Thoughts and such like.....
A New Year, and rather than making resolutions which i'll either forget or more likely give up on, I've decided instead to do something different. Each month I will either give something up, or try something different that is add something to my life. I'm looking at what I might learn about myself along the way.
So for example in January I decided to forgo alcohol, it was time to hit the reset button after the holiday celebrations. Immediately after the boys left, my booze free month started, and of course the invitations poured in! Ukrainian New Year, Girls home movie night, a fundraiser for the Symphony, dinner with friends. However I've stuck to my commitment and I've earned lots of favours, being the DD on a number of nights. It's nearly at the end, and I have to admit it hasn't been too difficult, I'm not amazed since it was only for 31 days and with with an end in sight seemed easier that I had thought to do. When I say no alcohol, I mean nothing not even a glass of wine, I did however cook with wine, because I feel it didn't/doesn't count as the alcohol burns off during cooking. On the negative side however I've discovered that my chocolate consumption seems to have gone up or maybe it just continued without a break after the holidays! So even though I feel good and I've increased my exercise I still feel sluggish, so it's time for a reset.
Soooo, guess what February's resolution is? Yep you got it, I'm giving up chocolate! I'm not sure if I have ever given up chocolate for any longer than a few days, maybe a week, but normally after Christmas things slow down, I don't eat as much. Maybe since I wasn't having a glass of wine when I felt like it, I instinctively felt I could eat chocolate instead - yikes!!
Yes, I know it'll be Valentine's day, but with no sweetheart to entice me to break my challenge, and a good reason to do it, better health, I start on Saturday. No chocolate for 28 days. I know it's the shortest month of the year, but for someone who has always believed a good day means a couple of pieces of chocolate, a bad one, maybe a bar, this is going to be one of the most difficult things I can do, or do without!! So no baking muffins with chocolate chips, no candy with chocolate inside, or chocolate flavoured anything!
I'm not planning on giving up something every month, I want to add more to my life so now it's time to think of what I can add for March - I want to do things that are free, don't cost a lot... something that everyone can do, that's easy and doesn't tie me up in knots. This year allows me to test myself, to check out some of the things I challenge others to do when I coach them. So send me your thoughts, what should I add and/or removed from my life over the next year that you think might challenge or be different for me?
I seem to be talking to a lot of people about Succession Planning and it appears to me that like death and taxes, it's not something people, particularly people at the top of an organization want to think about. Why not? I've come to the conclusion it's a bit like death and taxes, we don't want to think that far ahead, for some it's frightening, a step into the unknown, others think 'why rock the boat', I'll/we'll think about it when we have to.
Who should think about Succession?
I believe that both the Board and the CEO should be responsible for, and worry about Succession and yes, it should begin with a capital, it is that important. There should be both an Emergency plan, for three months or less, and a plan for when it's time for goodbye.
One of the reasons I believe that these conversations are happening now, is the number of changes taking place at the top of many organizations - some have been somewhat clumsy, with games of musical chairs at the top, others seem to have got it right, but have they, how many organizations do you know that after the long tenure of a CEO, there seem to be a number of individuals rotating through the CEO's office over a short period of time. A succession plan can help smooth the transition from one leader to another.
When should we think about Succession planning?
As soon as possible, it's easy to put it off when things are going well, however that's probably the best time to develop your plan? If you're in the middle of transition, or you are playing musical chairs - it is not too late, however you need to start straight away, don't go blindly into picking another leader without being absolutely sure of what/who you are looking for. Some of the questions that should be asked include:
What are the attributes that we are looking for in our next CEO?
How will we go about the search for a new CEO - by ourselves/using a search firm?
What is our timeline?
Time must be spent reviewing who we are and what we are looking for. Each Board orientation/annual review
must include a review of the Succession plan to ensure that it follows the current needs of the organization.
Succession planning is not a once in a while operation, it must be part of Board work and should be part of the Board's fiscal responsibility. It is also important for the Board to have it's own Succession plan, asking who will be following us in guiding our organization? It is also the responsibility of the CEO to ensure that not only does the Board have a CEO Succession plan, but also that she/he has a plan for the organization in the same way - what happens when a key staff member decides to leave, who can carry out those responsibilities while they search for a new colleague.
So if you're serious about Succession planning and need to start, or review your plan, let's talk.
So when do I learn to take my own advice. Returning to full time work this week, I work one six hour day, good; another nine hour day and the third twelve hours, consequently the fourth day I crash! This after major surgery and two months recuperating, why would I do this to myself, particularly when I would advise others to take their time, come back slowly, don't over do it...
Thanks to Jeanie, we had that and another conversation today - what is it that makes us so hard on ourselves, harder, much harder than we would on others. Why is our self talk so cruel, the things we say to ourselves, in our minds, we would never say to family and friends and/or colleagues, the stories we tell ourselves that sabotage our efforts to move forward - so what can we do to change this mindset? One way is to catch ourselves in this negative self talk, reverse it, laugh at ourselves and and ask why? Why did we say that? What was that about? Try it and let me know how you do, me I'm going to rest!
As I heal from my surgery, I'm discovering new things about myself, some I'm okay with, others have surprised me and some I need to leave behind!
I am I believe with others, patient and practical I encourage them to be realistic when setting goals, I urge them to be patient about acquiring new habits, learning new skills and I suggest to them that they practice, practice, practice. So why do I find it so difficult to follow my own advice? As I recover from my surgery I am discovering that I want to heal - NOW. That I really don't want to do my exercises every day and that I have to be patient with the healing process - some days are going to be better than others, and look where I am now compared to six weeks ago.
I am getting a new appreciation of the hurdles clients face when they approach challenges in their lives. So what is it about us, that makes us so impatient, unforgiving and unrealistic about ourselves in ways that we would not be to our friends? What is it that is so difficult in change, and changing habits? One thing I'm realizing is that for me, changing one thing at a time is easier than trying to change a whole load of things at once. For others I know they feel better if they can just make a whole load at once. So each day I practice up and down the stairs, sometimes if I'm feeling good, I'll go on my stationary bike and/or add another exercise and later on every second day I work on my arms, continuing with my weight training. I'm changing my diet, I have time to review what I eat - more protein and lots of vegetables and fruit all aiding my internal recovery.
I can look at the positives in my life, and I can continue working acknowledging and honouring my limits. What are you challenged by, and how are you working to overcome, acknowledge and honouring these challenges?
I'm confined to my home, a new knee in place and the journey back to wellness - I believe the health is there, the wellness is getting the new knee to straighten and bend. So what is my goal - by next March 2014 I want to sit cross legged again! And to achieve this I must work at the exercises that I have been given by my healthcare team - it's going to be challenging and there will be good days and bad days, but I have a clear goal in front of me - now to break it down into smaller steps. I'm treating this like many other goals, small steps that move me forward.
One amazing discovery I have made since I arrived at home is that I am so lucky, I live on my own for the most part, I have no family close by, there are no nurses coming to visit, just the incredible generosity of friends who have put their lives aside to ensure that my journey to wellness is as easy as it can be. I am overwhelmed and inspired by the number of people, who when I put my pride aside and asked for help, have been so giving. Checking in with me each day, popping in with ice, food and company. Ensuring that I can get to the appointments that have been made for me by my healthcare team. It appears so simple, ask for help and friends willingly show up, however that first step is amazingly difficult to take, for me anyway. What was it that made it so difficult - pride? the unwillingness to 'burden' others; the difficultly of showing others, good friends though they might be, the me underneath the paint and make up? It interests me that it was such a big step for me, me who values my privacy, me who could do anything - I had to. How much of my life journey may have been different if I had asked for help during those years on my own with my boys? What is it that holds us back. I spoke to one women some time ago about a difficult period in her life and why she hadn't done things in a different way - her response was that she didn't want anyone to know her business. I asked why not - she wouldn't/couldn't answer. She is stuck and unwilling to become unstuck - I can show her how, but she must make the decision.
I'm interested in my reaction, what was it in my life that stopped me opening to others? Was there a time when I was more open, what happened that changed things - sure I can blame it on my childhood, but it was my choice. Why did I make that choice, and how am I going to change my way of being when another challenge comes? What about you, can you think back to a moment in time when you made a choice, and another when you changed that choice? For now I'm thankful that I made that decision to ask for help, what a wonderful gift I allowed myself, my thanks to others is in allowing them to see me - who I am, warts and all!
So during the last few months, and particularly in recent weeks, I'm learning new things about myself. I've always thought that I was fairly easy going, moving along life's path riding the waves and with a few exceptions coming out the other side intact.
Over the years I have spent time learning more about me, doing some self examination and have a better understanding of who I am. I've become much more self aware. So it comes as some surprise to me now, when I find myself fretting. I'm about to have surgery, a knee replacement, not a small thing I know, however what I have learned so far about myself is that despite the easy going exterior I show to the world, I really like to control the environment I live in and how I show up! With this surgery I have to let go, I have no control around what is going to happen to me, other than say no, and believe me at this time it is not an option if I want to have a better quality of life as I age. I have done everything I have been told, shown up at the pre-rehab information session, worked on the exercises given and more, re-organized in my mind not only that session but also the whole pre-admit process in BC hospitals! Sent out a spreadsheet to friends to organize my life after surgery, reorganized my bedroom and home to accommodate me during that time of learning to walk again. Ensured that friends and family are contacted after surgery letting loved ones especially know that I'm out and fine. And yet.... I still fret!
And so it's a time of learning, I'm amazed at the generosity of friends, of others who have gone through this operation and are willing to share their learnings. I'm also interested to listen to others who rather than encourage and applaud the decision to move forward with this operation, are negative. Quite frankly if another person tells me it is going to hurt like hell I think I'll scream - those that do for the most part haven't had the operation themselves, but they know. They continue about how difficult recovery will be, and how I'll not be able to do certain things! I find myself curious, why are they so negative? What is driving them to make such comments? It has made me conscious that I should be more mindful of comments I make when speaking with someone who is facing a hard decision, or who has made one about moving forward - what assumptions am I making about their decision, is it my life I'm basing those assumptions on, or theirs? Why be so negative when someone has obviously thought things through?
It's just over a week before I go into hospital and I find myself working to still my mind of worries, fears about the what ifs? What if something goes wrong? What if I don't make it? Have I got my papers in order (of course not!). What if ? Minds are funny things, we can't control what passes through but we can control our reaction to them. So what if something goes wrong - I can't control that, but I have trust in my surgeon, I know that the team working on me are on my side, that they will do everything in their power to make sure nothing goes wrong, the admit process that I am so critical of is just one of the check points to ensure that I am ready and able to undergo this surgery - I need to accept this and not stress out about what I can't control, rather focus on what I can - ensuring I eat well and am as prepared as I can be both before and after surgery - I follow instructions rather than knowing better than the experts. Again it makes me think about how much energy we put into focusing on our fears, usually fears of the unknown. So now I'm focusing on 'So I'm out of surgery, all is well, how can I ensure my recovery is the best it can be?' What do I look like three months from now, six months? What am I doing? Walking with friends, hiking maybe in a year I'll be snow shoeing up that same mountain that was the location of the accident that was the start of this three year journey - life will be good, because I will make it so - I'll be back in the driving seat, in control!
ps. A friend sent this link to a TED talk about how our body language shapes who you are! Enjoy
I was driving to a workshop one morning a week ago, a drive of two hours and during the drive I listened to a number of discussions on CBC about the tragic suicide of Amanda Todd; bullied to death! Much of the discussion, actually all of the discussion, centred around schools, what could teachers and students do, how could parents help, what could school boards instigate - how do people police facebook/cyberspace.
While I found all the discussions really interesting, I began to feel that they were missing the point. The discussions were about control - things and people, mainly kids. However my thoughts turned to us as individuals taking the time to look inward and look at behaviour as adults. My mother used to use the expression "don't do what I do, do what I say", how often do we think about how our behaviour and what it says about us? When we are striving to reach our goals, are we conscious of how we seem to others, how we treat them? or rather how they feel we treat them? Do we notice the receptionist each morning as we pass, what do we actually know about him/her and their circumstances. Great leaders take time to know their people, if your team respects you, trusts you and know you are at their back, know they can come to you if they have a problem whether it be looking to you to help solve, or just understanding, they often will take calculated risks and will go out of their way to do the best job - but the work starts with you as a leader. As Adults it is our responsibility to demonstrate that starting with us, bullying will not be tolerated at any level of Society
To my mind, one of the most outstanding examples of bullying is in politics - yes, facebook has a long reach, but so also does TV and other mediums! Where is there a more perfect example of how bullying can work, how it destroys individuals and their reputations without repercussions. As we look at ourselves I think we also need to begin to demand that they look at their behaviour and ask themselves what responsibilities they have in demonstrating right and wrong! When they set up their advertisements about their opposition, what sort of message are they sending to children - bullies and those who are bullied. What would happen if they talked about issues not personalities?
Looking back, can you remember a time when you feel you were bullied? How did you react? How did you feel? With hindsight would you do anything differently? Now, look at your own habits, what can you change to demonstrate your commitment to taking responsibility in changing Society's acceptance of bullying all the time, not only when a tragedy such as Amanda's death occurs.
I seem to be hearing and reading a lot about the benefits of taking time out to think, meditate or even not think, just ruminate! When was the last time you took 10 minutes to do absolutely nothing? Think about it - absolutely nothing. Try it. Let the thoughts go, never mind what's happened today, what you're going to do tomorrow, sit in the moment and enjoy the sensation. What happens?
We spend so much time rushing about, crossing off items from our to do list, getting things done, that we forget to take time to do nothing. What would it take for you to set aside five minutes each day to do nothing, not to think about anything in particular, just sit in the moment?
Sometimes clients argue that it's not time to meditate, but time to think, silence isn't important, they don't have time to sit and do nothing and so we try to come up with an agreement that meets their needs and also allows them to try taking time to do nothing. Often they come back amazed that they seem to have more time on their hands. Other times it doesn't work for them, so we look at their day. We always find something - some time.
What about when you exercise, sit watching tv (turn it off), what do you do? So many people try to multi-task, read, watch the news - how about just staying in the moment? Let your mind go, wander around, don't stop at each and every thought, just acknowledge them and move on. Clients who have tried this, talk of having more clarity, of finding answers to questions that they have been pondering or wrestling for weeks. What would it take for you to try?
Interestingly enough, contemplative practice is meeting Law! A study at Harvard Law School, The Harvard Negotiation Insight Initiative is looking at the connection between meditation and the art of conflict resolution. (http://www.harbus.org/2012/meditation-and-leadership). Business men are becoming more interested in the art of contemplation as a means to move forward. Go on, try it, take 10 minutes daily for five days, let go and let me know how you do!
I've been thinking a lot about 'what next', my kids are almost grown and now it is time for me - what do I want that to look like?
Have you ever taken a chance and jumped in without thought other than your gut telling you this is right?
Too often we focus on the negatives, the what ifs and funnily enough those what ifs are always negative! What if you just did it? Leave that job, move to a different city, start that business - what if you were successful?
Ken Carlson talks about 'The Art of Jumping' on his blog:
I love the descriptions he uses to describe our excuses, and the suggestions he makes to start jumping!
I've used those excuses, and others,; What if nobody wants me to coach them? I can't just give up work and hope to find clients I've still responsibilities and promises to my children. However, that doesn't stop me getting the ball rolling - What would a full coaching practice look like? What are the first steps to putting that into place? what is my timeline, when am I going to take that jump?
What have I done to start the process: This website and blog. I've made that phone call, and set up an appointment! Now I ask myself what is the next step?
So when will you jump? If your life was just as you wanted, what would it look like?
Let me know - maybe I can help you have a wonderfully, exhilarating Jump!
Changes, like death and taxes, are inevitable! Sometimes we are the ones that drive changes, other times it feels like we have no choice, rather changes are happening to us. How we deal with changes often says a lot about us.
Change can make us act like stubborn children, no we're not going to move from our comfort zone, even when we drive the change we can find ourselves resisting moving forward. Often we blame external forces when really the resistance is internal. I often talk about how much I love change, how exciting it is and yet being honest I know there is a part of me that is running in the opposite direction, running scared! How I manage the process of moving forward is by taking time out, thinking about what it is that is stopping me and what I can do to get over my resistance. Sometimes I ask myself the question and let it sit for a while in the back of my head, where my unconscious mind takes over and the answer comes, other times I talk with friends and ask for their help or I ask for help from my coach! I need that push to help me overcome my resistance and instead of trying to do it all at once, I break it down into chucks? What will it look like when the change occurs? What is the first step in moving forward? Sounds easy and sometimes it can be, other times - oh boy it's like climbing up hill, backwards!
Do you remember a time you made a change? What did it feel like? Is there something in your life right now that you want to change? Try imaging what you will feel like when that change happens?
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog