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6 Facts about Burnout Leaders Need to Understand

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This article is a guest post provided by Bridget Hernandez  It is provided to supplement the interview with Peter Weng and Rich Fernandez, as part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  Their interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Mindfulness and the Benefits in the Work Place aired on Tuesday, April 20th, 2021.

 

Being an executive is not an easy position to be in. Their primary duty is to accomplish the goals of the organization while leading others effectively. They must find a balance between successfully fulfilling the goals and yet not overwhelming their employees.  Burning out employees and causing stress and anxiety to manifest within the company goes contrary to effective leadership.

According to Forbes, 96% of employees believe that empathy is a key ingredient for employee retention, yet 61% of employees feel burned out on the job. In addition, Small Biz Genius reported that 90% of employees are willing to stay on board if the company takes action on the feedback they gather. Understandably, only 28% of employees stated that their company is great in terms of coaching, recognition, and overall employee engagement.

Burnout is nothing to scoff at as it can cause severe issues for your employees and their quality of work if you manage it incorrectly. That being said, let’s take a look at some hard facts about burnout, which leaders should be aware of in the post-COVID-19 world.

 

1. What are the Symptoms of Employee Burnout?

Let’s talk about the common tells of employee burnout before we delve further into the facts surrounding the issue. The best way in which you can help your employees or colleagues deal with burnout is to simply recognize it quickly once it manifests.

We are all prone to burnout, especially with the added stress of insecure employment prospects and social distancing as prescribed by the World Health Organization. Thus, some of the most common and telling ways in which you can tell someone is burned out is by recognizing the following symptoms:

  • Complaints about physical and mental fatigue
  • Recent lack of motivation and poor mood
  • Drops in work performance and output
  • Quieter and less communicative than before
  • Loss of appetite and self-medication at work
  • Recognizable lack of sleep and twitchiness

2. Monotony and Stagnation Lead to Burnout

Inherently, we all crave a dynamic and exciting workflow. Depending on the type of work your company does, this may or may not be possible. Customer support agents or sales specialists have a set of standard obligations that need tending day in and day out.

As a leader, your job is to make the work environment as dynamic and lively as possible. Monotonous work can be mind-numbing even for experts who are fully dedicated to their careers. Find ways to mix up the workflow of your employees as much as possible by introducing team duties, brainstorming meetings, and group breaks or lunchtime.

3. No Work Can Be Done Efficiently Under Burnout

High-performing individuals on your team will only perform well for a certain amount of time. Once their “high” has passed, burnout can set in quickly. Avoid putting too much pressure on single individuals, no matter how good they may be at their work. Delegate workload based on the number of employees and duties which need tending to strike a better balance. This can mitigate the effects of pressure on your team and lower the odds of burnout.

Steven Riley, Head of HR and Content Writer at Trust My Paper, said that: “It doesn’t matter if your employees load/unload goods physically, operate support phones, or write articles online – burnout can happen at any time. An important task can wait until tomorrow if your employees are already on edge and simply want to go home for the day. If burnout sets in, you will lose time regardless of the work done under pressure – learn to take it easy.”

4. Employee Burnout Can Spread Easily

Unfortunately, burnout is contagious and can cause severe issues for your team. This makes it important to address burnout on an individual basis and not wait for a group of people to raise their voices at once. An effective way to combat burnout is to introduce one-on-one coaching and team meetings that don’t revolve around work.

Simply talk about your staff’s wellbeing, what you can improve, and how everyone is doing with the increased workload. You can also introduce a rotating “free day” for everyone on the staff to work from home for a day in order to refocus. As we’ve mentioned, proper employee engagement is oftentimes all it takes to avoid burnout in your team. Be proactive and talk to your staff about how they feel – they will appreciate the gesture immensely.

5. Remote Work Can Still Cause Burnout

Speaking of remote work management, it too is not exempt from burnout. Modern employees often have trouble separating work from private life, and remote work doesn’t help in that regard. While they lack contact with colleagues, they are also constantly sent more and more work, which needs to be done “ASAP,” or else.

Remote work is a tool to be used in order to make workflow easier – not as a means to make employees work more than before. Thus, be extra wary of remote work management and pay close attention to your staff’s mental wellbeing if you operate remotely. Help your employees separate private obligations from work-related duties, and their risk of burnout will drop off organically as a result.

6. What are the Common Causes of Employee Burnout?

Before we wrap up, let’s tackle the common causes which lead to employee burnout. Leaders and managers typically attribute burnout to employees and distance themselves from any agency in the matter.

The truth is far from that simple, as managers can cause said burnout more often than not. If you avoid the following points in your team management efforts, burnout should become less of an issue. However, every individual is a human being in and of themselves – learn to recognize your staff’s “tells” when it comes to burnout.

  • Poor recognition of accomplished tasks (reward is even more work)
  • Toxic and unsupportive team culture (multiple people are burned out)
  • Incorrect or insufficient work instructions (time wasted on fixing mistakes)
  • Outright punishment for failed tasks (minus to income or vacation days)
  • Inherent requirement for employees to multitask (one employee, two jobs)
  • Lack of care or channels for employee feedback (no bottom-up communication)

We’re all Only Human (Conclusion)

Everyone needs and deserves some time off before serious burnout sets in. If left unmanaged, burnout can have long-term consequences for your staff and cause them to leave the company outright due to poor employee engagement.

Even if you choose to shift to remote work conditions, burnout can seep in and wreak havoc in your ranks without you knowing about it. Be proactive, be responsible, and be the leader your staff deserves to have at the helm – they will undoubtedly respond to your actions in kind.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Bridgette Hernandez is a professional Content Writer at Subjecto and Chief Editor at Supreme Dissertations writing services. Her career is focused on writing, publishing, and contributions to a number of industries, including digital marketing, academic writing, and business development, among others. Bridgette is a close associate and guest writer with Top Essay Writing, where she works on academic research and term papers for students in need. In her spare time, Bridgette is a reader, swimmer, and chef.

 

The Art of Managing Time

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This article was previously published on the SIYLI blog (Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute.)  It is provided to supplement the interview with Peter Weng and Rich Fernandez, as part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  Their interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Mindfulness and the Benefits in the Work Place aired on Tuesday, April 20th, 2021.

 

Peter Weng, the founder of the EWS Collective, worked in the corporate world for more than 20 years and was a director at Google before leaving to focus on a mission of helping others develop their mindfulness, well-being, and performance. Given his background in information and data, it’s remarkable that he chooses to limit his access to technology. His home internet router shuts off daily with a tightly scheduled timer, and his cell phone is often in airplane mode on the weekends. But by avoiding television, mobile internet access and even meditation apps, he’s found more time to pursue, in addition to work, the things he loves—surfing (when he was in his early twenties, he surfed about 30 hours a week), music (he’s been a gigging musician in several countries), dancing (he was a semi-professional rollerdisco dancer) and his own mindfulness practice. Ultimately, all of these habits have helped him learn how to be less reactive, become more patient, manage his time more efficiently and focus on what he values most.

Here he shares his views and practices on mindfulness:

How did you first learn about mindfulness?
Visiting Chan Buddhist monks from Taiwan were teaching weekly sessions at the University of Texas at Austin when I was living in Austin, Texas. I happened upon the sessions while waiting for a friend who was doing research there. The teachings from those monks were so practical and pragmatic—it just made sense to me. My mindfulness practice started at that time about 20 years ago.

 How has mindfulness shaped your life, both in the workplace and personally? 
It’s a bit frightening if I consider how mindfulness practice has shifted things in my personal and professional life. In my personal life, personal time has shifted to retreats and meditation groups. I previously served on the board of Insight Santa Cruz, a meditation center in the Insight/Theravada Buddhist tradition.

Professionally, I left my corporate career—and the interesting things associated with that career, such as being invited to attend economic forums at the White House—to focus on helping spread mindfulness practices. Throughout, I have striven to keep technology from dominating life, even when I worked in technology companies.

What’s your daily mindfulness practice like?
For daily practice, my preference is for breath-focused and body-scan meditations, both as seated practices and incorporated into moments and space throughout the day—on the bus, waiting in line, etc. I also journal at night. For journaling, I’ve been tracking my activities every day for about 30 years. It ‘s been incredibly helpful to review my journal each month to assess whether I’m living the way I would like to live. Reading the issues that I write about has also been interesting to see how my priorities have shifted over time.

The best way for me to make time to practice is to prevent myself from being online at night and morning. So, for this, I’ve set up my internet router on a timer that shuts off my at 9:30 p.m. and doesn’t turn on again until 8 a.m. on weekdays or 10 a.m. on weekends. On weekends, it’s also off from 12 to 5 p.m.  This prevents me from randomly clicking on things at night, so I can get to sleep at a decent hour, or wasting my weekend days online. In the morning, it prevents me from getting online right away and running out of time.

Why do you find it important to limit your exposure to technology?
I find technology addicting, and with unlimited access to technology I end up spending time in ways I don’t find the most fulfilling. Limiting my own access to technology has allowed me to devote more time to my passions.

In the mid-’90s, my colleagues found out that I didn’t watch TV—because I was always silent when discussions on TV shows happened—and convinced me to buy a television. I bought one that Friday afternoon. The next morning, I spent the entire morning mesmerized by the moving pictures on the TV and missed out on beautiful surf conditions. I was so upset to have missed the surf session that I returned the TV that afternoon and never missed out on surfing because of the TV again.

The weird social pressures, consumerism, and negative worldview that are carried through popular media also concern me. I read the news every day because I feel that it’s important and aligns with a mindfulness practice to be aware of what is happening in the world, but I try to obtain my news from sources that focus on reporting rather than sensationalism. I have a subscription to The Economist and, for leisure reading, The New Yorker.

In addition to time limits on the internet, I often leave my phone at home on weekends when I go out or put it on airplane mode to prevent me from reading email all the time. In a somewhat unplanned way, I subscribed to a terrible phone service that doesn’t offer reliable mobile internet service, so I don’t use my phone to access information online, except for Google Maps and email. Maps I find useful, so it’s really email on the phone that I am most wary about.

I feel that sheltering myself from the bombardment of ads in popular media reduces the clutter in my mind. There are certain things that I hear others talk about that I think are related to the influence of popular media—concerns about status, wealth, etc. Also, limiting technology allows me to actually do my mindfulness practices—because if I didn’t limit it, I might spend all my time online. I have a weakness for surfing videos on YouTube.

How do you feel about meditation apps? 
I stopped using meditation apps. Some of the apps are excellent and helpful in general. But the meditation app I liked the most gave me data about when I practiced, the length of practice, etc. I became obsessed with the data and would export it to a spreadsheet and look at my daily averages over time. It’s embarrassing to admit this, but I used to worry that if I meditated for a shorter time on any given day it would impact my daily average, which I’d have to make up later in the week. It was a striving mindset, which wasn’t a healthy or productive way to conduct my mindfulness practice. It’s better for me to not have that data.

How has your mindfulness practice benefited your leadership abilities?
The biggest impact has been around my reactivity. I’m impatient and react strongly to things. In my work history, I have often had challenges with being reactive when issues came up. Mindfulness practice has helped me improve on this, and I’ve been able to reduce the frequency and intensity of expressing my negative reactions. It’s an ongoing process, but this was a focus area of my practice and definitely an area from which I’ve benefited.

And on a personal level?
I notice many small rewards regularly, which are fun to observe. I mentioned my impatience, and mindfulness has made waiting more enjoyable. Delays are now a bonus because I can fit in some more mindfulness practice while I wait.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Peter Weng is the founder of the EWS Collective. Peter is focused on supporting individuals and organizations to optimize the balance of well-being and performance. As a corporate executive (Google, Dell) and well-being/mindfulness non-profit leader (HMI, SIYLI) he has implemented systems of well-being and performance in companies, governmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations around the world.

 

5 Ways to Rewire Your Brain for Creativity

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This blog is provided by Albin Morgan, a guest writer.  It is a companion to the interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Becoming a Better Leader: Daily Leadership Development with Ron Riggio that aired on Tuesday, February 9th, 2021.

 

Did you know that you possess the power to rewire your brain and tune up your cognitive abilities? Well, you do. For the past decade, brain scientists have been releasing more and more proof that points to this possibility. The proof shows that the human brain is incredibly plastic, meaning that all you need to do is find the right habits and routines and you will successfully rewire yours. If you choose and commit to changing your behavior and becoming happier, more creative, and optimally productive, you sure can pull that off. Here are 5 hacks that will rewire your brain and give you significant gains in creativity and performance.

  1. Leveraging creative coaching

A life coach who specializes in creative coaching will help you to start thinking in new and different ways. Creative coaching involves teaching people who struggle with creativity issues the art of expressing their emotions, solving problems, and generating new ideas in a better way. If thinking outside the box isn’t your strongest suit, perhaps you need to book an appointment with a life coach.

The relevance of gaining creative skills in the corporate world can never be overemphasized. Creativity helps corporate leaders and business owners to work through any barriers that could be holding them back. A reputable creativity coach will go beyond training you on how to gain clarity and understand issues better, to training you on how to resolve conflicts and see things from the best possible perspectives. That is why investing in a creative life coach is never a waste of time or money.

  1. Diversify mind inputs

All human beings are creatures of habit. The only variation from one person to the other is the degree to which our habits and routines have affected our minds. Whereas this makes us happy and comfortable, it also limits our mind inputs and leaves little or no room for creativity. Speaking to the same group of people, sharing the same ideas, cooking using the same recipes, and visiting the same places makes you good at what you do but does not necessarily improve your creativity. That is why, if you want to diversify and improve your output, you must be ready to leave your comfort zone and start doing things differently. Take a vacation abroad, for example. Strike up conversations with random people, learn a new language, start playing new video games, read far and wide, and challenge yourself to do things that you ordinarily would not do. The more new interactions you make, the more diverse your thinking capacity will be.

  1. As much as possible, don’t multitask

Multitasking basically means asking your brain not to focus on anything specific and instead spin as many plates as possible, with the end game for any of the spins not being definitive. It is almost impossible for a normal human mind to focus on so many things and still manage to leave room for creativity. That is why when something serious bothers you, you drop everything, get in the moment, focus all your attention and energy on the problem at hand, and eventually find a creative solution. Now think of what would become of your life if you allowed your brain room to think all the time by quitting multitasking. It would be great, of course. Stop piling up issues or forcing things that probably don’t need to be pushed. Take everything in and start solving issues as they come. That will help with your creativity.

  1. Practice mindful observation

Improving your observation skills will set up your brain to a path of discovery and creative thinking. Mindful observation means taking note of your surroundings and being alive to everything that happens around you, no matter the time or place. It is time you started appreciating the environment in which you live and appreciating the creativity of the people around you. Start noticing problems everywhere you go and, instead of feeling overwhelmed by them, volunteer to find workable and innovative solutions. That will help you tap into your creative energy.

  1. Take time out and do absolutely nothing

Doing nothing isn’t easy especially with all the work deadlines waiting for you on your desk, but you should try it nonetheless. Just set aside an hour from your busy schedule, hit the brakes, and forget about work. Too much focus and attention to new information destroys your ability to process new information fast or even to analyze it effectively. Relaxing is critical to your cognitive capabilities.

Conclusion

Being creative is surely magical. It helps you to inspire new ideas and gain the admiration of people around you. Being able to create something from nothingness is also motivational in its own way. If you wish to get that ability, then, by all means, invest your time, energy, and money to getting the right tools for your creativity uptake.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Albin Morgan is a guest writer.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

9 Things You Must Do for Your Brain

This is a guest post by Jon Wortmann, executive and mental coach, and speaker. It is the companion to the September 11, 2018 Voice America interview where he discusses Resilience: Don’t Get Hijacked by Your Brain.

Very few of us have been taught how to keep our brains healthy.

We know too many sweets are bad for our weight. It’s easy to remember too little sleep will affect our mood. Every child knows that a Band-Aid is the answer for a scrape or cut. But what about our brains? What are we supposed to do when our minds won’t stop spinning? What do we do when we feel stressed all the time?

Each of these nine behaviors will not only make your brain healthier, they are free and everyone can learn how to practice them.

1. Talk to strangers

The first thing most of us don’t realize our brains need is strangers. As I waited for the airport shuttle after a business trip, I struck up a conversation with a well-dressed, younger man. He had just returned from Dubai, and was in Boston for a gaming conference. I asked what he did. He was one of the world’s top Halo players doing demos at the conference. He was also a travel agent who flew to the Middle East for less than $300. He was writing a book on how I could too. He told me all the secrets. In a 10-minute conversation, I was intrigued, entertained, and already planning my next travel adventure.


Research shows talking to strangers makes us happier
. The why is what’s so important. Our brains are constantly stressed these days by too much to pay attention to. We feel on edge because we don’t know where to focus. That’s simply the alarm in your brain, your amygdala, overreacting. Talking to strangers immediately gives you something to focus on. You get a shot of adrenaline from the alarm because you want to make sure this person is safe, but you also begin, sentence by sentence, to feel incredibly engaged. Suddenly your fear of the new or unknown dissipates and your frontal lobes, which have to fire for your alarm to turn down, are in full gear. You enjoy the novelty of a fresh conversation. And in the future, there is a powerful kicker. You will see strangers as a potential friend rather than a certain threat.

2. Go away

Every brain needs time away. If the simple idea of a vacation doesn’t reduce your stress, consider one of America’s great thinkers. If Thoreau doesn’t leave Concord, Massashusetts and go into the woods, would he ever have become a celebrated writer and environmentalist?

Thoreau was away from his normal routine as a tutor and handyman. And in those two years, he was his most prolific and arguably successful as a writer. You don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money. He was two miles from home living off selling a few crops. But that’s not the only evidence that going away was good for his brain. When you read Walden, you realize being away, he had the time of his life.

3. Reframe everything negative

The third thing you must do for your brain is known in organizational behavior and political science circles, but not often enough in ordinary life. The technique is called reframing. Imagine your boss just yelled at you in front of the whole team. The negative thought that sparks your alarm is obvious: I am a failure. The possible reframes, however, are invaluable in jump-starting the rest of your day and your brain health. Imagine immediately, even in the middle of that scene, thinking, “Well, at least he noticed me.” Or, “That wasn’t fun, but it proves I can handle being embarrassed.”

When you reframe, you make an ugly thought into a positive one. It is not just positive thinking because you can’t lie to yourself and think you enjoyed the yelling. What you can do is think how the experience was valuable. When reframing becomes a habit, your alarm doesn’t have negative memories of experiences to shut you down in the future.

4. Reappraise everything painful

The twist on reframing is called reappraisal. Many thinkers and therapists use reappraisal as a synonym or type of reframing. I separate it here because it is too valuable not to emphasize. Reappraisal is making meaning out of an ugly situation. The boss yells, you think, “I’ll be ready for him next time.” Or, “I didn’t enjoy that, but now I know how to prepare for meetings differently.”

Reframing takes the negative out of a memory and the weight out of a difficult moment. Reappraisal deepens the experience into a learning moment. When you learn, your brain gets healthier because it isn’t afraid of a future threat. The boss will yell again. Now you know you can deal with strong emotion. Your brain won’t forget that you believe there is no moment you can’t handle.

5. Meditate in a way you look forward to

The science on meditation is clear. What’s not for most people is what method to use. Here are three quick options to consider. For at least 12 minutes a day: Sit and breathe, imagine yourself in your favorite place, or repeat a mantra or prayer. Never forget there are many styles and methods of meditation. Don’t meditate correctly; meditate in a way you can practice daily.

6. Transfer blame

Reattribution is the therapeutic technique of exploring alternative causes for events. You spilled the milk. No, someone else forgot to screw the top on tight. You missed a deadline. No, new information means a later delivery to get the project right. You lose your family’s fortune betting the horses. You say to your spouse, “I got bad information.” Obviously, the last example is playful, but in every case where you can take the burden off your shoulders, your alarm in your brain calms down.

This doesn’t mean you don’t take responsibility in your life. It means that certain things we experience are truly a result of causes beyond our control and recognizing that in many instances allows your brain to produce less stress hormones.

7. Find the mindfulness that works for you

Mindfulness is the art and science of being present. Myriad studies have proven it reduces your alarm. Less alarm heightens your ability to manage negative emotion that could lead to disease like depression. Maybe most valuable is mindfulness helps us engage in complex thinking. Want to be successful in the global economy? Your brain needs mindfulness.

The secret to brain health and mindfulness, however, is finding the ways that work for you. For some of us, mindful eating thickens our gray matter where sitting and breathing drives us crazy. Some of us love moving slower where others who can’t imagine changing the pace of their lives. But even fast movers can listen more mindfully to be more present.

The best way to find what works for you: experiment. The forms of mindfulness you stick to are the ones that will make your brain healthier.

8. Leave the crazy people

Maybe not right away, but eventually, you have to take time away from the crazy peopleand environments. This doesn’t mean you leave your spouse at the first sign of trouble. It means that each of us has a different tolerance for drama. If yours is constantly being challenged by the people in your life, you will melt down. Too many meltdowns is a clear sign. When your brain isn’t healthy, it sends stress to remind you its time to make a change.

9. Forgive everyone

It’s simple, and I saved it for last on purpose. In our mad, mad world, this may be the most important thing you can do for your brain, and it can have brilliant side benefits. Studies have shown people who don’t forgive experience more stress and negative health impacts like spikes in blood pressure. The stress reduction with forgiveness, however, produces emotional benefits like less restlessness, nervousness, and sadness. In one study where forgiveness was part of an acupressure technique, participants were even able to maintain weight loss. Think about it this way. If we don’t forgive, we know we experience more stress, and we might even get fatter. Doesn’t that make the choice of whether to hold a grudge or let go easier?

These nine behaviors aren’t always intuitive and they definitely take practice. But even adding one of them to your life will give your brain some relief and grow the good stuff between your ears. Find the first one that seems most attractive and start today. We have the power to take care of our brains.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

Jon is an executive and mental coach and speaker. A graduate of Carleton College and Harvard, his books have been #1 best sellers in 22 categories on Amazon. His work has been featured in O Magazine, Elle, The Huffington Post, Fox, Fast Company, and Psychology Today. His three books Mastering Communication at Work: How to Lead, Manage, and Influence, The Three Commitments of Leadership: How Clarity, Stability, and Rhythm Create Great Leaders, and Hijacked by Your Brain: Discovering the Path to Freedom From Stress teach leaders the essential communication, leadership, and stress reduction skills that make them the kind of people others want to work with, and the kind of managers, executives, and coaches that produce teams of leaders.

He began his training career in 2005 with a division of Time Warner, and has since worked with Fortune 500, start-up, universities, and non-profits to improve resilience, executive and board communication, client relationships, and leadership.

Are You Updating Your Mental Operating System?


garyweberos1quote-cityThis post, written by Gary Weber, is a companion to the November 15 VoiceAmerica interview with Gary Weber,
Are You Updating Your Mental Operating System? Gary talks about our personal mental operating systems and specific steps about how to update your mind.

This interview is based on a conversation about our species’ current operating system (OS 1), which evolved about 75,000 years ago.  Symbolic consciousness developed to support our need for coordination and organization of large groups as our population grew rapidly and agriculture manifested. When problems changed from “lions and tigers and bears” to “where do I fit in this massively-interconnected hierarchy”, many shortcomings appeared in OS 1 as discussed in “we need a new mental operating system…now“. The never-ending, self-referential, problematic, internal narrative (SRIN) in OS 1 generates/aggravates our desires, depression, fears, craving, suffering, etc. Investigating SRIN, you find that it is all “past and future” and “I/me/my”. This post breaks down the steps that manifested in “my” process of removing OS 1, monitoring the “uninstall”, uploading OS 2, and then having “support” manifest to ensure OS 2’s successful operation in a metaphorical software format which may make things a little clearer.

Removing OS 1 

How do we remove, or de-energize the ongoing focus on I/me/my to modify OS 1?  What “I” functions that are useful and not problematic can be retained? What we discovered were some “removal tools” that met these criteria:

  • Information only from contemporary sources.
  • Source verification from movies/videos, photos, direct transcripts, and direct/1-off meetings.
  • English fluency to avoid translational inaccuracies.
  • Process DIY feedback from SRIN.
  • Retention/enhancement of “real world” functionality.
  • Happiness increased as suffering and attachments decreased.
  • A “life change”, not experiences.
  • Scientifically verifiable and empirical, not philosophical or intellectual.

The simple uninstall process was using these “removal tools” and measuring progress against the NS check list and SRIN. After many hours of practice, the SRIN did STOP, as advertised, along with self-referential desires, fears and suffering.  The satisfactory completion of the process was verified by my two very different Rinzai Zen masters. Success in removal of OS 1 and uploading of OS 2 was again verified by the absence of problematic SRIN. However, useful core elements of OS – 1 were retained in OS – 2 for problem solving, communication and planning tasks, when the problematic SRIN-causing I/me/my elements were removed.  This was a huge (and welcome) surprise…

Uploading the new OS

With the validated uninstall of the problematic parts of OS 1, the question was “What, if anything, would be uploaded to replace it?” There was a strong feeling that some new “logic” structure was needed.   When cognitive neuroscience manifested, it was discovered that different neural circuits were used for these different functions.  This made an almost surgical removal of the SRIN-causing elements possible, without disturbing the desirable problem solving and planning functions as discussed in “Three neural networks dancing…’blah, blah’, tasking and control”. We recommend starting with three basic practices to shift from OS 1 to OS 2:

  1. Set a timer and 7x/day ask a simple question to help you return focus to yourself such as: Where am I? When am I? Who Hears? What has these thoughts? Who am I? Note and track the impact. The overall objective of this practice is to help you drop the thoughts that take you away from your life and into your head and return you to be present with what is happening.
  2. When you notice thoughts that are emotionally-charged (ex: I am 5 minutes late – I might get fired for being late) ask yourself if they are true and whether they are useful. If not true or useful, drop them and return to something that requires your focus, perhaps your breath. The ability to drop or de-escalate problematic thoughts reduces the stress on our bodies and allows us to shift focus to our current situation – without the overweighting of not useful thoughts predicting unlikely negative outcomes.
  3. Be present with those around you – turn off your devices when with others.

Ongoing OS 2 support

As with all new software, there are FAQs on implementation, procedures, learning problems, etc.  The basic manual for the identification, removal and upgrading of the OS software are described in “Happiness Beyond Thought: A Practical Guide to Awakening”.

There are also over 60 instructional videos on all aspects of OS 2, entitled “Dialogues on Awakening Beyond Thought” in which my colleague Rich Doyle and I dialog, in some detail, the FAQs. A new manual/book documenting these FAQs, entitled “Into the Stillness: Dialogues on Awakening Beyond Thought”, is now available from New Harbinger Press.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the author

Gary Weber, PhD, is a subject/collaborator in neuroscience studies at Yale, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the Baumann Foundation, the Center for Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness, at Johns Hopkins, and at Penn State.

From 2000 to 2004 he was an associate vice president of research for Penn State responsible for all technology transfer operations of the University, including angel investing, venture capital, licensing, patenting and start-up support. He was also responsible for external industrial R&D contracts and interfaces with the University.

In the late 1990s, Gary was senior vice president of science and technology for PPG responsible for all corporate R&D with four research laboratories, approximately 1000 engineers, scientists, and technical folk, and a $260MM budget. He was also a member of the Executive Committee.

Since then he has been researching and writing about happiness beyond thought. He is applying his extensive research skills to helping leaders.

Minding Your Business: The Value of Mindfulness

mindfulnessStress, regardless of how we try to avoid it, is a given. It is part of everyday living, but how we choose to acknowledge and approach it makes all the difference. Stress can be either productive or destructive depending on how much of it you have and how you process it. Think of a time when you performed better, prepared more, and worked harder because you were able to harness it and use it to your advantage. Now think of a time when you performed worse because of stress, perhaps spiraling out of control? What made these situations different for you?

This post is based on the work of Maryanna Klatt, PhD, professor of Clinical Family Medicine at The Ohio State University. An expert in integrative medicine, she has spent more than a decade studying perceived stress, sleep, cortisol, and salivary alpha amylase levels in saliva—an indicator of the fight-or-flight response we experience in stressful situations. Her research is helping people of all ages and professions reduce their stress and improve their overall wellness. “We all have the same stresses—lack of control is a big one people struggle with, lack of time, continuous partial attention is a huge problem,” says Klatt. This post is a companion to the Voice America radio interview focusing on mindfulness and leadership.

Klatt uses mindfulness as the foundation for her research. “Mindfulness is characterized by nonjudgmental, sustained moment-to-moment awareness of physical sensations, perceptions, affective states, thoughts and imagery.”

Using the analogy of a hurricane, Klatt explains that mindfulness training can help you navigate to the eye of the storm—the calmest part—and figure out a way to deal with the chaotic circumstances swirling around you in a positive manner. To do this, she developed Mindfulness in Motion, an eight-week program that combines weekly group meetings on awareness and relaxation techniques with a 20-minute individual practice done daily. The daily practice is available using audio downloads. The weekly group meetings can be facilitated by Mindfulness in Motion trained facilitators.

To better understand how mindfulness works physiologically, and to underscore that it is much more than just a trend, we want to share a brief summary of what happens in the body when one engages in a mindfulness practice. According to an article published in the July 2015 Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE):
“Mindfulness has been found useful as an intervention that increases attention and has been associated with changes in brain structure and function. For example, the changes in gray matter brain density impacts cognition, while changes in the amygdala impact emotional reactivity. This may explain some of the positive benefits associated with stress reduction worksite interventions that teach non-reactivity for personnel who work in a chronic high stress work environment.”

In a study with intensive care unit nurses at Ohio State, Klatt found the program contributed to a 40 percent drop in the fight-or-flight indicator. Nearly 100 faculty and staff participated in a recent pilot program; participants reported significant declines in perceived stress and improvement in resilience and sleep quality. “I don’t think people have to leave work to learn some strategies to reduce their stress,” Klatt says. “Translational research is the sweetness that comes with scientific research for me.” In other words, being able to translate research in the laboratory into meaningful health outcomes in one of Klatt’s goals and pleasures.

That translation extends beyond the university setting to inner city school children and city refuse workers in Columbus, Ohio. Klatt has trained OSU Extension staff who, in turn, have led the program in communities across Ohio, and the University of Minnesota sublicensed the program and offers it as a fully covered benefit to employees through their health plan. She has also worked extensively with organizational leaders in the business community.

So, why do leaders care about mindfulness?

During a VoiceAmerica interview, Klatt pointed out that one of the primary causes of stress is dealing with people. This stressor is common in most work environments, whether it be a clinical setting or board room, and whether people are medical professionals or those engaged in business.

One of the factors we discussed in the interview is the fallacy of multi-tasking. In reality, humans aren’t wired to perform multiple tasks simultaneously, rather we engage in continuous partial attention and task switching. One of the important takeaways from this conversation is that by being mindful of how we invest our time—giving full attention to the tasks at hand—we are able to reduce our stress level, perform our tasks more effectively and efficiently, and improve our interactions with others.

As leaders, this has a direct correlation to improved productivity and focus. Like a domino effect, a better ability to focus improves interactions with others that can improve employee engagement, customer retention, and loyalty. It can also reduce stress and absenteeism.

The question to leaders is: If you could improve your performance and the quality of your work life with an investment of 20 minutes per day, wouldn’t you do it? The cost to benefit ratio is invaluable. You’ll likely never find a 20-minute investment to yield such great and lasting results that permeate every aspect of your personal and professional life. I highly recommend Klatt’s Mindfulness in Motion program!

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the author

Maureen Metcalf, founder and CEO of Innovative Leadership Institute, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach who brings thirty years of business experience to provide high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. She is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with the strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

In addition to working as an executive advisor, Maureen designs and teaches MBA classes in Leadership and Organizational Transformation. She is also the host of an international radio show focusing on innovative leadership, and the author of an award-winning book series on Innovative Leadership, including the Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, winner of a 2014 International Book Award.

The Brain of the Leader: Do We Really Say What We Think We Say?

Leader's brainThe following post is by guest Gary Weber, Subject/collaborator in neuroscience studies at Yale, Institute Of Noetic Sciences, Baumann Institute, Center for Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness, Johns Hopkins, Penn State. It accompanies a Voice America Interview about how leaders can manage their thinking to improve their effectiveness. I found the conversation about how the brain actually works and how we manage our thinking versus our perception of what we are doing quite fascinating. For me, the take away was that our brain functions much differently than we were taught and by updating our understanding, we have the opportunity to reduce our stress and improve our effectiveness dramatically.

From Gary’s work: One of our great, and common (mis)conceptions is that we need “thoughts” to speak – that we “think up”, consciously, what we say before we say it.  As an experiment, take a few minutes and watch carefully what you say, and see if you do think up what you say.   Go ahead, just do it… Do we know what we’re going to say before we say it?   Or do we just hear it as it is said, and then try to see if it was a “good” thing or if we might have “misspoken”?

The quieter your internal narrative is, and the closer you watch, the easier it is to see that you have no idea what is going to be coming out when speech happens.

An excellent paper was just published in “Psychological Science” entitled “Speakers’ Acceptance of Real-Time Speech Exchange Indicates That We Use Auditory Feedback to Specify the Meaning of What We Say”, by Andreas Lind, et al., from the Swedish universities at Uppsala and Lund.

What Lind and his colleagues did was to see what would happen if someone said one word, but then heard themselves apparently speaking another word.   As Lind said “If we use auditory feedback to compare what we say with a well-specified intention, then any mismatch should be quickly detected.  But if the feedback is instead a powerful factor in a dynamic, interpretative process, then the manipulation could go undetected.”

So, if the word that was said was different from what we had mentally pre-planned to say, it would be very obvious to us. However, if we routinely have no idea what is going to be said, and only know it when we hear it spoken and then interpret it, the change to a different word will not be seen.

Thought ExperimentThe image to the left shows how this works. This is the famous Stroop effect/test, which shows you letters that spell a “color” word in the “wrong” color, i.e. it spells out “r-e-d”, but the word is colored “green”.  It takes a little concentration to do it correctly.

  • Then in “b”, you are shown “g-r-e-e-n” but it is colored “gray”, and you correctly say “gray”, but your recording of your saying “green” earlier is replayed in your headphone.
  • In “c”, you are then asked “What did you say”, and you say “green”, even though you really did say “gray”, i.e. you said what you heard, not what you actually said.

Most importantly, this did not seem “strange” to you, i.e. you really believed that you said what you heard, rather than what you actually said.  If you had premeditated and consciously said “gray”, you would have objected when you heard “green” and said “What i heard in my headphones was not what i said!”

It matters a lot exactly when the “wrong” word is heard in your headphones.  If the synchronization w/the “voice trigger” in b) was begun within 5 to 20 milliseconds after you began to speak, it was undetected more than 2/3 of the time.   The 1/3 of the “detections” are effectively less than that.  They fell into 3 categories, “certain, uncertain and possible”, with only 4% being “certain”.

For you techies, they did use a “noise cancelling” headset so that the 78 subjects wouldn’t be able to hear what they really did say.

These results were a big surprise to Lind, who put himself through the test, knowing what was going on. He felt that the speech exchanges were convincing, and said ““When you say one thing but hear yourself clearly saying something else, it’s a very powerful feeling”.

Research this compelling directly contradicts established dogma, both scientific and societal.

The question is, “However speech manifests, do we consciously pre-plan it with internal narrative?”   Speech emerges, and some functionality must be creating it, but it isn’t conscious.

Now, back to Maureen’s comments. So, what does this mean for leaders and how they work? One important take away is that as we understand the brain and how it actually works, it is important to step out of this automatic mode as much as possible and into being aware of our own thinking and actions. One way to do this is to ask yourself simple questions designed to help you gently shift from the automatic mode most leaders spend 85% of their time inhabiting and into aware mode. Imagine how much more productive you could be if you spent just 1 hour per day more aware and if you used that hour to do your highest impact work? What could you accomplish?

If you are open to an experiment, try asking yourself something like: where am I now or what am I thinking now? This is a gentle nudge to move you back to working with awareness. I tried this over the past couple of weeks and have found that I am more aware of my incessant multi-tasking in service of managing a complex role within my professional life and many family demands. My personal goal is to find the best path to accomplish my goals and make the greatest positive impact I can. If being more aware helps this process – I am all in. I wonder if it will work for you?

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

photo credit: brain www.flickr.com TZA

Tool to Build Resilience – Find Your Feet

Feet cc Jonathan Cohen

Today’s post is written by Virginia Macali, a member of our consulting team and also the Founder of High Point Transitions.

VUCA. Volatile. Uncertain. Complex. Ambiguous. This is an acronym created by the US Army War College to describe the state of our world today. Leaders in business, government, and non-profit organizations are very familiar with VUCA. This level of constant disruption pervades the workplace with a powerful undercurrent. As leaders, we’re thrown off center many times a day from large challenges such as changing economic conditions to policy and priority changes. We are thrown off center by smaller challenges like too many emails to respond to, interruptions, or running late for a meeting.

Leaders are hungry for ways to deal with VUCA. They have found that pushing harder does little to stem the tide of the disturbance. At a recent program on Resilience for Leaders for the Leadership Challenge for Ohio Job and Family Services, we taught leaders how to use the body to calm the mind. One of the practices is called Find Your Feet. Here are the instructions:

Find your feet touching the floor. Press your feet into the floor. Focus on any sensations in your feet. Feel the soles of your feet. Feel your toes. Feel the whole foot.

This simple practice can be done in a minute or less. It may bring a sense of grounding, quiet the mind, and interrupt habitual patterns. People who use this practice report feeling more resourceful, more clear-thinking, and take effective action with greater ease. This is a practice that can be done anywhere, requires no special equipment, and is always available.

The day after the program, David Sapper, the director of The Leadership Challenge, gave an example of how this practice worked. As he described how mentors would be matched with participants, tension increased in the room. David invited everyone to stand and Find Your Feet. Within minutes, tension was reduced, participants felt calmer, and the matching process was smooth and successful.

The next time you feel tension rising, take a minute to Find Your Feet.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

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photo credit: www.flickr.com Jonathan Cohen

Five Steps to Becoming an Authentic Leader

Authentic LeadershipBill is a highly skilled leader. Self-aware, Bill makes a concerted effort to create an environment in which each of his team members can be their most effective at work. He has assembled a diverse staff with unique skills and a lot of idiosyncrasies. Bill has worked hard to help this staff of stars come together as a cohesive team.

One morning he arrived to find an obviously upset employee sitting in his office. He has a conversation with the employee who is clearly concerned about the condescending behavior of another colleague. The upset employee, Michelle, suggests that the work environment Bill created is hostile and clearly not supportive of her doing her best work. She feels belittled by her colleague and is seeking Bill’s support to ensure the office in which they work is conducive to delivering top quality service to their clients. As she leaves, Bill thinks about his leadership style. He asks himself if his style has created an environment that promotes a positive work environment for all employees. Is he allowing some people to treat others in a negative or unsupportive way? Is there anything he should do differently to promote a more productive and supportive environment? How can he create an environment that allows unique people to be themselves and at the same time work as a cohesive team? Bill’s instincts say he has created a positive environment but now he hears from a valued employee that he may not be doing as well as he thought. Fundamentally, the question for Bill becomes – is his authentic leadership style supportive of organizational success? Does he need to refine his style or develop as a leader to be both authentic and create a positive environment?

The question that comes to mind is: How can leaders be authentic and encourage others to do the same while concurrently meeting the needs of the overall team and organization?

Let’s start with a definition of authenticity from a recent Forbes article: Learning about yourself is perhaps the single most important outcome of a powerful educational experience. Self-awareness can lead to an ever-increasing authenticity, which in turn leads to powerful leadership abilities. Authenticity is not about “accept me for what I am”; authentic leaders are self-aware, willing to adapt and change and “be who they are in service to others.” Education should be a powerful process of increasing self-awareness, of coming to know yourself and of learning the intrinsic value of who you are as a human being. . . and then understanding the need for constant change, personal growth and learning for the rest of your life.”

Innovative Leadership 5 Key ElementsNow let’s turn to innovative leadership and how it can help leaders become more authentic. As you examine the pyramid you will notice five key elements. By using these elements you can become a more authentic and effective leader:

  1. Understand your leadership type by taking an assessment to understand yourself; then, learn about your colleagues’ types. By knowing who you are and who they are, you can create an environment in which people are able to comfortably be themselves and create a common language where they understand one another. In an environment such as this, the balance allows colleagues to be completely who they and aligned with the culture of the overall group.
  2. Understand developmental perspective and how individuals are able to take the perspective of many different levels. By understanding the level of your colleagues and meeting them where they are, you are showing the highest degree of respect and appreciation. The golden rule of authentic leadership could be “treat people as they need to be treated to perform at their best.” Since we are all unique, treating others as you want to be treated may create some significant problems in a leadership role.
  3. Building resilience includes developing a strong sense of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness, knowing your strengths and preferences. It also includes understanding others’ strengths and preferences, and demonstrating the flexibility to respond to another’s level appropriately.
  4. Situational Analysis is, in part, your ability to adjust your communication and behavior to the cultural norms and behavioral expectations of the organization. This means you can read the situation quickly and respond accordingly. If you are an introvert and prefer to process solo, you will benefit—as will your team—when you can expand your capacity to process with the group. This is particularly helpful if you are surrounded by extroverts who process “out loud” with others. This does not mean you change your innate preference or act in a way that is not genuine, but rather you expand your ability to do both. It is a bit like learning to swing forehand and backhand in tennis. You’ll continue to have preferences, but, by expanding your abilities, you can be both authentic and agile.
  5. Leadership behavior means behaving in a manner that is authentic to you, and appropriate to the organization and situations in which you find yourself. To do this well it means you need access to a broad range of behaviors.

The antidote to being forced to make the choice between being authentic and responding appropriately to many diverse situations is to expand your “range of behaviors” and increase your comfort with this broader range. A personal example is that I am an introvert by nature, yet I teach and speak publicly  as part of my work. I love the role of faculty member even though the specific task of teaching is not in my innate comfort zone. The key for me was to stretch my comfort zone so that I can be authentic in front of a class or an audience at a conference. When I started teaching I really struggled with this, and now it is second nature. I continue to be an introvert—and I probably teach a bit differently than an extrovert would—but through self-awareness, pushing the confines of my comfort zone, and practice, I’ve found a way to be authentically myself.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com sweet dreamz design

TEDx Columbus – Mind Bending Ideas

I attended TEDx Columbus on 11-11-11.  For those unaware of TED –  it is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.  Ruth Milligan holds the license and is the main curator for TEDx Columbus.  After meeting Ruth several months ago, I knew this would be a must attend event and she did not disappoint.  I worked as a volunteer so I could better understand the behinds the scenes processes as well as see the speakers.  The theme of this conference was “A moment in time”.

The event is masterfully curated.  Ruth Milligan and Allyson Kuentz of Articulation Inc., her colleague managed every detail for an event with over 600 participants.  The day was choreographed from the experience people had pulling into the COSI parking lot through their exit 9 hour later.  She had gas filled balloons pop at 11:11.  The Columbus Foundation Announced the 8.7 million dollars the community donated during at 24 hour period preceding the event including their $1million match. Ruth stated that her goal was to provide a mind bending experience, she did just that.

So, what made this mind bending?  Ruth selected a broad range of speakers from many walks of life from poets, to musicians to PhD researchers.  I realize we will make sense of the day differently given our personal bias and interests (there was even a speaker talking about bias).  One of the themes I noticed was a call to connect with our human side in an era where we are massive consumers of technology.  Maryanna Klatt led us through a mindfulness meditation followed by Mark Berman who showed images of amazing bugs that surround us with great beauty that we do not notice in our daily lives.  Dirk Knemeyer talked about the need for schools to teach students not only math and science but also the ability to relate and connect.  Then Trent Tipple, survivor of 3 bouts with cancer talked about gratitude and the small act of thanking people who helped him survive.

On the other side of the coin, there were discussions of the challenges we face in our complex society.  Unthinkable challenges like human trafficking.  Theresa Flores talked about her experience as a middle class child who faced the unthinkable.  While her tale was awful in ways I cannot even imagine, she is now living testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit.  She is dedicating her life to helping other young woman who are in the same spot.  David Burns talked about the Heartache of Education and Dirk Knemeyer talked about societal challenges we face.  They too offered ideas to move beyond these challenges.

I left feeling hopeful.  People were talking about the problems we are facing.  Young people are performing music, artists created amazing photographs to be placed in Columbus as public art.  I also met young organizer of the TEDxOhioStateUniversity, Jordan.  How exciting to meet the very talented college student who has the license to create a TEDx experience at OSU.

So, I left the evening of 11-11 with some reflections and some questions.

  • We live in a community of passionate, smart people dedicated to making the world better in different ways
  • We have much of what we need right here in Columbus and the surrounding areas to make many of the changes we want to see
  • Many of the changes really do being with being different ourselves before trying to change others

So that leads me to some personal reflections:

  • How do I want to be different going forward?  What do I want to do more of and less of?
  • How do I ensure my volunteer time is spent making an impact on things I really think matter?
  • Am I doing the basics well like recycling, composting, mindful eating, showing gratitude, collaborating with others effectively

I spent part of the weekend at a cabin in the woods at Earthtouch Nature Preserve where I serve as the Board President.  I wanted to have some serious reflection time to think about these questions and use this day 11-11 as an invitation to consider what I value.  Here are some of the things I came away with.

  • Take care of myself (I tend to be a workaholic)
  • Treat others with empathy, respect and compassion even when I do not agree with or understand their actions
  • Take care of the earth that sustains me by paying attention to my actions
  • Seek peace, honesty and harmony in all of my dealings (sounds fluffy but to me this means having the tough conversations so we find true peace rather than conflict avoidance).

So, if you did not attend, I invite you to check out the TEDx Columbus blog and watch some of the talks and/or performances.  After watching, consider asking yourself some of the questions above.

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To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.