If You’re Not Making Mistakes, You’re Not Taking Enough Risks

Taking-risks-learning-from-mistakes 29jun15That’s a great quote from Debbie Millman cited by Daniel Dennett’s in his book: Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking.

The chief trick to making good mistakes is not to hide them — especially not from yourself. Instead of turning away in denial when you make a mistake, you should become a connoisseur of your own mistakes, turning them over in your mind as if they were works of art, which in a way they are. … The trick is to take advantage of the particular details of the mess you’ve made, so that your next attempt will be informed by it and not just another blind stab in the dark, Dennett writes.

He continues: “We have all heard the forlorn refrain ‘Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time!’ This phrase has come to stand for the rueful reflection of an idiot, a sign of stupidity, but in fact we should appreciate it as a pillar of wisdom. Anyone who says, ‘Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time!’ is standing on the threshold of brilliance.

A unique hallmarks of human intelligence is our ability to remember our previous thinking and reflect on, learn from it, use it to construct future thinking. Reminding us to beware our culture’s deep-seated fear of being wrong, Dennett advocates celebrating the “ignorance” that produced the mistake in the first place:

“So when you make a mistake, you should learn to take a deep breath, grit your teeth, and then examine your own recollections of the mistake as ruthlessly and as dispassionately as you can manage. It’s not easy. The natural human reaction to making a mistake is embarrassment and anger (we are never angrier than when we are angry at ourselves), and you have to work hard to overcome these emotional reactions. Try to acquire the weird practice of savoring your mistakes, delighting in uncovering the strange quirks that led you astray. Then, once you have sucked out all the goodness to be gained from having made them, you can cheerfully set them behind you, and go on to the next big opportunity.”

“You should actively seek out opportunities to make grand mistakes, just so you can then recover from them.” — Daniel Dennett


Topics: Taking risks, learning from mistakes, self-awareness, mental toughness, resilience


It Will Never Be All Good And That’s OK: Social Authenticity

have_a_nice_day_tshirtClosely aligned with Mindfulness are the notions of honesty, sincerity and authenticity. Mindfulness is partly about – to use the hippy vernacular of the 1960s – getting real, being real and keeping it real.

But many of us start the morning and continue throughout the day telling others and ourselves little untruths. Sometime they’re called “social lies” or “white lies.” Many consider them harmless. But are they? Or do they cause little distortions in our social system that accumulate like little bits of malignant bacteria, resulting in distance and even alienation from others and even from ourselves? Do they make our day-to-day lives less genuine, more fake?

When asked “How are you?” most people will respond along a boisterously positive and narrow continuum that starts with the base position “fine,” escalating to “excellent, “great” and ultimately to “fantastic!” A lot of this is culturally dependent. The inflation in reporting positive mental states is particularly prevalent in the U.S.

Insincere social niceties are often very different elsewhere, with some countries expressing quite a bit more negativity when responding to another’s greeting. In Britain, many people also reply “fine,” but a sizable minority say “not too bad.” That’s a curious response because taken literally, it means things are indeed negative, but they are bearably so. In Germany, people will frequently tell it exactly like it is, occasionally with too much information. Asked “how is it going?” quite a few Germans will say “it’s a bit difficult at the moment” and sometimes continue with a litany of highly specific complaints.

Social authenticity

Back on the relentlessly sunny shores of the United States, an even more insincere – and frankly annoying – reply has emerged in recent years: “It’s all good!” But this state of affairs is very, very rarely literally true. Except maybe for rambunctious twenty-somethings in perfect health and in fulfilling, secure employment who are so self-absorbed that they don’t understand what’s going on in the lives of their less lucky friends, their older relatives and their countrymen inhabiting different social milieus.
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Have More Sex and Two Other Rewilding Tips

Mindfulness sex & happiness

Using the full breadth and depth of your personal knowledge, what three concise tips would you offer to someone wanting to live a highly successful life?

It’s a question that often yields very illuminating and practical answers on Dave Asprey’s Bullet Proof Radio Show.

The little package of advice given by recent guest Daniel Vitalis, a “rewilding” expert, is particularly inspiring and practical.

In its most concise form Daniel suggests that most people need to:
1- Spend more time outdoors
2- Move in more varied and challenging ways
3- Have better sex, more frequently
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You Don’t Know My Story! The Fundamentals of Empathy

You_Don't_Know_My_Story_TshirtIt’s become a running joke in our family. Whenever anyone makes a critical remark, a negative judgment of someone we don’t know personally, our 18 year-old son loves to sneer and exclaim (somewhat mockingly, in a way only teenagers can) “You don’t know his story!”

And you know what? Almost always he’s right. We don’t know enough about the person’s background, their challenges, their family of origin issues, the burdens they have to bear.

We don’t really know what kind of “moccasins” they are walking in, let alone have tried walking in them ourselves.

The roots of empathy grow by learning the stories of anyone important in your life, anyone you need to get along with, anyone you have to collaborate with in your work, by choice or otherwise. This includes neighbors, colleagues, people in front of you at the post office.

It brings to mind a couple of useful quotations. The first a paraphrased version originally by Scottish theologian Ian Maclaren (1850 to 1907):

“Be as compassionate as you can be because nearly everyone you meet is involved in some kind of struggle.”

And the second by American botanist George Washington Carver:

“How far you go in life depends on your being compassionate with the young, the aged, the striving, and the weak. Because, someday you will have been all of these things.”

How would you react to someone wearing a t-shirt with “You Don’t Know My Story!” on it? Or what about someone driving a car with the same slogan on a bumper sticker? What if they had just cut you off (possibly) by accident?


Making Things Better: It Always Starts With You

grumpy-cafe-baristaMindful customer service

I frequent a local café. It’s very close to my home, the coffee is good and the prices are fair. The service, though, is… meh. Sometimes worse than meh. A lot of the staff are 20-something hipsters with a busier-than-thou attitude. Too hip to muster up a sincere smile or engage in jovial small talk. I usually leave feeling indifferent about the place. I’m not the only one – this cafe gets decidedly mediocre reviews on social media sites.

I’m writing this post a few minutes after I entered the place, having just had a little encounter that epitomizes the customer experience. As I approached the entrance I noticed that one of the main managers of the cafe was a couple of feet ahead of me, about to open the door. He made no eye contact, pushed open the door and held it for a second or two for me to pass through as almost any other human being would do; a basic bare minimum level of politeness. But he’s the manager of the place! I’m a regular customer! It certainly wouldn’t have killed him to say “Hi, how you doing?” And then he could have held open the door for me to enter *ahead of him.* He could have added a “good to see you* and I would have been over the moon. It might seem a little obsequious and subservient by hipster standards but most customers would find it charming. And people like me, born long ago, in the 1960s, would see it as just decent hospitable behavior. I don’t think our perspective is entirely irrelevant; I’d guess at least half the patrons of this cafe were born in the 1960s or earlier.

If your business is not quite as successful as you think it deserves to be, before you go around diagnosing the problem as being caused by this or that employee or this or that external factor, look in the mirror first. Oh, did I mention that the owner of this cafe is usually absent but when he’s around he often look grumpy and is minimally communicative. Pro tip: If you’re a pronounced introvert, don’t go into a business that’s built around social connection. It doesn’t matter how passionate you are about coffee, or beer or wine or whatever if you’re not even more passionate about making people happy.

Making things better – it starts with you. Is your behavior excellent and exemplary at all times. If not, what can you do on a continuous, sustainable basis to improve? And are you regularly seeking out frank feedback and courageous constructive criticism?

Mindful customer service


Perfection Is Not a Prerequisite For Anything But Pain

contemplate2Why wait for your awakening?
The moment your eyes are open, seize the day.
Would you hold back when the Beloved beckons?
Would you deliver your litany of sins like a child’s collection of sea shells, prized and labeled?
“No, I can’t step across the threshold,” you say, eyes downcast.
“I’m not worthy. I’m afraid, and my motives aren’t pure. I’m not perfect, 
and surely I haven’t practiced nearly enough.”
My meditation isn’t deep, and my prayers are sometimes insincere.
I still chew my fingernails, and the refrigerator 
isn’t clean.”
Do you value your reasons for staying small more than the light shining through the open door?
Forgive yourself.
Now is the only time you have to be whole.
Now is the sole moment that exists to live in the light of your true Self.
Perfection is not a prerequisite for anything but pain.
Please, oh please, don’t continue to believe in your disbelief.
This is the day of your awakening.
 – Danna Faulds


The Value of Accepting Your Own Difficult Emotions

From Mindfulness and Meditation for Dummies: How is it possible to see the wonder of the present moment if you’re feeling down, upset or annoyed? In these situations, don’t try to impose a different emotion on what you’re experiencing. Be in the present moment and open up the emotion as best you can. Remember that all emotions have a beginning, a middle and an end – try seeing the feeling as a temporary visitor.
Additionally, see yourself as separate from the emotion. The emotion rises and falls but you maintain a sense of stability and greater emotional balance.

Imagine someone turns up at your front door and rings the doorbell. You decide to ignore the sound. The bell rings again and again. You get frustrated and try all sorts of ways of distracting yourself from the sound of the doorbell, but you can’t. By simply opening the door, you can stop all your avoidance strategies. You’re facing your fears, rather than running away.


Carpe Diem with a Mini Morning Constitutional

carpe_diem_pluck_the_dayA couple of summers ago, during a somewhat hectic and often rainy camping trip with family and friends, I finally realized what I most like about sleeping outdoors.

It’s the early morning walk to the lavatory. Slipping out of the tent, breathing in the freshest of air, often with no one around. A quiet moment to take in the wonders of the outside world, clear my head of sleep and open it up to the possibilities of the day.

Back at home a few weeks later it occurred to me that I could partially replicate the experience in my own suburban neighborhood. Doing just that most mornings for the past year or so has been the most satisfying of my various Mindfulness exercises.

Of course older generations have been getting out for a walk, no matter the weather, usually the same route each time. It used to be called a “constitutional.” Good for body and soul, they said, and of course they were right.

But we over-burdened, over-busy 30, 40 and 50 somethings tell ourselves we don’t have the time our grandparents did. We’ve got coffee to brew, e-mails to check, phone calls to make, from the very earliest moments of the morning until late into the evening when our bodies can’t take any more. By nightfall, we have no energy for outside movement, only just enough to pour a glass of wine or three and sprawl out in front of the TV.
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Brace Yourself: This Makes You Sad Before It Makes You Glad

pablo_nerudaThe poet’s job is to make us reflect, challenge our assumptions, hold a mirror up to ourselves. Sometimes that’s not a pleasant feeling. It can be one of those “it has to get worse before it gets better” types of painful experiences.

The effect of “hormesis” in biology is that when a human being – and many other organisms – is exposed to small but significant toxins and stressors, the organism adapts and becomes stronger and more resilient.

Consider this poem from the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904 to 1973) as a “hermetic stressor.” Like some vegetables that you don’t like at first. Maybe try a daily dose for a week or two.

If we were not so single-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,
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Your Daily List of What To Be or Not To Be: Mindful To-Do Lists

Emotional Management

We know all about to-do lists. We know all about “getting things done.” Sometimes these time and task management systems are part of the solution. Sometimes they are part of the problem.

Recently a few wise minds have suggested that productivity and ultimate happiness might not be created by ever-increasing, and ever more sophisticated to-do lists. They rather cleverly have suggested daily lists “not-to-do”. That’s sensible advice. Why not try such a list? It probably will help; it almost certainly won’t hurt.

And here’s another potentially fruitful experiment. Start your day — immediately after a few short minutes of Mindfulness practice — write a “To Be” list. And in a Shakespearian mode, a “Not-To-Be” list. Stick with your aims just for the day ahead of you. What kind of person do you want to be today? Here are some suggestions:
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Ralph Waldo Emerson on the Power of Continuous Steps

ralph_waldo_emersonIt’s already February. How is progress going on those New Year’s Resolutons ?

Maybe it’s worth reviewing and replanning. Many people get stuck because they’ve only properly thought through the first step in their improvement process.

All great masters are chiefly distinguished by the power of adding a second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a continuous line. Many a man had taken the first step. With every additional step you enhance immensely the value of your first. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most of us are filled with good ideas and good intentions, but many successfully creative people find that discipline and persistence are at least as important.


Continuous Compassionate Criticism: At the Heart of Coaching

When you make a mistake in typing or in spelling, it’s good that an icon doesn’t flash all over your screen with a green monster sticking its tongue out and screaming at you that you’re a total idiot. Those kinds of frequent attacks on your self-esteem are unlikely to motivate you to produce more and increase the quality of your work. It’s an overwhelming, debilitating form of feedback.


However the opposite of this is also a problem. Most people can merrily type away while their word processing program automatically fixes mistakes that the person never realises he made. This is not blissful ignorance. This is the kind of cluelessness that leads to arrogance and complacency.

To stay on top of our game, and especially to get better at what we want to be excellent at – we need continuous compassionate criticism. It’s hard to find sources for that, but absolutely essential.

A key reason great athletes become great, stay great and get even better is that they have an insatiable appetite for improvement. They are highly receptive to feedback and being challenged. They believe in themselves and their pervasive superiority over their competitors but they are almost always open to improving and recognising what they are doing now might not be optimal.

This is less true in the case of top-level executives. Most I have worked with and know about are hyper-sensitive about criticism. They are thin-skinned and they avoid it. That may be an important reason that the average time at the top for a chief executive in most developed countries is about 3.5 years. Eventually all those blind spots and delusions of superiority (and even infallibility) catch up with these arrogant executives and they are deposed.

The art of the coach is to deliver this continuous compassionate criticism in a highly individualised way; tailoring the feedback and leavening it with humor and warmth so that the athlete – and ideally the top business leader – can receive it willingly, hear it fully, internalise it completely and put the improvement into action consistently.

Topics: The art of coaching, resilience, focus, discipline, compassionate criticism


The Point of Life Isn’t To Go On a Tour of Gas Stations

Woman Pumping Gas --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisHow much money do you need to be happy? Ben Casnocha has pondered perennial existential problem:

“…Just 100 years ago, the ultra wealthy enjoyed privileges average folk could never access: fresh food, medicine, safe childbirth, etc. Today, there are relatively small differences between the rich and the middle class in terms of quality of life. Today, no Americans will die in childbirth. Virtually all can buy good food, can fly anywhere in the world, access all the world’s knowledge and culture with a click of the mouse, and so on.

What “average” people in America share with the super rich like Bill Gates is far more significant than what we don’t share with him. Gates has a bigger house than you or me, but for what really matters, we’re quite similar.

It can be pleasant to be super rich, Ben admits. You fly in private jets or at least first class every time. You’re able to eat expensive food whenever you want, you have aides and servants who will save you time. The problem is, we quickly factor in these material comforts – what psychologists call the “hedonic adaptation.” The private jet doesn’t feel so special the 10th time you’re on it. Rather than marveling at the fact you’re on your own plane, you’re more likely to compare it (oftentimes unfavorably) to other private jets you’ve seen.
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New Year’s Resolutions and the Aggregation of Marginal Gains

resolution-british-cyclingIsn’t it time to get real about New Year’s Resolutions?

Research shows that around 80% of us fail to stick with our goals beyond the 31st of January.

In the media, we only hear about the mega success stories, the ones with the spectacular before and after photos. But many of the most powerful, sustainable achievements – in the sports world as well as the personal world – happen in incremental, subtle ways built up over several years, and sometimes decades.
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Are You Suffering From “Hangxiety”?

woman-headache-hangxietyAre you suffering from “hangxiety”? Top tips for overcoming the post-party blues this holiday season.

The morning after can often bring on anxiety for some – here are five stress busters for beating the blues.


Everyday Gratitude Versus a Once Yearly Festival of Thanksgiving

gratitude_faceMindfulness & Gratitude

It’s possible to convert every day into an occasion for giving thanks. Try it before every dinner, say it out loud, even if you’re alone. It’s more powerful that way. And this isn’t to make you into a more saintly person or somehow benevolently convert the world into a better place.  It’s simply to make you happier.

Research study after research study has demonstrated that people who explicitly express gratitude on a regular basis are significantly more content with their lives than people who don’t.

A quick look at the psycho-social context of early Thanksgivings. Life was quite a bit more precarious in New England in the late 1600s than now. About 40% of children didn’t reach adulthood and even then, average life expectancy was 25 years. Wireless broadband internet coverage was patchy throughout most of the original 13 Colonies 😉

Even if times are toughs for you, what might you be thankful for on a typical November evening at dinnertime?
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Human Warmth in the Workplace: The Secret Sauce of Success

happy_office_workersHighlights from an excellent article about human relationships and existential meaning at work in The Guardian newspaper of Britain:

Bank of America found that giving call-center employees breaks together, instead of forcing them to take breaks alone resulted in a more cohesive staff. With this simple change, the company dropped its turnover rate from 40% to 12%.

Within the positive organizational universe, the experts tend to divide into two camps: Those who feel that employee happiness hinges largely on a sense of purpose, and those who feel that relationships are the secret sauce.

“Having positive relationships at work is seen as a major predictor of employee engagement, and that’s a major driver of customer engagement.” – Jane Dutton, professor of business administration & psychology at the University of Michigan.

“Evidence on the almost instantaneous effect of positive human connections on people’s bodies convinces me that if I had to choose whether my workplace had purpose or positive connections, I’d bet on connections.” – Jane Dutton

“If you have positive connections between employees, that means it’s also probably easier to cultivate meaning in the work they’re doing. And similarly if your employees feel they have a purpose, it’s easier for them to cultivate positive connections with each other.” – Jane Dutton
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Simple Truths in Saccharine Sweet Syntax

days-of-of-livesSometimes truth is to be found hidden in jagged rocks of 19th century philosophy, encrusted in gigantic Germanic sentences, obscured by words we’ve never fully understood the meaning of. But just as often, I find, there is wise counsel in everyday language, no more sophisticated than a Hallmark card.

“A happy life is just a string of happy moments. But most people don’t allow the happy moment, because they’re so busy trying to get a happy life.” – Abraham Hicks

At once profound and banal – there is also the introductory voice-over of a soap opera that has been running since 1965, almost exactly as long as I’ve been alive. “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives.”

And from around the same era, a song reverberating in my subconscious mind since singing it for my middle school graduation ceremony:

If the hands of time were hands that I could hold,
I’d keep them warm and in my hands,
They’d not turn cold!

Hand in hand we’d choose the moments that should last,
The lovely moments that should have no future and no past!
The summer from the top of a swing,
The comfort and the sound of a lullaby,
The innocence of leaves in the spring,

…All the happy days would never learn to fly,
Until the hands of time would choose to wave good-bye!


A Spooky Halloween Meditation: Mindfulness for the Dead and the Living

halloween-om-mindfulness-and-halloween-pumpkinHalloween wraps fear in innocence, as though it were a slightly sour sweet. Let terror, then, be turned into a treat. — Nicholas Gordon

Breathing in: The wind is blowing
Breathing out: The leaves are falling

Breathing in: All is changing
Breathing out: All is shifting

Breathing in: The leaves wind is blowing

Breathing out: The leaves are falling

Breathing in: All is dying
Breathing out: All is growing

Breathing in: The days are shorter
Breathing out: The nights are longer

Breathing in: The season’s changing
Breathing out: The world’s still turning
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Carol Dweck on Coaching: Praise, Criticism & Shifting Mindsets

Growth Mindset, coaching expectations & outcomes
carol_dweck1 Carol Dweck is one of the world’s most influential social psychologists. Her research is of vast importance to coaches and how they praise and criticize their athletes.

Carol is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and an expert on how a person’s thought patterns and belief – or mindset – affect their ability to learn and perform. This interview was recorded and first released in July 2013.

She is the author of numerous papers and books, and those most relevant to coaching include the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. She also has a great website:

Carol’s interview can be found at our sister site:
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USA Olympic Team’s Mindfulness in Sports Expert Peter Haberl

peter_haberl1This week we’re joined for a podcast interview by Peter Haberl, a senior sports psychologist for the United States Olympic Committee. Peter has worked with some of the most successful teams in recent history including medal winning squads in water polo and volleyball.

Based at the USOC headquarters in Colorado Springs, Peter has a particular interest in mindfulness based interventions and cognitive behavioral treatments. Peter grew up in Austria, played professional hockey in Europe for 10 years and represented his country in two world championships.

The interview originated at our sister site:


Mindfulness at Work Is About Not Interrupting Yourself

stop_interruptingHow many times a day does someone rush in and force you to stop what you’re doing and shift your activities elsewhere?

The least fortunate among us have it happen several times a day. And yet we all know the key to contentment and satisfaction at work is to be able to focus on what we need to achieve and to work steadily toward completion. Most of our colleagues and loved ones respect that. It’s the reason that fewer and fewer spontaneous telephone calls are taking place. Many of us schedule when we are available to spend even as little as 10 minutes on the phone. There is a strong human need to be in control of how we spend our time – it’s called autonomy, agency or self efficacy. Psychologist have understood for decades that it’s a major component of happiness.

But when it comes to interruptions, how many of us are actually our own worst enemies? I know that on a bad day I can flit around incessantly. For example, I might stop in the middle of writing an e-mail to check a text message, which leads me to look at Twitter and the next thing I know I’m reading a fascinating full-length feature article in something like The New Yorker Magazine. Interesting, often delightful but totally off topic. That’s because the matter at hand was the e-mail message I started writing 15 minutes earlier.

Getting in Flow with Mindful Working

Is there a simple solution? Yes, of course. But while it’s a simple solution, it’s not an easy solution. Practice full focus. Sit and simply stay in the present moment with your breathing. Recognize when your thoughts interrupt your focus on your own breathing. Accept the interruption, but turn it away. Go back to your focused breathing. Again and again. The flow state at work is what we’re aiming for, and there is nothing so fluid as a calm breathing patterms, rolling like ocean waves.

Topics: Interrupting yourself, mindfulness at work; workplace meditation


Why Choose Between Two Things You Love When You Can Do Both at the Same Time?

gaming_multitaskingThank you Xbox for defining the exact opposite of Mindfulness.

The video gaming, multi-media folks have an advertising campaign that will delight those who celebrate the attention deficit, hyperactive disordered tendencies of our society:

“With the best games, TV, movies, music and sports all in one place, you don’t have to compromise. Switch instantly from one to another, or enjoy an app and a game side-by-side so you never miss a moment. And, talk with family and friends on Skype while watching TV. It’s all the entertainment you love. All in one place.”

Hmm… What’s love got to do with it?

If you find yourself in a delightful restaurant eating amazing food in the company of your one-true-love, why not immerse yourself fully in the moment? Maybe even turn off your cellphone and keep it out of sight. In the year 2016, that a radical act of human connection.

Or you might be sitting on the couch with said one-true-love watching a film that took several years to make, cost millions of dollars to produce and features several of the finest actors of all time. Why not – just saying – give that your full and undivided attention for 120 minutes or so? Just like our grandparents and great grandparents did in the olden days.


Building Your Character: The Ultimate Success Tool

“Character, what you are, is ultimately more important than competence, what you can do. Primary greatness is, at is base, a matter of character… It is foundational. All else builds on this cornerstone. Even the very best structure, system, style, and skills can’t compensate completely for deficiencies in character.” – Stephen R. Covey, Primary Greatness

There are 12 areas we can focus on to build our character and unleash primary greatness.

1. Integrity. Our first lever of primary greatness: To actually BE that which we aspire to be rather than merely
appear to be. This is the foundation of success.

2. Contribution. This is all about your legacy. How will you make a positive difference?

3. Priority. That which matters most must never be at the mercy of that which matters least. We must, as Covey taught in
7 Habits put “first things first.”
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How Mindfulness Is Changing Business from the Inside Out

mindful-work-david-gelles-mindfulness-at-work“Even Goldman Sachs is doing it…”

Highlights from Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business From The Inside Out, by David Gelles.

A refreshingly simple definition of Mindfulness: “The ability to see what is going on in our heads, without getting carried away with it.”

…Mindfulness can sound deceptively easy. Practitioners sit in a comfortable position, close their eyes and simply notice the physical sensations in their body and the swirling thoughts in their brain. Using moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness, the aim is to observe these sensations without reacting to them. By doing so, meditators gradually recognize the fleeting nature of sensations, including pain, anger and frustration. In time, this allows practitioners to quiet the mind. If it all works as intended, this results in individuals who are less agitated, more focused and easier to work with.. . .
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An Easy 12-Step Program to Keep Leaders Healthy

executive-health-work-life-balance-wellbeingCall me hopelessly naïve, but I think it’s possible to run a major corporation and still work less than 15 hours a day.
There is no leadership message more destabilizing than hearing that a chief executive is unexpectedly taking time off because of “fatigue”. Taking a sudden unplanned break is bound to raise doubts about a leader’s ability to manage his or her “work/life balance.”

That phrase “work/life balance” has always annoyed me because it suggests that work and life should be and can be kept separate. They absolutely cannot be isolated from each other for many people, especially most highly successful people.

A better term might be “work/health balance”. This helps leaders focus on the fact that too much time and energy spent on work can be detrimental to one’s health, something almost everyone understands already. If you are a CEO the precarious state of your health, of course, pose a great risk to the whole organization.

Imagine you’re the chief executive on a multi-million dollar compensation package. How might you arrange things to keep yourself healthy while still working 12 or 13 hours a day? Here’s a checklist:

Step One: Ask your personal administrator to find a top-notch nutritionist who specializes in working with senior executives

Step Two: Have two one-hour appointments (in total) with said nutritionist (they’ll of course visit you in your office if you pay them enough)

Step Three: Have said nutritionist design a daily and weekly meal plan and, in cooperation with a local high-quality restaurant or caterer, arrange for them to deliver two to three ultra-healthy and highly palatable meals (it *is* possible!)
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Seven Steps To Becoming More Productive

efficiency and effectivenessEfficiency & effectiveness

Be honest. You’re distracted, right? In fact, that’s probably why you are reading this blog post instead of working on that project you should have finished already, Michael Hyatt writes.

Here are seven steps to getting unstuck. They are not that revolutionary on their own, but practiced together, they are like a defibrillator for your productivity:

1. Create a to-do list for today.
Many people keep lists, especially those who have been inspired by David Allen’s GTD method. They have scores—perhaps hundreds—of tasks, neatly divided by projects, contexts, or areas of focus. But they don’t know what they need to get done today. I recommend creating a simple list for today with just three critical actions on it.

2. Turn on some inspiring music.
You need music that is not distracting. For me that means instrumental-only selections. I listen to music whenever I want to get out of the world and into my work.
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Evolution Doesn’t Want You To Be Happy All The Time

One of the more puzzling quirks of human psychology has a name: hedonic adaptation, Melissa Dahl writes. It’s a term psychologists use to describe the way you get used to the things that once made you happy.

Getting a long-sought-after promotion, for example, initially makes you makes you feel more satisfied with your life — but after a year or so, the feeling fades. You’re about as happy as you were before you got the new job.

This phenomenon is well-studied, and a classic of the genre is one particular study published in 1978, which found that, after some time had passed, lottery winners were not that much happier than they were before they’d won. Even more telling, they were not that much happier than another group included in that study: people who had recently suffered some terrible accident, and as a result had become paraplegic or quadriplegic.

So if this is truly a central part of human nature, wouldn’t it make sense to stop fighting it? After all, you get used to things because you are supposed to get used to things. It’s for your own good.

“These delusions about the past and the future could be an adaptive part of the human psyche, with innocent self-deceptions actually enabling us to keep striving,” psychologist Frank T McAndrew says. “If our past is great and our future can be even better, then we can work our way out of the unpleasant — or at least, mundane — present.”

It’s a feature, not a bug, as they say. Happiness isn’t meant to last, a statement that sounds incredibly sad, but doesn’t have to be. As McAndrew phrases it, “Recognizing that happiness exists — and that it’s a delightful visitor that never overstays its welcome — may help us appreciate it more when it arrives.”
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How To Handle It When Others Succeed

Success envy
Navigating the delicate art of comparison and unhealthy competition does not come naturally many people, Lysa TerKeurst notes.

If we look at our dreams, desires, and hopes for the future as coming from a place of limited supply, it will constantly feed the notion that someone else’s success is a threat to ours.

So what do we do? Answer: The very opposite of what feeds unhealthy comparison and competition. We should spending energy wishing that others will be blessed. We should look for ways to help others succeed. We come alongside our fellow dream chasers and assure them this world needs more of what they uniquely have to offer.

This isn’t always an easy message to live when our friends, coworkers, and even competitors are seeing the success we dream about. But there is an abundant need in this world for your thoughts, words, ideas, and creativity. Trust the universe and yourself – their success is no threat to yours.
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Three Foolproof Ways to Get Relaxation Into Your Busy Schedule

business_woman_relaxingTaking time to relax helps you be at your best for business, Marisa Sanfilippo explains.

Some 55% of American workers left vacation days unused last year. It’s time to build up performance planning for long-term productivity.

Relaxing helps heal. A relaxed mind is able to help the body heal better. When our bodies are under a lot of pressure, our immune system gets beat up. High stress can make us sick. Chronic stress lasting a month or more affects the risk of catching a cold.

Relaxing makes us be more productive. Spending more hours at work often leads to less time for sleep and insufficient sleep takes a substantial toll on performance.

Relaxing helps us make better decisions. Stress can affect our ability to think clearly, changing how we weigh risk and reward. Competence in judgment is always comprised under stress. It induces a tendency to offer solutions before all decision alternatives had been considered and to scan such alternatives in a non-systematic fashion.

1. Take mini breaks throughout the day.
I set three reminders on my phone every day to practice their one-minute meditation.
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