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!

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.

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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Sitting in Limbo 6 tips to get more out of your liminal experience!

liminality (from the Latin word l?men, meaning “a threshold”) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of a rite of passage, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete. (Wikipedia)

How many of you have experienced the disorientation of this liminal space over the past 10 weeks of Sheltering in Place (10 weeks..WHOA!)?  We are all stuck in a seemingly endless new normal of social distancing and working from home without clear guidelines for landing in the next phase.  As a result, many of us are feeling a little edgy with the uncertainty and extreme challenges this global pandemic presents. Liminal spaces are a normal part of life as we prepare for changes like going to college, having a baby, moving and job shifts. When these life stages have clear boundaries, it is easier to be in the liminal space.

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Using Prosocial Emotions to Lift Us Up!

We are learning, stretching, growing even if it feels that we are isolating and folding in on ourselves. The global pandemic is creating a new normal in the world that includes social distancing and voluntary isolation. Many of us feel some anxiety and potentially the beginnings of depression as we are uncertain about our future and cut off from our fellow humans. 

To combat these feelings, we can cultivate positive and prosocial emotions. Prosocial emotions provide a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves and offer us a way to connect and lift each other up.  These emotions include curiosity, surprise, amusement, gratitude, kindness and awe. Interestingly, these emotional states also spark creativity and lift us out of boredom which may be feeding the depression settling in.  Try some of these action items to boost your mood and lift others up!

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Tips for transitioning to WFH

Proven techniques for working from home

I would love to share some techniques I have been using to coach clients for a successful transition from the office to working at home. I spent the better part of last week helping people who are used to lots of social activity move to social isolation and social distancing and for many of them, it was harder than expected. Let’s all remember to keep our distance so that we remain healthy and safe.

It’s getting more challenging to maintain focus and keep anxiety to a minimum as Covid-19 comes closer to our homes. I compiled 10 tips to ease your transitions and help you all thrive in the new normal at home.

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Everyday Awe

In the wake of some recent tragic deaths I have been doing some soul searching about my place here on this beautiful planet we inhabit. I am also about to turn 50 and realize that I have been blessed to live an abundant life thus far and plan on experiencing and participating in so much more! I am struck by how, during these times of contemplation, we can feel small and understand how precious life really is. I learned recently that this feeling is actually associated with the emotion of Awe and that experiencing Awe can make us feel more connected to one another and the natural world.

Awe experiences are self-transcendent. They shift our attention away from ourselves, make us feel like we are part of something greater than ourselves, and make us more generous toward others.

Dacher Keltner

What exactly is Awe?  It is a complex emotion that gives you a feeling of vastness and connection at the same time.

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