Be Ready to Junk What Isn’t Working

“…In the end we almost all fail, routinely and repeatedly, quietly or conspicuously; and failure, properly handled, is one of the best teachers life can send us: a teacher and friend.

‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again’ was always terrible advice. The dreary adage may have worked for the patient Scottish spider that Robert the Bruce watched attempting its web before his victory at Bannockburn, but we are not spiders. Repeat the old lie if that comforts you, but listen down the centuries for the banging of a million heads against a million brick walls. Trying repeatedly does not usually lead to success.

Failure is telling us something, and you should notice when it gets insistent. If at first, you don’t succeed, give it another try if you like. Give it two more tries if you must. But if you still don’t succeed, get the message. Try something different; somewhere different; someone different.

…a version of Darwin’s theory of evolution can be applied not only across many generations of the same species but to a single individual within that person’s own lifetime. Failure weeds out what doesn’t work to give space, air, and light to what does. Apply that within your own life and you will see the redeeming power of failure, if only an individual will recognize and respond to it with sufficient ruthlessness. Life is short. Be ready to junk what isn’t working.” – Mathew Parris

Hat tip to my most excellent friend and colleague Adie Shariff


How Success Distorts Self Image and What To Do About It

Marshall Goldsmith in IndiaSome wisdom from leading management thinker Marshall Goldsmith during a recent public visit to India:

“…The more successful people become, the more positive reinforcement you get. This is called the ‘Superstition Complex.’ You think that if you behave this way, you are successful. And you are successful because you behave this way.

For instance, has anyone here been promoted in the last two years? Now those of you who have been promoted: Have you noticed that your jokes have gotten a little funnier, everything you say is very wise; you even look like you’ve lost weight?

It is very hard not to let this nonsense go to your head. It is very important that the more successful we become, we learn to demonstrate our humility and tell ourselves, “I am here, I am successful because of something and despite other things.”

Marshall has developed over the years the practice of “Feed-Forward.” How it works: People reach out to one another and say, “My name is X and I want to get better at Y.” You ask for ideas and people give you ideas and you treat those ideas as a gift. You don’t put the person down; you say thank-you and then you listen and follow-up on it. Amazingly, people get better and it’s positive and it really works.”

“…Buddha says, listen to everything but only choose what works for you. Well, that is the essence of feed-forward. I ask you for ideas, listen to you, I try to seek value in what you are saying, I don’t promise to do everything you say but I do promise to listen and pick up the ideas that I can use.”


Mindfulness: It’s Not Just For Trendy Tech Companies Anymore

Professional service firms are reporting encouraging results with Mindfulness at Work programs. Berger Singerman, a business law firm with approximately 85 attorneys and a total of 165 employees, has run one since 2013.
mindfulness_at_work_law_firmsParticipants report significant improvements in:

– focus on the task at hand
– active listening skills
– more accurate observation and data gathering skills

The program has increased “professionalism, collaboration and business performance,” says the firm’s co-chair, Paul Singerman. Moreover, the new skills have “enriched and improved our team members’ personal and family lives as well.”

“Mindfulness helps us interact more effectively with each other, our clients, our referral sources and our opposing counsel,” Singerman writes in a recent article. And when we hear and understand each other better, we work more effectively and less stressfully.

Singerman believes that “the smaller the business, the greater the impact, because each person’s role is that much more essential to executing the overall company mission.” Key in the program launch process is getting energetic support of senior management.

The Mindfulness program has taught Singerman to focus on three “buckets of data”:

#1. Myself.
I am better at my own “early detection system” for anger or fear by learning the feelings and sensations that anger or fear initiates within me, I can have a better chance of responding thoughtfully to the stimulus causing those feelings and avoid reacting to them in ways that are unhelpful or regrettable. I am better able to identify when I am off task and bring myself back to the present moment.

#2. Other people.
It has improved my listening skills and ability to gather data from my counter-ties in my communications and interactions with others. By staying present and in the moment, I can better gauge reactions of others to what I’m saying, really hear what others say, and observe important cues like body language and tone of voice.

# 3. The environment.
It has enhanced my ability to observe and gather data from the environment. That where I find myself, the dynamics of a case or deal, or even the industry that is the subject of a client matter or sales initiative. Striving to be a better gatherer of data has helped me be more aware of and sensitive to the perspectives of others.

Here’s a link to the full article on the Huffington Post.

Mindfulness at work, workplace mindfulness, law firms, mindfulness benefits, meditation practice, stress management, mindfulness to increase performance and productivity


How Google, Twitter and Others Are Using Mindfulness

From a recent article in Fast Company magazine:
“We are in the middle of a culture shift; we are no longer interested in just getting through our workday and striving toward relief at the end of our careers. It’s about more quality and connection within the work-life continuum,” says Soren Gordhamer, founder of Wisdom 2.0, an annual technology and mindfulness conference

Melissa Daimler, head of learning and organizational development at Twitter describes the benefits: “One of our core skills of managers is coaching, which is about listening, being present, and asking questions.”


Continuous Compassionate Criticism: The Art of Coaching

When you make a mistake in typing or in spelling, isn’t a good thing 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 realizes he made. This is not blissful ignorance. This is the kind of cluelessness that leads to arrogance and complacency.
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Effective Leaders Focus on Well-Being to Increase Productivity

Highlights from an article by Rich Fernandez in the Harvard Business Review:
empathic leadership happy office
Model and encourage well-being practices.
Individual team members who reported experiencing well-being at work were 20% more likely to have other team members who also reported thriving six months later, according to recent Gallup research.

Offer mindfulness and resilience training; explicitly encourage people to take time for exercise or other renewal activities, such as walking meetings; build buffer time so that people can work flexibly and at a manageable pace.

Allow time to disconnect outside of work.
The McKinsey Quarterly asserts that “always-on, multitasking work environments are killing productivity, dampening creativity, and making us unhappy.” The “always on” state of mind, is dangerous because it fails to take recovery time into account. Even the best athletes (*especially* the best athletes) require rest.

Be intentional about when you expect team members (and yourself) to engage in the office or digitally, and be intentional and explicit about when not to engage. No emails after 8 PM or on weekends, for example.

Train the brain to deal with chaos.
Leaders and teams who practice mindfulness collaborate better, navigate stress more effectively, and are more able to sustain high performance.
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Of Horses, Humans and Authentic Leadership

A very insightful short essay about authenticity and the power of working with horses, by Ali Schultz at

Authentic leadership; horses, empathy & attunement

Some highlights:

“…A lack of trust in a company feels awful. It’s stressful. No one is saying what needs to be said. There’s fear, anxiety, tension, and conflict. Meanwhile, the product is going nowhere…

“…When a horse trusts you, he looks to you for leadership… without trust, a horse-rider relationship lacks connection and is instead fraught with anxiety, fear, and conflict. When that happens, neither critter feels safe and will react defensively in an act of self-preservation.

“…Horses are barometers for how authentic and real you are being in their presence. They have this incredible built-in bullshit meter and know when you’re posturing. If I was emotionally congruent when I was with them, they could trust me. In other words, if I was feeling sad on the inside and aware of that within myself, it showed in my exterior differently than if I was trying to hide it.
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Empathic Charisma as a Mindful Leadership Skill

Charismatic leadership Christine LagardeSome though-provoking ideas in an article by Matthew Hutson.

In tough times, people want more in a leader than intelligence, integrity, or the ability to build really tall walls. They want someone who can make a compelling pitch and inspire a sense of urgency — someone with charisma. For decades, scholars have struggled to define this X factor, but they are developing a better idea of how it works.

Charisma is the ability to convince followers that you can get other members of a wider group to cooperate.

To lead, you must rest; fatigue saps charisma. Researchers asked students to give a speech after waking half of them hourly overnight. Viewers gave sleep-deprived speakers lower marks on charisma. They also rated speakers as less charismatic after their own sleep-deprived night.
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