Categories
Change Growth Leadership

Is There A Common Future?

Here is the BIG QUESTION: What is the destination? 

STOP! 

Do not answer just yet. 

George Floyd’s gruesome death has led us to ask. Covid-19 has caused us to ask. 

Those marching in protest, those looting, those salivating for violence, have all come together to lead us down the road, once again, so we have a forum to discuss our common future. 

The hopeful say, “This time things will change.” 

The doubters say, “Not much will change.” 

And the in-betweeners say “Whatever!” 

However, here is a part of what we are missing. 

ACCEPTING SECOND BEST SOLUTIONS 

Most of the time we grab onto anything we think looks and sounds like change.  Anything that will calm down the tensions.  

The reason we want to solve so fast is to keep our anxiety levels under control. 

I will repeat 

The reason we go to a solution so fast is to limit our stress and anxiety. 

Then we say, “Whew, that’s handled” we take a deep breath and get on to what is next. 

If that works, great. Then you can go on to solve a new problem. 

HOWEVER, if the same problem keeps repeating, that’s another story. 

Then you are dealing with a pattern. 

Patterns are harder to resolve.  

We ask, why is the same thing happening again and again? 

It’s because we need to get to the root of the issue and mostly, we don’t take the time to go there.   

Sadly, we miss golden opportunities for real, lasting, and positive change. 

Look, I can’t/won’t apologize for your discomfort. 

Stay uncomfortable. 

Just wait to hear me out before you run to solve the stormy issues of diversity and economic disadvantages that are plaguing us once again. (Have they ever really gone away?) 

I will address these two issues in a minute. 

Please read on and I promise to keep it brief. 

THE UNDERLYING ISSUE: Living and working in an addicted society 

Wait! 

Before you shrug and think you’ve heard it all before, you haven’t. 

This is not about the common addictions everyone knows. 

I’m not talking about the need to reach out for alcohol, cocaine, pharmaceutical drugs, comfort food, cars, boats, houses, clothes, sex, pornography, guns, violence, celebrity status. 

Those are still only symptoms of the real addictions. 

I’m talking about our cultural addiction to power. 

That’s it. 

That’s at the core of so much of the crap going on today. 

THE WORKPLACEPOWERAND ADDICTIONS 

We grow up and workthat’s just what we do. 

 Sadly, many find this annoying way to pay our bills filled with too much stress, joyless, and lacking in meaning.  

Of course, there are the lucky few, maybe you are one of them, who loves your work. 

Keep reading anyway. 

You see, the work world reinforces the deeper addictions that keep us all stuckso we keep running incessantly on a very outdated treadmill. 

List of modern workplace addictions: 

  1. Confused or indirect communications 
  2. Emails and texts to avoid face to face confrontations 
  3. Gossip 
  4. A cover-up of underlying problems 
  5. Avoidance of talking about real feelings 
  6. Taking NO as an insult demanding revenge 
  7. Success at any costmostly to family 
  8. Creating divisive teams forcing us to choose sides  
  9. Complicit agreement to look the other way 
  10. An excessive need to defend, explain, justify, or blame others 
  11. Limited ability to listen or ask open-ended questions 
  12. Worship of bottom line 
  13. Ignore or deny the pain of others in society 
  14. Co-dependency to keep from changing 
  15. Striving to be the best (which is an impossible place to stay) 
  16. Avoid or deny an impact on the environment 

 That’s enough. 

You can add it to the list. 

Do you see how work stress and dis-ease leads to the rest of the more common addictions? 

What, I know you’re saying as you get annoyed, that this is not answering your questions about discrimination and economic inequality.  

Yes, it is. 

Read over the list again.  

What does the list above have in common? 

I’ll give you a pass on this one. 

Here’s the answer. 

Faulty relationship patterns. 

They start in the family and show up in the workplace. 

PSYCHOLOGICAL PRISONS 

Faulty relationships keep us in psychological prisons. This includes our internal relationship with ourselves. 

They breed the desire for addictive substances.  

The relationships Im talking about here suck the lifeblood from us 

I’m talking about powerdomination of rich over poor, powerful over weak, men over women, light skin over dark skin. 

We protest, we march, we chant. 

Why? 

We want to be free.  

My contention is, that we can only loosen the chains by looking at how we communicate in relationships and choose to transform to a more effective way. 

THE DESTINATION TO A COMMON FUTURE 

It’s time to “put our money where our mouth is” and create a learning society. 

This is not a revolution carried out by armies, not a knowledge revolution left in the hands of experts. 

It is a call to put corporate, community, and school resources into teaching effective communication, conflict resolution, diversity, and business skills 

Then continue to teach these skills in the workplace. 

This change is not a quick fix and it’s not sexy.  

I suggest this start with family sessions in all communities offering models of partnership over power. 

This is a preventive addiction model and a pattern disrupter to move from power to partnership. 

I have done this in cities and rural areas that I thought would laugh me out of town. 

I saw that people will show up if they are getting something for themselves. 

They showed up. 

That is the essence of my book UNIQUE: How Story Sparks Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement. 

This is not to force people to behave in a certain way. It’s to give them the choice to change outdated ways of talking and being together. 

Our common future will still have conflict, disagreements, and disappointments 

The difference is we can learn together to honor each other, listen, and respond with dignity and appreciation for each other. 

 

Categories
Business and Life Patterns Change Communication Leadership

Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement

Hi everybody! Sylvia Lafair here, and I will keep this short.

There are two parts to this that I’d like to guide you to look. First, if you do not know who Jane Elliott is, please google her and please watch the documentary and some of the newer things she’s done.

I will tell you just briefly who she is, but first I want to give you a quote from her. What she has said is, ‘Prejudice is an emotional commitment to ignorance.’ What a short sentence and a wise statement Jane Elliott is.

Now, I think I’m going to cry talking about this. She’s now 87 years old and sorry. In 1968 in April, after Martin Luther King was murdered, assassinated, she was a third grade teacher in a small town of Riceville, Iowa and the kids at that age are still open. They still wonder, this was an all-white area of rural sweet children and they wanted to know why somebody would kill somebody that had been thought of as an esteemed leader and she couldn’t figure out how to explain it. So, she did what was one of the most powerful experience of learning things.

It was back in 1968 this just wasn’t done and I don’t know how we’re going to incorporate it now, but I’d like you to watch, and it’s about how something as simple as if you have blue eyes or brown eyes. One is better than the other, gets handled by these kids and then there’s a PBS documentary that when these little third graders grow up and they’re now married, they have children of their own, they come back for a reunion. This is really getting me to talk about what they learned. Very powerful and I’m not going to excuse myself for the tears.

There’s just so much that’s going on and finally, it just has to spill over. And so, that’s a part of what I want to talk about. I said the other day, we’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. We have to be taught from year-to-year. It has to be drummed in our dear little ear. We have to be carefully taught, and we’re not doing enough about diversity, about inclusion, about listening to each other’s stories, and so please take the time and look up Jane Elliott. She’s now 87 years old. An amazing woman, but I didn’t get this emotional.

The second part of this is on listening to all the conversations and the rhetoric from everybody of every color, of every combination, of background, of affluence or poverty or whatever, and I really believe that as we begin to hear each other’s stories, that we can begin to open that human part in us, and that’s all stories. All stories and I had the privilege of being with Thich Nhat Hanh, who is a Buddhist teacher, who during the Vietnamese War, walked down. He’s a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who walked down the streets of Manhattan and stopped the traffic with his people with him, and somebody said, ‘Thich Nhat Hanh, are you for the right to the north or the south?’ And he said, ‘I’m for the middle. I’m for everyone.’ So, maybe, just maybe, this is the time, and I’m going to put together a short program to begin to discuss a story.

I’ve written the book, ‘Unique.’ Here it is, ‘Unique: How Stories Sparks a Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement,’ and this is going to be a gratis program that I would like to do on zoom with a small group of people to begin to see if we can take our stories in a certain way that we listen to because it’s very generational for all of us also.

So, if you’re interested, please email me at sylvia@ceoptions.com, and we can discuss what this is going to look like, I feel like I have to do something more, and in all the years that I’ve worked, and I’ve worked with diversity and I’ve had people tell the truth. It’s not enough and we need more people to do more.

So, Jane Elliott, thank you for being who you are, and everybody out there who’s listening, who’s ready to become part of the solution. Let me hear from those who are interested in this and the rest of you. I just want you to go and make a difference. It’s our time and if not now, when?

Thank you so much.

Categories
Leadership Leadership Strategies Leadership Styles

What Is Needed NOW In Leadership

Hi everybody! Sylvia Lafair here, and I woke up this morning pretty agitated in distress, and when I turn the news on, of course, it was validated with what’s going on in Minnesota and literally all over the country for that fact, and I started thinking with school not in, and kids not able to congregate and especially the teenagers and you know not being politically correct to talk about things like this in school.

We have got to do something social media can be used for good, and it can be used for trouble, but right now we have an opportunity.

So, my question is, what is it we need to teach our children? What should they be learning about? What’s going on in our culture in the world? What is it that we’re missing in their education at every level? But especially the teenagers, and I started to think about it, and this song came to my mind, and I know we have an opportunity, and I’m thinking about how we can do this. It’s just a first formed thought about using social media, using zoom, using dialogues. Getting the kids involved to talk about this, without giving them answers, without forcing them to take a test, what to begin to listen. We’ve become a very big soundbite world, and we usually don’t go past the obvious. Our work, the work I’ve been doing is about how patterns repeat themselves.

So, what we’re seeing as someone said, isn’t new. It’s just now being filmed. The disparity of how people are treated and from different cultural areas, colors. So, I’m going to end this because I have some thoughts, and I will be back. I’d love to be able to create the beginning of a dialogue and see where our children fit into this,
but this is from a South Pacific, from Rodgers and Hammerstein, and I literally copied it.

So, I have the words. Although, they’re embedded in my head because this is what we’re working with. You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. You’ve got to be taught from year-to-year. It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear. You’ve got to be carefully taught. You’ve got to be taught, to be afraid of people whose eyes are oddly made and people whose skin is a different shade. You’ve got to be carefully taught. You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, before you were six or seven or eight to hate all the people your relatives hate. You’ve got to be carefully taught. You’ve got to be carefully taught. Maybe it’s time to break this pattern repetition of hate and division. We can do it.

I will be back with some ideas, but please under this video, please put your comments and thoughts and ideas because if not now when? And it’s been too long.

Thank you so much.

Categories
Business Change Leadership Leadership Strategies Success

What is the new normal?

The question every leader is asking these days is: 

What is the new normal?  

Back to the office? Part-time at home? Full time at home? 

Look, initially, It wont be business as usual. It will be business as unusual. 

We all yearn for physical safety and equally as important we yearn for psychological safety. 

Physical safety means nods not handshakes. It means be careful when you sneeze. It means talking from a distance. 

It means to follow the guidelines even if the guidelines change every so often. 

Psychological safety? 

That’s what I have been asked about over and over by the companies I work with these last strange months. 

Here’s what I think is foundational for any company anywhere on the planet. 

It’s a combination of the important work of Daniel Goleman about emotional intelligence and my work about becoming pattern aware. 

I believe people will initially be more open to new ways of thinking and responding and unless the new ways are underlined, there will be a knee jerk reaction back to the same old patterned ways as before. 

We saw this after 9-11.  

Initially, most were kinder, more attentive, more honest, more willing to help each other. And then? 

Back to the way it was.  

I was in Manhattan not that long after the deadly destruction when the twin towers crumbled to the ground. 

Our taxi driver shared what he saw and after a short time, he had to pull over to wipe his tears. My husband and I sat with him, first in silence, and then talking about his recent memories. 

I gave him my card and said if he wanted, I would do some EMDR sessions (a method used with trauma victims). All he had to do was call and come to our hotel. 

He did. And I had the difficult privilege of helping with his healing journey as a gift for his courage. 

Then over time, I watched so many people become more aggressive, nastier, and less caring. 

Can this time be different? 

There have not been planes crashing into buildings, no visible enemy to “take out.” 

And yet, much the same. 

More of us have been struggling to make sense of the invisible “curse” that has swept the world. The fear and anger are there and the desperation of many who have been attacked by the virus or hit with financial hard times. 

There are conspiracy theories (as there were in 2001), those who want to disregard the toll on lower-income workers, ignore the plight of the homeless, loud demands claiming individual freedom, and those hoping to reap a fortune from the unprecedented times. 

Back to getting back to work and embracing the new normal… 

Here are a few key elements for business leaders to consider as the new normal is set to open: 

  • Purpose: Leaders are here to create a vision with a strong sense of purpose. What and how will the business align around contributing to the personal growth of employees, of helping to make work a setting where stress is addressed before it becomes a chronic health condition, where time on and off is looked at beyond that old 40-60 hour workweek. 
  • Openness: Leaders will engage to help everyone feel free enough to speak up and be part of the solution rather than just stand on the sidelines waiting to be told what to do and how to do it. In essence, to be treated like the adults they are. 
  • Compensation: No hidden agendas so all employees can negotiate a just and fair wage. They are not there to be given “allowances” as if they are children. The fiscal realities are discussed and understood. The theme of “we’re in it together” is one that leaders commit to and speak about with integrity. 
  • Excellence: The vision is one where the need is NOT to be the best (an immature and impossible goal), rather it is to hold the standards high and everyone has the opportunity to achieve and grow to their highest ability. 

This push into the future has lots of challenges… 

However, the opportunity is for a more positive and healthy work environment where trillions of dollars don’t have to go down the drain due to excessive stress and chronic health conditions that could be averted. 

This requires a new way of thinking about organizational culture, not just having a “tune-up” with an occasional “feel good” meeting.  

There are those who are waiting in the wings for their chance at retrenchment, for back to basics. They will lobby for “the good old days.” 

I believe the world of work is poised to lead positive change, and with enough determination and willingness to keep the vision of a more connected, more caring world front and center, progress is in the air. 

The theme of my company and many organizations we work with is: 

 “We are all connected, and no one wins unless we all do” 

Let’s make business as unusual the new normal. 

Categories
Business Change Growth Leadership Leadership Strategies

Change: What really matters as we begin to create the new normal?

Change is inevitable however, we’ve been thrown into change, more change than we’ve ever expected to experience in our lifetimes.  So how do we figure what really matters as we begin to create the new normal?

I want to share the story where the president of a company I work with recently called me and said the following: 

“I don’t want to change. I like who I am. I’m smart and capable. And I’m damn mad that my route to success has been hijacked.” 

After he stopped his ranting about life not being fair, about all the hard work he had done now seemingly going down the tubes, about the fact that he didn’t create this crazy, confusing, world, he finally took a breath and got quiet. 

I waited. 

He began again.  

Only this time I heard a quiver in his voice as he said quietly “Everything I have worked for all these years may have been a big waste of time.” 

I said the magic words I so often teach people to say when someone is upset. 

“TELL ME MORE.” Was all I requested and then I shut up. 

It took him a few extra seconds before he began again. 

“I’m scared. I’m worried about the future. Im worried for my staff and I’m worried about my family. I just don’t know what else to do.” 

I sat and waited. My nod on that Zoom call was one of “Okay, tell me more.” (I didn’t say it, I just waited). 

And then he finally tapped into what I have labeled “the F word.” 

He started to talk about his FEELINGS. 

We know, as more information about neuropsychology becomes available, that emotions and facts cannot live without each other. It really is impossible to think without feeling.  

No matter how hard we want to compartmentalize, emotions push their way to couple with logic. 

My question to him, and to you is “How do you handle the worry you have about things you cannot control?” 

Look, everyone is worried about the state of the world right now. When will things return to ‘business as usual’? 

I believe it will become “business as unusual.” 

Do you have any guesses about what your work world will look like six months or a year from now? 

Now is the time to re-think and re-feel what really matters as we begin to create the new normal. 

That triple bottom line is more important than ever before: people, planet, profits. 

Back to my client. 

He started to respond in his typical manner (the main reason he became a client) to blame, judge, and justify. 

“It’s his fault, her fault, their fault.” 

Yet, very quickly he realized he was reverting to old, outdated ways of responding.  

Then very quietly he said, “I don’t know how to react when I’m not in control.” 

Ah, he was now ready, I was ready, we were ready 

Time for a change of mindset.  

You can’t practice it like you do a golf swing.  

Or, maybe it’s not so different. 

You look at the ball and check with your eyes to see where you want it to go. You take a deep breath and use the best techniques you have learned to let the golf club make the ball go where you think it should go. 

And then you wait. 

You watch the air take the ball to wherever. 

Instead of the physical world of golf clubs and golf balls, it’s the world of mindsets and reactions. 

You practice almost like you would with a golf swing. By observing yourself differently and the way you have ordered your world. 

You spend time addressing what triggers you to upset. You stop long enough to look at where you want your reactions to go. You take a deep breath and use the best techniques you have learned to get your response where you think it should be. 

And then you wait. 

You watch your reaction take your words wherever. 

And then you wait. 

The more you attempt to control everything, the more stress you feel. 

Sometimes you win and other times you don’t. 

Yet, you keep practicing to get the best outcome possible. 

Once my client could relate to our session like a golf lesson, he was more ready to do his best and let go of things out of his control. 

Can you do the same? 

 

 

Categories
Communication Conflict Resolutions Leadership Leadership Strategies Managing Stress Stress Success

Who decides when enough is enough?

How many of you have said, “enough is enough?” And how many of you find that while you demand that the upset stop, it just keeps going on and on.  

QUESTION: Who decides when enough is enough? 

ANSWER: It depends on the circumstances. 

What an annoying, non-answer. 

Well, it does depend on the circumstances.  

EXAMPLE: Your direct report is behaving badly in a meeting. He is slyly looking at his phone which is strategically positioning under the table. While his voice is silent, his eyes are going from squinting to total OMG rolling around to let you know he thinks your idea sucks. (Or so you think he thinks this). 

You say to yourself “enough is enough.”  

And you call for a short break. You call the rolling eyes guy into a corner and ask him what his problem is (all the while thinking you should fire the jerk).  

He apologizes. 

Says he has too many things on his mind, especially a sick child who is waiting for him to get to the elementary school to take her home. His wife, he explains, is out of town at a leadership meeting from her company and he is the designated parent for the rest of the week. 

He looks sullen as he utters your phrase “Hell, this week is hell. When is enough enough?” 

Okay. How do you respond to him? 

That was the context of my coaching session with a senior VP from a company that had to furlough everyone except for the few senior leaders at the above meeting. 

Here was my suggestion: 

At the next meeting, you really need some time to take the “emotional temperature” in the room.  

How do I do that? I was asked. 

By a process, we call “Getting Current.” 

It’s especially important during times of group stress 

Although it works for all companies at all meetings all year long. 

Here’s how it works. Best for smaller groups (up to about 20). 

You start the meeting with a minute of silence. Yes, a minute. You know, 60 seconds. Every meeting can give that much time for a little bit of quiet. 

No rules about eyes open or closed.  

Just mouths shut and phones off. 

Then each person has a few minutes to say how they are feeling (the good “F” word).  

No pressure. No deep explanations. Just a short bit about what is going on personally as well as professionally. 

Here is a short excerpt from my book,  Don’t Bring It To Work 

Meetings are often called the ‘black hole” in the business day. Most meetings are agenda-driven and stay with the linear left side of the brain, often excluding the intuitive right side. Yet, it  is the combination of the two that sets off creative sparks and bonds teams together. 

Start the meeting by letting each person room to say something about how they are doing. Monitor it. No long paragraphs, no cross-talk, no saving someone, or giving advice. Just listening. And then the next person talks.  

Also, important that it is not in a straight line or straight circleif at a conference table.  

Someone talks and then someone, maybe on the other side of the table picks up the thread and says whatever they want to say. 

Keep going till everyone has a chance to express themselves. 

It clears the air.  

I promise you; the meeting will move faster with more positive results. 

In a group of 20, this would take maybe 15 minutes. 

Example from the “designated parent” above. 

If he had the chance simply to say he was worried about his ill daughter and would have to leave after the meeting to pick her up and was feeling the pressure of being the solo parent.  

Just that would be enough. 

How long did that take? Maybe 30 seconds if he spoke slowly. A minute if he needed to say he was frustrated and wished his wife could get back sooner. 

He would be more present in the meeting and the “enough is enough” mentality would have been put to rest. 

Give it a shot.  

We have taught this process to large organizations, family firms, and startups 

It works. 

There is a great deal about team collaboration in my book Don’t Bring It To Work. Get a copy  HERE and contact me for more information. 

 To your success,

-Sylvia

Categories
Leadership Managing Stress Stress

Handle Stress Under Pressure

Hi everybody!

So, gala fair here, and I have a few tips about handling stress. Every call I get, every email I get, every text I get has something about stress, overwhelmed stress. How to handle stress, hating stress and then I’ll ask this question, are you in distress or you stress? And they think of not. What in heaven’s name is your stress? Whether your stress is actually a good word, and your stress is I’m going to tell the exact definition is moderate or normal psychological stress, seen as being beneficial to the experience. Sounds good to me.

So, that’s being in the safe stress zone. We move out of overkill and yelling and screaming to hiding in under the bed or in a closet or wherever you can. So that you don’t have to handle stress. So, we’re going to work with that safe stress zone. It’s like, when you’re running and you get into the zone. It’s the same thing with stress, and you can do it, and now is the time to practice as best you can.

So, I’m getting as many tools and techniques as I can to help you with this, and obviously, using them myself. So, one that I have used and then I sort of forgot about, but I’m back with is the Pomodoro method and Francisco cruelly, oh developed this. And he must love pasta and pasta sauce, because there’s even a clock that he’s developed that looks like a tomato.

So, you can use that. You can use your phone. You can use whatever you can, but here’s what the suggestion is, and it’s a good one, and I’ve worked with it, and it really makes a difference. You set the clock, the timer. So that you work for 25 minutes. 25 minutes and then you take a break. Five-minute break. 10-minute break, whatever it is, and then you come back, and you work for 25 minutes, and in that way your mind can stay clear, because most of us are very much involved with our computers, and so many of us are working from home these days, and those of us who have been downsized or kind of put on hold for a while. The computer is a really, a good place for you to research and learn new things.

So, moving from distress to you stress, you stress. We need stress. It keeps us standing up or else we flop on the floor, and we couldn’t even walk around. So, it’s not you stress. It’s EU. It’s good stress, okay? Got that one. So, the Pomodoro method, look it up. It’s P-om-o-do-ro, and you can, I’m sure get one of the cute little tomato clocks, if you would like. If not, use whatever you have. So, I have one more, and it’s interesting, and I’ve been touting this for a long time, and these are actually reminders for me too. And it’s really about drinking water. It’s very interesting, and here’s the research from the University of East London, indicates this is important that water is the original athletic drink, and check in with any Olympian. And they will tell you, they drink a lot of water, a lot of water.

So, here’s what it says. It says that once thirst is relieved, the brain is left to focus on the task at hand, and even if you’re not conscious, you’re thirsty. Take a good swig, two, three, four. So, those are my tips for today, and I will be having my masterclass on limiting stress, and how to work with stress, and how to stay in that safe stress zone. So that you can continue going without really destroying any relationships or being upset with yourself or either being too mad or running away from a situation.

Have a productive day! We’re here for you and our coaches are ready to talk, if you like. So, contact me. I’m here for you too. We’re all in this together, and remember, no one wins unless we all do. So, we’re beginning to create a new kind of collective energy around all this.

So, have a positive day and have some, you stress no distress. Thanks so much.

See you soon.

Categories
Business Leadership Leadership Strategies Managing Stress Stress

What are your usual coping mechanisms?

I did a survey asking the following question: What are your usual coping mechanisms?  

Take a minute and answer it for yourself. 

The responses I received went from “Eating junk food” to “Playing games online” to “Binge-watching “Tiger King” to “Mixing a batch of martinis” and on and on.  

Most responses were about indulging in one way or another. Indulge means to participate in an activity that is undesirable or disapproved of and doing it much too often. 

I hear you saying “Just zip it and no preaching, please. Not now. Not when I must adjust to life changes that I didn’t choose. I just want some comfort. Is that so bad?” 

Nope, not bad at all.  

Although, maybe, just maybe, there are more positive ways to spend your time. 

We retreat to indulgences when we feel threatened and want to run to a safe, familiar place for our own survival. 

That brings me to a Cherokee legend that we all need to think about. You see, when crises and change are upon us, we have choices 

                           There are two wolves and they are always fighting. 

                           One is darkness and despair, the other light and hope. 

                                                  Which one wins? 

                                                   The one you feed! 

Listen closely and you can hear LIFE requesting you to use the reset button. Right here and right now. Requesting you think differently, change your habits. Stop indulging. 

Here’s a way to think about which wolf you are feeding right here and right now and what you can do differently. 

There is the survival brain. And there is the creative brain. 

The survival brain is vital for safetyIts goal is to keep you out of harms way. It is in the brain stem and the limbic system. A Key player is the amygdala (what I have named Amy Hijack). It’s responsible for detecting fear and preparing for emergency events. It then sends a message of “danger here” to the hypothalamus to trigger a fight or flight response.  

The emotions in the survival brain include anxiety, anger, disappointment, shame, revenge, regretand blame. 

Many of us live there most of the time.  

The creative brain is in the frontal cortex, hippocampus, basal ganglia and white matter. 

The emotions here include curiosity, peacefulness, empathy, joy, calmness, ability to plan, joy and gratitude. 

OKAY. 

Which area of the brain do you want to feed? 

Donald Hebb, a Canadian neuropsychologist said it best. Known as Hebb’s law: “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” And that means, with enough repetitions, your thoughts and behaviors become ingrained patterns. 

Now, that’s a game-changer.  

What does this mean to you?  Yes, you. You going through changing times that require you to adapt and adjust? 

It means in a short sentence, “The more we move away from fear and defeat and move toward curiosity and exploration, the more we feed the creative brain. 

Which part of your brain do you want to feed right now? 

Keep an eye out for my brand new masterclass “How to Practice Safe Stress During Times of Distress” and learn the mental/emotional exercises to feed the part of your brain that will support better health and more success. 

Categories
Business Business and Life Patterns Leadership Leadership Strategies Managing Stress Stress

7 Ways to “Practice Safe Stress” during times of confusion and chaos

What do you do when others are driving you nuts? When you can’t seem to catch your breath because so much is being asked of you? When you must change your schedule to please others who claim to need you ‘right now’? 

 Do you go on the attack and say whatever comes to mind to get back at the offenders?

Or do you slide away quietly and go into hibernation, hoping that by ignoring the situation, you will be ok?

Guess what?

Attacking or retreating leads to the same place. More aggravation.

Either way, you lose!

Using these typical methods to handle stress won’t solve the problem.

Okay, you want to know what will solve the problem?

Do you want to learn how to practice safe stress?

Here are some ideas to help you gain control when you begin to wobble while responding to others.

FIRST: Where do your emotions reside? In Freakoutville or Zombieville?

FREAKOUTVILLE is filled with: 

  • Drama kings and queens who take up all the space with their rantings
  • Rebels who are never willing to compromise
  • Superachievers who push everyone aside, so they are always first
  • Bully persecutors who put others down to feel good about themselves

ZOMBIEVILLE is filled with:

  • Procrastinators who make excuses so they cannot be held accountable
  • Avoiders who run in the other direction to avoid conflict
  • Deniers who pretend that all is fine and won’t look at difficulties
  • Pleasers who say yes to be liked and pretend they are happy to help

What is your primary pattern of responding?

Once you can pinpoint your typical way of responding you can learn to “reverse the curse” of getting your buttons pushed and falling victim to your own worn out, repetitive ways of responding.

Yes, it is a curse to keep getting caught in outdated, ineffective ways of behaving.

Only YOU can make the changes to get out of Freakoutville or Zombieville and get into the SAFE STRESS ZONE.

Here’s how:

    1. Think like a computer: Unbridled emotions can limit confidence, communication, and creativity (the 3 C’s of success). Be like a computer and press the delete button once you see you are in the extremes of either Freakoutville or Zombieville.
    2. See the pattern as AAP: It’s just ‘Another Annoying Pattern’ brought to you from the depths of your nervous system meant to keep you safe and secure when you were a kid and no longer needed.
    3. Don’t feed the weed: When you pull young weeds from the garden it is super easy to get rid of them. If you feed the weeds, they will grow deep roots and you must tug and tug to get them out.
    4. Stop the avalanche: Snowballs are fun to throw until they become so large you no longer have control. Maybe make a snowman and put a sock over its mouth.

Once is NOT enough: Staying in either extreme of overreacting or underreacting will continue to pop up, like pimples on a teenage face. So, keep clearing your thoughts and please don’t pick at the scabs.

Stand and be counted: Good posture helps diminish stress. Not only do you look better, but you also breathe better, and more oxygen in your body makes for a better mood. Stand, smile (even if you need to fake it at first) and in a few minutes the anger will subside.

Shrug IT OFF: Bring your shoulders to your ears and then let them drop. Do this rapidly. Inhale while you raise your shoulders and exhale when you lower. Think “Is this worth fighting or hiding” and just shrug it off as you walk into the safe stress zone to communicate effectively.

Practicing SAFE STRESS comes from being able, to tell the truth, stand for what is right, and learning how to say no without having to defend, explain or justify. You learn to be heard, accepted and appreciated.

Even better, you save your energy for what is fun and creative rather than staying stuck in anger.

Safe stress is good for you, it’s good for the world.

Categories
Leadership Managing Stress Stress

How Great Leaders Tackle Anxiety and Overwhelm

So many people these days are asking me what do we do with the anxiety.

I’m feeling stuff I haven’t created. It’s out there, but I’ve got to handle it and we all all of us really need to know how to handle it. So, think about this, you’re taking a walk in the woods and in the distance, you see something that looks a little squirrely out there. Not a squirrel and you say to yourself, “is that a snake?” or a stick and what? Do you start to back off until you look and you say, “is it moving? Isn’t it moving?” and finally you get whew. It’s a stick and you keep going and kind of toss it into the underbrush. So, nobody else will be bothered with it. So, why do we get feel it was a stick? Why do we get so nervous? Well, we have all of the survival skills that have been handed to us for thousands of years to keep us alive, to protect us.

They’re good. We need them but sometimes they get out of control, and we become so afraid of everything that we don’t know. How to work, walk, live, breathe, be with each other and right now, with stress really at a high level as leaders or emerging leaders. It’s really important to know what to do.

So, one of the things I want you to get is what happens in the brain. Our brains are programmed to really go toward reward and away from punishment. Toward what’s good and away from what we think is bad. Think about, if it were a snake and we’re afraid, we would back off. It’s a stick, no big deal. Okay, think about that and what we do when we get a reward is, we’re rewarded. Our brain gives us extra dopamine and I don’t want to go into a major scientific understanding of this, but I really want you to get that when we have promotions, when have successes and we feel good. Our brain is saying, all right let’s give him or her something really good to work with and we get some extra goodies in our bodies and we feel good about it and that’s where it’s good.

Now, the other part of this is when we are faced with something that is frightening or difficult or creates anxiety in us. How do we handle it? Well, here’s my theory and it’s a lot of researchers going into this and I’ve worked with thousands of people who have come back and said, “you know, when I saw the snake, not the stick, this is how I handled it” and I want you to think about this: it’s about adapting to the moment, taking a deep breath and thinking to yourself, this too shall pass because things do pass. Change is the way of the world and think about one of the great leaders during a difficult time in the history in America, was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and remember his famous saying: the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

So, when you’re in a difficult situation, when things aren’t going your way, when you have to cancel a meeting, when you have to not be presented with an award because nobody can show up at the time, what do you do? You take a deep breath. You say to yourself, “and this shall pass.” That will give the brain a little bit of room to say, “well if it’ll pass, maybe I can show up and give her some dopamine and make her feel better,” but do something at home by yourself. Close the door and we know that what we do feels better when we dance a little bit, sing a little bit, look at beautiful things. So, take the time during these stressful times to handle your anxiety by doing something that is going to give you some of that dopamine and make you feel better. So that, then you can say to people the only thing we have to fear is fear itself and help people move on.

Have a blessed day and here’s to your success.

Thank you so much.