Moving Through – The Secret to Resilience

Moving through

I’ve had an utterly disastrous week. No one major thing, just a confluence of small setbacks which, as they piled one on top of the other, have tested my resilience.

It started on Sunday night with an acerbic email from my ex which left me awake most of the night worrying about lawyers, settlements and finances. So, I started the week somewhat stressed and seriously sleep deprived.

By Tuesday I had dropped my phone in the toilet. Yes. In the toilet. And no. Don’t ask. I have no idea how. No amount of drying, waving, patting or hoping was going to bring that baby back from its shitty demise.

Needless to say, my Wednesday was consumed by the painful process of getting re-connected with the modern world.

Thursday, I got locked out of the house with no handbag, no wallet, no phone. Grrrr.

Then my date for the evening cancelled on me. Mmm. Disappointing.

By Friday I thought surely its done. What else could happen right? But no. Those little frustrations just kept rolling on in.

When I went to drop the keys back to the agent. The office was closed.

When I went to drop my shoes to get repaired. “Sorry back in 15 minutes” read the sign.

When I tried accessing my invoicing system. It was offline. Aaaaah.

By Friday night when I really did think it was all done. I poured myself a glass of wine ready to deflate and chillax. No no no. Even that was too much to ask. The glass of wine slipped through my fingers shattering into what seemed like thousands of tiny shards across the kitchen and through the hallway.

Seriously!

When things like this happen, most of the time, we deal with it and move on. It’s when lots of them come flying at us that we start to feel stretched, pushed and tested. And this week certainly has tested me –physically, mentally and emotionally.

Yet what I found, was that in each moment, when something difficult transpires, we have a choice.

When I heard my phone plonk in the toilet bowl I could have yelled and cursed the gods. Or, I could take a breath in and a breath out and calmly fish it out, quietly dry it off and go to bed hoping it will work in the morning. When it didn’t, I simply rescheduled some meetings and got it sorted out.

When my friend pulled out of Thursday night at the last minute I could have got pissy and flustered. Or I could simply course correct and zip to the markets to buy some food, drop into a yoga class and come home to make myself a lovely meal and enjoy some peace and quietude.

When the glass shattered – yes I did say F*******k! Then I took a breath in and out and quietly got down on my hands and knees and cleaned the floor.

As I did I managed to smile to myself as I recalled a conversation I’d had with a student earlier in the week. She’d been away on holidays and come home to her fridge turned off and a ton of rotten food. She was going home after our class to clear it out.

“We can approach the crappy tasks in life with a sense of annoyance and frustration or we can choose to do them with sense joy and gratitude. Go home, crank the music and clean the fridge with joy” I said.

Kneeling on the kitchen floor at a point where I could laugh or cry, it was the moment to swallow a dose of my own medicine.

So, on my hands and knees at 9pm on Friday I cleaned the kitchen floor and chose to think of all the nice things that happened throughout the week.

On Wednesday, Amy the sales assistant at Vodafone had been positively extraordinary. She went over and above to get me a phone, to set it up and even helped me with my wifi too. I walked out fully functional and completely reconnected.

On Thursday when my friend cancelled, it created an opportunity to go to a yoga class instead. I focused my practice that night entirely on my mind set. On each inhalation, a positive affirmation. Each exhalation, a deliberate letting go of the negative self-talk.

Then on Friday morning I got an unexpected phone call. Suava and I had recently been on a training program together. She called to share some good news. When she finished her story she turned around and asked me to brag about something awesome I’d done this week.

I sighed deeply. “Oh Suava, it’s been a hell of a week. I don’t think I can answer that.” Then I paused. I took a breath in and a breath out and said “Actually despite the fact it’s been such an awful week I’ve done my best to work through it. So, I’m going to pat myself on the back for remembering to breathe. For staying calm. And moving through.”

We often mistake resilience for strength. Feeling a need to stand rigid and strong in the face of the storm. Weathering it like a cliff face naked against the thrust of the ocean.

We grit our teeth and tough it out.

This is not resilience.

Over time the cliff erodes, changes shape and gets worn down. Rocks crumble and crash to the ocean floor. As mere humans, we do the same thing. Eventually we too crumble and crash.

Resilience is the ability to more readily come back to equilibrium when we feel stretched and stressed.

Rather than standing in rigid confrontation with the eye of the storm, we effortlessly bend and adapt. Move fluidly through the experience a little more like bamboo. Accepting each experience and emotion. In each moment mindfully choosing how we wish to respond.

The best tool we have available to help us do this is our breath.

Each time you stop and take a purposeful breath in and a deliberate breath out you are finding your moment of choice.

To scream and yell and fight it. To swim against the tide.

Or.

You can choose a different response.

To move through it. To swim with the tide. Accept what has happened with a calm quietude. Mindfully choosing how you will respond now. And now. And now. And now.

Knowing this too shall change.

So, when the tide flows against you, breathe in and out. Fully posses your power to make a choice and move more fluidly through the rough patches.

If you’re interested to know more, let us know. The M.A.D. team would love to help.

With love and gratitude from all of us at M.A.D. Mindworks.

Happy International Yoga Day!

The Possibilities of Yoga are Infinite

International Yoga Day is a lovely reminder of the beautiful unifying force of this ancient and enduring practice. While I am unable to participate in some of the larger celebrations today, I will be celebrating yoga in my own small ways throughout the day.

Perhaps you can find a little yoga in your day too?

MOVE & BREATHE: My day has started with a simple flowing movement practice focussed simply on breathing and moving. It’s left my heart feeling full and my gratitude flowing freely – this is the discipline of yoga, the intentional practice we engage in on a regular basis.

It doesn’t have to take long or look like some frightening pretzel-like shape. It can be as simple as standing and breathing purposefully for a few moments before you step into your morning shower.

CONNECT: As I move into my day I’ll be running a workshop with a team focussed on tapping into the power of positivity. We’ll be examining how this can help us strengthen and deepen our connections with each other, as well as our resilience – this too is yoga. While it might not look like a regular yoga class, this purposeful focus on fostering balance and cultivating certain qualities to connect with oneself and the world around us is, in many ways what yoga is all about.

FEEL: By later this afternoon I will be attending my daughter’s school assembly to see her receive a special award, heart beaming with the pride of a mother. This too is yoga. Traditionally known as Bhakti yoga, it is the conscious practice of love, service and devotion. The role of parent naturally predisposes us to those practices where we honour and nurture a love for something much bigger than ourselves and we can tap into this in all spheres of our lives.

A little yoga while scooting. Why not?

 

OBSERVE: When I sit down to dinner with my daughter and some friends tonight, we will go around the table and share something that happened during our day for which we are grateful. This too is yoga. The deliberate, mindful cultivation of conscious feeling and observation.

So next time you say something like ‘oh I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible enough’, I encourage you to think more broadly and deeply about what this ancient practice really can be.

You might just find you’re already a yogi.

You just didn’t know it.

Happy International Yoga Day.

With Love and Gratitude from the team at M.A.D. Mindworks.

Make Your Meetings Matter.

Meetings Matter

Meetings Matter

When it comes to meeting matters, well it’s a pretty abysmal state of affairs in most organisations. Unproductive meetings have been estimated to cost the US economy around $37 billion each year with around 15% of an organisation’s collective time spent in meetings. People routinely multi-task and 22% of participates send an average of three or more emails every 30 minutes in meetings. No wonder senior executives rate more than half of the meetings they attend as ineffective.

I saw this in action recently in what was unequivocally one of the most profound displays of poor meeting etiquette I have ever seen.

This marathon meeting started over an hour late. The meeting location wasn’t even firmed up or communicated until after the meeting was scheduled to start. It got completely side tracked for the first 60 or so minutes with participants bouncing around topics that were completely out of scope. Attendants popped in and out as they pleased, regularly zipping off to another meeting part way through. Most had laptops and were openly doing other things while the meeting was going on. One attendant not only flagrantly spent most of their time in their phone, they would periodically tell other attendees to check their phone too because something urgent was there they had to check. As a result the conversation kept circling back over old ground and it was incredibly difficult to move things forward.

“All care and no accountability” is how one colleague described it post the event.

I’ve worked in many places where meeting culture is dismal. Places where meetings never start on time and in spite of your best efforts, people routinely rock up completely cold, entirely unprepared for the task at hand. Inevitably large chunks of the meeting time are wasted getting everyone on the same page, primed and ready to contribute when they should have arrived ready and rearing to go.

Other organisations I work with describe themselves as having “a meeting culture”. A day of back to back meetings is considered normal and the bizarre practice of nominating people to go to a meeting in your place is common along with double booking your time. A mentality of feeling like you’re missing out if you don’t go seems to underpin much of this behaviour along with a sense that if you receive a meeting request you’re automatically obliged to accept it.

What all of this points to is an abject lack of the critical things that make meetings effective.

The not so small matter of meetings is that they really do matter. When done well – by all involved – they are dynamic forums that drive real engagement and progress around the stuff that matters most.

Meetings create the human connection that underpins the collaboration required to effectively analyse, solve, generate, and decide.

They have the potential to be powerfully productive – driving engagement, cultural change, productivity, continuous improvement and innovation.

To make them really effective we need three key things

  1. Preparation
  2. Presence
  3. Accountability

And these are precisely the things that are lacking in so many organisations and work cultures today.

The good news is that this can be easily addressed through asking three simple questions:

  1. Have you done adequate Preparation for the meeting?
  2. Are you prepared to be fully Present for the entire meeting?
  3. Do you have a real contribution to make for which you will hold yourself Accountable?

Consider the next meeting in your calendar. Unless the answer is yes to all three of these questions then I suggest you don’t go.

Then consider the next meeting invitation that pops up in your inbox. If the answer to these questions is unclear – take the time to check in and clarify with the meeting organiser.

  • What preparation are they expecting from you? (this should be specific and very clear)
  • What level of presence and engagement are they looking for from invitees? (the answer should be 100%).
  • What contribution are you expected to make? (just being there doesn’t count).

If the meeting organiser can’t answer these questions, then I suggest you decline the meeting.

In a workshop I ran recently this was a genuine revelation to all in the room. Firstly, the idea of declining a meeting was jaw dropping for most. Secondly the idea of taking ownership and calling the meeting organiser to ask these simple questions seemed rather daring. And finally the empowerment that comes with being able to decline attending a useless, ineffective, poorly planned and run meeting, was like a lightning bolt for most in the room.

Now, consider the next meeting you are about to schedule.

Can you step back and do more than generate a calendar invite? Can you take the time to Be Prepared, Be Present and Be Accountable?

Be Prepared

Be crystal clear on the intent and purpose of the meeting.

And no, let’s get this straight right now, information sharing or providing updates is not a good enough goal for a meeting.

Find a deeper reason to bring people together – one that uses their time productively, establishes real engagement, builds momentum and drives tangible outcomes.

  • Are you looking to; engage people around a new idea or change, gather inputs, assess outcomes, generate solutions or make a decision?
  • With that in mind, consider the structure that will facilitate this outcome.  What agenda or series of discussion items will achieve your aim?
  • Most importantly take the time to think through the interactions you are looking to facilitate. How will you engage people during the meeting? How do you expect them to engage with each other? What tools will support this engagement?

Foster Presence

Be clear on the mindset and energy levels required from you and your attendees throughout the meeting.

There is research that shows a more critical, even negative mindset and grounded energy is better for assessing and analytical tasks while a more optimistic, open mindset and higher energy is great for idea generation, innovation and solution generation.

  • What time of day will be conducive to the required mindset and energy?
  • How will you shape and influence the energy in the room through your presence and facilitation?

The trend of sending emails while in meetings is on the rise. Yet we know from the research that multi-tasking simply doesn’t work – attention is split, things get missed and neither task gets done well.

  • With this in mind, what will you do to ensure you are fully present during the meeting?
  • What will you do to invite your attendees to be fully present during the meeting?
  • Do you need to give them a few minutes to settle in?
  • Should you establish some explicit expectations around phone use and call out multi tasking?
  • Is it worth checking-in at the start to see what’s on people’s minds so you get a clear picture of what’s pre-occupying people and may detract from the meeting or derail it altogether?

Drive Accountability

One of the greatest misconceptions out there is that the only person responsible for the success of a meeting is the person who organises it.

It’s all care and no accountability right? Sure I’ll accept your meeting invite. Sure, I think I need to be across that area. But it’s your meeting in the end. I’ll attend. I won’t do any preparation. I’ll rock in late. I’ll check my phone and send emails while I’m there. I might throw out the odd question. Then I’ll leave and bounce off to the next meeting.

No. No. No. No. No.

The sooner we can get everyone in a mindset where we are all accountable for the success of a meeting the better.

You might organise, chair and facilitate the meeting. But I am accountable for my part in that meeting. I come prepared and ready to contribute. I am present and focussed and attend fully to my colleagues during the interaction. I make a meaningful and positive contribution to the interaction and am accountable for my role in generating and driving an outcome.

With this in mind, when organising a meeting consider:

  • Who is equipped to help you analyse, solve, generate ideas, and make decisions? Focus on the movers and shakers who make things happen. Leave the rest.
  • What is the specific contribution to you want them to make? Be clear on this and make sure they are too, and well before the meeting.
  • What preparation do they need to do to be able to make a real and meaningful contribution? Make it clear that coming prepared and primed is a non negotiable and essential to whatever analysing, solving, generating or deciding you’re doing in the meeting. Be comfortable to call it out when people rock in cold and unprepared  – even cancel or postpone the meeting if that makes your point.
  • How will you hold people accountable to come prepared, be present and be accountable for making a meaningful contribution?

If you can’t answer these questions about your own meeting, then I suggest you cancel out of the calendar invite and go and do some more thinking before you schedule an hour of 5 or 10 people’s time.

Meeting matters can be awfully frustrating.  But meetings really do matter. So why not make them engaging forums where everyone brings their best, connects with each other and is primed to make a meaningful contribution. The meeting might just be more productive too.

For more insights into how to make your meetings matter, contact us as M.A.D. Mindworks.

Katherine Mair, M.A.D. Creator

www.madmindworks.com

katherine.mair@madmindworks.com

For related sources see:

https://hbr.org/2014/05/your-scarcest-resource

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/common-meeting-mistakes-2014-11

Application or Instant Gratification

Application Gratification.

The incessant drive for instant results

The incessant drive for instant results

When we go to school, we’re encouraged to apply ourselves. After all learning happens through practice, exploration and application. When a student applies him or herself, they uncover their potential, hone their skills, build their abilities and experience achievement.

For this we praise and celebrate them.

In equal measure however, we shake our heads when we see our youth so driven by instant gratification.

Fast food, fast friends, fast media all create an immediacy that is easy to like, yet hard to detach from.

When fuelled too much, it fosters destructive behaviours and poor physical and mental health.

My daughter will never know, nor tolerate, television as I knew it when growing up. As a child who has grown up with iPads, Netfilx and iView, she has zero tolerance for adverts and knows there are gadgets and apps that enable her to watch what she wants when she wants. Television has no appeal. Why on earth would she wait for a set day of the week or time in the day to view her favourite show when she can view it now.

Much about the way we all operate facilitates and reinforces this. I don’t have to wait to get to the computer to check or manage emails, they’re right here on my phone. Too busy to make dinner tonight, easy, hop online and place an order and it will be there when you get home. Wondering what Jo’s been up to lately, simply check her Facebook feed.

So while we desire and praise application, much of our way of being rewards and reinforces instant gratification.

This same dichotomy permeates the workplace.

I’ve had countless conversations with clients who struggle with the demand to be agile, responsive, flexible, do more with less, fail fast and grow even faster. Everything is urgent. It’s necessary and its needed now.

At the same time we want engaged workforces – teams with deep expertise, applied capability, and positive attitudes and behaviours who contribute meaningfully to a dynamic culture, build great places to work, and help us become great organisations to deal with.

The inherent tension between responding to the multifaceted pressures of market forces, shareholder demands, customer needs and team dynamics leaves many of us feeling pulled in all directions, energetically depleted and mentally frazzled.

Like instant gratification, an emphasis on urgency and instant results has its destructive side. Driving a rate and pace of work that is fundamentally unsustainable, it critically undermines longer-term culture shifts and can reduce engagement initiatives to mere lip service.

Engagement and culture take time to build. They require clear vision, alignment, ongoing reinforcement and application of the behaviours and ideals we say we value. It takes practice and patience as the journey unfolds, connections form and something bigger than any one individual evolves.

The benefits of a longer-term focus and sustained application are clear. Yet finding ways to foster this is the eternal conundrum, especially in environments where instant results, instant gratification, have become the norm.

Operating in an industry where reactivity is common, pace is frantic and expectations are high, the team at one of M.A.D.’s clients walk this tightrope daily. Since commencing weekly Work and Wellbeing sessions with us in October, they’re realising the benefits of slowing down.

Right from the get go they found our 30-minute sessions each week helped them to energise and focus. Over time they have reported greater individual self-awareness and better teamwork and collaboration.

This is exciting. Sustained application of some simple practices over a period of time enables people to better deal with the daily demands of a hectic workplace. Such practices better equip them to respond flexibly while staying focussed on what’s most important.

So while the juggling act doesn’t necessarily change, our engagement with it does.

When we take a relatively small amount of time each week to apply ourselves to a practice of quietude and patience, our ability to move more effortlessly from one state to another, self regulate, and channel our energy to where it matters most improves exponentially.

Interestingly, application helps us to be more discerning when it comes to instant gratification.

Perhaps its worth slowing down in order to speed up. To find out how, contact us at M.A.D. Mindworks.

Katherine Mair, M.A.D. Creator

www.madmindworks.com

katherine.mair@madmindworks.com

Change the Cycle.

Reflect. Plan. Do.

Reflect. Plan. Do.

As the year kicks into gear, the tension between planning and doing can leave us feeling a little torn. For many of us planning can feel exacting and tedious. The desire to just get on with things can present an overpowering and irresistible urge.

Planning can seem like its bogging us down, chaining us to the desk or holding us hostage to long boring meetings when the real action is out there building stuff, creating things, interacting with clients or working with our colleagues and students.

Herein lies trap #1 – JUST DO IT: We decide this planning stuff is just too dull, too difficult, too dry and decide taking action is best. So we dive in headfirst.

The problem is we failed to read the sign that said “caution, shallow water and dangerous rocks”.

Planning is positively fundamental to driving outcomes. As my Dad said to me, loosely quoting Benjamin Franklin, “Without a plan, you plan to fail.

Plain and simple, the time spent planning up front saves us that big headache down the track.

Yet herein lies trap #2 – PLAN THEN DO: This time we did read the sign. We decide to sit back and do the planning. We get together, we brainstorm, we talk. We’re all aligned at the start of the year.

Then we tick the box, file the plan and get on with things.

In spite of our best intentions, all the rara and inspirational talk, we default straight back to doing. Consumed with immediate and apparently urgent demands, we quickly become the hostage of reactivity, short-term focus and largely tactical activity.

Many of us fall into one of these two traps:

1) JUST DO – The analogy I like to draw here is that its akin to being stuck in our reptilian brain, working on autopilot, mindlessly getting on with things, ticking boxes and largely getting nowhere.

2) PLAN THEN DO – While our intentions are good and we aim to move into a state of more focussed activity, we ultimately get pulled back into just reacting to things. Symbolically, it’s the emotive limbic system that’s in the drivers seat here, pulling us left and right, lurching us here and there depending on who’s demanding most or screaming loudest.

The missing link in the planning cycle is REFLECTION.

It is in the state of reflection where we can more fully tap into a space where we can sit with a concept, objective or challenge. This is the space where our higher order capabilities of creativity, abstract thinking and problem solving can kick into gear. It’s akin to our human brain, the cortex, which when active, enables us to come up with new ideas, draw connections, make decisions and find clarity.

The mindfulness that comes with regular reflection cultivates skilful self-regulation and focussed action rather than unthinking reactivity.

Perhaps its time to change the cycle? Injecting a regular practice of focussed reflection into the cycle of planning and doing will help keep our plans alive and turn them into a dynamic guide that keeps us on track.

Like a lighthouse, it is the beacon on the hill, always there guiding the way, keeping us calm and focussed no matter how stormy, rough and rocky the waters get.

Katherine Mair, M.A.D. Creator

www.madyoga.com.au

The Proliferation of the List

email marketing

Drawing Connections

There are a lot of lists flying about these days. The top 30 ways to better manage time. The top 20 things great leaders do. The top 15 things you should never do. And the list goes on.

How on earth are we supposed to remember twenty things?  Can there really be a top twenty? Doesn’t that seem like a lot? Was the author simply unable to decide in the end what really was most important?

We make lists for all sorts of reasons. For the groceries, to pack for a trip or note our key to-do’s for the day. I’m definitely a list-maker. I probably couldn’t function if I didn’t make lists of all things I had to get done. My brain simply can’t hold all that information. And in all honesty I don’t want that junk rattling around in there.

Lists are essentially functional tools. They remember for us so we don’t have to remember all those little things we need to buy or pack or do.

And herein lies the problem. When we apply the list approach to richer, more complex information or experiences that we genuinely want to process and assimilate into our psyche, then long lists simply don’t work. No one remembers them.

Our brains aren’t wired to remember a long list of things (without extensive training that is). Most of us mere humans are limited to holding between five and nine items in short term memory (Miller). In other words those who are good will retain nine, those not so good retain 5 and the average is 7. Actually even 7 seems like a lot of hard work.

What we really remember best are relationships – the connections that link items together in more meaningful ways (Minto). These linkages help us and others get to the heart of a subject, draw out its theme or essence. They also help us to assimilate more of the important detail.

We exist in a world where we are bombarded with data and information. It screams at us from televisions, tablets, mobile phones, laptops, billboards, shopping malls, buses, bosses, train stations, airports, and every corner of our existence.

It’s so noisy.

Lists are helpful here. They help us get through the day by shutting out some of the noise.

Yet those days where we lurch from task to task mechanically working though a long list until we get to the end of the day feel laborious, unrelenting and unrewarding.

What makes something memorable are the connections we make. What makes it meaningful is a sense of connecting what we do with our purpose, our essence. When we do this the rest of the detail falls more effortlessly into place. 

This is true for a complex subject around which you want to engage others or simply our every day experience.

It starts with the connection we make to ourselves. What are we aiming to do? What are we really trying to say or share? How does that link to our purpose?

It unfolds with the connection we make to the subject itself. Can we be fully present with the moment and the task at hand and give it our full and undivided attention and positive intention? Can we take the time to reflect on the detail so we can identify the themes we want to draw out or linkages we want to make?

It deepens with the connections we make to others. Can we set our ego aside and go and ask for help or input? Can we commit to taking feedback on board without resistance or resentment? Can we genuinely engage with and explore perspectives different to our own and without judgment?

So next time something you’re working on starts to look like a long list;

Pause.

Take a few slow breaths.

Then ask yourself, is the subject important to you?

If it is, try instead to draw connections between the details, distil the essence and share something more lasting, meaningful and memorable for you and your audience.

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

www.madyoga.com.au

Yes I Am. Vulnerable.

Putting a Face On It?

Putting a Face On It?

There are times when it might be seen as a dirty word. A sign of weakness or inability.

Yet the ability to show and share our vulnerability paves the way for establishing trust. If we think about the Trust Equation, vulnerability helps us to establish greater Intimacy by virtue of sharing or revealing something people may otherwise not know about us.

And trust is intrinsic to building relationships and connecting with others. Rom and Ori Brafman provide some great insights on how vulnerability can quite literally help us better ‘click‘ with others.

I saw this first hand recently during a workshop I facilitated with a team wanting to build better relationships with each other.  We did a simple exercise where everyone got five minutes to talk about their frustrations with the group and without interruption. To an extent the process also asked participants to share their vulnerabilities and some participants did exactly that.

What this ultimately did was pave the way for the team to have more open and frank discussions as the day went on. It helped them better understand each other and start to connect with each other a little more.

On a more personal level, my daughter is about to have a tonsillectomy. My partner and I are afraid about her having a general anaesthetic because of its implicit risks. Rationally the benefits are obvious. Emotionally it’s just plain scary.

Funnily enough when I share this fear with people, reveal my vulnerability, people always respond with kindness and support. They commonly share their own experiences in turn – from the funny to the heartbreaking.  Revealing vulnerability it seems triggers empathy and instigates reciprocity, which deepens the relationship from both sides, making it more human and more personal.

So while on the surface showing vulnerability can feel like weakness, I find myself often pondering the notion that the ability to accept and reveal our vulnerabilities is in fact a hidden strength.

Certain yoga postures can make us feel physically vulnerable, especially when held for a sustained period of time or engaged intensely or repetitively. These include positions where we lift the sternum  or breastbone and others where we externally rotate the hip joints.

What the practice asks of us in these moments is to cultivate the ability to be in a physically vulnerable position. To sit with that raw, naked vulnerability and simply experience the sensation. When we open ourselves to the experience of vulnerability we also open up the possibility of accepting and connecting more deeply with ourselves. 

These physical poses are a metaphor we can interpret quite literally.

Perhaps next time you find yourself concealing or withholding something for fear of being perceived to be weak or incapable – instead could you make a different choice? Perhaps you could share a little about that perceived fear, weakness or vulnerability with someone? You might even ask for their help?

I wonder what new possibilities and deeper connections it will open up for you.

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

Pause. Reflect. Reset. Refocus.

Depositphotos_15595573_m-2015

Whoever said change was easy? It’s sure worth it though when we get to the other side.

I’ve just come to a critical juncture in a large piece of work I’ve been involved in. Like any complex project, there have been several teams, lots of people and a large number of moving parts involved.

We’re now at the end of the first phase of work. In so many ways it has been the most critical. It’s where teams form, people click – or not – and where we shape the vision and define more clearly the path for the way forward.

It’s been Exciting. Frustrating. Fun. And Challenging. All in equal measure.

We’re at the crossroads now. Between talking, proposing, and planning. And mobilising, acting, and doing.

This provides an essential opportunity for reflection. Like the pause between breaths, it’s this space in between that offers the real opportunity for recalibration and transformation.

What went well?

Who did I work effectively with?

Who could I have supported more? Or interacted with more positively?

What would I do differently or better next time?

What will I take forward?

What mindsets, attitudes and behaviours will I let go?

The process of reflection asks us to adopt the role of the Observer. Someone who can step outside the situation and see it objectively and as it really is.

Without layering in explanations, stories or excuses.

Just as it is. The good. And the not so good.

Strangely enough, mindfulness and meditation ask us to play precisely this role. It provides a space where we can step out of the small self and into our true Self. In this state we can observe everything that we are with a balanced sense of abiding equilibrium and an open mind that can embrace the positive and redress the negative with impartial acceptance, compassion and without judgment.

Pause.

Reflect.

Reset.

Refocus.

It’s not always comfortable. In fact, it’s usually rather uncomfortable.

Then again, whoever said transformation was easy?

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

Do It Once and Well

businessman stressed by too many tasks

The Perils of Multi-Tasking.

A colleague of mine recently shared a link to a thought-provoking article by Travis Bradberry looking at How Successful People Work Less and Get More Done.

Chock full of useful insights, the one that resonated with me most profoundly was the research he referenced about the “dangers of multi-tasking”. Aside from lowering productivity, trying to juggle multiple tasks at the same time can also have a material impact on the brain.

Bradberry’s advice here – around focussing on one thing at a time – is spot on.

Working on a single task with focussed intent and energy is mindfulness in action. It can even be akin to a moving meditation.

Interestingly, research on mindfulness and meditation also shows the exact opposite effects to multi-tasking when it comes to grey matter in the brain.

Sara W. Lazar and her colleagues at Harvard Medical School have produced numerous studies that show people who practice mediation and mindfulness have more grey matter. They also have more of it in areas of the brain associated with working memory, decision making,  lateral thinking, and presence.

Perhaps it’s worth considering doing just one thing at a time.

And just do that really well.

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

The Mad Mad World of Work

 

Stress Tension Corporate Burn out

Do You Need to Create Some Space in Your Day?

I met a friend for a drink the other night. She was late and clearly frazzled from a long, hard day. She works part time, but to ensure her 5pm sharp departure doesn’t create problems she starts work at 6.30am. So effectively she works four eleven hour days and then does even more on her supposed day off. That’s over 45 hours a week for a part time role.

The conclusion we drew was that the 9 to 5 working day is really a myth, an old-fashioned phrase from a bygone era.

The working day is getting longer. We are asked to do more. Do it faster. With less. Oh, and did I mention we’re also expected to stay connected 24/7.

Yet is this sustainable? Can we really work at such intensity and pace all of the time? When do we switch off? What is the effect when we don’t switch of? Or worse, what happens when we can’t switch off?

My friend confided that she can’t sleep. She also observed that as a senior manager in a large business, she’d never before had so many team members come to her frazzled, upset or on the verge or tears. Her senior colleagues are observing the same increase in stress and tension levels in their own teams.

At it’s extreme, corporate burn out can lead to physical tension, insomnia, anxiety and depression. I know. It happened to me after several years of sustained travel and long hours at an illustrious consulting firm.

And this is why people are increasingly turning to the practice of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. In a world more connected and switched on than ever before, we are ever more in need of tools to counteract the detrimental effects of running too hard and fast on our uber urban treadmill.

Just a few minutes using a simple deep breathing technique can calm the mind and help us to re-focus. Some basic postures sitting in a chair can help us to re-boot and re-energise. A short meditation has the power to create clarity and much needed internal space. Five or ten minutes of easy practice before bed can help induce sleep.

The practice doesn’t have to be long or complicated. It doesn’t have to be done on a mat or in a yoga studio. The tools of yoga can be harnessed by anyone, anywhere. More than ever there is a need to tap into the power of these practices. They can help us cut through the noise and create the space to focus on what really matters, and let go of what doesn’t, so we can more effectively navigate the mad mad world of work.

Take 5 slow deep breaths somewhere in your day today.

Best Regards,

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator