Category Archives: Purpose

What are your New Year’s Curiosities??

We’ve been making New Year’s resolutions all our lives. They usually don’t work out too well. 60% of those resolutions are toast by July. And they never end the way we wish they would. These intentions always end up differently. It’s hard to gather enthusiasm, isn’t it? Let’s try New Year’s curiosities instead. Curiosity recognizes that when we step forward, we step into the unknown. We don’t know the ending yet, we haven’t lived it. And curiosity keeps us in our frontal cortex, the smartest, wisest part of the brain. Here are some curiosities: What important projects will we finish this year? What projects won’t we finish? What will we begin? How much kindness will we give – to ourselves and anyone we meet along the way? How brave will we be with the hard, emotional work – the real work? How well and long will we sleep? What and who will inspire us? What and who will no longer inspire us? What change will we make in the world? How will we make things better? What is the path ahead like – 365 days of unknown – and where will we travel on it? What’s our quest this year?   What are your 2018 New Year’s curiosities?   Learn more:  40 Days to Change For Good - Don’t just manage change, lead it. Create a successful forty-day blueprint to lead a change that lasts.

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Recalling Joy: An Appreciation

“Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all. We have heard, perhaps, too much of lesser matters. Here is the door. Here is the open air.” -Robert Louis Stevenson Research shows us that the most effective way to positively influence scary, upsetting life moments is to tap into a feeling of appreciation for something in your life that brings you a deep sense of joy. Pause, allow your mind to rest a moment and follow your breath. Think of one thing that brings you a full sense of joy. It may be a child, a life partner, the bud on a tree, a warm cup of tea, a good friend, something you’ve done for yourself, a pet, a special place. Call to mind as many of the details of this as possible. Make the image as real as possible in your mind. Allow the most joy you’ll allow yourself to feel about this to flood through you. Make this process a daily practice for awhile to train your brain. It helps to do this in calm moments. The next time your emotional mind gets triggered into fear or anger, recall the sense of appreciation you have cultivated. Allow both the unpleasant feeling and the sense of appreciation to be true, to sit side by side inside you. This recalling of a joy will help keep you in control of a situation and will help you positively influence the outcome. It may help you to carry some small physical reminder of what brings you so much joy. In that way, you can physically touch it or look at it when you feel your pulse racing. The more times you allow this recalled joy into low and high-stakes situations, the more quickly and easily you’ll be able to allow it in the next time you really need it.

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The best present

I want to buy a really nice present for you. I’m going to choose something for you from this list: NBA League Pass, a new chromatic harmonica, a nylon-string guitar, the Behave book by Robert Sapolsky, a lift ticket, hiking shoes, a maul. What’s wrong with this list? Those are things I like. Not you. That’s what giving presents is like without empathy. It’s Homer Simpson giving Marge a new bowling ball that says ‘Homer’ on it for her birthday. But we don’t do that do we? We do our best to notice what the people we care about like and are interested. We delight in noticing them. And we love their delight at being seen. Today you are living a story that you will remember. You can connect this story of your generosity today to someone else in your life not with you today. It might be someone at work. It might be someone who serves you coffee. Who do you want your Christmas story to help you bring empathy to? Merry Christmas!

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The Gift of Work

What would our work-life be like if we looked at what we do, what we create each day at work as a gift? What does it mean to be “gifted” at what we do? Lewis Hyde, in his marvelous and far-reaching book The Gift, describes the four stages of giving work that is inspired: The experience, or inspiration, imagination or vision to create a work The ability to do the labor The finished work offered to the world The way others respond to the gift – inspired to give their gifts In our workshops, we encourage teams to uncover their unique gifts and to see how those gifts interact to create a gift for their customer. And we encourage teams to make their customer as real as possible, whether it means bringing a customer into an IT meeting, or going into a store where a product is sold, or any of a myriad of creative ways to make the customer experience more tangible. By asking, “who am I helping?” during the workday, it helps focus your energies into what’s most important, out of a workload that no one could realistically complete well. Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: At Your Best – Explore how to give your best and play to your strengths for sustained individual success. Resiliency: Five Keys to Success – Leverage the five principles of resiliency – engagement, efficiency, endurance, flexibility, and loving the game – for peak work performance and enjoyment.

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Quix Tip: The Origins of a Gift

“The most perfectly balanced gyroscope slowly winds down. But when the gift passes out of sight and then returns, we are enlivened.” – Lewis Hyde Think of a person or something that has influenced you positively, whether a teacher, book, co-worker, song, family member, movie or friend and trace back their gift. Who or what influenced them? No gift lives in a vacuum. For a musical example, let’s look at jazz-guitarist George Benson, someone who has been extremely musically influential. His soloing style is influenced by jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. When Wes Montgomery was starting out, he was hired because he could play the solos of jazz guitar pioneer Charlie Christian note-for-note. And so it goes.

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Quix Tip: Surrounded by Gifts

What gifts can you surround yourself with to give you the energy you need to create, do good work, and best give your gift? It may be a piece of art, music, the picture of someone who inspires you, a flower, a note, a conversation. Whatever small gifts you can surround yourself with will support you on your quest.

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Quix Tip: Giving to Yourself

What small graces can you allow yourself today? Each small gift you give yourself has the seed to be a larger gift to those around you. When Walt Whitman spoke of being alone out on the road, he remembered all those he knew and said, “I am filled with them and will fill them in return.” Research shows that only two in ten people spend most of a typical day playing to their strengths. Yet Marcus Buckingham points out that research also shows that those lucky people “are significantly more productive, more customer focused, and more likely to stick around than the rest of us.” When you live a strong life, doing what you uniquely enjoy, you experience contentment. And that contentment is a gift to all those around you. This is one reason why people have pets – a cat purring contentment when curled up on a couch is a soothing gift. And when you live your unique life, following the path that was meant only for you, you inspire those near you to do the same, to examine and explore their gifts. Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: StrengthsFinder – Gallup’s online assessment of unique top five strengths. Learn your team’s strengths and learn how to put them into action. Strengths At Work – Gallup research says less than 20 percent of us have the opportunity to do what we do best everyday. Learn how to put your strengths in play for consistent, near-perfect performance. At Your Best – Explore how to give your best and play to your strengths for sustained individual success.

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Adjusting the Focus on Your Lens

Imagine the focus of your attention throughout any given day as a lens. It’s usually adjusted at a very limited view – immediate concerns, people around you, co-workers, projects, everyday interactions. We find it difficult to get deeper in ourselves and also to see with a wider lens the people we don’t know in our community, and further out – to other countries. Your giving will be most effective when you give in a way that most uniquely reflects you. What are you interested in? Where do you feel is the most need? There are no rules, there is no guidebook – you have to find your own way in all areas of your life, including giving. When you read the stories of famous people who gave so much, from Ghandi to Mother Theresa to Nelson Mandela, they all found the way to give that suited them. Whether you are drawn to philanthropy or volunteering or the myriad small daily acts through which you can give, or a combination, consider your unique style – what strengthens you when you contemplate giving, what gets you exhausted just thinking about it when giving? Now you know where to focus your energy. Let’s look at two potential avenues for that giving energy: volunteering and philanthropy. Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s charity-based team building activities: Charity Bike Build – As featured on NPR! Teams build bicycles for underserved children in their area. Charity Wheelchair Build – Charity Wheelchair Build gets your team building wheelchairs to help disabled people stay independent in this charity team building activity.

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Charity Begins at Home

Let’s look at the phrase “charity begins at home” in two ways. First, giving to others begins with giving to yourself. You can’t fill anyone’s cup from an empty bottle. Just like the emergency instructions on an airplane, you have to put on your own mask and get oxygen first before assisting others. Some of us are uncomfortable with this concept, worried about appearing selfish. Perhaps a better word to use in this case is ‘self-filled.’ You fill yourself in order to give to others. And that means finding out what you love, what strengthens you, what you do best and putting it into play in your life. This advice is especially helpful for people on the edge of burn-out working in non-profits, where giving is the norm, and resources are perennially scarce. When you have enough you can most articulately, elegantly and effectively give to others.

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The Daily Difference

Each moment of each day affords us an opportunity to give – the question is how to take them. Each interaction we have with friends, colleagues, family members, and strangers has the potential for giving. In this case, it’s helpful to get away from the idea of a literal physical gift. Each positive interaction we have, each shared smile or courtesy enriches everyone involved. Loretta Girzartis said, “If someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand a lonely person, extraordinary things begin to happen.” And these extraordinary things all come from otherwise ordinary moments on an ordinary day.

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