in getting and keeping everyone engaged, focused, and on point.

Excitement is contagious, especially when you have big changes you are facing. Getting ahead of the curve is a rarely recognized and unappreciated part of resilience but it helps insure success throughout your projects.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Your Resilient Buddy http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/your-resilient-buddy/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/your-resilient-buddy/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 11:26:10 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2949 Read More]]> resilient-blog

We’ve just come back from Tucson, AZ where we spent a fantastic week with family celebrating the wedding of my niece Caity and her new husband Andrew. I’ve been to the Sonoran Desert many times and if there is one place that represents the importance of resilience, it must be that unforgiving desert.

I’ve always been intrigued by the special relationship between the Palo Verde Tree and the Saguaro Cactus. Most people immediately recognize the Saguaro by its tall upright presence and striking arms that grow out of it over its century long life span. During its early years, the young Saguaro would not survive the heat of the Arizona summer and needs a symbiotic partner to help protect it from the intense sun. It receives its “nurse” care from the Palo Verde that allows the Saguaro to grow up under the cover of its branches. Through nature’s careful orchestration, the long-lived and vital Saguaro is protected and has its stress minimized.

We humans call this kind of symbiotic relationship “helping behaviors” and they particularly occur when we do our best to support others to avoid dangerous situations. The key as is the case of the Palo Verde is not to expect anything in return but to know that we are serving a greater good that will benefit others. And even though it seems as if there is not a great deal of recognition for the Palo Verde, those in the know, know.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Are You Late to the Party? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/are-you-late-to-the-party/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/are-you-late-to-the-party/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 12:00:52 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2754 Read More]]> resilient-blog

A story in this week’s New York Time Magazine discussed the history of mindfulness education in America and points out that it has its origins from the 1880s where a British judge translated the term from the Buddhist concept of sati into our word for attention.

Mindfulness, as a brand, took root during the 1960s and under the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn has reached all the way into hospitals, executive c-suites, professional sports teams, and even into public education.

Prospect Hill Academy Charter School in Somerville, MA is providing all of its 300 elementary school children mindfulness classes throughout the week as a way of helping them bring more focus and attention to their lives both inside and outside of school. School leaders believe that today’s generation of students carry a lot of stress in their lives and will benefit from a few minutes of a quiet mind.

I still face the challenges of people looking at me weirdly when I mention doing a mindfulness exercise at a workshop or in a coaching session. Concerns about closing eyes, focusing on breathing and letting go of thinking is imposing for most of us. But after just a few minutes as people’s face’s relax and their breaths become deeper and softer, they awaken from this brief respite renewed and relaxed and wonder why they don’t do it more often.

It’s not too late to join the party. Just go ahead and take a deep breath and let it out with a verbal sigh…

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Managers as Motivators http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/managers-as-motivators/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/managers-as-motivators/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 12:00:25 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2751 Read More]]> resilient-blog

One of my former bosses use to ask us during times of high stress, “why do you think they call it work?” He believed that by asking that question it would give us a perspective that our work is hard, but what it mostly did was to demoralize people to expect that nothing better could be expected from our work. Instead of motivating us to excel, his efforts pushed us towards mediocrity.

In a recent research piece, the Gallup Organization identified some more effective ways that managers can support their employees so that workplace stress can be handled more effectively and employees can be more energized to get the work done efficiently. Their highlights included:

  • Manager leadership is the primary driver of how effective a work team is in being engaged and getting work done accounting for 70% of the variance
  • Effective communication through regular meetings, face to face interactions along with phone and messaging are critical to keeping employees in the loop and engaged in the work.
  • Managers who show an interest in their employees and can talk with them about work and their personal/family life create a vital connection that helps weather challenging situations
  • Great managers help their employees develop professionally by building in time to discuss their development and by helping employees build and execute a plan based on their strengths to achieve their objectives.

As a manager you have the power to help your employees strive for high performance through the recognition that they need your support and ideas to make their work meaningful.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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The Nutty Way To Resilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-nutty-way-to-resilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-nutty-way-to-resilience/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 12:00:20 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2747 Read More]]> resilient-blog

Keeping our immune system strong is great for being resilient so that we have “energy reserves” when we have to face the next stressor of the day. This makes sense because if our bodies are not battling inside they can better handle what is happening outside. This internal battle can create inflammation at the cellular level.

Inflammation is an autoimmune response that our bodies put into play when they have to respond to some crisis. While some inflammation situations are good such as when we cut our finger, other types of inflammation such as when we get into reacting to that idiot on the road are not so good.

Foods rich in Omega–3 oils (fish like tuna and salmon) veggies (like spinach, romaine lettuce and cauliflower) nuts and seeds (such as walnuts and pumpkin seeds) all help to keep down inflammation in our bodies. And if the inflammation can be lowered, then when we do face a stress situation, we have a bit more resources available to us.

I carry a little tin of nuts in my car that I munch on during the day. I eat them as a snack as I drive from meeting to meeting and find them both tasty and filling. However if I find myself really frustrated by that idiot on the road, I sometimes even consider throwing a cashew or macadamia their way.

Nuts…they really help build the resilience.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Fail Good http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/fail-good/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/fail-good/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:00:58 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2741 Read More]]> resilient-blog

It was a Monday morning 6 years ago when I walked into my boss’s office at the UPMC Health Plan for my weekly meeting with him. I knew the company was planning layoffs for that week but was shocked when I saw our HR partner in the room and immediately knew what that meant.

I was being let go. Laid off. Position eliminated. Not needed any more. Kaput!

It took me awhile to overcome my shame about that event and to be able to talk about it with others. It’s was hard for me to talk about what seemed like a failure. Embarrassment, humiliation, fear, self-loathing, concerns about how others will think of me all contributed to my unwillingness to discuss my failure.

After some appropriate grieving, reflection and planning, I moved on and have now built a successful consulting practice on the heels of that experience. I was strongly motivated to not just lie down and go away. Many people told me they were surprised that we didn’t pack our bags and leave Pittsburgh, but instead I just responded to the challenge. Besides we loved this town.

Although I would have to admit that it was difficult, I can now say that this failure was very good for me especially since it helped me to decide what I would do next in what has been an amazingly diverse career.

What I found out and what most of us find out is that the failure is just a temporary detour on our journey. At the worst, it’s a head slam that jolts us to find our true north and at the least it’s a gentle nudge that says “hey, things aren’t going quite right”. Either way, we want to pay attention to it, find our resilient self and get onto something new and better.

Feel free to leave a comment about a failure you’ve been wanting to share and how you used it for something better.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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Get Smart. Build Your Mental Muscle http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/get-smart-build-your-mental-muscle/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/get-smart-build-your-mental-muscle/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 13:30:32 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2737 Read More]]> resilient-blog

As I got off the elevator I saw a room full of folks with their faces buried in their computer screens.

When I got down to my client’s office he told me that a chunk of his team had been pulled off their day to day tasks to work on a special project creating several new web features for their marketing and sales team.

“Its really mentally challenging work” he told me “They have to analyze this data, make a determination of fit and then fit it into our web site in such a way that will allow the data to be used for sales to new and existing customers.”

He went onto tell me that he was really proud of how the team stepped up and that he is doing everything he can to help them stay focused. He’s bought them lunch, brought is some consultants to help with some technical issues and trying to keep things as light-hearted as possible.

“Yesterday, I went into the room and asked if everyone was having fun with data?” Just a few folks raised their hand, he told me, but when he went onto to say “if you aren’t having fun, then he’d have to give them a hug, all hands shot up quickly.” They all enjoyed a good laugh. His team had been working on this project for a couple of weeks and was showing some big time mental toughness.

Mental toughness is about working hard and quickly and dealing with challenges in a way that is requires persistent, focus and determination. His team had it.

Some ways to build that kind of toughness for yourself and your team include:

  • Focus on the essentials: Michelangelo said that he sculpted David by removing everything from the granite that was not David.
  • Look for learning opportunities: We want to make challenges as easy as possible. Turn to others to see how they are solving problems.
  • Don’t get impeded by failure: Failing is the best way to learn. Take it and move on.
  • No Whining: Complaining doesn’t really solve anything. You want to come up with solutions to problems.
  • Celebrate: My client knew how to show appreciation and acknowledge success.
  • © Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

    ]]> http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/get-smart-build-your-mental-muscle/feed/ 0 Resilience and Big Data http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/resilience-and-big-data/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/resilience-and-big-data/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:00:19 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2733 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    I had the opportunity this past week to speak with Dr. Marty Seligman from the University or Pennsylvania who is the founder of positive psychology and a groundbreaker in the area of resilience.

    He shared about a project he is working on that is using big data to assess the health and wellness of communities across the country. His research is important because most research around things like employee satisfaction and even happiness is based on survey type data such as employee engagement studies.

    Seligman and his colleagues instead collected data from Twitter posts and analyzed the words that were used in different counties across the country. They were able to collect enough tweets to cover over 1300 counties and converted the data into word clusters that reflected behaviors, emotions and attitudes.

    The researchers found that negative emotional language such as words like “hate” or “despise”, were strongly correlated with heart disease and death. Positive emotional language such as “strong”, “opportunities” and “hope” showed the opposite relationship suggesting that positive experiences may be protective against heart disease.

    The importance of this research is two fold. First and most importantly it points out that more positive emotions are healthier for us and that by considering how we can change our language to a more positive frame we can reduce the risk of coronary disease. This is a relatively easy and straightforward resilience strategy.

    Second it points out that by collecting significant amounts of “unobtrusive data” rather than purposefully collected survey data, we can begin to make assumptions and develop interventions that can impact large groups of people whether they be communities or our corporations.

    Think about your language today and see if you can build more positives into your words.

    © Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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    Getting That Job http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/getting-that-job/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/getting-that-job/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2727 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    The war for talent is beginning to heat up again. I hear from employees who are beginning to look for jobs with more opportunities than they have in their current position and from employers who are telling me that it is getting harder to find good people.

    One of the qualities both sides report needing are people who are resilient to the challenges facing the workplace. This week I want to share a few ideas for job hunters about how to present yourself as being able to handle the pressures of high performance workplaces.

    Next week, we’ll look on the employer side.

    If you are thinking about making a move from your current job or returning to the workplace here are a few keys to keep in mind during your interviews and discussions.

    • Emphasize your agility: Most people are doing more than is in their job description. Special projects, professional development opportunities and creating the new and different are all part of today’s workplace. Mention the time you headed a workplace committee and how your leadership made that project a success.
    • Understand the generations: Today’s workplace is comprised of multiple generations of workers. Make sure you understand the needs of millennials and boomers and can speak the language of each. If you are going to manage or work with a group of young professionals and you are of the boomer generation, make sure you know how to communicate effectively using social media, texting and in person.
    • Be solution oriented: It’s easy to figure out what is not working. The key is to have solutions to problems. Be prepared to discuss things that did not work out in previous jobs and how you remedied them. It may be difficult to tell about a workplace failure but redemption is powerful. Resilience isn’t at all about getting it right all the time but it is about learning from mistakes every time.

    You’ll need all the resilience you can muster in today’s workplace. Remember to keep breathing!

    © Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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    Find Your Happiness http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/find-your-happiness/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/find-your-happiness/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 13:00:12 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2723 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    We use resilience not to overcome the stress in our lives but to achieve something greater…happiness. It is the sense of a satisfying and rewarding life we strive for and our ability to be resilient with stress moves us closer to finding joy.

    Researchers talk about three kinds of happiness that we can experience in our lives. These include:

    • Moment to moment happiness that relates to the small pleasures we encounter each day. A blooming flower or an acknowledging word for a job well done. Small events that, if we allow, can bring a smile to our face.
    • Success in our day translates to a job well done. We set out on a path to get a certain amount accomplished and when we’ve reached our goal, it’s time for an acknowledgement. It may not have been perfect or even pretty but as the sun sets we find satisfaction in what we’ve achieved.
    • Reaching life goals whether it is raising a healthy family or finishing a major life project creates a feeling of success that transcends our day to day trivialities and transforms us through our sense of accomplishment and increased confidence to a new level of happiness.

    Our bodies are built for happiness and there are many ways, large and small to experience joy. Look for them and you’ll find yourself smiling a bit more each day.

    © Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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    The Conflict Resilient Workplace http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-conflict-resilient-workplace/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-conflict-resilient-workplace/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 13:00:32 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2720 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    Conflict is inevitable but the suffering and inefficiencies that accompany it in the workplace are optional.

    A recent survey of workplace stressors pointed out that conflict with co-workers is one of the leading sources of distress and lost productivity. Consider the time wasted with unresolved workplace problems and the gossip, frustration, and potential retribution that accompany conflict among your workplace colleagues.

    Developing a conflict resilient workplace means that you and your team have an effective process for recognizing and addressing conflict and even looks for the opportunities to use the tension associated with the disagreement as an opportunity for constructive resolution.

    Here are some ideas to look for in building a workplace that is uses conflict as a source of growth:

    • Run towards conflict and not away from it. Conflict rarely gets better on its own and if it is not addressed will usually get worse.
    • Consider how you can take the conflict and make a positive out of the situation. People are listening to one another…sit them down together and practice listening skills to make sure they truly understand the other’s point of view.
    • Provide your team members with an understanding of their conflict style and help them to see there are many different ways.
    • Use the conflict to change your culture. If team members do not work well together, superordinate a goal and get them to collaborate to achieve the desired outcomes.

    If you’d like to discuss ways to build a conflict resilient workplace, feel free to contact me to discuss how we can develop a strategy to improve how your team deals with workplace skirmishes.

    © Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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    Relationship Ratios http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/relationship-ratios/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/relationship-ratios/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2715 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    With Valentine’s Day just a few days away, it makes sense to remind ourselves that our relationships are a primary way to build our resilience. Having your best bud around to talk about, reflect and problem solve our daily and life challenges keeps us in balance and out ahead of the storms.

    A key measure that you can keep in mind for our partnerships is 5:1. Providing your partner 5 positive statements to every negative statement will help insure that your relationship stays on track.

    According to research done by psychologists John and Julie Gottman, healthy relationships that maintain that ratio on a regular basis are stronger, last longer and are happier. Affirming statements could include:

    • Sharing small appreciations.
    • Expressing admiration.
    • Turning towards your partner and asking for what you need from the relationship.
    • Looking for solutions to problems rather than causes of problems.
    • Creating fun events that make memories.
    • Striving to find a way to make life dreams come true, like trips to special places.
    • Developing a healthy approach to conflict.

    Small steps every day will make your Valentine heart grow strong all year long.

    © Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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    Watch Your Language http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/watch-your-language/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/watch-your-language/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2709 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    I was coaching a senior leader who’s been working on decreasing his tendency to micromanage his employees. He’s been making good progress but he received some feedback from his team that he was, once again, directing their day-to-day activities and failing to give them the freedom and opportunity to run their own projects.

    “Sometimes I am my own worst enemy” he told me in our coaching session. “I just always think I have to make sure everything gets taken care of and the only way I know to do that is to take over.” he exclaimed to me with an air of frustration.

    I suggested to him that he could rethink how he conceptualizes this problem and could definitely change his self-talk language as well. My perspective, I told him, is that he cares deeply about the work and his team and he wants to make sure that success and results are achieved.

    I asked him to consider the possibility that there could be multiple paths to success and that instead of sabotaging his thoughts with ideas of enemy action, he could instead consider that he is actually his own best friend and with that idea he could spark the possibility of alternative thinking which could include letting his team take their shot at managing their own work.

    Speaking to ourselves in positive ways is another key to being resilient. Life is tough enough without berating our own actions. After all, we need all the friends we can get.

    © Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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    Your Community’s Resilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/your-communitys-resilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/your-communitys-resilience/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2706 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    I was coming out of my MBA accounting class when I saw the tornado sweeping down 7th Street in Fort Worth. I was out of danger but not the downtown. Soon I could see buildings shaking and windows shattering. The twister they said would never hit the City brought its full force and fury. Two people died and over 80 buildings sustained damage. That was 2000.

    It didn’t take long for the people of Fort Worth to pick up the broken shards of glass and rebuild the devastated parts of town. It was really just a matter of a few years before every building was redone and new construction strengthened the Downtown.

    Resilient communities are more than just responding to natural and manmade disasters, however. Resilient communities are places where people care about where they live and contribute to the well-being and health of their home. They are places where people plant neighborhood gardens, help a neighbor who is shut in and volunteer to mentor a young person. These small efforts strengthen the fabric of our communities.

    I’ve always been an active volunteer in community organizations, from the arts to government and human service. I love meeting the interesting people, helping those I can help, and having a sense of satisfaction that I am giving back to the community.

    Many of you also do your share for your community. Thank you for making your neighborhood, village, city and community better and for contributing to make them more resilient.

    © Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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    Do Really Want to Hear My Comments? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/do-really-want-to-hear-my-comments/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/do-really-want-to-hear-my-comments/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 19:23:20 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2703 Read More]]> I was invited out to lunch the other day by a friend who wanted to talk to me about his career. After ordering my usual luncheon salad I listened intensely to his description of concerns about his business.

    After about 20 minutes he seemed to have finished up and just as I was ready to give him some feedback, I stopped myself and asked him…”now exactly what is it that I can do to be helpful to you?”

    Of course, as a psychologist people are always asking me for advice or ideas about their work or professional matters and for many years I freely gave them my opinion, whether they wanted it or not.

    Recently however, I’ve become much more selective in how I give feedback. I don’t assume that everyone wants my opinion and I am especially careful about keeping my mouth shut unless I am asked.

    Feedback is a delicate process. While our intent is to be helpful, the result is often that our opinion comes across as biting or negative and is not always given in a way that benefits the receiver. Part of that may be our approach to giving feedback but the other side of the equation relates to whether the person is open and ready to receive it.

    Here are some ideas on giving and getting feedback

    Giving:

    • Ask the person whether they want any feedback for an activity they have completed.
    • Check with them about where and when you give feedback—some people want it 1-1, while others might prefer email. Someone else might like the feedback immediately while someone else might prefer it a few days later.
    • Be respectful and specific in how you provide information. Avoid inflammatory words or opinions and stick to facts. For example, do say “ I like how you walked around the room during your presentation and didn’t stand behind the podium” vs. “You looked totally confused when you stepped out from the podium.”
    • Don’t sugarcoat your feedback but find some positives to acknowledge.
    • Give them some time to process your information. Some people are immediate learners while others are more reflective. If they want to talk about your feedback right away, go ahead and listen. No need to defend your comments, you can just hear them out
    • Keep your exchange private.

    Getting Feedback

    • If you want some feedback, be clear on what you want. If you want someone to review a report you wrote, do you want feedback on your grammar or whether the report makes sense?
    • Think of it as a gift that a friend is giving you.
    • Manage your non-verbal communication. Pay attention to whether you are getting defensive and if so, go ahead and ask the person to slow down or to explain their observations in more detail.
    • Accept all feedback, even if you think it is wrong. You’ll always have time later to clarify and correct any misunderstandings.
    • Thank your friend or colleague for sharing their ideas with you.

    My friend sent me a note this morning thanking me for our conversation. He has started following up on some of the suggestions I made and I could read in his email a new sense of excitement about his work.  Feedback can be a great way to help others. Just make sure you are giving and getting in a healthy way.

     

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    Building Family Resilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/building-family-resilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/building-family-resilience/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 13:46:59 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2700 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    We continue our four part series on Building Resilience in 2015 and this week it’s all about your family.

    I’m committed to building our family resilience this year by focusing on improving my praise and compliment giving to my family members. By reinforcing what we do well, our strengths, we build hardiness. Hardiness creates self-assurance and the capacity to withstand difficulties. Here are some ways to build up for family’s endurance and toughness.

    • Celebrate success: Watch how professional athletes celebrate every little thing from a first down to a touch down. These guys know how to party. Try taking on that same attitude around small wins at home. Give your spouse a hug for making vacation plans or tell your kids you are proud of them for helping a friend.
    • Encourage risk taking: We hear about “helicopter parents” who are always trying to protect their kids from danger but like vaccines that actually give you a small amount of virus so we can build antibodies to the disease, we have to subject our kids to a certain amount of challenge so they can see what it is like to face adversity.
    • Be specific: When giving praise, identify the specific ways that your family member was successful. Don’t say, “you did a great job on your homework” but instead say “I’m so proud of how you solved that math problem and could explain all the steps you took to solve the problem.”

    Consider how much healthier and happier you and your family can be this year by acknowledging all the amazing things they do each and every day. Our families are our primary source of support and love. See if you can build that up every day.

    © Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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    Building Business Resilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/building-business-resilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/building-business-resilience/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2688 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    Change is in the air in the workplace and we’re all coming to terms with the idea that we have to become more efficient and effective in how we do our work. There is simply not enough time to get everything done and the result is that we wind up feeling exhausted and worn down—not a good resilience strategy. Here are some strategies that I think will be de rigeur for 2015

    • Forget the standard 60-minute meeting: Determine ahead of time how long your meeting needs to be and schedule it for just that amount of time.
    • Change your communication patterns: The Coca-Cola corporation recently banned voice mails since they often lead to unproductive “telephone tag”. Face to face communication or texting will become the communication of choice this year.
    • Go towards challenges: We learn and grow from challenges. Don’t think I want to do as little as possible. Instead work to fill up your dance cards with interesting projects and then ask to have the old mundane taken off your plate.
    • Build In Gap Time: Build in transition times between meetings. Catching up on your rest can be done in short spurts. Excuse yourself before the next meeting and head over to the “rest room”. Why do you think it is called that?
    • Your best friend: Develop a best friend relationship at work. Its not about commiserating but about having a colleague who you can rely on for ideas and support.

    © Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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    Your 2015 Resilience Plan http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/your-2015-resilience-plan/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/your-2015-resilience-plan/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 13:52:54 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2677 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    The New Year holiday represents an opportunity to consider how you want to shape 2015 for yourself.

    Over the next 4 Resilient Wednesday’s, I would like to discuss some small ideas to build your resilience in 2015:

    • Week 1: Building Personal Resilience
    • Week 2: Building Business Resilience
    • Week 3: Building Family Resilience
    • Week 4: Building Community Resilience

    Personal Resilience

    1. Don’t make any resolutions: Research shows that resolutions fail. Instead identify some new habits you want to develop and work on them for 30 days. Track yourself for accountability and then give yourself a reward.
    2. Get more sleep: Try a sleep track app like SleepBot that will help you assess the quality of your sleep. There is no better idea for improving your energy than getting better sleep.
    3. Decrease your exercise: The newest research is saying that you don’t have to exercise intensely for an hour. As little as 10 minutes multiple times a day can be great. Instead of continuing to do the same machines, meet with a fitness coach and get a new routine.
    4. Build some mindfulness into your day: Download a mindfulness app like Headspace or The Mindfulness App and begin your meditation practice. Mindfulness will be big in 2015 and you want to make sure you get on the cool side early.
    5. Pay It Forward: Research has shown that we feel better when we do nice things for others. I’ve committed to write more personal letters to friends and colleagues this year thanking them or recognizing their good work. I’m enjoying rediscovering letter writing and my buds like being acknowledged.

    © Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015

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    Five Tips for A Resilient Holiday http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/five-tips-for-a-resilient-holiday/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/five-tips-for-a-resilient-holiday/#comments Wed, 24 Dec 2014 18:17:02 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2673 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    1. Appreciation: Savor the moments you are with the ones you love. Create mental memories of their facial expressions or sounds of excitement as they open a gift or share a story.
    2. Ask for and offer help: There is a lot to get done and plenty of people around to help out. Don’t take on all the responsibilities nor should you leave it all to someone else. It’s a family thing.
    3. Take time for you: This is your holiday season as well, so make some time for to enjoy things you like to do. Perhaps it’s a solitary walk in the woods, or working on your favorite hobby. Enjoy yourself.
    4. Enjoy and build tradition: Family traditions create a sense of comfort essential for being resilient. Enjoy these rituals and consider adding a new one to the routine that will carry forward in your family.
    5. Laugh out loud: Santa’s lived a long life in part due to his jolly style. Follow his lead and make your laugh big and bold. (Research shows it laugher makes endorphins too!)

    We’ll be travelling this holiday season visiting our kids in different locations. Our bags will be packed with gifts and our hearts will be full of love as we celebrate our time together.

    My wish is for you to have a wonderful holiday season. See you in 2015!

    © Richard Citrin, 2014

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    The Resilient City http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-resilient-city/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-resilient-city/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:16:08 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2670 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    My new hometown, Pittsburgh, recently was named one of the world’s most resilient cities by the Rockefeller Foundation. The “Resilient City” project being undertaken by the Foundation will name 100 large and small cities across the globe that will receive funding to develop strategies to address many of the challenges that are facing local communities. So far they have named 77 cities.

    The Resilient City project focuses on 4 areas of resilience including infrastructure and environment, economics and financial systems, health and well-being and leadership and community engagement.

    Of course, Pittsburgh can be the definition of resilience having transformed itself from the depths of the steel plant closing crisis in the 1980’s to now being consistently cited as one of the most vibrant, highly educated, and livable cities in the world.

    Building resilience at the societal level will only help to insure confidence in our global ability to address big and small challenges. Building resilience at the personal level will help build happiness.

    © Richard Citrin, 2014

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    Appreciative Inquiry: An Organizational Development Resilience Strategy http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/appreciative-inquiry-an-organizational-development-resilience-strategy/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/appreciative-inquiry-an-organizational-development-resilience-strategy/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2656 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    In much of my work with individuals, I focus on a strengths-based approach helping people identify and acknowledge the skills that help them become successful. I find this approach much more amenable to professional growth as opposed to focusing just on weaknesses, which for many of us, is our default mode.

    In the same way, Appreciative Inquiry (AI) can be used to help organizations focus on positive approaches for decision-making and strategic change. Developed in the late 1980s at Case Western Reserve, AI works to move businesses away from just trying to solve problems to the larger scope of creating new solutions to organizational challenges.

    As opposed to problem solving methodologies that focus on causes and analysis, Appreciative Inquiry begins by valuing what is working for the organization before moving onto how to envision possibilities, engaging in dialogue before innovating the future. In many ways, AI tries to leapfrog the linear problem solving approach to move the organization beyond today’s problem and into tomorrow’s solution.

    Organizational resilience entails developing new approaches to growing business. Operational Excellence and Lean Technologies work to accomplish this in manufacturing and The Sanctuary Model does the same within human services. All of these focus on how to make things work better and begin with an appreciation for what we have within our organizations.

    There are many paths to resilience but most begin by recognizing what we do well.

    My thanks to Ellie Monaco for this idea about Appreciative Inquiry

    © Richard Citrin, 2014

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    Happy Thanksgiving Day http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/happy-thanksgiving-day/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/happy-thanksgiving-day/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2653 resilient-blog

     

    © Richard Citrin, 2014

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    Gratitude http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/gratitude-2/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/gratitude-2/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:15:09 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2650 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    Last week, I conducted a series of presentations to employees at an industrial plant as part of their ongoing education on Stress Resilience. We had a great time as the employees talked about their upcoming holiday stress and how we’ll all be dealing with our crazy Uncle Albert (or someone) who is sure to disrupt some of the festivities.

    Gratitude came up as a topic of discussion in most of the sessions, as a strategy to improve our own resilience and to truly enjoy the spirit of the season.

    We’re all pretty good about being thankful around this time of the year but I think its possible to build gratitude as a habit all year round. The key to building a habit entails making small changes but doing so on an everyday basis. Here are some ideas to increase your gratitude habit.

    • Write a handwritten note to different colleagues (not an email) once per week or even one per month thanking them for their help on a project.
    • Wave an appreciative thank you to someone who lets you into the flow of traffic (please do it safely).
    • Call up a relative who you’ve not talked to for awhile and just check in with them (I called my son in law yesterday and we talked for nearly an hour!)
    • Look at service professionals (waiters, cashiers, sales people) directly in the eye and thank them for being helpful.
    • Acknowledge your good work with a personal slap on the back and recognition of a job well done.

    Gratitude is a great way to build your personal resilience and to help others feel good about themselves. It provides a great return on investment in building your own and others resilience.

    © Richard Citrin, 2014

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    The Pursuit of Happiness http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-pursuit-of-happiness/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-pursuit-of-happiness/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 08:00:57 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2644 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    One of our inalienable rights as Americans is to pursue happiness and certainly if we are building resilience in the face ofchallenging life events, the goal surely must be to find that elusive state.

    Opinions differ about exactly what makes happiness. Most research has focused on overcoming our negativities (as we discussed a few weeks ago on the Negativity Bias) which can include ideas to deal with everything from anxiety to depression. Happiness definitions vary but typically include the idea that happiness relates to the overall enjoyment of our life through engagement and meaning as well as the momentary pleasures we derive from life’s little gifts.

    Research is showing that about 50% of our ability to be happy is genetically linked which means that we are able to control about half of what contributes to our happiness. Defining in a concrete manner, what brings you joy, may provide the greatest opportunity to be happy.

    In a recent study at Stanford by psychologist Jennifer Aiker, people who were able to identify a specific goal they were working towards achieving reported a higher level of “concrete happiness” than those who had a more “hazy” objective for themselves. Her research, drawn from interviewing patients undergoing bone marrow treatment showed that those patients who focused on finding a specific donor for the treatment had a higher level of happiness than those patients who just had the more abstract idea that a bone marrow treatment would give them a “greater hope” for survival.

    Some ideas for increasing happiness:

    • Set specific objectives for what you want to achieve today. Make them reachable and attainable and then be certain to celebrate them, even if it is just a quiet, personal “YES”.
    • Consider how you could be helpful to someone else. Bringing a little happiness to another person is a great way to “share the wealth” and it almost certainly means that some joy will be coming back your way.
    • Talk to others about what makes them happy. We tend not to focus on good things so bringing up the topic can help demystify and authorize happiness as a way of living.

    To join the discussion on The Pursuit of Happiness, please go to my blog at: http://www.citrinconsulting.com/blog/

    © Richard Citrin, 2014

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    Being Cool in Real Time Stress http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/being-cool-in-real-time-stress/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/being-cool-in-real-time-stress/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 08:00:08 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2640 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    One of the most challenging parts of being resilient is staying in the moment when a stressful event is happening.

    Examples of successful navigation almost seem heroic at times. A fire fighter running into a burning house, superstars like LeBron James sinking that last second jump shot to win the game or a news reporter detailing events from the front line of a war zone.

    Some of these qualities may be hardwired into these first responders, professional athletes or journalists, but for the rest of us, we may find ourselves tensing up with even a mini-crisis like what might happen in a fast paced, high stress work place. Whether it is having to prepare a last minute presentation to your boss or responding to an acting out teenager, confronting acute and intense stressful situations are difficult.

    What I generally see, however, is that most people do step up to these situations and handle them well. Some ideas for you to try:

    • Understand your mission: You have a job, its your responsibility and you are adult enough to take on the challenge.
    • Trust your instincts: Whether it is admitting a mistake or pushing back on unrealistic expectations, speak your truth.
    • Breathe: We tend to stop breathing when under stress. If there is nothing else for you to do but listen…make sure you are breathing
    • Keep to facts: Stress creates emotional responses for us and while imparting the importance of how you feel is vital, make sure it is accompanied by the data that supports your position.
    • Practice, practice, practice: Even if I have just a few minutes before a presentation, I’ll verbally practice what I am going to say so that I’ve gotten a little rehearsal in before the real event.

    Nothing is more satisfying than making it through a challenging event successfully. Don’t be surprised if you are better at it than you think.

    © Richard Citrin, 2014

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    The New Mecca of Relaxation: Your Neighborhood Airport Terminal http://www.citrinconsulting.com/life-balance/the-new-mecca-of-relaxation-your-neighborhood-airport-terminal/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/life-balance/the-new-mecca-of-relaxation-your-neighborhood-airport-terminal/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 12:39:50 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2636 Read More]]> All eyes turned up to the TV monitor at the Delta terminal this afternoon as the announcer started talking about travel stress.  It’s tough being a road warrior today. From the travel to the airport, through TSA screening and hoping that you board early enough to get you baggage in the overhead, flying is a long way from the elegant easy going bygone days before we had to worry about terrorists blowing up our planes.

    It’s been 14 years since flying was fun. Can we reclaim a little bit of it back?airport

    The story on the monitor began with soft relaxing music as the commentator walked leisurely down the hall, past rushed and harried passengers.  His excitement showed as he shared his discoveries about how we can manage our travel stress.

    Three stops…massage, sleep, and mind alteration were all part of the formula and after watching his story,  I decided that the 2 ½ hours until my next flight provided the opportunity to personally check out whether I could find my little slice of relaxation heaven at LaGuardia.

    Over to Terminal B I headed to check out the Xpress Spa. A lineup of chair massage seats awaited me as I stepped into the shop and checked out the menu. A 15-minute massage would set me back $35 that seemed reasonable. I regularly receive massages so I’m a bit of a massage snob but my therapist did a good job focusing on my neck and shoulders and I was able to escape the terminal madness feeling refreshed after my “treatment”.

    Onto action item 2, which was a bit tougher to accomplish. At some airports Minute Suites provide a private sanctuary for some rest and relaxation for a small fee allowing the user to catch some zzzs while doing some work or even watching their provided private TV. No place like that at LaGuardia but according to the website Sleepinginairports.com, LaGuardia has the worst conditions of almost any American airport with the best accommodation being an empty row of seats sans armrests. I found one of these and tried it out. You can take that one off the list as an idea for fostering comfort and ease.

    The third relaxation option was to imbibe a bit at one of the airport pubs. Finding one of those was no problem and as I stepped up to the bar in Terminal D, I ordered myself a cabernet and decided I would enjoy my adult beverage and practice the fine art of relaxing. No surfing the Internet, no checking messages or even reading a paper. I would just stop and watch the folks, catch the energy of the airport and watch planes taking off or touching down. Fifteen minutes later and not surprisingly, I felt pretty good all around.

    I judged my airport adventure in relaxation to have been pretty successful. Sure there were other options I could have considered such as buying a day pass to the Delta Sky Club, Skypping with my granddaughter or even seeing if I could purchase a first class ticket on the last leg of my journey.  When my flight was called, I took my time checking in with the agent knowing that my seat was reserved and that I’d only need space under the seat in front of me for my backpack.  I gave a big smile to the flight attendant as I boarded the plane and told them that I had hoped they were having a relaxing day.  They nodded and laughed.  I could tell they had not, but at least I had found a little oasis in my crazy travel day.

    While finding some organized ways to relax at the airport, the most important message I gained was that I could decide how stressed I would be this day.  Giving myself a gift of massage or sitting at the bar people watching were both great strategies to just be in the moment and enjoy whatever life was delivering. It’s a message that goes beyond the airport terminal.

     

     

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    Watch Your Kid’s Technology http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/watch-your-kids-technology/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/watch-your-kids-technology/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 12:22:17 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2631 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    Today’s parents are often accused of being helicopter-ish. They are seen as hovering overhead, and protecting their young ones from any conceivable adversity. The question is being posed today, however, if all of this protectiveness is keeping our kids from learning how to face challenges and develop skills that will be important for them to possess as adults.

    Some tech-savvy parents are denying their kids the latest and greatest conveniences, all in the belief that by challenging their children to learn different ways to solve problems, they’ll develop more diverse skills. This can certainly be seen as a parenting resilience strategy.

    At the Waldorf School in Los Altos, California, the elementary school children of Silicon Valley’s technology wizards don’t use computers or ipads or even smart boards in the classrooms. Everything is old school from the chalk blackboards, to the recitation of the multiplication tables, to the art classes where students learn the fine art of knitting. The idea is to not make school easy and efficient but instead provide hands-on challenges that force kids to confront problems, both academic and social, and to find ways to solve them through their own creative process.

    While it may be too late to get technology away from your kids, here are some challenges to throw their way so that you can see how they handle some non-tech moments:

    • Make dinner a tech free zone. You’ll have to put away your iPhone before they’ll even consider putting away theirs.
    • Have them help you out in the kitchen while your making dinner. Make them do all the measuring and halve or double the recipes items.
    • Have then write a thank you note to a friend who had them over for a birthday party or whose parents took everyone to the movies.
    • Have a tech free family night where you play board games and make popcorn.

    A key to resilience is being able to be flexible and adaptive in different situations. Helping your kids (and yourself) have non-tech ways of being in the world is more than a throwback; It’s a great way to round out skills.

    To join the discussion on Watching Your Kid’s Technology, please go to my blog at: http://www.citrinconsulting.com/blog/

    © Richard Citrin, 2014

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    Our Negativity Bias http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/our-negativity-bias/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/our-negativity-bias/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:00:39 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2617 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    Biologically, we are programmed to look for the worst in situations…and it is a good thing we do.

    Our biology would take us back to primitive times where we would want to be on the lookout for the worst case scenario—a sabre toothed tiger over the next ridge or a tribe or warring enemies mounting an attack. Even today, we’re vigilant walking down an unfamiliar dark street and night…a good practice to keep available.

    In our regular lives, however, this built in bias, known as the negativity bias creates danger where it may never exist. And that creates undo stress. One of the ways to overcome the negativity bias is to acknowledge and highlight things we do well for ourselves and with our work teams.

    Research undertaken by Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina found that high performing teams made more positive statements to one another than negative statements at a ratio of 5.6:1. That means that for every negative statement, team members made 5.6 positive statements. In low performing teams, positive to negative ratios were .36:1 meaning that they team said 3 negatives for every positive statement.

    The idea is to build a positivity bias that helps us get away from our biological predispositions. Building a positivity bias is not hard but does mean overcoming this strong biological tendency to focus on negatives. Try out some of these ideas:

    • Read something inspirational when you get up and don’t immediately turn on the TV news that only focuses on the negative.
    • Look for and acknowledge your successes and the successes of others with an affirming statement
    • Write down all your worries and anxieties before you go to bed so you know what they are. It may help you sleep better at night.
    • Practice gratitude in whatever manner works best for you. It may be a spiritual practice, giving a loved one a hug or sharing a thank you with a colleague who bailed you out of a jam.

    © Richard Citrin, 2014

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    Risk and Resilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/risk-and-resilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/risk-and-resilience/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 08:00:17 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2614 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    One of the reasons we experience stress is due to the fear that we will not be able to manage a particular event. We get a call from our boss to come up to her office and we assume the worse. We check out the traffic report in the morning and find out that our preferred road is shut down due to an accident and we ruminate about our trip to work taking 2 hours.

    Everything we do involves risk. Risk is traditionally defined as the probability and magnitude of a negative event occurring. We can’t control risk but we can work to be prepared for it, navigate it when it is occurring, and learn from it. Understanding the risk involved in daily life helps us build resilience to stress in our lives.

    For the most part, true risk in our lives is low. Our well-being isn’t being threatened, our health isn’t compromised, our kids will still love us. Keeping a realistic perspective on risk is a resilience strategy that will help keep us on an even keel.

    © Richard Citrin, 2014

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    Hardiness http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/hardiness/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/hardiness/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 08:00:53 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2612 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    As I like to remind people, stress is inevitable; how we choose to deal with it is all up to us.

    Hardiness is the idea that you can build up your energy reserves so that in the face of a stressful event, you are able to handle it with more grace and can bounce back more quickly and efficiently.

    Working out is a great example of how we build physical hardiness. While working out for many of us is about working off stress, an additional benefit of getting stronger is that it helps insulate us against future stressors.

    Some other ways to build hardiness include:

    • Create a positive mindset: When facing a challenging event, think about the best thing happening rather than the worst case scenario.
    • Control what you can control: Flying home the other day, our flight was rerouted which meant several of us might miss our flight. My seat neighbor was freaking out about missing her connection. I don’t think that helped too much….she made her flight and so did I.
    • Know your values: Committing to what you believe is important helps to keep going when things get tough.
    • Take on challenges: When you overcome some challenge like a new assignment at work or learning a foreign language at home, you discover things about yourself that you did not know you could accomplish.

    There is nothing better than feeling strong and prepared to take on the challenges of your day. Being intentional about getting stronger is a great way to build your resilience.

    © Richard Citrin, 2014

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    Being a Resilient Leader http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/being-a-resilient-leader/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/being-a-resilient-leader/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 18:36:24 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2609 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    I often find that managers are reticent to discuss stress in the workplace for fear that it will encourage complaining and frustration on the part of their employees.

    However, stress levels in today’s workplace are the elephant in the room and a resilience approach to these topics will help move the conversation from problem finding to problem solving.

    Five ideas for managers to build resilience in your work team:

    1. Own the reality: Acknowledge that we are in a high stress time. Tie the workload to the mission of the organization and the success of your workgroup.
    2. Recognize and reward: Give immediate praise to team members doing a great job in the difficult situation. Point out how the team has been successful in other difficult times.
    3. Learn from adversity: Evaluate successes and failures for what you did well or poorly. You want to celebrate success and celebrate failure for both indicate that the team is acting on their objectives.
    4. Reach out to your team: Check in with team members individually and see how resilient they are to the challenges. Not everyone is equally resilient.
    5. Model success: Keep up with your own resilience program that includes rest, exercise and good nutrition. Remember that resilience is also a state of mind so you will want to look for positives and a sense of humor.

    By the way, have you heard the one about….

    To join the discussion on Being a Resilient Leader, please go to my blog at: http://www.citrinconsulting.com/blog/

    © Richard Citrin, 2014

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    The Mindfulness Practice http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-mindfulness-practice/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/the-mindfulness-practice/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 12:31:59 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2607 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    Think about the last time you faced a stressful situation and how you handled it? For most of us, dealing with situations ranging from someone cutting you off on the highway or your boss coming in with a concern about your current project is destined to increase your stress hormones…and your emotional reaction.

    Navigating difficult situations in real time is an important aspect of being resilient. Being able to focus on the moment when the stress is actually occurring and staying focused on what is unfolding before you without getting caught up with the emotions associated with it provides an eye in the hurricane that is swirling around you.

    The skill associated with accomplishing that delicate balance is call mindfulness.

    The practice of mindfulness is based on the idea that if we can enhance our skills in being able to observe what is going on in front of us before we respond to what is going on in front of us provides the opportunity to just observe and not react.

    A perfect example of how we naturally are mindful is when we observe our young children. We rejoice in watching them enjoying the pure moment of their play or how their minds acquire and retain new ideas. What if we could use that power in not just happy situations but also in stressful situations?

    While developing mindfulness can be a lifelong journey, we can start with a simple exercise and build from there.

    Decide on just one activity that you will focus on to practice mindfulness. For example, consider how you sit in your chair.

    • As you sit in the chair, notice whether you lower yourself down or do you just plop down?
    • Do you use the arm rests to help you get down and when you get up?
    • Notice any sounds that the chair makes as you sit in it?
    • How does the padding feel on your bottom and does the back rest support your back adequately?

    This little mindfulness exercise just take 10 seconds and you may make some simple discoveries about something you do several times a day but never pay attention to how you do it. As you learn to pay attention to the simple act of sitting, you may soon discover that paying attention to small actions helps you build resilience in your life.

    © Richard Citrin, 2014

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    Avoiding Team Burnout http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/avoiding-team-burnout/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilient-wednesday-weekly-memo/avoiding-team-burnout/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:38:24 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2597 Read More]]> resilient-blog

    Being a resilient leader means that you help your team members understand and adapt to crises situations so they can turn chaos into “business as usual.”

    As a leader you may see that your team doesn’t cope well with unwelcome challenges. They may become discouraged, aggravated and even angry. Creating an environment of resilience will help them overcome burnout.

    Here are some ways to build that resilient team.

    • Communicate your understanding: Demonstrating understanding for your team’s difficulties can go a long way towards remedying the situation. There are some circumstances that are not easily fixed, even by the leader. Acknowledging that a situation is chaotic puts everyone on the same page.
    • “There’s no crying in baseball”: Tom Hank’s edict in the movie “A League of Their Own” applies to all workplaces. It’s okay to express frustration but then its time to move on. Help them brainstorm options and alternatives. Don’t tolerate the negativity too long; instead brainstorm around it.
    • Find the learning: A resilient mindset turns a negative situation into a learning opportunity. Consider what wisdom is gleaned from this situation and then portray that in a positive manner. Your team may see you as Pollyannaish at first, but as the situation turns, they’ll begin to see your wisdom at play.
    • Hold your ground: At times, you may want to give up on one of more of your team members who don’t seem to “get it.” Tell these folks the truth that you are disappointed or frustrated by their intransigence and you want to help them change. Staying steady will soon right the ship.

    Remember that resilience is hard wired into our systems. Your team may seem stuck in the past but as their leader, you may soon find that your attitude of resilience is key to moving them into the future.

    To join the discussion on “Avoiding Team Burnout”, please go to my blog at: http://www.citrinconsulting.com/blog/

    My thanks to Steve Siegel and Don Machen for suggesting this week’s topic.

    © Richard Citrin, 2014

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    How is Your Work-Rest Balance? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/how-is-your-work-rest-balance/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/how-is-your-work-rest-balance/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:17:31 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=2510 Read More]]> Ten PM at night is usually bedtime for me but there I was at the manufacturing plant of one of my clients doing a presentation and discussion to 35 workers about finding a balance between work and rest. Part of their global wellness initiative on stress resilience, the plant manager asked me to speak to employees about stress issues that accompany working multiple 12 hour shifts from 5 PM to 5 AM and how you can find a balance between work and rest.

    I had all the relevant research ready for the employees along with my “cheat sheet”* of information that delineates a slew of remedies that can use to improve sleep—everything from light shielding drapes to eating bananas before bed.image1

    One of the interesting findings that I shared with the group was that about 2/3 of all employees who work non-traditional shifts do so out of preference—either a preference for liking working late nights or enjoying the time they have available to spend daytime with their family, such as being able to go to their kid’s classroom in the middle of the day. Even with the challenges of sleep adjustment, most folks choose this lifestyle.

    Among members of this group and others sessions I conducted over a couple of days, another interesting point was made—Many employees find the stress at work to be less than the stress at home. They didn’t say that there was no stress at work, but that the stress at work was more easily addressed than some of their stress at work.

    This finding supports some recent research that was completed by Sarah Damaske and Arlie Hochschild who measured stress levels of 122 working moms and dads. They collected samples of saliva that contained cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone, several times during the day. Their research found that cortisol levels were significantly lower during work than they work at home.

    From a resilience point of view, these finding make perfect sense since we are usually able to have more control over our lives at work than at home. Sure you might be frustrated by a decision your boss has made, but you know exactly what you have to do to get the work done. At home, your teenager who stays out past their curfew may be a bit more difficult to manage and may not always follow your rules. Furthermore, you can always quit your job; not so for your family!

                There were a lot of good takeaways that came out of our discussions last week and one of the most important ones was that once we understand the nature and kinds of pressures that exist for us at work and at home, we can quickly and efficiently come up with solutions to keep ourselves balanced.

     *If you’d like a copy of the cheat sheet on Work Rest Balance, send me a note to Richard@citrinconsulting.com

    ]]> http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/how-is-your-work-rest-balance/feed/ 0 Be Like Ryan http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilience/be-like-ryan/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/resilience/be-like-ryan/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:02:23 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1856 Read More]]> I just go back from my car place, Tower Auto, where the young guy I deal with was working on detailing my wife’s car until 10 PM last night. Now detailing is not his job. He is more of a service manager but he so enjoys helping his clients that he was willing to stay late to try to remove some stains that had developed on the outside of the car.  Ryanphoto-6 is really into cars and he loves working at this car place. They treat him well and he sees that he has a future where he can move up through the ranks. He does a lot of everything and enjoys it all.

    Ryan is fully engaged in his work.

    But not everybody is as engaged in their work as Ryan is and one of the main reasons is because the workplace can often times be so demanding. Poor management, work overload, dealing with crazy customers are just a few of the things that get employees so stressed that they slowly start to withdraw from their job. And when they do, performance and satisfaction go down the tubes.

    Resilience is a great approach to building engagement in your job. It’s worth the effort to become more engaged as you will find your job more satisfying and, like Ryan, will look forward to going to work everyday.

    There are several principles from our Resilience Advantage program that you can put into play for yourself:

    1. Go ahead and tackle problems on your own. You are probably smarter than you think and solving workplace issues will give you a greater sense of control and will move projects forward.
    2. Believe that good things will happen. Ryan doesn’t know that he’ll advance in his job, but he is convinced that good work and effort will pay off.
    3. Actively move towards challenging situations and take them on as projects to achieve. Ryan was convinced that he could get rid of all that stain that was on my wife’s car. He got most of it and that was probably a lot more than I would have gotten off the car

    Engagement is often thought of as something that benefits employers but the real truth of it is that if you are engaged in what you are doing, you’ll have a lot more fun.

    tower1

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    Go Ahead and Waste Your Time http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/go-ahead-and-waste-your-time/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/go-ahead-and-waste-your-time/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 16:55:22 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1836 Read More]]> There are only 24 hours, 1440 minutes and 86,400 seconds in a day. That is it and so the idea that you can somehow manage time is pretty ridiculous. Its really the other way around which means that time is managing you.

    This idea that we can actually manage time is one of the reasons that we are so highly stressed and perhaps why we often feel overwhelmed.

    Taking a resilience approach means that we begin to see time for what it is…a commodity. Time is more like money in that we make choices about how we spend it and those choices makes a statement about our priorities and what is important to us. That is how we deal with the limited time we have

    A corollary of this fact is that our perception of time is often distorted. You may think that you can get by on 4 hours of sleep but if your body actually needs 6, eventually it will catch up to you. As you plan a specific project, you may think that it will only take 10 hours to complete it and that may be completely accurate. However, nobody works a clean 10 hours.  Out of the hour you have scheduled to work on that project, you may actually only spend 40 minutes. The other time may be lost to phone calls, getting interrupted by a colleague or responding to nature’s calls. Nothing wrong with any of that, but over a 1o hour schedule to get that project done, you’ll actually need an additional 3 1/2 hours to actually finish that project.

    So instead of thinking of managing time, instead consider thinking of time as an investment in your productivity and try out these ideas.

    1. Know your priorities—You will spend your time on the things that you feel are most important—make sure you know what they are. Make a list of your priorities for the year and then cascade them down to what you want to do this week to achieve that goal—If you are a manager make sure that your team knows what the work priorities are for the year and for this week This can shift but make sure your people know what is critical.
    2. Recognize that you already use effective approaches for using your time. It may be lists or project planners or your Filofax. Examine what your process is and then see if you can tweak it to increase your efficiency. If you are a tech geek, try out some of the new apps like Wunderlist or Eternity Time Log that can help you time your work, rest and play. If you are old school, keep a big calendar with priorities and time frames up on your wall. Anything and everything can help you maximize your time investment.
    3. There is no such thing as wasting time. Remember you set the priorities and sometimes its important to play Candy Crush or go for a walk as a way of rebooting your mind. We know its essential to make time for our family and friends and also to talk and build relationships with colleagues. Don’t beat yourself up about taking some time for distractions. They are good and necessary.

    As you gain more control over your time investment, you may begin to think like William Faulkner, “Clocks slay time… time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.”

     

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    Glad I Had A Mindful Co-Pilot http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/glad-i-had-a-mindful-co-pilot/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/glad-i-had-a-mindful-co-pilot/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 14:37:32 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1832 Read More]]> My plane was delayed coming out of Boston yesterday due to ice on the fuselage and if at least one person in the plane thought it was due to a mindful co-pilot who saw the big picture.

    Returning from a meeting in Boston yesterday I sat next to a pilot who was riding along to his next destination and we started having a conversation about piloting. I mentioned to him about my work in resilience and that I am seeing mindfulness finally making it out of the meditation studio and into the Board room.

    He told me that as a pilot he is all about mindfulness as he obviously has to pay attention to all the details associated with flying.  Mindfulness for him, however,  is not about the sharp focus that might be required of a hockey goalie but is more like that of the referee who is required to see all the action on the ice with a broad view or what it sometimes referred to as soft eyes. Keeping track of all the gauges is an impossibility so he looks for small aberrations that might be of concern and point out other problems.

    He mentioned that prior to today’s flight, he saw the co-pilot, on his walk around, saw ice had formed on the top of the fuselage requiring de-icing. For some co-pilots on their walk-around, they might have missed it but he saw this fellow walk out about 50 yards from the plane so he could get a bigger perspective of the plane. Oftentimes the walk around is more about the bottom half of the plane. This extra bit of mindfulness pointed out a potential problem that could have caused big problems once we were in the air.

    Mindfulness is much more than what people think of in relationship to meditation. Today is is being seen as the ability to see the big picture while focusing on a variety of discriminating items. Its about having a balance of focusing on what you are doing and recognizing that other things are going on within the context of your environment. Consider how you use mindfulness for yourself, certainly while you are driving your own car but consider how you can apply to places like staff meetings, customer sales meetings and watching your kids play with others.

    I’m not sure if our co-pilot thinks of himself as mindful or just doing his job but I was glad he took the extra time to find that ice and get it off that plane.

     

     

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    Get Your Day Going http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/get-your-day-going/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/get-your-day-going/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 04:59:20 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1826 Read More]]> How you start your mornings may very well determine whether you fulfill the wishes of your favorite barista, “Have a good day”. Research shows that letting your focus get defused in the morning can create a lack of success throughout the day.  Here are some ideas to kick off your day in a great way:

    1. Don’t wait to create a to do list when you get to the office. Build one the night before and then you have it for the morning. It could include picking out the right clothes for your kindergartener or waking up a few minutes early to get in a 15 minute mini-run.
    2. Put your cell phone and iPad anywhere but by your bed and avoid checking your email first thing.  You probably will not be reading that you won $10 million or that George Clooney or Sofia Vergara are madly in love with you and want to run off with you
    3. Take a moment to notice what the day looks like. Opening up your bedroom drapes may reveal a bright red sunrise or setting morning moon, both of which may create an inspiring start to your day.
    4. Eating a wholesome breakfast gets things going in the right way.  Breakfasts sometimes lack protein as they may focus on cereals and fruit, both of which are healthy but may not provide brain power for your AM. Like your other meals, make sure it is balanced.
    5. Consider what is the most important thing you want to achieve today.  A friend of mine who is the CEO of her organization had a field trip to her daughter’s school last week to help with reading. That was her number 1 priority for that day

    It’s standard fare to offer a “Good Day” wish to everyone we meet in the morning  but only we can actually make that happen. A few small steps before 8 AM can mean that at 8 PM we actually achieved it.

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    Agility 2014 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/agility-2014/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/agility-2014/#comments Wed, 08 Jan 2014 10:00:59 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1817 Read More]]> Last Friday I wrote in this blog how I thought Agility would be the 2014 word of the year.

    No more than two days later, I received my first, kind of, affirmation of my statement when the Sunday Times ran an article entited Management Be Nimble. In it, the authors cite Larry Page, co-founder of Google who talks about the need for his company to become more…you guessed it…agile.

    The authors cite several ways to create more nimbleness (agility) that then go on to foster innovation ( a great outcome for agility)

    1. State your mission and values clearly and make sure everyone knows. I recently did some consulting for a company that had developed a new set of core values and when I asked if I could get some information on them, I was told that the flies were all locked up in the closet!
    2. People want to belong to something. help them connect with your organization. Make sure that leaders walk the values walk
    3. Dignity and respect. The US Army is evaluating the impact of “toxic officers” on organizational effectiveness. If the Army is not willing to tolerate bad bosses, why should your company tolerate inappropriate behaviors.
    4. Be a Team. One of my colleagues at work once complained…”Didn’t anyone ever play sports or march in the band in HS. Noone around here knows how to be on a team! Learn the rules of teamwork.
    5. Communicate effectively. The authors talk about having “adult conversations” where people give honest feedback and listen even more.
    6. Reach out. While email is ubiquitous and helpful, its also reached a point where we sometimes use it as an excuse to not talk directly to folks. Hey, just try walking down the hall!

    Agility is going to be big this year. Not too early to start working on it.

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    Three Great Things http://www.citrinconsulting.com/innovation/three-great-things/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/innovation/three-great-things/#comments Mon, 06 Jan 2014 12:36:03 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1812 Read More]]> Several years ago Pittsburgh welcomed world leaders by hosting the G-20 Global Leader Conference.  I attended a “Welcoming Guests to Pittsburgh” meeting hosted by Bill Flanagan, Vice-President of the Allegheny Conference, a local economic development organization.  Bill was coaching groups of us just in case we ran into diplomats, news reporters, or even Barack Obama should he make a trip over to Pamela’s Restaurant for his favorite pancakes.

    Bill was describing how there were just three things we should tell folks about Pittsburgh—(1) how our history was rich with innovation and success, (2) how we’ve transformed our economic base from steel manufacturing to healthcare, education and energy and (3) how we are the world’s most livable city.

    While I loved the message that Bill was sharing with us, I also appreciated that he’d gotten it down to just three key statements. I found that approach easy and memorable  and I’ve used that idea in my work and with my clients as a simplepersuason strategy. It seemed to me that highlighting 3 things is just about right to help people remember ideas and focus their attention. After all, there are three traffic lights, “3 strikes and you’re out” and the Latin phrase “omne trium perfectum” meaning “everything in threes is perfect”.

    Well now there is some research to support this idea. In the Sunday New York Times, Susannah Jacobs writes about the persuasive power of the triplet. Two researchers from Georgetown and UCLA teamed up to examine undergraduate’s perceptions of advertising. Each message had a few as one description or as many as six of the products. The researchers noted that after the third word, listeners began to doubt the message, feeling as if the sender were trying a bit too hard. The perfect number of ideas…3!

    The message for all of us is to keep your communication simple and your key ideas to three. You’ll find yourself more effective and persuasive. And if you ask me about Pittsburgh, I’ll have lots of great things to discuss about my adopted town, but I’ll try to get them down to 3.

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    The 2014 Word of the Year http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/the-2014-word-of-the-year/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/the-2014-word-of-the-year/#comments Fri, 03 Jan 2014 08:00:17 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1806 Read More]]> Agility will be the 2014 Word of The Year. You’ll see it in how sportscasters describe Olympic athletes performing in Sochi next month. You’ll read about it in the Wall Street Journal when they describe how large companies are working to navigate the rapidly changing waters of the marketplace. And you’ll hear yourself telling your kids, family members and co-workers about why it is essential to be agile.

    Agility is important today because the world has become more ambiguous. We no longer can rely on anything being exactly like it was, even from yesterday. And with changes happening so quickly, expediency has become a hallmark of how companies are using agile processes. I also think agility is a critical component of developing powerful resilience to life and work challenges.

    The software industry uses “agile” principles for product development by calling all parties (developers, designers, subject matter experts) together for 2-week sprints where they clarify product requirements so that they speed up and refine the processes efficiently (see this video on how NPR is using Agile Processes)

    While there are formal processes for organizational agility, what can the rest of us do to be more agile in our day to day work:

    1. Stop trying to be perfect. Most projects don’t require it and most people will think 85% is pretty good
    2. Make decisions and move on. Taking time delays our progress. Even if you are wrong, you can go back and correct.
    3. Be a learner. Learning new things distinguishes successful people from average people.
    4. Try new things. Whether going to the Opera for the first time or volunteering for that new project at work, take a chance on something new…anything
    5. Start small. Not everyone can be agile. It is a learned trait and one that may take time to develop.

    My learning agility goal for 2014 is to move faster and more expeditiously. If you see me hanging around the water cooler and chatting this year, go ahead a give me a swift kick in the butt. Developing agility will be important this year, even if it is not always graceful.

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    Three Holiday Tips http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/three-holiday-tips/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/three-holiday-tips/#comments Mon, 23 Dec 2013 11:04:00 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1802 Read More]]> I was watching Sheila wrap gifts yesterday as we prepared for our trip to see family. She was having a fun time cutting paper, tying ribbons and labeling gifts. She keeps a diligent list of what everyone is getting to make certain that the number of gifts and costs of gifts are kept even among family members.

    While shopping for gifts is far from simple, wrapping is pretty straightforward and automatic. The only thing left to do after that is to put them under the tree or in our situation, into the suitcase.

    As we approach the holiday time, I’m looking for two ways to keep my energy up and to enjoy it all.

    • Keep it simple–Remember the 80/20 rule. You don’t have to make anything perfect this week. It is all going to work out and not having the “perfect gift” will not keep the recipient from enjoying what they receive and loving you for giving it. Let others help with meals and even give yourself a gift of a nap and some downtime.
    • Enjoy the perspective- Make sure you see the joy in people’s faces whether it is the joy in your niece’s face or the kids returning clothes at the mall. Your partner may want to discuss his or her plans for 2014. Listen to their dreams and hopes and see how you can support them.
    • Remember the message of the season–Family renewal, giving of oneself, a joyful heart. May you find peace, happiness and comfort in your home and life

    Happy holiday, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Happy Kwanza, Happy Chanukah, Buon Anno!

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    An Evening of Literary Conversation or “The Inner Nun” http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/an-evening-of-literary-conversation-or-the-inner-nun/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/an-evening-of-literary-conversation-or-the-inner-nun/#comments Wed, 11 Dec 2013 14:56:40 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1796 Read More]]> It’s the way I like to go to performances. Just show up 5 minutes before and see what tickets are available. That turned out to be the plan when my wife Sheila suggested we go to the Pittsburgh Literary Speaker Series the other night. The speaker was short story writer Gary Saunders. A McArthur Genius award winner, I couldn’t help but think that I can only benefit from being around smart people. However, it was really my wife, Sheila’s idea (actually another smart person) to go see him, in part due to her recently published book, Warrior Mother and her commitment to be around great authors. The evening looked like it would be fun.

    It was amazing.

    Saunders was immensely entertaining as he discussed his writing process and emphasis on language precision. Referring to himself as a “lapsed Catholic” he told us of his “internal nun” who is his writing critic. She’s the voice that makes sure his word choices are exact and move the story forward.  He provided an example of how this works. If he would write, “Bob entered the living room and sat on the blue couch.” His inner nun would question the importance of each word. “George” she would say, “Is blue really necessary for the story?” He hilariously ran through each word she reprimanded him on until he finally realized that the only word he had left was “Bob.”

    For anyone who writes, I thought the most powerful part of his lecture was his description of how he lets the story come to him. Rather than being overly prescriptive and planful about where the story will go, Saunders will reread his story over and over again from the perspective of a fresh reader. He then asks himself the question, “Does this word (or sentence/phrase/paragraph) make sense and contribute to the direction that the story wants to take me?” He lets the story lead him trusting his creative sense to create his masterpieces. The New York Times Magazine named The 10th of December, Saunders latest book, as the “best book you’ll read this year.”

    I’m going to experiment with letting my writing come to me rather than forcing the writing to conform to my preconceived ideas. For those of us who weren’t English majors, I appreciate Saunders willingness to share some of the tricks of his trade. I’d be interested in hearing from you any insights you have on your own writing process? Do you have an inner critic? Do you have a way of letting what you are writing inform you? What are your best writing tips?

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    Environmental Resilience–Buses,Tadpoles and Mussels. Oh My! http://www.citrinconsulting.com/environment/environmental-resilience-busestadpoles-and-mussels-oh-my/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/environment/environmental-resilience-busestadpoles-and-mussels-oh-my/#comments Fri, 15 Nov 2013 15:11:57 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1780 Read More]]> Resilience comes in many forms and fashions but yesterday’s Green Building Alliance’s kick off Inspire Speakers Series speakers kicked off what looks like an amazing series of speakers who will be helping us better understand and help take back our environment.

    The GBA series includes a local speaker and national speaker and yesterday’s local leader was Robert Vagt, President of the Heinz Endowments. Bob spoke about The Breathe Project that is working to clean up the air in Pittsburgh. In what is today referred to as one of the world’s most livable cities, our air has gone from being the dirtiest and most disgusting air in the world (during the steel industry days) to just being pretty darn filthy  (284 days/year have poor air quality) . This results in high rates of asthma, dangerous levels of toxins and increased risk for heart disease and cancer.

    But simple remedies, as Bob discussed, are helping to reclaim the air and improve the resilience of the community. For example, 3rd and 4th graders at Community Day school went out to their arriving school buses with donuts and coffee and asked the drivers to turn off their ignitions to decrease idling exhausts. The next day parents who drove up to pick up kids were asked to do the same. Soon, exhaust was exhausted from in front of the school. The air gets cleaner and the environment doesn’t just bounce back but it bounces forward.

    Well as if Bob’s presentation wasn’t enough to get me connecting to environmental resilience, the next speaker, Natalie Jeremijenko presented some points of view that can only happen when you put together brilliance in art and science. Named the 2011 Most Influential Woman in Technology by Fast Company and a Professor at New York University, Natalie holds degrees in engineering, art, neuroscience and computer technology and uses both her science and art to create playful and meaningful efforts to improve lives and the environment. Some include:

    • An environmental health clinic  at NYU that helps people who have health concerns like asthma create improved environments in their own world as a strategy for health.
    • A zany tadpole adoption project where she gives out tadpoles to friends and colleagues. The tadpoles are named for local politicians who are involved in monitoring water quality. Adopting a tadpole means you have responsibility for all things tadpole before releasing them into the environment. Raising tadpoles in important since they have “exquisite” biosensors, so like the canary in the mine, they know things about the environment well before we do.
    • An urban farming model that uses “AgBags to create vertical farms in our cities. These AgBags are a pocketed plant holder that mediates water distribution and can grow anything from flowers to food.
    • A “mussel choir” that enlists the shelled species in “singing” about the quality of our rivers through biosensors and audio software.

    Natalie’s descriptions started to blow my mind as  I kept hearing  one creative idea after another, so many in fact, that I started to tune out. But my tuning out on her work was soon helping me tune into my work and about how resilience in our lives is hardwired and built in. Working to reclaim our environment and our lives is not just an option, but a biological imperative.

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    Resilience Fashion http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/the-fashion-of-prepping/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/the-fashion-of-prepping/#comments Mon, 11 Nov 2013 10:16:02 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1771 Read More]]> The “prepping movement” manifests the ultimate effort towards resilience. Preppers believe that there will be cataclysmic world events that will leave modern society in chaos. It will only be  through their preparation and forward thinking, that they and their families will survive. National Geographic runs a weekly TV series on their  cable channel on Preppers and their recent made for TV broadcast, American Blackout, portrayed a cyber terrorist event that took down the US energy grid for 2 weeks causing mass chaos in the US

    Lest you think that the Prepping Movement is for extremists, we actually  see signs of it all around us, even at some of our favorite stores. Costco offers both on-line and in-store products that are prepper-geared. Dried food stocks that can last upward of two or more years, water purification systems (BPA free) that make potable water and power generators that can run on gasoline or natural gas and can be used to power your furnace, refrigerator, TV and of course your smart phone (although no one else will have any power for theirs).

    And to show you how main stream it has now gotten, French fashion designer Marie-Elas Batteaux has just released a new “apocalypse-resistant” camouflage jacket that provides cold protection for when the nuclear winter arrives, has an oxygen mask and eye protector in case of chemical warfare, and even has internal liners for food and water. Batteaux believes that the prepping movement will grow much has sustainability over the past several years.

    Should you be prepping? From a resilience perspective, getting ready and anticipating potential dangerous events is central to building personal and family resilience. Could you anticipate a time where you could be without water for 5-6 days (It just happened to some friends of mine in Murrysville, PA when when their water was out and they had to boil water. Kristy’s comment,” you can’t imagine how much water it takes to brush your teeth”.). What about a hurricane, earthquake or snowstorm that knocks out power to your house for 3 days or more? We know this happens every year all around us and that our time is somewhere up in the schedule.

    Being resilient does mean that you prepare for contingent emergencies—like holding fire drills with your family, or keeping a few hundred dollars stashed in your house in case you need some quick cash. Whether or not you start shopping Costco’s crisis page is up to you but being resilient does mean that you are ready for what you think could be the worst possible events.

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    Karmic Resilience in Bean Town: Their Resilience Advantage http://www.citrinconsulting.com/crisis-management/karmic-resilience-in-bean-town/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/crisis-management/karmic-resilience-in-bean-town/#comments Mon, 04 Nov 2013 11:45:01 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1764 Read More]]> I have to admit I was rooting for Boston in the World Series. It may have been because the Cardinals defeated our Pirates in the ALDS or perhaps it was because my dentist, Dr Rob, is a raving Red Sox fan and I don’t want to get on his wrong side.

    But as I watched the celebrations the past few days, I recognized that I love a good resilience story and there wasn’t any better one yesterday than the team from BeanTown. Let me count them off…No home world series celebration since 1918, Big Poppi was batting over .700 in the series after they lost 96 games last year,  and even Neil Diamond made a comeback to sing Sweet Caroline during several games this year.

    But when someone said that it was like a karmic dream to celebrate a world series victory at the end of the season when one stops and thinks about what Boston went through at the beginning of this year’ sports season at the Boston Marathon, then you have to appreciate the elegance of the grand scheme.

    There is a statistical phenomenon called “regression to the mean” which describes how a series of events that are occur in one direction will usually be brought back to average by having an equal response to events in the other direction. It may be a statistical event but the other possibility is that the universe is finding a way to even out the score and make all things good. Oftentimes, that is how resilience works…some bad thing happens but then people’s hard work and bounce forward get things back to a positive place they could never imagine and we can celebrate like its

    So don’t get too discouraged if things are not going your way. The world and your good efforts will probably get you back on your resilience path. That’s the way statistics and karma work. It did in Boston this year!

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    The City of Bridges…Shut Down http://www.citrinconsulting.com/crisis-management/the-city-of-bridges-shut-down/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/crisis-management/the-city-of-bridges-shut-down/#comments Tue, 29 Oct 2013 03:50:08 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1760 Read More]]> There’s an old expression here in Pittsburgh about having to cross bridges or go through tunnels, both of which are central to the movement of people in town, which is “don’t do it!”.

    For the most part, its usually just a minor inconvenience, but yesterday at 5 PM after completing my day of consulting with my clients, I was ready to head home from East Liberty which is just a quick 10-15 minute drive across the Highland Park Bridge. As I got onto Washington Blvd, I couldn’t help notice that it was backup up all the way to Penn Ave about a three mile backup from the Bridge…oops I thought, I probably should go down Highland Ave…backed up there too…Negley…even worse. All my New York City driving strategies were falling apart.

    Finally catching a traffic report on the radio, I heard that my first 2 options for getting home (Highland Park Bridge and 62nd Street Bridge) would both fail due to traffic jams and closed roads. Option 3 led me upriver to Oakmont through Homewood, Lincoln Larimore and Verona for a 2 hour journey through Pittsburgh beautiful hills.

    I came to grips quickly with the reality that this would be a long drive home and settled into enjoying the drive and using the trip home to explore new neighborhoods and catch up on some podcasts and All Things Considered. This trip was not my first choice but when faced with an adverse situation, I’ve decided to just go with the flow and enjoy the scenery as best I can.

    When faced with adversity, we have lots of options to choose from and its not unusual to get agitated and upset about not having the world be exactly like we’d like it to be. Sometimes we might think its unlucky Karma, or bad timing. In some situations we may even blame ourselves for not finishing up sooner and getting on the road earlier.

    Although a traffic jam is almost always a small inconvenience in our lives these almost always create some angst and or worse for some people. How do you deal with these small challenges to keep from getting yourself up in a tizzy?

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    Ask Better Questions http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/ask-better-questions-2/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/ask-better-questions-2/#comments Mon, 28 Oct 2013 10:55:52 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1756 Read More]]> Its not enough to ask questions when you are wanting to understand more about what is important to  your clients, colleagues or employees. The questions must be better, more focused and build on one another.

    Good question: Why did you decide to take that action?

    Better question: Walk me through the steps you took to arrive at that decision?

    Good question: Do you think our product will meet your needs?

    Better question: Tell me more about what you need to achieve success?

    Good question: How’s the new product rollout going?

    Better questions: What’s working and what’s not working on your product rollout project?

    Oftentimes we’re too interested in giving our responses and ideas to folks and miss the opportunity to make sure we fully understand and that the other person has a chance to fully explain their needs. It takes some practice, but asking better questions benefits everyone.

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    My 1% Learning http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/my-1-learning/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/my-1-learning/#comments Fri, 25 Oct 2013 08:00:31 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1750 Read More]]> I had the opportunity for a small group meeting yesterday with Dan Pink, best selling author of the books, To Sell is Human, Drive, and Free Agent Nation at a Thought Leadership Conference sponsored by my mentor, Alan Weiss down at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach.

    Dan spent several a day with us and provided some amazing insights about how he develops his ideas for his books, his thoughts about the future of publishing and what he believes his readers want from his work; and none of that was the biggest take away for me during the day.

    Dan described himself as naturally curious and has a thirst for understanding cutting edge research from the lab and field. As he goes about hunting for information, the people he meets provoke this thinking so that one question leads to the next and the next.  He told us that he catalogues information (primarily in paper form in his office) and as he begins to review his findings, ideas emerge and then the book formulation begins.

    As for the future of publishing, he thinks it will go the way of the music industry and mentioned Spotify as a potential model for books. He suggests that there may be a web site where we will all be able to download any book and read whatever we want so long as we are members of that web site (kind of sounds like that big building we use to go to as kids—the library!) The great thing about that model will be that all books will be available to us but with the distractions surrounding downloading books electronically (games and the such on our ipads) the result may be less reading, not more.

    He quoted Malcolm Gladwell’s comment that people are “experience rich but theory poor” and feels that his books merge social science theory and research along with the practical applications that people can use everyday in their real life. By helping his readers understand why they behave in certain ways and how we can improve on our lives, his books will, hopefully, continue to be successful.

    But far and away, the coolest thing I liked about Dan started at lunch. Our small group introduced ourselves and began hearing about his work. When we finished lunch, we moved into our conference room to begin our general discussion. It soon became apparent that Dan knew everyone’s name in the room. We all began wondering how the heck he did that. Finally, my colleague and web guru, Chad Barr asked him about it and he told us that he had requested our bios and web sites before the conference and that he took the time to review the information he was sent. “It was my due diligence” he said, “you guys are devoting a significant portion of your time for me and I had an obligation to make sure that I was properly prepared and knew about you”. Wow, that really blew me away and gave me a new perspective about the power of preparation and respect.

    I have a meeting with a new client next week and I asked the CEO to send me the bios of her leadership team so I can get to know them a little bit before I enter the room. As I like to think I do every day, Dan Pink’s message was my 1% learning for that day.

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    The Essential Skills http://www.citrinconsulting.com/esteem/the-essential-skills/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/esteem/the-essential-skills/#comments Wed, 09 Oct 2013 08:08:31 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1745 Read More]]> “Oh , I don’t worry about those. They’re just soft skills”

    “Grrrr”, I went under my breath, as another person talked to me about using soft skills. Just in case you can’t tell, they’re talking about people skills the same way that Tea Party activist talk about the Affordable Care Act. With contempt.

    The implication is that hard skills like budgeting, financial planning, and other mathematically related activities are more important than is our ability to interact with one another effectively. But the research does not bear that out

    In one study of 358 randomly selected Johnson and Johnson managers, the best performing ones possessed significantly higher levels of self-awareness, self-management capability, social skills, and organizational savvy.

    Another study conducted with the Wall Street Journal showed that many workplace relationship skills have become more important for experienced employees than for new workers. These skills include critical thinking/problem solving, leadership, professionalism/work ethic, teamwork/collaboration, and adaptability/flexibility.

    And a project done by the Indiana Business Research Center (IBRC) found that the skills projected to be in the highest demand for most occupations through 2014 include active listening, critical thinking, speaking, active learning, writing, time management, and social perceptiveness.

    Clearly, social competence is probably more important for success in the work and professional world than are a lot of the so- called “hard skills”. Additionally, how can we begin to ascribe a new way of thinking about these skills so that they receive the proper value and importance?

    I’ve started referring to these competences as “The Essential Skills” indicating that these competencies are much more than “nice to have”. These are the requirements for admission to the work world and are essential for moving the business forward.

    Next time you hear someone talking about “soft skills”, go ahead growl and  correct them, but please don’t bite their head off.

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    Are You a Trustworthy Leader? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/are-you-a-trustworthy-leader/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/are-you-a-trustworthy-leader/#comments Wed, 25 Sep 2013 14:53:00 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1733 Read More]]> In conducting some workplace interviews recently several members of this organization told me that they did not trust their managers or theleadership of the organization. Their concerns focused on their bosses:

    • Lack of transparency
    • Shifting priorities that could never be nailed down.
    • Lack of commitment to the overall mission of the organization.
    • Not helping them develop as professionals

    The result for these staff members were that they did not feel very engaged or committed to the company and were planning their strategy of how to get out.

    A recent survey by Interaction Associates reported on trust in organizations and showed that High Performing Organizations (HPOs) which had high scores in trust and leadership outperformed Low Performing Organizations (LPOs) in everything from top line and profit revenue to customer loyalty and attraction and development of talent.

    What was equally interesting was that while HPOs were building their organizations through the development of loyal customers and strong talent, LPOs were focused on growing their organizations through cost reduction strategies and finding ways to make their employees be more productive. Talk about going to the light vs. going to the dark!

    According to the survey, the top 5 trust building activities for leaders include:

    1. Set employees up for success by providing tools and learning opportunities
    2. Seek out their input for decision making
    3. Provide information around why decisions are made
    4. Consistently act in alignment with the company’s vision
    5. Inspire your employees by creating a shared vision that everyone can work towards to achieve the company’s goals.

    We all respond to leaders who are authentic and real and want to work harder for them because they respect us and believe our efforts will pay off. Trust in the workplace in beginning to become a new metric that employees will use to gauge you as a leader.

    Let me know what you do to be a trustworthy boss or what you would like to see from your manager in terms of trust.

    For more information or to read the entire report, go to http://tinyurl.com/nsra3xt

    © Richard Citrin, 2013

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    The Small Steps of Leadership http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/the-small-steps-of-leadership/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/the-small-steps-of-leadership/#comments Thu, 19 Sep 2013 12:08:09 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1710 Read More]]> Sixty of the finest community leaders in Pittsburgh met last week for the first time and began building friendships that will span the year and last a lifetime.

    The occasion was the annual Leadership Pittsburgh (LP) kick-off event at the Duquesne Club in downtown Pittsburgh. Leadership Pittsburgh is a leadership development program whose goal is to work with the finest professionals in our region to help them become tomorrow’s community leaders; those people who will help shape the future of this region.

    Participants come from large and small national and local corporations, state and local government, education, health care and a variety of non-profits. Together they will delve into various aspects of our community from commerce to education, healthcare to criminal justice, and with a little art and diversity thrown into the mix as well.

    As a former graduate of LP and a consultant to the organization it is always a pleasure for me to attend these meetings and have the opportunity to meet the folks who will be a part of the program each year. At this year’s meeting, I made an interesting observation that got me thinking about the small, but important things leaders do to inspire their people.

    As part of the program, each new LP member is introduced and invited to come up to the front of the room to have his or her picture taken with their new classmates. In the audience are their sponsors, people who recommended the new participants for the program and who are often the participant’s boss.

    The CEO of a local non-profit, seated next to me, smiled broadly and clapped excitedly when her staff member was introduced to the audience. A senior vice president for a local bank gave out a “whoop” when his colleague came to the front of the room. And still another senior manager turned to someone in the audience and proudly announced what a great asset the person walking to the stage was to his company.

    After introductions, the sponsors and participants separated, and while the new class members got acquainted with one another, sponsors socialized, sipped wine and visited with one another. One CEO of a technology company shared with me that he had just returned from a business trip to the west coast and was about to set off on another long trip.  He was literally just in town for the day and that  in spite of his jet lag, he wanted to stay so he could be there when his staff member came out of the evening’s session. I suggested that if he left for the evening his employee would probably understand, but his retort was quick and certain. “No,” he said, “ I want to be here to discuss what happened tonight, and to tell her how pleased I am to have her involved in Leadership Pittsburgh”.

    I usually have to remind myself that there are many aspects of leadership that lead to success within organizations.  There are usually big things like strategy and fiscal management and then there are the small things like showing respect and appreciation to important members of your team.   Last week, at the Leadership Pittsburgh event, the latter was happening all over the room.

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    Conflict…Yikes! http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/conflictyikes/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/conflictyikes/#comments Mon, 09 Sep 2013 17:13:41 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1706 Read More]]> How would you handle this situation….

    You and a business colleague agreed to work together for your mutual benefit. Your work and his work complimented each other and you both believed that you could help your clients and yourselves by cross referring some business.

    It is now 4 months after your agreement and you’ve referred three clients to this fellow that has resulted in $50,000 worth of business for them. But to date, your “colleague” has not referred a single person to you.

    You have a meeting this coming week and you want to have a further discussion about the arrangement…oh by the way…you are really pissed!

    This is the discussion several of my colleagues and I had at our regular meeting with Alan Weiss, who is one of the world’s top management consultants.

    We decided to role play the upcoming meeting and in discussing how we all deal with conflict, we all agreed that it is one of the most difficult skills to develop. While it may be easy to get angry or frustrated, being effective in dealing with conflict is much more challenging. After a couple of run throughs, here are four tips to improving your conflict management skills:

    • Know what you want to get out of the meeting before you go in. You should identify a minimum and maximum in terms of outcomes.
    • Keep you emotions in check and stick to the facts.  While in trying to persuade someone to your side, logic makes you think but emotions make you act, in conflict, emotions heighten the intensity while logic helps reach an agreement.
    • Focus on the moment. Look the person in the eye and don’t allow yourself to be distracted or taken off center. The key is to remain in the present.
    • Don’t try to take care of the other person. Now that you know what you want, stick to your ideals.
    • Reframe the conflict situation as something that can actually be fun and a great learning experience. It’s a bit like being a gladiator in the ring, but no one gets killed.
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    Let’s hear it for Sensibility! http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/lets-hear-it-for-sensibility/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/lets-hear-it-for-sensibility/#comments Thu, 05 Sep 2013 11:34:46 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/let%e2%80%99s-hear-it-for-sensibility/ Read More]]> In a recent blog post, I wrote about the “Rope to Nowhere” where I described how airlines attempt to reward their best customers by having them walk on the left side of a rope calling them “preferred customers”. While the practice of allowing them on board earlier is clearly an advantage, is it a good business practice.

    Yesterday I flew up to Boston for a business meeting and arranged my flight on Jet Blue. Now I usually enjoy JetBlue because of their in-flight video capability and 2 by 2 seating in comfortable leather seats. But yesterday’s flight pointed out a great business process that rewards customers and helps improve their operational efficiency.

    It was a throwback to an old era when we were boarded by seat rows beginning in the back of the plane. I was in row 8 and was in the last group to be called. But by the time I made it halfway down the ramp, I could immediately see the difference in passenger comfort. There was no long line of people to enter the plane. I went right on board and just had to wade through a few folks putting up their bags before I got to my seat. I threw my bag up in the bin and grabbed my seat. No concern about bin space or getting me to my seat easily.

    This efficiency helped us get seated quickly and we headed out and arrived in Boston 15 minutes ahead of schedule. All in all, it was a nice, easy and sensible way to fly.

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    One Amazing Trip http://www.citrinconsulting.com/life-balance/beating-jet-lag/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/life-balance/beating-jet-lag/#comments Fri, 30 Aug 2013 12:21:00 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1692 Read More]]> The flight back from Scotland was routine but the trip to Scotland was anything but routine.

    Sheila and I travelled with 15 other Interplayers (the improvisational art form we practice) from around the world and joined up with another 10 Scots for 2 weeks of workshops, trips to ancient islands and performances at the world’s largest arts festival, known as the Fringe Festival.

    We performed on the fringe of the Fringe appearing last Sunday at St. John’s Church in the heart of Edinburgh as part of the Just Festival that focuses on issues of social justice. Our performance called The Unbelievable Beauty of Being Human showed to a nearly full house and was wildly received by all in attendance.

    We’ve taken trips with Interplayers before to Malawi, Africa and Sydney, Australia but this trip may have been the best. We made new Scottish friends and stayed at the home of Martine Robertson who was the consummate host and, most importantly, made sure that our last dinner was at her favorite pub and included her favorite single malt scotch.

    Coming home, I was very aware of needing to make my adjustment back to my regular life as graceful as possible as I’d be hitting the ground running.Recovery was my focus when I came back and included a couple of special tools for myself. While I had a full schedule, I didn’t overbook myself and had some time during the day to take some breaks. After work, I crawled into my bed for a few minutes to just catch up with some rest since my body thought it was 11 PM.  I’ve eaten well but have stayed away from rich food since I was working to eat like a Scot while over there.

    Its Friday now and I think I’ve beaten the jet lag blues. I’ll spend some time this weekend going through photos and dreaming back to an amazing holiday and the wonderful people we met.

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    Building A Good Head of Esteem http://www.citrinconsulting.com/esteem/building-a-good-head-of-esteem/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/esteem/building-a-good-head-of-esteem/#comments Tue, 13 Aug 2013 08:02:26 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1686 Read More]]> I was talking with the CEO of a small company recently who had just taken the reigns of the organization and was having some good initial success at turning this once troubled company around. As we discussed his work and professional issues, he confided in me that a big issue for him is related to his self-esteem. He often questions himself about whether he is making the right decisions and whether his decisions will actually work effectively enough to help the company. He wasn’t sure if this was common for CEOs and others and I reassured him that self-esteem issues represents an important aspect of what I address with my corporate consulting work. And it doesn’t surprise me since studies show that issues around self-esteem are significant.

    While issues around self-esteem may have a significant psychological component, there are things we can do to simplify the process of feeling better about ourselves without having to delve deep within our psyche. Try some of these on for size.

    1. Make sure you are a good fit in your work environment—If you are working for an organization that does not fit your style, then look around for some new work friends, transferring to another department or even looking for a new job.
    2. Decide what you want your brand to be at work—Identify your specialty and build up the expertise and talent that you have to demonstrate those skills. As people see you as the thought leader in that area, your confidence and so theirs will grow.
    3. Mentor—Regardless of your age you have a wealth of experience to pass onto others. By taking time to teach younger folks your skills—whether it is with a colleague who aspires to do a better job or a high school student needing some adult support, mentoring will help both of you.
    4. Get out of the rumor business- Nothing will create paranoia then rumors and innuendos around the workplace…and eventually these will affect your self-esteem and work confidence. When colleagues start dissing other folks, just walk away or pronounce your objection to talking about people behind their back.
    5. Build friendships at work—An amazing piece of research shows that having friends at work is a great way to feel good about your workplace and yourself. If you don’t have at least one good friend who you can talk to at your job, see about putting some energy into this effort.

    We’ll be exploring more about self-esteem and building confidence is future blog postings. If you’ve got something you want to explore, post it here on Facebook or send a note to me at Richard@citrinconsulting.com

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    Tying It All Together http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/tying-it-all-together/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/tying-it-all-together/#comments Tue, 06 Aug 2013 11:57:28 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1676 Read More]]> Earlier in my career, when I wore more suits and ties then I did today, I always had a lot of trouble coordinating colors and outfits.  I could never tell if the blue shirt was too blue for the gray suit or if the striped tie clashed or complimented the jacket I was wearing. It got so bad that my son Ken, who knew fashion, gave me a birthday gift one year by sewing little pieces of colored threads into my shirts, suits, sports coats, ties and slacks so that I could see merely look at the colored threads and know (with some measure of confidence) that my clothing selection would always work. This helped immediately relieve some stress and anxiety from my early morning activities.

    I think President Obama may have had a similar problem in that I recently heard that he only has blue or black suits in his closet so that he doesn’t have to think about what clothing choices he has to make. After all, he and I both have to make important decisions every morning. Wish I could send Ken over to see him too.

    The great thing about what Ken did for me and what Michelle probably did for the President is that they both helped create an easy routine that decreased the stress in our morning ritual of getting ready for our day.

    Routines often get a bad rap because people sometimes thing they are boring and repetitive but for me routines create efficiencies that free our minds and clocks up to get more important things done.  We all engage in simple routines like brushing our teeth before we go to bed and right after we wake up. And excepting for traffic, we probably drive the same route to work every morning.

    Many mundane tasks could be conducted more efficiently if we took a few minutes to investigate how we could do a better job of building a better routine. Take a look at how much time you spend on email or how your email checking distracts you from other more important tasks. Every time you check email, it takes another 10 minutes to get your focus back on the task you are working on.  How do you start or finish your day? Having an opening routine that may include an “objectives for the day” list or finishes with a check in with your staff to see how they’ve done for the day may very well help you to be more efficient and effective in what you do.

    Routines…They tie it all together

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    Big Data http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/big-data/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/big-data/#comments Fri, 02 Aug 2013 11:25:54 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1672 Read More]]> “I treat people, not pictures”. That is what a rehabilitation physician friend of mine told me when I mentioned to him that I had the MRI of my knee that I injured while working out recently.  After I mentioned that an orthopedic surgeon wanted to perform surgery, my friend told me that surgery was not always necessary and that some non-surgical procedures were worth trying out. But first, he wanted to conduct a hands on physical exam to see what was going on in and around my knee.

    My conversation led me to think about how we’ve become reliant on “big data” to guide discussions with others. Managers may look at “team engagement” studies to see how well supervisors are managing staff and will use that data for performance reviews. Airlines use data from the frequent flyer data banks to determine who gets to walk down the red carpet or blue carpet (see last blog post).  And we may rely on Angie’s List reports to decide which air conditioning repair guy comes to our house to add more coolant.

    There is no reason we should not look to use data to help us make informed decisions but that the data presents on portion of information and not all the information. I’ll bring my MRI over to make sure its part of the data when I see the doctor but I want to make sure that he sees me too.

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    The Rope To Nowhere http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/the-rope-to-nowhere/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/the-rope-to-nowhere/#comments Tue, 30 Jul 2013 11:48:53 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1665 Read More]]> Waiting for my flight home on Friday, I was struck by the customer disparities that operate in the world of air travel. You mostly see it upon boarding and this sign pretty well sums up the story. If you form your line on the right side of the rope, you are a preferred (elite, gold, platinum, silver, high roller or insert your own moniker) traveller who gets to get on the plane sooner, put your bag away quicker and gain a few more minutes of comfort before the rest of us get to board. According to the sign, we should enter the boarding are on the left side of the rope under “General Boarding”.

    For many years, I held Gold Status with one of our now bankrupt airlines, but then lost it one year when I could not accrue enough miles or airline flight segments to qualify for that vaulted status. Given the state of airline flying these days, I don’t miss the effort it took to gain it. However those few perks were certainly nice and helped make the travel a bit more enjoyable.

    As I waited for the plane to board, I watched how people behaved around the sign. Realizing that there is absolutely no advantage to walking down the right side of the rope (preferred) or the left side (general) of the boarding corridor, everyone conformed to the appropriate behavior, all of which led to one place…the ticket agent who scanned your boarding pass or smart phone that allowed you to board the plane.

    As I waited for Group 2 to be called (I’m not a total loser) I wound up standing near the front of the line but on the “Preferred” part of the rope, along with 6 or 7 other folks. I assumed we would alternate places as we checked in. But as I approached the ticket agent for her to scan my smartphone, she pointed out to me and the others in our line that we were on the wrong side of the boarding line and we all would have to go to the back of the line and start again. With a look of disbelief, I turned to the others and we all collectively shrugged our shoulders and headed to the back of the line.

    Now some of you may think that I was getting what I deserved but to me the larger issue is why the airline is creating such a silly and artificial way of trying to make their elite customers feel better about themselves. They already get to get on the plane first, get food if they’re in first class and maybe even get a little bigger seat in coach. But to have them walk down a different side of the check in area seems pretty ridiculous.

    Now I try to treat all my customers and clients with equal respect and I usually try to provide equal service to all which might include sending an interesting article to them or providing a little bit of extra value to my services. I don’t think any of them want me to give them a button saying “Great Client” or “Awesome CEO” just so they feel better about themselves.

    I’m all over the airlines offering real perks to their elite customers with early access and special 800 numbers, but the rope to nowhere truly misses the point.

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    Just Let It Go http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/just-let-it-go/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/just-let-it-go/#comments Fri, 26 Jul 2013 19:28:34 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1660 Read More]]> I was in East Greenwich today visiting with my mentor Alan Weiss today when I checked my email to see that my flight home to Pittsburgh was delayed a couple of hours. When Alan and I finished up, I called US Airways to see about catching an earlier flight and they had a non-stop leaving earlier but making the drive back to Boston would be tight. I confirmed a later flight but jumped in my car and headed north intent on seeing if I could catch that earlier flight.

    Driving on up, I kept looking at my smartphone GPS map and realized that there was no way I’d make it up there. Traffic was building and I would still need to stop off and get gas. About halfway up there, I gave up on the idea of the earlier flight and began thinking about how I’d spend a couple of hours in Terminal B.

    Making that decision meant that everything else fell in place. I’d have a relaxing lunch, I could check out some of the latest magazines and could post this blog about how everything usually works out just as well in the end.

    In our work and lives we often try to force things to happen and when we do so, we not only be messing up the natural order of how things are meant to be but usually cause ourselves extra angst and disappointment. What happens when we change our expectations to go with the natural flow. Don’t push the River, it flows by itself.

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    The Story of My Life http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/the-story-of-my-life/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/the-story-of-my-life/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2013 14:01:41 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1650 Read More]]> I’m taking some time this week to reflect back on the first half of the year and doing some planning for the second half of the year in terms of family, business and pleasure. Its been a pretty good first half of the year although I worked ridiculously hard the first 5 months hardly taking a day off and having scheduled no vacation time for my self. I told several people to slap me if I try to do the same thing next year! Fortunately, I’ve got a couple of vacations scheduled for the summer and I’m even sitting out on the deck today doing this and some other writings.

    Part of my reflection is thinking about my life story. I recognize that every day I am writing  a new chapter in my little biography and how I think about those events not only shape how I feel about my  life but more importantly direct what I will do later today. It’s been a long time since I thought of my life as anyway boring although many folks I talk to still think about their lives that way even though upon further discussion, their lives are really amazing.

    One person I was talking to recently claimed ordinary for their life but when I asked her about her hobby, she got all excited and started telling me how she’s tracked her family tree back 200 years and even got a family tree DNA test to further identify her family roots. She could hardly stop sharing about all she’s learned and it got me thinking about tracking down some family background (although I’ve delegated that to cousin Nancy).

    I like to think that spending time looking at your personal (and professional) history is a bit like sitting down and looking at old family photo albums but the key difference is that while we often think about only the good things when looking at old pictures we usually focus on the negative things when looking back at our history. We might regret missed opportunities or see how that decision led us to make a crucial life decision that we wish we could take back now.

    I’m trying out some different ways to explore my personal biography to see how much I can learn and how I can shape my narrative so that it carries me on a cushion of air rather than a muddied down plow.

    • I’m going to create a visual timeline of my life with important events noted. My marriage to Sheila, selling my business,  my first golf hole in one!  How did these shape me and what memories do they bring to me now
    • I’ve started a list of people who have made a difference in my life. If you’d like to get on the list, send me your nomination form.
    • I did a search for Mrs. Sonia Nalvin, my 8th grade social studies teacher. I’d like to write her a letter and thank her for instilling such a great love of history in my life, but alas, she does not come up on a google search. I may write her a letter anyway.
    • As a psychologist and consultant, I’ve helped a lot of people and companies over the years. I often think back to what I think was a really important difference I made for them. I may start a list of those folks as well.
    • When my parents passed, my family asked me to write and speak the eulogy and while it was a difficult task, it was one I relished as I was able to honor mom and dad in a way that brought out their greatness as people and their love as parents. I started writing my own eulogy this past week and its a bit trickier to do since I know a lot more about my secret lives than anyone else. But I think it will help me to better understand and own who I am.
    • The short version is to just write your tombstone. Can you guess what my father’s image represents?

    Our stories all represent amazing journeys on this earth. I’m going to have some fun owning mine. Wanna join in?

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    Build a Full Head of Esteem http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/build-a-full-head-of-esteem/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/build-a-full-head-of-esteem/#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2013 08:37:24 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1646 Read More]]> I am not really surprised that so many leaders question their own value and contribution to their organization. Over 20 years ago, author Pauline Clance wrote about her interviews with highly successful business leaders in which they reported feeling like frauds in their work. Despite all evidence to the contrary, these leaders were sure that sooner or later, they would be discovered as fakes and their gig would be up.

    Self-esteem or the belief that we are competent, capable people is something that we can only give to ourselves. It cannot be bestowed by others (despite their best efforts). Everyone experiences bouts of low self esteem and for leaders it can even be a greater challenge as you are constantly being deluged by conflicting information, time pressures and the necessity to make timely decisions that impact the operations of your business and the success of your staff.

    Building and maintaing self esteem can be enhanced by remembering to focus on several key activities. Try some of these out and see how they work:

    1. You are what you think: Pay attention to the self-talk you say to yourself. If your thoughts start getting negative then turn them off and say something positive. The technique is known as “thought-stopping” and there is a satirical video done by TV psychologist Bob Newhart in which he demonstrates this technique .
    2. Use affirmations: While most of us are quick to give ourselves criticism, we are slow to acknowledge our successes. Give yourself a little bit of the credit you deserve for a job well done and hold that positive thought in your mind. Consider writing down your successful affirmation and posting it in a place where you can see it during the day.
    3. Avoid negative people: Stay away from Debbie Downer. People who promote negative ideas will help you generate them in yourself and around your organization and after hearing negative thoughts and ideas, they will begin to infect your thinking as well
    4. Focus on your strengths: There are things that you do better than others and there are things that others do better than you. Avoid the comparisons and instead understand your strengths and how they work best for you. I recommend the book “StrengthFinders 2.0″ as an excellent tool for beginning to understand your strengths. In my workshops individuals and teams make amazing discoveries about how to leverage their strengths.
    5. Be proactive As a leader, your job is to plow the field ahead of your team so that they can do their job more easily. Nothing builds self esteem like winning and focusing on what you can do as a leader to make other’s successful will help them gain and help you feel like a million bucks.

    Enjoy the moments when you see your success and savor the victories of your hard work. Each small step will continue to grow your confidence and self esteem

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    The Resilience Advantage: Find Your Own Chief Resilience Officer http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/your-chief-resilience-officer/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/your-chief-resilience-officer/#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2013 15:12:39 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1642 Read More]]> Resilience is a new way to think about how we use stress to become stronger and resilient in the face of adversity and I recently read how the Rockefeller Foundation is going to award $100 million to a number of cities who will appoint a Chief Resilient Officer to help their local communities to prepare for and recover from catastrophic events. The goal is to make cities more  resilient to disastrous events and to help equalize how communities respond so that all residents get the help they need. Additionally by having that focus, residents will begin to see that their own self management of disasters plays an important role in managing these crises. ,

    For the Foundation, the idea that someone in the community can be responsible for resilience makes sense as governments and non-government organizations (NGOs)  work to empower individuals to recognize how we all must make sure we are prepared fro and ready to deal with crises.

    The reality, at least for me, is that all of us are already prepared for crises situations and usually deal with them pretty effectively, at least as it plays out for ourselves and our families. Medical emergency–off to the doctor or ER—Family financial crises—we cut back on spending and maybe get a second job—Kid failing in school–Get tutoring or spend more time studying and less time on varsity football.

    For individuals, having the authority to make decision means that we can take the actions we need in the face of adversity and insure that we bounce forward from the challenge.

    Chief Resilience Officer for Cities…maybe a good idea. Chief Resilience Officer for our family…Position already filled!

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    The Alaska Adventure http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/the-alaska-adventure/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/the-alaska-adventure/#comments Wed, 19 Jun 2013 13:40:54 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1631 Read More]]> Back from our Alaskan vacation adventure that included bear and moose sightings, calving glaciers, park ranger lectures, bicycling to ancient gardens, hikes along rain forested trails and helicoptering onto ice fields for a little dog mushing.

    A trip to Alaska was a big deal for us. We had planned to go several years ago but that trip got waylaid. Getting ready for this one meant borrowing some lightweight ski parkas, packing clothes for multi temperature zones, cross country flying and customs clearance (not for Alaska but for the embarkation out of Vancouver).

    Once on-board the cruise ship it took us a couple of days to transition to vacation mode but that first day at sea settled me down and slowed my pace. Doing a stretching class every morning at 7 AM set a great tone for the day and reminded me that starting my day with a little self care goes a long way.

    A trip to Alaska is basically a trip to parks—national parks like Glacier Bay and Denali (home of the 20,000 foot tall Denali Mountain) and state parks like the Ketchikan rain forest. Everywhere we went, we were surrounded by natural beauty and the sounds and sights give you that perspective of how significant Mother Nature is in our world.

    Park Rangers joined us all along the way and surrounded us with fascinating history. I had no idea that there was a mini ice age in the 1600s that extended the Margery Glacier 150 miles and kicked the Tlingit Indians from their native homes. Mt. Mckinley, the highest peak in North America was named Denali (or the High One) by the Athabascan Indians who lived in that area but when a reporter from Ohio was visiting that area around the turn of last century, he decided to name it for a presidential candidate who never visited the Park or had much affection for that area of the country. Even to this day, congressional delegates from Ohio block efforts to officially rename the Mountain so that they can maintain the presence of their favorite son at a place he didn’t care much about. Most everyone shakes their head at that comment when spoken by the Ranger.

    This was one fun vacation and one that Sheila and I will treasure for a long time. Hope your summer holiday is just as special

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    Tax Day http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/tax-day/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/tax-day/#comments Mon, 15 Apr 2013 11:50:00 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1623 Read More]]> Taxes are due on April 15th (today) and I am okay with paying them.

    When I hear people complain about paying taxes, I point out that I like roads, supporting the military, having hospitals and education programs for pre-kindergarteners. I think supporting medical research, finding new sources of energy and providing care for older people is pretty cool. I like going to national parks and monuments and knowing that I can find useful information about most things from government web sites.  I know that I am not being fashionable in my belief that paying taxes is okay but I consider it a good investment in our country and a responsibility no different from voting on the second Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

    I can appreciate that people don’t like paying taxes. We’d all rather have that money in our pocket and we all can agree that the government is not an efficient system and that everyone does not agree with how money is being spent by the government.

    Research on this history of taxation suggests that people feel okay about paying taxes during periods of war, particularly, when spending was deemed to be just–the Civil War, WW I and WW II. Since then few have supported wars–Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan–leaving everyone with a bitter taste in having to support these efforts. I think it was too bad that when patriotic feelings were running high (after 9/11) we all weren’t asked to sacrifice a bit more to fund what seemed like a noble cause. Instead taxes were cut and any feeling we had as a nation pulling together was lost.

    Now my accountant informs me that she has gotten me an extension since we didn’t have all the proper documents reviewed and completed. Perhaps that is what is making it a little easier for me this April. Check back with me August 15th and we’ll see how I am feeling. Hopefully all my taxes will be up to speed and perhaps I’ll even get back a little refund. I don’t mind paying my fair share, but I don’t think it is necessary to pay more than that!

    © Richard Citrin 2013

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    Informative But Not Helpful http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/informative-but-not-helpful/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/informative-but-not-helpful/#comments Tue, 02 Apr 2013 13:14:07 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1605 Read More]]> I spent the afternoon yesterday with one of my favorite clients going over budget reports. There must have been 6 or more reports we reviewed about their programs, everything from income statements to balance sheets. There were sub reports, special project reports and even service metric data to review. We were able to interpret all of it but towards the end of our meeting, I commented that the data was “informative but not really helpful” for the team to improve the management of their department.

    Part of the reason for that may be due to the fact that the reports are geared to meet the finance departments requirements for reporting or that the team I was working with does not know what they need or how to ask for reports that address specific questions they have such as costs per site where production is done (which was not a report that was available).

    So here are my top 3 quotes you will hear from staff that the data you receive my be informative but not particularly helpful.

    1. “So what does this budget report mean in terms of how we can improve our services.”
    2. “We get these reports every month but then we are told that they are just make believe because we are so far off from our actual budget.”
    3. “Can we get together with the CFO so that he/she can explain this to us and what it means to our department?”

    Now before we beat up on the finance department too much, we should recognize that many staff are not budget savvy but I would probably build the case to say that both parties should meet half-way and that is where the use of dashboard reports with red, yellow and green markers can help point out where things are going well or poorly.  Taking that information and then translating it into actionable steps is often times where the gap is the largest.  So in order to improve the friendliness and usefulness of reports, I encouraged my colleagues yesterday to take 3 actions:

    1. Review and write down the questions they have about their budget report so we can make sure everyone understands what the data means.
    2. Think about the challenges they have with their program and see if there is some indicator or marker in their budget report that supports their perception…It could be that turnover of staff is high and that they are 10% below a full staff…or that the programs with the weakest leadership are the programs that are performing poorest financially.
    3. Come up with 3 steps they can take to better understand and address specific actions related to the interface of their budget and program information.

    It is an art and skill to learn how to use data and reports effectively. Oftentimes, people in the field are not exactly sure how best to data but it really begins by looking at both the data and the programs and look back and forth between each to help find explanations for successes and opportunities

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    Fun in Your Workplace http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/fun-in-your-workplace/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/fun-in-your-workplace/#comments Mon, 01 Apr 2013 07:00:22 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1611 Read More]]> Hey, with today being April Fool’s its time to get your jokester hat out and get ready for some yuck, yuck.

    Since I love doing research, I checked out a number of important facts about the first of April. An early precursor of April Fool’s Day was an ancient Roman festival called “Hilaria” which was celebrated around the first day of Spring. The days were highlighted by events of rejoicing including births of children, successes in life and probably acknowledging the greatness of Rome. Every one had to be upbeat and no one was allowed to show signs of sorrow or grief. And given how serious those Romans were, you would probably not want to fool around with that day or you might have become a sacrificial joke!

    The Museum of Hoaxes catalogued a list of the best April Fool’s jokes for the past 60 years or so, and here are their results. Some people are so gullible!

    1. In 1957 a British news show broadcast a 3 minute sequence about how there was a bumper spaghetti harvest in Southern Switzerland due to the mild winter. Listeners were so captivated, they wanted to know where they could buy a spaghetti tree.
    2. Legendary sports writer George Plimpton wrote about Sidd Finch who would be the savior for the New York Mets since he could pitch a fast ball at 165 mph (For those of you who are not ready for the baseball season starting today, 90 mph is a good fastball speed).
    3. In 1996, Taco Bell announced that they had bought the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and were renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Folks were unnerved and Taco Bell (aka Pepsico) had to announce that it was a joke. But, to me, it seems like such a great joke that I may go get a Gordita today just to celebrate their good style
    4. In April, 1977, the British newspaper, The Guardian published a seven page supplement about the tiny islands in the Indian Ocean named San Sarriffe. It consisted of several semi-colon islands with the major ones being called Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. Few people caught the grammatical implications and it seems this bit of journalistic tomfoolery began a trend in the newspaper industry (see number 2 above)
    5. In 1998 Physicist Mark Boslough released a news story stating that the Alabama State Legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant “pi” from 3.14 to the “biblical value” of 3.0. Outraged mathematicians (how many of them are there?) called the Alabama State offices to protest only to discover that it was a April Fool’s prank designed to mock legislative efforts to modify science.

    I’m sure I would have been number 1 on the gullible list of believing these yarns. In fact, I think I asked my mother about planting a spaghetti tree in our backyard!  Have fun today and keep that energy and spirit with you year round

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    Name It, Claim It, Aim It http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/name-it-claim-it-aim-it/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/name-it-claim-it-aim-it/#comments Thu, 28 Mar 2013 13:18:56 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1599 Read More]]> I conducted a workshop on Leadership Development this week with my colleague Michael Couch at the Bayer Center here in Pittsburgh.

    At the opening of the session I asked the participants how many of them considered themselves leaders. About 30% of the participants immediately raised their hands with another 25% tentatively raising their hands and the remaining 45% keeping their hands down. This is a pretty typical response I get when I ask that question. However, 100% of the participants were or had been leaders sometime in their career. Even the woman who was a volunteer at the Bayer Center had been head of an HR department earlier in her career. And the person who was head of a very important human service organization was one of those folks who was unsure if she should acknowledge her leadership stature.

    The funny thing is that I understand all three groups. I often times don’t see myself as a leader and might prefer to be in a support role to the person who is out in front. But I also know, for example, that Tuesday morning from 9-12 I had to be a leader so that I was making sure this workshop had direction and ideas that would provide value to the participants. But given that question, I would always raise my hand because I know that I take on leadership roles more often than not.

    Being able to name the leadership role whether its as a manager, boss, parent or community volunteer is important. If you are heading up a committee at your church or synagogue, you are providing leadership.

    Claiming the role is the next important feature and is probably the toughest. “Yes I am the leader” is challenging to say considering all the responsibilities that accompany it but raising your hand is amazingly powerful.

    Now that you have it, what are you going to do with it. Aiming your leadership in a manner that is responsible and effective is the third part of the equation and is where the rubber meets the road.

    For most of us we assume leadership responsibilities every day. As long as you are going to have the job make sure you can name and then, please, raise your hand!

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    Take the Bored Out of Your Board Meeting http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/take-the-bored-out-of-your-board-meeting/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/take-the-bored-out-of-your-board-meeting/#comments Tue, 26 Mar 2013 16:18:04 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1587 Read More]]> A not-so-quiet change in happening in non-profit organizations across the country. Due to government funding cutbacks, increasing needs of clients in our communities and a need for organizations to adapt to new business models, these non-profits have to look at changes across all levels of their organizations.

    Among the most important change that can be enacted is how the Boards of Directors conduct business, engage in the success of the organization and support the administration in creating a successful workplace. In the past, Boards of Directors primary job was oversee their fiduciary responsibility, hire the Executive Director and perhaps help fundraise. They would attend an annual strategic planning sessions where they would conduct a SWOT analysis (identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and come up with ideas on what the agency can do for the next year. Attending monthly or quarterly meetings usually meant sitting through a bunch of reports and oftentimes not feeling like they were making a significant contribution to a cause they believed in.

    According to a study by the Stanford Social Innovation Review, there are 5 ideas about how to make non-profit boards exciting places to be…and ones that make a real difference in our community:

    1. Serve and Advocate: Advocate for the mission of your organization. It may just be attending fundraisers and other events, but the best board members will soon be raving about the work of the organization.
    2. See the Market Opportunity: Business people love to serve on boards but often don’t consider how best to help these organizations create markets. They often just want to bring business practices to the non-profit rather than bring business thinking.
    3. Build aCo
      mmunity of Believers:
      People believe in the work of non-profits because they make a difference in people’s lives. When I served on the Board of a school, I told the principal that it would be great if the student chorus came sometime during our meeting to serenade us. That one visit helped all the Board members remember why we were serving.
    4. Collaboration: Its tough out there in the non-profit world and inviting other board members to get together for a meeting can help find common interests and possibly create new projects.
    5. Adapt, Execute, Evaluate: You are no doubt on the Board because you are smart and committed to their mission. Use your skills and commitment to improve outcomes.

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    Tiny Habits http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/tiny-habits/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/tiny-habits/#comments Mon, 25 Mar 2013 12:51:10 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1594 Read More]]> I’ve enrolled in a new program this week called Tiny Habits (www.tinyhabits.com). Started by a Stanford psychologist named BJ Fogg. He is promoting the idea that by taking small steps and setting up certain cues, we can modify our habits to do more of the things we want to do.

    From a resilience point of view, improving our habits is critical since habits create efficiencies that create less stress in our lives and give us more time for joy.

    The experiment for the week is to identify 3 behaviors we want to improve and to be something we can do in 30 seconds. BJ’s prime example is that if you want to start flossing your teeth, just begin by flossing one tooth. The other critical factors is that you need a cue to help you remember the new behavior you want to do and then to be sure to brag about it after you are done (like in writing a blog post about it)

    My 3 behaviors are:

    1. When I sit down at my desk to begin my day, I will take 30 seconds to meditate and center myself in my chair.
    2. When I turn on my computer, I will take 30 seconds to write the title of a blog post or twitter feed that I would like to do that day
    3. When I take my dog Clancy out for his walk, I will focus on walking in a light manner (using the Alexander Technique) to help improve my alignment.

    All worked out this morning and particularly interesting was that as I was getting ready to take Clancy out, I started to think about the Tiny Habits and was trying to remember what the 3rd habit I was going to attempt to do. Then it resonated in my head and Clancy and I headed out with our heads and snouts held high

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    Get Involved http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/get-involved/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/get-involved/#comments Tue, 26 Feb 2013 12:51:39 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1575 Read More]]> Maybe it’s not surprising to you that only a third of employees are engaged in what they are doing. They love their jobs and for many of them, they will approach it with a missionary zeal. For another 25%, work sucks, their job sucks and your organization sucks…I guess they are not engaged. And then there is the great 50% in the middle, all of whom are more or less engaged in what they are doing.
    Engagement is important not only in the quality and efficiency of the work being produced but even more importantly in how your team approaches customers. And as you know as a customer of the products you buy, if the person you are not interacting with does not really care about their work, you usually don’t much care about their product. Research studies of the insurance industry showed that highly involved managers and leaders made the key difference in employee engagement and that led to better morale, lower turnover and better financial performance.
    So what can you do as a leader within your organization to improve performance…
    1. Design informal learning opportunities. Taking time to explain and teach your staff something new at meetings or one on ones shows your commitment to their advancement and shares your wisdom with them
    2. Ask a staff member to prepare a presentation (10-15 minutes) about a subject of importance to the team at a monthly meeting. This helps others learn about preparing and presenting and allows the staff to show off their smarts.
    3. Give real feedback. Don’t wait for the annual review to share information about a staff member’s performance. Give it to them early and often and they’ll be more motivated to be successful
    4. Acknowledge good work with a “thank you”. I use to write thank you notes to my staff when I was running a corporate organization. I was always surprised how my little gesture completely blew people away.  Your staff will very much appreciate your verbal comment or especially that hand written note and they will hold onto it in their desks for a long time
    5. Focus on the future. Right now,many other organizations are in the throws of change, which creates anxiety and uncertainty. Continue to remind your staff of where your company is headed and espouse the confidence that you and other leaders have about the strategic direction. Knowing where the future is leading will help your staff put their full effort into success.

    Creating an engaged staff takes time and it’s really the little things that make the difference for success. Plug into being a leader of people and not a leader of products and you’ll soon see them stepping up

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    Bounce Forward http://www.citrinconsulting.com/life-balance/bounce-forward/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/life-balance/bounce-forward/#comments Mon, 25 Feb 2013 13:31:29 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1579 Read More]]> One of the first questions I ask when I am doing my Resilience Advantage Program is how people define “resilence”. I usually get a slew of words, one of which is almost always “bounce back”.  It makes sense. When faced with adversity, we want to get back to where we were. But what if we change the conversation and instead think about how we grow from that event so that we are moving forward after adversity so that we are bouncing forward.

    Just last week one of my cousins passed away. Bob is the first of my generation to pass and he fought a courageous battle against cancer before succumbing to that disease. We weren’t the closest of cousins but the last several summers, we’d got together for a weekend of fun at his sister’s house along with other family. I enjoyed those visits and now am extremely grateful we had that time together. The funeral was filled with the usual tears, laughter, and joy as we celebrated Bob’s life and all the people he’s touched. As the family and friends gathered afterwards for more storytelling. Making the rounds with my family, it soon became apparent that we all wanted to do more family get togethers and we  started sharing ideas about how we can make sure we stay connected despite our distances. One of my younger cousins told me that she and my niece want to reinstitute “The Cousin’s Club” a tradition that my mother and her sisters used to make sure all the cousins got together 3 or 4 times a year. My brother’s and I planned a golf trip for this May and Sheila is planning on taking our new grand daughter and her mom to her annual women’s retreat.

    Adversity and grief are something we face often and while getting back to normal is good, I think we actually wind up learning and changing from these events so that we actually bounce forward. Thanks Cousin Bob for reminding me. Rest in Peace.

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    Creating A Mindset Of Longevity http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/creating-a-mindset-of-longevity/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/creating-a-mindset-of-longevity/#comments Mon, 28 Jan 2013 08:00:16 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1552 Richard discusses the reality that family owned businesses typically are the ones that last the longest. Family challenges include:  succession, sibling rivalry, not wanting to air their dirty laundry and maintaining values. Factors include sensitivity to the environment, maintaining cohesiveness across the business, maintaining a core set of values and being conservative with their money.

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    A Better Way To Monitor Your Personal Energy http://www.citrinconsulting.com/innovation/a-better-way-to-monitor-your-personal-energy/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/innovation/a-better-way-to-monitor-your-personal-energy/#comments Thu, 24 Jan 2013 11:12:32 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1565 Read More]]> I’m getting ready to conduct a series of Resilience Advantage workshops for one of my clients that we’ll be conducting at several of their production plants across the country. As I’ve developed a part of the program around energy management (working title: Building Your Personal Energy Grid) I decided that I would buy myself a personal fitness monitor that I could test out prior to my workshops and then offer them to participants as a cool give away when I ask for “volunteers”

    I actually picked up 2 versions, the “Up” from Jambox and the “Fitbit” from Fitbit. The costs run around $125 each. While I’m testing out the Up, my wife Sheila is trying out the Fitbit

    The Up and Fitbit (left and right, respectively) are a far cry from the old mechanical pedometers since they are all digital, sync to my iphone and computer and allow for a range of great personal information. My Up is a bracelet shape and is a rubberized surface which has an accelerometer on the inside that tracks movement. A very cool aspect of this device is that it also records sleep movements and determines the length of your sleep and the time spent in deep vs. light sleep. You can also manually enter your mood ranging from a happy face to sad face!  You can manually enter food intake manually by typing in your meals and using their internal data base to determine nutritional values or you can scan in the SKU number and it will automatically pull up the nutritional information which is convenient.

    At this early stage I am interested in tracking all aspects of data including my fitness routine, diet and especially sleep. The band targets 10,000 steps as a goal although I am not a big fan of that measure but I can live with it for now. I’ll probably be setting my own fitness goals as part of the personalization process.
    As for sleep, last night I logged7.5 hours along with 3.5 hours of deep sleep (not sure yet how much deep sleep is required yet) and my energy was much better today than it was on the  weekend when I logged only 5 hours of sleep and 2 hours of deep sleep (too much partying perhaps).

    The nutritional element is fairly easy to do and the Up records everything from protein to cholesterol which can be reviewed on a daily basis or as a trend over time

    Being smart around energy use begins  with actually understanding and knowing what your energy levels are. I think the Up band may be an interesting starting point in identifying the best way for me to start to build my energy resilience. I often tell folks that a good way to start tracking your energy is to just notice when your high energy times occur and when you low energy times occur and monitor then during your day so you can target what kinds of activities you want to engage in during your day. The Up and Fit seem to be taking it a step further

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    Using Our Knowledge To Promote The People In An Organization http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/using-our-knowledge-to-promote-the-people-in-an-organization/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/using-our-knowledge-to-promote-the-people-in-an-organization/#comments Mon, 21 Jan 2013 08:00:58 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1548 Richard talks about how companies often have business recovery/resiliency plans but many organizations have not addressed resilience in regards to their staff members.

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    Ask Better Questions http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/ask-better-questions/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/ask-better-questions/#comments Mon, 14 Jan 2013 17:58:42 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1556 Read More]]> Just this past week, I had two coaching clients who had blank stares when I greeted them. They had just received their annual performance reviews from their managers and they looked like little lost puppies.

    They started off by asking what I thought it meant that they received a “2 out of 5” on certain items and that their boss told them they better improve on those items since these were their areas of apparent weakness. On top of all this their boss told them to talk with me about how they could make a “professional development plan” that would highlight how they would improve on their deficits.

    When I asked what they thought their boss was referring to with each of those “2”s, their response was the same…”I’m not exactly sure”

    • “John needs to improve on his communication skills” (which fell under managing his staff).
    • “Heather is good with paperwork but she could do better in completing certain documents”.
    • “John’s role in completing the annual budget is critical. He could make a better contribution here”.
    • “Heather sometimes manages from the side”.

    I looked at some of these responses and wondered myself…”what the heck were their bosses talking about?”. These performance notations are so non-specific that anyone could have ideas about what they mean. When I asked John and Heather if they understood what their bosses meant by these comments, their answers were the same…”I don’t know”. Did you ask them about these and some of the other items…”no” was their response.

    I sent John and Heather back to their bosses to go back and ask better questions. We  need better answers

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    Organizational Resiliency http://www.citrinconsulting.com/citrin-consulting/organizational-resiliency/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/citrin-consulting/organizational-resiliency/#comments Mon, 14 Jan 2013 08:00:50 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1544 Richard discusses how organizations can become or maintain resilience by stressing three important factors:  predictability, flexibility and timeliness. Richard also shares reasons why companies fail.

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    A Nice Trip to the Doctor’s Office http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/a-nice-trip-to-the-doctors-office/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/a-nice-trip-to-the-doctors-office/#comments Sat, 12 Jan 2013 18:15:55 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1555 Read More]]> I’ve been ill the past 10 days as a carryover from my holiday vacation in Colorado. Came down with a nasty cold from grandson Ethan who is such a sweetie that I know he had no intention of infecting me or his father or his cousin Jody.

    Sore throat, hacking cough, fatigue, and runny nose. I’ve had to run two clothes washer loads of handkerchiefs to try to keep up with the production of mucus. Thankfully, however, I knew it was just a cold and not the dreaded flu. After all, I’d gotten a flu shot.

    But when I felt like I took a turn for the worse yesterday, I decided that maybe I should go see my doctor office for a quick consult and maybe a different magic pill to manage the symptoms. Fran Solano heads up the office, but I only usually see him once a year for my physical exam

    I called his  office on the way home from a client,  and I  was pleased that Doctor Andrew could see me at 1:40. This office keeps appointments available for drop ins and I like the ease of scheduling. I headed over and just had to wait a few minutes following the perfunctory document review before the nurse came out and announced my name “RICHARD” she screamed to which I responded “HERE” and we headed back. For some reasons, doctors office insist on yelling out people’s names to get them back to the examining rooms.

    Dr. Andy was great. Asked good questions, ruled out some more serious problems, discussed medication options, talked about his own perspective on colds (just let them run their course–no need for any meds). But being sick of coughing, I wanted to try something so he even prescribed a $2.00 generic that has already made a big improvement in my condition.

    Heading out, they asked me one final question that makes them a great practice…”Can we validate your parking ticket”?

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    Please Don’t Endorse Me http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/please-dont-endorse-me/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/please-dont-endorse-me/#comments Fri, 21 Dec 2012 21:54:51 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1532 Read More]]> For the past month or two, I’ve been getting endorsement emails from LinkedIn, telling me that Mark endorsed me as a coach or that Susan endorsed me as a strategic thinker. And when I log into my LinkedIn account, I’m offered an opportunity to reciprocate.“Does Mark know about leadership” (yes it say so on his LinkedIn description) or “Does Susan know about public relations” Duh, she heads up Susan’s Public Relations.

    I feel somewhat obligated to reciprocate since folks are being so kind to me and since LinkedIn has made it so darn simple to be an endorser, but I’ve decided that I don’t want to cheapen my own recommendation index by throwing out random “atta boys and girls” just because LinkeIn has made it easy.

    LinkedIn is a great place to connect with  other hard working professionals and I do a decent job of staying up to date on colleagues and my own profile management. I’ve previously asked others and have submitted to others formal recommendations about our work together that I always believed conveyed some sense of the value of our work together. But when I received an endorsement this past week from somebody I’ve not heard from for 5 or 6 years and she endorsed me for work she knows nothing about, I just had to take a stand. Lets not cheapen endorsements so that they have zero value.

    Now as those of you who actually know about my coaching work can attest, I am a big believer in acknowledging and recognizing our strengths and the things we do well. But you would be much better served by actually knowing how I do that and why I consider it so important. So while I’d love your endorsement or recommendation, make sure you know what and why you are endorsing me. It would mean so much more to me.

    © Richard Citrin, 2012

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    Being Micronice http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/being-micronice/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/being-micronice/#comments Sun, 02 Dec 2012 15:10:15 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1391 Read More]]> My wife, Sheila came home from an Ending Racism Conference in Baltimore a few weeks ago at which 1500 people attended. She and her Interplay colleagues presented at several plenary sessions and it was as she said, “an amazing conference.

    One of the ideas she specifically mentioned was about “micro-aggressions “ which is a term that was coined by Chester Pierce in 1970 and relates to the idea that racism or sexism occurs in subtle ways in which demeaning statements, not intended to be racist are made.

    The microagression.com web site provides a few examples:

    • “Me: Hey, should I go to a steakhouse or to a sushi place for dinner with my family?”
      Friend: I think you should go to the steakhouse because you guys know how to make sushi, right?

    or

    • “Our principal tells us via intercom system some basic announcements. Proceeds with a few innocent reminders about school policy on dress code. Then – “And ladies, please make sure you’re not showing too much cleavage. We don’t want our male students getting distracted!”

    As you can read, micro-aggressions are understated attempts at making a point that people would never be open to really saying in normal conversation. Bottom line…be sensitive to how you speak and consider how you think about other people’s race, ethicity or gender

    But even better, what would happen if we decide we going to start throwing out micr-niceities. Microniceties would be affirming statements that we would say to people at work and in our regular life to affirm what we do well and how we are striving to accomplish our objectives in life in way that brings out the best in us.

    We could not only use  microniceties in the workplace but could apply them to our personal  relationships, with our kids, our partners  and even our friends.

    We might tell our co-worker:

    • “Thanks for getting your update into me for the meeting scheduled for later in the week. It will help me get things done before my “self-imposed deadline”

    Or our partner

    • “ I really appreciate you putting away the dishes from the dishwasher. It makes things so much easier around here.

    Or our kids

    • “ I am so proud of how hard you worked to get that project done for school. I knew you could do it and you should feel good about it…I do!”

    Try some micro-niceties today and see if you don’t evoke a smile…on both sides of the conversation

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    A Men’s Yoga Class…Yikes! http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/a-mens-yoga-class-yikes/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/a-mens-yoga-class-yikes/#comments Sun, 04 Nov 2012 20:33:37 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1382 Read More]]> I have been participating in yoga for close to 35 years. While I would certainly not consider myself a serious Yoga student, I take classes once or twice a month and often practice some poses at home.

    I’m also picky about my yoga classes. I’m from (I guess) the old school and enjoy my yoga as a relaxation tool in my fitness routine rather than as aerobic exercise. To me yoga fits perfectly into my two of my five kinds of fitness that are relaxation and flexibility. I leave endurance, cardio and strength to other days and other workouts.

    Over where I work out a new yoga instructor, Susan, has introduced Qigong Yoga that integrates slow rhythmic breathing along with slow easy movement. Most of the poses we perform are familiar to me but her use of breath creates a calmer and more focused yoga practice for me.

    But what made the class today so interesting was that for the first time in my Yoga experience that the class was entirely made up of men. There we were, 7 guys several of whom Yoga was new but there they were being a mountain, focusing on balance, inverting against a wall and doing a modified bridge pose to strengthen their core

    Is this class a harbinger of things to come? Are men becoming more comfortable with their bodies to want to learn more about how to become more flexible or is it a sign that meditation and mindfulness is becoming a part of our daily routine. Regardless, it was fun to see so many guys in one class together. I’ll be back again next week and maybe we’ll let the gals in if any show up!

    ©Richard Citrin, 2012

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    Five Ways to Be Like Hurricane Sandy http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/five-ways-to-be-like-hurricane-sandy/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/five-ways-to-be-like-hurricane-sandy/#comments Mon, 29 Oct 2012 22:13:05 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1374 Read More]]> Hurricane Sandy is churning up the waters off the eastern shore as I write this and all predictions indicate that she will be making her way to the Western shores of the Allegheny River tonight along with 50 mile per hour winds.While its wise to be cautious about an intense hurricane like Sandie, her story is making big waves across the country. Big waves can be scary but everyone loves to watch them and see how they change the landscape in ways that could never be predicted. And like the fear created by the big storm, making waves with our lives can be scary also. Too many of us do our best to not disturb the water but to make sure that we float along the surface enjoying the scenery and creating (maybe) a few ripples along the way. Well what can Sandy teach us about creating amazing waves that make a difference in the world. Here are a few ideas…

    1. What can I cause: Instead of making a “to do” list, think about what can you make happen this week. You can you challenge to do better; what change can you affect this week that will change someone else’s idea of excellence? You know Sandy will be causing a lot of new learning opportunities for lots of people!
    2. Pay attention to your direction: Last week, Sandy was going to be a harmless storm that drifted off to sea but then she had a change of heart and decided to make a left turn towards New Jersey and New York). What direction are you going in and will that direction change the world?
    3. Preparation is key for bigness: Sandy started as a tropical wave in the eastern Caribbean (maybe by a couple of butterflies flapping their wings) and then built into the powerhouse she is today. She took her time and when she was ready, off she went. Preparation can be a pain in the butt but is a surefire way to hit the big time
    4. Have a backup plan: The spaghetti map that the weather bureau provided a few days ago show the potential paths that Sandy could take on her journey to the US. What do your spaghetti plans look like. I always talk to me clients about options, options, options. The more you have the better chance for big success.
    5. Build Your Brand: “Frankenstorm”, “The Big One”,  “The Storm of the Century” . Wow…who is doing her PR? Building and marketing your brand will help insure that your great ideas will get out and be embraced by everyone helping you to become the rock star that you are!.

    Sandy will no doubt be making big waves, many of which will be destructive but will help everyone learn many lessons. As for me I’m hoping that my yard furniture stays in place and that I get this blog post out before I lose any power. But for now, I’m hoping to just make some waves of my own. Be safe!

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    You’ve Got The Motivation…Now Five Ways to Make It Happen http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/youve-got-the-motivation-now-five-ways-to-make-it-happen/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/youve-got-the-motivation-now-five-ways-to-make-it-happen/#comments Mon, 08 Oct 2012 12:57:58 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1367 Read More]]> As I lay in bed this morning, I thought about what I needed to get done today. I felt excited as I was looking forward to some writing projects, meetings with some great clients and a scheduled visit to the gym for some cardio work. But how was I going to get it all done. I had the motivation, but could I put it into practice.

    As part of The Resilience Advantage, I’ve seen that habits and routines are essential to the follow through I need every day. I do my best to build in a schedule of when I want to get things done, but sometimes the scheduler is not in sync with reality. I’ve found that by identifying the best times of the day for me to get different things done, I can far exceed my own expectations. For me, that means creative work (like blogging, tweeting and proposal writing) is best done in the AM, ideally before 11 AM. Meeting with clients can work most anytime before 2 PM as I am most focused and in tune with them during those times. More mundane work like billing and reviewing mail happens later in the day when I’m a little brain dead.

    More importantly is to build these activities into and habitual pattern. Want to improve your presentation style; close your door and practice doing a presentation in front of a mirror for 30 minutes every day of every week–Want to become a better emailer, write 2 emails a week to yourself and review them 24 hours after you write them to see how lucid and coherent they are to you as a reader—Want to eat healthier, keep some nuts and dried fruit in your desk and build a habit of eating them for your mid-afternoon snack.

    Here are 5 steps you can take to build successful habits

    1. Tie an new habit to an old habit–Remember those nuts and fruits I mentioned above–take some with you when you take your Starbucks break and nibble on them while talking with a colleague. You’ll be much less likely to buy that blueberry scone
    2. Simplify–If you want to improve a particular skill at work, put it in your outlook calendar and automate the event so it occurs at the same time every week
    3. Put reminders up–In the Notre Dame football locker room is a sign that says “Play Like A Champion Today” Keep the message up and in front of you all the time
    4. Create a “No-Punishment Zone”- You will mess up. Don’t beat up on yourself and instead move onto forgive and forget
    5. Practice, Practice, Practice–They say it takes 21 days to create a habit. Go ahead and find out for yourself.

    © Richard Citrin, 2012

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    Try a New Way To Sleep http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/try-a-new-way-to-sleep/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/try-a-new-way-to-sleep/#comments Tue, 25 Sep 2012 11:29:37 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1355 Read More]]> A critical element in my Resilience Advantage Program is making certain that recovery time is built in so that our bodies and minds can fully recharge after a full day of effort.

    While there has been much written recently about the troubles that Americans are having with sleep, a recent article in the New York Times presented some important and different ideas to this notion essentially trashing the idea that an uninterrupted night of sleep is the gold standard for our biological recovery.Not only is the 8-hour sleep recommendation a recent historical phenomenon but also represents a cultural perspective as well. Research done by a Virginia Tech history professor showed that in recent historical times people thought of sleep as occurring in chunks. Text references going back to the Canterbury tales cited “the firste sleep” and “second sleep”, even noting that creative ideas were heightened during these interludes.

    More recent scientific research points out that given a time-free environment, research subjects will sleep for a few hours, be awake for a few hours and then drift back off to sleep. Subjects enjoyed this kind of sleep pattern as it gave them the opportunity for a range of activities from personal reflection to forward planning and even some amorous activities.

    Different cultures also adopt different approaches to sleep. Of course, the siesta is the most famous approach to afternoon rest and in China; millions of workers put their heads on their desks after lunch and catch 40 winks before their afternoon work period. Even in Google land employees are offered the change to nap at work, certain that it increases productivity.

    Its time we change our ideas about rest and recovery and free ourselves from the artificial beliefs that those 8 hours are essential for our physical recovery. Go ahead and feel free to put your head down on your desk during the day and rejuvenate yourself. Just download that NY Times article and post it on your cubical entrance.

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    Do You Overuse? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/do-you-overuse/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/do-you-overuse/#comments Mon, 10 Sep 2012 08:00:07 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1346 Read More]]> We all have our strengths, the things we do best. For some of us it may be that we are execeptional communicators or are great with numbers, or have an innate ability to see the big picture and are able to act on it with ease and effectiveness.

    But sometimes, we can become so reliant on strength that we may become dependent and overuse that skill to where it becomes a weakness. Like the runner who works to set new personal distance and time records, overusing a muscle can lead to all kinds of injuries that require time off and perhaps even finding a new way to run.

    Consider the senior executive I was working with recently who had a high “drive for results”. He was beloved by his bosses and peers since he was able to get so much done on his numerous projects. He was not only committed to high performance but also insisted they be done with speed and accuracy. As he was so successful, he found himself being asked to pick up new projects and pretty soon he was swamped and so was his team. His striving for perfection and a great outcome meant that he and his team wound up working late most nights and many weekends. Successful: Yes. Successful: No. The eventual result was that he was getting burnt out andhis team was getting angry and frustrated.

    The solution for him was “dial down” his driving in several ways:

    • First we worked on helping his see that his results did not have to be perfect everytime he worked on something. Very good was usually good enough.
    • Second, we worked on helping him establish clear priorities based on his annual objectives so that he was not picking up many more responsibilities than he needed to
    • Third, he had to learn effective ways to say “no”. We tried having him say “no”! but that felt a little rough for him, so he finally wound up with “You know, I don’t think I’m going to be able to take that on right now”.
    • Fourth, we did a review of the talent on his team and helped him identify the strengths of his team members so that he could begin delegating some of the project management to folks who had specialties in those areas and could manage them more effectively than he could.
    • We met with his team and had a frank discussion about project management and workloads. Using my resilience model, we were able to identify how best to manage the workload and where we should be off loading and on loading different projects.

    Overusing a skill can be just as deadly as not being skilled in a particular competency. If you find that you are relying on the same talents you’ve always used, play around with some new ways to get things done. Not only will you learn a new skill but you may find that your overall effectiveness increases.

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    Why Do These Things Happen? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/why-do-these-things-happen/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/why-do-these-things-happen/#comments Tue, 21 Aug 2012 08:00:38 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1322 Read More]]> Deciding that we would not do more than 4-5 hours on the road during our drive around vacation meant that we would stop off someplace between Montreal and Pittsburgh. My friend Kristy suggested Seneca Falls, home of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park and the beautiful surrounding land of the upper New York State’s Finger Lake Region.

    This has to be one of the smallest national parks taking up about ½ of a square block on the western end of downtown Seneca Falls (which by the way is reputed to be the town that Frank Capra used as his model for “It’s a Wonderful Life”). The Park is composed of an exhibition building which houses information about the two day convention held in July, 1848, the restored Wesleyan Church where the 2-day convention was held and  a small park with a running waterfall wall that is inscribed with The Declaration of Sentiments drafted by the 300 participants who atteneded the conference along with the 100 brave women and men who signed the document

    As the park ranger was describing the convention, I had a single question about the work that was done in Seneca Falls. Why did this happen here? How improbable was it that Elizabeth Caty Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Mary McClintock, Martha Wright and other leading  women and men of this region came together to ratify draft this document?  Not surprisingly the ranger was ready for my question and his response made so much sense. There were basically three elements that brought this event to fruition at this time in history:

    1. Seneca Falls is along the Cayuga-Seneca canal,  a tributary of the Erie Canal and was a vibrant manufacturing and production center for goods that were shipped, via barge, to points East and West. People from all across the East and West migrated to this area for opportunities. It was not, by any means a backward part of the world.
    2. It was a center for progressive thinking due to a large population of Quakers. The Quakers were a sect who at that time afforded women some rights of equality. In addittion many people in the region were also focused on abolition, temperance and other social issues.
    3. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Mott met in London in 1840 attending a World Anti-Slavery Conference that spent it first day deciding whether women should be admitted to the conference. They were eventually allowed to attend but were seated in the balcony and were not permitted to speak. Seven years later Stanton moves to Seneca Falls and along with her new found colleagues called for this convention.

    News travelled fast about the Declaration. Frederick Douglas printed the drafts of the minutes and within months the issue of women’s rights had spread across the country. While it took 70 years for women to earn the right to vote which was a hallmark of the Declaration, the work done by these courageous women changed the world.

    As we left Seneca Falls, I could not help wonder about how the unlikely confluence of events happened in this small New York community.  I realized, however, that these kinds of events happen all the time although perhaps not at this level of importance. I think about events and people who have come and gone in my own life who have made a difference and with whom I have made a difference.

    Seeming unlikely at one level that the circumstances could possibly be right for events to happen at one time in the world or personal history yet if we are open to the opportunities that abound and are courageous enough to take them by the wrist, then perhaps we to can change the way the world works.

    As the author Barry Stevens wrote, “You don’t have to push the River, It flows by itself”

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    “Bonjour, Hello” http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/bonjour-hello/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/bonjour-hello/#comments Fri, 17 Aug 2012 13:36:50 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1316 Read More]]> We were enjoying our holiday trip to Montreal but it was not without it hitches. Upon crossing the border we stopped off at an unstaffed “Welcome Centre” only to find that all the announcements were in French. Now suspecting that most people stopping off at the Centre would probably be visitors who might not be native Quebecians would lead one to think that publications would appeal to the language of visitors, but c’est la vie.

    However it was great to see that everywhere we went after my perfunctory, “bonjour” and “parlez-vous anglais”, we were able to engage in easily understood english so much so that I wanted to try out some of my college French only to be told that it would be easier if we spoke in English…OK…c’est la vie.

    Among the great restaurants, interesting museums and delightful cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, the highlight of our trip was our visit to Jardin Botanique. This magnificent garden, the third largest of its kind in the world sits next to the Olympic Park and features gardena from across the globe including Alpine, Japanese and Chinese designs, perennial and vegetable, herb and spice and a biocultural diversity centre that had kids soaking in our earthly diversity like a hummingbird draws in nectar…ah, c’est la vie

    As we meanered through the gardens, and we approached a staff member for a question we were met with “Bonjour, Hello”, a greeting that immediately told us that we were welcome in French or English. I did not have to fool around with my French translation skills but knew that this person was interested in helping me to feel comfortable rather than making me find the right way to connect…c’est la vie

    It made me think about how I could do better with my clients by recognizing where they are coming from and doing my best to reach out to them in their native tongue, which can easily mean being aware of their professional focus, current workconcerns or the successes they want to share. Being bi-lingual in your professional and personal life will help you connect better to others and help them to see that you are truly interested in them as people. …c’est la vie

    “Au revoir, Good by”

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    Fine Dining http://www.citrinconsulting.com/best-of-the-blog/fine-dining/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/best-of-the-blog/fine-dining/#comments Sun, 12 Aug 2012 22:17:09 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1303 Read More]]> Just because we’re on vacation does not mean I should not be blogging. After all, bloggers have to report their whole life and not just a part of it.

    As we were driving to NYC and beyond for a mini family reunion (just one side of the family and most of my favorite cousins) we were approaching the New Jersey border and realized it was time for dinner. As is the case we pack a box lunch and enjoyed our sandwiches, fruit and chips (forgot the cookies) but needed to stop and enjoy a regular meal. As we prepared to exit in Tannersville, Sheila saw a sign that said

    Comfort Inn

    Tandoor Palace Restaurant

    Fine Dining

    Now any place that identifies itself as having “Fine Dining” in Tannersville, PA is something worth checking out. Pulling off the highway, it wound up being a quick right turn and uphill drive to our first real holiday adventure.

    We knew right away we’d be experiencing something a bit different as we were greeted by the Tandoor Palace train car and a packed parking lot. We followed a group of tourists up ahead of us who were ready to stake their claim to a big table.

    Greeted by the maitre’d, he led us into the rail car and I was immediately transported to the Orient Express where we shared tables with travelers from other parts of the world (or at least from nearby Tannersville)

    Our meal was our traditional Indian fare (Tandoori Butter Chicken, Saag Paneer and Naan) along with a glass of wine or a bottle of Kingfisher. Walking around the rail car we shared some smiles with other diners and imagined how well we would all do traveling together. If only Amtrak looked this good.

    I decided then, that my quest this holiday would be a search for fine dining. Not necessarily what the critics say but what the self appointed restauranteurs proclaim.

    Stay tuned

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    Simplify Your Strategy http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/simplify-your-strategy/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/simplify-your-strategy/#comments Tue, 07 Aug 2012 12:09:38 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1299 Read More]]> When I was out shopping for computers in the 1990’s I took a look at Apple’s lineup. I had been an Apple fan when the first Macintosh was released so I was excited to see how the company had progressed. There were over 20 different computers arrays I could purchase and even for someone who considered himself a technophile, I was thoroughly confused. I went instead to a Dell computer that was setup for home use and got my new machine in just a few days.I recently completed Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs (which by the way I consider the most important book on leadership that I’ve read in the last 5 years) and was pleased to see that when Job’s returned to Apple in the late 1990’s the first thing he did was trash the system of multiple computer lines and options and simplified his strategy to a home and office line featuring a desktop or laptop version. Steve knew that the marketplace economics demanded fewer choices not more.

    Like Apple, there are a lot of organizations that are struggling with their strategy in today’s tough times. An article in yesterday’s New York Times indicated that companies are hoarding cash and delaying purchasing decisions until they know more about taxes and federal spending. In some meetings I had with non-profit leaders yesterday they were questioning the survival of many social and community organizations because they are not nimble and agile enough to respond to the very real and current threat that they are facing with real budget cuts.

    Simplifying strategic options can be a great approach to navigating the choppy waters in today’s marketplace. Here are three ideas to consider:

    1. Create value for your customers and not products or services: Would your organization be missed if it went out of business? Is your product line distinctive enough or your customer base loyal enough that they would not turn somewhere else? If not, then consider how you can create greater value.
    2. Don’t be afraid to change: Lou Gerstner, the legendary CEO of IBM made a decision in 1993 to shift IBM’s entire focus from building hardware to consulting on software application. His “fearless moral inventory” of the company’s assets led him to conclude that the market growth was not in building machines but building minds.
    3. 3. Act with purpose and not for action: It is too easy for executives to act as managers rather than leaders. Getting things crossed off the list at the end of the day or week is very satisfying and being able to report that this or that was done can lead to a relaxed weekend. But even more relaxing is getting others to do the heavy lifting while you are directing. You’ll have a much better sense of where things are going in that case.
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    It’s All About This http://www.citrinconsulting.com/life-balance/it-s-all-about-this/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/life-balance/it-s-all-about-this/#comments Mon, 30 Jul 2012 11:59:49 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1291 Read More]]> The Olympic spirit is building this weekend with the onset of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The opening ceremonies were spectacular and even the Queen was a full-bodied participant jumping out of a helicopter to make a grand entrance along with secret agent James Bond by her side.

    But a strange thing happened the day before the hard work and diligent efforts came to a culmination on Friday night. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican Presidential candidate came to town and pronounced that there were “disconcerting” elements that had creeped into the Olympic proceedings, suggesting that London was not quite ready for prime time. Governor Romney probably had the credentials to make that statement given his work as CEO at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah but perhaps failed to show proper wisdom in bestowing his ideas on the Brits just a day or two before the events began.

    Regardless of the political implications, perhaps a greater surprise is that his statement had such an enormous effect on the British psyche. It seems as if Romney’s observations (which had merit) knocked Londoners back on their feet and had them questioning (for a few minutes at least) whether they screwed up royally. Fortunately a rally on Friday morning had the Mayor of London asking this question of 60,000 people “Are we ready?” which led to the only appropriate and true response…”Yes”

    Self-esteem and confidence plays an amazing role in how we feel about ourselves and whether we believe we can do what we need to do. In London last week a US visitor threw an unintened punch at the British empire and they reeled from it quesitoning whether they were in fact ready for the Olympics that they have been preparing for over 10 years.

    For me, managing my self-esteem is a daily process. It is easy for mine to get ruffled whether it is a setback at work or at play. If I hear or read about something negative I’ve done or what someone thinks of me, I immediately begin to question and feel bad about myself.  Taking some tips from our friends over in London, here are three things that I am going to keep in mind the next time a presidential candidate says something disconcerting about me.

    1. I’m going to call on my community of friends and let them help me feel better. While I don’t have 60,000 I can reach out to, I do have 10 or so close friends who will make time to help me think through and feel better about my life.
    2. I’ll get back to work by taking a first step by getting my list of project activities revised and begin focusing on the successes I’ve had and the new ones I want to get going today.
    3. I’ll do something fun for myself like go for a walk along the River or take in a concert at the park or perhaps just sit on my deck and read a good book.

    Like you and I there were a lot of people across the pond who, just a few days ago, were questioning whether their hard work and tireless efforts were all for naught.  Just a few comments from an outsider had them wondering if they had somehow failed in their efforts and the world was coming to an end. But they gathered up their friends, did some fun things and got on with their list of 1,000,000 things they had been working on for a long time

    By the end of Friday night, they had already started to change the world.

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    The Times of Your Life http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/the-times-of-your-life/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/the-times-of-your-life/#comments Mon, 16 Jul 2012 08:11:57 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1284 Read More]]> I grew up in a business family. When I was a small child, my mom and dad owned a family paint business and I would go there after school and help customers by making sure they had paint stirrers and the proper brushes to do their work.

    When my father decided to shift careers and become a stockbroker, I began to learn the intricacies of stock market charts and understand commodity prices (he told me to stay away from those). I use to sit by my father’s side, as he would go through the Sunday New York Times business section pointing out new highs and lows on the tables that listed hundreds of different stocks.  He showed me how to translate volume figures and why stock moved in one direction or the other. All the technology associated with how stocks moved could be found in those 12 or so pages of those long ago Sunday Times.

    Over the past decade, the Sunday Times has shifted how it approaches business reporting. You now have to look hard to find the financial reporting which now just takes up a quarter section (below the fold) o page two and happens to be just below my starting point for my Sunday read which is called the “Corner Office”.

    As part of my work with executives, I am always scouring information about how to be a better leader and the Corner Office provides a intimate perspective from CEO’s of large and small companies who are asked about their company’s culture, what they look for in new employees and what are their leadership secrets.

    Last week, My thinking is further prompted by an understandable column on macroeconomics where one of my favorite behavioral economists Richard Thaler tied together ideas on how we can be better influencers by watching the good things others do (such as improving dog poop pickup by seeing others carrying a “depoop bag”)

    David Segal showed me in his “The Haggler” column that even celebrities such as Alan Alda have problems with customer service and that even when your not paying for a service, you sometimes can’t get away from it

    And just in case I was thinking about riding my bike to work in the morning (which would mean a spin around my neighborhood, David Keegan shared his secrets about safely navigating the New York streets on his eight mile daily bike commute (through rain and snow, heat and cold) to his job in mid-town Manhattan.

    The Sunday Business Section has come a long way since my dad use to show me those stock charts but so has my understanding of what is important in business. Business today, can be a lot more fun than just making money.

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    Engage Your Core http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/five-ways-to-engage-your-core-in-your-life/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/five-ways-to-engage-your-core-in-your-life/#comments Wed, 20 Jun 2012 17:47:17 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1276 Read More]]> I was watching the US Golf Open this past weekend and I heard one of the runner-ups talking about why he missed a critical putt during the final round. “I just didn’t engage my core as I stood over and putted the ball”  he told his inquisitor.

    His comments reminded me of what my physical therapist told me a few months ago after I went to see her about some back pain I was experiencing. “Engage your core by tightening your abdominal muscles when you are doing different activities like walking, stretching and lifting weights” she told me. I guess she forgot to include my golf swing.

    Engaging and strengthening core or abdominal muscles is a popular activity today. Yoga and Pilates have it as a key element in their systems and the idea that strengthening and working from your body’s nucleus means that you have the full power and force of your entire body when you do physical activities of any kind.

    How can we translate core physical fitness to our everyday life. What would it mean to have everything we do, physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually come from a deeply centered and stable place within ourselves? How can we engage our core life muscles into our work and home life?

    Here are five ways you can “engage your core” in everything that you do including your physical fitness

    1. State your intention—There is no better way to establish your direction than to state where you are going. Whether it is writing down and saying what you want to accomplish today or telling a colleague your plans for completing that project, getting it down on paper and words will do the trick.
    2. Determine what’s important and act on it—Values, values, values. I recently returned from a professional workshop a few weeks ago where I remade the decision to define wealth as “discretionary time”. While I don’t want to give up financial success, I also want to make sure I don’t miss out on the small things in life that can give me pleasure today. One of the small ways I’ve changed that is to not go back to my computer at night to work but to instead sit out on my deck and read a fiction or non-fiction book that is not work related.
    3. Reaffirm relationships—It is very easy in our busy lives to lose touch with those people who mean the most to us. I had a friend who recently told me that she reconnected with a group of college buddies and they’ve started having annual reunions where they’ve gotten together, rehashed their old times and talked about their future plans.
    4. Find meaning in your life—Many people continue to tell me that they are dissatisfied with what they are doing but feel stuck in their job and can’t leave due to the economy. I understand that predicament and what I suggest to folks is to find some task, some activity, some project that will bring you a greater sense of satisfaction. It may be helping someone out, or completing some aspect of a project or assisting a customer to resolve a problem.
    5. Go all in—Just like the hokey pokey dance, when you put your whole self in you find a great deal more joy and enjoyment. Try throwing yourself into what you are doing and see if your full engagement helps you bring your best self to the forefront.

    Engaging your core may start with your abs but you’ll find yourself finishing with a smile

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    Staying Sane in An Insane World: A Key Tip http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/staying-sane-in-an-insane-world-a-key-tip/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/staying-sane-in-an-insane-world-a-key-tip/#comments Mon, 18 Jun 2012 08:10:29 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1260 Read More]]> I took a trip to see my brother Chuck and sister-in-law Robyn last week in DC. We met up on Friday night and after a delightful dinner at a nice restaurant that required sports coats, we headed back home and I looked forward to enjoying a couple of rounds of golf with him over the weekend.

    On Saturday morning when I looked for my car keys, I couldn’t find them but figured I would find them later as we headed off for the course. Later that day and on into Sunday I continued the search for the keys like I did for my lost golf balls earlier in the day—anywhere and everywhere.

    I was feeling my frustration level building up during the process and I continued to fight the urge of self-flagellation believing that the keys had to be in one of the 50 spots in and around their house that I had already searched 50 times. By the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, I knew it was decision time—the keys were lost and I had to get home.

    I really had two choices—Borrow a car from my brother to drive back to Pittsburgh and return next weekend with the spare key or arrange to have my car towed back to Pittsburgh, a proposition that would cost $500 even with my AAA membership. I ran the equation through my head a number of times…

    (Time from Pittsburgh to Washington) (X 2)= 9 hrs+ (Cost of Gas)= $60+ (Loss of Relaxation over the Weekend) =Priceless

    Vs.

    Having Car Towed= $500

    I guess it was that priceless part that got to me as I invoked a maxim that I remembered hearing that my grandmother use to say, “If it’s a problem that can be solved with money, then it is not a problem”.  I chose the towing option and after the hookup and a stop for gas and with my dog Clancy in my lap, Mike the tow truck driver got us home in time for a beautiful Pittsburgh sunset.

    I felt good about my decision and was particularly proud of the fact that I did not berate myself for losing the keys. I realized I invoked a key optimism strategy that says that when bad things happen, you should not allow it to generalize to all parts of your life.

    Of course, as you might guess, my brother found my keys the next day. It seems that when we took off our blue blazers at the restaurant Friday night, we somehow picked up the wrong ones and he discovered my keys in the pocket of my blazer when he went off to a meeting that morning. As if that wasn’t enough good news, when I went to check his blazer (that fits me perfectly)  I discovered that my new blue blazer is practically new.

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    The Creative Juices http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/the-creative-juices/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/the-creative-juices/#comments Thu, 07 Jun 2012 02:10:48 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1251 Read More]]> I’ve just returned from a weeklong workshop with about 25 of my closest friends. It seems that my wife and I often take our vacations as workshops and while we do get away to amazing international places such as Australia and Malawi, Africa along with visits to US hideaways at the ocean or Great Lakes. This year’s version took us up to wine country in Northern California to a beautiful retreat center overlooking rows upon rows of wine vineyards.

    Our focus however was on play and how to use play for spiritual, personal and professional development. Our leaders, Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter have been studying creativity for the past quarter century and have developed a system of play that integrates elements of body, mind and spirit that they named Interplay.

    In my latest newsletter going out this week, I talk about the bankruptcy of WorldCom in 2002 and how the newly named CEO, Michael Capellas put together a 100 day plan to begin the company’s turnaround. Central to his belief for success was the recognition that “having fun” had to be a part of the formula. He tells the story of having a tough “into the night” negotiation about some element of the bankruptcy and when things got really tough between his guys and the bankers, he took out some footballs and started tossing them around. Pretty soon, folks were more relaxed and they were able to head off a stalemate that could have led to further disaster.

    Interplay has a different approach which works to build in a culture of creativity and playfulness into the work environment before things get too crazy. It uses tools such as “incrementality” that helps people feel more comfortable about learning things slowly, “internal authority” which supports people trusting their own wisdom in expressing opinions and acting on their belief and “affirmation” which encourages colleagues and friends acknowledging the things we do well.

    On top of all this is the fact that Interplay is based as an improvisational art form and helps participants learns to do things “on the fly” much as the rest of our lives actually exist. No matter how much you think you can plan things on a daily basis, life just has a way of twisting turns and sudden shifts.

    I love vacations that combine the best of relaxation and learning. This one did it for me for sure. My juices are flowing and ideas are flowing like the River outside my door.

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    The Factors That Contribute To Engagement http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/the-factors-that-contribute-to-engagement/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/the-factors-that-contribute-to-engagement/#comments Fri, 11 May 2012 20:21:05 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1243 Richard explains the factors that contribute to engagement in the workplace.

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    The Resilience Advantage: Part 3 – Five Ways To Become Body Wise http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/your-personal-resilience-tool-part-3-five-ways-to-become-body-wise/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/your-personal-resilience-tool-part-3-five-ways-to-become-body-wise/#comments Wed, 25 Apr 2012 08:00:54 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1218 Richard shares five tips to develop body wisdom.

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    The Goldilocks Approach to Decision-Making http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/the-goldilocks-approach-to-decision-making/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/the-goldilocks-approach-to-decision-making/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2012 11:00:29 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1228 Read More]]> I often find my corporate clients struggling with decision making because they get into a kind of black or white thinking They examine an issue and decide that it should either be yes or no, go or no-go or we’ve always done it that way, so let’s try something different this time. This kind of thinking typically happens because we fall back into familiar and comfortable ways of thinking.

    Even the most mundane kinds of decisions often lead us to this binary way of thinking. Just this morning, my golfing buddy called me to ask what I thought about getting out and playing today. Dreary, cold and wet is the only way to describe today with a late spring snowstorm in the offing for tonight and tomorrow. If we’re going to get in any golf for the rest of this week, today, as bad as it seems would be the only option. Could we get in 18? Would the ground be too wet? How many layers would I have to put on to deal with 45-degree temperatures? Go or no go…that’s all I could think.  Then Steve came up with a novel idea. Why don’t we go out and start playing and see how it goes. If it gets too cold, then we could come on in and have a big bowl of soup while watching playoff hockey? Great idea and off we went.

    In my consulting work, I see one of my main tasks being to give my clients choices. I tell them that the color palette on your computer screen has over 1 million colors and while there may not be a million choices for you to consider when you are faced with a decision, you certainly have more than 2, probably more like 5-10. But at the very least you should think about how Goldilocks approaches her predicament when she entered the house of the Three Bears.

    Goldilocks was hungry and discovered three bowls of porridge. She tried the first and it was too hot, then she tried the second and it was too cold, but when she tried the third one, it was just right and she ate it all down.  Goldilock’s research revealed that given a series of choices she could try out one extreme, then another extreme and one which led her to a near perfect decision (other than being a home invader!)

    In problem solving and decision-making for yourself and your team consider the extremes of the options that you have to choose from. What’s the worse case that can happen with that choice; what’s the best thing that can happen? By examining the extremes of alternatives, we often can find the appropriate middle ground that gives us the best and most acceptable choice from the array we can choose from.

    While you might question Goldilocks overall decision making, she was definitely onto something when examining all her alternatives before making her final call.  Evaluate your options thoroughly to make sure you give yourself the best chance for a nourishing an successful decision

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    The Resilience Advantage: Part 2 – How Smoking Saved A Life (A Body Wisdom Story) http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/your-personal-resilience-tool-part-2-how-smoking-saved-a-life-a-body-wisdom-story/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/your-personal-resilience-tool-part-2-how-smoking-saved-a-life-a-body-wisdom-story/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2012 08:00:23 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1214 Richard teaches that it is never too late to start making a big difference in your life.

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    The Resilience Advantage: Part 1 – A Body Holds The Key http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/your-personal-resilience-tool-1a-a-body-holds-the-key/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/your-personal-resilience-tool-1a-a-body-holds-the-key/#comments Fri, 20 Apr 2012 08:00:16 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1209 Richard shares how to develop body wisdom.

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    When Resilience Is Not Enough: A Soldiers’ Story http://www.citrinconsulting.com/crisis-management/when-resilience-is-not-enough-a-soldiers-story/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/crisis-management/when-resilience-is-not-enough-a-soldiers-story/#comments Thu, 19 Apr 2012 00:46:35 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1222 Read More]]> The guy sitting next to me on the plane was sporting an all Ohio State outfit including t-shirt, hat and iphone skin and since I am an OSU grad, we struck up a conversation. Turns out that he is a soldier going back to Afghanistan for another tour of duty. Sent home just a month before and having been told he was done, he received a call just last week ordering him to return for another 3-month tour as an intelligence officer arranging logistics for medi-vacs. Seems that he’s responsible for making sure wounded warriors get to the right hospital base.

    He’d seen his fill of war after two tours in Iraq and now a tour in Afghanistan and I just listened as he described the unfair burden he’s carried on my behalf. But when he started talking about how his service impacted his family life—ruining his marriage and how he’s missed his kids growing up, he could not hold back the tears and started weeping. Of course he apologized but I just put my hand on his shoulder and thanked him for his sharing.

    We talked for the rest of the flight about his views of the Army and the war and how fruitless it all seemed since he believed that as soon as we leave, planning for the next 9/11 will begin again. “The Afghani’s are a tough people”, he told me, “a lot tougher than we can imagine and no amount of nation building on our part will make a real dent in what happens after we leave.

    I wondered about what he thought his resilience to all this will be? How will you recover? Do you think you and your wife can reconcile? How can you miss those years with your kids? “I didn’t know”, he told me. “Right now I just need to get back there, do my 3 months and try to reconnect with my life, whatever that is going to be”.

    He had to run off the plane to make a connection to his flight to Baltimore that would take him to Germany and beyond. He thanked me for listening to him and he hoped it was okay that he cried. He told me he really needed to.

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    Forget About Managing Stress – Try Being Resilient http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/forget-about-managing-stress-try-being-resilient/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/forget-about-managing-stress-try-being-resilient/#comments Wed, 18 Apr 2012 08:00:26 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1204 Read More]]> Another thing to know about the resilience versus the management model as I said is about how you anticipate and prepare for stressful events even this issue of navigation where you find yourself in the heat of a battle. I want to talk about these three mechanisms a little bit more in preparation, hardiness, navigation, and this recovery and bounce back. So these are the three mechanisms and these three mechanisms are really important.

    The first story I want to share with you is an example of this. So I am going to tell you a little story about Arthur Ashe. Arthur Ashe was the first African-American tennis player to win single tournaments at Wimbelton, the US Open, and the Australian Open. And you may be familiar with the name Arthur Ashe if you are not a tennis fan because the US Open is held every year at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, NY. So Arthur Ashe is considered really one of the all-time greats in tennis but Ashe was not a particularly overpowering tennis player the way today’s tennis players are. Ashe was more subtle. Ashe was fluid. Ashe was understanding of his opponents and understood the game. He was an artist of the game more than he was a warrior of the game. He was always seen as a smart player. That was considered one of his greatest assets and when he was talked to about this quality he said that the important key to his victory was self-confidence and that the most important ingredient that he used for self-confidence was preparation. Ashe would study his opponents. He would be familiar with the surface that he was playing on. He was aware of the weather and the conditions that he was going to be playing on. He used all of those factors not to mention his own talent and the understanding of his own strengths and what he did well to prepare and be ready ahead of time and even to build hardiness as we like to say in the face of the game that he was anticipating. If he was going to be playing against a hard server he might stand back a little bit from the base line. If he was playing with somebody who had really good ground strokes he would be ready for attacking the net. Ashe understood the game and understood how to prepare for it properly so that when he went into a match when he went into a tournament with somebody he knew exactly what his plan was and how he would play that out. And that ability to prepare really set Arthur Ashe apart from other tennis players of his era.

    While being prepared is important where the rubber really meets the road is in what I call navigation. So let’s stick with our sports analogy for a bit. Most of us who enjoy sports of one kind or another are inevitably going to be spending some Sunday afternoons watching our favorite professional football team whether it is the Pittsburgh Steelers here in Pittsburgh or the Cleveland Browns or the Baltimore Ravens or the Dallas Cowboys whoever your favorite team is and you know that as that game goes on for the first quarter, the second quarter, third quarter, fourth quarter you get more involved. You get more psyched. You get more excited. You know and think about what happens as you get more nervous as the game comes down to that last two minutes, those final two minutes and its looking like and you are hoping that your team may be in a position to score the winning touchdown. Well, think about how anxious and excited you get you know you are jumping up and down and your heart is racing, you are throwing your hands up, and you go “Oh my God no! No! Oh yes! Yes! Go team!” and you have got all of this excitement about what is happening in the game. Well if you are that excited I want you to stop for a moment and think what it must be like for the quarterback, the field goal kicker or the leading pass receiver? How do they deal with that enormous stress that is occurring during the game? Is it experience? Are their nerves hardwired to be just as calm as they can be? Or are they just freaking out as much as you are and they just don’t show it the way you do? As we get into the skills of navigation we talk about the resilience qualities and tips we are going to be focusing on this idea of navigation and how you deal with the stress in the moment. How you deal with it when it is actually occurring. Again, in the stress management model it is that idea of hold on for dear life. In the resilience model it is about breathing, moving forward, and throwing that winning touchdown and that is what we are going to be talking about as we talk about navigation and focusing on navigation.

    Well, you know the third area we want to talk about is about recovery and bounce back. That is the third key mechanism for resilience. I want to tell you about Jim Loehr who is a sports psychologist, we are going to stick with our sports analogy here the whole way through, and writer. Loehr coined the term corporate athletes several years ago to depict the kinds of physically and mentally demanding challenges that face people every day in the workplace. You know, we were talking about football a minute ago and Loehr noted that in many ways the workplace was a much more stressful environment than the ball field because of one very big reason. After a big game the athletes could forget about that game. They took some time off, they rested, the game was over, there was nothing they could do about it and then start preparing actually for the new game. They have built in recovery times for between games for rest, study, and recuperation in ways that regular working stiffs like us don’t have. We may get the weekend off but for most of us we are checking email or we are working on a project or we are submitting a proposal. When we get back to work on Monday it is those same projects that continue and many times in the workplace we never really get a chance to finish up a project or complete something, it maybe incomplete but before we finish that one we are on to another one and there is no real break time. As a result, while athletes do not always perform perfectly, they usually have the feeling that they are starting fresh before each game a feeling that is mostly unfamiliar to most folks in the workplace. So for us we want to focus on this recovery and bounce back time. We want to make sure we have that built into our workplace and into our home life so that we can refresh and think about how we want approach new problems in a new way.

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    Shifting From Stress Management To Stress Resilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/shifting-from-stress-management-to-stress-resilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/shifting-from-stress-management-to-stress-resilience/#comments Mon, 16 Apr 2012 08:00:40 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1200 Richard discusses shifting from a stress management model for handling pressures to a stress resilience model.

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    Ten Routines To Improve Management http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/ten-routines-to-improve-management/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/ten-routines-to-improve-management/#comments Fri, 13 Apr 2012 08:00:51 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1194 Read More]]> There are ten more areas that are right for improving your energy and for using rituals and routines to improve your management. Think about what you can do to create more automation in these areas: 

    1. Meandering meetings where nothing seems to be getting done.
    2. When you don’t say no when others ask you for help.
    3. Open door policies that leave you reacting to interruptions.
    4. Not delegating effectively.
    5. Only dealing with putting out fires in your workplace and not getting into more important strategic planning.
    6. Not feeling organized or having too much clutter to find what you need when you need it.
    7. Not having enough time to recuperate between meetings or events.
    8. Trying to multitask with too many things and not setting priorities appropriately.
    9. Personal surfing. Everyone checks on personal emails or surfs the web for some items or just to check their Facebook page. Make sure you build your personal surf time in at the right time.
    10. Not knowing how to set limits on your day so that when you are ready to finish you finish, get home, and enjoy your family.

    Pick a couple of these areas out and try creating an automation, a ritual, or a routine to improve your management. I think you will find that your energy and your resilience becomes a lot stronger.

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    Three Keys To Being An Optimist – Part 2 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/three-keys-to-being-an-optimist-part-2/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/three-keys-to-being-an-optimist-part-2/#comments Wed, 11 Apr 2012 08:00:01 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1191 Richard explains the importance of how we think about things.

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    Three Keys To Being An Optimist – Part 1 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/three-keys-to-being-an-optimist-part-1/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/three-keys-to-being-an-optimist-part-1/#comments Mon, 09 Apr 2012 08:00:41 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1187 Richard shares ways to develop skills so that we can develop more optimism in our lives.

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    Becoming Personally Energy Efficient http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/becoming-personally-energy-efficient/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/becoming-personally-energy-efficient/#comments Fri, 06 Apr 2012 15:17:56 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1182 Richard discusses the steps we can take to improve and understand our energy.

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    The Most Important Hour Of Your Day http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/the-most-important-hour-of-your-day/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/the-most-important-hour-of-your-day/#comments Tue, 20 Mar 2012 11:44:46 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1170 Read More]]> Every day at 3 PM EDT, the business news station, CNBC announces that the upcoming hour is the most important hour of the business day because it is the last hour of trading on the nation’s stock exchanges. For sure, that last hour is important  for investors,  perhaps it is even the last minute that is important for investors, but the question for us…What is our most important hour?

    I read a blog post from Michael Hyatt last week that discussed that the first hour of the day is the most important hour. That can be a time when you awaken, do some meditating/praying and preparing for your day by establishing a routine that gets your day off to a great start.

    While I would not dispute the importance of that first hour to help you set your day, I would prefer to ask the question of which hour is most important to us based on how our body rhythms work.

    Most of us know that the sleep patterns runs in 90 minute increments called the circadian rhythm. we also have a daytime rhythm call the ultradian rhythm that runs in (guess what) 90 minute cycles. This biological fact means that your energy levels will rise and dip on a regular basis and that by respecting how that works, we can probably be more efficient and effective in what we get done.

    I remember when I discovered this fact and it was when I was in graduate school working on my dissertation. I would go to the library early in the day to write and found that I could be focused on writing drafts for about 30 minutes and would then have to take a 15 minute break. I’d walk around a bit and then get back to it to write for another 30 minutes or so. After that, I’d need to go do something different since my creative juices were expended. I could put together 3 or these a day but that was about it and I had to be done by 3 PM or so. Got that dissertation done that way and have paid attention to energy and focus since then.

    A few things you can do to discover and use your most important hour of the day include:

    1. Experiment with trying out different tasks that you want to get done during the day and see what is most efficient for you
    2. Ask yourself when you are most productive, excited and satisfied about getting things done
    3. Consider the idea that your most important hour may have nothing to do with work but with something else that you value as being important (time with your kids, your workout, enjoying nature)
    4. You are in control of your environment. If you decide that you want to get up at 4 AM to work on an article is right for you, go for it and if you decide that you want to take a nap at 4 PM, go for that also!
    5. Don’t forget that there are 24 hours in the day. I know someone whose most important hour is when they get up and lay in bed for a bit. They find their most creative time is spent musing in bed.

    We all only get 24 hours in a day. They are all important and you may find that some hours are more important than others. Find your rhythm and make them work for you.

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    Whitney Houston was no Imposter http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/whitney-houston-was-no-imposter/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/whitney-houston-was-no-imposter/#comments Wed, 29 Feb 2012 10:00:19 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1161 Read More]]> When I played “I Want to Dance with Somebody”  on my CD player back in the late 80’s, I just let myself go and danced around the room singing along with Whitney as voice soared above the rhythm  and beat of the music to convey her message of love.

    As I watched the news reports of Whitney’s untimely death, I couldn’t help but think that it was all about the love and appreciation that she seemed to never feel that she earned or gained in her professional work.

    I heard the Kevin Costner commented at her funeral that one of Whitney’s enduring life concerns was the sense that she was never good enough or pretty enough and likable enough.

    Even though it is hard to believe that a talent as amazing as Whitney Houston would feel that way, perhaps it is even more surprising that many successful people often feel like they are just not good enough.

    Known as the Imposter Syndrome it is a feeling that is tightly held by the individual that they are not really talented and that one day someone will discover that they are just a big phony.

    Lots of explanations are used to describe why these great people often feel this way–they don’t attribute their success to their talent–They don’t celebrate successes but just focus on what they have to do next–they have tunnel vision and just focus on what did not work.

    Conventional wisdom about overcoming the Imposter syndrome include:

    • Getting the great feedback from others who believe in you
    • Staying away from negative people who only find ways to criticize you
    • Stop using the word “but” that tends to discount what you say and instead use the word “and” which is much more inclusive.
    • Be honest in your assessment of yourself and make sure that for any negative about yourself you have 2 positives.

    While we’ll never have the enormous talent of someone like Whitney, it is fair to say that some of us may have the same kind of self doubt that she had harbored for many years. Don’t let your uncertainty of your talents get in the way of how you feel about yourself and what you can achieve in your work and life

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    Leadership: Influence with Information http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/leadership-influence-with-information/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/leadership-influence-with-information/#comments Fri, 24 Feb 2012 14:00:12 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1150 Read More]]> I’ve been watching the Public Television show on Bill Clinton’s presidency the past two days and one of the things I’ve been most interested in is how much confidence and skill President Clinton had around influence.

    Almost everyone (at least the democrats) described Clinton as the consummate influencer. Put him in a room with just about anyone and he would win them over through his power or personality . I’ve been around a few national politicians and I know that they have an amazing ability to make someone feel a constituent feel like the constituent is the most important person in the world and I imagine Bill must have had this skill to the nth degree.

    The show described the story about the Federal shutdown and how Clinton was sure that if he got then Speaker Newt Gingrich in a room with him, he could win him over and get Gingrich to back down from his request for a balanced budget. But no matter what Clinton did, Newt would not budge.

    What broke the stalemate was when Clinton’s pollster and trusted friend, Dick Morris conducted a poll of Americans and determined that citizens wanted a balanced budget but not on the backs of Medicare and Social Security recipients. Armed with that information, Clinton and his team played out that scenario and convinced the republicans to yield on their budget requirements.

    Being a great influencer requires a great many skills and may vary from “I feel your pain” (Clinton) to “I’ll kick your ass” (LBJ). Regardless of the tools of the trade nothing else is more important than having the right information to know how the tide is turning and the wind is blowing.

    ©  Richard Citrin, 2012

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    Strategy: Your Business Model http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/strategy-your-business-model/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/strategy-your-business-model/#comments Mon, 20 Feb 2012 08:00:10 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1133 Continue reading ]]> It makes no difference if you are a start-up company, a non-profit organization or an established franchise looking to grow in new ways; You better have a business model that works and is understood by your customers and employees.

    Three key questions help frame the question of your business model (the who, what and how):

    1. Who we are?
    2. What we do?
    3. How we make money?

    Who We Are?: Most companies address the who question with their mission and vision statement but many of these miss the mark because they are too focused on the product side of who they are and not on the outcome they strive to achieve. Take a look at the mission statement for Ralph Loren:

    “Ralph Lauren’s mission is to redefine American style, provide quality products, create worlds and invite people to take part in our dreams.”

    Walk into any department store around the world and you will see people striving to join Ralph Loren’s dream of style and to have the opportunity to pay a premium for it.

    What we Do?: Build your product line with a focus towards what will serve the organization’s mission. Too often companies may engage in multiple activities hoping to hit a home run with one while covering their bases with another. Establishing a list of what we do and what we don’t do helps to clarify the specifics of our products.

    Salesforce.com built a disruptive technology by offering a subscription based software product that ran a great customer relationship management product. While there were plenty of good CRM products, Salesforce’s differentiator was being able to make the software available on-line anywhere, anytime freeing sales people from the burden of going back to the office to track their contacts.

    How We Make Money?: Many years ago before I sold my first company, I introduced the concept of Open Book Management to my staff based on the work of Jack Stack and his book, The Great Game of Business. Using this approach, I proceeded to provide my staff with complete financial reports on the status of the company (except compensation) and educated them on reading spreadsheets and P&L statements. The result was a greater sense of ownership and engagement that helped our staff understand how their actions on both the revenue and expense side contributed to our and their success.

    Most companies delegate off the financial component of business success to the CFO and accounting department but I would suggest that it is way too important to be relegated there and that the question of how the company makes and spends money is everyone’s business.

    As business changes at the speed of light, revisiting your business model and how you and your staff understand who you are, what you do and how you make money can only help strengthen your success.

    Call us for some ideas on putting these models into play for your organization.

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    Talent: He’s “Lintastic” http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/talent-he-lintastic/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/talent-he-lintastic/#comments Fri, 17 Feb 2012 08:00:07 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1119 Read More]]> Last year, the movie MoneyBall talked about how the old traditions of baseball’s talent management system grossly misunderstood important factors that should be considered when looking for an all star baseball player. Today we know that another professional sport “stumbled upon” a potentially great player more by luck than intent.

    By now the entire world has heard about Jeremy Lin. An unheralded undrafted New York Knick basketball player whose resume highlighted his Harvard education more than his professional basketball prowess. While he helped his high school team win a California championship, he received no Division I scholarships and “settled” on Harvard as his number 2 choice.

    After an outstanding career at Harvard, he wound up signing a contract with his hometown Golden State Warriors where was heralded for his Asian-American roots more so than his basketball play–something that seemed to bother him as he wanted to prove himself as a basketball player. But he was waived by the Warriors and then went onto Houston where he played 7 minutes in 2 exhibition games before getting the send off.

    It was just this past December that the Knicks picked him up as a third string point guard and he spent his first month with the Knicks playing well for their farm team before being recalled since their players at that position were still rehabbing from injuries.

    Given that Lin had not played much in his first month, the Knicks were planning to waive him on February 10 but after a devestating loss to the Boston Celtics on February 3, the Knick head coach, Mike D’Antoni decided to give him a chance.

    191 points, 60 assists and seven victories later, Jeremy Lin is hot.  He’s on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the New York Post has run out of “Linisms” for their headlines and his #17 Knick jersey and t-shirts have increased on-line sales for the Knicks 3000%.

    In the talent world, Jeremy Lin would be described as a “diamond in the rough”. Smart, hardworking, focused and committed on improving his craft and a man who works with a sense of perseverance and purpose.

    His story, while still new and fresh portrays a great message for both employers and employees. For the boss, always keep your eyes open for that person in the background at the end of the bench who has a secret desire to contribute and who keeps working at it. For the rest of us, keep at it and when your turn comes go for it big time.

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    Leadership: What Do You Say? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/what-do-you-say/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/what-do-you-say/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2012 10:26:40 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1116 Read More]]> I was talking with a thriving business owner today and he shared with me that he sometimes gets into a really negative place with himself. When he does he becomes very negative and “hyper critical” of himself. He gave me a description of the words he uses to describe himself and it is inappropriate for this “G” rated blog.

    He describes himself as being very competitive and that he thinks his self denouncing language is a way to pump himself up and that pushes him to do better. I could agree with him if he had been able to tell me about the ways that his approach worked. But the more he talked, the more it became clear that he was not pushing forward but instead was pushing backwards and actually keeping himself down.

    It was not as if he didn’t have his fair share of challenges with a growing business, a young family and a small workforce that he had to train and oversee while he was out growing and building business but I couldn’t help but ask him, “what his option b to pump yourself up”?

    We talked about the words he uses to describe himself and I asked whether he would consider using less inflammatory language even if he wanted to describe his performance as less than acceptable to him. He was honest about not being sure that he could or that he wanted to but agreed that he could see how the way he was talking to himself about himself might not always have the motivating power that he would like.

    He told me that he remembered a quote from Mahatma Ghandi that he always thought he should try to apply in his life but that he did not often put into play

    “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes”.

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    Ahhhh, Vacation http://www.citrinconsulting.com/life-balance/ahhhh-vacation/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/life-balance/ahhhh-vacation/#comments Tue, 07 Feb 2012 12:59:48 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1109 Read More]]> I’m back from vacation and feeling pretty pleased with how great a holiday it was for us. I usually don’t measure the quality of my holiday time off but this time we had such a well-balanced vacation that I couldn’t help but pat myself on the back for a great week.

    There were three keys that made this vacation so pleasurable for us. The first is that we got to see great family and friends. We made two stops, one in Austin for the wedding of the daughter of one of our oldest friends and then onto Sarasota to see my brother and sister-in-law. The second was that we kept a full schedule of activities and rest including some new fun things we hadn’t done before like renting a power boat and driving up and down the Intracoastal exploring dolphins, birds andrestaurants and third we enjoyed getting a little work done in the mornings before adventuring out.

    Maybe I’m a workaholic but I see nothing wrong with spending time getting some work things done when “on vacation”. I was able to stay connected with email, make some important calls and work on some writing that was due the week I returned. I like being in touch with clients and the time between writing and relaxing gave me some new perspectives on what I would talk about in my monthly newsletter.

    Of course, no vacation is complete without a trip to some kind of museum and a visit to the Edison/Ford estate in Fort Meyers helped me connect with these two giants of 20th century leadership. More about them in the next blog

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    Five Keys For CEO’s http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/five-keys-for-ceos/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/five-keys-for-ceos/#comments Tue, 17 Jan 2012 19:31:53 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1084 Read More]]> There is a seismic shift happening in the “C” suites of organizations. New and younger leaders are stepping into the Chief Executive Office role and are finding that they want to do things differently than their predecessor and are not only charting new paths but are also going about it in a different way.

    As I’ve been meeting with senior leaders, many of whom are in their 40’s, they are bringing a completely different perspective to their role. They don’t see themselves as “heroic leaders” capable of running and leading their organization on their own like a lion who is king of the jungle. Instead they want to create a working organization where responsibilities are shared more evenly and decision making can be made more easily and nimbly.

    As a result, they recognize that their skill set must be different. As I’ve interviewed a number of them, I’v coalesced their ideas into five keys:

    1. Philosophy: When I’ve asked successful leaders about their approach to leadership, they’ve been able to successfully share their ideas. Many of them talk about being genuine, following up on their word and modeling effective behaviors.
    2. Communication: The workplace is more complex than ever and people are smarter than ever. They ask questions, take nothing for granted and infer solutions in the absence of certainty. Not maintaining a clear line of communication and keeping the flow of information open is an essential quality that these top CEO’s demonstrate. Many advocate the use of multiple channels including town halls,  emails, social media and face-to-face visits. Not only will staff appreciate the information but these CEO’s report getting more information than they give.
    3. Understand your Talent: The prime job for any CEO is to make sure that he or she has the best people working for them doing the best job they can. Taking time to assess top performers and finding a way to help them grow means that the organization is creating a pipeline that ensures that your best performers will stay around and make key contributions
    4. Show your Humanity: One CEO told me that the most important thing he ever did was to apologize to his staff when he screwed up on a big project that cost his company millions of dollars. His acknowledgement showed everyone that he was capable of recognizing and acknowledging his errors and that he could recover from that and move on. His honest sharing made a tremendous difference in his team’s commitment to him as a leader and the organization’s mission.
    5. One Life: Several CEOs told me that they could not separate their work life from their home life and that their best efforts at maintaining that balance was to embrace the fact that they loved working in their jobs and fulfilling the mission inherent in their job. They took time for family and their personal life as a matter of course and did not “carve out” specific time. The result was that they lived “one life” which allowed them to move easily and comfortably between work and home. Surprisingly, this created a healthier balance for them and helped them maintain an even keel within their life.

    All the CEOs I’ve spoken with tell me that they think that shifting ideas of leadership are bringing about new ways that CEO’s will be interacting with their organization and their employees. In a changing world, change the ways.

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    Don’t Resolve Anything http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/dont-resolve-anything/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/dont-resolve-anything/#comments Wed, 28 Dec 2011 01:56:35 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1078 Read More]]> The week between Christmas and New Years is like a trip down Memory Lane and Planning Freeway. All the news outlets from Sports Center to the New York time will be showing highlights of all the cool stuff that happened this year like Alec Baldwin getting kicked off a plane or Newt Gingrich promising a Republican nominee named Newt Gingrich.

    You may find yourself reliving your own personal 2011  as you reflect on the past year. I always like to ask myself the question of what I was doing a year ago and I was actually able to check on that by looking at my Google calendar from last year and seeing that I had some contacts I made with some friends and potential clients that worked out to be pretty good contracts.

    I also noted that I had set some goals–both personal and professional for the year and did pretty well on some and not as good on others. But on balance a happy and satisfying year.

    So how can you approach 2012 to make it a great year for yourself. Here are some ideas:

    1. Don’t make resolutions. These are too tough to keep. Set goals for your professional life, personal life, relationship and family and fun. Think about 2-3 in each category and then plan some time in January to map our some strategies for each.
    2. Talk to someone who knows you well and ask them how they think you could improve for yourself. Having others provide unbiased ideas can be helpful but give them the rule that they can’t be critical
    3. Map our your plans for fun things to do first. Talk with your partner or family about holidays and vacations and get them on the schedule for yourself.
    4. 2012 will be an election year and there will be a lot of negativity in the air with paid advertisements, debates and “the world is ending” hyperbole. Ignore it all and find your own best way to stay informed without getting caught up in all that noise.
    5. Talk to people at your place of work about how you can help make it a more production, positive and profitable workplace. It may mean a conversations with just a few folks who you trust but you can begin to build out your connections from there.
    6. Make better bad choices. You can’t think about the new year without considering food and exercise and I advocate for doing better incrementally. Instead of a whole plate of cheese fries, go with the regular fries and share the plate with someone else. Instead of buying donuts for the office, pick up bagels and cream cheese. Incremental improvements can yield great results
    7. Go with what you do best. Building on your strengths is a great way to have fun and do better so delegate tasks that you don’t do as well to others which might include your tax preparation, software fixes and even cooking.
    8. Make some new friends or reconnect with old friends. It can be tough to make time for friends but you may find that it is really good to have other people to bounce ideas off of and to have a place to vent frustrations.
    9. Be nice to yourself. If you find negative messages rotating in your head (more than normal) find one of those friends and talk it out. Make sure your buds are on your side and trust them that they have some secret knowledge about just how great you are.
    10. Write down some of your 2012 goals in your google, yahoo, icalendar or even on your December 31, 2012 wall calendar so that you can check them out at the end of the year. I bet you’ll be surprised at how well you do.

    Oprah Winfrey has a nice approach to the New Year, “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right”.

    Have a wonderful New Years Celebration

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    Influence 2 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/influence-2/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/influence-2/#comments Wed, 14 Dec 2011 13:14:54 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1066 Read More]]> 150 million people went shopping a few Fridays ago. However it happened close to half our nation got up on Black Friday (or stayed up from Thanksgiving) and hit the mall for a day of follow the crowd.

    Last week, I began discussing Robert Cialdini’s six approaches to persuasion or what he calls weapons of influence by covering reciprocation and commitment and consistency. This week, we’ll be exploring Cialdini’s third and fourth tools–social proof and authority.

    While people clearly go out and shop on Black Friday because there are great deals, there is also the desire to be a part of a community of people who are all doing something that is must be good and correct behavior. Somehow getting out there and battling the crowds makes us one of the legions of cool people who know how to spend that Friday after Turkey day.

    Being persuaded to follow the crowd works in many situations but can also backfire, particularly in the workplace. Beware of situations where groupthink gets everyone on the same page and being afraid of being a non-conformist for not fitting into the expectations of the workplace. As a leader, you want to encourage thinking that is different from what everyone thinks. However recognize that the power of the group can easily direct behaviors that people will adopt.

    Authority is the most common form of persuasion and for most of us we defer to people in authority. Even authority, over the long term must be earned as a persuasion approach as opposed to just being given. For example, titles, dress and even the kind of car that someone drives bestows a certain amount of authority on an individual, but if there is no real substance backing up their expertise, then their authority and influence will soon wean.

    You can put this influencing strategy to work for yourself by backing up your statements with authoritative sources that support your positions.Demonstrate over time that your authority is based on who you are as a person and the commitment you are willing to make to be an expert as opposed to the position you hold in the organization.

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    Build Your Influence http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/build-your-influence/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/build-your-influence/#comments Thu, 08 Dec 2011 11:36:54 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1046 Read More]]> How do you influence others?

    Do you use your role and title to get things done, try to create a collaborative approach, use rational thought to build your case, build on precedent or just go with the flow?

    In my coaching sessions I find that issues around influence are one of the most important topics that my corporate clients want to talk about. Most are competent in their relationship building, understand and can develop a strategic outlook and are typically great at executing. But their ability to impact their organization through influence rather than authority is frequently their weakest link.

    Over the next couple of blogs, I’m going to discuss the six essential tools of influence as developed by the world’s leading researcher on influence, Robert Cialdini who is a professor at Arizona State University.

    One of the first key things to get our arms around related to influence is to know that it is an emotional experience for people and not just a logical request by you. People react to your ideas and you must feel comfortable in respecting and using the emotional tools of influence to help win the day.  So lets take a look at Cialdini’s first 2 “weapons of influence” (there are six altogether)

    1. Reciprocation–Ever notice how when someone does a favor for you, you feel a need to return the favor. Most people want to even the score and not be viewed as someone who does not repay debts. For example, you’ve probably received a fund raising request letter from some organization that included return address labels for your use. In providing labels to potential donors, the VFW observed that they almost doubled the number of people who contributed from 18% to 36%. Recipients often feel they should repay this favor by making a donation to the organization

    At work you probably already use this strategy by just wanting to help out someone when they do something nice for you but you can get ahead of the curve and bank some favors through a number of strategies such as providing free information, offering to help with a project or even sending a birthday card or celebratory acknowledgement.

    2. Commitment and Consistency–You are a person of your word and so are others. If you can get people to commit to an idea or goal either verbally or in writing they are more likely to to honor that agreement because people want to be consistent with their self image. In my work with corporations around promoting healthy workplaces, people who work with a health coach are asked to sign a health “pledge” that they will try out some of the healthy ideas like a walking club or joining a nutrition class. When signing the pledge or even making a statement of your belief as the illustration above shows people tend to agree with their aforementioned belief.

    Most probably you already use some aspects of these first two tools of influence. Part of the key to becoming influential is to use them consciously and consistently. Take note of situations where you can try them out and how effectively they work. I’ll be discussing the next two “weapons of influence” in my next blog post

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    Rituals To Create Automation http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/rituals-to-create-automation/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/rituals-to-create-automation/#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2011 08:00:23 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1035 Richard shares tips to create rituals to automate your daily tasks.

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    Developing An Optimistic Point Of View http://www.citrinconsulting.com/citrin-consulting/developing-an-optimistic-point-of-view/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/citrin-consulting/developing-an-optimistic-point-of-view/#comments Thu, 24 Nov 2011 08:00:09 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1030 Richard speaks on developing an optimistic point of view.

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    Gratitude http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/gratitude/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/gratitude/#comments Wed, 23 Nov 2011 16:10:16 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1039 Read More]]> Everybody I’ve spoken with this week has been telling me how grateful they are in this season of thanks.

    Thankful for a job, for their health, that they will be together with their family for the holiday (or that they won’t be with their family for the holiday!), thankful for their personal blessings that only they understand and appreciate.

    As if we needed to know, a new set of studies shows that gratitude boosts your positive outlook. Gratitude builds happiness through both the addition of affirming statements to yourself and others and a simultaneous reduction in the time available for complaining.

    So what are some quick and easy ways to build up your gratitude according to my informal survey of some kids and adults I spoke with last week:

    1. Give more hugs
    2. Limit your whining time to 15 seconds
    3. Write down three appreciations at the end of your day in a notebook
    4. Write down three appreciations you want to share with others at the start of your day.
    5. Attend a concert or go to an art gallery to enjoy the art and change your routine
    6. Go for a walk out in the woods
    7. Pet your dog (or cat if she’ll let you)
    8. Listen to an inspirational book on tape
    9. Tell a friend how cool you think they are
    10. Take a moment to enjoy the beautiful view of your family and friends tomorrow at your Thanksgiving dinner table

    Thanks to all for your support of my work. I am filled with gratefulness!

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    Energy Efficiency: Analyze And Actualize – How To Be Energy Efficient http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/energy-efficiency-analyze-and-actualize-how-to-be-energy-efficient/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/energy-efficiency-analyze-and-actualize-how-to-be-energy-efficient/#comments Mon, 21 Nov 2011 08:00:14 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1025 Richard shares the tools needed to become more energy efficient.

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    Energy Efficiency: Manage Energy – Not Time http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/energy-efficiency-manage-energy-not-time/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/energy-efficiency-manage-energy-not-time/#comments Thu, 17 Nov 2011 08:00:39 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1021 Richard shares ways to strengthen and improve energy management.

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    Energy Efficiency: How We Spend Our Time – No More Three Martini Lunches http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/energy-efficiency-how-we-spend-our-time-no-more-three-martini-lunches/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/energy-efficiency-how-we-spend-our-time-no-more-three-martini-lunches/#comments Mon, 14 Nov 2011 16:13:12 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1016 Richard explains the importance of moving from a time-based system to an energy-based system.

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    When George Will Called Me A Liar http://www.citrinconsulting.com/citrin-consulting/when-george-will-called-me-a-liar/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/citrin-consulting/when-george-will-called-me-a-liar/#comments Mon, 31 Oct 2011 00:38:40 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=995 Read More]]> It was an innocent enough evening. My wife Sheila and I were down in Sarasota, Florida visiting my brother Chuck and his wife Robyn when they announced they had secured us a couple of tickets to join them at the monthly lecture series offered by the Ringling College Library Association. George Will was the featured speaker and when we entered the beautiful lecture hall, it was a packed house. Our seats were in the last row of the balcony. We were glad to be there.

    George Will is one of my favorite columnists. His writing is nearly poetic and his mind transforms complex ideas into understandable simplicity. Even when I disagree with what he says, I have to admit that he says it so deftly that I put down my paper and am forced to reconsider my thinking! On top of all that, Will is a major league baseball fan and his books on the sport are addictive. In fact, he commented that he only writes his political columns to support his baseball habit.

    Now I think George Will customizes his lectures to challenge his audience and given the predominant older population in Sarasota, he went right at the core issue of Medicare and Social Security suggesting that the Social Security age should be raised to 74 and that significant changes should be made to Medicare including increasing co-pays and patient responsibilities for the management of their own health.

    That is where I got in trouble…

    I am passionate about helping people become better consumers of health care. I’ve heard all the arguments…”Health care isn’t like other services”. “The doctor patient relationship is sacred and money shouldn’t get in the way”. “People can’t understand about the complexity of health care costs”. “We shouldn’t have to worry about health care costs when we are sick”. With all that, I am convinced that patients like you and me must become more involved in questioning and understanding how much medical procedures cost. Its really a simple question…”Doc, how much do these different procedures cost?”

    So Mr. Will looks up at the vast audience in that beautiful hall and asked “Has anyone ever asked their physician how much a medical procedure cost? My hand shot up as I had just spoken to my knee doctor about the costs for three different options to treat my chronic knee pain. Mr. Will looked across the auditorium and seeing my hand as being the only one raised shouted up at me “Liar” and proceeded to discuss the very topic of why it is important for patients to get involved with this aspect of healthcare. I completely agreed with him and regretted that he didn’t invite me up to the stage to discuss the matter further, but I guess he didn’t think he needed my help. Later that evening my brother and sister-in-law, who were sitting downstairs on the main floor said that after Mr. Will called someone a liar up in the cheap seats, they looked at each other and said “that was Rich”.

    I wrote a couple of notes to Mr. Will after the lecture challenging him on his accusation and even considered suing him for slander but decided that it was probably good that I had him in my corner on this issue. I’m not so sure about the rest of them. Maybe next time he’ll call me a socialist

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    It Is Critical For Leaders To Know Their Strengths http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/it-is-critical-for-leaders-to-know-their-strengths/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/it-is-critical-for-leaders-to-know-their-strengths/#comments Fri, 28 Oct 2011 08:00:15 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=982 Richard explains why it is critical that leaders know their own strengths.

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    Oops…My Best People Are Not in My Key Roles!! http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/oopsmy-best-people-are-not-in-my-key-roles/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/oopsmy-best-people-are-not-in-my-key-roles/#comments Wed, 26 Oct 2011 08:00:57 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=931 Read More]]> So what happens when we review what the senior management team identifies as the strategic roles in the company and they discover that they do not necessarily have the strongest people in these critical roles? Perhaps it has been someone who has been with the company for 25 years or maybe they got bumped up because the prior manager left unexpectedly. While everyone thinks they may have earned the opportunity to be in an important role in the organization they may not be the best person for that particular strategic role. I see this occurring in many organizations where the metric of seniority and tenure trumps competency and value. 

    I remember a conversation I was having with a retired Air Force Colonel who told me that in the military they expect officers to change jobs every 5 years or so. “The Air Force doesn’t want people to get stale and that means new jobs and new responsibilities”. But in the private sector, he told me, he was surprised how many people had survived in their current role for 10-15-20-25 or 30 years just doing an okay job. But just an okay job in today’s competitive environment leaves any company behind the proverbial “eight ball”. 

    Before you panic, however, remember that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, so what is required is to evaluate who are your top performers, what are the key or critical positions and then evaluate the options for how to realign the organization to make certain that you get your best people in the key roles within your company. 

    As Jack Welch, the legendary leader of General Electric once said “The team with the best players wins”.

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    Your Leadership Style http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/your-leadership-style/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/your-leadership-style/#comments Mon, 24 Oct 2011 08:00:02 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=980 Richard speaks on leadership styles and moving the company ahead.

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    The Resilience Advantage in the Workplace http://www.citrinconsulting.com/podcast-series-absolute-citrin/resilience-in-the-workplace/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/podcast-series-absolute-citrin/resilience-in-the-workplace/#comments Fri, 21 Oct 2011 08:00:57 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=960 Richard speaks on resilience in the workplace.

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    Resilience, Nebraska Style http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/resilience-nebraska-style/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/resilience-nebraska-style/#comments Thu, 20 Oct 2011 15:05:48 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=989 Read More]]> A couple of weeks ago I was out visiting our family in Nebraska. As is part of our family tradition, I had the opportunity to attend a Nebraska Football game. Like all Fall Saturdays across the country, college football creates a spirit and excitement unto itself. This was a particularly poignant game for me because my undergraduate Alma Mata, Ohio State was playing my graduate Alma Mata, Nebraska. While it may seem that I pick colleges on the basis of football powers, that was, perhaps, a coincidence. Regardless, rather than compromise I went with the Big Red of Nebraska for cheering purposes.

    The first half of the game did not go well for Nebraska. Ohio State controlled the line of scrimmage and dominated play heading off to a 20-3 half time lead that jumped to 27-6 early in the third quarter. At that point, for some bizarre reason, I started thinking about my resilience model and how would (or could Nebraska) bounce back from their biggest halftime deficit in school history.

    Remembering that the three mechanisms of resilience—preparation-navigation and bounce back comprise the opportunity levers for being resilient, I began to wonder if some kind of preparation that Nebraska does would create an opportunity to shift the momentum of the game. Just that actually happened at the midway point in the 3rd quarter when Nebraska defensive player Lavonte David literally stripped the ball from OSU quarterback Braxton Miller. As the sportscasters described it later, “…Another millisecond later and Miller would have been on the ground and David’s strip of the ball would have been nullified…” But the turnaround had begin and by the end of the day, Nebraska won this game 34-27 and all was good in Lincoln.

    Sporting events are great metaphors for thinking about resilience. Part of the benefit of using sport is that it is time limited and when they are over, they are over. Not so with our work and personal lives and that is what makes having a resilient mindset and good navigation skills even more important. Here are some reminders about navigating challenging situations:

    · Focus—Take a look at the picture above and you can see that Lavonte David is definitely focused on getting that ball into his hands. You can’t be focused every moment, but you can be aware of what you are trying to accomplish

    · Discipline—I have no doubt that Nebraska practice “strip drills” where they work on taking the ball away from other players. That is about preparation so that when the moment is ready, so are you

    · Being agile—Agility means that you can change from one direction to the next. No doubt Nebraska coaches were emphasizing some changing ideas at half time and one of them was to break out of your standard play mode and make something happen.

    Being in stressful and challenging situations happen every day and being able to respond to them effectively is more than just hoping they will go away or that we can “manage” them”. Think of your day as a sporting event (maybe multiple events) and look for the chance to turn a good situation into a great situation. Even if you are down 27-6 early in the 3rd quarter, remember there are still plenty of plays ahead.

    ]]> http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/resilience-nebraska-style/feed/ 1 Bring Talent To Your Organization http://www.citrinconsulting.com/talent-management/bring-talent-to-your-organization/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/talent-management/bring-talent-to-your-organization/#comments Wed, 19 Oct 2011 12:00:20 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=928 Read More]]> Talent Management speaks to the strategic role that companies are now taking to maximize the value of their employees.

    If we look back over the past 100 years in business what we see is that we have gone through three major transitions in how the workplace has dealt with people. The first was the industrial age. In the industrial age employees were expected to be obedient and diligent. They were expected to do their job, keep their mouth shut, and follow the rules and regulations. This was actually a critically important phase since products were being produced and specific parameters and guidelines had to be followed to ensure proper manufacturing. Additionally, employees were seen as a cost.

    In the late 20th century we moved into the knowledge era. In the knowledge era what we saw was that knowledge and intellect was vital. We were relying on our people as an asset to take the information they possessed and to create new ideas that would increase profits. During this period, businesses moved from. manufacturing things, to creating ideas. Employees are seen as an asset to the business and not just a cost.

    Today we have entered the talent age. In the talent age what is important is creativity and passion. People are seen not as costs, not as assets, but as talent that brings value to the organization. Employees engage with the organization and their focus on bringing their best to the workplace creates greater efficiency and effectiveness.

    Unfortunately, many companies haven’t made that leap to the talent management era and most employees have not made the leap to recognizing how their talents can create a better and more effective workplace. Both parties oftentimes still operate in either the industrial age era or in the knowledge age era and so both sides tend to think of themselves as just being there to get a job done rather than as a key element of their workplace strategy.

    Whenever you talk to leaders in the workplace and ask them, “What is your most important resource?” Most companies will say, “Our people.” But when you ask the follow-up question such as “what strategic role do your employees provide and how do you garner them most value from them, they have no idea. Employees are seen as a tactical resource. Here are a couple of questions to ask related to how you are seen in the workplace:
    • Involve the people who are doing the work to find out what makes their job critical to the company and what they can do to increase value.
    • Keep your organization’s business objectives front and center and remind everyone about these goals as you determine the best ways to deploy your employees.
    • Communicate and educate your staff about the strategic role they play in the organization. Make them create the definitions of how they contribute to the success of the company.

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    Resilience Is On Our Minds http://www.citrinconsulting.com/podcast-series-absolute-citrin/resilience-is-on-our-minds/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/podcast-series-absolute-citrin/resilience-is-on-our-minds/#comments Mon, 17 Oct 2011 08:00:33 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=955 Richard shares how resilience is on our minds.

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    Using Strengths To Improve Weaknesses http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/using-strengths-to-improve-weaknesses/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/using-strengths-to-improve-weaknesses/#comments Mon, 17 Oct 2011 08:00:29 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=951 Richard speaks on improving weaknesses by building on your leadership strengths.

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    The Timing Of Resilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/the-timing-of-resilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/the-timing-of-resilience/#comments Fri, 14 Oct 2011 08:00:50 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=947 Richard explains the timing of resilience.

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    Talent Management: It’s Not The Old HR http://www.citrinconsulting.com/talent-management/talent-management-its-not-the-old-hr/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/talent-management/talent-management-its-not-the-old-hr/#comments Wed, 12 Oct 2011 12:00:04 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=926 Read More]]> Another interesting aspect of talent management is how it is transforming the human resources department from a transactional role to a strategic role in the organization. Let me explain what this difference is about. In many companies, HR’s role is to make sure that everyone’s paperwork is complete, that all the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted. Their role is to help fill job openings and to discharge employees who are not making this cut–all-important roles for certain. Consider for a moment, however, what happens when those transactional roles (which are supportive at best to the organization) shift to a more strategic role where the jobs that are critical to the company’s success become the guiding principal of what makes the talent management department important to the success of the organization.

    In addition, talent management also means that the roles required to fulfill the corporate mission are in better alignment than when employees are hired to “fill a position. Jim Collins who wrote the book Good to Great stated that it was not enough to just get your “people on the bus”, but you had to make sure they were in the right seats and that the bus was moving in the right direction.

    Talent management gets the right people in the right places and the research shows that companies that do that well get a 22% higher shareholder return than companies that don’t use talent management effectively. So there is a great business incentive for organizations to begin to look at how they manage and leverage their talent effectively.

    So how is your organization using your talent?

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    Resilience Is Critical For Company Success http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/resilience-is-critical-for-company-success/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/resilience-is-critical-for-company-success/#comments Mon, 10 Oct 2011 08:00:38 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=943 Richard shares how resilience is critical for the success of a company.

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    Stress Resilience http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/stress-resilience/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/uncategorized/stress-resilience/#comments Fri, 07 Oct 2011 08:00:45 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=939 Richard speaks on stress resilience.

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    Understanding The Key Roles In Your Organization http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/understanding-the-key-roles-in-your-organization/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/understanding-the-key-roles-in-your-organization/#comments Wed, 05 Oct 2011 12:00:37 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=924 Read More]]> One of the most important aspects of talent management is that it identifies the different kinds of roles within the organization. While every role in your company is important, not every role is critical or strategic. And by identifying the big picture responsibility of the jobs in your organization, employers can see if their best employees (most talented staff) are in the most important roles in the company. Let’s begin by identifying the three kinds of roles that exist within every company.

    The first are strategic roles. About 10-15% of roles within the organization are strategic. Most people typically think that the strategic roles are roles like the president of the company, the senior vice-president of the company, the chief financial officer of the company or the chief technology officer of the company. These may in fact be strategic roles within the organization but surprisingly strategic roles may be roles that you wouldn’t think about as being strategic. For example, I wrote an article recently called “Why is Joe Smith the FedEx Driver More Important Than Fred Smith the CEO of FedEx?” and the reason for that is that Fed Ex recognizes that the strategic role for their organization are the truck drivers: The men and women who get those packages from the warehouse where they land to the office or home where the people who need them need them. This is what FedEx is all about and these roles are very much strategic for this company.

    Another great example points to employees who are in the same job but in one company they are strategic and in another company they are not strategic and that would be the difference between an airline like Southwest which is a low budget quick turnaround, point-to-point airline versus American Airlines which is a hub and spoke airline that is going to connect people from one place to another. At Southwest Airlines the ramp people – the people who get the bags out of the plane and onto the ramp and out so that that plane is ready to turn around and get going quickly and effectively are strategic roles: At American Airlines not so much. The plane is going to be on the ground for an hour, maybe an hour and a half. The ramp people want to get it out efficiently, that is obviously good customer service but it is not nearly as important as it is for Southwest Airlines where their planes are going to be turned around in 10 minutes. You have got to get those bags off. You have got to get the new bags on. Southwest Airlines, American Airlines.-both same positions, ramp people. One strategic and the other one is the second area that we talk about related to organizations which have to do with supporting roles.

    The next group of job roles is “supporting roles”. Supporting roles keep internal operations moving. Information technology is a supporting role. Operations is a supporting role. Human resources is a supporting role. Safety manager is a supporting role. These roles are very important and vital to the organization. However, their importance is really secondary to the more important strategic roles.

    Finally, the third group of roles in an organization are the core roles. These are the ones that are required for operational excellence. They may be your manufacturing roles if you are manufacturing steel or some other product. They may be your sales and marketing positions. Again, these roles are vitally important to the success of the organization but they are not strategic. By the way, the core roles will fill about 20-25% of all jobs while strategic are about 10-15% of the company and operational around 60%.

    Understanding these roles in any organization is central to building a talent management model. You recognize immediately where you need to put your energy, where you need to find the best people, where you need to actually assess what roles are most important and whether those people that you have in those roles are the best people for the organization.

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    The Philosophy of Leadership http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/the-philosophy-of-leadership-2/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/the-philosophy-of-leadership-2/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2011 08:00:28 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1106 Richard explains what is important in the philosophy of leadership.

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    Be The Leader, Not Just A Manager http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/be-the-leader-not-just-a-manager/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/be-the-leader-not-just-a-manager/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2011 16:36:11 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=920 Read More]]> I was talking to a second level manager at an organization the other day and the challenge she was dealing with related to gaining the respect of her subordinates and having them see her as the leader of her department.

    When I asked her if she saw herself as a manager or a leader, she told me that she saw herself as a manager and not a leader. I asked her what the difference was and she kind of chuckled and told me that as a manager, she doesn’t feel as if she has to take on as much responsibility as she would if she were the leader!

    I followed up with a question about how the organization viewed her and she didn’t hesitate to say that her boss told her that he wants her to be a leader—set the vision—create a can-do culture, and hold people accountable so that the work gets done in a way that creates real value for the company. We set up the framework for our coaching to help her become a leader.

    Leaders bring value to the organization. They demonstrate their worth by creating something new and not just moving the ball ahead in the same way it has always progressed. Innovation, creativity, inspiration are a few of the key ideas that differentiates leaders from managers. Becoming a high achieving leader means that you deliver great ideas that move into action. Try some of these ideas:

    1. Realize that yesterday’s great ideas are just commodities today.
    2. Promote new ideas that are derived from your team’s experiences and knowledge.
    3. Like my coachee above, if you do not feel like a leader, go ahead and look around you at the leaders in your organization and begin modeling the behavior of that person. Follow their leads.
    4. Find a mentor or someone you can talk with in your company about your leadership style. Ask your supervisor for feedback about your leadership style and how you can strengthen it.
    5. Be clear about your expectations for your team and establish and state what you expect them to do within your prescribed timeframes.

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    The Resilience Advantage http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/stress-resilience-2/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/stress-resilience-2/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2011 08:00:10 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=1102 Richard speaks on using resilience to deal with stress.

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    New Learning Strategies for Your Kids http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/how-we-learn/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/how-we-learn/#comments Mon, 12 Sep 2011 12:26:16 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=889 Read More]]> I was having a sidebar conversation with a coaching client last week and he was lamenting his 7 th grade daughter’s home work assignments. Its seems like her teacher has given her a bunch of rote memorization assignments and he feels like this is a crazy way to learn. “We learned to memorize things like the Gettysburg address or maybe our math tables, but I’d like my daughter to be gaining more critical learning skills. Why not give her an essay to write”. he told me emphatically.

    I was wondering later on about the state of the art for learning and homework’s role in it and voila, an article appeared in yesterday’s New York Times about “The Trouble with Homework”. He was right, I thought.

    Well the article, by Annie Murphey Paul drawn from her book about the science  of learning entitled “Origins”, points out some cool ideas about learning, many of which are studied under the heading of Mind, Brain and Education. She describes some interesting learning strategies coming out of this research

    • Spaced Repetition- This approach spaces out the learning timeframe that students usually study a subject. Instead of a class segment that studies poetry for two weeks  followed by some other form of literature, they may study poetry over a 6 week period interspersing other subject matter in between the discussion on different poets.
    • Retrieval Practice- Student learn better if they must actively retrieve information from their brain and there may be no better tool for doing this than the testing format. So in addition to the test measuring performance, a series of small tests actually help the student learn. As I certainly learned in school, just taking notes and making outlines, does not a learner make
    • A final approach pushes student learning by forcing them to get out of their routine of expectations. For example, if the assignment for a 7th grade biology class involves working on an expected set of question about volcanos, earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes, it is best to mix up the topics among homework questions rather than asking 5 questions on volcanos, 5 on earthquakes, etc. Results from a study with 4th graders showed that kids who worked on practice questions that were mixed up did better than those who studied one problem at a time.

    While I was excited to see this study of homework and I was all ready to send it to my client as an FYI, I realized (as the author also concludes) that the state of the art for homework is pretty dismal (or as she say “a yet untapped opportunity”). Like so many things in our lives, we make presumptions about what works best even when we don’t know exactly what works best.

    © Richard Citrin, 2010

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    Three Steps to Hardiness http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/three-steps-to-hardiness/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/three-steps-to-hardiness/#comments Thu, 01 Sep 2011 11:07:14 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=809 Read More]]> I was talking with a coaching client the other day who told me that things were calm at his place of work but he was expecting them to begin blowing up after the upcoming labor day holiday and that he was “buttressing himself” for the inevitable explosion. I asked him to explain what he meant.

    He told me that his boss had been really great to work with the past couple of months. His boss had some vacation time, was able to knock off early to play some golf and took his kids to a bunch of baseball games during the summer. But with school starting and the fall workload picking up, he expected him to become grouchy and demanding any day now.

    And “buttressing” was how he was preparing himself for this inevitable shift in boss behavior? He wasn’t sure how else he could approach it, since he knew it would be inevitable and “ugly”.

    I brought up my resilience model to him and talked about the importance of having a “building hardiness” strategy to address predictable stressors that you know are coming down the highway. We talked about three keys

    1. Analysis: Consider what’s happened in the past that’s created good or bad outcomes. Sometimes these issues are outside your control and other times you can make real adjustments. Can my client get ahead of the curve by talking with his boss about what he (the boss) anticipates to be the challenges the next couple of months ahead?

    2. Energy: Maintaining and building your energy is critical to dealing with stressful situations.  Now that the relaxing pace of summer is coming to an end, how will you assure yourself that you energy reserves that will carry you through longer work days, helping your kids with homework and greater project demands. Sleep management, exercise and nutritional awareness are some good places to start. Pick one and look for a 10% improvement on your part.

    3. Create the Best Case: Professional athletes approach each game with the expectation of victory, but many of us approach our daily work games with the expectation of dread. Turn that around and visualize an excellent outcome to your workplace, family or personal challenge. Keep a log of three good things that happened to you today by your bedside at night and then start off your day predicting three good things that will happen for you today.

    I think my client was convinced that his fear of what might happen in his workplace was predetermined and inescapable. It may be and he may be right that his boss will become a bear. But changing his behavior to be hardier and better prepared means he won’t be a victim and will have a greater hand in determining his and his company’s success.

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    The Power of Story http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/go-tell-a-story/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/go-tell-a-story/#comments Fri, 19 Aug 2011 11:47:05 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=795 Read More]]> I was with some friends the other day and we started talking about story telling. Now some of you know that one of my creative practices is called Interplay that is an improvisational art form that uses storytelling, movement and singing to promote innovation and new ideas for individuals and groups.

    As part of our weekly practice we work on telling stories and strengthening the“bones” of our story telling skills. As we were going around the room and working on our stories, one of the members mentioned that she uses storytelling as a way to help her team at work to “replay the tapes” of how they interact with customers and clients following sales and marketing meetings.

    When she first took over the group, her staff would come back from meetings and would be encouraged or dismayed about how their meeting went. She found that they were bereft of details about what happened and typically resorted to describing how great they were or how crazy the customer was. Neither option pleased her.

    She told them that she wanted them to begin telling the story of how their meeting went from the time they first set up the meeting to their drive over, entry into the building, their greeting, conversation, interesting things that happened, their expectations met or not met and what the outcomes were. She asked them to present details of the meeting and not just summaries.

    She used Interplay principles to teach them key aspects of building a story:

    • It has to create vivid images
    • It has conflict, excitement and even drama
    • It impacts or touches people in some way
    • It fits the audience
    • It has a satisfying ending

    As her staff began to play with the storytelling form, their work reports became more colorful and bold. Her staff began to see how their actions served their goals and where they missed the mark. Instead of having a good or bad meetings, every meeting became an opportunity to learn and of course, it was not long before they were able to apply the story telling skills to their meetings with customers.

    As my colleague so aptly told her staff,”our work is tough and we need to make sure we support one another by listening and learning from what we do.” Telling stories to friends and families help  us laugh, think and recharge our batteries so we can go back out there and do it all over again, but just a little bit better

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    Are You Linking? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/are-you-linking/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/are-you-linking/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2011 23:52:53 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=791 Read More]]> A couple of weeks ago, I received an invite from someone on Linkedin who I did not know. It wasn’t that I didn’t know him, but I had no idea of who he was. So I checked out his profile (the little of it I was able to see) and determined that I was a random hit for him and decided to opt out (what if he was actually a serial killer?)

    Now I have to admit that I like and use Linkedin. It helps me build my email list, provides me access to certain groups where I can exchange information with others and keeps me up to date with colleagues who are busy building their professional network. I often recommend it to clients and client companies as a way to build their brand, stay connected and help to find professional opportunities on both sides of the coin (looking for employment and looking for good employees).

    And the stock market seems to like LNKD as well. The stock offering started on my birthday (5/19) of this year at around $70 and is now trading at $83. They have 121 million registered users and have 47 million unique global visits each month. More importantly, perhaps, is how companies are using Linkedin to help recruit their next employees. Instead of turning to monster.com or other hiring sites,  they are able to make a direct connection to potential hires through social media.

    Even though I rejected a Linkedin request, I’ll continue to post, read and recommend it because I think it is a great place for talented people and companies to connect. By the way, Google is testing their social media platform called Google +( plus). If you want to preview their cool Prezi presentation (Prezi is an alternative to powerpoint) go here

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    John Wooden’s Promises to Himself http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/john-woodens-promises-to-himself/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/great-workplaces/john-woodens-promises-to-himself/#comments Tue, 16 Aug 2011 04:15:45 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=785 Read More]]> John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach for the UCLA Bruins was called the Wizard of Westwood. He is the most successful collegiate basketball coach in history winning 10 national championships. Perhaps more importantly, he was recognized by everyone as a leader who understood people and how to get the most out of them while helping them to become great people.

    According to his biography, from the age of 12, Coach Wooden carried around his credo for success that included 9 promises by which he tried to live his life:

    1. Promise yourself that you will talk health, happiness, and prosperity as often as possible.
    2. Promise yourself to make all your friends know there is something in them that is special that you value.
    3. Promise to think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best in yourself and others.
    4. Promise to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
    5. Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
    6. Promise to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements in the future.
    7. Promise to wear a cheerful appearance at all times and give every person you meet a smile.
    8. Promise to give so much time improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
    9. Promise to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit trouble to press on you.

    During his lifetime, which lasted 99 years, John Wooden stayed true to his beliefs and values and created a loyal following of players, fans and admirers who found his philosophy of life and his success to hold many great keys. Try on a couple of his promises for yourself and see if it brings you a bit of personal satisfaction and happiness.

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    But… http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/watch-your-words/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/being-efficient/watch-your-words/#comments Fri, 12 Aug 2011 10:42:36 +0000 http://www.citrinconsulting.com/?p=777 Read More]]> Good leaders must be precise and accurate in their language. People follow what leaders say and a single misspoken word here or there determine understanding misunderstanding for your audience.

    Listening to a radio show yesterday about the financial markets this week reminded me of my top three misspoken phrases:

    1. But: I think most of us know that “but” is a negation. Whatever was said ahead of the word is discounted by what is said afterwards. “Susan, I like your thinking about how we can address that problem, but I think there is a fatal flaw to your idea”. Instead use the word “and” which creates a more inclusive aspect to your message and does not trash the first half of the point you want to make. “Susan, I like your idea and I think that while it has merit there are some other points we should look at in addressing this issue.”
    2. The Reality is: This is the expression I heard yesterday that got me thinking about this post. The fellow on the radio was describing how the “reality of the crisis is completely related to too much spending in Washington”  When I hear this expression, I find it an immediate turnoff and think that perhaps there are multiple realities to any one situation (maybe it was the S&P downgrade, or that projection of future earnings did not match stock prices, or a myriad of other explanations) and who are you that you know the actual reality!
    3. You Have to Understand: This is one of my favorites or perhaps I should say least favorites. “No really, I don’t have to understand” is my internal response to myself. The speaker does not communicate his message to me by insisting that I understand his point of view. As a leader, your job is to communicate effectively and thinking you can make adults listen to you because you say so is ineffective and quite frankly insulting. “The information I want to share with you is…” can be a better approach and then make sure you provide opportunities to your listeners to ask you questions.

    One of my mentors, Alan Weiss says that “Language controls the conversation, conversation control the relationship and the relationship controls the business” Pay attention to these words and phrases and you may find yourself in better control of your business and life

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    May I Have this Dance? http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/leaders-who-listen-and-connect/ http://www.citrinconsulting.com/leadership-skills/leaders-who-listen-and-connect/#comments Thu, 11 Aug 2011 03:52:30 +0000 http://www.citrinconsul