Category Archives: Persistence

Are you happy when you’re right or when you’re wrong?

Carol Dweck says we have two mindsets: fixed and growth. In the fixed mindset we’re happy when we’re right, when we know something. In the growth mindset we’re happy when we’re learning. In order to learn we have to not know. In order to learn that we do not know, we have to be wrong. Fixed mindset people are less happy and successful than people with the growth mindset. Do you want to be happy and successful or would you prefer not to be? It starts with the answer to this question: are you happy when you’re right or when you’re wrong?

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What’s even better than direct experience?

Direct experience is how we learn. If we don’t do it, we don’t learn it. Even better? Repeated direct experience, including pauses. When we pause, we learn from our direct experience how to do what we do better by seeing our failures clearly (with kindness). Then we try it again and again and again. Play and persistence together help each other out to help us grow.

Also posted in Play | Comments closed

What percent of Florida panthers are black?

Q: What percent of Florida panthers are black? A) 22% B) 100% C) 12% D) 0% Correct Answer: D) 0% In your mind’s eye, when you think of a panther, what color is it? Probably black. Our minds are good at things like that. Minds like to fill in the blanks, to simplify the world, to organize it into right and wrong, good and bad, friend and foe. It’s easier and has historically been safer not to concern yourself with nuances when a saber-tooth tiger is charging at you. The mind says, “that’s foe.” The problem? When the mind fills in the blanks for things that aren’t immediately life-threatening. And that’s pretty much most of our experience. We live in a complex self-induced web of duality. As Antonio Machado said, “In my solitude I have very clearly seen things that were not true.” Growth mindset says we’re not at our best when we’re right – we’re at our best when we’re learning. There’s the story we tell ourselves and the real story. Get curious about learning the real story.

Also posted in Brain Science, EI | Comments closed

A tracking form helps you persist

The research says that journaling and tracking your progress greatly increases your chance at persisting at something that’s important to you. In my experience I have found this to be true. I’ve been using a tracking form daily to help me persist since October 20, 2010. I just wrote on mine this morning. Here’s how I use the tracking form. Take the concept and make it your own. The date I put on top is the start date. After the date in smaller type I include inspiration to encourage me and focus me. I don’t often change the inspiration part. I also don’t often notice it. But it doesn’t hurt to have. Each form lasts for two weeks. The first week is on the left side of the day column. The second week is on the right. I include current items in the following ‘buckets’ of my life that are important to me: work, music, exercise, nature, health, each of the 4 Ps of At Your Best (passion/play/purpose/persistence), and inner work. I focus on what’s most important to me that could otherwise be buried in the tugs of a myriad of small urgencies that life and work blithely hand out. My work examples: revamp website, blog writing, newsletter writing, current client work that demands greater focus My exercise examples: flexibility, aerobic, strength My health examples: icing painful areas, posture, physical therapy exercises, tendonitis stretches, sleep log (when I fell asleep and woke up), what hindered or help sleep, whether I took a siesta My inner work examples: meditation, mindfulness, and whatever old fear I’m working on to loosen its grip on me. I place the greatest importance on some aspect of the ‘big stuff’ I’m here on earth to do. That big stuff, if not tended, can lay forgotten. The things that I actually end up tracking invariably are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic. Mine is double-sided. Most people would be well served to make their forms single sided. I print it out on yellow card stock and put it on my clipboard. I mark it by hand, ideally by the end of the day. I find it helpful to also look at it at the beginning of the day, but don’t always get to that. I’m at my best with this form when I feel the pride of filling something in, with no berating for all the things I didn’t get to. Everything counts, even five minutes. A tracking form is not for everyone, but it might be for you. Give it a try and let me know what you come up with. Click here to download this tracking form

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Go outside and play? “It’s too real!”

“Go outside and play,” Mom told us all summer long when we were young. Mom meant it literally, and Mom is always right of course. It’s also great advice metaphorically. But get outside what exactly? We have a comfort zone where life is easy and enjoyable. And we have a panic zone where life is too hard, too scary, too overwhelming, too…much. There’s a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where he complains about being outside his TV-watching comfort zone, explaining, “It’s too real.” We call this ‘too real’ zone the challenge zone. The challenge zone is built between the comfort and panic zones. It’s where we learn. It’s where we grow. Too much reality and we’re panicked. Too little and we’re stuck trying to stay comfortable, what Walt Whitman railed against as “indoor complaints”. The literal outside is not always comfortable. It’s often too hot, too bright, too humid, too buggy, just as Calvin so astutely noted. And the metaphorical outside is the same – it’s really real outside the comfort zone. Yet if comfort is our highest priority, we can give up the hope of learning and growing. Every team development session we lead has lots of new concepts, research and ideas to help teams and individuals grow into the challenge zone. And I pair every training with team building activities to try those concepts out, an immediate leap into the challenge zone. That’s where the growth happens. High hopes accompany new ideas. That’s great! And then there’s the reality when trying to put them into play. It’s not easy to see enthusiasm get a dose of direct experience. But that’s the beginning of learning, of “going where I have to go” as the poet Theodore Roethe said. Happy summer! Now get outside and play.

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Discomfort is how you learn

“Have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host and then a master?” – Kahlil Gibran We have low tolerance for discomfort. Really low. As in, a few seconds in and we’re looking for the exit. Emotional discomfort, physical discomfort, the mind doesn’t seem to differentiate. But discomfort is how we learn. We enter a situation that we haven’t mastered yet and practice it. We expose our blind spots, our lacks. We see clearly the distance between where we are and we wish we were. So it’s helpful to work with discomfort. One way is using physically uncomfortable moments. We can start with the obvious (physical discomfort)and move to the subtle (emotional discomfort), we start with the easy (physical discomfort) and move to the hard (emotional discomfort). We can train our minds to rest in the discomfort. Mindfulness meditation and Buddhist practices help us with increasingly being comfortable with our discomfort. We can practice when we exercise. We can let the feeling of discomfort in a little bit, then a little bit more, aiming towards welcoming it fully into the guest house. And we can simply just keep going. Not grimly, but with a sense of humor at our infinite capacity for trying to duck out of discomfort. And not stopping. “If you’re never able to tolerate a little bit of pain and discomfort, you’ll never get better.” – Angela Duckworth (PS: If you’re wondering, this thought came to me on the treadmill.) A note: physical discomfort is different than strong physical pain. Especially sharp, stabbing pain. Stop what you’re doing as soon as you feel that.

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Sudden, Explosive Growth

Every day we can easily see the difference. It’s that obvious. The first day of May, then a day, a week later. Look around at any plant or any tree and we see big changes have happened. Plants poke out of the ground where bare earth was. Flowers open. Trees unfold citrine leaves. This looks like sudden, explosive growth. It looks miraculous – and it is! Everything grows more in the spring and summer, not just plants. Research shows that kids grow more quickly as well. Think also of the ‘spring’ of a human life. In their first year children triple their body weight and sprout up 10 inches. The words “sudden, explosive growth” resound in the dreams of company leaders, Wall Street analysts, entrepreneurs, and anyone with high career trajectory hopes. We may all harbor the secret dream this month promises. Perhaps anything is possible. But do we really want the dream to become real? Imagine humans continuing to triple their body weight or grow 10 inches each year they’re alive – not a pretty sight. And we have a word for continuously explosive growth and production. When our cells do it we call it cancer. Now let’s look below the surface. Do we also want the long winter of perceived dormancy? The autumn of perceived decline and death? It’s the courageous few that say yes to apparent stagnation of the work, to what look like dead ends, to lack of enthusiasm, progress or motion. Yet that’s what’s required for the growth of our dreams. Persistent commitment to the work we were born to do. Long periods of nothing visible, and then the excitement of unexpected growth. And that growth slowing again… and the wheel turns again. As coaches, veteran players and analysts often advise during seven-game NBA playoff series, it’s our task to not get too high from success, and not get too down from failure. Just calmly persist, and persist again. Stay in the game and keep showing up to the change we want to make. And how about when we are rewarded with beautiful (and fleeting) growth? Open up our hearts and eyes to be flooded with appreciation, just like every plant this month invites us to.

Also posted in Nature | Comments closed

Do you suffer from progression obsession?

“Life, to be worthy of a rational being, must be always in progression; we must always purpose to do more or better than in time past.” – Samuel Johnson   I used to live by this quote. Throughout High School and into college it was always somewhere inside influencing decisions. It didn’t end well. There’s nothing wrong with progression. The promise of progression helps us through many hard times. And when we progress, we get a jolt of positive energy that helps us persist. That’s why I counsel teams to break big projects into small gulps and to start with the easiest part. But how much allowance is made for the shadow of progression? The opposite of ‘more and better’ – less and worse? These are scary words for companies, teams, stock markets. But not for the seasons. Not for night where there’s less daylight and worse ability to see things. In fact animals prefer the night – 90% of animal activity happens at night. The tides are also fine with less, so are moon phases. And ‘less and worse’ is not scary for people relaxed enough to see the big picture, the larger purpose. We will get sick, we will age (if we’re lucky), we will die. Others will be born after us and they will live this cycle again. More of our projects won’t be completed than will be. The moon wobbles. We will only progress – today and always – to the extent that we become friendly with failure.   “Winning does not tempt that man. This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively, by constantly greater beings.” -Rainer Maria Rilke   Learn more: Emotional Intelligence Works - EQ is twice as important in contributing to excellence as IQ and expertise combined. Learn how to effectively manage your emotions and those around you for sustained success.

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All inhale, no exhale

The GNP must go up. Our output always has to go up. We must relentlessly improve. We must get more done in a day. We have to do more with less. We should only progress, moving forward, upwards. We should only breathe in, never exhale. Oh wait, that last one doesn’t work. No exhale, no way to get the oxygen to the rest of the body. We’ll die. The waves at the beach should only come in, never out. Uh oh, that doesn’t work either. It should always be sunny and during the day, no night. Hmm… It should always be summer, that’s nicest. Well maybe! We must not age. Okay, modern culture I hear you saying that, but aging beats the alternative. If you’re tired of the ‘straight line up’ treadmill, try a story that’s bigger than that, one that’s been around longer instead – ebb, flow, patience, joy, woe, delight, sorrow. Better, worse, richer, poorer, sickness, health (sound familiar?). Exhale and start really living.

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No more guys

While working with the Kaiser Permanente National Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Team, one of the team members told the team that she is committing to no longer using the word ‘guys’ to describe a group of people that is comprised of women and men. A diversity team, perhaps more than any other team, needs to be the change they want to see in the world. That hit me. I use ‘guys’ while working with teams all the time and have for 20 years. And over the last year, it’s felt more uncomfortable – especially if I’m addressing a group of women with no ‘guys’ in sight. So that moment I committed as well. I want my impact to be positive. And while I harbor no conscious ill intent using that word, it’s impact that matters to others, not intent. This is how change happens: Lack of awareness Awareness that is built up in the background over time Contemplation but not action Epiphany (often accompanied by excitement and/or remorse) Decision to change Make the change public. She did to her team. And I’m doing it with you, my team. Conscious, persistent action Change sticks sometimes, sometimes it doesn’t. Play the change – try, fail, learn, try again. Stay in the game no matter what Change is internalized. It’s now unconscious level and happens naturally without any additional effort. So what’s the new word? I’m going with team or everyone for now. I’ll keep playing with it. Like all change, it’s awkward at first, and takes more energy. The longer a day with a team is, the more likely I’ll be to unconsciously say ‘guys’. And it’s no big deal if I do. But I will persist, and over time the conscious change will be engrained unconsciously. Where are you in the change cycle with what you’re trying to change?

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