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.

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Top 10 Reasons for Playing!

play-rainbow

  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

Inside Out for Adults – Mindfulness

pixar-pic
Inside Out – Pixar, Walt Disney Pictures

Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear and Sadness interact in Inside Out, a 2015 American computer-animated comedy-drama film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures. The film is set in the mind of an 11 year old girl, Riley, who has been very happy until her parents uproot her as they move from Minnesota to San Francisco. She becomes unhappy in her new world without friends and her emotions go through considerable turbulence before they get it together and help her tell her parents of her troubles. Riley’s parents comfort her and a year later she has friends and a new capacity to hold emotional complexity. Go see the movie; it’s good for all ages!

There’s much more to the story, which does an excellent job of showing how emotions activate our responses, work with memories and can lead us to derail or succeed. Emotions always influence our behavior and our decisions. The question is how to engage with our emotions so we are successful and the movie helps us learn more about how this process works.

One key component in Inside Out is the interplay between the emotions of joy and sadness. Joy has run Riley’s emotions much of her life until the move, and then Sadness begins to have impacts. Joy seeks to prevent Sadness having an influence, but after a fairly difficult adventure they learn of the importance of these two emotions working together. While Joy and Sadness are gone on their learning journey, Fear, Anger and Disgust start guiding Riley’s behavior, which leads to starting to run away and other consequences.

Adults can learn a great deal from this reflection on emotional interaction. We can stop and reflect asking ourselves:

  • “What emotions run my show? What are the consequences?
  • “Would I like to make any changes?”
  • “What one change would I like to inquire about first?”

Personal Inquiry is an opportunity to stop and listen, to reflect, recognize and perhaps reorganize our thoughts or our behavior. It is a key part of being mindful. Mindfulness has many powerful descriptions created by those who coach or teach personal development or personal evolution. It is core to many spiritual practices and is central to many strategies for expanding emotional and social intelligence. Webster defines mindfulness as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” It’s paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the physical environment without judgment. Mindfulness can be a powerful and restful state.

Stopping, breathing and being mindful provides an opportunity to gain perspective, to allow complexity of emotions to develop as they integrate, and then to peacefully choose your next response instead of being at the effect of a situation. This strategy taps into all 16 EI skills; some of the most prominent are emotional self-awareness, reality testing, impulse control, optimism and happiness.

One excellent article, published by Greater Good in Action, on Inside Out, emphasizes four lessons from children from the movie. Joy worked hard to suppress Sadness in the movie and that can be dangerous the author’s point out. Joy drew a circle away from the action board and asked Sadness to just stand in it so she wouldn’t impact Riley. Emotions can be tough, but they need to be experienced in age appropriate ways. Suppressing sadness can lead to anxiety and depression. Trying to reinterpret an event so it isn’t as difficult, sometimes called cognitive reappraisal or reframing, can cause the message of the difficult emotion to be camouflaged but not eliminated – and this can be costly later on as it could lead to emotional explosion or to self-medicating to keep the emotions away.

One of the best ways of managing impulse control can be to find safe ways to know how we feel and to process responses to those feelings. Then those difficult emotions are not lying in wait to jump out when we’re crossed in just the wrong way. Mindfulness, together with personal inquiry, helps us slow down and recognize the complexity of our feelings and then respond thoughtfully. It helps us manage our Resilience Meter™ as we’ve discussed in other articles. Mindfulness practice holds many gifts including the integration of our emotions at a level that allows us to live the purpose inspired life we prefer.

Manage Your Resilience Meter: Your Guide to Positivity, Productivity and Well-Being

resilience_meterppt_rev2Managing resilience in today’s fast paced world of high expectations is tough.  Change and challenge are often the norm whether it comes from a new program being unveiled, a complete reshuffle due to a merger or parents moving into a care facility.  Too often the challenges become just too much and frequently trigger inflexibility, feelings of overwhelm and loss of composure.

You can build your capabilities so challenging times don’t take you out.  Watch your resilience meter grow to full potential! Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills are fundamental to managing these stress points and maintaining health and well-being.  Six EI skills are pivotal to building your reservoir of emotional reserves: emotional self-awareness, self-regard, impulse control, stress tolerance, optimism, and flexibility.  A healthy use of these skills will build your positivity and create the leverage to promote success at the workplace and personally.

Resilience is of growing interest as researchers demonstrate its influence on physical and mental health, well-being, the aging process and overall quality of life.  Additionally there is growing recognition of the benefits to teams and workplace productivity with a resilient workforce.  There is also a connection with the willingness to take on risks and to explore creative options. If we feel more positive about ourselves and life, we have the energy to experiment.

You have many strategies available to help expand your resilience.  This article will provide tips and strategies as well as review some of the key recognitions about resilience and its connection with positivity.  The root for the word “resilience” is “resile,” which means “to bounce or spring back.” Thus a key part of the definition of resilience is to bounce back.  The definition has expanded to include the ability to contain challenges and to develop reserves that can be tapped into when one is faced with environmental pressures and demands.  When we speak of resilience, we are referring to the ability to keep things in perspective so that many potential challenges are simply taken in stride.  When a large challenge surfaces, there is likely to be stress, but the reserve strength built with resilience allows us to contain the issue rather than going down a negative and downward spiral that starts feeding itself.

Assets and resources within us, our lives and our environment facilitate the capacity for adapting and bouncing back when there is adversity.  Our resilience is likely to ebb and flow not only across our lifetime but even across the day or week if there is a lot going on.  Yet, the more habits we have developed to build and maintain our positivity, the less we will give in to negative emotions and the more we will intentionally seek positive emotions that will enhance our capacities.

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity, Crown Publishing, (2009) and Love 2.0, Hudson St. Press, (2013), has provided a great deal to help us understand the field of positivity, which is closely related to resilience.  Should you be working as a coach or team facilitator it’s likely you’ll use the two concepts interchangeably.  As a lead scientist in the field of positivity, Fredrickson demonstrates through her research and that of colleagues that living with a high level of positivity has measurably positive results.

Benefits of Positivity / Resilience

•    Psychological benefits include being more optimistic, more open minded and more willing to check out possibilities.  First, being positive feels good!  Being open minded is critical to noticing and considering multiple options to a challenge.  It means that money, resources, or possibilities aren’t left on the table because our vision is too narrow to see them.  Negativity constricts our thinking and our vision.  It’s costly!
•    Mental benefits include expanding awareness and mindfulness.  It opens our thinking capacity to new possibilities. With positivity we can be better at savoring what works instead of being focused on what doesn’t.  Right away you can see the difference in your stress levels and the toll taken when you are focusing on the positive compared to the negative.

•    Social benefits pay out at the individual, team and workplace levels.  With positivity we have more resilience. Emotions are contagious, thus sharing positive emotions and actions creates an upward spiral of expanding relationships, which then creates reserves for getting through hard times and conflict together.  Resilience is indispensable if collaboration is truly going to occur. There is also interesting research showing that when we approach people with an emphasis on positive engagement racial bias is reduced or disappears.  Positivity, p. 67-68. That has amazing potential!
•    Physical benefits include a higher quality of life and a longer one.  As Barbara Fredrickson writes “positivity is now linked to solid and objective biological markers of health.  For instance, people’s positivity predicts lower levels of stress-related hormones and higher levels of growth related and bond related hormones. Positivity also sends out more dopamine and opioids, enhances immune system functioning and diminishes inflammatory responses to stress.  With positivity you are literally steeped in a different biochemical stew.”  Positivity, pp. 93-94. Thus positivity results in lower blood pressure, less pain, fewer colds and better sleep.  Rest assured for this and the many other health benefits she cites, she backs her assertions up with research citations.  There is even research showing the power of hugs, wonderful, feel-good, authentically caring touch.  Now we knew that, didn’t we!
Three studies reported in a 2006 article on resilience and positivity later in life found that daily positive emotions serve to moderate stress reactivity and mediate stress recovery. They found that differences in psychological resilience accounted for meaningful variation in daily emotional responses to stress. Higher resilience predicted that negative emotions wouldn’t be as impactful, particularly on days characterized by heightened stress. Additionally they found that the experience of positive emotions functions to assist high-resilient individuals in their ability to recover effectively from daily stress. “Psychological resilience, positive emotions, and successful adaptation to stress in later life.” By Ong, Anthony D.; Bergeman, C. S.; Bisconti, Toni L.; Wallace, Kimberly A. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 91(4), Oct 2006, 730-749.

Tips and Strategies
Use your emotional intelligence to grow your positivity and be more resilient.  This is an internal strength so the key skills to grow, which are found in the EQi 2.0 are: self-regard, emotional self-awareness, stress tolerance, flexibility, impulse control and optimism.  The key team competencies focused on in the TESI are Positive Mood and Stress Tolerance.

You can expand your individual resilience by:
•    Redefining productivity from working on emails to getting with someone
•    Prioritize meditation, fun and family
•    Recognize that you are a part of something bigger than yourself
•    Embrace your bigger YES!
•    Develop your 2% Solution as I describe in my book, Life’s 2% Solution.

Team resilience can be expanded by:
•    Recognize that positivity and trust go hand in hand because positivity supports deepening relationships.  Develop positivity deliberately.
•    Social connections are at the heart of team success so take time for building connections – and emphasize it even more if you have a virtual team.  Do something fun together, have a pot luck lunch, and start meetings with going around the team and asking everyone to comment on something particularly interesting or important to them.
•    Our sense of connection drives our willingness to be helpful.  This is the heart of collaboration.  Create connections, have team members work in small groups and then take time to reflect on the experience.  Build awareness of the interpersonal connections as well as of the objective details of the project.

10 Actions to Make Your 2014 a Year of Authentic Success

success_pathDoes this picture reflect a conversation between your ideal self (how you would most like to live) and your real self (how you really live)?  Authentic success integrates these two parts into a happier and more successful you.  Our article was so successful 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 2014.

10 Actions to Make Your
2014 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 2014.
  2. 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.nothing_wrong_quote
  3. 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:
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Carpe diem!  Seize the day.
    Action:  Today is the only version of this day you’ll ever have.  Take advantage of it!
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Acting with Collaborative Intelligence: Your 10 Step Guide

team_hugCollaboration is a result of people working together to reach a mutual answer to a challenge or opportunity.  As our world becomes more integrated and boundaries become more blurred the need and desire to collaborate is heightened.  We see this on the internet, such as with Wikipedia, in organizations of all sizes and shapes, such as the better efforts at the United Nations and in performance goals for individuals and leaders, such as the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ’s) that leaders in the federal senior executive service are to meet.

Organizations frequently list collaboration as part of their mission or vision statement or as one of their values.  With all of these forms of embracing collaboration, we know it’s something good, the key question is how do we collaborate and when is it useful? We’ll answer this question for individuals by exploring 10 steps for individuals to follow in order to act collaboratively and briefly review how teams build collaboration.

Collaborative Growth Team ModelCollaborative Intelligence™ is a key outcome teams can reach as they build their skills.  Collaborative intelligence is a result teams profit from when using the seven skills measured by the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey.  When teams build their skills in forming a strong team identity, engaging with motivation, building emotional awareness, enhancing communications, supporting one another in work life balance to manage stress, growing their conflict resolution skills so they can benefit when conflict occurs and act with positive mood they will be engaging multiple strengths and acting collaboratively.  Developing these seven skills helps team members learn how to be collaborative and to use this outcome wisely.

Collaboration is a communication and problem solving process that is based on a structured engagement style and process.  Those who collaborate well pay attention to personality styles, behavioral engagement strategies, and timing of the decision making as well as who is invited into the discussion, often referred to a stakeholders.  Individuals and organizations can act in a collaboratively style informally and accomplish a great deal.  More formal collaborative process can be deliberately engaged in more challenging situations and may benefit from engaging a facilitator.  Because the process can be slow and deliberative it may be the wrong formal process to use in an emergency, when a quick decision is needed or when the stakes are low, such as choosing where to have lunch.  Even in these circumstances when individuals act with a demonstration of inclusivity and intentionally listen to others and incorporate their suggestions as appropriate, they can build buy-in and loyalty that expands their base of support. The following 10 steps will help individuals and leaders be successful in their collaborations.  These skills can be integrated into one’s natural behaviors so the benefits of collaboration abound with minimal effort.

10 Steps to Act with Collaborative Intelligence

1.     Be aware.  Notice what is happening so you can choose how you are involved.  Breathe deeply to benefit from adding oxygen to your brain, to your heart and to feel calm and resilient.

2.     Apply Intention and Attention.  Form your intention so you know specifically what you want to accomplish and how.  Then decide what steps in the process you will pay attention to in order to keep yourself on track.  Intend to collaborate, which means intend to work together, to listen and to respond in order to accomplish your goal together.  Clarify your own purpose and goals; this is not a process you can accomplish on auto-pilot.

3.     Commit to the process.  Collaboration takes time, energy and patience. If you’re hesitant about using the process you’ll hold back, be protective of “your” information or rush through the process.  One way or another without commitment you are most likely to minimize the potential for success.  You may end up feeling annoyed or antagonizing others or both.

4.     Attend to others.  Create a foundation for engagement by creating a personal connection.  It’s out of little personal discussions where you find you have things in common that form the basis for trusting one another.  You might find you both have daughters who sell Girl Scout cookies or you might both climb 14,000 foot mountains. Continue paying attention to other participants throughout the process.  Often there is a valuable message behind the specific words someone is using; paying attention will help you discern the real message.

5.     Mutually establish goals and other criteria. Be sure you are headed in the same direction!

6.     Express your opinions and share your knowledge.  If you keep what you know close to your vest you undermine the ability of everyone to make a good decision, you role model that the process isn’t fully trustworthy and neither are the people involved.  Remember your actions speak louder than your words.

7.     List commonalities and differences.  It’s amazing how often people struggle over principles they already all agree on because they didn’t take time to recognize the agreement. If you clarify where there are differences and where you agree then you can begin gathering information to move towards a mutual solution.

8.     Apply divergent thinking.  Be willing to listen to other people’s perspectives even though they may be very different from yours.  At attitude of curiosity will be helpful.

9.     Be appreciative.  Keep noticing what works and through this positive process explore what seems to be off-center, to just not work.  Explore these inconsistencies with curiosity to find points of agreement.

10.  Make decision(s).  At this point everyone comes to a convergent answer and agrees to support the one answer.  Before you sign off though, apply some hearty reality testing.  Future pace by imaging it’s sometime in the future and you’re observing how well the decision works.  Is anything askew?  Did you take on too much at once?  Does anything else need adjusting?  If so make the changes now.

The result of collaborative decisions is that you have tapped into everyone’s smarts, built trust and have gained mutual commitment to success.  What’s not to like about that scenario!

Authentic Success for 2013

How was your 2012? What are you seeking for your personal success indicators in 2013? 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. 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 2013.

10 Actions to Make Your

2013 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 2013.

2. 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.

3. 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:

There is nothing wrong with me that what is right with me can’t fix!

4. 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.

 

5. 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.

6. Carpe diem! Seize the day.

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

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

The Full Circle of Collaborative Intelligence

In this final week of October we will wrap up our discussion on Collaborative Intelligence (CQ, CI). In the previous two blogs we evaluated motivation, team identity, emotional awareness, and communication. These are skills and behaviors that successful teams seek out when improving CQ. The circle isn’t complete without these final three. In this blog stress tolerance, conflict resolution, a positive mood are examined.

Stress tolerance is the skill of holding the world’s parade of unpleasant surprises at bay. Using other skills such as emotional awareness, conflict resolution, and communication will allow a group to deal with stress earlier in the development and thus make it more manageable. Dealing with adversity and turning challenges into opportunities is the best outcome of stress tolerance.

Conflict resolution is the process employed by individuals and teams facing confrontation. What team do in the face of adversity can define the group. when you’re willing to entertain change and conflict, giving up much of the illusion that you’re in control, you and your team can actually find powerful new levels of success.

One attribute that can effect conflict resolution and stress tolerance is a Positive Mood. Optimism and simple happiness have a lot to do with this type of attitude. As a leader, when people look to you during adversity and you can reflect a positive mood the results are exponential.

These skills and behaviors are the first steps needed to raise the collaborative intelligence of a group. When analyzing a group be sure to recognize your own deeds first. Leading by example has always been the most effective way to create a positive a environment.

Building Collaborative Intelligence with Emotional Awareness and Communication

On the last post we began discussing what it takes to enhance a team’s collaborative intelligence (CQ, CI). On that post we discussed motivation and team identity. On this post we will highlight emotional awareness and communication as fundamental skills in developing with a team’s collaboration.

Emotional awareness is one of the most underutilized of the qualities. Emotions are a rich resource of data and good data leads to good decisions. Understanding emotions improves performance, which drives results.

What makes communication effective is a vast topic; it is the everyday infrastructure that defines our career paths and our most cherished relationships. For a collaboration to be brought to its fullest potential all the participants have to have the ability to relate and respond to their ideas and observations.

Build CQ with Team Identity and Motivation

Build CQ with Team Identity and Motivation

Does your team or group struggle with productivity?  Come at it with a new twist.  Instead of deciding to fix a little part go for the gold and build Collaborative Intelligence (CI or CQ). Developing Collaborative Intelligence (CI or CQ) within a group or team takes effort and recognition of the value CQ brings to the table. Some degree of collaborative intelligence may already exist in a group, however without acknowledging its effect and attempting to utilize that intelligence, inefficiencies and redundancies will plague the team. Honing key skills and behaviors with the direct intention of improving your team’s CQ will improve their partnerships and productivity.  The 7 key skills measured by the TESI http://theemotionallyintelligentteam.com are the indicators of a team’s capacity to build CQ.  Those 7 begin with:

Team Identity through which team members find a purpose for their work. This might seem a bit elementary, but it remains critical that everybody within the group finds a personal reason to engage and a reason for the whole team to exist.  How else do they measure success or feel proud?

Next comes team motivation, which measures the commitment to mobilize their three basic resources: time, energy and intelligence. When every member understands and stands behind the goals of the group the more likely they are to be motivated. Building this feeling in people is what makes great leaders.