Archives for mindfulness

What Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness Training ISN’T

By Bruce Mars

Woman_mirror

Why is emotional intelligence suddenly so touted as a major leadership skill?

Because we know a lot more about what makes people tick, what motivates them, and what inspires top performance than we ever did before. HINT: It’s not the old dominant intimidation model that helped the moguls of the past become monopolists (Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie.)

Industry was built by men during a time when being a man meant being tough, not showing weakness (by ways of emotions,) making decisions and demanding compliance, or else. The line between respect and fear was very thin.

Research done in 2005 proves that greedy entrepreneurs have less customer and employee satisfaction.

The more a leader gives freely, the more they will inspire trust and reciprocated financial and emotional rewards. The more they create a climate of lack, the more survival instincts will lead to cut-throat competitiveness that kills collaboration.

I mean, science does tell us this, but common sense might also tell you that starving people of rest, sleep, joy, living wages, and sometimes actual food will inhibit their performance. But that doesn’t mean that it’s common sense to make sure that your employees get ample rest, sleep, food, vacation time, fun, and money. That sounds like common sense, right?

What about starving people from being heard, having a voice, growing in contribution, having and expressing emotions, and being human?

We are learning more about what it means to be human and what it means to be an optimized human. So much has been discovered about the brain and its relationship with the mind, body, and spirit.

Did you know there actually is a part of your brain related to spirit? The insula and anterior cingulate, which also help you process social dilemmas. These are “newer” parts of our brain, evolutionarily. However, they are also parts of the brain we didn’t know much about, especially the implications of its clinical function, when many of today’s leaders were in college. And, these areas don’t fully develop until well into your third decade of life, unless this is accelerated (and development can be with practices that take mere minutes daily.) In fact, while they are the slowest developing parts of our brain, they are critical to helping us perception, morality, and virtues.

So, it would stand to reason that this type of training certainly benefits everyone, especially younger professionals, and perhaps even students.

However, a major focus is on leaders for obvious top-down reasons, like the fact that a leader is more effective when he or she leads by example, and leaders are expected to set the tone for the culture. But also, science now recognizes that as someone grows in ambition, they may express what is being called dispositional greed. Greed can contribute to amassing wealth, but can also cause people to act unfairly and selfishly, which will inspire altruistic punishment instead of cooperation and collaboration. It can also lead to full-blown crisis, such as the great recession. It needs to be kept in check, and for that, awareness is necessary. So, emotional intelligence and mindfulness training will also prevent leaders from a well-documented inclination that can lead to decisions that inspire low satisfaction, disengagement, and even sabotage.

On the upside…

What would be possible for your company if all of your employees could be trusted to act in the highest good of the company, its people, and its employees?

What would happen if, instead of having leaders who were able to leverage the strengths of his or her team, you have a team that can leverage each others’ strengths?

If this seems like a pie in the sky outcome, you may need to readjust your expectations of what is possible, and even what’s probable when you focus on enhancing individual self-awareness and empathy.

Think about all of the measures you take now to handle conflicts, ensure compliance, and mitigate human-based risks. You’ve been playing defense. I invite you to see what’s possible when you employ EI/MT (Emotional Intelligence/Mindfulness) training and start playing offense.

Small ripples create big, transformative waves.

What is EI/MT NOT?

It’s not just explaining etiquette. It’s not teaching ethics. It’s not a new way to make some people feel inferior or superior. It’s not going to make your employees “soft.” It’s not suppressing or denying emotions or emotional responses. It’s not a way to avoid conflict.

In fact, it’s going to help your employees become more self-sufficient at facilitating non-judgmental communications and consensus building. They will crave collaboration, think more creatively, and have healthier relationships with their emotions.

I have seen mindfulness be misapplied and misused to discourage people from disputing management decisions that seem to not be in the highest good. I have also seen people employ mindfulness and meditation to escape their emotions. These misuses backfire in big ways. The first is really bordering on mental abuse, and the second will lead to physical symptoms and illness. What we resist persists. Emotions need to be embraced and allowed. What the training does is release emotional bottlenecks and give them a more appropriate and healthful way to flow. It also increases awareness of the emotions so that decision making is done in an enhanced state of mind.

I have also seen those who have the training make others who are struggling emotionally feel like they need fixing. If you have been playing defense, the introduction of these trainings risks imposing these feelings. There is a way to introduce these trainings to your workforce that will help them embrace the changes and get excited about all that is possible for them rather than making them feel like they are joining a woo woo club of spiritual elitists.

Finally, these practices may produce a flow state, but that doesn’t mean that your workforce will suddenly become “soft” and unable or unwilling to deal with pressure. In fact, mindfulness has been proven to increase resilience.

I know a lot has been floating around about trainings of this type, which are not new, but have now at least been proven by small and large organizations to have a positive impact. If your interest is piqued, reach out to schedule a consultation and learn how EI and Mindfulness training can enhance your work experience and outcomes and those of your team.

Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – What I Am

Music video by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians performing What I Am. (C) 1988 Geffen Records

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Is Work Killing You?

If-you-are-depressed-you

Sound words of advice from Lao Tzu

 

Yoshinori Ono is a producer for Capcom, a Japanese video game development company. After a long and grueling work schedule, Ono suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized for a week. He remembers the morning of his hospitalization very well. Ono woke up to use the bathroom and saw steam everywhere. There was so much steam in the air that it seemed to choke him. He then collapsed on the bathroom floor. Hearing the crash, his wife called for an ambulance and Ono was rushed to the hospital. When Ono regained consciousness, the doctor informed him that his blood acidity level was extremely high. He had the same level of acidity as someone who had just run a marathon. Ono joked he was just using the bathroom, but his wife noted there was never any steam in the room. In reality, the long hours he put in at Capcom had taken a toll on his health. Even though Ono would go on to recover from his illness, he still puts in long hours at work.

Reading Yoshinori Ono’s story may cause you to wince, but have you ever assessed your own employment situation? You may be a workaholic without realizing it. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • When you are with your friends or family, are you thinking about work?
  • Have you been turning down invitations to social events to work more hours?
  • Do you rarely take vacations or find yourself working through your vacation?
  • Do you have trouble delegating work?
  • Do you feel your identity is your work?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be a workaholic. A workaholic is defined as a person who works compulsively. Some people work long hours because they LOVE their career. Other people work long hours because they are motivated by fear, anxiety, or pressure. Whether you work long hours because you love your job, or you’re motivated by pressure, long hours at work can cause an imbalance and negatively impact your health.

Dr. Travis Bradberry noted in his article “Is Your Boss Worse Than Cigarettes?” that a bad boss can have serious health effects on workers. While having a bad boss isn’t the sole cause of workaholism, the effects are similar. Worrying about losing your job can make you 50% more likely to experience poor health, while having an overly demanding job makes you 35% more likely to have a physician-diagnosed illness. These illnesses can include depression, heart disease, heart attack, sleep deprivation, strained relationships with family and even death. In the long run, the quality of your work may suffer because of mental exhaustion and burnout.

 

A visual of the statistics from Dr. Travis Bradberry's LinkedIn article.

A visual of the statistics from Dr. Travis Bradberry’s LinkedIn article.

Other studies have concluded that working too many hours can even impair your cognitive functions. In a five-year study conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology, participants who worked 55 hours per week performed worse than the participants who worked 40 hours per week. Compared to many other cultures, Americans tend to work longer hours and take shorter vacations. People who worked long hours did worse in terms of intelligence, reasoning and verbal recall. In short, working longer hours has a negative impact on productivity, and the overall returns are diminished. Working long hours can also lead to major regrets later in life. Game Designer Jane McGonigal mentions in TED Talk about regrets of the dying that remorse over working long hours and not enjoying life is the first regret of many people.

Admitting you may be a workaholic is the first step in tackling the problem. You may be deep in denial, as many people are. However, the idea of not spending your waking hours being productive, or seeing leisure time as wasteful are big warning signs. If you find yourself working too many hours, stepping back from work is a good way to help combat workaholism.

 

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your complete attention to the present moment. It is being fully aware of yourself and your surroundings. You live in and meditate in the moment, instead of thinking about the past, or the future. Mindfulness is also a great way to relax, and can help relieve stress and anxiety. Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, is famous for his timeless nuggets of wisdom. On anxiety Tzu stated, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

 

Find ways to lighten your workload

If you have a heavy work schedule, you may need to let go of some of your work.

  • Don’t accept more work than you can handle.
  • By juggling more tasks, you may feel more productive, but in reality you may not be accomplishing much more. Marcus Buckingham revealed some great research about multi-tasking and the detriments of doing so in his book, Find Your Strongest Life.
  • Manage your energy by completing the most urgent tasks first in your day.
  • Learn to delegate some of your tasks to others, as you may not need to complete each and every task yourself.
  • Learn to stop being a perfectionist and a multi-tasker.
  • Taking on too many tasks at once can cause you to lose focus on what’s important and your work may never seem to end.
  • Take your breaks. If you’re fond of not taking lunch breaks, or eating at your desk, it’s time to kill that bad habit.
  • Take your entire lunch hour and try going for a walk during your breaks.
  • Exercise before you work. Brent Phillips, MIT-trained engineer and founder of Awakening Dynamics- The Formula for Miracles, promotes exercise for increasing blood flow to your brain, increasing your productivity, and your IQ.
  • A few small changes to your day can go a long way.

Businessman and author Tom Peters has stated, “Leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders.”

Lao Tzu also has a few words of wisdom on leadership, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim is fulfilled, they will say: ‘we did it ourselves.’”

A heavy work schedule may also be a matter of the work being allocated to you unfairly. If this is the case, don’t allow this practice to continue. You can do better! Sometimes people take on more because they can’t say “no.” Is this you? There are a ton of articles that teach people how to say “no.” However, we also TRAIN people how to treat us. We think that people “always” treat us unfairly, but really they have learned from us how to treat us, and we condition them, by reinforcing that we will accept and complete the work.

 

Leave work at work

You are more than your job. You are allowed to relax and to enjoy your free time. Think of it this way- anything that runs at 100% all of the time will eventually burnout. The same applies to you. Schedule free time into your day and heed that schedule. During your free time, ignore the temptation to squeeze more work into your day. If you’re with your family, whether it is the weekend or a vacation, dedicate your free time to them. Don’t run to your phone every time it beeps with a new message or e-mail. Save those matters for your working hours, unless it is an emergency. Taking the time to rest and to enjoy that rest will ensure you return to work refreshed and recharged.

 

Think about your future and the legacy you may leave behind. You may enjoy working long hours at work because you love what you do, or you may be fearful of not working hard enough. The short-term bursts of productivity are negated by the long-term detrimental tolls overworking can exact on your mind and body. Learning to let go of long hours can improve your health, your productivity, and your relationships with your family and friends. In the long-term, you will look at your career and smile as you’re able to say you worked hard, but took time to take care of yourself and your family.