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?
In a recent conversation, a small group of us were talking about caring for elderly parents. We discussed the tension that exists between supporting parental independence and increasing health challenges. One friend said, “I just remind myself to stay on my yoga mat.” I laughed and then realized the brilliance of the statement.
In meditation and yoga, it’s easy to have your mind wander as you settle into a class. One yoga instructor likened it to being a puppy…jumping from one place to the other. Or better said, “having a hard time staying on your yoga mat!” In addition, a goal of a yoga class is to focus on what you can do on your mat and not worry about what others are doing.
In our conversation about aging parents we agreed, that it’s easy to jump in and rescue, sometimes when it’s not even needed or wanted. Yep, jump right off that yoga mat.
Where else do we jump off our yoga mat?
Vulnerability is a word loaded with baggage. It is a word that often connotes weakness, confusion, even “being stuck”. Yet, if we look at vulnerability with more curiosity we can see that it potentially is one of those great pivot point words. If we pivot away from the judging of vulnerability, we can actually shift towards connection, collaboration and opportunity.
Try this on. Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you feel a little vulnerable admitting the mistake? We all make mistakes, yet, in the workplace, we are often cautious to discuss our errors. We are not intentionally trying to make mistakes, we are just human! We can often feel vulnerable when we make mistakes and fear being judged or dismissed. Yet, as Amy Rees Anderson from Forbes wrote “good employees make mistakes, great leaders allow them to”. [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…]
Do you remember the first time you were assigned to be a supervisor or manager? How steep was your learning curve? What was harder for you…managing your team or managing your boss? Did you come to the leadership role naturally? Or, was it a struggle to feel like it was a fit and you secretly longed for you “old job” where things were easier? Over the years, I’ve heard managers pronounce after learning a new skill…”I wish I knew that when I first became a manager!”
As a manager, what do you wish you had known and learned first of all? Do you wish you had known more about people or tasks? More often than not I hear people wishing they had more skills in building their team, delegating responsibilities, managing meetings, and navigating challenging conversations. Many managers learn management skills by trial and error. Others learn by watching their own managers. Some read about management.
How did you learn to be a supervisor or manager? [Read more…]
May 10, 2017 was 50/50 Day. Around the world, people gathered to watch a 20 minute film by Tiffani Schlain. Viewers then participated in conversations using a well-crafted discussion guide. The guide encouraged groups to discuss equity, power and the arc of women’s history. It ends with an invitation to “pull the next one up”; an invitation to overcome challenges together. [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?
Meet 13 year old Eagle Huntress Aisholpan. This young woman trained with her father to become the first female in twelve generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter in the Mongolian steppe. In this documentary, viewers watch a determined daughter and father overcome cultural and physical challenges. Together they journey into the mountains of Mongolia to capture an eaglet and train the bird to hunt for their family. The film ends with Asiholpan competing at the Golden Eagle Festival. At times the film’s story line is oversimplified, yet this is a compelling story of young women who’s father was her true believer. He believed in her talents, even when others doubted them. He created opportunities for her be a successful Eagle Huntress.
Who has been your true believer? A parent? spouse? colleague?
In an earthquake, rocks move past each other along fault lines. These shifts are often explosive in energy and can result in minor to major changes to the landscape. In organizations, we often experience the same slips, slides and shifts. In the last 4 months, I’ve come across multiple teams who are struggling to find their way. They became very fractured during our recent political season. Should we find ways to address the divides or is it best to adopt the “we don’t talk about politics in the office” stand? [Read more…]
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.