Category Archives: Resiliency

Steph Curry tries something new for the offseason

“Basketball you are consumed by for nine full months every single day. In the playoffs, every game feels like two regular season games in one. You need to just be able to turn it off.” – Stephen Curry Golden State Warrior point guard Stephen Curry’s workouts are legendary. No matter what city he’s playing in, the stands fill up well before the game to watching him go through his insane pre-game routine. He worked himself out of “pretty good” into “unanimous MVP.” After winning his third championship in the past four years, he did something different the summer of 2018. He rested. He shut down his body to give it a break. No basketball, no lifting weights, nothing. Three weeks, nothing. Then he slowly returned to physical exertion with biking and yoga. The other side of the persistence coin is to persist with rest and recharging. You have no idea how stressed you are right now, how tired and worn down you are right now, how badly you could use some rest. And you won’t until you stop. If you’re playing the long game, recovery times are the shortest path to maximum passion, engagement, productivity These ‘persistence recharger’ rests ideally happen daily (breaks during the day), weekly (some time devoted to shutting down), quarterly (workday days off), AND annually (at least a week solid away from all of it). If Stephen Curry can pause for three weeks, so can you.

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The two illusions of being behind and catching up

Being behind feels bad. Catching up feels great! Both are powerful feelings, and I wouldn’t deny you either of them. But what are we actually behind? Who decides that? And have we really caught up? Every new moment brings new opportunities and new possible tasks. It may be more helpful to remember that these feelings are illusions. We are neither of them – neither ahead or behind. We’re just right here, right now.

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Where feet hit the ground

Our bodies are meant to move. But we don’t just get physical rewards. In the office, leaving the house, walking our errands, leaving the car alone and using our feet instead. Where our feet hit the ground? That’s where adventure and connection happens.

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Squirrels don’t do daylight savings time

I set the clocks forward. And I looked out the window at a squirrel chasing another squirrel in the snow. And the birds at the feeder. And the chipmunks that just came out of hibernation, also running over the snow. They are on the same clock they were yesterday, and the same clock that they will be on tomorrow and the next day, and the day after that. They don’t do clock time. They do energy time. And ‘earth around the sun’ time. So do we, really. Clock time allows us to be in agreement with each other about things that we deem important. But we are animals too. And our primary time is measured in energy, not with the clock. Live by your ‘energy time’. Do the most important things that you are most passionate about during the time of day where you have the most energy. And don’t make any important decisions or try to do anything important in your ebb tide of energy in your day. Long before we humans had clocks, we had energy. If you want to live your passion today follow your daylight energy time.

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Quix Tip: Stay in the Game

When you try something new and fail the first time you try it, what keeps you going? What will help you keep faithfully showing up? Here are eight ways to help you stay in the game: 1. Face the Dark Side – What’s the classic pessimist statement you hear in your head that tries to tie this failure to all other failures in your life, past and future? A hint: This voice uses the words ‘always’ and ‘never’ almost exclusively. 2. Remember Your Best – Remember a situation where you overcame failure and challenge successfully, when you were really proud of yourself, your conduct and the outcome. Remember how hard it was and how good it felt. That good feeling is available to you again in this moment. 3. Question the witness – Look at the pessimistic statement with a hard, rational eye. Is what it’s saying really true? Just because you made a wrong turn and you’re five minutes late for an important meeting, does that really mean you’re going to lose the client, your job and end up homeless and alone? Seeing how illogical and irrational that pessimistic voice is may help you realize that its guidance isn’t to be followed. 4. Select the Right Level of Challenge – If the level of challenge is too low, you’re bored. Too much, and you’re overwhelmed. Pick the right challenge for you, one that both tests and invigorates you. 5. Savor the Journey – Ease up on your attachment to what the end result is going to look like. Focus instead on the fresh, unknown moment as you try something new. This wild, unpredictable moment of beginning again has perhaps the strongest possibility for you to feel fully alive. 6. Ask for Help – Whatever we’ve been successful at hasn’t happened in a vacuum. We learn from and are helped by those nearest us, and those farther away. A girl gets back on her bike with her father’s encouragement. A boy tries again to nail a toy ship together, helped by remembering that his grandfather and great-grandfather were carpenters. A project is completed together by all the members on the team. Take heart, get advice, remember, keep the fire alive of the millions of innovators in the world that have come before you and that are still to come. 7. Remember the Big Picture – Be less attached to immediate results and more attached to the possibility of something new and wonderful and hard-earned adding its value to your life. 8. Laughter Helps – A sense of humor and humility goes a long way. As Joni Mitchell sings in the song Refuge of the Roads, “Heart and humor and humility will lighten up your heavy load.” Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: 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: What Keeps You Afloat?

Some days it feels like we’re adrift on a stormy sea of worry, fear, anxiety, and pressures, whether it’s about work, lack of work, relationships, lack of relationships, the future, the past, and on and on. What keeps you afloat? What displaces the tough parts of life and keeps you going, engaged, hopeful and able to give? Tell someone you care about of this “something” that resides in you that keeps you loving life and the world anyway, no matter what gets sent your way. Find out what keeps them afloat too, and you can encourage each other to spend more time afloat out on your boat. Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: 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: Breathe

Breathing is not only the most important part of yoga, it is the most important part of being alive.  Your body completes this simple, beautiful task every moment of your life without the mind having to keep track of it, or put it on the To Do list. Beyond feeding the body with oxygen, breathing can pull you out of fretting about the past or future and connect you to the present moment. There is no other place, no other time that the breath can happen than right here, right now. You may find it helpful to close your eyes. Notice how you’re naturally breathing. Follow your breath’s path. Is it labored, shallow, quick, full, excited? Take a full, slow inhale, filling and relaxing the belly. Don’t strain, just allow the filling of new life, new oxygen, new energy. Pause at the top of the cycle of breath when you are completely full. What does it feel like to be completely full, to be at the moment of completion? Release your breath fully and deeply in a long, slow, relaxed manner. Slowly, deeply, fully, let your breath release all tension, worry, fatigue in your body and mind. Pause at the bottom, the place of no breath, completely empty. What does it feel like to have released everything and be in a moment of empty stillness? It may help your noticing to make the sound of your breath audible. You can do this slow noticing anytime, anywhere for as long or as short a time as you’d like. Your breath is a simple gift that is always with you, a golden ticket that can be consciously used at any moment to bring you in good relation to the most wonderful place and time – right here, right now. Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s teams building and team development activities: Office Yoga – Learn simple techniques to stay productive at your desk or energize your off-site.

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Try Something New: The Optimism Test

What happens when you try something new that is in some way challenging? How do you react you when you don’t quite get a new skill right away, or master a task? What do you tell yourself? These are questions I ask during our music team building programs, whether it’s Play the Blues, Rock Band Inc. or Bang On My Drum All Day. All of these programs let people try out a new skill. And just like the first time someone tries to ride a bicycle, there are moments of failure before playing a song successfully. And the responses I hear and see from people holding harmonicas or drums for the first time are varied, even in a small group. In any given program, I’ll see enthusiasm, tension, playfulness, intense concentration, laughter, frustration, hesitation, excitement and defeat within a minute of starting. The two ends of the response scale, the enthralled excitement and the giving up, especially intrigue me – what makes some people give up on a new challenge and what makes others thrive and take that challenge on, whether they are actually seeing progress yet or not? It’s especially interesting because something like a harmonica or a drum has a relatively low threshold level of expertise, unlike complex tasks such as learning a new computer program, learning to play the oboe, or even driving a car. A Moment of Truth I like to think of the moment of truth for people in these workshops (and in the myriad moments when we’re confronted with new challenges in an ever-changing world) as an optimism test. If you give up on something small, whether because of unrealistically high expectations (“I’ve been playing for five minutes and I still don’t sound like the guy on those Muddy Waters albums yet”), ‘challenge overload’ at work, or a myriad of other reasons, odds are you’re likely to give up more quickly when large challenges come your way. Conversely, if you stick with something new, stay humble, are able to laugh at yourself gently, and have some faith that “I’ll be able to play something for my kids when I get home even if it doesn’t sound like much now,” you also stand a good chance at approaching life’s larger challenges with that same positive attitude. Our Capacity for Happiness Dr. Martin Seligman, author of Authentic Happiness, (http://www.authentichappiness.com/) has spent a lifetime studying optimism and pessimism, happiness and depression. He says that how we explain events to ourselves when we fail is a key determinant for our capacity for happiness. He says, “When we fail, we all become at least momentarily helpless.” Whenever we try something new, we fail many times in small ways – we fall off the metaphorical bike, again and again. But what do you do then? Do you give up? There are people out there who have given up on riding a bicycle, finding true love, making a positive difference at work, writing a book, giving the best of themselves. What stops us from living our best lives? Seligman notes that people who explain events in a pessimistic style feel helpless when something bad happens. They see momentary misfortune as being permanent and universal. “I wasn’t able to play that note just then and Sarah next to me could” becomes “Everyone’s getting this except me. I can’t play this thing. I’ve never been able to play music. My first grade teacher told me I was tone-deaf and she was right. I’ll never be any good at this!” The Optimism Edge Optimistic people see failures as temporary, with specific causes for the failure. So, “I wasn’t able to play that note just then and Sarah next to me could” becomes “That was the first time I tried getting that note. It makes sense that I wouldn’t get it right away, but I know I will.” Other optimistic thoughts that might follow? “This is just like learning to golf last year. It wasn’t until the 100th swing that I started to get a little of the magic of the game. I’m going to keep trying, I know I can get better at this – if Sarah can do it, so can I. And my kids are going to be really excited when I play a song for them tonight before they go to bed.” Research shows that optimistic people are physically and mentally healthier, and more successful in school, sports, and work. But how do you exercise your ‘optimism muscle’ and stay in the game, no matter how tough it gets?   Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s teams building and team development activities: Play the Blues – As featured on NPR and in The Meeting Professional  Learn to play the blues harmonica in just two hours! Each team member will receive their own harmonica, a copy of Blues Harmonica for Beginners book and play-a-long CD. Within minutes you will be playing a real blues song together. The grand finale features your team as the stars performing an original blues song that you have created together! 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. 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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Seven Yoga Hints For Daily Practice at Work and Everywhere

If you are seated while doing yoga, either use a chair with no wheels or lock your chair’s wheels. Keep your practice light and easy. The rest of life is hard enough. Allow yoga to be a reward, a gift to yourself. Your breath is the most important part of your yoga. Stay in the center of your body, of yourself, and let your breath flow freely and fully. Keep your movements slow and whole body relaxed, focusing on a delicious opening. No pushing, no tension, no bouncing. Your body is happy when your front body is higher than your back body. Sink your shoulder blades and lead with your heart. Avoid putting pressure on your knees or elbows. Instead of putting pressure on the knees use your thighs. Your thighs love resistance and you leaning on and against them, not your knees. Instead of putting pressure on your elbows use your forearms. Select the poses you feel most comfortable trying. Perhaps you’d like to focus on the poses that you would feel comfortable doing anywhere. For example, which of these would you like to try on your next airplane flight? Yoga teacher Rodney Yee has a series he uses where the movements are so subtle he can do a whole session while seated on a plane and those sitting next to him don’t even know it. Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s teams building and team development activities: Office Yoga – Learn simple techniques to stay productive at your desk or energize your off-site. 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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How to Savor the Moment

The next time you get ready to drink something – whether it’s a beer, glass of water, juice, wine, pause to savor the moment. Use all of your senses to appreciate the impending taste. Pause and let go of anything else you’re thinking about, whether future or past or mundane – let it go. Block out any other distractions around you, sharpen your perceptions and focus on your filled glass. Look and enjoy the colors and reflections in your glass, swish the drink around in your glass and watch it flow. Smell the aroma, breathe it in deeply and slowly. Imagine its long complicated multi-level journey to get to you. Think of all of the people involved, what grew where, the sun that grew the ingredients, the technology that was created to make this possible. Now realize that all of that choreographed effort was done for you. It’s all culminating in you enjoying this drink in this penultimate moment. You’re the fruition of all that effort, the grand finale, the celebration. Congratulations! Now taste. Slowly take a sip. Eke out every bit of pleasure from each mouthful. Savor the taste and imagine the benefits of it going through your body. Now pause a moment to remember what that first taste was like. Thanks to habituation, no taste after that will be quite as amazing as the first sip. Take a mental snapshot of your experience After you’re done, share your experience. Either set up the experience for someone you care about or at least tell them about your taste trip. Savoring in Action This technique can be expanded to any mundane experience you have in a day. It’s in line with the emerging field of ‘savoring’. Fred Bryant and Joseph Veroff of Loyola University define savoring as “the awareness of pleasure and of the deliberate conscious attention to the experience of pleasure.” By savoring, you’re giving yourself a chance to slow up, be present in a moment, be more mindful and concentrate better. Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology says, “The speed of our modern life and our extreme future-mindedness can sneak up on us and impoverish our present…saving time (for what?) and planning for a future (that arrived yesterday but also never comes), we lose acres of the present.” What better way to bring ourselves back to the present than by consciously experiencing pleasure? Here are five techniques that Bryant and Veroff suggest to promote savoring: Sharing with others Memory-building Self-congratulation Sharpening perceptions Absorption How many of these techniques did you find present in the tasting exercise above? Bryant and Veroff also have outlined four kinds of savoring that these techniques support. Which kinds did you access when you did the tasting exercise? Basking (receiving praise and congratulations) Thanksgiving (expressing gratitude for blessings) Marveling (losing the self in the wonder of the moment) Luxuriating (indulging the senses) Try savoring in small and large places in your life. Pause especially after the fruition of a large project, presentation, or anything you worked hard to complete, were a little scared about, and did well. We can all use more pauses like that in our life, a life that’s just waiting to be savored. Further Reading: Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience by Fred B. Bryant and Joseph Veroff Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s teams building and team development activities: 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. At Your Best – Explore how to give your best and play to your strengths for sustained individual success.

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