PAUSE – 19.09 – Take A Power Nap For A Power Boost
September 4, 2019
Reflection: As a youngster, I spent more than a few summer days at my Grandfather’s farm. Each day after his noon lunch, Grandpa grabbed a scratchy red wool plaid blanket, and headed out behind the house.
There, in the caragana windbreak, he stretched out for a nap on a set of rusty old bedsprings he had strategically placed in the shade. Jack, as he was called by his friends, was definitely a man ahead of his time.
Research from Harvard (which I’m sure Grandpa never read) has proven what he knew from experience – that a mid day nap increases productivity and gifts you with the mental freshness of morning all over again.
As a student in elementary school, when we returned to our desks following the noon hour break, our teachers would read us a chapter or two from an ongoing novel.
We were encouraged to rest our heads on our desks to listen, and nobody cared whether you tuned in to the story or caught forty winks. I often thought that the teachers would have enjoyed putting their heads down on the desk and having someone read to them!
We’re learning more all the time about the impact of naps. (more…)
PAUSE – 18.09 – Did You Know You’re Retroactively Useful?
September 5, 2018
Reflection: I seem to be encountering a lot of people from my past these days. In the course of our conversations, more than a few of them are sharing how something I said or did influenced them years ago and continues to be meaningful in their lives today.
Sometimes it was the way I handled a challenging situation. Other times it was a piece of advice or a way of looking at or thinking about things that was important at that moment. Often those insightful tidbits have become reference points or touchstones for them as they go about their lives today.
It moves me to hear that my contributions, both intended and unintentional, added meaning to their lives. That prompts me to be even more active in extending my appreciation to others whose examples have been important to me. And…it causes me to feel more satisfied about the contributions I’ve already made in my life and work.
Action: The desire to be purposeful and of service to others does not diminish with age. In fact as people grow older, they often start to think more directly about leaving a lasting and positive legacy.
Reflection: When I was growing up on the farm, harvest was one of my favorite times of the year.
I loved the fields of golden wheat dancing in the September breeze, the heavy swaths tracing the contours of the land, and the cascades of grain pouring from the auger into the grain bin.
In the farmhouse kitchen, boxes of B.C. pears, plums and peaches were being canned and set aside for the winter ahead.
Steaming cobs of sweet corn landed on the table to be enjoyed day after day after day. My personal best (or worst) was 13 cobs at one sitting!
Harvest time was a feast for the senses and the soul. And the practice of harvesting is one I’ve carried with me into my everyday life.
When I finish reading a book, I take a few moments to pull out an insight or two to carry with me.
When we travel, I keep a journal. As we turn toward home, I reread the record of the journey, and sum up the highlights.
After attending a conference, I scan my notes and pull out a few key ideas on which to act.
Action: The habit of harvest is a helpful one. (more…)
PAUSE – 16.19 – Might You Need to Recalibrate Success?
June 8, 2016
Reflection: Funny creatures we are – us human beings! Sometimes me thinks we thinks too much! Cogitating on this! Judging that! Setting implausible expectations!
A speaker colleague of mine, Ron Culberson, recently observed in his blog post on significance that he feared his Success Meter was not calibrated properly. (Read more about his observations in today’s Resource of the Week link).
By way of example, he reports feeling like he’s failed if, by end of day, he hasn’t done something that registers somewhere between noteworthy and stupendous. I’ve been there myself. Have you?
Last week I spoke for the Spiritual Care Association of Saskatchewan. This is a group of people who face really tough situations every single day.
They provide support for individuals and their families when the prospects for a long life or a speedy recovery are just not there. It’s emotionally demanding work – often with no practical, tangible way to ‘solve the problem’ or ‘make things right’.
In many of those tough, end-of-life moments, it’s simply their presence that they can offer. There’s nothing to be done except be there and be available. And, you know what? That counts a lot.
Action: Are there days when your expectations take a crazymaking tilt? Are there days when you stomp on yourself for falling short of your aspirations? (more…)
PAUSE – 15.36 – Are You Predator, Partner Or Prey?
November 25, 2015
Reflection: When you interact with others, are you more likely to play the role of predator, partner or prey? They all have consequences – some more desirable than others.
I was lucky enough to hear communications consultant, Amy Carroll, share this model of communication (developed by Pat Kirkland) with a group of appreciative business mentors and protégés. If you struggle to effectively connect with the odd person in your world, you might find my recap of her main ideas helpful.
First off…P, P or P…what’s the diff? A predator speaks forcefully from a looming stance intending to dominate the conversation and win the day. A prey speaks hesitantly from a submissive stance intending to smooth rough spots and maintain harmony at all costs. A partner speaks respectfully from a poised stance intending to connect with confidence.
As you might guess, the partner approach (an equal share of confidence and competence) offers the best chance to build a respectful relationship and generate positive results.
There is both an outer and an inner element to each of these ways of interacting with others: the way we outwardly present ourselves, and the inner mindset we bring to the party.
Amy suggests that we work on both the inner and outer parts in low-stress situations, so that we build the physical and mental muscles to keep partnering even when we find ourselves under stress and pressure.
Action: To behave more like a partner, in the face of predator or prey behavior from others, try practising these actions: (more…)
PAUSE – 14.22 – What’s Truly Essential In Your World?
June 4, 2014
Reflection: For some time, I’ve been following Greg McKoewn’s blog posts on the concept of Essentialism. So I was delighted when he released his book, ‘Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less’.
It’s a provocative read. Amongst the ideas I found of greatest interest are these:
Shifting to an essentialist viewpoint means we need to discard these three assumptions: I have to. It’s all important. I can do both. Instead we need to adopt these three assumptions: I choose to. Only a few things really matter. I can do anything but not everything.
The word ‘priority’ used to mean just one thing. In the last century we pluralized it to ‘priorities’. This caused us to believe we could actually hold a number of things at the top of our list and in our attention at the very same time.
We’re fooling ourselves if we think we don’t have to make a solid choice between competing activities. Choosing ‘both’ is a recipe for spreading ourselves too thin. We need to make trade-offs. The shift in mindset is thinking not so much about what we must give up, but rather, what do we choose to go big on.
Don’t be afraid to pull the plug on a project or commitment you’re already involved in. Think about it from a square one point of view. If you weren’t already involved, what would you give up or how hard would you work to get involved. Just because you are part of an active initiative doesn’t mean it’s still the right thing for you to be doing. Edit away.
You’ve got to know, as a pause fanatic, that I would appreciate this one. Protect the asset– that means you! Create space for renewal and reflection – time for unencumbered thought, innovation and growth. Escape and explore life.
Action: So, how do we actually put these ideas into action? (more…)
Pause Gem #27 – Rituals Bring Values To Life
August 28, 2013
Reflection & Action: Rituals are powerful things. Hello/goodbye, good morning/good night kisses are an everyday occurrence in my marriage. Leave takings with our daughters – by phone or in person – are punctuated from both sides with the phrase, ‘Love ya’. Our dinner grace includes a ‘Today I am thankful for…’ comment from each person around the table
Like brushing your teeth in the morning, these actions and phrases have become second nature. That doesn’t make them meaningless. Each exchange expresses deeply held values of love and appreciation.
One of the keys for bringing our values to life is turning them into rituals. If you value your health, turning a lunchtime walk into an automatic ritual breathes life into that value. If you value family, the ritual of a weekly phone call with a parent or sister keeps the connection alive. If you value the beauty of nature, the ritual of placing fresh cut flowers on your desk at work or your table at home keeps nature in the center of your everyday life. You get the picture. (more…)
PAUSE – 13.20 – How Well Do You Pace Yourself?
May 22, 2013
Reflection: Have you ever walked alongside someone whose stride was much longer or shorter than yours? Have you ever partnered on a project with someone whose pace was entirely mismatched to yours? They moved, spoke and concluded everything in a flash – or they ambled, pondered, and decided waaaay toooo sloooowly for your comfort?
If you have, chances are that you know first hand the frustration of trying to keep up or the irritation of needing to slow down.
Our set points vary one from another; and they may shift over time. Life experiences can temper our choices along the way. If we’re paying attention, through trial and error, we learn when we need to give a person or an issue more room, and when the time is ripe to urge to action.
In any given situation or relationship, the ‘right’ pace energizes, while the ‘wrong’ pace exhausts. And, of course, it’s all terribly subjective and situation specific.
When lives are on the line (think fire or medical emergency), a fast paced response is essential. But not everything we face falls in that urgent category – even though much is presented that way.
There’s a leadership style known as ‘Pacesetting’ that invigorates some and frustrates others. Pacesetters are notorious for setting very high performance standards and modeling them for others. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – except that pacesetters tend to be obsessively high on expectations and perilously low on empathy. Without empathy, this kind of leadership may not even register – much less respond to – the stress that others experience along the way.
Action: So, how do you put these ideas about pace to work? (more…)
PAUSE – 13.16 – Where Might Imperfect Be More Than Enough?
April 24, 2013
Reflection: One of life’s great stressors is the drive to make things perfect. Sure, there are circumstances where perfection matters. Defusing a bomb and fixing an aneurysm come to mind.
Now, I don’t know about your world, but those tasks have never been part of my everyday life. As I heard someone observe recently, not everything we do is ‘rocket surgery’!
What I do see is a lot of time and effort invested in perfecting that last 10 or 20% whether it’s writing the perfect report or maintaining an immaculate home.
There is a time to improve our skills and advance our performance by applying a critical eye to the task at hand. But it will be a joyless painful journey if we are perpetually bent on perfection – ever at the mercy of a critical mind.
Poking holes in progress is a hurtful inclination if we don’t stop to embrace and appreciate where we have come from and what we have accomplished – however imperfect it may be.
Early in my attempts to paint with watercolors, I made a lot of mud – mud being the painterly term for ‘greyed out colors lacking contrast and shape’.
What I’ve come to understand is that many who do not paint themselves consider even minor mud a masterpiece. We stand in in awe of what others attempt, simply because we can’t imagine ourselves having the courage or skill to give it a try.
Don’t be too quick to discard, reject, or condemn the results of your own efforts. There is often a place for less than perfect outcomes. In fact, a certain quirkiness may bring value of its own.
Japanese potters practice the art of Kintsugi – mending broken objects by filling the cracks with resin sprinkled with powdered gold. They believe that objects with their own imperfections and history become more beautiful – not less.
Action: So, here’s a question to pause and ponder today. Where, in your life, might imperfect be more than enough?
Reflection: Oprah came to town this week. And, although I’m neither a devotee nor an uber-fan, I bought a couple of tickets for the show. I thought it would make a great mother-daughter night out (and it did). And, as a speaker, I was curious to see how she presented herself and what messages she chose to share.
Oprah excelled at creating an intimate connection with a crowd of 13,000 people. And that’s no easy feat! Some of that success springs from sheer familiarity. It also comes from her openness in sharing who she is, the road she’s travelled and what she’s learned along the way. And much is due to her ability to simply be in the moment. Who else would have the moxie or confidence to admit to that many people in that kind of setting that she’d chosen the wrong bra for her outfit of the evening?
Candor aside, one of Oprah’s strongest messages centered around the need for each of us to tune in our purpose in life. She noted that the threads of purpose show themselves early, and surface often. Even as a preschooler, she had plenty to say and the confidence to stand and deliver. Her grandmother observed, “That girl’s got a way with words!” That was her first thread. Others followed.
She got me thinking about the threads of my own life. I, too, was enthralled by words – an early reader who couldn’t get enough of books. I soon wrote my own poems and stories – the pre-courser to books that came later. I loved a platform and a stage – from oratory contests to chairing councils, clubs, and events. And, I lived to create things – hammering together ‘furniture’ from orange crates and peach boxes (yes, they were wooden back then), paint-by-number artwork, gardening, sewing, and on it went.
Looking back, it’s easy to see the parallel threads of communication and creativity. They were there, had I been paying closer attention along the way. At the time, the path forward never really seemed that clear.
Action: Daniel Pink describes three intrinsic motivators as central to our lives: a sense of purpose, the opportunity for mastery and, a degree of autonomy. Following the lead of the threads of our lives taps into all three.
Here’s an invitation for you to do a little weaving of your own. (more…)