Archives for What is MT?

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.

Celebration…And Stress Management

September has just whizzed by, and so has the past year, hasn’t it?

I just celebrated my 1st wedding anniversary … Yay!  It’s another big milestone since my divorce a few years ago, after my 26-year marriage fell apart.  I’m so much happier now … happier than I ever thought I could be!  It’s amazing how life can be so much brighter after navigating a life-shaking transition.  (I hope those of you currently going through a tough transition will take comfort knowing how wonderful life can be on the other side.)
A major factor in my happiness is how I’ve learned to manage and reduce stress in the past few years.  I’ve been sharing many of these techniques with my coaching clients.  Last week, I took the time to compile my stress management tips into an article.
In celebration of my 1st anniversary, I’m sharing my article with you:

 

10 Tips to Manage and Reduce Stress … Without Alcohol, Drugs, or Chocolate

 

Relax by Scarleth White from Flickr

Relax by Scarleth White from Flickr

As busy people, stress has become such a huge and omnipresent factor in our everyday lives.  At work, we’re under more pressure than ever to get results because of the stagnant economy and because downsizing has resulted in fewer people available to get the work done. Our email boxes are overflowing.
At home, we’re spending less time having fun and doing activities that we love, and we’re getting less sleep than we need.  We’re addicted to our mobile devices delivering messages to us 24×7.  Crankiness abounds.  It’s affecting our physical health too.  And the stress is even higher if we’re going through a life-shaking transition such as a career change, relocation, separation, divorce, or death of a loved one.
Sound familiar?   OK, then take a deeeeep breath.  Here are 10 tips to help you manage and alleviate stress … without alcohol, drugs,or chocolate.  🙂

 

1.  Recognize the difference between pressure and stress.
Pressure is imposed by external sources such as events or other people.  Stress is created by internal sources, i.e. it’s self-imposed.  We generate stress by the way we react to the pressures in our life.  This is an important distinction because we may not be able to do anything to eliminate the things causing the pressure, but we can certainly learn to control how we react to it,thereby alleviating stress.  The following Tips #2-6  are about how to manage how we react to external triggers.

 

2. Stop beating yourself up.
The biggest cause of stress is when we beat yourselves up over something we did or didn’t do.  We are our own harshest critics. If you find your inner critic shouting “I shoulda,” “I coulda,” or “I woulda,” that’s a sign that you’re beating yourself up.
Separate yourself from your inner critic.  Know that your negative self-talk cannot undo the past.  It’s only making you feel bad. Use positive self-talk and affirmations to shift your mood and energy.  Know that you did the best job you could, based on the information and resources you had at that time, and that you learned your lesson and will do better next time.  Be gentle on yourself, and move forward.

 

3. Accept what is.
 
Is cross-town traffic grid-locked when you’re late for your appointment?  Are the jackhammers across the street so loud you can’t hear yourself think?  Is the mother of the screaming toddler on your flight doing nothing to calm him down?  Is your ex-husband taking calls from his new girlfriend while you’re trying to have an important conversation with him?  Is your blood pressure rising, just reading this paragraph?
An ancient Buddhist proverb says:  “Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional.”  It means that sh++ happens and you can’t do anything about it … but you can choose whether you’ll let it bother you or not.   Things bother us when we tell ourselves that “Something’s wrong” or “It’s not supposed to be this way.”  Re-frame the situation.  Don’t let those things bother you.  Just accept them as being “normal,”  even if they’re not.  Maintain an even keel.

 

4. Re-set your expectations.

Annoyed because your employee missed another deadline?  Upset because your sister never returns your phone calls?  Feeling overwhelmed because you thought you would be much farther along on your big project that you committed to have done by next week?
When your reality falls short of your expectations, you feel disappointed, unhappy, overwhelmed, or stressed.  Sometimes, the best way to deal with that is to re-calibrate your expectations:
  • Realize that your employee works at a slower pace than others. You can either give him more time, or take other actions to manage his performance.
  • Accept that your sister may not value staying in touch as much as you do.  Don’t take it personally when she doesn’t call you back.
  • Forgive yourself for your project delays and allow more time in the future for unexpected obstacles.  (And stop beating yourself up.)   Take big projects and break them down into smaller, more manageable chunks.  Don’t be such a perfectionist.  Other people don’t expect you to be perfect, so don’t pressure yourself to be.
5. Notice what you’re worrying about.
What are the things you most worry about?  Which of them are things you have some control over?  Which are things you truly cannot control?  What benefit are you getting by worrying about these things?
There is a famous prayer that goes “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  Focus on the things you have control over, and take actions to make them better.  Let go of worrying about things that you can’t control, including trying to change other people’s personalities or behaviors.
6. Avoid people and situations that upset you.
Notice what triggers you.   Is it rush hour traffic?  Or certain people who exude negative energy?  Your ex?  The maddening crowds?  Store employees who don’t understand the meaning of customer service?
The more aware you are of what triggers you and how you react, the more you can avoid those situations.  Set boundaries to protect yourself and your sanity.  Learn to say “no” when people demand your time.  Take a different route to work to avoid heavy traffic, even if it might take a little longer.  Minimize contact with people who are toxic, even if they’re family members.  It’s not worth the aggravation.  Instead, surround yourself with positive people.
7. Write it down.
Our brains are running at light speed all the time.  We get brilliant sparks of genius at the most inopportune times.  We’re constantly thinking of all the things we need to get done or all the things we need to remember.  Our mind is in a constant swirl,even when we’re trying to sleep.  No wonder we get stressed out.
Carry a small notebook everywhere you go.  Keep it on your bedside table.  When you think of something you want to remember, write it down.  By downloading it from your brain, you have more mental space and calmness so that you can focus on being present.
8. Give yourself the gift of peace and quiet.
Give yourself some quiet time every day to rest your mind.  Focus on the positive things in your life, and be grateful for them.
People who practice Transcendental Meditation say that they can re-set their minds with just a 20-minute deep meditation twice a day.  Even if you don’t practice TM, you can benefit from meditating every day or just engaging in quiet time.  For more tips on meditating, see our February 2013 article:
http://wingsforwomen.net/3809/manage-stress-through-meditation/
9. Take care of your body.
Prolonged stress will tear up your body and upset your natural rhythms of health.  Your body will rebel by getting sick when you’re on overload, forcing you to rest.  Your immune system will suffer.  You’ll get high blood pressure or ulcers. In extreme cases, you’ll be susceptible to serious diseases or even cancer.
Commit to a regular sleeping schedule so you can re-charge your batteries.  Drink lots of water.  It’s amazing what water does to enable your body and brain to function properly.  Eat well balanced, nutritional meals.  Cut back on caffeine and sugar to avoid mood swings and energy crashes.  Keep your body moving with regular exercise, especially yoga or cardio exercise.  Take an invigorating Zumba dance class.  Vigorous exercise generates endorphins, the natural “feel good” chemicals in your brain.  Take a relaxing hot bath.  Get a soothing massage.  Most importantly … Breathe!
10. Engage in fun and enjoyable activities.
Even if you don’t have much time to spare, devote some time each week to do things you enjoy.  Have fun.  Celebrate small successes.  Keep a sense of humor about things that are going awry.  Laughter is the best medicine!  People have even been known to cure themselves of cancer by engaging in serious laughter.
Life is too short to be stressed out all the time.  Breathe.  Smell the roses once in a while.  Keep a positive outlook on life.  Take care of the #1 VIP … YOU!! 
I hope you found these tips to be helpful, especially Tips #2-6, which are about how to manage how you react to external triggers.  If you feel challenged in this area, consider investing in some coaching.
For a complimentary consultation to explore how coaching can help you, fill out a brief request form here:   http://bit.ly/WFWStrategySession
To a joyful and more fulfilling future,Keiko Hsu
Award-Winning Certified Life Coach,
Business & Executive Coach, and Transition Mentor
Wings for Women®
San Francisco, CA