A Dance with theDivine

A Dance with theDivine

From UPLIFT

We have to nourish our insight into impermanence every day. If we do, we will live more deeply, suffer less, and enjoy life much more. — Thích Nhất Hạnh

I am sitting in Boulder, Colorado at the end of July. The hum of Summer is everywhere. Nature is asserting her way effortlessly with exponential ease. The encroaching abundance is tapping at the window panes. Self-seeded sunflowers are following the sun and rocking in the breeze. Somewhere a radio plays uplifting tunes and Winter feels like an almost forgotten era, an ice-age ago.

And yet, as a first-time visitor to Colorado, I am curious about the long Winters. How everything will recede into what T.S. Eliot called the deadlands: that dormant peaceful sleep. I can’t help but stare at the enthusiastic, leaping-green foliage and tune in to its amnesia of Winter where I too am seduced and can hear my own being whispering how Winter, this year, will never arrive. How can it? In this very moment, there is no place for Winter… it is impossible. Everything is awake, even in the deep of night. Everything is alive and communing with each other.

The hum of Summer is everywhere.

Sipping ice tea, I close my eyes and imagine the white forgotten wonderland; everything snow-capped and snow deep. Some of this green will hibernate and find its new breath somewhere between April and May. But a lot of this verdant splendour will simply die. And I’m filled with a simultaneous sense of Trust and Acceptance. There is no place for grief in this present moment; no place for conversations about the impermanence of life. Right here nothing is born or dying–it is exquisitely changing molecular shape and endlessly manifesting into countless organic configurations.

My thoughts turn to those I love who have slipped into the deadlands; who have given up the ghost. And I now feel my grief smiling as I think of their old body-vessels molecularly coursing through the icy rivulets into Gold Lake; becoming the indigo of the petals of the blue mist penstemon; the shout of the gold stonecrop moss; the irrepressibly subtle lichen determined to spruce up every rock; the intelligence shaping the deciduous bushes or the ever-green resilient pines; the soft fur of a chipmunk’s tail; or the generous Summer rains and all the wildflowers sign-posting my way HOME as I walk around the lake.

I am grateful that my direct experience with death and grief has evolved into a loving acceptance and a peaceful trust in this alchemy–mystery that we call Life. And I have known all too well the grip of grief who, like a relentless hurricane, told me over and over and over that inner-peace will never, ever return.

But it does. And it will, And it is.

My loved ones are everywhere on this material plane. They have never been anywhere else. Their life-force, their essence, their spirit is having yet more dance lessons with the Divine.

The metamorphasis fills me with trust and acceptance.

I cannot think about the infinite metamorphosis of Existence without calling upon Hafiz…

Deepening The Wonder by Hafiz

Death is a favour to us,

But our scales have lost their balance.

The impermanence of the body

Should give us great clarity,

Deepening the wonder in our senses and eyes

Of this mysterious existence we share

And are surely just traveling through.

If I were in the Tavern tonight,

Hafiz would call for drinks

And as the Master poured, I would be reminded

That all I know of life and myself is that

We are just a mid-air flight of golden wine

Between His Pitcher and His Cup.

If I were in the Tavern tonight,

I would buy freely for everyone in this world

Because our marriage with the Cruel Beauty

Of time and space cannot endure very long.

Death is a favour to us,

But our minds have lost their balance.

The miraculous existence and impermanence of Form

Always makes the illuminated ones

Laugh and Sing.

~

Got mantra?

Got mantra?

We all have those instances when frustration, stress, or negative rumination threaten to ruin our day — and it’s up to us to course correct and reclaim our mood and productivity. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple positive mantra to act as that little reminder that everything will be OK. 

Like with meditation, there is plenty of research to back up the power of a mantra on our bodies and minds. According to one 2015 study, mantras can be effective even if people don’t regularly meditate. The research found that when someone repeats a mantra, it causes a major shift in their brain activity — specifically in the part responsible for internal evaluation, rumination, and mind-wandering. When researchers compared results between participants in a resting state who used a mantra against those that didn’t, the ones utilizing the mantra reached a more advanced state of psychological calm.

We asked members of the Thrive community to share the thoughts or mantras that help them stay positive, even on a bad day. From phrases they created themselves to age-old sayings that have spread happiness for years, their positive words have helped them overcome stress and anxiety, and will help you, too.

“Everything happens right on schedule.”

“It’s the one mantra I cling to as I watch life unfold around me in strange and beautiful ways. I can resist or I can flow, and either way, this mantra remains in place.”

—Lois Melkonian, life coach, Denver, CO 

“Things are not being done to me, they are just happening.”

“When I am having a bad day I tell myself this. When something is going wrong, many of us think someone is doing it to us, but sometimes we’re just victims of circumstance. Instead of rolling up in a ball and letting the negativity get to you, you need to realize that things just happen and deal with it. It’s like anything in life — you have to decide to either make the most of something or make the worst of it. We all know which decision would leave us happier at the end of the day.” 

—James Philip, serial entrepreneur, Chicago, IL 

“Remember who you are.”

“I have discovered that the shorter the mantra, the more easily accessible it is. Mantra is most beneficial when you are able to remember it when you need it. Stephen Hyde is a pro cyclist who shared this mantra in his documentary film, Mindful: Stephen Hyde. It is short, sweet, and effective. I have personally connected to it and really enjoyed sharing it with others.”

—Julie Westervelt, yoga teacher and founder, Austin, TX 

“It will get done.”

“When my plate is full — which is most of the time — I tell myself this. I remind myself I am fully equipped to do all that I want to accomplish. Nothing will stop me from achieving my goals. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you are all the motivation you need to keep going.” 

—Marla J. Albertie, life and career coach, Jacksonville, FL

“Your way in is your way out.” 

“This mantra helps me not only stay positive, but also realize that I have the power to manage things without external validation. Business issue to solve? I’ll dive in to jump out. Heartbreak to go through? I’ll work to understand the lesson and search for answers inside, trust my gut, and learn how to sit on it and accept it. To me, this mantra is as simple as breathing — to breathe out you shall first to breathe in.” 

—Alla Adam, blockchain solutions architect, Chicago, IL 

“Love the life you have.” 

“I make a mental gratitude list and I say this to myself. At 69 years old and after 35 years as a psychologist, I recognize that appreciation and gratitude water the different aspects of our lives, and what we water and feed grows. So, I try to feel positive and appreciative, and observe the types of experiences I want to expand and grow in my life.”

—Tian Dayton, Ph.D., author and psychologist, New York, NY 

“Nothing lasts forever. Not the good, and not the bad.”

“I repeat this mantra not only during stressful times to lower my stress levels, but also during good times as a reminder to live in the moment.” 

—Sonia Ruivo, marketing consultant, Montreal, Canada 

“No one can take your joy.” 

“Mantras are a magical meditative vehicle to occupy our conscious mind and allow our subconscious to connect to our universal truth. This one mantra helps me keep buoyant amidst life’s tumultuous waves. Once you tap into the understanding that what we feel is ours, independent of the surrounding circumstances, we can reclaim the omnipotent power of which we are all capable — to feel, manifest, and live all that what we desire.” 

—Polo Reo Tate, author, artist, and speaker, New York, NY 

“You are a smart, powerful woman. You’ve got this.”

“I have a sticky note that says this on my bathroom mirror and I read it out loud to myself every morning before work. This mantra has helped me through many difficult times when I felt that I was completely out of my realm. The more I have looked myself straight in the eye and repeated these words, the more confident I have become.”

—Carrie McEachran, executive director, Sarnia, Ontario, Canada 

“Happiness is a choice, not a condition. I choose to be happy.”

“This mantra I, like many others, have suffered loss. At 40 years old, I lost my husband to an infection after a ‘routine’ surgical procedure. I was convinced I could never be happy again. In grief counseling, I learned that meditation might help me find peace. Meditating helped me discover that while I could not control feelings of sadness brought on by random memories, I could in fact, choose to be happy whenever I wanted to feel stronger. I found peace after all. Today, I allow myself to feel sad and I don’t judge that feeling or worry about any long term effects from it. I know that I can choose to be happy again.” 

—Raina Casbon-Kelts, chief experience office, New Orleans, LA 

“I step into my power regardless of what anyone else thinks.”

“This is one of my favorite mantras, even though I have a few! This mantra helps me win the war against the inner gremlins that try to shame me into hiding my gifts. It also empowers me to emit the light I feel compelled to shine. Since I do a lot of writing as a healer and coach, and am finishing up a memoir, this mantra is with me everyday. I feel a wave of courage each time I say it.” 

—Miriam Racquel (Meryl) Feldman, somatic healing, Chicago, IL

“Tomorrow is a new day.”

“This mantra that has seen me through many bad days. It serves as a simple reminder that ‘this too shall pass’ and a new day will bring new opportunities. It keeps the hope and light alive. It also reminds me of Scarlett O’Hara and her fortitude from the classic novel Gone with the Wind.

—Gia Ganesh, people and culture lead, Atlanta, GA 

“OK, next point.”

“I have received many mantras from meditation masters and enjoy them all. However, I created ‘next point’ as my signature everyday mantra. And It works every time. When I want to instantly shift my state from stress to serenity I say it to myself. It not only works for me — it also works for anyone I’m with in that moment. This mantra came about when I was taking tennis lessons; whenever I missed the ball, I would groan and grimace. My coach said to me, ‘Dianne, don’t have a mini-depression every time you miss the ball. Put your racket back, wait for the next ball, and swing!’ To me that meant: ‘OK, next point. Move to the next moment, Dianne. Every moment is fresh and new.’” 

—Dianne Collins, author and philosopher, Miami, FL 

“Inhale, exhale.”

“Repeating this phrase does two things: It reminds me to take deeper breaths and recognize that all energy is about circulation. Shallow breathing is often a negative impact of stress. Pulling in more oxygen creates more energy and allows you to release more toxins. You also cannot breathe in without breathing out and vice versa. This mantra helps ensure that I breathe in (receive support or help) and breathe out (take action or give support).”

—Beth Larsen, high performance and happiness coach, New York, NY 

“It’s all good!”

“I say this all day long with a smile on my face.” 

—Esma Deljanin, human resources manager, Westbury, NY

“I choose love.”

“This one simple mantra eases my heart, mind, and soul almost immediately, which still surprises me because it is, again, quite simple. My childhood is one of those that can be described as ‘complex trauma.’ Complex trauma can leave one with ‘scars’ of fear and self-loathing, yet I have learned that love saves and heals all. When I remind myself that ‘I choose love’ — and I might have to say it a few times for it to sink in — the fear, self-loathing, and negative thoughts that seem to overtake me lose their power and I am, instead, awash with love.” 

—Lisa Kohn, author, Wayne, PA 

“I am calm, cared for, and connected.” 

“My meditation teacher created this mantra for me as I prepared to visit my mother’s house for the first time after her death. I didn’t know if I could do what needed to be done, but these words were what I needed to regain my strength. They helped me through many difficult days, and  today when faced with stress, anxiety, or sadness, this is the mantra I still repeat to myself.” 

—Margaret Meloni, Ph.D., author, Long Beach, CA 

The Future of Work is here… what are you doing about it?

The Future of Work is here… what are you doing about it?

#futureofwork #digitaltransformation #shiftmindset #leadership

Retraining and reskilling workers in the age of automation

The world of work faces an epochal transition. By 2030, according to the a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, as many as 375 million workers—or roughly 14 percent of the global workforce—may need to switch occupational categories as digitization, automation, and advances in artificial intelligence disrupt the world of work. The kinds of skills companies require will shift, with profound implications for the career paths individuals will need to pursue.
How big is that challenge?
In terms of magnitude, it’s akin to coping with the large-scale shift from agricultural work to manufacturing that occurred in the early 20th century in North America and Europe, and more recently in China. But in terms of who must find new jobs, we are moving into uncharted territory. Those earlier workforce transformations took place over many decades, allowing older workers to retire and new entrants to the workforce to transition to the growing industries. But the speed of change today is potentially faster. The task confronting every economy, particularly advanced economies, will likely be to retrain and redeploy tens of millions of mid-career, middle-age workers. As the MGI report notes, “there are few precedents in which societies have successfully retrained such large numbers of people.”
So far, growing awareness of the scale of the task ahead has yet to translate into action. Indeed, public spending on labor-force training and support has fallen steadily for years in most member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). Nor do corporate-training budgets appear to be on any kind of upswing.
But that may be about to change.
Among companies on the front lines, according to a recent McKinsey survey, executives increasingly see investing in retraining and “upskilling” existing workers as an urgent business priority—and they also believe that this is an issue where corporations, not governments, must take the lead. Our survey, which was in the field in late 2017, polled more than 1,500 respondents from business, the public sector, and not for profits across regions, industries, and sectors. The analysis that follows focuses on answers from roughly 300 executives at companies with more than $100 million in annual revenues.
Among this group, 66 percent see “addressing potential skills gaps related to automation/digitization” within their workforce as at least a “top-ten priority.” Nearly 30 percent put it in the top five. The driver behind this sense of urgency is the accelerating pace of enterprise-wide transformation. Looking back over the past five years, only about a third of executives in our survey said technological change had caused them to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their employees.
But when they look out over the next five years, that narrative changes.
Sixty-two percent of executives believe they will need to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their workforce between now and 2023 due to advancing automation and digitization. The threat looms larger in the United States and Europe (64 percent and 70 percent respectively) than in the rest of the world (only 55 percent)—and it is felt especially acutely among the biggest companies. Seventy percent of executives at companies with more than $500 million in annual revenues see technological disruption over the next five years affecting more than a quarter of their workers.
Appropriately, this keen sense of the challenge ahead comes with a strong feeling of ownership. While they clearly do not expect to solve this alone—forging creative partnerships with a wide range of relevant players, for example, will be critical—by a nearly a 5:1 margin, the executives in our latest survey believe that corporations, not governments, educators, or individual workers, should take the lead in trying to close the looming skills gap. That’s the view of 64 percent of the private-sector executives in the United States who see this as a top-ten priority issue, and 59 percent in Europe
As for solutions, 82 percent of executives at companies with more than $100 million in annual revenues believe retraining and reskilling must be at least half of the answer to addressing their skills gap. Within that consensus, though, were clear regional differences. Fully 94 percent of those surveyed in Europe insisted the answer would either be an equal mix of hiring and retraining or mainly retraining versus a strong but less resounding 62 percent in this camp in the United States. By contrast, 35 percent of Americans thought the challenge would have to be met mainly or exclusively by hiring new talent, compared to just 7 percent in this camp in Europe
Now the bad news: only 16 percent of private-sector business leaders in this group feel “very prepared” to address potential skills gaps, with roughly twice as many feeling either “somewhat unprepared” or “very unprepared.” The majority felt “somewhat prepared”—hardly a clarion call of confidence.
What are the main barriers? About one-third of executives feel an urgent need to rethink and upgrade their current HR infrastructure. Many companies are also struggling to figure out how job roles will change and what kind of talent they will require over the next five to ten years. Some executives who saw this as a top priority—42 percent in the United States, 24 percent in Europe, and 31 percent in the rest of the world—admit they currently lack a “good understanding of how automation and/or digitization will affect our future skills needs.”
Such a high degree of anxiety is understandable. In our experience, too much traditional training and retraining goes off the rails because it delivers no clear pathway to new work, relies too heavily on theory versus practice, and fails to show a return on investment. Generation, a global youth employment not for profit founded in 2015 by McKinsey, deliberately set out to address those shortcomings. Operating in five countries across over 20 professions, Generation operates programs that focus on targeting training to where strong demand for jobs exists and gathers the data needed to prove the return on investment (ROI) to learners and employers. As a result, Generation’s more than 16,000 graduates have over 82 percent job placement, 72 percent job retention at one year, and two to six times higher income than prior to the program. Generation will soon pilot a new initiative, Re-Generation, to apply this same formula—which includes robust partnerships with employers, governments and not for profits—to helping mid-career employees learn new skills for new jobs.
For many companies, cracking the code on reskilling is partly about retaining their “license to operate” by empowering employees to be more productive. Thirty-eight percent of executives in our survey, across all regions, cited the desire to “align with our organization’s mission and values” as a key reason for taking action. In a similar vein, at last winter’s World Economic Forum in Davos, 80 percent of CEOs who were investing heavily in artificial intelligence also publicly pledged to retain and retrain existing employees.
But the biggest driver is this: as digitization, automation, and AI reshape whole industries and every enterprise, the only way to realize the potential productivity dividends from that investment will be to have the people and processes in place to capture it. Managing this transition well, in short, is not just a social good; it’s a competitive imperative. That’s why a resounding majority of respondents—64 percent across Europe, the United States, and the rest of the world—said the main reason they were willing to invest in retraining was “to increase employee productivity.”
We hear that thought echoed in a growing number of C-suite conversations we are having these days. At the moment, most top executives have far more questions than answers about what it will take to meet the reskilling challenge at the kind of scale the next decade will likely demand. They ask: How can I map the future against my current talent pool and processes? What part of future employment demand can I meet by retraining existing workers, and what is the ROI of doing so, versus simply hiring new ones? How best can I tap into what are, for me, nontraditional talent pools? What partners, either in the private, public, or nongovernmental-organization (NGO) sectors, might help me succeed—and what are our respective roles?
Good questions all.
Success will require first developing a granular map of how technology will change the skill requirements within your company. Once this is understood, the next step will be deciding whether to tap into new models of online and offline learning and training or partner with traditional educational providers. (Over time, a more fundamental rethinking of 100-year-old educational models will also be needed.) Policy makers will need to consider new forms of unemployment income and worker transition support, and foster more intensive and innovative collaboration between the public and private sectors. Individuals will need to step up too, as will governments. Depending on the speed and scale of the coming workforce transition, as MGI noted in its recent report, many countries may conclude they will need to undertake “initiatives on the scale of the Marshall plan.”
But for now, we simply take comfort from the clear message of our latest survey: among large companies, senior executives see an urgent need to rethink and retool their role in helping workers develop the right skills for a rapidly changing economy—and their will to meet this challenge is strong. That’s not a bad place to start.

About the author(s)

Pablo Illanes is a partner in McKinsey’s Stamford office, Susan Lund is a partner of the McKinsey Global Institute, Mona Mourshed and Scott Rutherford are senior partners in the Washington, DC, office, and Magnus Tyreman is a senior partner in the Stockholm office.
thread

thread

noun

a fine cord of flax, cotton, or other fibrous material spun out to considerable length, especially when composed of two or more filaments twisted together.

  1. twisted filaments or fibers of any kind used for sewing.
  2. one of the lengths of yarn forming the warp or weft of a woven fabric.

verb 

  1. to thread one’s way, as through a passage or between obstacles
  2. to move in a threadlike course; wind or twine.

Is it that something is missing or that something is not flowing properly?

I’ve lately realized that more that looking for something I lack, the journey is to open the channels to allow energy to flow in and out, up and down, connecting different layers within myself and around me.

It surprised me to learn that physiologically it’s not that “we breathe”, it’s rather that we just produce a change in pressure in our body that permits the Universe to “breathe us”. Revealing, right?

Instead of muscling through, just produce a small change in the pressure and let the thing, whatever it is, to manifest.

I heard, deeply in my heart, one of my yoga teachers saying that to be able to relax and surrender, our body needs to feel supported.

The guiding principles that apply to the body also apply to the mind.

The body follows the mind, the mind follows the breath, another yoga teacher says.

S/he who masters the breath, masters the world, yoga tradition teaches.

I add that also what happens in the body happens in the mind… and in the organization.

So, s/he who masters the breath, masters her/his organizational journey.

The breath is probably the only thing we can control. The respiratory system is the only in the human body that is autonomous AND conscious. So hardly the one thing we can really influence is our breathing pattern and how much and how long to focus our attention (ergo our mind) on our breath.

I remember a colleague in my former job telling that she loved to scuba dive because she knew she needed to pace and relax her breathing to count with enough oxygen in her tank. Besides, she could clearly listen to herself breathing, and the sound soothed her. Beautifully said!

My two cents today: when things start to spin crazy and I close my grip -in my throat, between my shoulder blades, in my belly- trying to control the uncontrollable-  I just turn to my breath and smooth its rough edges. And stay there for a few minutes.

Breathing in, I am Here. Breathing out, I am Now.