Friday, November 28, 2008

the holidays are coming - are you happy yet?

It's Thanksgiving weekend in the US, and the Santa Claus parade has already faded into memory here. It's definitely that time of year. It's more likely to snow than rain; there's too much work to do; the economy is a mess. Want to party?

Partying is a great way to take back control of you and be a force for good in the lives you touch. If this is what you want, here are three suggestions for the holidays:

1) The opposite of panic is celebrate.
2) Celebrate means to party about something with genuine joy.
3) Find something (maybe something very small) that makes you happy and celebrate that.

Yes - it is a lot like being thankful - but with less preaching and more party.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Stress Management

I looked at my husband and said, "I am teaching stress management" because that's what a lot of management does - creates stress.

The textbook says people get pressure conform and perform. I explained to my class that psychologists love catchy phrases. It is true that managers are, by nature, driven to exert pressure to conform and perform and are therefore responsible for much of the stress experienced by their teams.

My question for the day is this: If the role of the manager were not to create stress, what would it be?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

3 reasons for writing it

I was surprised when I looked at the "last posted" and saw that it had been more than a week. It has been a very fast ten days and I have done a lot of work - some of it in writing.

We all think that writing something down is slower than just working it through in our heads or in conversation. Most of the time we are wrong. Writing forces us to make choices that we do not have to make in our heads. It feels so slow because it takes thoughts in motion and holds them in one place. This is the first benefit of writing: to write we have to make choices and stick to them.

Some of the choices we make in writing surprise us. We look at the words on the page or the screen and discover something that we did not know we were thinking. If we had not formed the intention to write, we would still not know. That's the second benefit of writing: we pull ideas from unconscious process into conscious awareness.

It is hard to change minds, but it is easy to change words. When we write something, we can play with it merely by adding, subtracting or modifying words. Words are not even a dime a dozen - they're free. Nothing could be easier than to change a word or two - it does not require strength or imagination or money or time. Try it. Add a word. Take one away. Now notice what a difference a word or two makes. That's the third benefit of writing: it makes change easy.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Just get it done

I was talking to someone who was blocked. Sitting across from her, I could almost hear the voice in her head as it talked and talked and talked about how stuck she was. It was dizzying. I asked her what the voice would say if she was willing to give it her full attention. She said it would tell her to 'just get it done.'

It is a little different than "just do it." Just do it gets you to the starting line. Just get it done gets you to the finish line.

Just get it done has a reassuring cadence. The sound ends softly but firmly. It sounds complete.

As you look at your desk or your house or your Blackberry, you might have a voice in your head that races and bounces and scolds and pushes. That voice is you - trying very hard to get your own attention. Take a deep voice and actually listen to it. Pay attention to yourself.

Chances are, the voice will slow and change and focus. It might even tell you, "just get it done."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hard choices

The first thing to notice is that hard choices remain hard choices. They do not stop being hard because you have experience or because you have a model for decision making or even because you are confident that you know the "right" thing to do. Some choices are hard: hard to make and sometimes also hard to live out after they are made.

Hard things shape us, define our edges, roughen or polish our surfaces. Hard choices change the way we think. Whatever comes after a hard choice is shaped by the experience of having made it.

Running away from a hard choice is simply a way of tricking yourself into making the choice. You think, "if I keep busy enough, this choice will pass" or "if I refuse to make a choice, someone else will make it for me." It is true: situations change over time, with or without our intervention. It is also true that once something comes into our awareness as a choice, we know that doing nothing is also a choice - it is a choice to let the situation play out and shape our edges, to accept chance rather than choice as the sculptor that shapes us.

There is no universal answer - that's what makes the choices hard. Sometimes it is best to wait, sometimes to act quickly; sometimes to act, sometimes to refrain from acting.

There is a universal question: who do you want to be after the choice is made?