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Mopping Up Emotional Messes After Mistakes

mistake

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What’s Worse? Making a Mistake or Poorly Processing the Mistake?

Susan hasn’t been the same since she made a mistake in a meeting with an important potential client. She used to be the most confident member of the sales team. Now she’s hesitant to go after new accounts.

While Susan’s manager Glenn is frustrated with her mistake, what he really wants is his confident and high-producing salesperson back.

What’s getting in the way of Susan’s recovery from her mistake?

What can Glenn do to help her move on?

Replaying Mistakes in Your Mind

Ever since her mess-up, Susan has replayed the events in her head. The soundtrack for that mental film: “How could I have been such an idiot? I should have known that strategy wouldn’t work with this guy. Why didn’t I read his cues that I was off-track sooner? I’ve lost it. I’ve just been fooling myself to think I am good at this job.”

No wonder Susan feels hesitant. With that constant stream of negative self-talk, she’s continually reinforcing her feelings of shame and fear. Susan is triggering brain activity that keeps her in the brain’s “low road” emotion centers instead of the “high road” part that allows for clear thought and creativity.

Here’s what Daniel Goleman said about this phenomenon in his book, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships:

“When we are under stress the HPA axis roars into action, preparing the body for crisis. Among other biological maneuvers, the amygdala commandeers the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s executive center…. As our brain hands decision-making over to the low road, we lose our ability to think at our best. The more intense the pressure, the more our performance and thinking will suffer. The ascendant amygdala handicaps our abilities for learning, for holding information in working memory, for reacting flexibly and creatively, for focusing attention at will, and for planning and organizing effectively….

The neural highway for dysphoria runs from the amygdala to the right side of the prefrontal cortex. As this circuitry activates, our thoughts fixate on what has triggered the distress. And as we become preoccupied by, say, worry or resentment, our mental agility sputters. Likewise, when we are sad activity levels in the prefrontal cortex drop and we generate fewer thoughts. Extremes of anxiety and anger on the one hand, and sadness on the other, push brain activity beyond its zones of effectiveness.”

Recovering from Mistakes

Cleaning up after a mistake requires a range of practical and mental steps. For Susan, the key is to shift away from replaying the scene continuously in her mind. Being able to change her focus from that past incident will help ease the brain chemicals triggering her distress. Goleman wrote about such recovery in “Can You Pass this Stress Test?”:

There’s a simple way to increase our recovery time from stress, as research at the lab run by Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin shows: rehearse letting go of our thoughts and returning our attention to a chosen topic. That mental move is the essence of mindfulness, or any other meditation. In my own research at Harvard on this, I found that people who meditated recovered more quickly from a stressful challenge later. I start my own day with such an inner workout.”         

How Managers Respond to Mistakes

Glenn has a choice. He can come down hard on Susan and reprimand or punish her. Or he can help her learn from the mistake and move on. That second, kinder path doesn’t mean he accepts what she did. He can talk with her about how it impacts business and look at how she could have done things differently. Such a response shows he understands what’s best for Susan and his whole team in the long run.

Here’s what Goleman wrote about taking the kind path:

“If you respond without losing it yourself, it boosts an employee’s loyalty to you enormously — and he or she just might learn something about doing better next time around. It’s even better if you can deliver your reaction with a supportive tone, not a judgmental one. Call it managing with compassion. And despite its soft ring, research finds that compassion has better results than a tough-guy stance. For starters, people like and trust bosses who show kindness – and that in turn boosts their performance.”

Stepping Away from Frustration

Knowing your best choice is to manage with compassion doesn’t make it easy. How can Glenn step away from his frustration?

Here are three possibilities:

  • Pause before you react. Taking a mindful moment – or a longer pause to cool down – when you notice you’re getting angry can give you the window you need to calm down before you respond. And a calmer state makes you more clear, so you can be more reasonable. Better self-awareness gives you more emotional self-control.
  • Take the bigger view, beyond this particular moment. Remember everyone has the potential to improve. If you simply dismiss a person as faulty because they screwed up, you destroy a chance for them to learn and grow.
  • Empathize. Try to see the situation from your employee’s perspective. You might see reasons he or she acted as they did – things you would not notice if you just had your knee-jerk reaction. This allows you to nod to their viewpoint, even as you offer your own alternative.

Make the Most of Mistakes

Susan isn’t the only one who can grow from her mistake. A skillful response from Glenn can help his whole team learn lessons to make them more effective in their work. And, he can reap a bonus as well. Employees who see him react to Susan with understanding rather than anger will become more loyal. Feeling positively toward your boss is a bigger factor in loyalty than a big paycheck.

leadership development

Brainpower: Mindsight and Emotional Intelligence in Leadership, provides leaders, executive coaches, management consultants, and HR professionals with a science basis for their leadership development work. Register for the live four-part webcast series with Daniel Goleman and Daniel Siegel throughout February here

Additional Resources

 

Why Brain Science Matters in Leadership Development

leadership development

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Leadership Development for the 21st Century

An effective ship captain makes sure his vessel’s systems are optimized to provide the best performance. As a leader, your brain is the navigational system steering the ship. To guide your organization in the right direction, you must optimize your brain and how you use it.

Science provides us with new information about optimal brain performance. Understanding how top-functioning brains work allows managers to choose leadership styles that enhance their ability to effectively focus on and perform their job. It also helps them seek out the right development partners. Just like a ship captain chooses the best experts to maintain and repair the ship’s systems, a wise leader will hire an executive coach or leadership development professional who understands the neuroscience behind their work to better provide the direction each leader needs.

Not Sure That Understanding Brain Science Matters?

Chances are you know a leader like this: Chris was furious after reading an email message saying a key project would miss its deadline. Chris stomped down the hall to the message’s sender and blew up, yelling “Missing this deadline is NOT an option! You all need to do whatever it takes to make sure we meet it!”

And, you must know (or have been) the people working for a leader like Chris. Some leaders think nothing of being tyrants, harshly ordering people around. On the surface, this might seem like it works. Employees will go along with whatever the alpha boss orders. But inside they’re saying, “I hate working for him.” That mindset does little to motivate a normally productive team.

In a recent article, Daniel Goleman explains that Chris’s behavior is caused by a particular brain system.

“Take that executive who lashes out, alienating the very people she depends on for her own success. Research by neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux at New York University tells us such emotional hijacks suggest an amygdala insufficiently controlled by the prefrontal cortex. That pattern of amygdala hijacks can be seen in toddlers, many teenagers – and quite a few executives. In the case of kids and teens, the normal maturation of the brain’s self-management circuitry should take care of the problem. For the executive, this could call for some focused work with a coach.”

A Wise Coach’s Strategy

Now, imagine you’re Chris and the CEO told you to work with a coach, Pat, on your leadership style. Your reaction? “Whatever! My style is fine!” But you’ll do what the boss says.

Pat realizes Chris needs convincing. And, Pat knows his knowledge of the neuroscience behind his advice will help. Pat doesn’t pull suggestions out of thin air. His coaching is based on understanding brain systems and using that information to make changes in leaders’ actions. He also knows leaders who understand brain science are more likely to buy in to change.

When Pat met with Chris, he said, “Your department has been very successful this past year, but I can help you accomplish even more. To motivate your employees to give their all, it helps to understand how minds work and how to manage ourselves and use a style that motivates employees to give their all. Science tells us about styles of relating that are very effective at inspiring and motivating people. And, more motivation equals more productivity. The good news is that brains can change with repeated practice and exercise. Let’s put this data to work for you.”

leadership development

Brainpower: Mindsight and Emotional Intelligence in Leadership provides leaders, executive coaches, management consultants, and HR professionals with a science basis for their leadership development work. The live four-part webcast series with Daniel Goleman and Daniel Siegel takes place at 3:00pm – 4:00pm EST on the following dates:

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Registrants will have access to the recorded discussions shortly after each broadcast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Help Children Develop a Healthy Mind

develop a healthy mind

A key component to helping children develop a healthy mind is teaching them self-awareness and empathy.

Like learning any new skill, these two kinds of awareness can be developed through regular practice. We know from modern neuroscience research that to establish new connections in the brain, systematic practice is essential. Unfortunately, traditional curricula often ignore these topics, which are building blocks for all other types of learning.

If children are unable to exercise cognitive control and to pay attention, they won’t be able to learn – or worse, manage their emotions. Starting in preschool, we can introduce very simple exercises to cultivate these qualities of attention.

Notice a Sound

For example, here’s an exercise that can be done with four- and five-year-old children. Ring a bell that lasts for 15 seconds. Ask the children to pay very, very close attention to the sound and, as soon as they no longer hear it, to raise their hand. What happens in a class of 25 children during the time the bell is sounded? There’s a dramatic stillness. Kids will just start to raise their hand. They love this exercise.

develop a healthy mind

Notice a Sensation

Other exercises have children pay attention to internal bodily states. Practicing this helps cultivate attention and empathy, because empathy very much involves understanding how your own body is responding.

Tania Singer, a neuroscientist at the Max Planck Institute, studies empathy. Tania says that when you experience empathy, systems within your own brain are automatically attuning to the emotional or internal state of another person – and duplicating that in yourself. In order to know how the other person feels you actually are attuning to yourself using the insula as a principal pathway. Those changes can occur consciously or non-consciously. To take full advantage of the changes you must become aware of them.

Notice Your Breath

How can we strengthen the brain circuitry, the prefrontal circuitry or insula circuitry, in children for this kind of awareness? Practice attention training. Another simple exercise for children is to have them practice paying attention to their breathing. While the children are lying on the floor, have each child place a little stone or stuffed animal on her or his belly. Ask the children to observe the object rising and falling with each breath cycle. Not only is this extremely relaxing, it’s also something that helps them focus their attention on their internal bodily sensations.

 

Additional Resources

Develop a Healthy Mind: How Focus Impacts Brain Function

develop a healthy mind

The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education

triple focus

Focus Back-to-School Bundle

back to school bundle

Focus for Kids: Enhancing Concentration, Caring and Calm

focus for kids

Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth

bridging the hearts and minds of youth

What to do when worry dominates your attention

develop a healthy mind

Did I unplug the iron?

Traffic is brutal. Will I be late for my meeting?

I haven’t heard back from my friend. Are they upset with me?

Worry is a natural response to an upsetting situation, the unknown, or if we’re run down and frazzled. It can be difficult to get a handle on distressing thoughts. Fixating on a worry can exact a toll on our brain and our body. It also affects our decision-making skills, even our relationships (spending too much time with a “worry wart” can be draining).

Daniel Goleman spoke with Dr. Richard Davidson, founder of The Center for Investigating a Healthy Mind about the role of attention training in optimal brain functions in Develop a Healthy Mind: How Focus Impacts Brain Function. Here’s what they had to say about attention driven by worry.

Human beings are endowed with a very large prefrontal cortex, which gives us the ability to do mental time travel. That means that we can anticipate the future and reflect on the past, which clearly has its advantages. But it can also create a lot of problems.

We can worry about the future. We can anticipate threats that don’t actually occur, which, in most cases, turn out to be far more significant than real threats.

Our brain on stress

When we’re under stress, the brain secretes hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that in the best scenario mobilize us to handle a short-term emergency, but in the worst scenario create an ongoing hazard for performance. In that case, attention narrows to focus on the cause of the stress, not the task at hand. Our memory reshuffles to promote thoughts most relevant to what’s stressing us, and we fall back on negative learned habits. The brain’s executive centers – our neural circuitry for paying attention, comprehending, and learning – are hijacked by our networks for handling stress.

In today’s over-stimulated, fast-paced culture, it’s very difficult to respond effectively to worry and stress. Our old habits kick in: we shut down, lash out, ruminate, stress eat, and on and on. But you can develop more positive responses to stress.

Write it down

In Paul Ekman’s book Emotions Revealed he encourages people to keep a log of regrettable angry episodes. Write down:

  • what the incident was about
  • how it happened
  • what set you off
  • and what did you do that you think you shouldn’t have done.

After a few journal entries, try to see the commonality in the triggers and responses. You’ll usually find a particular script that underlies what’s causing you to have a particular perception on certain situations, to cast people into roles that they really aren’t in, and to try to replay a plot that doesn’t really fit.

Exercise your mental muscle

Practice different mental exercises to calm the mind and body down after a stressful arousal. The more you practice, the easier you can recall these tools when you need it most. Try these very simple exercises when you’re stressed or angry:

develop a healthy mind       develop a healthy mind

Know your stress type

Stress hits each of us differently. Some of us feel it in our bodies. Others just can’t stop worrying. Knowing how you experience stress can help you find the most effective relaxation methods. Try different exercises, such as deep breathing, auto suggestion or sensory focus. See which methods work best for you.

Stop and see

Stress management expert Elad Levinson developed the stop and see practice for the overwhelmed executives he coaches. Try this:

Begin with a simple exercise of thoughtful observation.

  • How would I characterize my mind right now? What does it feel like?
  • If I had to guess its revolutions per minute, what would I guess?
  • Does it feel hot or cool?
  • If my mind were a river, would it be a lazy river or a rushing river?

Next, try a slow deep breathing exercise to calm the mind.

  • Inhale and count to 3, 4, or 5, depending upon how deep an inhalation you can take.
  • Now exhale, doing the same.
  • Try this for one minute.
  • Notice any differences in you body, or changes to the content of your thoughts.

Additional resources

Develop a Healthy Mind: How Focus Impacts Brain Function

Cultivating Focus: Techniques for Excellence

Relax: 6 Techniques to Lower Your Stress

Working with Mindfulness

Thriving on Change: The Evolving Leader’s Toolkit

Knowing Our Emotions, Improving Our World

Training the Brain: Cultivating Emotional Intelligence

Is it Worth It? When it’s Time to Question Your Career Ambitions

career

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The late New Zealand-based art director, Linds Redding has recently gained notoriety for his brutal rant against the soul-grinding culture of the advertising industry. He started a blog after he was diagnosed with inoperable esophageal cancer. Many of his posts reflected on his career – a rather impressive one in the creative field. Yet despite his accomplishments, he felt it was all a waste of time.

Redding wrote, “It turns out I didn’t actually like my old life nearly as much as I thought I did…Countless late nights and weekends, holidays, birthdays, school recitals and anniversary dinners were willingly sacrificed at the altar of some intangible but infinitely worthy higher cause. This was the con. Convincing myself that there was nowhere I’d rather be was just a coping mechanism. I can see that now. It wasn’t really important. Or of any consequence at all really. How could it be? We were just shifting product. Our product, and the clients. Just meeting the quota.”

Could that have been his understandably stark end-of-life perspective, or a legitimate warning to all who put pleasing the client and the company before their own wellbeing? And is this exclusive to the advertising industry?

Pushing yourself – or others – past their limits isn’t sustainable. Burnout, resentment, and backstabbing are common symptoms of work cultures that expect everyone work at a break-neck pace. But some of the most successful organizations recognize that productivity, profits and personal fulfillment are intertwined. Such a corporate mindset is often identified as “good work.”

Multiple Intelligences author, Howard Gardner defines good work as a combination of the three Es: excellence, ethics, and engagement. When what we do becomes good work, we love what we do at every level: we feel competent, happy, and that our efforts have meaning.

[PODCAST: What is Good Work?]

How Can Leaders Create a Culture of Good Work?

Creating a workplace that embraces the good work concept must start from the top. When Daniel Goleman spoke with Gardner in his Leadership: A Master Class video series, he asked him: What would a business leader look like who exemplified good work? Here’s an excerpt from their discussion.

Gardner: A business leader who exemplified good work is somebody who understood himself or herself, understood the corporation or company that they were in very well, knew something about their history, understood the domain and had some sense of the mega-trends going on in the world. You cannot be an excellent leader unless you’ve thought about this kind of knowledge, so that’s excellence.

Engaged means they really love their work. They want to do it. Their energy crystallizes other people, and the other people on their team love them and want to be with them. Charisma doesn’t hurt, but you ought to be able to inspire people even if you’re not charismatic, because of the way you behave.

And a person doing good work is someone who is always trying to do the right thing. The right thing, of course, involves the self, and it involves the company. But if it’s only about advancing the company, then it cannot be ethical. There are many things we could do to advance the company that are bad for the company in the long run, or bad for society.

Goleman: Well, I think I need to push back a little. Did I hear you say that you can’t be a good leader if all you care about is promoting the company?

Gardner: Of course you need to promote the company, otherwise you shouldn’t be the leader. But if you’re promoting the company at all costs, you’re not thinking about how the workers are being affected, what happens to the company in the long run, what are the externalities. If you’re not thinking about the people that might be hurt by what you do, then you certainly would not be an ethical leader, and it’s a continuing conversation. You never get to be ethical or not. There’s always an effort to try to figure out what is the right thing in the broader picture, and whom we respect over the long run.

Don’t Wait to Make a Change

If you find yourself in an organization or an industry that puts profit over people – and don’t know how to transition out of it – consider Gardner’s tips on developing a career using the good work model as a guide.

Decide what you really would like to spend your life doing. According to Howard, this is much more important than deciding what particular job to hold, as the employment landscape changes so quickly. Let’s say you went into journalism with plans to work for a newspaper or magazine. Those outlets may not exist in their traditional forms now, but you still might want to write about interesting things. You want to investigate and talk to people. So you have to say “Where could I carry that out?” and be very, very flexible about the venue and the milieu, but not flexible about what you really get a kick out of and where you excel.

Think about people whom you admire and respect. Then think about people whom you don’t want to be like. Consider why you admire certain people and why you’re repelled by others. If you can’t think of people you admire, that’s a warning sign. It’s not necessarily a warning sign about you; it’s a warning sign about the culture around you. Perhaps you’re in a situation where you can’t admire anybody at all, or the people you admire don’t do anything related to what you do.

Consider where you want to work. Then ask yourself, “Is this the kind of place where I can see myself in others and where I can see others in me?” For example: Say you have job offers from both a small startup company you believe in, and a large corporation with a worrisome reputation for treating employees unfairly. You might make five times more money in the latter position, but does that reflect who you are and where you want to be?

If you’re a coach working with people in career transition, help them approach their search through the good work lens by asking them these three questions:

  • How much of what you do now is good work?
  • What could you do to boost that percentage?
  • How could you develop your career to maximize good work?

Additional Resources

Good Work: Aligning Skills and Values

Today’s Leadership Imperative

The Executive Edge: An Insider’s Guide to Outstanding Leadership

Thriving on Change: The Evolving Leader’s Toolkit

The Competency Builder

The Coaching Program

The Contemplative Leader: A Conversation with Bill George

contemplative leader

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Authentic leaders have developed a keen inner focus. They know what’s going on inside of themselves. They’re in touch with the relationship between their emotions and their actions. Most importantly, they possess a meta awareness – an awareness of awareness itself.

Bill George, Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School and author of Discover Your True North, has some interesting methodologies for helping leaders master their self-awareness. Here’s what he had to say about a practical technique to develop self-awareness in his recent conversation with Daniel Goleman.

***

The Contemplative Leader

When I introduce the concept of inner focus, some people view it as being egotistical. I think it’s just the opposite. Most business leaders I know are incredibly focused, but they’re focused on their business goals. Inside they’re a mess. Why? Because they don’t take time to get clarity about what it is they’re trying to do and who they are. You can’t be a good leader until you have a real depth of awareness of who you are and what you’re about. Otherwise you’re just chasing your tail, so to speak.

All of us – not just leaders – are so outwardly oriented. We don’t truly know ourselves because we don’t spend any time on trying to know ourselves. We don’t take the time to examine why we react when X situation occurs. We just react according to our habits. Business as usual.

People often ask me, how do I gain self-awareness? For me, maintaining an introspective or contemplative practice has been essential to my success. I’ve been a meditator since 1975. I try to sit for at least a few minutes a day, twice a day.

Before that, I was a wreck. I was just chasing everything – 25, 50 objectives all at once. I had no sense of clarity. And when I began to meditate, I gained a sense of what’s really important. I learned to separate the wheat from the chaff. And I come out of it with a sense of clarity. Here are the three or four things that I really need to go focus on.

But I also got a much deeper sense of what I’m about and who I am, as well as a sense of wellbeing and tranquility. Without that sense of wellbeing you can’t really be an effective, focused leader. You can’t feel good about yourself if you continue to let ghosts from the past chase you.

Now, your contemplative practice doesn’t have to be meditation. It could be prayer. It could be talking with a loved one in great depth. It could be going for a jog to clear your head. It could be taking a long walk. I happen to like meditation, but I’m not saying that’s the only way.

Gain more insights on authentic leadership from Bill George in Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide and The Executive Edge: An Insider’s Guide to Outstanding Leadership.

Additional Reading

Four Strategies to Renew Your Career Passion

How Leaders Build Trust

Are You Aware of Your Self-Defeating Habits?

A Relaxed Mind is a Productive Mind

How to Cultivate Your Own Creative Career

career

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More and more people whose likelihood depends on being creative and innovative continually are working for themselves. They’re freelancers, they’re consultants, they’re independent. But many can spend much of their time doing anything but creative work: drumming up new prospects, carving out time for administrative work, or getting up to speed on new projects. Freelancers also lack resources that their colleagues with traditional jobs may take for granted: team support, project managers, tech assistance, or training opportunities, to name a few.

Daniel Goleman spoke with Teresa Amabile in his Leadership: A Master Class video series about practical ways to cultivate your own successful creative career.

Skill Development

Pay attention to your skill development. Keeping your skills sharp is an important piece of creativity. Learning new things in your own area of expertise as well as outside of your strengths can spark new associations that lead to fresh ideas.

Get a Different Perspective

Engage with people who have different perspectives, or who come from different fields. That’s going to fertilize your creative thinking. Working with people who see things differently can also sharpen your problem solving skills by seeing new perspectives on challenges or tasks, forcing yourself to break out of mental habits.

Stay Motivated

Pay attention to your motivation. Try to feel excited about what you’re doing. If you find that your work is getting stale, look for new projects, new people to work with, or new things to do.

Small Wins

Focus on your daily progress. It’s easy to feel like you’re falling behind on our to-do list given a typical freelancer’s workload. That’s why it’s important to keep sight on your accomplishments – no matter how small they may seem. Keep a daily diary. Take two or three minutes at the end of the day to jot down what things you actually got done that day that moved things forward for you in projects that you care about. Maybe it’s something that you didn’t plan on getting done that day. But if it’s meaningful, if you can see your way learning, getting somewhere, doing something that matters to you or to people that you care about, keep track of it. Look back on your record of the progress that you’ve made and the enjoyment that you found in your work.

Become Aware of Obstacles

Take note of obstacles you encounter. Include mental blocks or moods. Find ways of overcoming them. Make a plan for the next day to build on the progress that you experienced the day before to refocus on your goals.

Learn More

Maximize your creative potential with proven-effective practices by Teresa Amabile, director of research in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School.  Her insights are available in the following resources:

The Executive Edge: An Insider’s Guide to Outstanding Leadership examines the best practices of top-performing executives. It offers practical guidance for developing the distinguishing competencies that make a leader outstanding.

Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide offers more than nine hours of research findings, case studies and valuable industry expertise through in-depth interviews with respected leaders in executive management, leadership development, organizational research, workplace psychology, innovation, negotiation and senior hiring. Each module in the guide offers individual and group exercises, self-assessments, discussion guides, review of major points, and key actionable takeaway plans.

Create to Innovate details the latest research behind creativity and innovation and how leaders can drive these critical factors in any organization by creating and growing positive inner work lives for employees.

mindful school

The Mindful Child: Teaching the New ABCs of Attention, Balance, and Compassion

 

mindful school

Credit: dharmaschool.co.uk

The classical training of mindfulness revolves around the four foundations or applications of mindfulness, depending on translation. These four foundations involve paying attention to inner experience, then outer, then both together without blending the two. It is so important to ground your bases in some form of well-established, or basic and classical truth.

Andrew Olendzki concisely defines them in his article, The Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness, as:

  1. Mindfulness of Body – bringing awareness, attention, or focus to breathing and bodily sensation
  2. Mindfulness of Feeling – noticing the affect tone, such as pleasure or displeasure, that comes with every sense object, whether a sensation or a thought
  3. Mindfulness of Mind – noticing when there is attachment (greed, judgement, wanting) present in the mind and when there is not attachment present
  4. Mindfulness of Mental Objects/Phenomena – being mindful and attentive to any thought that arises and allowing it to pass away unobstructed, and eventually directing this observance through a much more in depth exploration of the true origins of that thought

The Mindful Child

At the Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference in 2012, Susan Kaiser-Greenland talked in her keynote address about the importance of having a deep and scholastic understanding of mindfulness before even thinking about addressing a classroom full of children about it. It is crucial not go about it haphazardly. The games and activities you do with your children should be rooted in scientifically proven and backed truth. This could include the classical training, or a multitude of other resources. It is also important to bring the language down to a level children can fully understand.

“When I work with children,” says Kaiser-Greenland, “I teach them mindfulness is paying attention with kindness – first towards yourself, then to other people, then to everyone and everything.”

Kaiser-Greenland believes another way of defining mindfulness is that it’s a way of looking at the world; it’s attention, balance, and compassion. Always remember to check in on your mind. Is it cloudy? Dull? Alert? Judging? Are my actions or words consistent with who I would like to be or who I would like to become?

“What happens when we do this?” she asks, before drawing on activist Cornel West. “We are in the world in a different way. A way of looking leads to a way of being. We call that love on legs.”

View an excerpt from Susan’s speech here, or purchase the full streaming video here. To view the entire BHMY conference, it is exclusively available here.

Additional Resources

Focus Back-to-School Bundle

Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth 2013 Conference

The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education

How Students Can Develop Their Mental Muscle

meditation

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Most of our internal narrative is fictitious, repetitive and negative. The internal narrative of children can be all of that – heightened. They don’t have the skills of experience to recognize the thought/emotion connection. How can educators help students become more aware – and in control – of their internal world?

Physical movement, including basic yoga postures, is a fun, practical way to help students strengthen not only their physical muscles, but their mental muscles. The goal is to cultivate a multitude of traits:

  1. Awareness
  2. Embodied attending
  3. Emotional intelligence
  4. Self-regulation
  5. Recognition

Here’s how it works. Take a break for physical activity, perhaps when you notice they’re getting restless. Try something very simple such as tortoise pose, to camel, to triangle, to warrior, to mountain, and back down again. Or walking slowly around the room.

Ask the children occasionally throughout and after the sequence: what do you feel in your body? Then you can ask them to name an emotion they might be feeling: tired, happy, angry, bored, etc. This will help them to start recognizing emotions such as impulses of anger when they arise. When children learn to handle their anger (or any emotion) as an impersonal entity, they’ll be less inclined to deal with it violently either to themselves or others.

“So we’re on the upward facing dog. Now what? Nothing!” said Jon Kabat-Zinn at his keynote speech at the 2013 Bridging Hearts and Minds of Youth conference. “This is a curriculum already: being. Just be here! We’re learning how to inhabit being – in school. All of a sudden it wakes something up.”

The basic practices of mindfulness and yoga are a great way to show students how to free themselves from paying too much attention to the movie in their minds – and focus on the task at hand.

Jon’s full speech is available for purchase in an exclusive streaming video here, and the entirety of the 2013 BHMY conference is available here.

Additional resources

Back-to-School Focus Bundle

Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference DVD Set

The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education

How to Manage the Unexpected

Source: unsplash.com/pexels.com/CC0 license

Source: unsplash.com/pexels.com/CC0 license

As the levels of stress, difficulty, and pressure increase in the workplace, it’s even easier to make the wrong decision. This puts leaders and other decision-makers in a fight-or-flight mode. That mindset does not allow them to use the executive functions of their brains well. The result is inefficiency – for them, colleagues and clients.

The Harvard Business Review published an article called, “What VUCA Really Means For You.” V-U-C-A is an acronym representing the environment of today’s working world. It stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Here’s how to use these four letters to better manage the unexpected.

Volatility

A volatile situation is the best-case scenario you could have for a challenge. You are best able to predict the results of your action, and you have a lot of knowledge about the situation. It most likely arises unexpectedly and leaves you on unstable ground for an unknown duration. It’s not hard to understand, but hard to deal with.

The best response:

  1. Prepare for these situations.
  2. Make sure you’ll have the proper resources and talent to deal with these events.
  3. Be wary of expenses, however. Your investment should match the risk.

Uncertainty

An uncertain situation arises when you have no information about a challenge, but the likely cause and effect are known. The situation is not permanent and could change quickly.

The best response:

  1. Find out all the information you can, and do not keep it to yourself.
  2. This method works best when the structural integrity of organizations is shifting to help reduce uncertainty.

Complexity

A complex challenge involves multiple interconnected moving parts and variables. Your knowledge of the situation is most likely limited (although probably predictable), and it can be hard to know which actions will solve the problem without gathering knowledge. However, the volume or nature of this challenge is overwhelming, making the process of gaining knowledge about it difficult.

The best response:

  1. Approach a complex situation by restructuring and bringing in specialists.
  2. If you don’t have any specialists, develop some of your employees and train them to become specialists.
  3. Develop resources that can help you deal with these problems in the future.

Ambiguity

An ambiguous challenge is intimidating because no precedents exist. You have little knowledge of the situation and how your actions will impact your organization.

The best response:

  1. Use an ambiguous problem as an opportunity to experiment.
  2. Understand your environment, the competition in other fields, and experiences similar organizations used to change their course.
  3. Cater your experiments and decisions so that they can be broadly applied, and help you in the long run.

thriving on change

Stress. Distraction. Indifference.

These are common ailments brought on by a rapidly changing global business environment. If untreated, they negatively impact your team’s performance – and the bottom line.

How Will You Adapt?

Thriving on Change is an online course that teaches the proven-effective methods that will ensure your team can expertly respond to uncertainty, conflict, and inevitable distraction.

The material is delivered incrementally to align with busy schedules. It’s designed for individual participation or group training sessions.

Register today!