Our past may read like a document on what not to do, AND we have the present and our future to make a change. When we look back at the past, knowing what we know now, we often find it difficult to understand how we made the mistakes we made. This is because once we learn new information, it is nearly impossible to reenter the headspace we were in before we learned that information. And so we look back at parents who spanked their kids, for example, and wonder how they could have thought that was a good idea. Similarly, our personal pasts are full of mistakes we can't believe we made. We did things then that we would never do now, and this is precisely because we have information now that we didn't have, or weren't able to access, then. From ideas about how to raise children to how to treat the environment, our collective human past sometimes reads like a document on what not to do. In many ways, this is exactly as it should be. We learn from living and having experiences. It is from these past actions that we garnered the information that guides us to live differently now. Just so, in our personal lives, we probably had to have a few unsuccessful relationships or jobs, learning about our negative tendencies through them, in order to gain the wisdom we have now. In order to live more peacefully with the past, it helps to remember that once we know better, we tend to do better. Prior to knowing, we generally do our best, and while it's true that from the perspective of the present, our best doesn't always seem good enough, we can at least give our past selves the benefit of the doubt. We did our best with what knowledge we had. Beyond this, we serve the greater good most effectively by not dwelling on the past, instead reigning our energy and knowledge into our present actions. It is here, in this moment, that we create our reality and ourselves anew, with our current knowledge and information.
Have you ever felt exhausted by your work, even if you love what you do? Or perhaps you’ve felt like you were swimming upstream overwhelmed at your growing to-do list and facing the limited hours in each day. If you have experienced this, you’re not alone.
Exhaustion and burnout can take many forms, but signs of emotional and intellectual burnout are often less visible than physical burnout. This ailment is so prolific that the World Health Organization officially characterized burnout as a medical condition in 2019. According to a recent Gallup study, “76% of employees experience burnout on the job at least sometimes, and 28% say they are burned out “very often” or “always” at work.” The study also discovered that it was how individuals experience their workload that made the most significant impact on their well-being.
Mindfulness supports the development of self-awareness, the first competency of emotional intelligence. When you strengthen this internal capacity, you can discern how you are experiencing and relating to your work. With this knowledge, you can better manage your energy, acknowledge when you need rest and recovery and build capacity for intensive high-performing work periods.
Our world’s current and future challenges require caring and value-driven leaders and community members to envision and embody the future we want to see. In these distinct and challenging times, rest and self-care are essential forms of activism that develop the mental agility and emotional fortitude required to build that future together.
For many years, work culture hasn’t valued rest due to the myth that we are more productive when we power through. This myth perpetuates as we email colleagues at all hours, and they respond—usually within minutes, or when we ask employees to show up early or stay late, and they do. Vacations, where we’re not tethered to working remotely, are almost obsolete. This requirement to be always-on is impacting our well-being and relationships. In the days before cell phones, internet or email, work actually ended at 5 p.m. At today’s pace, there’s limited time for the brain to recover, which is an essential step to building resilience.
Contrary to the antiquated understanding of resilience as forcefully surpassing our limits and depleting our energy reserves, rest and resilience are deeply interconnected. The first step to building resilience is developing a sense of inner-calm; this requires us to press the pause button, whether for a short, 30-second breathing exercise integrated into your workday, or a longer rest period by taking an extended vacation where we fully unplug. Researchers Zijlstra, Cropley and Rydstedt refer to these as ‘internal’ and ‘external’ recovery periods: “internal recovery refers to the shorter periods of relaxation that take place within the frames of the workday or the work setting in the form of short scheduled or unscheduled breaks, by shifting attention or changing to other work tasks when the mental or physical resources required for the initial task are temporarily depleted or exhausted. External recovery refers to actions that take place outside of work—e.g. in the free time between the workdays, and during weekends, holidays or vacations.”
Integrated Daily Self-Care
So how can you create integrated breaks throughout your day for recovery and resilience? The key is to rest the mind, allowing it to pause states of high cognitive or intellectual arousal. Without these breaks, you may deplete your inner-resources and experience exhaustion or burnout.
When we open our computer in the morning and notice the growing list of tasks, it is easy to become so consumed that we neglect our basic needs; hunger, thirst and ‘nature’s call.’ In this heightened state of stress, our nervous system is overactive, leading to increased cortisol, which, if experienced in prolonged periods, can result in illness and disease. Throughout your workday, pay attention to your body’s signals to know when it’s time for a break. How does your body feel as you are working—Is it tensed? Are your breaths short? Are you holding your breath?
Short breaks such as this 2-minute awareness practice can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system so you can recover and approach your work from a relaxed state. When you sense that you need a recovery period, try a meditation, go on a mindful walk or take a real lunch break—without your phone or computer. Brief recovery periods like these improve focus and productivity upon return to work.
Extended Rest and Recovery Periods
Extended recovery periods aren’t solely about taking time off—it’s also how you spend your time off. If you take your vacation days glued to a screen, sending work emails on your days off, you are not allowing your mind to rest in the way that constitutes genuine recovery.
Unplugging can be challenging, especially from our interconnected world. Most managers and leaders do not fully unplug when on vacation, which can unintentionally lead to the breakdown of company culture. Each email you send while on ‘vacation’ conveys a message to employees that time off isn’t actually time-off, and they should expect to be accessible even while on vacation. If your company values employee well-being and you advocate for it, model it by unplugging when you take a vacation. Taking time away from your phone and computer has many benefits, including better sleep, which is another opportunity for you to recover and build the reserves needed for the challenges that lie ahead.
Sleep is crucial for the body and mind to gain external recovery each day though many struggle to get a good night’s sleep. One sleepless night can triple the number of lapses in attention, impair our emotional regulation capabilities, and intensify our negativity bias. To improve the probability of restful sleep, unplug from your devices 30 minutes before bed, set a regular sleep schedule and try a body scan to relax.
Rest and recovery are essential to our well-being and expand our capacity for sustainable high-performance. The emotional intelligence competencies of self-awareness and self-management are critical to discerning when you need rest, and having the mental courage to press pause.
Text by Search Inside Yourself
Sitting with our sadness takes the courage to believe that we can bear the pain and we will come out the other side. The last thing most of us want to hear or think about when we are dealing with profound feelings of sadness is that deep learning can be found in this place. In the midst of our pain, we often feel picked on by life, or overwhelmed by the enormity of some loss, or simply too exhausted to try and examine the situation. We may feel far too disappointed and angry to look for anything resembling a bright side to our suffering. Still, somewhere in our hearts, we know that we will eventually emerge from the depths into the light of greater awareness. Remembering this truth, no matter how elusive it seems, can help. The other thing we often would rather not hear when we are dealing with intense sadness is that the only way out of it is through it. Sitting with our sadness takes the courage to believe that we can bear the pain and the faith that we will come out the other side. With courage, we can allow ourselves to cycle through the grieving process with full inner permission to experience it. This is a powerful teaching that sadness has to offer us -- the ability to surrender and the acceptance of change go hand in hand. Another teaching of sadness is compassion for others who are in pain, because it is only in feeling our own pain that we can really understand and allow for someone else's. Sadness is something we all go through, and we all learn from it and are deepened by its presence in our lives. While our own individual experiences of sadness carry with them unique lessons, the implications of what we learn are universal. The wisdom we gain from going through the process of feeling loss, heartbreak, or deep disappointment gives us access to the heart of humanity. Text by Daily Om
A balanced lifestyle is simply a state of being, in which one has time and energy for obligations and pleasures. Like pieces of a puzzle, the many different aspects of your being come together to form the person that you are. You work and play, rest and expend energy, commune with your body and soul, exalt in joy, and feel sorrow. Balance is the state that you achieve when all of the aspects of your life and self are in harmony. Your life force flows in a state of equilibrium because nothing feels out of sync. While balance is necessary to have a satisfying, energetic, and joyful life, only you can determine what balance means to you. Achieving balance requires that you assess what is important to you. The many demands of modern life can push us to make choices that can put us off balance and have a detrimental effect on our habits, relationships, health, and career. In creating a balanced lifestyle, you must ascertain how much time and energy you are willing to devote to the different areas of your life. To do so, imagine that your life is a house made up of many rooms. Draw this house, give each part of your life its own room, and size each room according to the amount of importance you assign to that aspect of your life. You can include family, solitude, activities that benefit others, healthy eating, indulgences, exercise and working on self. You may discover that certain elements of your life take up an inordinate amount of time, energy, or effort and leave you with few resources to nurture the other aspects of your life. You may want to spend less time on these activities and more on the ones that fulfill you. A balanced lifestyle is simply a state of being in which one has time and energy for obligations and pleasures, as well as time to live well and in a gratifying way. With its many nuances, balance can be a life-long endeavor. Living a balanced existence will help you attain a greater sense of happiness, health, and fulfillment. Based on text by Daily Om.
Like a tree, our growth depends upon our ability to soften, loosen, and shed defenses we no longer need.
Trees grow up through their branches and down through their roots into the earth. They also grow wider with each passing year. As they do, they shed the bark that served to protect them but now is no longer big enough to contain them. In the same way, we create boundaries and develop defenses to protect ourselves and then, at a certain point, we outgrow them. If we don’t allow ourselves to shed our protective layer, we can’t expand to our full potential.
Trees need their protective bark to enable the delicate process of growth and renewal to unfold without threat. Likewise, we need our boundaries and defenses so that the more vulnerable parts of ourselves can safely heal and unfold. But our growth also depends upon our ability to soften, loosen, and shed boundaries and defenses we no longer need. It is often the case in life that structures we put in place to help us grow eventually become constricting.
Unlike a tree, we must consciously decide when it’s time to shed our bark and expand our boundaries, so we can move into our next ring of growth. Many spiritual teachers have suggested that our egos don’t disappear so much as they become large enough to hold more than just our small sense of self — the boundary of self widens to contain people and beings other than just “me.”
Each time we shed a layer of defensiveness or ease up on a boundary that we no longer need, we metaphorically become bigger people. With this in mind, it is important that we take time to question our boundaries and defenses. While it is essential to set and honor the protective barriers we have put in place, it is equally important that we soften and release them when the time comes.
In doing so, we create the space for our next phase of growth.
Based on text by Daily Om
Because there are lessons more difficult than others, we may need the teacher for a longer time and in a deeper relationship. Sometimes the lesson will come like a bolt and that person may come in and out of life.
“Every person we meet is our teacher and student.” iPEC Core Principle
We attract people into our lives for a reason, a lifetime or shorter and always for a two-way learning experience. They constantly add something to our life journey.
The nature of the relationship may determine which topic we are learning or teaching. For example, we may learn the dos and don’t’s of social interaction from our family and people at school. We discover how to behave at work from colleagues, managers, and mentors.
“The purpose of a relationship is to remember more of who we are… in relation to another.” Bruch Schneider, founder of iPEC
Covid has been a collective experience with numerous lessons and counting. I am now reflecting on the investment I have made in my current and past relationships. We now have other sources of ‘teachers and students’. And the importance of having a solid family structure is more apparent now than ever.
This week I reconnected with an old friend. We talked for a long time catching up with our current lives and strolling through memory lane of times that were simpler and more fun. This encounter made me realize how much I missed having her friendship all this time, how much we encouraged each other back then, and how those decisions we made changed our paths forever.
A few months ago my team was moved to another group resulting in having a new leader. I have learned so much from this relationship. It has been like an immersion on knowing myself, how I want to show up as a leader, and in changing the order of what is important in our jobs.
With every new and old encounter and relationship, I learn something about myself and how I want to approach life. I realized that trust and empathy are at the top of my list when I think about how to show up as a leader. My old friend reminded me about openly expressing thoughts and feelings. I tend to be more reserved and self-conscious.
Great leaders focus on people: what to learn from them and how to show up for each person. They know that each of us is a treasure of experience, views on life, values, and feelings. Amazing leaders channel their essence to create growth, encourage others to fulfill their potential, and to inspire them to take the leap.
By Gertrudis Achecar
At the start of the pandemic, when many of us were asked to stay home to stem the spread of the coronavirus, it seemed like a lot of people had one of two reactions. Some embraced sheltering in place, thinking to themselves, “Why not use this big ‘pause’ to do something I always wanted to do?” — whether that meant cleaning out the closets, picking up a home renovation project, or learning a new language. The rest of us — including me — had no such plans. My goal was never to come out of quarantine a different, more improved person. It felt like everything in the world was so overwhelming, and getting by — day by day — would be more than sufficient.
As time went on, however, many of us — myself included — came to realize that we can’t help but evolve and come away changed by these times. But rather than let change happen to us, we can be intentional and actively participate in our transformation.
Some of us will make small but meaningful tweaks to our lives. Others will strive for a larger, sweeping “reinvention.” There’s no one right way to go about change; the important thing is to be deliberate and purposeful, and keep moving forward.
Here’s what’s been working for me, as I take this opportunity to contemplate who I want to be and how I want to evolve. Perhaps some of these techniques can help guide you on your own journey.
Revisit your goals. I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions — not because I don’t think they’re useful, but because I don’t think we should limit ourselves to reassessing the trajectory of our lives just once a year. Why not do that right now? Consider this turbulent time in our nation — both with the virus and the seismic reckoning over racism that we’re in the middle of — an ideal opportunity to review what you want to accomplish and who you want to be.
We’re living through something we’ve never lived through before, and that gives us all the chance to look at our lives from a different angle. Do your personal goals continue to make sense and resonate with your values? Have your priorities changed? If you realize you need to pivot some aspect of your life, make that choice now rather than waiting for next month, or next year.
Reflect on the events of this year. Are there things you’ve learned, or that you’ve been thinking about, that have troubled you? Were you bothered by the lack of human connection you felt during quarantine? Did you crave a more active lifestyle when you were spending most of your time at home? Reflecting on what didn’t work for you can be a great tool to help you decide if you want to do something differently going forward.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was pretty much on an airplane every week for work. These past few months have been the longest stretch of time I’ve been home in approximately 10 years. I have discovered a new passion: I love being home. This experience has made me realize that I can be an effective leader, colleague, and influencer without getting on a plane each week. It’s better for me and my well-being, for my family, and for the environment. Now that I have realized this, it excites me to think: How do I evolve to do all the things I want to do, but do them in a different way?
Use your own personal data to fuel change. Your emotions give you information — in fact, I think of my emotions as data. During this time, whether because of COVID-19 or racial injustice or economic challenges or any other circumstance, what were the highs and lows of your emotions? And what can you learn from them?
Observingmy emotions has highlighted the importance of finding joy in everyday moments. I always believed in it, but I was often too busy to fully recognize the joy in little things and hold onto that joy. Before, if my puppy did something funny, I’d laugh in the moment — then move onto whatever was next. Now I laugh and realize that she has no clue about what’s going on in the world; she is just living in the moment and living her best life.
Educate yourself. Sometimes in order to create change — personal as well as societal — we need to commit to learning more about why things are the way they are. I am a passionate advocate for mental health awareness and access, and I am constantly looking for ways to further the conversationi around mental health .
Lately, as the pervasiveness of systemic racism has become a larger conversation in our country, I’ve spent a lot of time learning about the history of mental health in the Black community. Our mental health system needs to do better for everyone, and specifically for the communities of people of color. One way we can affect change is by elevating BIPOC voices in the mental health and well-being space. We can’t allow their voices to go unheard anymore.
Recognize your power. Even the most personal changes we make can have a powerful ripple effect through communities and our society as a whole. Think about the collective impact we could have if we all made one small positive change and put that out in the world. If we all decided “I’m going to travel less for work,” the impact that could have on the environment would be immense. Or if we each made the commitment to volunteer with an organization we’ve never worked with before, or committed to learning about racism and how we can all amplify BIPOC voices, the results could be transformative. Simply put, when we embark on positive change in our individual lives, everyone benefits.
By Thrive Global
Like the ripple on a lake spreading out, humanity is awakening at an ever increasing speed.
A snowball at the top of a mountain has the potential to become huge, just by rolling down the mountain and gathering more snow. In a short time, this tiny snowball can become a force to be reckoned with.
We humans are like this when it comes to exchanging energy and vision, and no matter how few people are involved at the beginning, there is the potential for massive change.
As consciousness seekers, we are in the midst of this process, and it is amazing to see people we thought might never come around, waking up to their truth. Each time we see this, we can count ourselves blessed to be living at a time when the awareness of humanity seems to be at a tipping point, as more and more individuals open their minds and change their ways.
For some people, this revolves around an awareness of the environment, for others it is a spiritual awakening, and for many it is both. A great change in consciousness is sweeping through us all, as we recognize that things are not what they have seemed to be, that there is more to our lives than meets the eye.
Many of us have the awareness and the energy at this time to break through old, outmoded ways of seeing things and to move into a new way of being in the world, and it is essential that we do so.
The beauty of living at this time is that even small actions have a powerful ripple effect, and the reverberations of what we do have the power to reach and open many minds.
It is as if a scale is about to tip in favor of higher consciousness, and each one of us has the power to bring humanity closer to that point with the smallest of actions.
Each time we move in the direction of our dreams and visions, we can visualize another small pebble dropping into the pond, or another gold weight on the scale, rippling and tipping our way to universal awakening.
By Madisyn Taylor
The classic tale of the tortoise and the hare reminds us that different people take life at different speeds and that one way is not necessarily superior to another. In fact, in the story it is the slower animal that ends up arriving at the destination first.
In the same way, some of us seem to move very quickly through the issues and obstacles we all face in our lives. Others need long periods of time to process their feelings and move into new states of awareness. For those of us who perceive ourselves as moving quickly, it can be painful and exasperating to deal with someone else’s slower pace.
Yet, just like the tortoise and the hare, we all arrive at the same destination together, eventually.
People who take their time with things are probably in the minority in most of the world today. We live in a time when speed and productivity are valued above almost anything else. Therefore, people who flow at a slower pace are out of sync with the world and are often pestered and prodded to go faster and do more.
This can be not only frustrating but also counterproductive because the stress of being pushed to move faster than one is able to move actually slows progress. On the other hand, if a person’s style is honored and supported, they will find their way in their own time and, just like the tortoise, they might just beat the speedier, more easily distracted person to the finish line.
It’s important to remember that we are not actually in a race to get somewhere ahead of someone else, and it is difficult to judge by appearances whether one person has made more progress than another.
Whether you count yourself among the fast movers or as one of the slower folks, we can all benefit from respecting the pace that those around us choose for themselves.
This way, we can keep our eyes on our own journey, knowing that we will all end up together in the end.
By Madyson Taylor
“You want a revolution,
I want a revelation.
So listen to my declaration.” Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
These times of global turmoil demand personal and professional reinvention. With many others you will feel the urge of reinventing yourself.
This article is a mosaic of personal experiences, as well as valuable insights gathered from conversations with coaching clients. It is aimed to spark a reflective pathway to start a journey of reinvention.
Many of us (mostly those with careers in corporate America) usually reach a point (prompted by stage of life, stage of the business, or stage of circumstance), in which we ask ourselves why and how to move forward with our lives -personally and professionally. We have forged a reputation backed by solid and successful careers based on 3 or 4 tricks that we do very well and which have permitted us to score some serious successes. So why change? And why now?
The current COVID-19 new-normal is providing a state-of-the-art springboard for personal reinvention. It metamorphosed the world as we knew it in a few days, tearing down “the way things were” into a new norm. The nudge to reinvent ourselves is self-evident.
Many of us don’t have places to go back to, or careers to resume, or business opportunities to realize. As Eric McNulty (Harvard University) says, resilience is not the ability to bounce back, but to bounce forward.
So here we are, without a world to go back to, and unsure where to bounce forward.
Prof. Carol Dweck (Stanford University and author) has laid the invaluable concepts of fixed and growth mindset. In my appreciation a fixed mindset is “the world is as it is. I am as I am. And that is that.”. Growth mindset as I see it deals with the concept of “things transform. There are many possible futures, and I can change.”
This second framework constitutes a venue for exploration, a radical necessary activity to realize personal reinvention. As Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO) states, moving from a place of experts to a mindset of learners permits breakthroughs in technology… personally and professionally. When we are in the learner mindset, we are curious and ask questions; we allow ourselves to laugh at the incongruencies; we seek the company of others (and listen to them!); and we crowdsource our way forward.
Learning is about expanding what is known (the cozy, comfortable, predictable, “and who I am”), to allow ourselves some discomfort by trying and testing what we have never done. It’s about allowing revolution, revelation, declaration… or the three of them at the same time! It is moving from “this is who I am” to “this is what I am becoming” and opening endless possibilities.
This is a state-of-mind that practitioners in design thinking and futures thinking leverage systematically. It can yield surprising, expanded and inclusive results.
In my personal experience, the practice of yoga constituted a “via regia”. It has taught me to explore flexibility, find inner space, stretch where it seems I couldn’t, and see things from different perspectives as I do upside-down poses.
Finding a nurturing conversation between body and mind relays in four pillars: balance, strength, flexibility and opening. And most importantly, transitioning in and out of poses, finding and letting go in the flow.
Let me share 5 suggested-to-do strategies, certainly not new, that I “bundled” around the journey of personal reinvention, to prompt action for those that are ready to try:
- Be aware of the company you keep: the motivational speaker Jim Rohn states that you are (at least in part) a result of the 5 people you more frequently and extensively interact with. Design who you will pick as partners for your journey, make sure your buddies embody curiosity, exploration, and a good sense of humor..
- Design your day-to-day for exploration: if you want to lose weight, don’t leave a cake on your kitchen counter! Give yourself space and time to try new things, such as brushing your teeth with “the other hand”. That will start to create “memories” of “things done differently”.
- Exercise!: whatever you do, use your full lung capacity, raise your metabolism, elevate your cellular vibration. It is easier to change when your body is prepared and willing to. Convert your body into your ally for reinvention.
- Use frequently the “what if” mind frame, as in “what if I can respond differently?”, “what if she didn’t mean what I thought?”, “what if there is another way to solve this?”.
Unstuck your brain from “there is only one possible way”,
and start entertaining other possibilities.
- Keep a diary: collect your thoughts, and see your new
self revealing in the pages. Articulating in handwriting your thoughts will reduce anxiety and create some distance with emotions, and will prompt reflection and subsequent action.
Last but not least, when in doubt, revert to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words: “Every wall is a door”.