Thoughts and such like.....
March is month three of my year long challenge - if you remember I decided to add Pilates and/or Yoga to each day. Well only halfway through the month, I'd lost two days, not back to back, but in the same week and now at the end of the month I've lost 6 days, however I don't see that as a failure rather I look at it as adding at least 20 days of exercise that I may not have had. When I look back at the days I wasn't able to exercise, I see a pattern, not being a morning person, I usually exercise, meditate, write or do anything else that takes time in the evenings. My mornings are usually taken up with getting ready, interspersed with peeks at e-mail, Facebook etc... in other words electronic media - guess what next months challenge will be!
So going back to the pattern of why I lost the days of exercise - they were all evenings that I got home late, and by late usually after 9:00 pm, I was tired, bone weary and I hadn't really eaten properly during the day, so late, tired and hungry, obviously for me not a good mixture - so now for the next month I have to be more aware of later evenings and either get up earlier on those nights I know I am going to be late and do my yoga or pilates, as well as bringing something that I can eat, rather than buying a chocolate bar - being tired isn't something I can do much about other than trying to get more sleep - another months challenge option.
It's fascinating to me that I find it easier to cut things from my life rather than add them, maybe I need to take a closer look at how I spend my time away from my office(s). Granted there are nights I need to bring home work, but in-between getting home and beginning this work, maybe I could fit in my exercise. I know there will always be days that I can't exercise for one reason or another, but I'm not going to beat myself up, I'm determined to continue making this a priority and that soon it will become a habit. I was reading lately about a study led by Phillippa Lally, PhD, a psychologist at University College London, that found it actually took people 66 days (9.5 weeks) for a behavious to become automatic, so I have a wee while yet. Meanwhile, from Tuesday I'm not looking at my e-mail, or any other electronic device that I have, in the morning until I'm ready to work - no more peeking at it when I awake or as I get ready!
Now I'm three months into my challenge what I have found is that pressing the reset button in January and February and then adding exercise this month has allowed me to become healthier. I'm looking at this year as a total reset of bits and pieces of my life - so what next. April, cutting back on electronic devices, May - I'm not sure., if you have any ideas send them to me. What is also great is that I'm enjoying the challenges I've set - an end date in sight makes it easier to manage each change, and once I get into the mindset it's not so difficult.
So what changes have you made in your life recently, how are they going?
You remember the saying March and coming in like a lion - yesterday March 1st, here in Southern British Columbia we had another snow storm. Such a coward, I am, that the very thought of snow turns me to a blithering idiot. However it was also the day that I finished my chocolate reset button. So breakfast started with chocolate, which I had purchased the day before. Chocolate that had been in my fridge and was taunting me that last night! Actually it was the most difficult night, having a bag of chocolates in the fridge and being unable to eat them. I didn't eat them all that morning - it took me a few days and actually my reset plan worked I couldn't eat them all at once - even the couple of breakfast chocolates felt too much!
And so, now it is March, roaring like a lion. I'm not giving up anything this month - I'm adding. I've decided to add something to my day and so I'm adding either six sun salutations each day or doing my Pilates practice, some days I've done both. I'm also taking a page from the weather and adding the lion pose each day - if you don't know the lion pose in yoga, it's a great one to for our faces
"in this posture is thought to be one of the best face exercises you can get. People often overlook another benefit of Lion Pose: it stimulates the platysma, which is a thin, rectangular-shaped muscle in the front of throat. This exercise will keep the platysma strong as you age." (http://www.cnyhealingarts.com/2011/03/13/the-health-benefits-of-simhasana-lion-pose)
It actually looks a bit like this fella on the right, tongue out and all!
So how is the reset going, both on the wine and chocolate it's been great, each reinstatement of the two things I enjoy has been easy and exactly as I'd hoped. What have I learnt, as everyone tells us, making out goals realistic and attainable. I think if I had said I was giving up one or the other item for the year, I'd have failed miserably. As it is I've achieved my goals and reset the button for both that is I'm not overloading anymore. Now by adding yoga and pilates into my daily routine I'm getting into the habit of exercise, doing something that I like, even when I'm at home which given some of my longer days is great. Too, it helps me in the rehabilitation of my knee which needs movement each day to avoid getting stiff. One of the great things about doing either of these activities is that not only do they help me build strength, in both my core and upper body, but also I feel great after both and I'm sleeping better too!
So my challenge to you is to add something extra to your day, something that is attainable. As Spring comes it may be a walk each evening for a month, or even as simple as giving yourself the gift of sitting quietly, no TV, no noise, each day; try it and see what happens and let me know how it works for you. Remember it's only for one month!
It was a dark and dreary day, (I've always wanted to write that line!). Rain pouring down, it was as if the day was trying to make us as miserable as possible! I decided it was an ideal day to stay home, have a leisurely late breakfast and tackle some of the painting I have left undone, forever. So after breakfast in bed with my latest read 'The Trial of Fallen Angels', by James Kimmel, Jr., which despite the title isn't as dark as it sounds, I got up and dressed for painting.
I am the messiest painter out there, most of the spare paint somehow lands on me, so I now designate old special paint clothes that I throw out after each job. These days I'm painting the wood ceiling and shelving in my loft, I want to have more light up there all year round. Like any 'have to' jobs I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time getting psyched up, funny actually as I quite like painting. It gives me time to think, ruminate over my week, wrestle with problems or just go off on tangents. There are a few things however that I need to bring with me, first coffee, then water and finally music - to paint I prefer what my sister terms 'bubble gum' music, stuff that I can dance to, stuff from my teen years right up to today and to which I can sing along to as loudly as I wish!!
The music is always upbeat, and allows my mind to jump all over the place - it makes me feel happy. I think of my younger son who cringes at his aunt and myself and our love of this music, at his brother who understands the genius behind those that can create such sounds and my sister who coined the phrase 'bubble gum' music, I can see her dancing in the night!
Today, as I painted I thought of a friend who had contacted me during the week to apologize for not being in touch, personal problems she explained. I had invited her to come over, anytime, we could have a bottle of wine, talk and she could sleep over in one of the kids beds. Her contacting me made me think of how often we don't reach out to others when we have problems. I'm guilty, are you? When I first became a single parent, I told no one that my husband and I had split, other than my family and with the closest relative probably over 10,000 km away it was an expensive conversation any day! I think what stopped me from telling friends was pride and fear of everything, from how would we survive to how would I survive financially? Don't ask me what telling people had to do with any of those and the hundreds of other reasons I had but then I felt there was a connection! Mixed in was also relief, and from that relief a little shame that I would feel so!! How crazy is that? What was actually a good thing for me and my kids, and I told myself that I should feel shameful for feeling relief - sometimes we should smack ourselves for our own foolish self talk. How much easier would life have been, how much less lonely I would have felt if I had confided in others during those years. Instead I closed in on myself. Now I'm not exactly an open book today, but I have learned over the years to reach out
It sounds like that I spent my afternoon thinking somewhat negative deep thoughts, when it was actually lots of fun. As I said I'm painting the ceiling and I have to do it in stages otherwise I get a bit glassy eyed at the thought of doing the whole undercoat at once. So each time I go up there I give myself a certain portion to paint, before I'm allowed to go onto something else - like diving into the books I've taken down from the shelves (I can sort and maybe give away a few). Or check out a new pattern, look at my fabric stash and start imaging what I could make. My challenge is there is so much to play with, and I want to do it all - NOW! So I need to give myself a goal before I move onto something else - a skill I've learned over the years as I get to know myself better. Today, I only stopped because I ran out of paint!
So who do you talk to when you are fearful, or when life kicks you in the knees? Take a look around, there are so many people out there who are willing to help, you just have to ask!
So I'm nearly half way through my chocolate-less month and I have to admit it is as difficult as I thought it would be! Even chocolate covered ginger is out! Plus after visiting the British sweet store in Victoria this week, I have decided that I have to also cut sugar from my diet. This came to me as I happily chewed my way up the Island highway! What was I doing? I didn't consciously decide, but without thinking I was jeopardizing the good I was trying to achieve by cutting out chocolate for a month. What a eijit! (a good descriptive Irish word)
So I've decided that apart my yummy cereal, which is almost all nuts and seeds with a wee bit of honey, I'm cutting out sugar too! I started this on Saturday and so far so good, I've been replacing the candy with fruit not quite the same, but it is working. In the meantime, I've been thinking how funny it is that we do this, we make a decision about changing a habit and then test ourselves consciously or unconsciously by doing something to jeopardize what we are trying to achieve. A book that discusses how habits work and suggests how to change them, is "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. I read it recently and really enjoyed it. It gave me the idea to quit alcohol for the month of January and now chocolate in February. Pressing the reset button!
So as I continue my challenge, let me know what you think.
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!
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
So I've been procrastinating, and procrastinating... I can't write my blog, what do I want to say? What am I feel passionate about that will interest people - excuses, excuses and easy to buy into and so it goes on.
So why do I have to be perfect? A question I ask others is, what would be the worst that could happen if ......? So for me what would happen if the post is not exciting/perfect etc. etc... but people will be disappointed - Question: are my posts that important? No one will read me again - Question: how do I know that that many people read them anyway.
So really what is the/my problem? Do I want to be perfect for my clients or myself - is it me and my own ego - yep that's it, that pride I was warned about it as a child, here it is again popping up it's old head again and again, writing a blog is not the only place it can get a hold, like temptation pride pops it's head up at the most inconvenient time, however unlike temptation, pride is really good at hiding itself and sometimes it takes a while to recognize what's happening. It sneaks up and then the excuses start until it's been over a month and the longer I procrastinate the more difficult it is to start again.
What's different today? What happened today that changed things? Maybe a question I've been pondering a few days now - what will it take me to start again?
So what is it that has you procrastinating on moving forward/making a decision? What would it take you to move forward? Talk to me, let me know what you think. What will it take to move you forward on something that you've been procrastinating on?
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.
Throughout the course of a week, I participate and sometimes observe many meetings, in both I observe the people involved. One week I participated in a meeting and was particularly gobsmacked (a great descriptive word!) at the behaviour of one person, let's call him Jack.
Jack's colleague arrived on time and noted that Jack might be late. We waited a short while and decided to begin our discussion. Some twenty minutes into the allotted time Jack arrived and sat down, no apology. His mobile rang and he took it out of his pocket, checked the number and continued with our conversation, he paused and began to scroll his e-mail. Eventually noting the silence from myself and my colleague he looked up, stopped and turned his mobile upside down. He then began to note that his colleagues, with one in the room, are lazy and that was part of the problem he is there to fix. Rather than listening to what was being said, he talked, not allowing for silence, or space to absorb both the atmosphere and the impact of his words. Thirty minutes after he arrived, he looked at the clock and stood up, ready to dash to another meeting.
In todays world, many may chose to ignore the simple forms of business etiquette. I am not one of them. My opinion of Jack has now been formed and it will take a lot to change it. How often do we do tiny things without thought? Taking out our mobile to check messages, when in a meeting or at a workshop? Speaking loudly into our mobile in a public place, unaware, or maybe uncaring that anyone could be listening, and forming opinions of our behaviour and more importantly our business. Speaking without thinking of the impact of our statements.
Coaching Jack, I would ask how he would handle a colleague who spoke disparagingly of him and his co-workers? I would ask what image did he wish to convey as a businessman and of the employer he was representing?
What else would you suggest Jack change? How would you have handled his behaviour, as the colleague in the room, and as one of the individuals he was meeting?
As business people, we expect some level of politeness. Being rude to others demonstrates a lack of respect, do you believe Jack wanted to project that image?
Let me know your thoughts and experiences in this new technological world!
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog