Do you have a mouse on your desk? I have 3 that I use throughout the day as part of my wellness strategy. When I started experiencing numbness in my right hand and tendinitis, I knew it was time to change the way I approached work at my desk. In order to heal and set myself up for success, I focused on balancing the usage of both my hands. Check out the video below to see the three different mouses and how they've helped me:
What is your favorite summer childhood memory? Maybe it is a beach memory, playing outside all day, going to the pool, or time with family and friends. Personally, one of my favorite summer memories is having the time to read whatever books I “wanted” versus the ones I “had” to read in school. I am witnessing my daughter have the same excitement of choosing her own books. She said, “I don’t have time to read what I want during school, so this is a nice change.”
Reading is a getaway from the busy of my mind. I see new perspectives from other writers, and as a writer, I am in awe of how the words magically tell a story to inspire or take us to another place as we feel what the characters are feeling. I love to use book references to aid in making points with those in my life. Abby Wambach’s book, Wolfpack is one I immediately wanted to share and read with my children, especially my son. Even though he is 11, he still likes when I read to him, so I read the book aloud. When we got to the chapter “Lead from the Bench” I could see his interest rise. He made the All-Star baseball team as a supporting player, not a starter. I was witnessing how the transition from starting to being benched was impacting him. When I read the following excerpt below, I knew this was the perfect way to start a conversation with him about how being on the bench is just as important as being on the field.
"Here's what's important: You are allowed to be disappointed when it feels like life's benched you. What you aren't allowed to do is miss your opportunity to lead from the bench. If you're not a leader on the bench, don't call yourself a leader on the field."
In this chapter, Abby discusses how she found herself on the bench not playing in her final World Cup at the end of her U.S. Women’s National professional soccer career. Abby said, “You’ve scored more international goals in your sport than any human being on the planet. You’ve co-captained and led Team USA to victory after victory for the past decade. And you and your coach sit down and decide together that you won’t be a starter for the remainder of your final World Cup. Instead, you’ll come off the bench.”
After I finished reading this chapter aloud, I asked him how he was feeling about his team and his role. He said, “I want us to win even if I don’t play. I can eat my sunflower seeds and start team cheers.” I laughed as of course he would find something food related to inspire him. As he went back to his team, I saw the shift in his perspective and once again reminded of the power of sharing our stories and experiences with others. And guess what? After being supportive of his team and insisting upon being the first player to arrive at practice and staying focused on being his best, he ended up being able to start in a game. I told him how proud I was of his attitude and reminded him that a positive and team player attitude will get you far in life.
What books have inspired you to make a positive change? I would love to hear from you and add to my summer reading list.
Contributions from Priscila Nagalli and Paloma Bentes
The Camino de Santiago or the Way of Saint James is an ancient pilgrimage route dating back to the 9th century to Santiago, Spain. It is believed that St. James is buried in the Cathedral of Santiago. You can start walking in France, Portugal, or Spain. The total route is over 800 km. We did 115 km (72 miles) starting in Sarria and ending in Santiago. It was an enriching cultural and spiritual experience to travel the countryside by foot.
My friend and co-worker, Priscila, asked me to join her and a friend on the journey. Before the trip, Priscila had mentioned the concept of “we” versus “me.” As we walked, we experienced this concept as we felt our energies form a community of “us.” I also saw this sense of community in the other groups walking – embracing the idea that together is better.
Each year, I embrace living life holistically and in a way in which I show up fully in all scenarios. In this piece, the concept of “we” is inspired by our journey walking the countryside of Spain. These lessons can be applied personally and professionally.
1. Diversity of Ideas – Discussions with others can broaden your horizon. Priscila elevated our trip by sharing her knowledge of highly recommended accommodations and restaurants. Paloma enhanced our daily walking by reminding us to take time to pace ourselves and enjoy the journey. I suggested we do daily foot massage and yoga to support our bodies during our rigorous journey. I was thankful, as these suggestions contributed to my being able to complete the walk. Paloma was grateful that yoga and massage allowed her knee pain to subside.
Culture Infusion – Survey Your Team Regularly: At Actualize, we thrive when we obtain feedback and survey our people often. Recently, we surveyed our team to check in on a challenging project. The results showed us that our team wanted more dedicated client-specific support, and they made suggestions on how we could meet their needs. We immediately set up dedicated times and personnel to support their request.
2. Focus on Your Strengths – As we traveled, the three of us innately took on a role that suited us best. Priscila was our leader, organizing and guiding us each day. Paloma had the fortitude of a warrior, powering through multiple sicknesses and injuries, showing us how will can guide the way. I was the caregiver tending to blister care, teaching daily yoga, and sharing natural remedies for our ailments.
Culture Infusion – Goal Setting: We counsel our team on aligning their goals to their aspirations and what lights them up. As we focus on what we love, work and life flow more easily.
3. Sense of Community – When you are walking the Camino and witness the success and determination of others, their energy pulls you forward. When you feel you cannot take another step, you see other walkers and cyclists in the distance achieving a common goal. Being part of this larger community is a powerful force that propels you to continue.
Culture Infusion – Focus on People: We genuinely care about our people and building teams that work together. We have Google email groups where we can ask questions. Our people come together to support one another and share a common goal. It is beautiful to witness the support towards resolution.
4. Build Bonds – When you share in a challenge such as the Camino, you build bonds and memories you will never forget. As each of us needed a boost, the others would support and lift our vibe. When my feet broke out in a heat rash and blisters, Priscila and Paloma helped put cold compresses on them and got medicine from the pharmacy. If I did not have them, I might have wanted to give up, but I kept moving forward to foster our team bond and to complete the journey together.
Culture Infusion – Foster Team Connection: We love to have social and cause-related events to build our team bonds outside of work. We have an upcoming event in which we will help homeless people learn how to interview for jobs. Priscila and I discussed expanding our team building experience with additional activities and work opportunities before and after our time of giving back to the community. Supporting our community has always been a big part of our culture at Actualize Consulting. Now, with the strength of deep connection I experienced on the Camino, I feel we will do even more meaningful work.
Time Magazine’s piece on Blue Zones supports that we live longer and healthier lives if we are focused on community and healthy lifestyles. Many times, I find myself thinking or saying I can do this alone. After walking the Camino with friends and having time to contemplate life, I now more than ever believe that together is better. Life is richer with experiences and moments of sharing.
What are you trying to accomplish on your own? Who can you share your ideas, struggles, or solutions with today?
My vacation this year required considerable planning, as I am currently walking the Camino in Spain. Besides preparing physically I also had to prepare to be out of the office with limited access to the internet. I went back to the strategies we use at Actualize.
Step 1: Assign Tasks
Before you leave, take an inventory of all tasks you complete on a daily basis and keep a log of all open items. Determine which tasks you need coverage for while you are out of the office, and then assign the most appropriate team member(s) to look after them while you are away.
Step 2: Educate Your Team
Make sure your team has all the information they need while you are out of the office. If someone is covering your open items, ensure to supply them with the proper steps and contacts, and a game plan in case a conflict or new situation arises. By equipping your team with these tools, you will reduce the need for any calls, texts, or emails while you are away.
Step 3: Choose an Email Strategy
While you are gone, the firm is still buzzing, and new developments are happening every day. Although this is great news, it can be particularly overwhelming for someone returning from vacation and trying to play catch up. To minimize inbox anxiety, have the team members covering your open items compile updates and notations for the day into one email that they will send upon your return. If you’re not ready to take the big leap of total disconnection, have them send one update email a day in the morning, evening, or afternoon – you choose!
Step 4: Schedule Debrief Meetings
Plan meetings after your return to work with those who helped compile update emails for you. Having these meetings already on the calendar is one less thing to worry about when you get back and will catch you up to speed on your daily tasks, open items, and any firm-wide updates.
Step 5: Let Others Know the Game Plan
Before you leave, send out a summary email to the firm or your division to let them know your vacation strategy while you are away. Come Monday, instead of getting your out-of-office auto-response, they will know they can contact person X for help with task Y, and person A for task B. This helps set the tone for a relaxing vacation and provides essential information to those who might need your help for the duration of your time off.
Step 6: Unsubscribe from Marketing Emails
Every time we make a purchase from a store, either in person or online, we get added to a marketing list. While these lists often do have good deals and discounts, it is unlikely we need all of them bombarding us with emails on the daily. Take time to unsubscribe or reduce the frequency of which you receive these newsletters for a less cluttered inbox upon your return.
Step 7: Set up an automated Out-of-Office Email
At the very least, set up an auto-response letting those who email you know that you are on vacation and for how long. Cut and paste the game plan summary email that you sent to the firm, so people will know whom they can contact when they need your help.
Step 8: Enjoy Your Time Off!
Here’s where the fun begins: relax and spend time with your loved ones! Enjoy your time off so you can come back fully rested and recharged – and by following these steps, less anxious upon your return!
Below is the video I took last year that inspired us to implement these strategies firm-wide.
If there’s one thing to know about life, it’s that it never stays the same. Life’s dynamic nature can uproot us to places we never expected faster than the blink of an eye. Nine years ago, my husband and I got a divorce. When people hear the word ‘divorce,’ it’s often tied to negative connotations. And while it can be a negative experience for some, for others, it is a great learning and teaching opportunity. Many of the principles I apply to co-parenting can also be applied to the workplace. Once we take care of our own needs, we can successfully integrate personal lessons at a corporate level.
Recently, my daughter had a fundraising gala benefiting her school. As I was getting ready, I thought to myself how crazy it must seem to others that I am going with her father. But the truth is, just because things between us may not have had a stereotypical “happy ending,” it doesn’t mean that our “ending” wasn’t happy all on its own. Co-parenting has brought its lessons and its struggles for sure, but at the end of the day, we are a team and dedicated to our kids and their success. At Actualize Consulting we also focus on rising above our differences to function as a team. Our motto is, “Our Expertise and Commitment – Driving Your Success.
In my book, Culture Infusion, I talk a lot about the importance of leading by example. And when the time came to accept the invitation to the gala, I said yes without hesitation. We went to have fun together with friends, leading with our example that love and positivity are better than any differences we may have. This week, I ask you to reflect on where you can lead by example in your life. Where can you show your kids, friends, family, and co-workers that the high road is always the best route? If you are struggling, here are a few tips:
1. Find Common Ground
What do you have in common? Do you have a shared goal? For us, our kids are our common ground. We want to provide all that we can for them and make sure that they have an example of a healthy relationship in their lives.
2. Stay positive
Every single day in our lives, we have a choice of perspective: “How will I view the events in my life?” We can choose to be negative and dwell on misfortunes, or we can take every twist and turn as a learning experience. A very good affirmation for this is “I am always at the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.” The reason this affirmation sticks with me is because every decision and event in our lives is neutral. We are the ones who assign meaning. How can you recode the negative experiences in your life to be positive? For us, divorce meant strengthening our teamwork skills which were invaluable in both our personal and professional lives.
3. Communicate Openly
You’ve heard the old adage, “Communication is Key.” It’s cliché for a reason – it’s true. One of the main reasons we co-parent together so well is that we communicate so well. My kid’s dad is the one person I know I can always get in touch with no matter what - I don't know anyone else like that. We easily split up the responsibilities of organization with the kids because we realize that we are not mind readers and we communicate openly. We created a flow in which he schedules all sports on our calendars, and I handle school.
When you are in a team with someone else, it’s important to be grateful for all that they bring to the table. In our relationship, we respect each other and make it fair. There is comfort in knowing he always has my back, no matter what, and that he will help with anything if needed.
I realize now that I am applying mindfulness to both my professional and private life, which has been a goal of mine since 2005. Compartmentalization of my values is not an option. I take a holistic approach to, well, everything. I show up as the same person in all aspects of my life so I can better serve myself and others for our highest good.
If you would like to form a more holistic approach to success in either your personal or professional life, contact me for a customized session. I can be reached at email@example.com
Mothers share a bond of unconditional love with their children and family. Mothers also want to feel loved and nourished in return. As we celebrate Mother’s Day, remember there are many ways to celebrate that special mom, wife, grandmother, sister, aunt – or anyone who has played the starring role of mom.
When Mother’s Day rolls around, it’s oftentimes tough to think of ways to thank mom. It seems no gift can ever compare to the love and support she’s given you or your family. But whatever you decide upon, remember the idea is to give from the heart. That is the best gift any mother could receive. She will shine and radiate love even stronger than before and will get a newfound energy from your love. And the best part is that the following ideas are either free or inexpensive, and you as a family get to create a great gift or experience for her:
No matter what you decide, be sure to shower Mom with extra hugs and kisses all day, use your imagination and, most importantly, remember to give from your heart.
Have you ever had your company participate in a third party survey only to find out that the survey company wanted thousands of dollars to share the full results with you? At Actualize, in-house surveys are one of our best strategies to increase employee engagement. On a recent survey, our team expressed a desire to receive training on the topic of time management; I felt unsure about what aspects of time management I should cover.
THEN, I took my own advice and sent out another survey asking the team about their specific challenges, techniques they would like to learn more about, words of wisdom, and tips. I was able to use their survey results to create the training catered to their needs.
How can you use a survey to help your team?
Below is a video to share more ideas on the power of asking your team's opinion. I was also featured in The Medium and they highlighted the power of surveys. Click here to read the full article.
Business cards are definitely useful, but they're also easy to forget and misplace. Here are some ways to make your marketing materials rememberable, practical, and creative.
Sometimes we find wisdom in the most random of places. Even cats can make you look at business from a different perspective.
What is your gut telling you? What is your “leaning” on something you’re questioning, or a decision you’re trying to make? You might not be able to put it into words, but you probably have a feeling as to what’s the right next move. Can you remember a time when you did not follow your inner direction? How did it feel when you realized you should have followed your instincts?
A practice that I use is to pause so that I can give my instinct a chance to be heard. Then, I check in with myself by asking, “Does it feel good?” This question gives me a chance to feel and hear how it feels. My friends and business associates remind me to pause and listen when they ask me, “What is the (your) Kerry gut saying?” For example, I follow this practice on all our new hires. If my gut reaction is no, we will not move forward with the candidate.
Recently, my inner voice kept prompting me to send a card to a friend whose husband had passed, and I kept ignoring it as I was busy until finally, I wrote the letter. My friend called crying and said, “your letter arrived on my husband’s birthday, your words of his gentle kindness gave me comfort on such a heart-wrenching day, I read your letter almost every day.” I smiled as I was thankful; I listened to my intuition to send the day I did so that it arrived on his birthday.
Years ago, I did not realize there was scientific evidence to support the validity of my “gut reaction” (the HeartMath Institute calls your “heart reaction”), but it turns out that approaching life from your heart is better for you both physically and socially. This information has inspired me to encourage those around me to also follow their instincts as we are conditioned to ignore our intuition and yet it is critical to our well-being and success.
How do you use your intuition to your best advantage? Notice your body’s reactions - changes in heartbeat, breathing, and muscle tension. Personally, my stomach will hurt if I am not following my intuition. Balancing logic and intuition are a practice of sorting your assumptions, evidence, prejudices, and intuition you are feeling. As Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking said, “Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.”
And yes, this is also an effective strategy to change the world and save lives. Below are some examples of fascinating stories on trusting intuition.
It takes practice to tune into your intuition. Staying in the pause is powerful. It allows you to notice your physical feelings, dreams, and recurring thoughts. With practice, you can connect your heart, gut, and brain to form one unified connection. When you allow the flow of internal feelings and dialog to influence your life, you will experience more positive outcomes. Life will flow with less resistance, and while you might not change the world, you will change your world.
Pausing is part of the 3 P formula; pause to pivot to the positive. If you would like to learn more about bringing this technique to your team contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
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