Category Archives: Resiliency

Charge or recharge?

You have a very important meeting to drive to. It’s about an hour drive and you just left late – behind already. You drive faster than you usually would, trying to make up some time. As you get nearer your destination, your car splutters, coughs and stops. You forgot to look at how much gas you had. You’re out of gas. You abandon your car and start running on foot to the appointment. Or you get behind your car and start pushing it towards your destination (let’s say you’ve got two members of the high school football team with you that stopped to help you). That’s what I often see on stressed teams. And most teams are stressed. And most team members are stressed. It’s all charge and no recharge. We’re behind on endless deadlines. We hurtle from one thing to the next trying to go faster. We hit the wall somewhere along the way. Distance athletes also call this ‘the bonk’. And we keep trying to go on, keep pushing past our limits. We forget about working smart. We just work harder. It’s our habit. The car is out of gas and we’re running. Or we’re pushing the team car. The ‘charge’ is the only part this culture values. The ever-upward line on the graph. If you’re sick of that game, play the ignored game. Head down instead. Recharge. “When water gets caught in habitual whirlpools, dig a way out through the bottom to the ocean.” -Rumi

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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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