Get Lost To Find Focus

Growing up I was used to getting lost with my mother as she had a challenging time with directions. Often when we ventured off of a routine route, we ended up lost for some time. She was used to operating like this and would find a way to make the being lost part interesting. We would find all kinds of new adventures from roadside antique shops to a new pond to search for tadpoles. I thought it was fun until I realized that I also have a challenging sense of direction.  

Being “directionally challenged” has been part of my life since orienting on my own. I have developed some coping skills over the years, but recently I have been noticing some advantages of being lost. Once I began driving to unfamiliar places, I adopted some practices that would help me get from A to B. I studied my routes and became very good at reading maps. I learned to look for familiar landmarks and to ask for directions early and often. Of all of the practices I used to stay on track, the one that has served me most (besides the invention of GPS) is to adopt being lost as a mindset. Understanding that being lost is not inherently a bad or scary place. That you can find interesting new things and people and that your ability to focus increases. So I too adopted a good attitude about being lost.  

Being lost without being scared or late is actually a wonderful state in which to find yourself.  You become very present with your surroundings as you are attempting to find your way to something familiar. You can let go of needing to be somewhere and just wander where you are.  

It occurred to me that I could try on being lost as a mindset and cultivate a kind of flow state. Just as you can be lost in the music you are playing, the sport you are practicing or in love, you can practice being lost as a mindset.  

Here are my simple tips to practice being lost:

  1. Get outside, perhaps to a place where you have never been or one that you haven’t visited in a while. You can also take a route you always take but in the opposite direction. 
  2. Take some deep breaths. This will connect you with your body and bring your autonomic nervous system into alignment.
  3. Begin to notice yourself and your environment with a mindful walk. How does your body feel?  Is there any pain or discomfort? What is going on in your surrounding environment?

Being mindfully lost can create deep focus. You may return to your work with more clarity and energy than you had before hanging out lost.

Finally, remember that being lost is an opportunity to surprise ourselves. Focus on your strengths, the things you do well and the things you have yet to realize. You may find a way forward that hadn’t occurred to you before….follow that one!

What people are looking for in a post-pandemic work environment and company culture?

With the great resignation in full swing and many companies opening offices for in-person work, employees are reevaluating what work means to them. The pandemic has created a giant disruption in everyday life and work on a global level. It has changed so many cultural and work-life rules that savvy executives are crafting their own way forward. This is a challenging time for businesses looking to retain and attract talent. In my experience coaching executives throughout the pandemic and helping people pivot during the great resignation, I have learned a few valuable insights that I would like to share with you.

Once compensation needs are met, people are motivated to stay in a role when they feel a sense of belonging, shared values and a pathway for growth.

As a huge fan of the mid-2000’s drama series Mad Men, I often quote my favorite character Don Draper.  Draper was an advertising executive who often used ideas from his direct reports without giving them credit. In one episode, Draper wins a prestigious award for a print ad campaign that featured copy written by his junior colleague Peggy.  Peggy is astonished that Draper gives no mention of her work at the award ceremony and storms into his office, upset by the lack of recognition. Draper utters these words, “that’s what the money’s for.” In essence, he is saying shut up and do your job! I believe that these days are hopefully behind us and that as managers we have a responsibility to honor and give credit to rising stars. Companies can help by encouraging managers to practice empathy and active listening skills to move beyond the suggestion boxes and endless surveys from the past. Appreciating the good work of junior colleagues is a valuable tool to enroll employees in the company culture, enticing them to stay and grow with the company.

Cultivate a Sense of Belonging:

Two ways to encourage a sense of belonging are to create shared values and pathways for growth. Most companies share their values publicly and with employees and savvy job seekers know to look for values in a company that they also share. The best way to make values connect with employees is for a company to live their values.  Showcase actions that are values-based and encourage employees to participate in values centered activities. 

Creating pathways for growth is another way to help employees feel that they belong in your organization. Get curious about where your direct reports aim to go with their career, where is their north star? This is an important and often overlooked factor for emerging leaders looking to stay in a role or search for a greener pasture. Take some one on one time to help your direct reports map their career journey. Then make sure that the actions they are taking now will support them to get where they wish to go!

Is In Person Work Out of Your Comfort Zone?

6 tips for going back to the office without stress

I have been living by the Atlantic Ocean for nearly 6 months outside of Lisbon, Portugal. When we moved here, a new friend challenged me to swim with her in the ocean three times per week…without a wetsuit! The average water temperature this time of year is 57 degrees which shocks your body when you first get in but after a few minutes you can enjoy a short swim. Cold water ocean swimming was just outside of my comfort zone when I started and now a few months into it I am very confident in the water.  I have been speaking with a number of clients recently about how going back to an office is taking them out of their comfort zone. It seems strange, but now that many of us are accustomed to working from home and have an office space/schedule set up around working in our exercise clothes, going into an office can be as challenging as swimming in cold ocean water.

Before the pandemic, in 2019, about 4 percent of employed people in the U.S. worked exclusively from home; by May 2020, that figure rose to 43 percent, according to Gallup. Among white-collar workers, the shift is stark: Before Covid just 6 percent worked exclusively from home, which by May 2020 rose to 65 percent.

NY Times


Getting fully dressed, commuting, seeing more than a few people at a time, and not having as much flexibility all adds up to getting out of your comfort zone. Taking on all of these “new” activities at once could make you feel like a kid going back to school after a long summer break, it can be overwhelming after many months at home. 

I would like to help ease the anxiety you feel going back into an office with a few quick tips:

  1. Understand that feeling anxiety is normal – our brains have become habituated to working from home and whether you prefer at home work or not, going back to the office is a new experience. Embrace that it is normal to experience some anxiety around your new work environment.
  2. Plan for it – where possible ease back into your in person schedule. Try going into the office a few days per week for the first month. Travel during non-commute hours if possible. Understand that you will feel tired at the end of your day and plan down time. Take frequent breaks throughout the day to get outside and experience nature.
  3. Pay attention – how do you feel about going back into an office?  How is your energy level throughout the day?  Does being in an office setting impact your productivity or satisfaction with your job?  Take time each day to check in with yourself and keep a journal to understand more about what is going on inside of you.
  4. Make adjustments that work for you and your family – get clear on what works for you and your family when going back to the office. Do you need more childcare or help with meal preparation? Are you planning time to connect with your family during daily transitions?
  5. Focus on what matters most and ask for what you need – if you found that at home work increased your productivity, then ask to stay home a few days a week to get your work done. Maybe you can have days in the office to work collaboratively and days at home to focus. If you want to pick your kids up from school or attend important events, then ask for flexibility to attend these special events. 
  6. Practice Self Care – take time each day to breathe deeply, get outside and transition from work to home life. Continue the self care practices you started at home including meditation, exercise, journaling and eating healthy foods. If you are going back into an office setting, focus on getting comfortable there before adding anything else to your life. Give yourself some grace and downtime and enjoy your transition back to work!

Enjoy a more successful retreat by planning for change before you go!

If you are planning a retreat this year or even a mini-vacation, it is wise to plan ahead for a potential shift in your mindset.  Most of us have been stuck in the same routine and environment for so long that even a slight change in our surroundings can create a powerful internal shift.  Now consider traveling overseas or attending a week-long retreat and you may blow your circuitry wide open…and that’s a good thing!

WHY DO WE RETREAT?  

We go on retreats to get away from it all and collect our energy again. All of the energy that is otherwise spread out in multiple directions gets refocused for inner growth. All the noise, stress, responsibilities and distractions of everyday life melt away and we are able to get back in touch with who we are and what is important to us. 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE RETURN HOME?

We leave our retreat with clarity, an open heart and mind, and renewed energy.  We return home rested and reinvigorated. We can’t help but want to bring these qualities home with us and perhaps share our experience with those we love. Unfortunately, for most of us, the daily environment we left behind is right there waiting for us. Our old habits and well-worn routines swallow up our best intentions to bring our retreat experience home.  

7 TIPS FOR A MORE SUCCESSFUL POST-RETREAT EXPERIENCE

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Meaning Over Money

Thinking about quitting your job?

Coaching can help you find the clarity you need to make a good decision

There has been a lot of press lately about the Great Resignation that is unfolding as the pandemic establishes remote work as a long-term reality. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. Personally, I have mixed feelings about the benefits of remote vs. in-person work environments, however I do know that we need to continue to focus on creating a sense of belonging and shared meaning at work.

According to recent studies done by McKinsey & Co, “Among nearly 6,000 employee respondents, 40% of respondents said they are at least somewhat likely to quit their jobs in the next three to six months. The top three reasons for quitting a job were not feeling valued by their organizations (54%), not feeling valued by their managers (52%), and not feeling a sense of belonging at work (51%).” 


I have been witnessing this sentiment in my work with mid-level managers through the BetterUp coaching platform. Once compensation needs are met, people are motivated to stay in a role when they feel a sense of belonging, shared values and a pathway for growth.  If these factors are missing in your current role, it may be time to look elsewhere. However, before jumping ship, it is smart to understand more about who you are and what makes you tick. Take the time to explore from within and find the clarity you need before jumping onto the Great Resignation train.

  1. Ask yourself if you may be able to expand your scope of work to be more in alignment with your goals.
  2. Can you make a bigger effort to invest in what is working instead of what is not working?
  3. Is there a bridge you can establish between your current role and where you wish to go? 

These are some of the areas of focus I explore with clients making career decisions. If you are wondering if coaching could help you, I am happy to have a conversation. Please click to learn more.

Bringing Moments of Joy into the Virtual World

Many of our opportunities for moments of joy at work have disappeared while working from home.  The spontaneity that we took for granted talking about a fun weekend around the water cooler or seeking advice from a colleague in the next cube is gone. We are working together, but not quite connected. How can we start to bring a little more joy to our work and gain connectedness in an inherently disconnected world?

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Having trouble Focusing?

Focus Sessions can help you get back on track


A few months ago I received a call from a former client out of the blue asking what I knew about adult onset ADD.  She wondered if there was such a diagnosis as she was certain she had it.  She described her symptoms as mildly anxious and irritable but moreover she was experiencing a total lack of focus for more than a few minutes at a time. I have been hearing a similar sentiment from clients, peers and friends over the past few months. 


As life in parts of the world is getting back to “normal” many of us seem to have lost our ability to focus.  I had to admit that day (and many days lately) despite the fact that I was alone in my home office, had already gone for a run and had my favorite coffee, I too was having trouble focusing. Then I saw an email from my friend Megan Flatt at the Let’s Collective about a new offering called Focus Sessions. I signed up for the free trial week immediately and blocked out Monday morning on my calendar. 

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Job Craft your way to a new role!

“Are you a rule follower,” I was asked by an elder friend one day while riding bikes in Newport Beach.  “Sometimes,” I answered, “depending on the rule.”  My friend, who was turning 80 the following month, said she was a life-long rule follower and she was going to start breaking them! She promptly swerved her bike to the left side of the street and continued to ride. It was a simple act, but I remember the joy it brought to her face when she realized that no one was watching her; that no one was stopping her from riding on the wrong side of the street. She was gleefully free!  

I’m not advocating that we all go out and break laws and rules of safe travel but I am asking you to think about the normative behaviors and unwritten rules that you follow without considering the alternatives and potential opportunities. The pandemic has created a giant disruption in everyday life and work on a global level. It has changed so many cultural and work-life rules that we are all left creating our way forward and will be for a long time to come. 

I see this as a time to craft a new way of working, relating to each other and to ourselves.  

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Tetris anyone?

I feel as if these last 5 months I have been playing a big game of tetris trying to keep up with a constantly changing landscape due to the pandemic.  With the recent news about some schools beginning the year online, I am jostling my pieces around yet again.  On a hike with a friend yesterday she noted that we are not just dealing with the familiar tetris game shapes, but now are being thrown triangles, circles and the occasional rhombus.  How do we keep arranging our various tetrominos (yes I looked that word up) before we reach overwhelm and it’s game over?   
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