Getting together as a firm helps to reduce stress and build closer relationships, which in turn promotes better teamwork and greater work satisfaction. In the video below, we share our interactive wellness challenge titled "Moving with Gratitude."
Pause, pause…pause…pivot! Do you know how long to pause, when you have a challenge with another person or need to reach a resolution?
One of the principles in my book Culture Infusion is to handle challenges and conflict openly, directly, and immediately. I use a strategy to Pause to Pivot to the Positive. In this video, I share how many times, we need to spend more time in the pause, before we can move forward.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes and see things from their perspective. Carl Rogers, a 20th-century humanist psychologist and the founder of a person-centered psychotherapy, eloquently discussed in his theories, "Empathy is a special way of coming to know another and ourselves, a kind of attuning and understanding. When empathy is extended, it satisfies our needs and wish for intimacy, it rescues us from our feelings of aloneness."
In this video, I share "how" my internal team and I have been sharing in the circle of empathy.
With a focus on whole-body awareness and some simple Ayurvedic suggestions, I learned how to turn a midday slump into midday intelligence. This 3,000 year old holistic approach works for adults and children by supporting our natural biological rhythms. The foods we choose can affect our body and brain causing us to slump or to flourish. With a little attention we can optimize our lunch choices for ourselves and our children at work, school, or home.
Ayurvedic food is used to sustain balance in the body and as a medicine to heal. It is suggested that lunch is the largest meal, as our digestive fire is at its strongest. Taking the time to bring a homemade lunch fuels the mind and body to sustain balance and create mental clarity. Even though processed food is more convenient to pack, it can be laced with harmful additives and chemicals. Processed food lacks prana (life force) and intelligence that can disturb the intellectual rhythms. On the other hand, pure cooked food promotes balance and is easier to digest and absorb nutrients. This gives us strength to make it through a mentally challenging day. This is equally important if you have school aged children. A balanced diet enables us to better handle the emotional ups and downs of the day.
In Ayurveda which literally translates to science of life in Sanskrit, it is recommended not to pair fruit with other food, making fruit the perfect after school or work snack option.
Now that you have nourished your body it is time to attend to your brain. Take a few minutes to stretch or go for a walk. Quiet your mind by paying attention to each of your feet touching the ground feeling your feet stretch. Try meditating, focusing on your breathing, or making a mental gratitude list. (For guided relaxations and movement at your desk, check out all the options in the drop down on my personal wellness website: http://www.zendoway.com/videos.html). Visualize how you will interact with your loved ones when you greet them at the of their day. Formulate a few questions you can use to really interact.
Here are a few questions and leads to get you started:
As the new season is upon us and for our own well-being, it is critical to utilize our energy in the most effective and efficient ways. Nobody likes the midday slump, but with the slightest efforts Ayurvedic or Ayurveda can be utilized to energize your family’s day at work or school.
If you would like to add mindful energy to your day, contact me about my Make a Great Day! Program. Individual and companywide sessions are available.
I’d like to share the steps my team and I have been utilizing while we prepare for being out of the office. As I go on vacation the next two weeks, I'm looking forward to truly unplugging. These 8 easy steps show you how to enjoy your time off and make a great vacation - so you can come back to work refreshed and motivated.
Encouraging team connection is one of the most vital principles of infusing a thriving culture into your organization. A book club is an easy way to facilitate this, with
like-minded team members gathering and bonding over a shared experience.
At the firm I work with, Actualize, we’ve had numerous versions of book clubs over the years, and we’re just getting ready to begin another. Here are some tips on how you can start a book club within your organization (or even with a group of friends or family):
1.) Survey the team on the frequency and types of books to explore. (We landed on quarterly after discovering it was too hard to keep up with reading one book a month.)
2.) Choose a club leader with co-leaders to manage each book’s selection,
check-ins, and discussion sessions. This encourages participation and allows others to share the ownership.
3.) Invite the team to select the next book via a brief survey listing several potential books, after asking for new recommendations. The majority vote determines final selection.
4.) Choose a time to discuss the book. Be sure to send a list of questions* before the meeting so everyone is prepared to participate. (We identified this pre-discussion list of questions as a best practice to focus our time together.)
If your team is remote and you cannot meet in person, either have a conference call or utilize a video conference technology, such as Zoom, to make the meetings more personal.
What is the significance of the title? How did you interpret it prior to reading the book? Were you pulled effortlessly into the book, or did you have difficulty getting into it? Why? What have you gained from reading this book?
5.) Summarize key points from the book and distribute these to the entire firm. This strategy may entice new members to join!
What are some of your favorite books or experiences with book clubs? I would love to hear from you to help us get our book club back in session!
Do you have a to-do list a mile high? Too much on your plate? Have you ever had a hard time delegating? I know this has been a struggle for me over the years.
With guidance from my team of coaches, I have been focusing even more attention on delegating and empowering others.
First, I was guided to notice which tasks did not “light me up.” I got honest and realized they were mostly administrative in nature. I asked my internal team to step up and take ownership of their newly delegated responsibilities.
I see how they are more empowered as I let them take the lead. My long-term finance manager truly took the increase in responsibility and ownership to heart and led the operational side of our UK office opening.
Her efforts were rewarded when we promoted her mid-year.
Second, I was faced with giving up those activities that do “light me up.” I love to write and create, yet do not have the capacity to promote my line of mindful children’s books or my themed, soft squeezable Zendoway cubes with motivational prompts on each side.
I handed over the social media platforms that support my books and cubes to two interns, one leading the way as this is her second year working with me. At first, I “helped” them by giving them ideas and guidance, but I soon saw that I was just getting in the way. Steve Jobs once said, “The greatest people are self-managing. Once they know what to do they’ll go figure out how to do it. What they need is a common vision.”
I took this to heart; sharing my vision, I let them go and watched my interns create from their authentic selves as they successfully transformed the “Zendoway” social media sites.
The result of delegating and letting go of the details are increased sales, leads, and a fun and unique social media presence.
Watch the video that Maddie, my second-year intern, created:
Each time I see a new post, I smile. I am proud of letting go of a couple of my babies. I am proud of the accountability Maddie has exhibited in her role. And what an experience to start her career! I love that I am providing a meaningful internship, giving her the opportunity to shine, manage the other intern, and build her resume with something tangible she will always remember. The other good news is that Maddie has told me of the positive impact my work is having on her life, helping her be more mindful and less stressed.
How can you get started with delegating?
When my coaches requested the above, I laughed. Yet, now it is a focus and I am continually asking myself, "Do I need to do this task, or would it be better served by another member of my team? Is this task even necessary?"
The result? I feel lighter and free to focus on my passion of helping others. My team and interns are rising to the challenge wholeheartedly and feeling more empowered to lead. And this approach shows an example of me being an intentional leader which is the first principle in my book Culture Infusion.
Ask me how I can help your organization to Make a Great Day and help your teams delegate more.
When I think of the 4th of July, my mind immediately jumps to fireworks and the way they light up the sky and our spirit. This picture is my son after being able to take the lead on lighting fireworks (notice the lighter in his hands). Did you know that our passion can do the same thing? Passion excites us and lights us up to chase our goals and dreams. What are the fireworks in your life?
Think back to a time at work or school where you enjoyed a project you were working on. Did it feel like work? When we are passionate about what we are doing, the time we spend “working” seems more like time spent playing.
This is a lesson I’ve used as both a parent with my kids and as a leader at Actualize. With my kids, this lesson has helped me come up with summer projects to keep their academic skills sharp - projects they actually enjoy and do without me telling them to!
A few years ago, at work, our team was complaining about how we were setting goals and doing performance reviews; They weren’t sure how what they were doing aligned with our firm’s mission. We decided to shift our goals to focus more on our people. We came up with 3As – accountability, acumen and aspiration – to help our employees identify areas that they can be accountable for that will not only hone their skills but also help them aspire to reach more goals.
This week, I challenge you to think about where you might be pushing someone. Where might you be pushing yourself? How can you align your goals or your team’s goals with joy? What lights you up?
Do you ever feel like you can’t take off work? Or at least like you can never totally unplug from the office? I’ve been there, and I know the feeling. All too well.
In our company, each of us wears many hats, and we check in regularly to keep things running smoothly. In the past, we tended to check in even during vacation; nothing kept us totally away from the office.
Thankfully, that has changed. We’ve finally learned how to support each other in fully unplugging and taking real vacations. With the strategies below, we all feel fully covered and are able to take time off to be with our loved ones and care for ourselves.
When my grandmother passed away recently, I was beyond thankful to have our time-away strategy in place. And when Lori, my newest hire, wrote the following after returning from vacation, I was overjoyed:
“As a new team member at Actualize Consulting, I didn’t know what to expect on my first day back from vacation, but I knew ‘re-entry’ was a real thing. I opened the welcome back email from my manager (Kerry Wekelo), and I was presented with a warm welcome and a list summarizing updates from the past week along with projects to attend to. I’ve read Kerry’s tips in articles and in her book Culture Infusion, but now I was experiencing and internalizing one of her actionable tips on a deeper level. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I felt a sense of calm come over me and ground itself in my core (which is the best most centered type of calm).”
This is powerful stuff. What would it take for your company to help its team members unplug and re-energize?
It was time for a trip to go see my grandmother in her final stage of life.
Arriving at the JetBlue counter, I ask if they can add my TSA precheck. I’m met by a blank stare, followed by, “I’m sorry. You are at the wrong airport.”
Wrong airport?! I return an equally blank stare.
Taking a deep breathe to calm myself, I watch my mind processing the options like an analytics program processing a complex set of parameters. I choose the “pay the change fee and fly out of the wrong airport” option since I know that frantically trying to get to the right airport in time for my flight would not bode well for my mental state. I am proud of making that small decision to stay, even while distraught with the original mistake that resulted from not supporting my own mental state.
I wonder if you also know what you should be doing to prioritize your mental health, your personal wellness, but then watch life take over while all your knowing goes by the wayside. You lose your identity being your kids’ personal chauffeur, handling aging family members’ affairs, and falling prey to work’s increasing demand to be plugged in at all hours.
In my life, falling back into old patterns of being often means letting busy-is-better suck me way too easily into its stress-filled vortex. Busy is my choice of drug as it comforts me by keeping me from facing the grief of my grandmother’s transition, the sadness of the constant gun shootings in schools, the uncertainty of our nation.
I type mental health statistics into the Google search engine, and find I am not alone in my distress. According to the latest “Stress in America: The State of Our Nation” survey, the most common sources of stress are:
Eight years ago, I made it a priority to focus on my mental health and personal wellness. At the time, I was successful at work by many definitions of word. But I was not leading our organization to our best potential. In 2010, with our company’s turnover rate at 33%, I knew that even in the midst of financial gain, those numbers did not represent true success. Over time and with the support of our CEO, I was able to integrate mental health and wellness practices into the rest of the organization. This resulted in six daily principles that have given our company the space to create and maintain a thriving organizational culture—a culture that has led our company to drop to less than 1% turnover from 2016 to the present.
The six principles are:
1.Breathe: Use Your Breath to Self-Soothe
In times of stress, we can turn to our breath. It is free, accessible to us at any time, and a powerful antidote to anxiety and the physical symptoms of stress. This, in turn, can clear our minds and help us make better choices. If I had not taken the time to simply breathe at the wrong airport, for instance, I may have made the mistake of trying to get to my original flight.
2.Move: Utilize Movement as a Tool to Shift Your Mood
Movement is another way to care for your own well-being. When I cannot easily access the answer to conflict or when a team member, friend, or loved one comes to me in a state of confusion, my go-to response is to encourage them to take a walk or move in some fashion to clear the mind. From experience, I know that the best ideas don’t generally come from sitting in front of a computer or endlessly rehashing an issue. When I take the time to move is when the answers magically surface.
3.Nourish: Check In with Your Emotions before You Make Food Choices
It has taken me years to realize that during emotional turbulence, focusing on healthy and balanced food choices will support a healthy mental state. Now, I simply pause before making an unhealthy choice, and I ask myself what the underlying unmet need is—what is it that’s turning me to my comfort foods of ice cream and cookies?
The shift in my approach is not in depriving myself of the emotional eating; it’s simply in bringing awareness to it. And in that process, sometimes I still eat ice cream for dinner with the awareness that my food choice is because I am upset or stressed. But most of the time, I pivot to a more balanced healthy choice of protein and fruits and vegetables. The key is allowing the healthy choice to at least be placed on the mind’s table.
4.Communicate: Listen to Understand
One of the most vital aspects of success in our personal and professional relationships is communication—the thread that connects us together. We are often so focused on talking that we forget to listen to others first. We miss out when we don’t listen, because taking time to listen sparks creativity and boosts esteem.
5.Challenge: Pause to Pivot to a Positive Possibility
Years ago, I started using the 3P Method as a guideline for handling conflict, and now I encourage others to think through these steps when negative emotions arise. This works because I recognize there are always going to be challenges. If you take a moment to allow the feelings with the intention of moving to the positive, it saves energy by not spinning into the negative.
6.Routine: Do Something that Inspires You Each Day
One of the first questions I ask when faced with my own personal stress or someone coming to me in distress is, ““What are you doing that inspires you each day?” Then I encourage making a list and completing one activity each day that the person loves. When I’m feeling down or stressed is often when I’m forgetting to focus on my inspirations such as cooking and spending time with my kids. Having this downtime from work supports my success.
Keep Moving Forward
It takes diligence and awareness to stay on track to be our best personally and professionally. I must continually remind myself of these six principles to find the balance that supports my well-being. Each time I stop focusing on the principles, I too easily fall off the wagon of self-care and find myself not moving forward. When I stop using these tools, I make silly mistakes, forge ahead with less-than-best business decisions, and stop giving the gift of focusing on my loved ones with my presence.
The good news is that the tools are always there at my disposal. Because of them, I know what feels best, my standards for quality of relationships and work product are higher, and I can always choose to keep moving forward.
We love to share ways to enhance your day.