August Pullman is a 10-year-old boy who likes Star Wars and Xbox, ordinary except for his jarring facial anomalies. He shares his story in Wonder, a children’s book written for all ages. August pulls classmates, parents, and teachers into a dialogue about kindness and wonder. Six million people have read this book and it will be released as a film in November 2017. Are we just hungry for a sprinkle of wonder and kindness or is there something deeper going on in our communities and workplaces?
It is summer and that time of year when people tend to shift their routines to take a break. It’s a time when traditions appear on the calendar: a BBQ with friends, a trip to the beach, a family reunion or even a vacation. The question is how do we ensure these traditions are also times of recharging and refueling. How are you doing at recharging your batteries this summer?
In talking to people about their summer plans, it seems one of the biggest challenge is how to truly step away from work. In some ways, our technology allows us to step away because we can flex our schedules. However, if we are stepping away and still staying connected throughout our time off are we really recharging? If we are feeling obligated to check email and texts on vacation, are we truly unwinding and refueling?
Much has been written about the importance of taking time away from work and focusing on family, friends, hobbies, and rest. Digital Detox is easy in concept but unless organizations put policies in place to support times for recharge, it’s difficult to unplug. People fear falling behind at work or coming back to work with 100’s of unanswered emails. What is your workplace doing to support you in taking time away from work? What structures would help you to fully disengage from work and focus on your summer refueling? What can you do to take ownership of your digital detox?
Some organizations now make it a requirement that employees not check their emails. In fact, there are some that even pay you a bonus if you don’t check email. Others, inform email senders that an employee is on vacation and that the sender’s email will not be received. The sender is invited to resend the email after the end of the employee’s vacation. Creating organizational structures and policies for people to recharge results in a more energetic work force.
Call it “Unplugging”. Digital Detox. Sabbath Manifesto. Optimize Brain Function whatever but the research is telling us if we turn off FOMO(Fear of Missing Out) and work through the digital withdrawal that we really can recover and recharge.
What can you do to ensure that your summer tradition becomes a recharge time? You deserve it.
At a recent ecology presentation, the speaker recalled how she had fallen in love with nature camping in the Rocky Mountain National Park.She referenced one park ranger who particularly influenced her because the ranger carried a stethoscope on all their nature hikes. The ranger would often hold the stethoscope up to a tree and listen. It made me wonder, are there other careers where we could be carry stethoscopes?
There is something delightful about a park ranger holding up a stethoscope to the trunk of a large pine tree. I can only imagine the wonder in children’s eyes as they hope to hear the heartbeat of a tree.Perhaps they heard noises of insects in the bark or if wildly imaginative, the rushing of water from the roots to the trees and sugars pouring down from leaves to roots.
What would you hear if you carried a stethoscope? [Read more…]
When you arrive at a meeting do you feel synergy or silos? Do you notice that people are working together and recognizing that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts? Or do you experience silos, territories, and guarded boundaries of “that’s not our responsibility”. Robert Greenleaf reminds us of the challenge of silo versus synergy in his reflection on serving…”how can institutions become more serving? I see no other way than that the people who inhabit it serve it better and work together toward synergy—the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.”
You may have experienced organizations that work in silos. Many books, articles and trainings are offered to help break down silos. Unfortunately, management structures, policies, and team dynamics often result in separation of teams into silos. Building synergistic teams takes practice, intention and a belief that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. [Read more…]
Over 250,000 people walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain last year. Walkers from all over the world came to experience this sacred trek.Their range of motivations included exercise, culture, religion, nature, and adventure. Throughout human history various cultural and religious groups have conducted pilgrimages. Now, pilgrimages attract walkers who just want time and space for reflection.What would it be like if you integrated a pilgrimage into your professional development plan this year? Consider a local pilgrimage as a way to integrate more reflection into your personal and professional growth.
SET INTENTIONS: A pilgrimage should be more than a good long walk for exercise in an exotic place.The idea is to set intentions with a focus on reflection more than fitness. Some walks will have spiritual underpinnings, many will include themes of disconnecting from technology, creating space for transformative thinking, connecting with nature and realigning with more meaningful work with colleagues.
In sacred pilgrimages, walkers set their intentions around healing, penance, thanksgiving, worship or enlightenment. In a reflective growth pilgrimage, you set your intentions based on what is most pressing for you at this time in your life. Pilgrimage themes include peace, justice, gratitude, hope, transformation, leadership and service. Walking with fellow pilgrims interested in one of these topics will allow you to have space for reflection and shared insights.
PLAN THE TREK: Planning the route of your pilgrimage needs to be intentional. It does not need to be an expensive international trip. It just needs to be a place that inspires and energizes you. Consider a route that inspires and challenges you both mentally and physically. What natural or built environments could lend metaphorical meaning to the trek?
I am helping a small group plan a local pilgrimage with intentions that focus on hope and gratitude. One of my wiser colleagues said during our planning stages…”gratitude is the engine that drives hope”.
We will begin our trek on a quiet beach in a cove that is protected by giant shade trees. Our first intention is to think about a time when we were in a dark place and found our way into a more hopeful path. We will walk in silence to begin this reflection. We will then share our experiences with a partner as we climb up out of the cove to the top of the sunlit ridge above.
From there the walk will move into other themes of hope and gratitude. Our plan is to walk across a local bridge as a metaphor for the transition into hope. We will finish at a cliff overlooking the ocean. At this spot a group of people have slowly been building a labyrinth one stone at a time. We will end there with our reflections on gratitude and contribute our stones to the pathways of the labyrinth.
DISTANCE: Pilgrimages can be any distance. Ours will be 12-15 miles as we wanted to experience the different shades of light: morning, mid day and late day light. Pick a distance that will support your goals. Take your time. Walk slowly and appreciate each sight, sound, and smell you encounter. Breathe deeply and keep returning your thoughts to the intentions you set for the journey. Stay open-minded and be willing for the unexpected to occur. Don’t try to force inspiration to come. Just relax and allow it to emerge within you.
Start Thinking and Planning:
What would you like to focus on during your pilgrimage?
Who will be your fellow walkers?
Where would you like to walk?
Look at your calendar, when will you walk?
Are you being sucked into workplace drama? Are you being pulled into a problem focused management style? Drama can drain the energy right out of you. Infact,
- Managers can spend up to 40% of their time focusing on workplace drama.
- U.S. employees spend 2.1 hours per week involved with conflict, which amounts to approximately $359 billion in paid hours (based on an average hourly earnings of $17.95), or the equivalent of 385 million working days.
The Banyan Tree is a species of fig tree that grows aerial prop roots; thick supporting trunks. Prop roots allow the Banyan Tree to provide additional anchorage and support. The circling of prop roots allows these enormous trees to not only grow taller but also wider. A large Banyan Tree can be over 100 feet( 30 meters) wide.
Prop roots provide a wonderful metaphor for individuals and teams learning to leverage their collective strengths. Questions to consider:
- What are your prop roots?
- Who are your prop roots?
- In what situations do you not rely on prop roots?
- In what situations might you consider growing more prop roots?
Winona LaDuke, an internationally renowned Native American Indian activist and advocate for environmental, women’s, and children’s rights wrote: “I’d like to be a person my ancestors are proud of, and I’d like to be a person that my descendants thank. I think most of us would.”
This quote challenges us to think about what we are most proud of as individuals? families? communities and organizations. It draws us in to an exploration of our legacy at the smallest and largest scale. What do we want for our children and our friend’s children? What do we want to leave our ancestors?
As we begin a new year, LaDuke challenges us to think beyond the immediate and cast our personal vision out into the future. She challenges us to think about social justice, environmental issues, and equity not only for today but for the future.
The new year is an ideal time for individuals, families, communities, and businesses of all sizes to reflect on their vision for the future. [Read more…]
When was the last time a friend or colleague said to you: “You are a good listener” or “That is a great idea, thanks” or “ I appreciate your insight and time, that was super helpful.”
For many of us, sharing out talents and strengths with others comes very easily. We generously give our ideas, hearts, abilities, knowledge, expertise and experience to others. What would happen if you turned that same generosity on yourself? What if you turned your talents on you? [Read more…]
Abbess Fu Schroeder, of the Green Gulch Zen center wrote “We are not like-minded but we are like-hearted….take that to the streets and make that our world”.
Teams, groups, families, communities often notice their differences. Celebrating differences is actually a strength. Yet often, we let our differences divide us rather than bring us together. The challenge is to recognize that we are indeed NOT like minded yet we are like-hearted. That is indeed a strength.
What does like-hearted look and sound like in your community or organization? Perhaps it begins with learning to look for hope. Getting clear about what we mean by hope is a challenge and yet that there are so many small glimmers of hope if we look. It’s like looking at a reflection of a mountain in pond. If we look carefully at the reflection, we see so many new features of the mountain we had not noticed before. [Read more…]