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.

 

Are You Busy Right Now? …


Being Busy - Presenter MediaIT’S NOT ABOUT THE NUMBER OF ROLES WE JUGGLE …

Most of us juggle multiple roles as needed and sometimes at the same time.  Even within a role, you have sub-roles.  

At work, you may be a colleague, an employee, a boss, a collaborator, or a rival … all within an hour or two.  At home, you may be a spouse, a parent, a child, a sibling, or an in-law, each of which requires a different perspective and approach.

The trick here is to know which role needs our focus and energy at a particular time.  Work at your vocation in the office, but let your home be a haven for being a spouse, a partner, a parent, and sometimes a child.

IT’S NOT ABOUT THE INTENSITY OF OUR WORK …

Continue reading

Run, Run, Run … Or Not


Hamster Wheel and Quote.png

But then, you already knew that, didn’t you?

We are officially past Monday now, so your workweek should be either shuffling or crashing along, depending on your work situation.   Now you can spend a few minutes considering things like speed, direction, and progress.

Yes, I am talking about considering the amount of time you are spending, the focus of your efforts, and the quality of your content.  Here are some quick diagnostic questions to ask yourself and answer honestly, thenadjust as needed based on that honest answer:

ARE YOU AVOIDING OR CREATING?

I am very busy.  You are probably very busy too.  This seems the default position for most of us these days.

Consider what comes of all your busy efforts.   In my case, if I have written an acceptable blog post, drafted a valid coaching program, designed a useful job aid or poster, made or strengthened an important connection with another human being, I feel like I am creating.

When I finish 10 quick rounds of PANDA POP, not so much. Continue reading

Feeding Our Purpose …


Purpose - 3 Hungers JPEG - Morguefile.com

Quotation Source:  Richard Leider (The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better. p. 45)

The above quote is from one of Leider’s older books, which I thought would be a good place to start my personal exploration of purpose.  I am engaged in several projects right now that have to do with discerning and living out what we are meant to be and I am having a blast revisiting some tools and strategies I first learned decades ago, while reading up on the more current thinking around how we discern what we are here to do.

I find Leider’s statement useful, because it incorporate three basic concerns for anyone who senses that there is more to life and work than simply making money.

THE POWER OF CHOICE …

In a world where we often experience the effects of someone else’s decisions or something else’s action, remembering that we have the power to choose can be difficult.

A greedy CEO takes action to protect his personal wealth and a company fails, with resultant job losses and turmoil.

Mother Nature reacts to global behavior and floods somewhere, while somewhere else experiences a massive drought, and severe weather seems to have become the norm for many, with property damage, loss of life, and economic upheaval following.

However, as anyone who has read Viktor E. Frankl knows:

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

The freedom to choose is an important element in our lives.

OUR UNIQUENESS …

We might now feel all that unique these days, as mass media continues to communicate how we ought to feel, think, and behave with shot-gun blasts of generalized messages in various forms.

The sheer weight of completing with 7.4 BILLION other people probably daunts many, which may be why so many of us seem unaware of all our neighbors and co-inhabitants of this planet.  

Our neighbors may be familiar to us in many ways.  They may resemble you physically, and we all share the same general range of emotions, values, beliefs, and attitudes.  Many of us have engaged in the same type of work as others, sometimes to the point of feeling lost in a gigantic stream of monochromatic “worker bees“.

Parents loves their children in a very universal way and the differences are usually superficial cultural, ethnic, or religious ones.

But nobody else is YOU… your unique combination of all of the above, plus your individual experiences in families, communities, and work environments … plus that “choice” thingie.   Even if your life is completely and totally the same as another, you have the ability to choose a different path.

MEANINGFUL USEFULNESS …

As I am finding out, Leider and others who try to help us lead more purposeful lives, have a mantra that is repeated time and again … Knowing your purpose is nothing unless you act to actually engage in your purpose.

I do not have the link, but I remember reading about research that indicates that people who learn their purpose, but do not fulfill it, are actually less happy than those who do not engage in discerning what they were made to do, and definitely less happy than those who discern and then act.

“You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it.”

So says Marlon Brando‘s sad protagonist in the Oscar-winning 1954 film On The Waterfront.  If you only know of Brando’s more recent bloated and sinister acting, take a few hours to watch some  gut-wrenching acting.

We strive for purpose, because purpose creates a sense of meaning in our lives … if we then act on what we learn.  As I currently understand the journey to purpose, here is what purpose is not:

Purpose is not our work, although what we do for a living may reflect our purpose.

Purpose is also not what we enjoy doing, although we may enjoy living out our purpose.

Purpose is not our life goals, although our life goals may involve our purpose. 

Much more coming about this journey to purpose, but meanwhile:

How have you discerned your purpose in life?

How have you acted out your purpose?

What difference has this made for you?

Trying hard to consciously choose my best path and walk it with courage in the Heartland ….

John 

Image:  Morguefile.com/Meditation

 

Guest Post: “Traits of a Servant Leader- Compassionate Collaboration” by Cheryl Bachelder


promo_02Enjoy this guest post by Cheryl Bachelder, the servant leader of Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen group as she shares about just one important aspect of servant leadership … then go read her entire book Dare To Serve and really start to change your leadership life:

TRAITS OF A SERVANT LEADER – COMPASSIONATE COLLABORATION

In American culture, we admire and celebrate individual contributors. We hold up CEOs, celebrities, entrepreneurs, community leaders who have accomplished great things, and we attach those great things to a person, more often than a team.

Even in our sporting events, we tend to celebrate the big name player, over the team. Without realizing it, we often arrive at work with this mindset of individual contributor and we forget the power of collaboration.

At Popeyes, we have been working on building a culture of collaborative teams. Today I share with you a few observations from this experience. For context, seven years ago we decided to assign every critical strategic initiative to a cross functional team to define, solve and implement the solution.

Why? We were working on 129 projects that were not resulting in growth of sales or profits of the company. Out of crisis, we had to work on fewer things and work in a different way.

NOT ALL OF OUR TEAMS WERE SUCCESSFUL

Not all of our teams were successful, but the successful collaborative teams had these characteristics:

  • The team set specific measurable goals. The goals were ambitious, but not crazy.
  • The team spent time mapping out what skill sets they needed to solve the problem and then added team members where skill gaps existed.
  • The team established camaraderie early on. They took the time upfront to get to know one another so that the work process would go more smoothly (and be more fun).
  • The team leader invited each person to bring their all to the team; communicating that each person is uniquely valuable to the team.
  • The team developed a detailed work plan, assigned each deliverable to an owner, and made sure the work could be accomplished in the time allotted.
  • The team figured out how to resolve conflicts constructively, without damaging relationships.
  • Team members met regularly to offer ideas and assistance to keep the work on schedule.
  • The team won as a team and the leader gave full credit to the team at every public opportunity.

So if you read the title of this post, you may be wondering about compassionate collaboration. The word compassionate, according to Merriam-Webster, means to “be aware of another person’s suffering and aim to alleviate it”.

I believe that when you lead a team, this is your job: to think ahead to what the team needs to be successful, establish those conditions, and alleviate stress points for them. In a nutshell, that is the work of a leader who compassionately collaborates.

This post was originally published on Feb. 27, 2013 at cherylbachelder.com.

 

 

promo_01Cheryl Bachelder is the CEO of Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen Inc., a multibillion-dollar chain of more than 2,200 restaurants around the world. She is the author of Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results While Serving Others, now available on Amazon. Learn more at daretoserveleaders.com