Traffic Jams

How was traffic today?

Imagine your entire day was made up of cars carrying a thought or feeling. I bet that your day was full of traffic, maybe even gridlocked, if today was stressful. Did you want to call a halt to everything? Or, if your thoughts or feelings were pleasant, did you want to go for a nice long drive in those particular cars and avoid the less pleasant ones? This traffic concept is one of the visualizations from a meditation app, Headspace.

headspace-traffi

For those with preconceived notions about meditation, I’d like you to set them aside. Not all meditation is chanting phrases with your legs crossed. Instead, practitioners are taking time (10 minutes, in the case of Headspace) from the hustle and stress of our days to take care of ourselves mentally and physically. Some call it mental hygiene. Think of meditation this way: If you take the time to declutter and clean up your car, if you shower daily and do the laundry often, why wouldn’t you do the same for your mind? Meditation can improve concentration, self awareness, acceptance (Serenity Prayer anyone?) and physical well being (e.g., lower blood pressure). By the way, contemplative prayer is one form where prayer and meditation overlap. If you grew up, as I did, reciting the Hail Mary, then you’ve practiced contemplative prayer. Does it surprise you that this is very similar to the Eastern practice of mantra meditation?

Back to the benefits of meditation – this one is important for all of us who hope to age well: In one study, it appeared to slow the aging process in practitioners, including increasing the number of brain cells. Who knew you could grow a bigger brain?

meditation-bigger-brain

Blue is better!

Meditation comes in many forms (including the aforementioned chanting). The style I prefer is mindfulness. You start by focusing on your breathing, then taking stock of your physical and mental sensations. Throughout the meditation, your mind drifts off to tasks, worries, politics or whatever and you gently refocus. By the end of the 10 minute session, I’m calmer, less likely to react to things (pick any news topic right now) and, most importantly for me, a better listener for others. When I practice regularly, I find it easier to calm down in all kinds of stressful situations.

So, let’s get back to the traffic analogy. Do you chase after cars? Attempt to stop them? Do you realize how many cars are on your figurative road? What happens if you simply acknowledge them as they go by, instead of attempting to change them? Think about how you manage all of these thoughts and feelings today. Some of those self-management habits are healthy (e.g., going for a walk), some are less so, especially if you use them too often (e.g., alcohol or drugs). Meditation is free (or relatively cheap, like the Headspace app), requires no special equipment and travels well. All you need is you and a willingness to try.

I’ve mentioned Headspace before. It’s a meditation app that offers guided sessions and also gives you tools to help practice throughout the day. This traffic visualization is one of them. Helpful, huh? They have many others, like Blue Sky (Finding Calm). It’s a handy tool for finding calm when things are tough. If you want to learn more about Headspace or other meditation tools, you can follow the links in this post or just search on the web. I wish you peace this week!

 

 

 

I Think I Can

 

yes-i-did-it

Let’s start Monday with a pop quiz. 😉

Pick one:

  1. I can’t do that.
  2. I don’t know how to do that yet.

Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist has spent years studying how our mindset affects our performance and personal satisfaction.

She describes two mindsets: fixed and growth. In a fixed mindset, people believe their ability is a fixed trait, meaning it is what it is, they can’t learn new things (option 1). In a growth mindset, people believe they can develop a skill, meaning they can improve over time (option 2). This is a deep topic, worthy of a book (which Dr. Dweck has considerately written), //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=yar0dc-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0345472322&asins=0345472322&linkId=bf4422fb0e8b3725f406af01e494abeb&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank”>Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

For today, here’s something to nibble on as you go through your week: We live in an evolving world and we can choose to learn with it or stay in place. We can keep up with the stream of new data, new skills, new technology, new everything or we can be the rock that stays still in the middle of the river. Can you tell which one appeals to me? 🙂

i_think_i_can

Learning requires

  • Curiosity
  • Exposure to things that are different from you and how you think
  • Listening
  • Being uncomfortable when you can’t understand or do something…. at first
  • Practice, practice, practice until you get better
  • Taking a chance that you’ll fail, sometimes publicly
  • Faith in your ability to learn

crazy-enough-to-think-i-can

Why does mindset matter?

Our mindset frames how we see the world and whether we’re willing to invest, to have faith in our ability to change, to do things differently.

Can you imagine telling a child that they’ll never get smarter? That they’ll never advance to the next grade?

Would we tell a new employee that they’ll never learn a new skill and so we won’t send them to training?

Of course not. We would have faith in them that they will learn and grow. So why would we tell ourselves these negative things? I’m not saying that we should all go back to school or tackle every new concept. I’m saying that, if you want to, you can learn anything you want. The real challenge is knowing what you want to learn, not whether you can do it.

By the way, if you’re interested in more from Carol Dweck, check out www.curious.com, where she has a weekly post on mindsets.

What’s Your Why?

Good morning and welcome back to the work week!

I have a question for you: What’s your why? Why do you do what you do? This could apply to anything but let’s focus on your career. Why do you do what you do for a living? Is it the money? The fame J? Do you love the function (e.g., finance, engineering, marketing, sales)? Is the why enough to keep you going when it gets difficult? If your why isn’t big enough, how does that affect your commitment?

transformation why

The summer games give us several examples, especially with four (FOUR!) members of AT&T families participating. Take Ragan Smith’s family, for example: she’s a 15 year old alternate on the women’s gymnastics team. She and another team member, Madison Kocian, train 6 days a week, twice a day. Do you think these two teens have a clear understanding of their why?

How about their families? Ragan’s dad, Michael, got AT&T permission to move his job from Georgia to Dallas so she could train at an elite training center there. I bet they didn’t think twice about it, because they knew their why.

There’s also Malik Scott’s daughter, Ariana Washington, and John Monday’s wife, Rose. Ariana is running the 4×100 relay and Rose is an assistant track coach. All of these US team members and their families have a clear commitment to their sport, one that keeps them going through the good days and bad.

So, now, back to you. Do you know what your why is? Or how to integrate this concept into your work?

Here’s one way I do it with my team: Imagine you’re starting a new job. On your first day, your new boss asks what you want to do next. Kind of odd, right? But what if you have a candid conversation about what you hope to do next and how your new role and boss can support you? Could this help you get the right experience and exposure and make it easier for you to land your next role?

I hope you think about your why, have a great week!

Caryn

We Are the Light That Never Fails

Good morning and Happy Friday!

I’ve been traveling and had intended to share an upbeat summer tune to help us wrap up the week. However, it’s another somber morning and I find it hard to just jump into something joyful while watching the aftermath of last night’s event in Nice, France. How about we start with Andra Day’s The Light That Never Fails… a beautiful song to inspire hope. It’s not our usual Friday fare, instead use it to think of others who need us.

Light that never fails.png

Now, for something to get you moving on this summer morning, John Mellencamp & Me’Shell Ndegeocello’s Wild Nights. They look like they’re having fun together and it has a great bass line, one that will stick with you all day. You’re welcome.  😉

May you find some joy this weekend, be the light that never fails and we’ll see you next week!

Caryn

All Who Wander Are Not Lost

GM and welcome back to Monday!

It’s the first week of May, the second month of 2Q and we have lots to do. Are you at your best? I’ll bet your head is already spinning with everything you need to get done this morning, get done today, get done this week, get done this month, OMG-is-school-almost-out-for-the-summer? …you get the drift, right? When your head is overflowing with a task list, problems you need to solve and all the other junk floating around from last week, it’s hard to focus. It’s hard to stay calm. It’s hard to find the energy and creativity for not only solving problems but innovating. It’s hard to enjoy the moment when we’re so busy reacting to everything.

 Meditation is like a gym

So, what do you do to stay focused, stay creative, stay energized? How about we do nothing for a little bit? I know that sounds counter intuitive – after all, doing nothing won’t get your task list completed, will it? On the other hand, giving your brain a chance to wander might just help your creativity. It certainly will help your stress level and it should help your physical wellbeing, too.

Notice I didn’t give this practice a label. If I did, it would be meditation, but I know a bunch of y’all will dismiss the idea. What can it hurt, though, if you take 5-10-20 minutes to focus on your breathing and practice letting go of all those thoughts galloping through your mind? At most, you lose a few minutes. At best, you gain some peace of mind back and are better equipped to get through your day.

If you need a little help, here are couple of guided meditation sources: HeadSpace and Mindfulness Solution. I use HeadSpace, there’s something about it that keeps me faithful to my morning practice.           

 

Making Time

mindfulness-en-movementI write a mini blog for my day job, almost daily. But I haven’t been posting it here. Why? It’s usually pertinent but, well, because I haven’t made time to do so. This morning, my mini blog was about this very topic so I decided to make a change in my daily routine…. here’s today’s post. Before I go any further, I’ll emphasize this site is not a reflection on my employer. Instead, it’s simply thoughts I have on being a better person, leader, wife, mother, employee. Read on for my thoughts on making time….

Hi Y’all!

Monday flew by really fast didn’t it? Do you ever find yourself saying, “Sorry, I didn’t have time to do it”? Did you really mean that you didn’t make time for it, either intentionally or unintentionally? I’ve had several conversations the last few days where this came up and I thought it might be good to take a moment (uhh, make time for it). Does this sound familiar?

“I am definitely going to take a course on time management… just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.” Louis Boone (courtesy of Brainy Quote) 

Louis E. Boone was a business professor at the University of South Alabama. While his comment is funny, his point is this – we make time for what we find important. The key is to be mindful of what is important and try (!) to get the less important things out of the way. Look at your calendar, what do you see that is not your highest priority? Does it really need to be done or to be done by you? Should something else be on there? By the way, making time to relax can be as important as your must-do-for-the-boss items. If you’re not able to relax your brain and body, you’re not going to be at your best. It’s not all about go-go-go (I know, that’s rich coming from me…). As a former boss used to tell me, “sometimes you have to slow down to speed up.” Not sure if that’s original or what but it’s been immensely helpful.

What a great reminder, then, about making time – here’s to not saying “I didn’t have time to call” or “I didn’t get around to it.” Instead, let’s be clear about priorities and making time to call those important to us and accomplish the critical things, whether that’s paying the bill or taking time to crash on the couch for a little bit. Join me in being mindful, won’t you?