Guest Post by Mark Nation: A More Thoughtful Workout


John:  We could probably all use a little more “work-out” time.  Mark Nation has some simple and effective steps to share with us that will make a significant and positive difference in our professional and personal lives.

Then maybe we will find working on our physical bodies a bit easier too:) …

A More Thoughtful Workout: 6 Steps to Better Mental and Emotional Health By Mark Nation

Most of us are familiar with emotional intelligence, and how important it is to couple strong “EQ,” or emotional intelligence, with strong IQ in the workplace. In addition, a strong body of work exists that helps us to understand how “thoughts are things” and, “what we think about, we bring about.” Both philosophies are very powerful, and together they have developed many leaders from ‘mental and emotional weaklings’ into ‘executive Atlases.’

How strong is your own mental and emotional physique? Have you ever spent time building intentional strength in these two areas? Were you once strong, but perhaps missed a few sessions (or a few months) at the gym? Has work ‘pounded’ you, such that you’re carrying around way too much excess weight? Or, are you currently sidelined, stagnant and motionless, fearful to rebuild your career or your life?

Whether you are a newbie to the discipline, a weekend warrior, a fallen hero, or a rising star, you always have great opportunities to improve mental and emotional fitness. These two leadership ‘dynamic duos’ pair perfectly together and work best when part of a combined workout.

Here are six steps to more “thought-full” exercise:

  1. Check Your Pulse. Be honest with yourself about your current mental and emotional fitness levels. Get in tune with what (and who) drives you – and who drains you. Target a couple of areas where you can get quick wins that keep you coming back.
  2. Start Where You Are. You may be working out already, and simply need more consistency and intensity. Or, you may never have worked on your mental nor emotional health before. No matter where you are…there you are. Just start. Begin now.
  3. Buy Some New Clothes. Chances are your mental and emotional wardrobe is tired, drab and out-of-date. Moths, dust, and cobwebs may pervade your thought closet. Workouts and training programs are always more fun when you wear nice clothing and shoes that fit well. Get some new “duds” for yourself; wrap your mind and heart in the garments you deserve. Wear wicking layers that allow the ‘wetness’ of life (including toxic jobs or relationships) to roll off these most precious parts of your physique.
  4. Work with What You Have. No doubt you have been through battles and sustained some scars and tears. We all have. Just promise not to let those aches and pains defeat you; instead, let them define Don’t underestimate the power of vulnerability to fuel your authentic leadership efforts – weakness (i.e., failures, struggles, heartbreaks, etc.) often houses your greatest strength and potential.
  5. Push Yourself. You have to lift heavier weights to build larger muscles; you have to run uncomfortably fast for uncomfortably long periods in order to eventually run faster, comfortably. Why don’t you apply this “be comfortable with being uncomfortable” technique to your mental and emotional capacity? Keep driving more work into the system, and your engine will not only grow, but also become more efficient, ever-happier to support more power at higher speeds.
  6. Try Something New. There are muscles inside you that you don’t even know exist, much less make any effort to use. Try a new type of workout to ‘crosstrain’ your brain and heart as frequently as you can. It could be any sort of positive and helpful activity, such as reading fiction, meditating, walking backward, calling one friend per day for a week, going to church or synagogue, doing puzzles, etc. Different workouts stimulate new muscles and joints which bring added strength and power previously unknown to you.

Focus on your mind, while emphasizing your heart and spirit. Make each of these incredible assets part of your daily workout. Think of the combined pair as a vital part of your authentic leadership superset. The more repetitions you perform, the stronger you will become. It’s truly the work of a lifetime, and a priceless gift you give yourself. I can think of no one more worth it than you, and no better time than now. Here’s to some of your most incredible workouts ever!

Mark Nation is a globally-recognized management expert, leadership consultant, executive coach, author, and speaker. He is personally driven to discover what makes individuals, teams, and organizations amazing—those elements which power the heart and soul of individuals and businesses worldwide. His new book, Made for Amazing: An Instrumental Journey of Authentic Leadership Transformation, helps people to identify and optimize their unique talents.

 

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Guest Post: Self Leadership—Challenging Assumed Constraints


John:  This week’s guest post is a real treat for three very good reasons:

  1. Susan Fowler is one of my favorite leadership authors.  If you are not already familiar with her work, become so … quickly.  A blurb at the end has a link to some of her best work.
  2. The topic of this guest post is “Assumed Constraints”.  When you finish reading this, you will know why this is an important self leadership topic and a bit about how to avoid falling into self-limiting traps.
  3. This is a nifty way to introduce yet another engaging title from the One-Minute Manager powerhouse.  Read it and some older and very valuable thinking will appear, along with some freshly updated leadership thinking … all in an easy-read, deceptively simple story that will add value to your leadership journey … if you pay attention and use it.

I will have more to say about this exciting new title later.  For now, just sit back and enjoy …

Self Leadership—Challenging Assumed Constraints

Originally Posted on 5/4/17: https://leaderchat.org/2017/05/04/self-leadership-challenging-assumed-constraints/

The negative, almost nasty, comment to one of my LinkedIn posts bugged me. I spent 30 minutes formulating a clever response and then, another 30 minutes trying to figure out how to post it. I could see the man’s comment in my notifications, but when I clicked “check it out” or “join the conversation,” I couldn’t find his comment. In pure frustration, I reached out for help from my Millennial social media guru, Kristin.

Her email back to me: You clicked the correct links to respond. I checked the links as well, and I also logged into your profile to look for the comment notification. It appears that he deleted his comment!

She had come to a plausible conclusion that I hadn’t even considered! I am supposed to be a subject matter expert on self leadership, yet I fell prey to an assumed constraint. I held an assumption that I was woefully ignorant when it comes to social media and incapable of solving the problem. I let that belief limit my openness to another possibility—such as, the man deleted his comment.

We fall prey to insidious assumed constraints every day. The way we internalize facts influences our beliefs that shape our intentions, which ultimately leads to our behavior.

Virtually raise your hand if your manager makes more money than you do. Nod your head knowingly if your manager has more position power than you do. Now consider how these facts influence your beliefs about the workplace, shape your intentions, and ultimately determine your behavior—and your relationship with your manager.

  • Comparing my manager’s power and income to my own, I may conclude: I don’t have the power or ability to affect change. This belief leads me to watch painfully as changes happen to me without my input or participation.
  • I may believe that my manager should know when I need more direction for achieving my goal. This belief causes me to wait for her to provide me with an action plan and the resources I need.
  • Even sadder, maybe I believe my boss should know what I need, but is so self-absorbed, she doesn’t even notice. This belief leads me to resent my manager and sabotage the relationship because I don’t trust she has my best interests at heart.

Assumed constraints are beliefs that limit our experience. Self leadership demands the acknowledgement, exploration, and reframing of assumed constraints.

Challenging assumed constraints by flipping them into statements that lead to positive action is an essential mindset of a self leader. For example, what if I took the assumed constraint about power and flipped it? I believe I have the power and ability to affect change. This statement is more likely to lead to productive behavior, such as proactive problem solving or selling my solutions.

The flipped assumed constraint also leads to an exploration of power: What types of power do I have and how can I use my points of power to proactively achieve my goals and make greater contributions to others?

Research provides evidence that self leadership competencies can be learnedand that organizations would be better served by focusing budgets and training employees on self leadership. But learning the skillset also requires cultivating a mindset to challenge assumed constraints, activate your points of power, and be proactive.

Thinking about my assumed constraint for responding to comments on LinkedIn, I take heart that I proactively reached out to a subject matter expert using my relationship power. I feel confident that the next time I find myself frustrated over social media (probably sometime within the next hour or so), I will challenge my assumed constraints by mindfully exploring solutions I wouldn’t have considered before receiving Kristin’s insight. Then, if I really am stymied, I will reach out for direction and support.

Self Leadership is having the mindset and skillset for getting what you need to succeed. For true self leaders, accepting responsibility and taking initiative for the quality of your work and life experience is a continuous pursuit of learning, growing, and achieving. It is the saga that never ends.

Susan FowlerABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Fowler implores leaders to stop trying to motivate people. In her latest bestselling book, she explains Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work … And What Does: The New Science of Leading, Engaging, and Energizing. She is the author of by-lined articles, peer-reviewed research, and six books, including the newly revised bestselling Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager with Ken Blanchard. Tens of thousands of people worldwide have learned from her ideas through training programs, such as the Situational Self Leadership and Optimal Motivation product lines. For more information, visit SusanFowler.com

Guest Post: Excerpt from The New Leadership Literacies by Bob Johansen


ME:  Anyone who is paying attention knows that the older and even more current theories of leadership need updating to meet the leadership challenges of our digital, connected, and very VUCA world now and into our future.

Below is a short excerpt from one of the best books to address leadership going forward that I have found.  Check it out and see if the writing style and perceptive comments intrigue you.  If so, read the whole book and let me know what you think.

Below:  An excerpt from The New Leadership Literacies, 2017

Leap into the Future

by Bob Johansen

We think we are connected today, but the next ten years will be a period of explosive connectivity, with asymmetric upheaval and very few patterns of change that will be clear or predictable. In this future world of dramatically amplified digital connectivity, anything that can be distributed will be distributed. Most leaders—and most organizations—aren’t ready for this future.

We are on a twisting path toward—but never quite reaching—distributed everything, a path that will be characterized by increasing speed, frequency, scope, and scale of disruption.

Young leaders and aspiring leaders will be more ready for the distributed future than adults. Many young people are in a blended reality world already with constant mobile online filters for the physical world. They are on online, unless they are off. For most adult leaders, we are offline—unless we are on. Quaintly, some leaders today still say they “log on” to the internet. Do we really need to capitalize the word “internet” any longer? I think not and this is the first book I’ve written where I’m not capitalizing internet. It is pervasive already, but this is just the beginning.

Leadership will have to be much more distributed in this future, but most organizations and most leaders are not ready. The tired practices of leadership for centralized organizations will be brittle in a future world that is not only decentralized but also distributed. Firm structures of hierarchy will give way to shape-shifting organizational foundations. There will be enduring leadership qualities like strength, humility, and trust, but the new world of distributed everything will require new literacies of leading. This book will help organizations prepare for the future.

It’s too late to catch up, but it’s a great time to leapfrog. The five new leadership literacies I introduce in this book will show current and future leaders how to take the leap to the future by learning.

 

About Bob Johansen:

Bob Johansen is a distinguished fellow with the Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley. For more than 30 years, Bob has helped organizations around the world prepare for and shape the future, including corporations such as P&G, Walmart, McKinsey, United Rentals, and Syngenta, as well as major universities and nonprofits.

The author or co-author of ten books, Bob is a frequent keynote speaker. His best-selling book Get There Early: Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present was selected as one of the top business books of 2007. His latest book is The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything discusses five new leadership literacies—combinations of disciplines, practices, and worldviews—that will be needed to thrive in a VUCA world of increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. 

 

Labor Day Reflections


talia_running_hamster_wheel_800_clr_20952.pngBest wishes for a Happy Labor Day, especially to all those laborers who are NOT on holiday this weekend.  

Our concept of work seems to have changed significantly over the years.  I know fewer folks who are in a standard 9 To 5 type of job and more who are employed in increasingly 24/7 roles.  This probably has to do some with the infection of personal portable technology that both fascinates and aggravates many of us on a regular basis, but  I do not think that is all.

We seem consumed by work, to a much larger degree than folks in other cultures.  If our country was doing really well in most or many societal indicators, this would be a confirmation of our strong work ethic.  However, we are not number one or even highly ranked in many cases … healthcare accessibility remains an issue, our country is torn and conflicted over many social and economic questions, and I sense a general malaise.

Not being pessimistic, but I am a realist … we are working hard, but do not seem to have much to show for it, other than trinkets (electronic gadgets, shiny cars, overpriced houses, and temporarily satisfying vacations and parties).  I am talking about real emotional fulfillment, which seems unreachable for some.

I am also not providing any links to statistical support or learned papers on the issue.   These are just my perceptions and intuition based on living, working., and paying attention.

So with that said, and while many of us barbecue and relax by the pool sipping our ice-cold beers … why not take a moment or two to consider what and why we labor.

Why do we do whatever it is we do to earn our living?

What do we derive from doing this, aside from a paycheck?

What else might we possibly get from our labors?

NOTE:  Regular readers may have noticed a distinct lack of activity on this blog for the past year or so.  That is because I agreed to work with my wife in real estate … and selling houses is a “More Than Full-Time” job.   While it has ups and downs like any job, I have found being self-employed takes on a whole new meaning in this industry.

I will have more to say on the above and other work-related issues in future posts, which I aim to make more regularly.

Still chugging along doggedly in the Heartland …

John

Guest Post: The Mood Elevator by Larry Senn


We could all do with an increased ability to handle life and all that it throws at us more effectively.  One of the more comprehensive, but readable books of late which attempts to show us how to do exactly that is The Mood Elevator:  Take Charge of Your Feelings, Become a Better You by Larry Senn.

Larry writes clearly and comprehensively about the factors that influence our daily well-being and the importance of choice in how our days and nights go.  His perspectives are well-supported and valuable for application in both our professional lives and our personal arenas.

 In honor of the launch of this useful book this week, a guest post from the author is below.  If you find this helpful, you will love the whole book.  I will have more to say about its value to me later in the week.

HOW TO DEAL WITH DOWN DAYS

by Dr. Larry Senn

There are countless pointers, tools, and books on how to be happy- and rightfully so, we’d all love to be happy and at the top of our Mood Elevator all the time.

Unfortunately, being happy all the time is just not reality. We will all spend times in the emotional basement since having low moods is a natural and normal part of life.  Human beings are unique in the animal kingdom because we have the power of thought. This allows us to imagine the future, plan for things yet to come, muse about possibilities, and analyze and interpret everything that is going on around us.

That same power to imagine through thought can also cause to us to worry excessively and unnecessarily, experience periods of depression about real or imagined problems, have moments of paranoia based on our assumptions about other’s motives, be self-righteous and judgmental, and even experience fits of anger and rage.

Because we take this ride on the Mood Elevator every day, it’s important to also have some tools on how to do well when you’re “in the red”. It’s not a bad thing to be in a bad mood, but it’s best to minimize the damage you cause when you’re having “one of those days”.

The best thing to remember when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed is to remember that you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Having the awareness that you’re not at your best will help you proceed with caution throughout your day. Imagine when you’re driving somewhere on a cold, icy road at night. You’ll do the drive, but you’ll proceed with caution. You’ll drive slowly, take turns gently, and leave plenty of space between you and any other drivers on the road.

Think about that same tactic the next off day you’re having. If possible, reschedule that meeting with your coworker you butt heads with. The reason it’s so important to proceed with caution when you’re in the lower mood states is because our thinking becomes very unreliable when we’re down there.

Have you ever said something to a friend or loved one in the heat of the moment that you wished you could take back? Have you ever hit the send button to transmit an email that you later realized was a terrible mistake? If either of these has happened to you, think back to the circumstances. Where were you on the Mood Elevator map when this occurred? Most likely, you were somewhere in the lower half.

Imagine these two scenarios that are common in our everyday life and how we might get ourselves in trouble if we don’t recognize that our thinking is unreliable.

The first is getting an email that “pushes our buttons”. It might be accusatory, aggressive, or downright rude. After reading it we drop down to irritation, anger, or anxiety and our instinct is to write an email back giving the person a piece of our mind. These are the kind of situations when we’ll likely regret what we write. An alternative solution would be to write an email, and instead of hitting send, hit save as draft. Wait at least a few hours. If possible wait 24 hours and come back to it once we’ve had some time to cool off. Chances are we’ll be happy we didn’t send it. And, we might be at a higher level on the Mood Elevator the next day and are capable of sending a much more effective email, with a much better outcome.

The second scenario is the common one of having a disagreement with your spouse. My wife and I first got together in the 1970’s, the era of the human potential movement. The conventional wisdom at the time was encapsulated in saying like, “Tell it like it is, let it all hang out, and don’t go to bed with anything left unsaid.” As a result, there were a few times we struggled unproductively until all hours of the night, fighting over issues that, in retrospect, were usually not worth the time and energy.

As we both started understanding how our minds worked, we decided to set a ground rule that we don’t take on any significant relationship issues when either one of us are in the lower Mood Elevator states. It might look something like this:

Larry: It looks like something is bothering you. Is it something you want to talk about?

Bernadette: No, not now. My thinking is not clear. If I need to talk about it, I’ll let you know later.

Using the Mood Elevator as your guide and not acting on low-level thoughts and impulses when you are feeling down is one of the key principles to doing less damage to yourself-and to others.

About Dr. Larry Senn

Dr. Larry Senn pioneered the field of corporate culture and founded in 1978, Senn Delaney, the culture shaping unit of Heidrick & Struggles. A sought-after speaker, Senn has authored or co-authored several books, including two best-sellers. His newest is The Mood Elevator (August 2017), the follow up to his 2012 book, Up the Mood Elevator. You can learn more about Larry and his work at his website, www.themoodelevator.com.