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Gratitude and Mindfulness

Gratitude and Mindfulness

Wishing you and yours a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving Holiday

Gratitude – a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation.

Mindfulness – paying attention to the present moment.

I wanted to share a few takeaways from a recent Mindfulness Lecture I attended featuring Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality & Healing. It seems especially appropriate to share some of those highlights during this week’s Thanksgiving Holiday here in the U.S.

Over 2,000 people were in attendance at this Mindfulness lecture. 10 or even 5 years ago there would not have been a full auditorium.

There is great potential in this mindfulness movement; the time is now.

joyHow much are we really living the life that is ours to live?  We seem to be always trying to get out of this moment to find a better moment; we’re conditioned this way.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Henry David Thoreau

How many moments do we let slip away?

We can’t stop breathing.  We can’t stop our heart beating. In a very real way, there’s no end to a mindfulness practice.  Breathing is just one way to drop into the fleeting, present moment, as is noticing the beating of your heart.  It’s about the awareness that is an intrinsic part of our being.

We can test our mindfulness throughout the day by asking 3 questions:

1.  What am I doing in this moment?
2.  Is my mind on what I’m doing?
3.  Am I happy in this moment?

Most people polled were doing things halfheartedly; they weren’t fully engaged.  If you can’t be present for yourself how can you be present for another, take in the world or make wise decisions?  It’s not a luxury to create Mindfulness.  It’s an old tradition that is the most sophisticated psychology on the planet.

The more UnPresent you are, the more UnHappy you are.

Now that we’re attached to our mobile devices we’ve become perpetually addicted, it’s like we always want to be somewhere else.  A supercomputer in our purse or pocket, what a concept!  Rather than being mindful we’re looking for that next adrenaline or dopamine hit that seems so satisfying, yet is fleeting.  Having our devices so accessible destroys the depths of conversation because no one is being present.

Your creativity, intuition and imagination are all sitting right inside the multi-dimension of right now.  If we were trained in Mindfulness in kindergarten we would be cultivating a deep awareness that’s much deeper than thinking.  Inside each of us is vast open heartedness, spaciousness – sharing the same space of the world.

It’s simple, not easy.  Exercise the muscle.

Tomorrow morning when you wake up, take a few extra moments in bed lying down and see if you’re fully awake.  Let your mind and your attention scan your body from head into your toes and heels and feel your body being breathed.  Rest in awareness, an awareness that’s so big and so spacious, it’s wakefulness.  These are perfect moments to linger and be fully awake before you get out of bed.

A real mindfulness practice is how you move throughout your day from moment to moment; full presence with others at home and at work. You can have thoughts, just don’t get so attached to them.

We are completely connected with the planet, cycles, and with each other. We are beginning to transfer science from mind/body to larger society and planetary levels. We are these miraculous human beings who don’t know it yet. Find wise ways of being in touch.

Just be present. Just be with and love rather than fix or judge.

There is major research and programs in 4 areas:
1. Healthcare.
2. Education.
3. Business/Corporate.
4. Criminal Justice.

We need a thousand different ways to address issues currently happening in our society.  Consider practicing mindfulness rather than mindlessness.

Let’s not miss out on the most important dimensions of our own life.

New thinking gets Lean

New thinking gets Lean

Most leaders have at least one area of concern associated with their businesses that keeps them awake at night. To keep a finger on the pulse of what executive leaders are facing, the Executive Development Associates, Inc. conducts a survey every other year to understand the trends, growth, and evolution of executive development.

The group was surprised to see a shift in the top hot topic of executive development away from leadership, as it had been for over 20 years. Now ‘critical thinking’ has become the top issue that has executive leaders concerned.

Many companies are making critical thinking a part of their culture by implementing Lean thinking. The core idea of Lean thinking is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste   The concept has a goal to problem solve until perfect value is provided to their customer, through a value-added process that has zero waste. It works to ultimately encourage businesses to never stop looking for ways to improve their businesses, the value they give to customers, and saving as many resources as possible across multiple areas and systems of the company.

At one time, Lean thinking was considered to be most important for the manufacturing industry. Yet determining how to add value while stripping waste can and does apply to every business and every system or process, and Lean thinking is now spreading across all industries and services including healthcare and government.

These groups are applying Lean principles as the way they think and perform in every part of their jobs. Their Lean processes may be branded differently so that the company can feel an ownership of the process. The process becomes an operational philosophy that dramatically improves on those big critical thinking issues.

Regardless of where your business is, the concepts of Lean thinking can stimulate the way your associates develop their critical thinking skills. You don’t have to know all the ins and outs of Lean thinking to start applying the concepts to your work and business – check out this simple cheat sheet.

Already applying Lean techniques to your business? Share with us how you’ve been effective.

Tools for Making Meaningful Connections

Tools for Making Meaningful Connections

How we meet and make new business connections may have changed significantly with all of the technology now available to us, and it still remains a critical component to the longevity of small and large businesses alike.

The standard operating procedure for making contacts and generating leads may vary significantly depending on your industry, products and services – and there are still a few human communication basics that continue to apply to meeting new people who may become important contacts for your career and business success.

One key networking tool to know and keep relevant is the 30 second elevator speech. By practicing how to quickly share your company’s vision and its relevancy to the person to whom you are speaking is still an important tool in your networking toolbox.

Find out what the contact may need by

  • asking questions,
  • listening,
  • watching for non-verbal clues, and
  • hunting for how you can help or support.

Check out this article on the 7 Key Components of a Perfect Elevator Pitch.  Also, consider following up by reaching out to connect on LinkedIn so you can continue to deepen your business relationships when a communication opportunity presents itself.  This gives you the opportunity for ideas on how you may be able to help each other and helps you to create additional brand touch points which are essential when converting contacts to clients.

While we are on the subject of LinkedIn, we should also talk about making sure your profile supports your 30 second elevator speech by being current. Include examples of major projects that are relevant to your current position. Consider how you are leveraging LinkedIn to demonstrate your knowledge of your industry such that more contacts would like to connect with you. If you are new to LinkedIn here a few videos that can help you get started.

What is LinkedIn In 5 minutes

Building an Awesome Profile on LinkedIn

Connecting with Others on Linkedin

Remember, another classic is your business card. No matter where you are in your career or where you are headed, a business card says you are prepared. A great business card is another great brand touch yet can be forgotten. Need a little refresher on business cards? Check out this blog for the ABCs of Business Cards.

Keeping the brand alive means touching new contacts through social media, phone calls, face to face, and emails. You may be amazed to find your business growing by setting a goal of reaching out to 5 new contacts per week. Give it a try, along with these tools, and share your success with us.

Color Your Work Environment for Success

Color Your Work Environment for Success

One measure of our professional state of mind is what I like to call our workday vs. non-workday preference barometer. I define this as one’s level of hope or dread of workdays compared to Saturdays, Sundays, vacation and holidays.

Many of us have had days we weren’t exactly looking forward to, and when we feel stressed or anxious on days we have to be our best professional selves, that more often than not, is an indicator.

Gallup survey last summer found that the “40 Hour Workweek” had grown to 47 hours for most professionals.  What does that mean?  One scenario is that if don’t enjoy our time when we are working, we are spending more than 10 years of our lives unhappy.

Here are a few ideas to consider implementing into your work environment.

Change up the environment

Our physical environments impact our physiology and this affects our thinking and energy flow. Refreshing our office space can inspire creativity and new perspective. A simple yet effective change we can make is to consider a fresh coat of paint on the walls. Colors in our environment play a role in our mood, productivity and job performance. Colors can affect how we feel which impacts how we think and what we, and our teams, are able to accomplish and produce. Check out this guide to choosing the right paint and décor color to support a healthy business.

Let in some natural hues

Living and working in high-rises, driving in our cars, or riding on public transportation are keeping us all cooped up and are limiting our time spent in green spaces and in natural sunlight.  You might consider adding plants to your office space and making a conscious effort to increase your exposure to natural light. If you can’t raise the blinds on the windows or there are none near you, consider taking your lunch on a patio or take regular walks outside. You could also check out your options to having an outdoor meeting once a week and bringing in some plants from this list.

Shades of Strategy

We can often forget to pay attention to what’s driving our business plans even more so than forgetting to notice the color of the walls around us.  Our professional and/or business strategy must be top-of-mind for us and it also needs to include the right mix of what will challenge and inspire us every day. If it’s been a while since you really considered your most important professional goals and how to achieve them, make time to consider if they need to be brightened up a bit.

Our professional lives take up a great deal of our energy and time. Break out a color wheel and your green thumb and help yourself to a colorful world that excites you every day.

Cultivating creativity in 10 minutes

Cultivating creativity in 10 minutes

It’s 8 a.m. on a typical work week. A steaming cup of coffee, tea or boosting breakfast beverage sits nearby like a private, tiny cheering section. You choose your favorite writing utensil and writing pad, or you open your computer and see that each of the programs you need to complete are the projects lined up at the top of your list. You stretch. Rub your face and then stare blankly at the page waiting for creative inspiration to strike you.

Many of us get in the habit of playing a creative hurry-up-and-wait game once or more per week when we sit down at our desks and know that now is the time to bring the best of what we have to offer to our work.

We may enjoy living in a time with fewer boundaries and the ability to create dynamic functions of our own design; however, managing and encouraging creativity can be a personal and professional challenge for each of us.  And we realize that creative thinking is required at every level within companies and organizations.

In my work, I’ve found that creativity is like many talents and skills, the more you understand and practice the better you can leverage your creativity how and when you need it. With time, sharing and exemplifying proven practices with others can also help develop a group of truly creative minds that naturally support each other in a synergistic creative process.

Two important factors that are most likely to influence creativity are our physiology and our state of mind. It may not be a surprise to find that these two factors directly influence each other.

When we find ourselves stalled out problem-solving or generating new ideas, it’s a good indicator that we might need to check-in with our bodies. Our energy might flow better if we step away, take a 5 minute break (this is when MBWA is especially useful!) complete an abbreviated workout, change our posture, etc.

The benefits of changing your physical energy may be just what your mind needs to break into some major new creative thinking or to formulate the last missing piece of your ‘memo’ puzzle.  If not, take 5 minutes to get centered, clear your mind, let go of any attachment, and remember to breathe.  You might also consider putting on music or checking in with a friend or colleague who tends to be uplifting.  ‘Water cooler’ conversations can be a great way to spark creative ideas and flow by the time you’re back at your desk.

Most often these techniques can clear the fog and bring back the creator vibes in 10 minutes or less. You might consider making them a regular practice to help keep the good vibes ever flowing.

If you’re looking for more help to loosen up your creative juices, check out these 7 Types of Creative Blocks and What to do about them.

WANTED:YOU- Immediate Availability to Begin Living Your Best Life

WANTED:YOU- Immediate Availability to Begin Living Your Best Life

These days life seems to come at us faster than ever before. We are expected to make quick decisions, be responsive, and keep up to speed on the ever-increasing amount of information and technology. Yet while we are trying to shave seconds off our schedules, are we missing the big picture?

Our colleges and universities report that 50-70% of students will change their major at least once and most will change 3 times before completing a degree. Even when settling on an area of study and graduating, only 27% will actually have a job in their specific field of study.

There are several key decision points along your career and life path. Connecting with your life’s purpose will help you navigate toward your innermost desires.

Here’s how:

1). Listen to your Gut

It may sound cliché, and the reality is that when something gives you life and more energy, keep moving in that direction. If a person, project or path seems to be draining you, move away from the source. The more you listen to your inner voice and hone in on your true calling, the louder and clearer your purpose will become.

2). Look for Trends

Give your gut a little help by employing some brain power. If you look over the major events in your life when opportunities arose at just the right time, maybe there were common trends and themes that began to emerge? Give these “coincidences” a little more credit, especially when these themes are beginning to align with a successful path towards your purpose.

3). Ask the Universe for What you Want

Meditate on having your purpose revealed to you and stay the course. Express gratitude for each area of learning that you visit. Making this meditative process a part of your routine will keep you close to your purpose every step of the way.

4). Practice makes Purpose

Along with the meditative practice to bring you into harmony with your purpose, a commitment to pursue your purpose ritualistically will ensure that you have a practice of focus for your life’s purpose. This is similar to compounded interest and will grow and multiply over time.

Remember to go back to #1 and stick with what feels right;and don’t let life’s obstacles and challenges get you off course – they’re simply there as part of the game of life.

These steps may have you thinking and generating vibes that will bring you even closer to your purpose. Don’t be surprised if you begin gaining momentum at a surprising rate.

Leadership Independence

Leadership Independence

Few celebrations have the opportunity to teach us as much about leadership and independence as the 4th of July- when the USA celebrates our national independence.

The historical significance, the innovative leadership behind the birth of our nation, and the continued call for courageous action towards the futures of ourselves, our communities, and the companies we lead, make Independence Day an important time for reflection.

We can certainly reflect on the wisdom received from each of our leaders throughout history. Our desire to be an independent nation was driven by a certainty that we could be:

  • operating from a place of self-reliance
  • resourceful in creating a long term approach
  • demonstratingopennessand acceptance
  • adapting to an ever-changing environment

Are you taking similar approaches with yourleadership approaches?

You might consider these practices with your leadership independence:

  1. You Are Here (where the buck stops) – Being a great leader means taking responsibility and ownership by giving every situation your best-foot-forward no matter how difficult or conflicted a situation may appear.
  2. Assess Your Resources – Effective leaders take stock of what is available to them in their relationships, resources, and tools – and leverage these assets to achieve their goals and those of their organization.
  3. Be Open – Accurately assess nuances and sudden changes. It is important to put practices in place to remain open to options and new ways of doing business so we are consistently focused on the best solutions available.
  4. Encourage Others – Help your teams discover how their own independence can benefit each other and the collective team.

Leadership and independence are relevant to each other – being able to separate oneself from challenging circumstances to find unbiased solutions that benefit the greater good requires disciplined thinking and action.

Yes, these extra steps and planning may seem like additional work on an ever-growing to-do list, yet this reminds me of something Thomas Jefferson said: “The harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”

Enjoy your Leadership Independence and have a Happy and Safe 4th of July!

A Healthy Perspective on Wellness Programs

A Healthy Perspective on Wellness Programs

Over the last 5 years, the Affordable Care Act has made Americans and their employers more aware of their position as health care consumers than ever before.  Prior to 2011, health care premiums were growing at shocking double-digit increases. Since that time, the average monthly health care premium growth has slowed to 9% as more companies are taking proactive steps to control their health care costs.  One contributing factor is implementation of corporate wellness programs.

On a conscious level, we all know that a major factor impacting health care premiums is the level of health risk of the members of an insured group – about 70% of us on a national scale. As more information has become available, as a group, we’ve extended our life expectancies and learned that lifestyle choices have a huge influence on our short and long-term health.

How can companies help start to sway our national health stats and costs toward the positive? Let’s look at an example.

Katlyn proudly lands her first “real” job after college. She has a job description, her title in the signature line of her company emails, and health insurance. Her benefits don’t stop there.

Along with being able to afford to order from something other than the $1 menu at a fast food place, Katlyn’s company has a cafeteria with healthy food options and a healthy recipes exchange board. A few times per year the company sponsors organized runs which Katlyn decides to participate in. She gets a health screen once per year that let’s Katlyn bench mark her relevant health stats, something she never even thought to pay attention to before. Katlyn gets a discount on her insurance premiums for participating. At each screen, she is reminded to wear her seat beat, limit her alcohol consumption, and to take advantage of preventive health care like teeth cleanings and annual physicals which she does.

In time, Katlyn decides to use some of her new income to buy a house. The experience is pretty stressful on top of her new job. She attends a company sponsored ‘Lunch and Learn’ on coping with the stress and makes a commitment to attend yoga classes offered at her office 3 times a week.  She likes yoga so much she joins a gym; after all she gets reimbursed a portion of the membership cost.

When Katlyn’s father passes away, she is devastated. Her manager encourages her to leverage the company’s Employee Assistance Program. Katlyn is able to process her feelings with a counselor in a healthy way, something she might never have done if she’d had to find a counselor on her own and pay out-of-pocket. In full, Katlyn’s overall health gets a major boost from these great resources readily available to her throughout her career with her company.

This all sounds great, right? Yet what would all these great benefits end up costing Katlyn’s company? Statistically, these benefits would save Katlyn’s company 20-25% more on their health care costs than companies that do not offer comprehensive wellness programs. The company will also save with lower absenteeism, lower workers’ compensation and disabilities claims, and they will reduce their recruiting costs, making a wellness program a pretty good business decision.  Katlyn will also experience lower premiums year-over-year than her friends who work for companies that don’t have wellness programs.

It might seem daunting to get a program like the hypothetic company in my example off the ground, especially if your business is just getting started. Even starting small with employee health education can begin to build momentum that will start to significantly improve the health of your employees.

BBD can help connect you with wellness experts who can work with you to develop a wellness program that suits your company’s needs; offering a step-by-step approach. Email Joy@BeyondBBD.com and let us know what you would like to see your company include in your wellness program that would make the greatest impact to a culture of wellness.