Does Your Willpower Support Your Well-Being?

willpowerThe next time you find yourself “too tired” to exert self-control, challenge yourself to go beyond that first feeling of fatigue.

The Willpower Instinct, Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.

Here’s a quick quiz, to give you perspective on your current well-being.

  • Do you like your life and smile often?
  • Are you reasonably happy with your weight and other health-oriented decisions?
  • Are you aware of something important to you that’s bigger than you? For some this is met through religion or spirituality, for others it’s science or community service.
  • Do you invest in building strong social connections?
  • Do you feel productive?
  • Are key economic factors in place for you and your family, especially food, housing, and transportation?

A resounding yes to all is the desired state, but we’re on planet earth, right? So, we might say: “My weight isn’t bad, but I’d like to lose 10 pounds and exercise more.” “My work is productive but takes so much of my time that social connections suffer.” And so on. A life well lived is one that focuses on continuing to experience well-being in accordance with our evolving needs. This article will address some of the ways we can strengthen our willpower muscles to expand our well-being.

Well-being is a broad, life encompassing concept. Willpower is a powerful strategy for conducting our lives in a way that promotes well-being.

Well-being Defined

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) studies well-being due to its public policy implications. The CDC states:

Well-being is a positive outcome that is meaningful for people and for many sectors of society, because it tells us that people perceive that their lives are going well. Good living conditions (e.g., housing, employment) are fundamental to well-being. Tracking these conditions is important for public policy. However, many indicators that measure living conditions fail to measure what people think and feel about their lives, such as the quality of their relationships, their positive emotions and resilience, the realization of their potential, or their overall satisfaction with life—i.e., their “well-being.” Well-being generally includes global judgments of life satisfaction and feelings ranging from depression to joy.

Well-being considers our whole life. Key components include:

  • Spiritual Connection or a Sense of Supporting Something Bigger than Oneself
  • Physical Health
  • Mental Health
  • Emotional Health
  • Social Connectedness
  • Productivity with Self-Actualization
  • Economic well-being
  • Healthy Physical Environment
  • Life Satisfaction

Willpower

Willpower is one of our primary strategies to support and expand well-being. Willpower is defined by Dr. McGonigal as

The ability to control our attention, emotions, and desires – and influences our physical health, financial security, relationships and professional success.

Here are some strategies for tapping into your willpower in ways that enhance your well-being. We strongly recommend Kelly McGonigal’s book, The Willpower Instinct! The ideas below are influenced by her work.

Choose one area where you’d like to improve your life. Conduct a reality check, be sure that it’s viable for you given everything else happening.

Your emotional intelligence skills of Self-Awareness and Impulse Control are vital to engaging your willpower. As McGonigal says, “When we [combine these skills] we will find the willpower and the want power to do the harder thing.” (p. 28) Humans have the gift of being able to observe ourselves and even to predict what we will do and the likely outcome if we’re willing to exercise our skill (or not). Once you activate your awareness your question is will you engage your Impulse Control so you further that willpower goal and improve your life? We know this can be hard so let’s look at steps to build your skills.

  • Develop improved self-awareness. One way to do so is by committing to notice your responses when a certain type of event (you choose) occurs. Write down a few notes so you can keep track, and do this until you have a good idea of what to change to meet that new life goal.
  • Now that you’re considerably more aware, it’s time to build your impulse control muscles. These “muscles” are in the pre-frontal cortex and McGonigal assures us that the brain will remodel itself based on what we ask it to do. Perhaps surprisingly, likely the best way to do so is to meditate – even 5 minutes a day. She writes:

Neuroscientists have discovered that when you ask the brain to meditate, it gets better not just at meditating, but at a wide range of self-control skills, including attention, focus, stress management impulse control and self-awareness. People who meditate regularly aren’t just better at these things. Over time, their brains become finely tuned willpower machines. Regular meditators have more gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, as well as regions of the brain that support self-awareness. (p. 24)

  • Integrate your self-awareness and impulse control through a Pause and Plan strategy. As McGonigal points out, this is vastly different than fight or flight. Pause and plan is based on slowing down, being aware, considering various outcomes and making a considered decision.

Whether you want to improve your weight, exercise more, quit smoking or be more pleasant with your family, using the powerful emotional intelligence skills of Self-Awareness and Impulse Control so that you have the time and awareness to engage the Pause and Plan strategy will help you meet your goal.

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Notice Your Resilience to Expand Well-Being

The good life is a process, not a state of being.
It is a direction, not a destination.
Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person

Give yourself one of the best gifts available – expand your resilience. Your well-being will benefit from the upgrade. Sustainable behavior change is a lifestyle change, not a whim. As you expand your resilience, your overall well-being will improve remarkably.

Noticing and managing our resilience calls for us to develop and regularly use the skill of mindfulness. Some might say that mindfulness and well-being are synonymous. Mindfulness contains the intention of the definition in the very word. While there are many more elaborate definitions, the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California captures it well:

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.

Scientist and leading scholar in the field of positive psychology, Barbara Fredrickson reports that in their entire research program in resilience they found that the key active ingredient supporting those with higher resilience is positivity, which includes openness and a better ability to keep things in perspective and see the bigger picture. The concepts of resilience and mindfulness intertwine and support one another. When we apply the two our well-being improves.

A frequent challenge raised by our coaching clients relates to managing their resilience. They may talk about putting up with one challenge after another as a new program is being unveiled until they finally lose their composure. Or the challenge may be significant personal issues that are taking so much of their energy and drawing upon their flexibility dramatically that when one more thing happens – at work, at home or anywhere they become unusually inflexible, angry or just walk away leaving things unresolved.

Stephan (not his real name) is a good example. Most of the time, things are fine; he can manage work and personal demands. He has a good education, a reliable job with mid-management responsibilities, and a loving family. Just like happens to most of us, each of these good parts have challenges. His parents are in their 80’s and require a lot of attention. Recently his dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and his mom has arthritis to the point she can’t take care of him. His teenage children need a great deal of time. It’s hard, yet he keeps telling himself that in a few years it’ll be easier. For now, Stephan is committed to giving his all to helping his parents, his kids, serving at his church and then there’s his job. His position has a lot of stress with it and most weeks require 45 to 50 hours of work plus his commute. Usually he juggles everything well enough. Then his boss informed him that the big report he and his team have worked on for two months is needed in two days instead of the two weeks they were supposed to have to complete it well. Stephan hit the roof. He yelled at his boss, refused to meet the deadline. Told his staff to just quit and take the rest of the day off. It wasn’t a pretty picture. That was a few weeks ago. Coaching is helping Stephan work through the aftermath of his outburst, as well as what brought him to it. Our focus includes understanding his challenges and building ways to stay in touch with his resilience to guide his behavior.

Strategies for Expanding Resilience

You, just like Stephan, can choose from several strategies to expand and maintain your resilience. Six of the sixteen EQi skills particularly support resilience strength. Act now to support your health and well-being by following a resilience enhancing strategy such as:

  • Meditation.
  • Recognizing that you are a part of something purposeful that’s bigger than you.
  • Expanding your happiness through gratitude or embracing and valuing your connections with others.
  • Building your optimism by expecting what works to keep on happening and get even larger.
  • Embracing your Bigger Yes – by living priorities that call for time with loved ones, time to exercise, time for you – all which expand your stress tolerance capacity.
  • Perceiving yourself with healthy self-regard by being able to view your strengths. challenges, and neutral zones and feel good about who you are.
  • Exercising your emotional self-awareness by noticing your emotions, recognizing how you feel and why and managing your responses. Throughout the day seek to call forth positive emotions.

Resilience is the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, or adversity; it’s a form of buoyancy. Fortunately, your resilience can be expanded – it’s a personal skill that may have some components of genetic predisposition but can be influenced and grown as one of your most reliable assets. However, it does require continuous upkeep. Growing the skill requires awareness and practice. Your journey is one of developing new habits that may not only change your social and psychological take on life but may well improve your health as well.

Six Emotional Intelligence Skills

There is a strong connection between the strength of your resilience and 6 of the 16 skills measured by the EQi 2.0: stress tolerance, emotional self-awareness, self-regard, optimism, happiness and flexibility.

These EI skills are ones that are more self-oriented rather than other-oriented because resilience is an internal state. You’ve probably heard that you need to take care of yourself before you have the strength and resilience to take care of others well. The metaphor most call to mind readily is when oxygen is needed on an airplane you need to put your own oxygen mask on before you start helping others. You know why – you’ll black out quickly and be a problem rather than a help if you don’t start with your mask. Life is that way as well. Though it may be easier for some to focus on the tasks, including attending to everyone else’s needs, you will be better in all ways if you start with you first – and then remember to keep prioritizing your needs!

Barbara Fredrickson’s Research

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, author of Love 2.0 and Positivity, which we highly recommend, provides copious research on the beneficial effect of resilience and the field of positivity. Fredrickson speaks about changing people’s daily diets of positivity with the goal being to change what we notice and to influence the practice of our habitual positive and negative emotions. One effective strategy she emphasizes is loving kindness meditation. What’s different about Barbara’s work is that it primarily occurs in the laboratory – her laboratory and her joint work with many other leading scientists. The blessing of her research is she is documenting what so many coaches, trainers and others have believed to be true.

Research results by Barbara and her colleagues are documenting that there are improvements on cognitive, social, psychological and physical resources for people who use positivity and resilience enhancing practices. Whether you practice meditation or other resilience enhancing strategies, we encourage you to choose a practice or two from the list provided above or another resource you have and take good care of yourself.

 

Emotional & Social Well-Being Supports Employee Engagement

interactionThe good news about our 2.0 world is organizations are finally getting it – that is they are recognizing that if they place their top value on building emotional and social well-being for their employees and teams, they will gain the business and financial values of increased and sustainable productivity, better decisions, loyalty and best of all trust among their workforce. Ok, they get it, but how do they DO it? It isn’t hard, yet it does require intentional commitment and follow through. Fortunately there is a road map, the powerful tools of the EQi 2.0® for individuals and the TESI®2.0 for teams are well researched assessments designed to measure and provide the path to building emotional and social well-being. These provide the data to implement a specific plan of action for individuals and teams.

Let’s take the case of Teresa (not her real name) who recently joined a mid-size successful law firm as a paralegal in the Environmental Division (ED). The ED has a managing partner, administrative partner, 10 attorneys and 5 paralegals. Teresa is excited, hopeful, apprehensive, and cautious. She is experiencing a normal set of mixed emotions as she starts this new position that could become a rewarding long-term career or a really difficult chapter in her life. It is very much in her best interest and that of the firm for this to work. Recognizing the investment they are making, the law firm has established a process to welcome and support Teresa’s success.

First, they used the EQi as a part of the hiring process to hire a person who would have high potential for success in this position. Once Teresa joined the firm she was given her EQi results with a coaching session by Abigail, an external consultant to their OD team. Teresa was guided to explore all skills of the EQi and to focus on a few that would be most helpful for her. Teresa’s happiness (scored at 90) is lower than she would prefer and she recognizes that her happiness has a global effect on her life, it affects the energy she has to do her job, her ability to connect with others, and how she feels about herself. Teresa and Abigail dug in to explore the well-being indicator in her report and seek useful strategies that Teresa could put into action. Happiness was originally described by Dr. Reuven Bar-On, the creator of the original EQi, as a barometer of emotional health and well-being and as an indicator of one’s entire emotional and social intelligence. The EQi well-being indicator emphasizes that four of the sixteen EQi skills are particularly interconnected to the dimension of happiness. Teresa’s found:

  • Her self-regard (95) was ok, but she would benefit by strengthening her sense of self-confidence. Teresa feels scared in her first position as a paralegal, but upon discussion she recognizes she has strengths to build on including her previous work experience.
  • Her optimism (110) was likely to be a healthy point of leverage in building her goals. However, she and her coach checked her reality testing (102) to make sure maintained good perspective and didn’t just look at the world with rose colored glasses.
  • Her interpersonal relationships (95) indicated that she longed to take time to develop more friendships. She’d focused on career and family and was truly feeling lonely for personal friends. Teresa recognized that a few close friends would make a big difference for her whole life, but she was worried that she just couldn’t invest the time. She was surprised that her coach would even suggest this was important, after all didn’t the law firm just want billable hours? It seemed like investing in friends would diminish her contribution at the firm. Teresa’s curiosity was definitely engaged.
  • Her self-actualization (104) was fairly strong and Teresa talked about how important it is to her to contribute to making the world a better place. This is why she chose to be a paralegal and work in environmental law. She would be supporting cases focused on water quality and hazardous waste management. She talked about her passion and excitement and demonstrated why this skill and her optimism are key components of her happiness.

Teresa and Abigail discussed a strategy, with Teresa taking the lead, on changes she was going to work on. First she knew it had to be small focused steps because she was already busy. She decided to build her self-regard by: 1) giving herself positive messages at least 5 times a day, 2) noticing what was going right, and 3) taking at least 15 minutes each evening to reflect and write down how she felt with the positive messages and what she did right during the day. She committed to doing this for 28 days straight, as Abigail emphasized that she’s building new habits supported by new neuronal pathways. She also decided to have a least one personal lunch or coffee

break a week that was just meeting with friends, not about business. Teresa will also do this for four weeks and then decide on next steps. She was intrigued with Abigail’s confirmation that the firm recognizes that people need connections and that folks who feel that they have a full whole life are better long term contributors to the firm and support their clients and co-workers more effectively.

Teresa was beginning to get the message that her new employer believed in her emotional and social well-being and was really pleased to learn that the investment wouldn’t stop with just her individual needs as she and her teammates in the Environmental Division were also supported in being a strong and viable team. The team would be taking the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey) in a few months and she’d be a part of taking the Survey, evaluating the team’s performance in skills such as motivation, emotional awareness, conflict resolution and stress tolerance. Days were marked out on everyone’s calendars for once a month team building sessions where they would use the data from the TESI, connect it with their reflections on projects that were successful or challenged and intentionally keep building their skills to work together.

After the coaching session, Teresa felt hopeful and committed to being a productive member of the firm for a very long time.

10 Actions to Make Your 2018 a Year of Authentic Success

How was your 2017? We know it was disruptive for many in the world. There is a strong sense of love and community engagement. Yet, there’s also a strong sense of divisiveness in communities and nations, war, displacement, financial troubles. Instead of continuing to list and focus on challenges, let’s move toward what is right.

What are you seeking for your personal success indicators in 2018? To gain a viable answer hold an internal conversation between your ideal self (how you would most like to live) and your real self (how you really live) and develop an authentic structure to your goals. Authentic success integrates these two parts into a happier and more successful you. Recognize that success is much more than money – consider well-being, compassion and health. Seek joy. Our article was so well received in earlier years as a way to frame moving into the New Year, that it’s back by popular demand.

Authentic success begets peace of mind because you are living and working in accordance with your values, strengths, and your sense of purpose instead of living in conflict. Reaching this highly desired state requires personal awareness. Without it you will be missing the joy from your current wealth by only focusing on what hasn’t happened. Happiness and optimism, both components of emotional intelligence, are vital to experiencing authentic success. The following 10 Actions are based on years of research in the fields of emotional intelligence and positive psychology and set forth choices you can make to change the quality of your life in 2018.

10 Actions to Make Your

2018 a Year of Authentic Success

  1. Define happiness. Know what you are looking for when you are seeking happiness. True happiness isn’t the quick food fix; even Belgian chocolates bring a temporary response. As an article by Carlin Flora, “The Pursuit of Happiness” in Psychology Today states, “The most useful definition – and it’s one agreed upon by neuroscientists, psychiatrists, behavioral economists, positive psychologists, and Buddhist monks – is more like satisfied or content than ‘happy’ in its strict bursting-with-glee sense. It has depth and deliberation to it. It encompasses living a meaningful life, utilizing your gifts and your time, living with thought and purpose. It’s maximized when you also feel part of a community. And when you confront annoyances and crises with grace. It involves a willingness to learn and stretch and grow, which sometimes involves discomfort. It requires acting on life, not merely taking it in. It’s not joy, a temporary exhilaration, or even pleasure, that sensual rush – though a steady supply of those feelings course through those who seize each day.”

Action: Happiness is closely tied to being aware of what success truly means for you. Write your own definition of what Authentic Success means to you and intend to live in synch with your truth about Authentic Success in 2018.

  1. Practice mindfulness. While defined in a variety of ways, mindfulness simply means paying attention. Notice how you are feeling and why and then make a choice to stick with your current path or take a breath and intentionally shift.

Action: Set a time each day when you will review your day with intention to notice and expand your mindfulness. Even a short review will make a difference.

  1. Be you. Embrace yourself. Know your good points and that which you don’t consider so favorably. Know your styles and preferences and trust you are a good and resilient person. We received the following quote awhile ago and we give profound credit to whoever first said it though we don’t know the original source.

Action: Print this out and tape it around your environment:

  1. Practice your 2% Solution. As Marcia describes in Life’s 2% Solution, the 2% Solution requires just half an hour a day (3 ½ hours a week if it works better to cluster your time). Spend that time doing something that’s deeply nurturing, meaningful, fulfilling to you. It may be what you’ve vowed to do later when you are free to explore long-delayed purposeful pursuits. This seemingly small expenditure of time is even more critical in today’s harried world, where work deadlines loom, the carpool to soccer awaits, the dry cleaning is piling up, and a dinner party fills up whatever free time is left. We get it all done, yet feel incomplete. This stress-filled existence leaches away our creativity, passion and sense of fulfillment. We sacrifice the long-view of our lives for short-term results, to check something off a list. No doubt, that scenario leads to burnout.

Action: Integrate your enhanced awareness from taking some of the above steps with your own 2% project. Investing 2% of your time in an unusual way on yourself will make a world of difference. It’s an achievable way of creating more work/life balance without having to turn your life upside down by radical change. You can learn more and follow the 10 step process found in my book Life’s 2% Solution.

  1. Relationships matter. Take time for friends and choose friends who support the values you wish to live with.

Action: Notice who your friends are. Ask yourself if you are giving the time it takes to cultivate valuable relationships. If not make a change. Keep your expectations of time with friends manageable.

  1. Carpe diem! Seize the day.

Action: Today is the only version of this day you’ll ever have. Take advantage of it!

  1. Know your values. It’s easy to get caught up in the multitude of options that expand daily from numbers of cereals to forms of entertainment to interesting books. We all have twenty-four hours in a day. Take advantage of your day by knowing what is truly important so you don’t get distracted with the job of making too many unimportant choices.

Action: Make a list of your top values – somewhere between five and ten items at the most. Then practice connecting your values with your choices.

  1. Create. It feels good! Humans are amazingly creative beings. You probably create much more than you realize and miss giving yourself credit for your gifts.

Action: Intentionally make a soup, draw a picture, write a letter. Whatever feels simply good to you and then stop and acknowledge the act of creating and give yourself time to enjoy.

  1. Express gratitude. This is a big one. Anytime you want to build happiness, be grateful for what you do have and go find a way to give. So much of authentic happiness is based in giving your gifts and in being a good and compassionate human being. Don’t make it hard; find easy and natural ways to give with no strings attached. Pay it forward is a great strategy.

Action: Take time to stop and say thank you. Notice how you feel and how the recipient feels. Keep a gratitude journal. Notice five to ten events that occur each day for which you are grateful. Be specific. Feel the gratitude in your heart as you write your list and as you read it over.

  1. Smile. It’s impossible to be grumpy and smile at the same time.

Action: If you are willing to change your emotional state, you will. Breathe, notice what is going on, notice any tension you are holding in your body, and be willing to let it go. Be quiet and smile for a full minute.

Authentic success combines your inner and outer strengths, though integrating these two is not always so easy. Good luck on your journey. We’re always interested in learning from you about how this works. Comment on our blog.

Blessings for a beautiful and resonant 2018 that flows with compassion for yourself and others.

Emotional Intelligence Wisdom to Injured NBA Player

“Be sad. Be mad… Then focus on the recovery process day by day by day…. This will also mean that when you return you will have a new perspective. You will be so appreciative of being able to stand, walk, run that you will train harder than ever.”

ghaywardNBA forward Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics experienced a devastating ankle injury. Many players offered caring messages. The one by Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant stands out. His advice distills the essence of applying emotional intelligence (EI) to life’s setbacks, challenges, and worries.. The Instagram message to Gordon Hayward:

 

Be sad. Be mad. Be frustrated. Scream. Cry. Sulk. When you wake up you will think it was just a nightmare only to realize it’s all too real. You will be angry and wish for the day back, the game back THAT play back. But reality gives nothing back and nor should you. Time to move on and focus on doing everything in your power to prepare for surgery, ask all the questions to be sure you understand fully the procedure so that you may visualize it in your subconscious while being operated on and better the chance of its success. Then focus on the recovery process day by day by day. It’s a long journey but if you focus on the mini milestones along the way you will find beauty in the struggle of doing simple things that prior to this injury were taken for granted. This will also mean that when you return you will have a new perspective. You will be so appreciative of being able to stand, walk, run that you will train harder than you ever have. You see the belief within you grow with each mini milestone and you will come back a better player for it. Best of luck to you on this journey my brother #mambamentality always.

This healing process calls for applying all 16 skills found in the EQi personal assessment from self-regard and emotional self-awareness to assertiveness, empathy, stress tolerance, impulse control, optimism and happiness. Life is a journey and a continuous learning opportunity. Gordon is facing a dramatic and poignant life event. Many parts of our journey are less dramatic, yet they are always opportunities to grow into our best self.

As we write this we particularly honor our brother, Ken Hughes. During his long and challenging journey with multiple sclerosis he gallantly faced loss and pain. For the last years of his life he couldn’t stand, walk or run. Yet he smiled, laughed, teased and was an honor to be with. Salutes to Captain Ken!

Top 10 Reasons for Playing!

reasons to play

  1. It feels good and makes you happy!
  2. Happy is good! Good for your health, for your decision-making, for your relationships….. Heck, what isn’t it good for?
  3. It’s good for our world economy – a stretch? Maybe, but what about the recreation dollars we spend even if we’re just driving to a great hike in the forest and taking a picnic. And happy people have more capacity to slug through the difficult conversations to get to good collaborative decisions. Tell that to the G-20 – or even the G-7 leaders!
  4. We build resilience, defined as the ability to recover quickly from setbacks and elasticity, as in the ability to spring back after things are bent out of shape. Resilience is enhanced through play, through relaxing and through nourishing reflecting. Play regularly to be prepared for life’s twists and turns.
  5. It makes other people happy.
  6. You can get good exercise and increase your cardio vascular functioning.
  7. Brain health and well-being.
  8. We satisfy our own developmental need to be creative and feel competent.
  9. We can be more creative while playing with novel possibilities in an environment where we can be flexible and relaxed.
  10. To interact and be reflective without it seeming so serious – “Hey, why did we miss that grounder when Holly hit it?” “What shall our team do next time?”

Play has been described as unplanned behavior, in other words activity that emerges and evolves spontaneously from within its own context. It occurs in a climate that facilitates creativity and innovation. Young children accomplish the majority of their most critical early learning through play. But guess what, adults learn best in the same sort of attitude — relaxed curiosity. We just don’t emphasize play nearly as much as can serve us. For children play is considered valuable because it develops their social relationship skills, helps build positive interactions between the child and their classmates, and provides the chance to let off a bit of steam (reduce or prevent anger). It also builds on their skills of sharing and taking turns. Isn’t this what we want for ourselves, our families and our teams? Of course it is!

At Collaborative Growth we’re declaring July as a great month for playing. We hope you take time to enjoy this beautiful month whether it’s quite sunny for you in the northern part of our globe or snow is whitening your world in the southern hemisphere.

We also want to express our gratitude for Freedom. In the United States where we live, July 4th is the day we celebrate our nation’s Independence. Let us all embrace freedom with our intentions that really includes liberty and justice for all to help build a world that works. Neurologists assure us that seeing requires believing so let’s join our combined vision in seeing a world that works for all!

Blessings and our thanks to all of you!

Marcia and James

Avoid Emotional Intelligence Pitfalls at Work

pitfall_guyFrequently encountered emotional intelligence (EI) pitfalls that limit relationships and productivity at work are numerous. Ordering people to just “get it done” could well be the top pitfall of all. Several pitfalls and better EI Options are listed below.

Pitfall: Just tell your direct reports or others to do something.

Better EI Option: Use your EI skills in empathy and assertiveness to influence others to want to engage in your project.

trap-jump-pitfallPitfalls sabotage your success. When you just tell people to do something and you don’t take a few minutes to acknowledge them, build buy-in and guide understanding, you often invite opposition and resistance. Ironically you might have been so directive because you felt you didn’t have time for more engagement, yet the resistance will cost you more time in the long run.

Pitfall: Order your direct reports or others to be happy and engaged.

Better EI Option: Create a culture that builds skills in optimism, self-regard and emotional expression and thus supports staff agility and buy in. These and other EI skills are central to building an engaged culture with a “can-do” attitude. Your leadership has a lot to do with the responses you get. If you want happy and engaged direct reports, use positive language that supports optimism. For example, express the belief that together all of you will meet the big challenge, you just don’t know how yet. That wonderful word “yet” establishes the presupposition of success, and that helps create the outcome you’re looking for.

Pitfall: Ignore the impact of reassigning employees who have become friends and are working effectively as team members.

Better EI Option: Respond to and acknowledge relationships, notice how they support or weaken team work. When you need to make new assignments, help people process and accept the change.

people-puzzlePitfall: Insist that emotions be left at the door when it’s time to solve problems.

Better EI Option: Use all your smarts in solving problems; that is both your IQ and your EQ. People can’t think without using their emotions. So the question becomes whether you and your team want to be aware of your emotional responses, including your intuitive awareness, and factor in all your data when resolving the problem. We suspect people seek to avoid their emotions when they are afraid they don’t have the skills to manage the emotions successfully. However, this strategy frequently backfires as the emotions will leak out in some poorly managed format. It’s better to get training and coaching and be fully in charge of your responses.

Pitfall: Blast your stress on all in your path.

angry-redhoopBetter EI Option: Learn strategies to regain your equilibrium when your buttons are pushed, then talk to others. You can breathe, use stair therapy, count to 10, any number of strategies work. Just give yourself time to avoid the adverse consequences of getting all tied up in knots! The key point is get more oxygen to your brain and give yourself a few minutes before you respond. Stair therapy is one of our favorites. When you feel triggered, tired or cranky go climb a set of stairs then come back to your office or to the situation and respond. Your renewed resilience will invite more welcome responses.

10 Actions to Make Your 2017 a Year of Authentic Success

success_pathHow was your 2016? We know it was challenging for many in the world. There’s a strong sense of divisiveness in communities and nations, war, displacement, financial troubles. Instead of continuing to list and focus on challenges, let’s move toward what is right.

What are you seeking for your personal success indicators in 2017? To gain a viable answer hold an internal conversation between your ideal self (how you would most like to live) and your real self (how you really live) and develop an authentic structure to your goals. Authentic success integrates these two parts into a happier and more successful you. Recognize that success is much more than money – consider well-being, compassion and health. Seek joy. Our article was so well received in earlier years as a way to frame moving into the New Year, that it’s back by popular demand.

Authentic success begets peace of mind because you are living and working in accordance with your values, strengths, and your sense of purpose instead of living in conflict. Reaching this highly desired state requires personal awareness. Without it you will be missing the joy from your current wealth by only focusing on what hasn’t happened. Happiness and optimism, both components of emotional intelligence, are vital to experiencing authentic success. The following 10 Actions are based on years of research in the fields of emotional intelligence and positive psychology and set forth choices you can make to change the quality of your life in 2017.

10 Actions to Make Your

2017 a Year of Authentic Success

  1. Define happiness. Know what you are looking for when you are seeking happiness. True happiness isn’t the quick food fix; even Belgian chocolates bring a temporary response. As an article by Carlin Flora, “The Pursuit of Happiness” in Psychology Today states, “The most useful definition – and it’s one agreed upon by neuroscientists, psychiatrists, behavioral economists, positive psychologists, and Buddhist monks – is more like satisfied or content than ‘happy’ in its strict bursting-with-glee sense. It has depth and deliberation to it. It encompasses living a meaningful life, utilizing your gifts and your time, living with thought and purpose. It’s maximized when you also feel part of a community. And when you confront annoyances and crises with grace. It involves a willingness to learn and stretch and grow, which sometimes involves discomfort. It requires acting on life, not merely taking it in. It’s not joy, a temporary exhilaration, or even pleasure, that sensual rush – though a steady supply of those feelings course through those who seize each day.”

Action: Happiness is closely tied to being aware of what success truly means for you. Write your own definition of what Authentic Success means to you and intend to live in synch with your truth about Authentic Success in 2017.

  1. Practice mindfulness. While defined in a variety of ways, mindfulness simply means paying attention. Notice how you are feeling and why and then make a choice to stick with your current path or take a breath and intentionally shift.

Action: Set a time each day when you will review your day with intention to notice and expand your mindfulness. Even a short review will make a difference.

  1. Be you. Embrace yourself. Know your good points and that which you don’t consider so favorably. Know your styles and preferences and trust you are a good and resilient person. We received the following quote awhile ago and we give profound credit to whoever first said it though we don’t know the original source.

Action: Print this out and tape it around your environment:

nothing_wrong_quote

  1. Practice your 2% Solution. As Marcia describes in Life’s 2% Solution, the 2% Solution requires just half an hour a day (3 ½ hours a week if it works better to cluster your time). Spend that time doing something that’s deeply nurturing, meaningful, fulfilling to you. It may be what you’ve vowed to do later when you are free to explore long-delayed purposeful pursuits. This seemingly small expenditure of time is even more critical in today’s harried world, where work deadlines loom, the carpool to soccer awaits, the dry cleaning is piling up, and a dinner party fills up whatever free time is left. We get it all done, yet feel incomplete. This stress-filled existence leaches away our creativity, passion and sense of fulfillment. We sacrifice the long-view of our lives for short-term results, to check something off a list. No doubt, that scenario leads to burnout.

Action: Integrate your enhanced awareness from taking some of the above steps with your own 2% project. Investing 2% of your time in an unusual way on yourself will make a world of difference. It’s an achievable way of creating more work/life balance without having to turn your life upside down by radical change. You can learn more and follow the 10 step process found in my book Life’s 2% Solution.

  1. Relationships matter. Take time for friends and choose friends who support the values you wish to live with.

Action: Notice who your friends are. Ask yourself if you are giving the time it takes to cultivate valuable relationships. If not make a change. Keep your expectations of time with friends manageable.

  1. Carpe diem! Seize the day.

Action: Today is the only version of this day you’ll ever have. Take advantage of it!

  1. Know your values. It’s easy to get caught up in the multitude of options that expand daily from numbers of cereals to forms of entertainment to interesting books. We all have twenty-four hours in a day. Take advantage of your day by knowing what is truly important so you don’t get distracted with the job of making too many unimportant choices.

Action: Make a list of your top values – somewhere between five and ten items at the most. Then practice connecting your values with your choices.

  1. Create. It feels good! Humans are amazingly creative beings. You probably create much more than you realize and miss giving yourself credit for your gifts.

Action: Intentionally make a soup, draw a picture, write a letter. Whatever feels simply good to you and then stop and acknowledge the act of creating and give yourself time to enjoy.

  1. Express gratitude. This is a big one. Anytime you want to build happiness, be grateful for what you do have and go find a way to give. So much of authentic happiness is based in giving your gifts and in being a good and compassionate human being. Don’t make it hard; find easy and natural ways to give with no strings attached. Pay it forward is a great strategy.

Action: Take time to stop and say thank you. Notice how you feel and how the recipient feels. Keep a gratitude journal. Notice five to ten events that occur each day for which you are grateful. Be specific. Feel the gratitude in your heart as you write your list and as you read it over.

  1. Smile. It’s impossible to be grumpy and smile at the same time.

Action: If you are willing to change your emotional state, you will. Breathe, notice what is going on, notice any tension you are holding in your body, and be willing to let it go. Be quiet and smile for a full minute.

Authentic success combines your inner and outer strengths, though integrating these two is not always so easy. Good luck on your journey. We’re always interested in learning from you about how this works. Comment on our blog.

Blessings for a beautiful and resonant 2017 that flows with compassion for yourself and others.

Crafting an Emotionally Sustainable Lifestyle

craft-playLife is precious and is best lived when we pay attention to creating an emotionally sustainable lifestyle. We are passionately committed to providing our services in order to support individuals and teams in living emotionally sustainable lifestyles. This is also known as living resiliently. Marcia’s book Life’s 2% Solution provides a well tested strategy for living with Passionate Equilibrium – being thoroughly engaged and doing so with a sense of balance. Additionally the EQi and EQ 360 for individuals and the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey) are developed to promote emotional sustainability.

The Collaborative Growth team model highlights the path for developing the seven skills measured by the TESI in the outer ring. Emotional and social well-being for teams is the result of following this path to sustainability for teams.

Emotional sustainability, also referred to as well being, can be measured with assessments such as the EQi ® and the EQ 360 ®. Dr. BarOn, the original creator of the EQi has pinpointed self actualization as the apex of all the EQ skills.

So just which EQ skills should you focus on to develop this life nurturing state? BarOn names eight, which he listed in the order of their importance:

• Happiness

• Optimism

• Self-Regard

• Independence

• Problem Solving

• Social Responsibility

• Assertiveness

• Emotional Self-Awareness

Bar-On, 2001, p. 92. “EI and Self-Actualization.” In Emotional Intelligence in Everyday Life, edited by J. Ciarrochi, J. Forgas, and J. Mayer. New York: Psychology Press.

Frequently revisiting these eight critical factors will help you engage your EQ in a manner designed to support an emotionally sustainable lifestyle. At the team level the critical sustainability is developed by using the seven skills in the outer ring of the Collaborative Growth Team Model. These are powerful skills that can be developed at the individual and team level. The resulting quality of life will assure you and those you influence that it is worth the effort!

Resilient Leaders Shine Despite Adversity

Marcia Hughes
©ATD2016, published May 2016

abelincolnPresident Abraham Lincoln remains a model of transformative leadership
more than 150 years after he served as the 16th president of the United
States. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—a great constitutional
and political crisis. Throughout his presidency, he was focused on his
vision of maintaining the unity of the nation with unwavering passion, yet was
able to exert high flexibility and impulse control in the strategies he employed.
He took time to listen well, seek out and consider diverse feedback, and was
willing to shift his strategies. No one had time during the Civil War to talk about
change management, yet that was the order of the day. Lincoln is one of our
best resilience teachers.

READ FULL ARTICLE: Resilient-Leaders