Slowing Down.

Slowing Down.

Life can often feel like it’s zipping by in fast forward. We feel obliged to accelerate our own speed along with it, until our productivity turns into frenzied accomplishment. We find ourselves cramming as much activity as possible into the shortest periods of time. We disregard our natural rhythms because it seems we have to just to keep up. In truth, rushing never gets you anywhere but on to the next activity or goal.  

Slowing down allows you to not only savor your experiences, but also it allows you to fully focus your attention and energy on the task at hand. Moving at a slower place lets you get things done more efficiently, while rushing diminishes the quality of your work and your relationships.
Slowing down also lets you be more mindful, deliberate, and fully present. When we slow down, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves to our natural rhythms. We let go of the “fast forward” stress, and allow our bodies to remain centered and grounded. Slowing down is inherent to fully savoring anything in life. Rushing to take a bath can feel like an uncomfortable dunk in hot water, while taking a slow hot bath can be luxuriant and relaxing. Cooking, eating, reading, and writing can become pleasurable when done slowly. Slowing down lets you become more absorbed in whatever it is you are doing. The food you eat tastes better, and the stories you read become more alive. 
Slowing down allows you to disconnect from the frenzied pace buzzing around you so you can begin moving at your own pace.

The moments we choose to live in fast forward motion then become a conscious choice rather than an involuntary action. 

Learning to slow down in our fast-moving world can take practice, but if you slow down long enough to try it, you may surprise yourself with how natural and organic living at this pace can be.

Text by Madisyn Taylor

Limits… and beyond!

Limits… and beyond!

There is power in knowing your personal limits — your willingness to accept these limits can give you the means to flourish.

Every human life is defined, to some extent, by limits. No one person is capable of fulfilling every possibility. We are all born with unique aptitudes and sensitivities, and it is these qualities that largely determine the paths we will travel in life. What invigorates, excites, and inspires one individual may exhaust or overwhelm another. When we understand what we as individuals are capable of reasonably handling, we gradually learn to accept that we have control over our wellbeing.

Yet determining where our limits lie can be difficult, as it is likely we have been told time and again that the discomfort, fatigue, and stress we felt while engaging in activities outside the range of our comfort zones was all in our heads. If you have never before given thought to the notion of personal limits, creating a list of those tasks and situations that leave you feeling drained can give you insight into your own.

You will know definitively that you are operating within your limits when you have the necessary energy and drive to address your personal and professional commitments. And you are definitely able to expand yourself and extend the range of your capabilities. The wisdom you gain through dynamic self-examination will give you the tools you need to create an individual life strategy that allows you to achieve your goals taking into account yourself and your needs.

The limits you honor by focusing your energy on what you can do rather than what you cannot do will not interfere with your ambitions unless you allow them to interfere. You can thrive within your limits, actively shape your circumstances, and avoid anguish by simply recognizing that certain aspects of life nourish you while others drain you, and doing your best to perceive the fine line between applying yourself diligently and overworking yourself.

You may be surprised to discover that your limits change over time. Your willingness to accept these limits as they reveal themselves to you can smooth your passage through life and give you the means to flourish.
Based on text by Madisyn Taylor

The Power of Thank You.

The Power of Thank You.

When we sincerely give our thanks—telling others, “We appreciate you”—the message delivered is, “You are loved.”

And it’s a gift that goes both ways. As we express our thanks, we are uplifted—often as much as the person being appreciated. Indeed, true gratitude is one of life’s most precious treasures.

Here are some thoughts:

·  The gift we never return. We’ve all had this experience: giving someone a gift and waiting for the wrapping paper to be removed and the box opened. Nervous and a little uncertain, and even to hedge our bets, we whisper when no one’s listening, “There’s a gift receipt at the bottom if you want to take it back.” Not so with the gift of pure, unadulterated appreciation. There are no receipts, no strings attached. This is not layaway for some future obligation. It’s all gratitude. People should not need to read the tea leaves in an email or a text—anxiously interpreting the emoji or discerning the meaning of a period after “thank you” instead of an exclamation point. When we are truly thankful, there should be no doubt about it. Others can feel it, in our words and in our actions. This gift never gets returned.

·  Class is always in session. We never really get out of sixth grade. Think about it—we still want to be liked, to be accepted, to get picked for the team, to be appreciated. And there are other lessons from elementary school that continue to make an impact: Just because a child sits down when a teacher tell them to, that doesn’t mean they are sitting down in their minds. It’s the teacher’s job to help them make that choice. It may be the same in the workplace today. And the key to unlocking motivation and discretionary energy is expressing gratitude for what people do. The lesson: leadership truly is a matter of the heart—and we always need to be learning the language of appreciation.

·  Our attitude is always our altitude. When one person says thank you, it can set off a positive chain reaction. The reason lies in emotional intelligence (EI): When we develop and express our EI, we transmit more positive feelings such as gratitude than negative ones. It’s like a spark that ignites as others respond. Moods shift and positivity elevates everyone. Then our attitudes truly become our altitude.

·  The power of one. A quotation from Edward Everett Hale, a 19th century social reformer and minister, reads: I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. Over the past year, these words have taken on so much meaning about the importance of one. No matter how powerless we may feel, no matter how big the problems in the world, we can still do that “something” that we all can do. We can show genuine caring and gratitude.

Gratitude is a a life-changing attitude/ skill/ intention/ state (whatever you may want to describe it), and also a world-changing force.

Based on text by Gary Burnison

Mindfully P.L.A.C.E.

Mindfully P.L.A.C.E.

1. Pause

The moment you notice you are triggered, take a moment to pause and breathe. For example, the minute someone says something that upsets you and you notice your energy change, take a breath.

2. Label Your Emotions

Name what you’re feeling. Is it anger, frustration, sadness, grief? Identifying how we feel can help us process our emotions.

3. Ask Yourself: Why?

Asking yourself these questions: “Why was I triggered? What actually triggered me?” can help bring awareness to what’s under the surface. For example, it might not be what the person said that upset you but rather that it reminded you of a different memory or perhaps you are simply more sensitive today than yesterday.

4. Choose A Mindful Response

Here is where the difference is made! Consider the information about the situation over the emotion. What’s important to share about your experience? How can you communicate in a way that is connective and reparative versus harmful and unproductive? How can the way you communicate serve the best for all involved?

5. Empower Yourself

Empower yourself to move closer towards your values and goals by responding from this calmer place. Notice how pausing impacts your body and your nervous system. Notice how responding versus reacting impacts your relationships and how you feel about yourself!

From Community Forward SF

Reacting vs. Responding

Reacting vs. Responding

With so many triggering events happening in our world right now, most of us are likely having a pretty difficult time emotionally. I wanted to take this moment to explore how we can express those emotions using mindfulness. 

Many of you might be wondering what the difference is between Reacting and Responding

Reacting happens when there is an event (or stimulus) → our internal alarm bells sound (or our Fight/Flight Reaction) → and we have external, physical or emotional activation. 

Here, we usually have a short-sighted, sometimes aggressive or out-of-control impulse. Maybe we yell, we curse, we freeze, run away or even want to physically fight someone. (This is the reason it’s called the Fight/Flight Reaction!)

Responding happens when there is an event (or stimulus) → our internal alarm bells sound (or our Fight/Flight Reaction) → and we are able to utilize our mindfulness skills to pause and breathe before → speaking or acting.

Here, we are able to use mindfulness to get beyond the emotion and into the information. Responding often produces a calm, value-centered, and connected solution. 

It’s important to acknowledge that this is a skill that requires repeated practice. And that’s okay! It’s impossible to always Respond to stressful events or triggers. Our bodies have natural Reactions when we feel threatened or hurt. It is the goal of mindfulness to move towards interacting with ourselves, others and the world from a more peaceful place. 

From Community Forward SF
7 Ways of Finding the Flow.

7 Ways of Finding the Flow.

Sometimes it’s called being “in the zone.” Or a “flow state.” But by any name, career experts say this mental state of operation is the latest buzzword and mental tool to emerge after a year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to positive psychology, a flow state is when you are performing a task completely immersed and with fully energized focus. It helps people complete difficult projects and reduces work-related stress, something that 83% of the US workforce say they suffer. “In flow, time is forgotten, new discoveries are made, you push beyond your perceived capabilities, and a calm confidence emerges as you feel you can conquer hard things,” says Nancy Von Horn, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance. We found seven ways to try to achieve it.

Find your passion.

Passion is to flow what coffee is to your mornings. Experts say it’s hard to find flow where there is no passion or some level of interest in your work. “You don’t get into the flow—flow gets into you,” says Sean Carney, a Korn Ferry Advance career coach. When you engage in activities that you’re interested in and bring you joy, flow will find its way to you, he says.

Putting yourself in situations you can benefit from and experimenting with various roles until you stumble upon one that excites you is the way to go, says Tom McMullen, a senior client partner at Korn Ferry and leader of the firm’s North American Total Rewards expertise group.

Prep your physical space.

Setting up your work environment is one of the easiest ways to bring yourself one step closer to flow. For instance, a place full of distractions, clutter, and noise can hinder you from getting in the zone, says Carney. Trying to multitask, going on social media, and any interruptions hinder you from establishing flow, he says. So find a quiet place or use noise-canceling headphones, clean out your workspace, and put away your smartphone, says Von Horn. “Eliminate all distractions, or your concentration will be interrupted,” she says.

Clear your mind.

While finding flow, your mental space is just as important as your physical surroundings. People usually have mental “jams” when there’s too much going on, says Deborah Brown, a managing principal at Korn Ferry. Try not to overwhelm yourself by taking on too many projects at once, multitasking, or overcommitting to people, she says. Brown also says it’s important to practice self-care or listen to calming podcasts or music, because flow doesn’t materialize when you’re burnt out, anxious, exhausted, or hungry.

Get moving.

Endorphins are directly correlated to flow. It is necessary to take care of your physical health and keep your body moving. “Our physical health can prime us for flow,” says Carney. Incorporating some form of exercise, in addition to resting and eating well, will keep you active and increase your likelihood of finding flow, he says. If you’re feeling sluggish and restless, going for a quick run or walk, doing some jumping jacks, or stretching into a few yoga poses can tremendously help in increasing your focus and energy, says Von Horn.

Try “time blocking.”

Flow cannot be found in small pockets of time during the day. You can’t achieve flow in 10 minutes between your Zoom meetings, says Von Horn—you need to chalk out at least 30 minutes to an hour depending on your goals and projects. Hence, planning ahead and blocking out a few hours every day or a few days a week is a good start. Von Horn says to try the Pomodoro technique or set a 20-minute timer to focus only on one task.

Challenge yourself.

Set clear, challenging, and attainable goals. You need some tension or stretch goals to achieve flow—not something too easy monotonous, says Von Horn. For his part, McMullen says to keep pushing yourself and beware of getting into a state of passiveness. For instance, the best athletes are always raising the bar, he says. “LeBron James has won several NBA championships, but for whatever reason, he’s still not satisfied, and he’s always pushing himself, his teammates, and his coaches to do better.”

Add play.

We’ve all heard the phrase “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The same applies to flow. Integrate non-work-related activities that you enjoy into your day, as they will lift your spirits and put you in a positive headspace that is conducive to flow, says Val Olson, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance. The activities can be anything, from watching funny videos to playing with your pet to listening to music, she says. 

By Nancy Von Horn

Seeing the Bigger Picture.

Seeing the Bigger Picture.

We have created imaginary boundaries, sectioning ourselves into countries and states, forgetting that in reality we are all living together.

We have created imaginary boundaries, sectioning ourselves into countries and states, forgetting that in reality we are all living together.

Seeing an image of the planet Earth taken from space inspires awe in many of us, since we can clearly see the connectedness of all of us who live upon this planet. We have created imaginary boundaries, sectioning ourselves into countries and states, forgetting that in reality we are all living together, breathing the same air, drinking from the same water, eating food grown from the same earth.

We share everything on this planet, whether we are conscious of it or not, with other people, and those people are our brothers and sisters. Keeping a photograph or painting of the planet Earth in a prominent place in our homes can be a positive way to remember our interconnectedness. 

Meditating on the fact that any sense of separation we have from one another is truly an illusion, we will naturally begin to make more conscious choices in our daily lives. The simple act of preparing food, or determining how to dispose of our refuse, can be done with the consciousness that whatever we do will affect all our brothers and sisters, no matter how far away they live, as well as the planet herself.

When we foster this kind of awareness in ourselves out of a feeling of awe, it becomes easier to be conscious than to fall back into old habits of thinking of ourselves as separate. 

When we contemplate the earth in her wholeness, we attune ourselves to the truth of the bigger picture, which is the Earth, and all of us, every one of us, living on her body. We are connected to one another in the most intimate way, because we literally share our living space. As more people become aware of the reality of our interdependency, things will shift in a positive direction, and much of the discord that we see now will give way to a more cooperative, loving conscious.

This is happening already, so as our consciousness grows, we can join with the many other minds working to live in the spirit of togetherness
By Madisyn Taylor
What We Don’t Want to Do.

What We Don’t Want to Do.

Doing things we don’t want to do, or that scare us, creates flow in our lives and allows us to grow.
Most of us have had the experience of tackling some dreaded task only to come out the other side feeling invigorated, filled with a new sense of confidence and strength. The funny thing is, most of the time when we do them, we come out on the other side changed and often wondering what we were so worried about or why it took us so long. We may even begin to look for other tasks we’ve been avoiding so that we can feel that same heady mix of excitement and completion. 

Whether we avoid something because it scares us or bores us, or because we think it will force a change we’re not ready for, putting it off only creates obstacles for us. On the other hand, facing the task at hand, no matter how onerous, creates flow in our lives and allows us to grow. The relief is palpable when we stand on the other side knowing that we did something even though it was hard or we didn’t want to do it.

On the other hand, when we cling to our comfort zone, never addressing the things we don’t want to face, we cut ourselves off from flow and growth. 

We all have at least one thing in our life that never seems to get done. Bringing that task to the top of the list and promising ourselves that we will do it as soon as possible is an act that could liberate a tremendous amount of energy in our lives.

Whatever it is, we can allow ourselves to be fueled by the promise of the feelings of exhilaration and confidence that will be the natural result of doing it. 
The Kaleidoscope of Life

The Kaleidoscope of Life

When we only associate with like-minded people, there often isn’t any room to grow because new ideas aren’t being introduced.
We tend to gravitate toward people who are the most like us, at least in the ways that make us feel comfortable. But life has its way of bringing us into contact with people who challenge us with their differences. It may be an obvious difference reflected in their outward appearance or an invisible but powerful philosophical stance, but even in our closest circle of friends and family, there are those that confront us with their different ways of experiencing and expressing life.

We can choose to resist, but we can also choose to learn from them and appreciate that they too have a place in the kaleidoscope of life. 

As much as we may say that we want peace and quiet and a life without struggle, the truth is that human beings are, at this time, thriving in a world of dualities and challenges. It is how we choose to approach these hurdles that determine if we sail over them, confirming our agility, or trip and end up face down in the dust. And each of us absolutely will and must stumble, and then get up, brush the dust off and carry on.

This is how we learn and grow, developing depth of character and shades of understanding. In a world of dualities, we have trouble defining ourselves without something opposite, and can’t discover who we are. Without challenge, there is nothing to do and nothing to discover. That leaves us either in a state of non-being or the state of pure spirit, but as humans, we are spiritual beings experiencing the physical world in all of its startling contrast and beauty. 

No matter how spiritual we are, our lives will have challenges.  We will always run into people that are different than we are, but the true challenge may be in finding ways to be at peace with this process. Rather than give in to the fight or flight response that comes from our animal nature, we can find new ways to evolve together into higher more beautiful expressions of ourselves, realizing, embracing and celebrating the beauty of diversity and the strength it offers for the future.
The Greater Cause.

The Greater Cause.

Working towards the greater good.

With all that takes place in our lives, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the fact that we’re part of something greater than ourselves — a collective consciousness, the Universe, a greater cause. Because of our tendency to forget this, we might make decisions in our lives that don’t reflect that responsibility that comes with this belonging. All too often, we focus just on the short-term, tangible gain to ourselves without worrying about its consequences. Other times, we may discard the greater cause because it seems like “hard work.” The challenge is to expand our minds so that we transcend the distinction between self and others, so we are aware of how our choices and actions can impact a greater cause.  

When you serve the greater cause you also serve your greater good. There is nothing that you cannot do for your highest good that will not benefit the good of all. For example, saying no to a relationship that isn’t right for you not only benefits you but serves the greater good of the other person that you are honoring with your honesty. Saying yes to your dream job not only fulfills you but also serves the people that will benefit from your enthusiasm and productivity. 

When you know you are serving a greater cause, there is little room for fear and doubt. You know that what you do will benefit others, so there is no way the universe is not going to support your efforts — even if sometimes it may not look that way. Serving the greater cause allows you to live from the space of your greatness.

When you know that what you do can serve a greater cause, you are aware of your power and ability to influence and create change in this world.

Got change?

Based on text by Madisyn Taylor.