Living Like Water.

Living Like Water.

Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility.

The journey of water as it flows upon the earth can be a mirror of our own paths through life.

Water begins its residence on earth as it falls from the sky or melts from ice and streams down a mountain into a tributary or stream. In the same way, we come into the world and begin our lives on earth.

Like a river that flows within the confines of its banks, we are born with certain defining characteristics that govern our identity.

We are born in a specific time and place, within a specific family, and with certain gifts and challenges. Within these parameters, we move through life, encountering many twists, turns, and obstacles along the way just as a river flows. 

Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility. When a river breaks at a waterfall, it gains energy and moves on, as we encounter our own waterfalls, we may fall hard but we always keep moving on.

Water can inspire us to not become rigid with fear or cling to what’s familiar. Water is brave and does not waste time clinging to its past, but flows onward without looking back.

At the same time, when there is a hole to be filled, water does not run away from it in fear of the dark; instead, water humbly and bravely fills the empty space. In the same way, we can face the dark moments of our life rather than run away from them.  

Eventually, a river will empty into the sea. Water does not hold back from joining with a larger body, nor does it fear a loss of identity or control. It gracefully and humbly tumbles into the vastness by contributing its energy and merging without resistance.

Each time we move beyond our individual egos to become part of something bigger, we can try our best to follow the lead of the river.

Unlearning & Relearning.

Unlearning & Relearning.

By Deb Geyer | Chief Responsibility Officer, Stanley Black & Decker

The benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) draw closer. They’re starting to feel real, almost within reach, promising greater value that extends across the business community and touches all levels of society. Which means we’re at the point where we could take them for granted and miss out entirely. Fully realizing the potential of 4IR will require a more inventive, inclusive approach to talent development, and some serious unlearning of outmoded ways, paired with learning contemporary methods. Today, even as 10 million global manufacturing jobs remain unfilled due to gaps in skills and education – gaps that will only widen as Industry 4.0 technologies advance – the 4IR future requires all of us to unlearn and relearn in order to create new paths forward.

As you think about the changes your organization will need to make to compete and grow in this shifting environment, here are a few insights based on our own journey.

Make unlearning and relearning part of your talent roadmap

Any upskilling roadmap today must build human capital through personalized learning and continual development. Learning needs to be ubiquitous, part of the job. In our case, the learning mix includes advanced vocational training, STEAM education, a certification programme specifically designed for our workforce, and new maker spaces – hands-on innovation environments that offer a wide range of equipment for training, upskilling and hackathons.

But we have found the paired “unlearning and relearning” opportunities we are creating are in some aspects more powerful, and are accelerating overall growth in unexpected ways. For example, at our Lighthouse Facility in Jackson, Tennessee, we are pairing people who are early in their career with experienced employees to accelerate mutual unlearning and relearning in areas such as human-machine interfaces, connecting digital and engineering disciplines across generations. It’s a collaborative model worthy of replication in the 4IR future.

The multiplier effect from such an intensified focus on development is clear. A shop-floor operator named Lana, who works in a different area of the Jackson facility, stands out in this regard. Lana not only embraced her training, she also began training the other operators in her area. She also took it upon herself to optimize the way all of the machines were set up.

Imagine collaborative co-mentoring models and employees like Lana emerging at scale, and you begin to see how an unlearning-inspired talent roadmap could empower 10 million makers and creators to thrive in the 2030 economy.

Align development efforts with next-generation curricula

As the pace of change accelerates, organizations will increasingly need to invest more learning and development resources not only in their own workforces but in the broader labour markets and surrounding communities – and do so for the long term. Partnerships with public and private organizations offer compelling solutions that both strengthen today’s workforce and reshape curricula for the next generation of students.

For example, Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), a partnership model designed by IBM in 2011, provides local high school students with an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a vocational field. Students graduate with both a high school degree, a no-cost, industry-recognized associate degree, and relevant experience they can immediately apply in a high-paying “new-collar” job.

By investing both in the current workforce and in tomorrow’s, organizations can ensure that we are strengthening the talent pipeline and our communities for the long run.

The coming decade will be a pivotal time for organizations to establish successful 4IR trajectories. This requires a willingness to unlearn, learn and relearn the concept of accountability.

The way we think about our own 4IR prospects is best expressed by our new 2030 corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy, which specifically aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and represents the most material issues for our organization.

Pursuing that strategy on a global enterprise scale has required us to develop a rigorous governance structure and process, and keep improving it. For the past two years, our CSR strategy has been supported by multiple levels of oversight across the company, all the way up to the executive steering committee, which includes the CEO, CFO and senior vice-president of HR; it is also championed by the corporate governance committee of the board of directors.

Now we’ve taken another step, adding an external advisory panel consisting of expert stakeholders who advise on CSR strategy. The enhanced governance structure provides board-level rigour and best-practice guidance to ensure that the company continues to meet its stated goals not only in terms of product and environment, but also from the standpoint of talent and governance. While we are in the early stages of rolling out this new structure, we believe that organizations will need to continue to raise the governance bar and take a more comprehensive approach to ensure accountability.

On the path to 2030

I sometimes think about this process of unlearning, learning and relearning as a kind of cook book – a living repository of successful recipes to transform business models in collaborative ways.

The ambitious goals of 2030, combined with the unmet societal needs we encounter every day, favour such an approach. You cannot progress and succeed in the 4IR without advancing the people who brought you there. The next decade, and the many innovations it holds, will come at us fast. We must be bold and seize this moment, both with a willingness to invest in talent and in our communities in completely novel ways, and with a recognition that greater governance is not a check on progress but a catalyst for positive change.

Meditation fueling Leadership.

Meditation fueling Leadership.

By Steven Cohen

As more people meditate regularly, we are seeing the benefits more clearly. Can meditation make you more effective at work? Absolutely.

Core leadership traits such as self-awareness, focus, creativity, listening, relationship development, influence, grit and having a growth mindset can be developed through meditation, thus improving professional performance. These fundamental leadership traits can be grouped into four foundational pillars: Awareness, Connection, Perspective, and Potential. Each pillar can be built and reinforced through regular meditation practice.

Building Awareness 

At its most basic level, the practice of meditation that includes a focus on your breath, takes your mind out of its regular thinking pattern, thus giving you the opportunity to observe what fills the void, both internally and externally. You learn during meditation to observe thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations in the present moment and without judgment.  What you find is that instead of the same day-to-day chatter in your mind, you begin to observe different, more important, thoughts and feelings.

A student in one of my meditation classes noted that he had been working on an engineering project for a month and was struggling with several obstacles that prevented success.  One day during meditation, a different way of overcoming a key obstacle just floated through his mind. Within 48 hours, the engineering project was complete.

When you’re living your life in a state of greater awareness, you are able to see situations more clearly as they arise (and not just during your meditation practice).  You may notice changes or trends in the marketplace that significantly impact your business, customer dissatisfaction before customers stop ordering, the morale of a valued employee before he or she departs without warning, or how fear or self-doubt influences your behavior.   

Making Connections

During meditation, you listen. Effective leaders are able to listen at least as much as they talk and are able to communicate with others more effectively. Too often, the baggage we bring to an interaction from our past experiences gets in the way of communicating clearly and openly. Emotional mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation can help you understand how past experiences cloud your lens, impacting your response to new situations.  We learn during meditation to pause and then thoughtfully respond instead of just reacting to situations.  

Effective interactions with others build connections.  In business, connection is everything. It is how customers and employees are satisfied, how sales are made and how brands are built. Once the lens is clear, it is easier to be present to others and listen with greater attention. We can see more easily what motivates people and notice that people have different communication styles.  Being aware of those differences can assist you in more successfully motivating others and being a more effective team member and leader.

Meditation can also assist you in determining with whom to be in a relationship. There are always certain people you “click” with, and being more aware of these relationships can be of great value both personally and professionally.  Try setting an intention during meditation by asking between each breath, “With whom should I connect?” and just observe what arises. You may find that a key customer, a mentor or friend who has drifted away comes into your consciousness.  You may have an urge to call your mother or father. Follow this realization and see how your inner wisdom guides you.

Maintaining Perspective

Stress has become such a roadblock for many of us, impacting our actions, reactions, health, and well-being. A meditation practice provides a break from the events that trigger our stress and teaches us to step back and witness with greater perspective so we experience fewer stress triggers. Meditation provides a moment of calm within the chaos so that whatever is most important (your wisdom within) can rise to the surface.  By stepping back and pausing, you may become more aware of your thoughts and actions within the context of a greater purpose. 

A daily meditation practice, while very valuable, may not be enough to make it through the day. You may want to add to your meditation toolbox micro-practices that you practice during meditation but can use any time you need it.  It can be as simple as taking three deep breaths when you notice you are out of balance or a mantra meditation. Mantra meditation is focusing on a word, phrase or saying that returns you to the state of balance and equanimity through its vibration in your body. Your mantra should be meaningful to you and bring you back into perspective by just repeating it a few times in your mind during any situation.

Every day, we are deluged by information, social media and demands for our time and attention. Effectiveness in business is based in large part on how we process and utilize information and choose to spend our valuable time. Daily meditation, along with micro-practices throughout the day, allows the most important information to rise into your consciousness, helping you to rebalance your perspective, improve your decision-making and increase your positive influence within your organizations, at home, and in your community.

Achieving Potential

Meditation puts you in touch with your true authentic self. This “self” acts as a witness during meditation. With practice, your authentic self can recognize opportunities available to you that are often your most promising opportunities for growth but were previously lost within the noise created by your mind. Daily meditation practice reinforces hard-to-describe, intangible “grit” qualities that seem to characterize true leaders: passion, effort, perseverance, and resiliency. Sitting regularly in meditation is hard to do. You must want to do it. You must actually do it.  You must keep doing it when you don’t want to. You must return to doing it when you have stopped. You must demonstrate grit. As you utilize your grit trait to pursue your vision, you will encounter areas in yourself and your organization that requires change.  

One of my favorite intention meditations was inspired by Robert K. Cooper’s book The Other 90%: How to Unlock Your Vast Untapped Potential For Leadership and Life.  Each Sunday night, I would ask myself: “What is my greatest opportunity this week?  What is stopping me?” Inevitably, making sure you keep these answers in your awareness during the week and prioritizing them when the other moment-to-moment demands arise, can be a key to success.

Willingness to change and proceed with a growth mindset allows you to add more value to others; the organizations in which you are active become more effective. The world becomes a better place. That is your potential.

Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson address the science behind meditation’s impact in their book, Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain and Body. “Beyond the pleasant states meditation can produce, the real payoffs are the lasting traits that can result. An altered trait—a new characteristic that arises from a meditation practice — endures apart from the meditation itself. Altered traits shape how we behave in our daily lives, not just during or immediately after we meditate.”

Learning to lead from within is the process of integrating your meditation practice with your life. Where your mind goes during mediation, your actions can follow. You can learn to be more aware, recognize opportunities to build relationships, see things from a larger context and envision new opportunities, all by developing your leadership traits through meditation. Just as you can’t control your thoughts or the sensations in your body during meditation, you can’t control all of the situations you will face as you live your life. However, you can refine your response to situations and open yourself up to personal and professional growth. Ultimately, your life is your practice.  

Re-storying my career.

Re-storying my career.

By Rebecca Muller, Thrive Global

Everyone has an evolving career story: the narrative we tell ourselves, and the people around us, about where we stand on our professional paths, and how we got there. But when you’ve been at your job for a long time, it’s easy to get comfortable in your current narrative — and over time, that comfort can spiral into a routine that feels repetitive and un-motivating.

Getting stuck in one chapter of your story can be stressful, and if you sense that you’re ready for something new, it may be time to “re-story” — a term that psychologists now use to refer to making a pivot when you’ve exhausted your current narrative. Starting that rewrite can be a daunting step. “Making a big career change can be scary,” Alan Benson, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, tells Thrive.

Making a change depends on your individual story, but if you become too complacent, you miss out on the benefits that can come from beginning a new chapter. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Your story: You’ve been at the same job for many years, and you’re ready for something new.

How to re-story: Allow yourself to accept change. 

With the rise of online networking, remote work, and side hustles, the workforce looks vastly different than it once did — and when it comes to starting over, that can be a great thing. “Fifty years ago, it was common to graduate from school, land a job at a big company, and work there your entire career,” Benson notes. “Today, the Census Bureau estimates that people have ten jobs by the time they’re forty.” Shifting from job to job has become normal, he explains, so it’s important to let go of preconceived notions you may have about a traditional career path. There’s no shame in changing jobs, especially if it might ease your stress and help you feel sustained meaning in your work. 

Your story: You want to pivot to a new field, but it’s not what you went to school for.

How to re-story: Use the evergreen skills you learned to propel you forward. 

You may not be an expert in the industry you’re interested in, but Benson notes that your existing knowledge and your toolkit of career experience may well be enough to take the leap. Having a diversified background might actually give you a leg up a new job, he points out. And even if you do ultimately need more education to make the switch, it’s worth confirming that first, rather than letting it hold you back from trying at all. 

Your story: You’ve hit your goal, and now you’re struggling to stay motivated.

How to re-story: Take on microsteps to help you make small changes in your workflow. 

Sometimes, achieving a goal we’ve worked hard to get to can end up making us lose motivation, because we let go of the positive changes we initially made to reach that goal in the first place. In fact, research tells us that if we see our goals as a destination we’ve already arrived at, we’re unlikely to stay motivated to keep going afterward. If you’ve reached your goal, consider taking on small microsteps to help you make lasting changes. Thinking of your goal attainment as a journey  instead of a destination can help you stay motivated long after you hit your target.

Your story: You’re feeling fatigued by your job, but you have no clue what your next step would look like.

How to re-story: Reach out to your support system.

You know you’re itching for a new job, but you’re scared and hesitant about what that new opportunity looks like. When you’re struggling to take that next step, Benson suggests reaching out to a trusted mentor or a loved one for a supportive hand. Whether you’re looking for concrete advice about your next move, or you just need a listening ear, talking through your vision can help with your decision-making, and allow you to gain a clearer sense of direction.

Riding the Wave of Life.

Riding the Wave of Life.

By Madisyn Taylor

While riding the wave of life you must also practice stillness so you can flow with, rather than resist the wave’s motion.

Our lives are continually in motion, buoyed by the wave that is the universe’s flow. As the wave rises and falls, we are carried forward, through life’s high and low points. The universe’s flow may take us to a place in life where we would rather not be.

As tempting as it can be to fight the direction and size of this wave that propels us, riding the wave is intended to make life easier. When you ride the wave, your life can evolve naturally and with minimal effort.

Riding the wave, however, is not a passive experience. It is an active process that requires you to be attentive, centered, and awake. You must also practice stillness so you can flow with, rather than resist the wave’s motion.

Because life is dynamic and always changing, it is when we try to make the wave stand still or resist its direction that we are likely to get pulled under by its weight. If you try to move against the wave, you may feel as if you are trapped by it and have no control over your destiny.

When you reach a low point while riding the wave and find your feet touching bottom, remember to stay standing so that you can leap forward along with the wave the next time it rises. Trying to resist life’s flow is a losing proposition and costly because you waste energy.

Riding the wave allows you to move forward without expending too much of your own efforts. When you ride the wave, you are carried by it and your head can “stay above water” as you go wherever it takes you.

It can be difficult to trust the universe and let go of the urge to fight life’s flow, and you may find it easier to ride the wave if you can stay calm and relaxed.

Riding the wave will always take you where you need to go.
Meta-Moments.

Meta-Moments.

By Marc Brackett

As we all know, our best attempts at calm, thoughtful reflection work only when we feel in control of our emotions. If you’re raging with resentment or crushed by disappointment, you’re probably not capable of the reasoning required to see a situation in a new light. You first need to bring down your emotional temperature, lower your activation, and give yourself the space required for rational thought. Maybe you take a few deep breaths, a few steps back, a walk around the block.

Then, maybe you’re ready for the Meta-Moment. A decade ago, Robin Stern, psychoanalyst and associate director of our center, and I were wondering why so many people in our society are addicted to strategies that derail them from achieving their goals. Robin had worked with hundreds of patients who were unsuccessful even after learning new tactics, and I observed schoolchildren and educators who didn’t employ the strategies they were learning, even when they knew they were helpful.

Many of us were exposed to destructive responses early in our lives–negative talk, screaming, blaming and so on. They require little cognitive control, and they’re often effective at getting rid of negative feelings and providing temporary gratification. But at the time, we fail to realize these strategies also can ruin our relationships and derail us from achieving our goals. 

So we developed a tool we call the Meta-Moment. In simplest terms, it’s a pause, a hitting of the brakes and stepping out of time. We call it meta because it’s a moment about a moment. It might mean mentally counting, as in “1, 2, 3,” or 1 to 10, depending on the severity of the emotion. Taking one or several deep breaths may also be a part of it–anything to give ourselves room to maneuver and deactivate.

A Meta-Moment is when we stop the action and say, “Am I hearing this correctly?” Or maybe we might say, “I need to pause and take a deep breath right now so I don’t blow my top, break down sobbing, or react in some way I will probably regret.” This helps us go beyond our first impulse and find a wiser response. As the author and consultant Justin Bariso put it, “Pausing helps you refrain from making a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion.”

Pausing and taking a deep breath activates our parasympathetic nervous system. This reduces the release of cortisol, a major stress hormone, and naturally lowers our emotional temperature. Pausing also gives us the chance to quickly ask two useful questions: “How have I handled situations like this in the past?” and “What would my best self do right now?” 

To tap into their best selves, some people think of a set of adjectives such as “compassionate”, “intelligent” or “conscientious.” Other people picture an image or look at an object. A good friend who is the principal of a middle school has a Smurf on her desk to remind her to be her best self. Visualizing our best self can redirect our attention away from the triggering person, words or event and back towards our values. 

A couple of years ago, a student raised his hand in class and said, “I have a question that I don’t think even you’ll know how to answer.” To say that I was activated is an understatement–arrogance is a trigger for me. I wanted to reply: “I might not know the answer, but remember I grade your papers!” Instead, I reached into my “professor of emotional intelligence” self and asked, “How about if I get questions from some of the other students now, and we can chat after class?” Then, I politely informed him that his question could have been worded more diplomatically.

The Meta-Moment is not just for regulating unpleasant emotions. Sometimes our best selves help us to stand up for what’s right. Once, during a speech, a colleague bullied me in an unusual way–he joked about the fact that I was bullied as a child. My first impulse was to run onstage and deliver a flying dropkick to his head; I regressed to that middle schooler being pushed around in the locker room. But I took a Meta-Moment and I waited until after the presentation. I went up to him and said, “I have no idea what motivated you to say those words, but it wasn’t cool and you can’t ever do it again.”

How skilled are you at taking a Meta-Moment? What adjectives characterize your best self? What are your go-to strategies when you are triggered or caught off guard? Do you ignore your feelings, act out, or meet them head-on?

When your boss criticizes your work and you feel disappointed, devastated or resentful, how successful are you at taking a Meta-Moment and saying to yourself something like “Feedback is a gift, there is always something I can learn”? 

Here are the steps to take for a Meta-Moment.

  1. Sense the shift. You are activated, caught off guard, or have an impulse to say or do something you might regret. You feel a shift in your thinking or body or both.
  2. Stop or pause. Step back and breathe. Breathe again.
  3. See your best self. Think of adjectives or an image that helps your best self appear in vivid detail, or look at an object that reminds you. You might also think about your reputation: How do you want to be seen, talked about, and experienced? What would you do if someone you respect were watching you?
  4. Strategize and act. You reach into your tool kit of healthy responses — positive self-talk and reframing are two good options — and choose the path that will close the gap between your triggered self and your emerging best self. This should always be the last step.

Recently, after an exhausting day of delayed flights, missed connections and other irritations, I felt on the verge of a meltdown. So I asked myself: “If a college professor with a doctorate in psychology has difficulty regulating emotions, what must it be like for a nine-year-old child or an adult under genuinely challenging pressures who have had little to no training in emotion skills?” 

That calmed me down in a hurry. 

Along with permission to feel, we must also give ourselves permission to fail. When that happens, we can only try again — take a deep breath or two, envision our best selves, and start over. We also need the courage to apologize and forgive ourselves as we’d forgive others. Courage might even mean seeking professional help when all else fails. We’ll never stop having to work at being our best selves. But the payoff is worth it: better health, better decision making, better relationships, better everything.

Excerpted from Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thriveby Marc Brackett. Copyright © 2019 Marc Brackett. Reprinted with the permission of Celadon Books, a division of Macmillan Publishing, LLC.

Marc Brackett, PhD, is the founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, a professor in the Yale Child Study Center, lead developer of RULER, an evidence-based, systemic approach to social and emotional learning, and author of Permission To Feel

You have been offered a first-class ticket — so why are you still traveling in coach?

You have been offered a first-class ticket — so why are you still traveling in coach?

By Agapi Stassinopoulos | Author, Speaker, Thrive Global Faciitator

I was facilitating a Thrive seminar a few days ago. One of the things we always address at these seminars is “negative beliefs” — how they hold us back and undermine our thriving, productive, creative, and happy selves. Participants never fail to share beliefs such as “I’m not good enough,” “No matter how hard I work, I can do better,” “I don’t deserve success,” “I can’t be happy unless other people around me are happy,” or “I need others’ approval to speak my truth,” etc. When we ask them to think about when those beliefs first sunk in, the answer always comes back to limiting decisions they made about themselves in the earlier stages of their lives.

These beliefs spread like mold under the foundation of your home. You can’t see it until you start to feel sick. You feel depleted and off, like something is wrong, but you keep going and driving forward from one thing to the next. You can’t stop — you’re operating on survival. So you simply don’t have the time or space to dig underneath. And then one day, you decide to call an expert, and they tell you that your home is filled with mold, and it’s affecting your health and your life.

Just as this mold impacts our day-to-day actions and all our relationships, so do our beliefs — so it’s very important to take an inventory, to have the courage to look at each one and ask the fundamental questions: When did it start? Is it true? Can I let go of it? And can I upgrade myself to today?

It’s like we have a first-class ticket, but we’re still traveling coach — and some of us are even choosing to sit in the middle seat! I promise you, if you look in your pocket, you’ll find a first-class ticket, good for life. So it’s time to upgrade your life. Here’s how to get started.

1. Identify the source of the negative belief that’s limiting you.

You may have built a belief that is holding you back from who you can be. Once you identify it, bring it to the forefront, review it, and feel the feeling of contraction it had created in your self-expression. Then you have to see the judgments you made about yourself, others, and the situation, and start to forgive it, them, and yourself. You may even want to write it down and burn it. 

2. Now let it go, and tell yourself: “That was then, and this is now.”

It’s important to remind yourself that this belief is no longer accurate. You can literally see a clean slate in front of you: i.e. Agapi’s life: Scene 1, Take 1. You no longer have to run your life based on this old belief. You’d bought into it some time ago, but it simply does not apply today. You are free to be and own who you’ve now become. Sure, we’re all still a work in progress — and we’ll always be expanding and growing and letting go — but when we let go of our fundamental limiting beliefs that have been running our lives, we then can put ourselves on the right track and remove our self-imposed roadblocks. It will become easier over time, and with meditation, to see the destination more clearly and enjoy the scenery along the way. 

In my own life I’ve worked with the belief “I’m not safe,” which was rooted in my early years around my father, who was a concentration camp survivor and had a very erratic temper. I would often witness his explosive reactions to his employees, my mother, and in general the people around him. They could flare up at any time, out of the blue. That was a difficult thing to witness as a little girl, so I became on guard and began adjusting myself in the hope that I would help him stay calm. To this day, I always have to remind myself that that was then, and this is now. I’ve come a long way, and I know how to take care of myself and keep myself safe. 

I deeply encourage you today to find one of your key limiting beliefs (there may be more than one) and replace it with a positive one, i.e. “Even if other people around me are unhappy, I have a right to my own happiness,” “I deserve and enjoy my success,” “I now give myself permission to express my truth and my feelings,” etc. Remove the mold from your foundation, lay in new floors, repaint the walls, and you can even redecorate.

Please share with me the one thing you’ll do today to move forward to your first-class seat. It’s a much better ride, and you deserve it.

Recognizing the limitations of your knowledge.

Recognizing the limitations of your knowledge.

Why does intellectual humility matter?

When you approach life with intellectual humility, you open your mind to learning. You are able to learn from opposing views and have more constructive discussions, even when you disagree. No matter how old you are, with intellectual humility you become wiser. It helps you be less judgmental of others, learn more in school, and be a better leader.

Pulse Check

Think about yourself. How many of these things are true?

  • I question my own opinions, positions, and viewpoints because they could be wrong.
  • I reconsider my opinions when presented with new evidence.
  • I recognize the value in opinions that are different from my own.
  • I accept that my beliefs and attitudes may be wrong.
  • In the face of conflicting evidence, I am open to changing my opinions.
  • I like finding out new information that differs from what I already think is true.

How do I encourage intellectual humility in others?

Model it. Admit when you do not know or understand something: “That’s a good question. I don’t know the answer, but let’s look it up.” Appreciate others’ insights and let them know when they raise a point that you hadn’t considered: “I never thought of it that way, so it’s interesting to hear what you have to say.” Be willing to change your mind and let people know when you do: “I’m convinced by articles I’ve read about the problem, so my views have shifted.”

Celebrate it. Recognize when someone demonstrates intellectual humility: “I appreciate how open you’ve been to learning more about all sides of this issue.” Look for examples of intellectual humility in science, politics, and other areas; highlight these on social media.

Enable it.Value learning and point out that learning happens when you acknowledge what you don’t know. At dinner, make a habit of sharing a question you have or one new thing you learned. Keep media from diverse perspectives in the house. Establish a birthday ritual of noting how you have changed your mind over the past year.

Tenelle Porter is a Character Lab scientist-in-residence and a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis where she studies intellectual humility, motivation, and learning. Her work has been featured in Vox, NY Magazine’s The Science of Us segment, and won an Open Mind Award from the Heterodox Academy. She has also written about intellectual humility for Behavioral ScientistShe has a PhD from Stanford University, and a Master’s degree from the University of Oxford.

What is really funny about you?

What is really funny about you?

“You grow up the day you have the first real laugh – at yourself.”~Ethel Barrymore

By Chatsworth Consulting Group

I don’t know about you, but I take myself way, way too seriously at times. If I’m not acutely focused on all the things that are happening to and around me (and how to make them go the way I want them to) then I’m critically concentrating on how to be better, improve myself, live more of what I teach…the list goes on. I can be seriously determined and single-minded – to the point of my distraction and the irritation of others.

I notice the same approach in those around me. It makes sense. From the moment we enter this world it revolves around us, at least in our own minds. We are the center of our universe and everything, but everything, is translated through our filter of needs, wants, perceptions, and memories. People understandably take themselves, their organizations and lives, and their issues very seriously. People “know” that the happenings of their lives are essential and significant.

All this self-seriousness yields its damage. We get worry lines, gain weight, lose friends, lose business, and lose arguments – all from taking ourselves way too seriously. On the other side, I have seen laughter at oneself – what I call “self-laughter” – ease tensions and resolve issues. 

Self-laughter brings lightness into situations and relationships, thereby allowing for better resolutions and interactions.

Self-laughter somehow makes my life easier. 

Self-laughter makes burdens easier to bear and solutions easier to find.

Self-laughter helps those around me feel more comfortable with me and become more willing to partner with me.

Self-laughter helps me grow up and see that the world does not revolve around me…at least not completely.

What is really, really funny about you and/or your situation? Find something about yourself to laugh at – and laugh hard.

Where are you taking yourself too seriously? Where could you laugh at yourself?

Shift from Doing to Being.

Shift from Doing to Being.

By Christopher Lyddy and Darren Good

If you’re like most people, you’ve had the experience at work of sitting at your computer and suddenly coming to realize that you haven’t typed a word in ages. Instead, you may have just been mindlessly ruminating about a past incident with a colleague, or imagining the next encounter.

Getting “stuck” in this thought process, according to numerous interviews we conducted in a study of working professionals, can really interfere with being mindful at work. If this has happened to you, you’re not alone – in fact, it happened to everyone we spoke to. Our study helped us to understand when this happens – and how to get yourself out of this kind of thinking.

What is Doing mode?

Psychologists describe two different modes of mind: Being and Doing. Being mindful involves directly experiencing the present moment with acceptance, and as you likely know, is associated with a wide range of beneficial outcomes for workplace well-being, performance, and relationships (JOM). If we were only concerned about well-being, it would be easy to say “be mindful all the time.” They can’t simply be mindful “on the cushion” all day long. 

Yet while working, we need to think in order to act, and that’s where Doing mode comes into play.We use this mode to recall ideas and memories from the past, use them to process our present, and then plan for the future. This capability enables us to perform almost any kind of work. 

Using this mode, however, can be a trap. Often Doing mode shifts from helpful tool for planning action to “revving up” and dominating how we function. How does this play out? We become caught up in our concepts, our narratives, our selves, and our judgments and habits. We don’t just think through an email responding to our colleague, we become caught up in our own story about their faults and our interests, and then instead of writing an email correcting the issue, we write a nasty one pouring fuel on the fire. Just like in the example above, our thoughts rule us, keeping us from engaging the situation intentionally, and undermining how we feel and function. Doing mode offers only a limited set of tools, and often it’s the wrong mental toolbox for the task at hand. 

At times like these, we need less Doing and more Being – but how is this possible? Our interviews suggest the need to identify we are stuck in Doing mode, shut it down momentarily to activate our Being mode, and then re-engage with both modes active. We can then work in a more mindful way, with greater acceptance, intention, and effectiveness. Inspired by our research and emerging clinical psychology practices, we suggest doing a new practice to help you get out OUT of your Doing mode. 

How do we get OUT of Doing mode?

Specifically, we suggest doing what we call an OUT practice. This has three steps: Observe, Undo, and Transcend. How did our interviewees know they were getting stuck in Doing mode, and in those moments, how did they find a way to engage their Being mode? While our findings are preliminary, our interviewees reported a few steps for how they got unstuck. First, they noticed themselves getting caught up (or on the verge). Then, they disengaged and stepped back from whatever stream of thought and emotion was occurring. Sometimes this was a quick mindfulness practice, sometimes this was just an awareness they were stuck. Whichever they did helped reground them in the present, allowing the thoughts and emotions to dissipate, providing greater peace and intentionality. This allowed them to reengage their Doing mode, but within the context of Being. Based on these experiences, we now detail the suggested three-step process for dealing with these inevitable moments of getting stuck in our Doing mode.

O: Observe

The starting point for getting out of Doing mode is to Observe that you are stuck. This can be surprisingly difficult because a big part of being stuck is believing in the trap we have built for ourselves!

Here’s an example from our interviews capturing this experience. A restaurant owner described that: “Your brain is just on top of itself, telling you all that you’re doing wrong, that you need to be doing. I didn’t know how to quiet all that chatter. It was getting in the way of my creativity and functioning.”

Some emerging research points to hallmark signs of this state, which you can use to gain clarity and at least notice you are stuck in the trap. Two of the psychologists who pioneered Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) offer some ways to diagnose if you are stuck. Zindel Segal writes that “Whenever there is a sense of ‘have to,’ ‘must,’ ‘should,’ ‘ought,’ or ‘need to,’ we can suspect … doing mode.” His colleague Mark Williams describes the hallmarks of this phenomenon in four domains: thinking, feeling, action, and body. He suggests that when you tune into your experience, you can observe each, noting if you are, for example, ruminating about something bad in the past or fixated on some goal, avoiding feelings, acting on autopilot, or that your body is tense.

But rather than simply accepting words from other people, why not explore your own experience on this? Sometime today, pause for a moment and check-in. Do you experience yourself getting stuck in Doing mode? Is your mind revving about goals, fears, frustrations, or dissatisfaction? If so, you could be stuck! And that’s great, it’s an opportunity to Observe.

U: Undo 

So you’ve observed that you’re stuck in Doing mode and starting to notice the characteristics of this state. At this point, you can begin the second stage of an OUT practice: Undo.

Rather than selecting actions based on your overactive Doing mode, engage the situation first fully from your Being mode. Here’s what that looks like, according to an interview from an analyst with a demanding boss. She said, “My boss called me really angry with a list of things to do. Instead of immediately my brain going into ‘I don’t want to do that,’ it was kicking into ‘uh-huh. Yeah.’ Just taking it in. What mindfulness tells me is accept what’s coming in.” 

Undoing often involves straightforward mindfulness practice. You should stop conducting whatever action you are doing, then get grounded however you like to do this. You could mindfully breathe for 30 seconds. You could really tune in to one of your five senses, or focus your experience on whatever emotions you are feeling in that moment. Whatever you do, make sure you connect fully and richly with your present-moment experience. This step is all about being mindful, NOT about doing anything in the situation. 

T: Transcend

Where our advice goes beyond the clinical realm is recognizing that at work, you can’t simply shut off your Doing mode – you actually need it to work effectively. After you finish the Undo stage of the OUT practice, you need to “turn on” your Doing mode again – but from a different place, one grounded in the state of Being. This allows us to Transcend the limitations of being stuck in Doing. Instead, we experience Being While Doing, what our interviews show is the core experience of mindfulness at work.

What does this look like? A relief worker dealing with hurricane recovery found herself struggling to communicate and work with teammates. She reported that: 

I found myself getting upset. These thoughts were taking over, I assumed that there was going to be an issue. Instead of losing it, I was able to do meditation, and get to this calm place where I can really see the steps that I can be taking. I texted him, ‘Hey, did you get this and that?’ He was like ‘Sure did!’ In my mind, I had made it this big thing. It was never an issue.

In this situation, she was able to first Observe herself getting stuck in Doing mode, then Undo that desire to judge her teammate, and finally Transcend this by selecting actions from a more mindful place. This led her to identify and fix a miscommunication in a calm way, leading to better relationships with her colleagues, a better team outcome, and most of all, peace of mind. This is the essence of OUT practice – neither Being nor Doing by itself, but rather, finding a way to engage in what we call “Being While Doing” – enacted mindfulness at work.

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