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The Joy of Giving

In a sense, giving is the best way to experience the feeling of contentment. It’s a way of saying to yourself, “I have more than I need to be happy.” It’s a way of practicing the concept of abundance. Imagine your day, your workplace as a banquet or a pot-luck dinner, filled with wonderful and perhaps not-so wonderful things. The question is – what do you have to offer? You know you’re going to enjoy many different dishes. What would you like to bring to the feast? No matter the individual quality of the contribution, the sum of the whole at a pot-luck is almost always a happy, spirited affair.   My coaching clients tell me of worrying about not being good enough. A frequent challenge teams face is a feeling of unspoken internal competition, an unconscious measuring and competing against people on the same team. The joy of giving is one of the surest methods of overcoming these traps. Even if on the face of it you don’t yet believe “I have something to give,” know that there’s a wiser part of you, sometimes difficult to access, who knows this to be true. And nothing will help you to believe something quicker than acting like you already believe it. For example, volunteering for Hospice has proven for many people to be an effective way of dealing with their personal grief over losing a loved one, either literally through a death or metaphorically with a relationship ending.   How can you most joyfully give? Look at what you’re drawn to. Would you prefer to give your energy, your monetary wealth or a combination of the two? Do you prefer formal volunteering and philanthropy or every day ‘guerilla’ giving? Do you prefer to give in a strategic way for maximum positive impact and social change? Or do you prefer to give in a way in which you have the most connection, can see and be part of the positive change?   If you’re in a place where the giving pains you – something about it is forced, or you know you’ll be too worried about the money you pass along, or already feel the emptiness before you’ve given, you may not be ready to give. In this case, the best option may be to spend some time looking at what you need in your life that you’re not getting in as compassionate a way as possible. But if you’re even wavering a little bit, ponder what Peyton Conway March says, “There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life – the happiness, freedom, and peace of mind – are always attained by giving them to someone else.” Give giving a try in small ways – it’s the small daily gifts that make all the difference.   Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s charity-based team building activities: Military Salute – Teams build care packages to be given to soldiers stationed overseas. Charity Wheelchair Build – Charity Wheelchair Build gets your team building wheelchairs to help disabled people stay independent in this charity team building activity. Charity Roller Coaster –Design and build the world’s most exciting roller coaster and help kids learn about science.

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Jayne Hannah Fun Q and A

I feel extremely lucky. Why? I’ve got an all star joining the Quixote Consulting team. I have a new corporate events manager to introduce to you – Jayne Hannah! Jayne has been a dear friend for two decades now. We’ve worked together in different capacities on events hundreds of times. She has been managing corporate events for over 30 years and always leads with her heart. Jayne brings a level of caring, flexibility and attention to detail that is unparalleled. She’s the best event manager I’ve ever met – and I’ve worked with hundreds. I’ve never met anyone with that unique skill of simultaneously ensuring that the logistical aspects of an event are perfect, of forging a strong, personal connection with each client and making sure everyone involves smiles and laughs along the way to the completion of an amazing event.. I hope you get to meet and work with her this year. We’re ready and excited to work with you. Q and A With Jayne Hannah What is the most meaningful part of your work? I enjoy transforming our client’s expectations into the participants’ experience, and to see and feel that in action. There is nothing like seeing something being produced from the paper into the conference room, and to see the shift of energy and even perspective. What is a great memory from a team building program? A client contact who organized and participated in a charitable program, said to me at the end “I don’t want to leave this room, as it’s been such a positive experience.” She looked like a very happy child at the end of a “best day ever.” It was great to see such an uplifted face from a busy, successful CEO. What quirky life experience(s) has been surprisingly helpful in your life and work? Performing as Donald Duck in full costume – as it made me aware of communication and showing emotion through limited movement and without the use of your own voice and face. Who is the most famous person you have ever met? CHARLIE CHAPLIN – oh yes!!! He was in his nineties and in a wheelchair and I was a little girl. What was your favorite childhood meal? Steak and mashed potatoes. Who would you most like to see in concert from the front row? David Bowie. What is the best way to spend a rainy weekend? With George Clooney. What historical time period would you like to visit?  1920s for the jazz and gorgeous clothing. When you were young what did you want to be when you grew up? An actress or an air hostess. What is one of your proudest accomplishments? Being a care partner for my husband. For what in your life do you feel the most grateful? Friends and the ability to love. If you could script the basic plot for the dream you will have tonight, what would the story be? George Clooney, that’s all I can say.

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Less Screen Time = More Great Work Done

  Feliz año nuevo! I just returned from a trip to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Ten days blissfully screen free. The computer stayed home, the tablet stayed home, the phone was on airplane mode. The trip was amazing, helped immensely by saying no to those electronic tethers that are so good at pulling me out of the present moment. I noticed how much happier I was than at home, how much more present I was to what was happening around me, the people I was interacting with and how I was feeling. The New Year is a time when we traditionally reprioritize. We again bring to the forefront what’s most important to us, what we hope for in life and work for the coming year and resolve to bring them closer. We help teams do this in the 40 Days to Change for Good and How to Complete a Project team trainings. In order to do the most important work however, something has to give. Space must be made. Something else has to be said no to. We have to give something up to attain what we desire. That’s that hero’s journey. No hero emerges triumphant and unscathed. If you are looking to produce something of worth with your life this year, may I suggest dedicating some small (or large) time each day free of consuming something electronic? It’s not an easy path to take these days, but a deeply worthy one. Let’s walk it together for a little while and see what great works we do this year.

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The Wisdom of Half & Half – How To Join Spirit and Technique

There’s a lot of wisdom in putting half & half in your coffee. It tastes great! But I’m talking now about a different half and half. I’m talking about William Blake’s “it is it right it should be so, man was made for joy and woe” kind of half and half. I’m talking about your internal field, the one where opposites meet and play together. I’m talking about where spirit (passion, play) and technique (persistence) meet. Pause, briefly connect with purpose. Why are you doing your daily work? This gets you in the right frame of mind to see beyond the weeds of daily commitments. Start with spirit. Look for the passion you have for some aspect of your work. Look again for spirit (spirit is historically undervalued). Unleash your natural desire to play, to experiment, to explore. Now look at technique. What is important enough in your work to persist at, to show up repeatedly for daily? What technical aspect interests you? Now imagine spirit, now technique. Now imagine them helping each other, feeding each other to create you, at your best. “And half is half and yet is all the scene” – William Butler Yeats   Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: Charity Bike Build – As featured on NPR! - Teams build bicycles for underserved children in their area. Generations Give – Teams ‘adopt’ elders in need and create customized care packages for them. Pack to School – Fill backpacks for kids in this fun charity team building activity. Charity Roller Coaster –Design and build the world’s most exciting roller coaster and help kids learn about science.

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If It’s Important, Break It Down (4 Steps)

“Break it down now!” is a classic R&B song move. Sing it to yourself the next time you contemplate something important. The very idea that something is “important” usually means that it looms large in your mind – you see it as something big. When we try to take on something big, overwhelm strikes and we (myself included) usually scurry away, looking for something smaller and more attainable to complete. Things on the urgent, distractions, and interruptions piles start looking pretty good. Pick one small, easy thing you can do right now, in less than 15 minutes that is a little chunk of the big thing that’s important to you. Complete It Notice the blip of positive energy that you feel from accomplishing something towards your goal. Repeat. Every time you complete something, you gain a more positive view of your abilities and it allows you to do more.

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Going Deep With the Eisenhower Urgent/Important Matrix – What’s Really Most Important

There’s a superficial layer of what’s important. But like an onion, the more you dig, the more layers you find. When you start asking “why” something is important, the buried gold reveals itself. Questions like, “what’s my life’s work?” and “who are the people that mean the most to me in my life?” or “What emotion is most desirable for me to live my daily life in?” get to this deeper layer as well. It’s fine to stick with the surface layer of importance – “I want to leave the office with a clean desk on Friday” or “I want a raise/promotion/recognition”. But it’s also helpful to notice the deeper importances. I find that depending on my mood I either think concretely of what’s most important or go deeper into what’s most meaningful for my life. Either way it’s nice to have options. How about you?

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Relaxing around the Tension Between Urgent and Important

I used my 40 Days to Change For Good in 2015 to refocus on what’s most important. This is continuing into 2016. I’d like to be less ruled by urgencies. I’ve found it fairly impossible to just switch over from urgent mindset to what’s important. This has highlighted and exacerbated a tension in me between urgent and important. When I feel this tension I’m extremely tempted to give up what’s important in hopes that that would relieve the tension. But the only way through these initiatory journeys is deeper into the woods, into the darkness, into the tension. And one of the marks of being an adult is to be able to bear the tension between two seemingly opposing forces internally. Kids aren’t able to do that. But we have a chance at it. And every moment calmly, humbly invested in relaxing around the tension between urgent and important strengthens you in a way few other things in life can.

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Top Ten Quix Picks Movies from 2015 (Part Two)

Here are more of my favorite movies I’ve watched this past year. Some are old, some are new, all are absolutely wonderful. Enjoy! Step Into Liquid - A surfing documentary? Hey, it’s summer! And while this has some crazy surfing on monster waves (jet skis tow-roping surfers in Maui out to ride monster waves the size of apartment buildings), what gives this movie its heart is something quite different. There’s the story of surfing in Ireland – teaching Catholic and Protestant kids together, which is emotionally powrful. And there’s the middle-aged men surfing in Lake Michigan(!). A high school janitor who has surfed every day for decades. And on and on. Each vignette has the same warm, enthusiastic take on surfing and life in the water, something I can appreciate even though I don’t surf (yet). Encounters At the End of the World - Leave it to Werner Herzog to find the existential angst in penguins. Herzog makes wonderful documentaries (Grizzly Man is my favorite) and his take on Antarctica is refreshing. He spends more time on the people that end up there than the wildlife, so you won’t find March of the Penguins here. Herzog asks deep philosophical questions about human nature and the future of mankind. That depth is balanced by the obvious affection he has for the people living there. Everyone has a story – there are lots of PhDs washing dishes there for example – and their stories remind me of stories Quixote consultant Jerry Riverstone told me about working in Barrow, Alaska – some people travel the world until they reach the end and stay there. Dark City  - Love noir, mystery and/or science fiction? Dark City is Alex Proyas’ underrated film from 1998 that takes these genres and a great idea to wonderfully creative places. I watched the director’s cut, which apparently adds to the “what is going on here?” sensation at the beginning – I was unsure whether or not it really was set in the 40s until about 20 minutes into the movie. The ending gets a little silly, but man, what a ride – and fun to see actors like Rufus Sewell, Keifer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly and William Hurt in something so wild. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford  - A quiet, moody western based on a true story that is beautifully filmed and acted, with great performances from Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (book and movie) - How do you find meaning if you wake up from a coma paralyzed except for your left eye, trapped somewhere between life and death? Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir is about just that, written by blinking his left eyelid for each letter. The movie adaptation of the book won a Golden Globe for Best Picture. Told in the first person, is a deeply feeling, moving look at the power of imagination, memory and caring.

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Top Ten Quix Picks Movies from 2015 (Part One)

Here are some of my favorite movies I’ve watched this past year. Some are old, some are new, all are absolutely wonderful. Enjoy! Neil Young: Heart of Gold – This 2005 performance at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville of Young’s album Prairie Wind was filmed by director Jonathon Demme. There’s something so reassuring about Neil Young’s honesty. He stays true to the music, no matter what we think about it. And so it’s inspiring to spend 90 minutes with this old man, still creating, still being true to the muse. The simple painted backdrops are warm enough to live in, the many supporting musicians are top-notch and the sound is just wonderful. A quiet treat. Cave of Forgotten Dreams – Werner Herzog documentaries never disappoint and this meditative look at drawings from prehistoric man in a cave in France is no exception. These pictures from our ancestors are stunning and eerie. And Herzog is a great interviewer – finding interesting people to talk to, and letting the interviews breathe in ways that most ordinary interviewers would never dare. But the highlight by far is the 30-minute short film about composer/cellist Ernst Reijseger performing the soundtrack music. Watching him lose himself in playing the music he created is as uplifting as it gets. Looper – Joseph Gordon-Leavitt continues his track record of making great film choices and Bruce Willis happily surprises (again – see Moonrise Kingdom!) in this intelligent science fiction time-travel movie. The story makes no attempt to cut corners and weighty moral issues such as selfishness vs. unselfishness are explored in a way that, far from preaching, truly inspires. Los Angeles Plays Itself – Theo recommended this documentary and now I’m recommending it to you. This film by Thom Anderson looks at how Los Angeles (you’ll note I don’t say ‘L.A.’ as this film-maker hates that term) has been portrayed in the movies. LAPI consists entirely of short clips from hundreds of movies (way to go ‘fair use’ copyright law!) to show the city of the past into today. I noticed an exceptional amount of 80s and 90s movies. Anderson’s extremely opinionated voice-over is part of the charm. This is a man that had to sit through 1000s of movies to find these clips. And he didn’t like any of them. Chinatown? Didn’t like it. L.A. Confidential? He didn’t like that either. I noticed about four movies that he seemed to like, and the rest he pans. Lots of fun! Capricorn One – Reviewed by Theo Michelfeld – For a movie rental this month, treat yourself to the 1978 conspiracy thriller Capricorn One. Modern viewers may worry that some of the visuals, music and dialogue are a bit dated, but in the final reckoning this film is a lot of fun, very well-crafted by any standard, and a wonderful time capsule of post-Watergate paranoia. The plot concerns a fake Mars landing gone awry, and the government cover-up that follows. The NASA personnel–portrayed by James Brolin, Hal Holbrook, Sam Waterston, and a dreadfully bad O.J. Simpson–are saddled with some of the film’s occassional stiff, humorless dialogue. Not to worry, though; Holbrook and Waterston are in otherwise fine form, and Mr. Streisand is not exactly a poor casting choice. Meanwhile Elliott Gould as the hero reporter injects tons of personality into the proceedings, as do Brenda Vaccaro, Karen Black, David Huddleston and David Doyle in minor roles. (Telly Savalas injects perhaps too much personality.) As tensions mount, a pair of proverbial “black helicopters” comes along to provide additional amusement, giving perhaps the most expressive physical performance in the history of helicopters. (Forgiveably, the copters are green, not black.) The viewer is also treated to a lengthy valediction from Sam Waterston, whose punchline ascends from brilliant to genius as the camera pans back in a cinematic gag for the ages. Director Peter Hyams displays a knack for staging a scene, framing a shot, and moving a story along–gifts that were rare in 1978 and not particularly common these days either. As a piece of craftsmanship, this film has much to offer. The climax also features some truly amazing aerial photography from the pre-CGI days of yore. It gladdens the heart and heartens the eyeballs to see such hijinx performed for real. Excellent movie. Delightful, in fact. Check it out. Mad Max: Fury Road – The. best. action. movie. ever. While I sound like ‘Comic Book Man’ from The Simpsons saying that, those aren’t words I sling around lightly. There has never before been anything quite like this movie. No exposition, only the blunt, driving force of plot in motion from start to finish; it’s 120 minutes of intricate, complex motion streamlined into a furious adrenaline rush that had me happily exhausted half-way through. This is what authentic passion looks like when combined with helpless creativity and persistence. Director George Miller said of this fourth installment in the franchise, “I never intended to make a second movie, let alone a fourth, but the story seeds in your head. I’ve become sort of hardwired for the imaginative life. There’s nothing else I can do.” Warning: This movie is extremely violent, but if that doesn’t deter you, the best action movie ever awaits.

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What’s Worse Than Emurgencies?

What’s Worse Than Emurgencies? Distractions and interruptions! On a recent post I talked about emurgencies, fake emergencies created to push us into prioritizing up whatever the emurgency’s content. But distractions and interruptions are even worse than emurgencies. When jazz guitarist was asked if he could invent one thing what would it be he replied, “a focus machine”. Culturally zoned out and unfocused, we all could benefit from the ability to focus more clearly on what’s important. If you would benefit from a sharper ability to focus, monitor and then delete any distractions and interruptions you’re able to one by one. Your focus and your deep feeling of what’s important will be extremely grateful for your efforts. This is part of a series of post about the Eisenhower Urgent/Important Matrix, a great prioritization tool that can be explored in Quixote Consulting’s Time of Your Life time management team training and team building.

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