Sources of Insight Better Insights, Better Results 2015-08-27T08:10:15Z WordPress JD <![CDATA[Having Fun for a Living]]> 2015-08-27T05:49:15Z 2015-08-21T15:29:35Z Chade-Meng Tan shares how to have more fun at work by finding your flow.

The post Having Fun for a Living appeared first on Sources of Insight.

Businessman Sliding On Conference Table“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” — Rumi

You know the saying, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

But how do you do that?  How do you find that amazing work that makes you come alive?

You create it.  Right under your feet.  You can make your work more meaningful and you can find your flow, wherever you go, whatever you do.

In the book, Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace), Chade-Meng Tan shares how to have more fun at work by finding your flow.

Make Your Work Something You Would Do for Fun

You can use the work you already do as a chance to challenge yourself to learn, grow, become all that you’re capable of, and have fun in the process.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“Alignment means aligning our work with our values and higher purpose.

Half jokingly, I think of alignment as finding a way to never have to work again for the rest of your life and still get paid. 

The secret is to create a situation in which your work is something you do for fun, so you are doing it for your own entertainment anyway and somebody just happens to pay you for it (and since you are nice to them, you do not want to say no to their money.)  I know of many successful and highly productive people in this situation.”

Anyone Can Find a Way to Have More Fun

It doesn’t matter how old you are, what profession you are in, or what level you are.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“Warren Buffett is a famous example, still working … or … having fun at work in his eighties.  Norman Fischer once told me he has never worked a single day in his life, even though he is one of the most sought-after Zen teachers in the country and is busier than most Silicon Valley professionals I know. 

Closer to home, most of the best engineers I have worked with write code as a hobby, so they really just come to the office to hobby away and get paid.”

Meaningful Work + Finding Your Flow

If you want to start having fun for a living, you need to make the work meaningful to you, and you need to turn daily tasks and routines into opportunities to find your flow.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“Work of this has at least one of these two qualities, very often both:

  1. The work is deeply meaningful to you.
  2. It generates a state of flow in you.”

Flow is a State of Peak Performance

Flow is when you are fully engaged, all of you, in what you are doing in the moment.  Time melts away, and your attention is focused on the task at hand.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“Flow is so important, it is worth mentioning in some detail.  Daniel Goleman calls it ‘the ultimate motivator.’

Flow is s state of peak performance, discovered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who spent more than two decades studying it in individuals.

Csikszentmihalyl describes it as ‘being completely involved in an activity for its own sake.  The ego falls away.  Time flies.  Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz.  Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.’ “

Flow is Available to Everyone

It doesn’t matter what you do, there are opportunities to create more flow.  Instead of doing a task to get it done, try performing your task in a way that applies your skills and pushes the envelope in terms of how you do it better, faster, easier, or deeper.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“Athletes know this state as being in the zone.  Flow has been reported widely in a diverse number of fields, such as climbing rocks, performing brain surgery, filing papers, and even in sitting meditation (in fact, one way to think of flow is Zen in action.)”

Flow is a State of Focused Attention

When you focus your attention on right here, right now, and the task at hand, you improve your ability to generate flow.

You can almost hear Mr. Miyagi say, “Focus, Daniel-san!”

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“Flow occurs when the task at hand matches the skill level of the practitioner, such that it is difficult enough to provide a challenge but not so difficult that it overwhelms the practitioner. 

If the task is too easy relative to the skill level, the practitioner will be bored or apathetic.  In contrast, if it is too difficult, the practitioner becomes anxious or worried.  Flow occurs when difficulty is just right.

Flow is a state of focused attention, so people skillful in focusing their attention, such as meditators or martial arts experts, are more likely to find themselves in flow.”

If you’re worried whether the happiness you create is the real deal, check out Synthetic Happiness.

If you’re struggling with how to change the work you already do every day into something more meaningful, then check out Change Your Why or Change Your How.

My the flow be with you.

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JD <![CDATA[Emotional Triggers and What To Do About Them]]> 2015-08-27T05:59:23Z 2015-08-19T16:57:06Z We all have emotional triggers. An emotional trigger is when someone or something sets us off, and our emotions are triggered.

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Businessmen fighting in the office

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”  — Oscar Wilde

Do you ever react with anger or fear, and say or do things, and then wish you hadn’t?  You end up wishing you could take it all back, or rewind it, or get a do-over?

We all have emotional triggers.  An emotional trigger is when someone or something sets us off, and our emotions are triggered.

Manage Your Emotional Triggers or Emotional Triggers Will Manage You

We know the problems of over-reacting, blowing things out of proportion, or lashing out in anger.  But what can we do about it?

We can practice self-regulation and manage our emotional triggers with the Siberian North RailRoad technique.

In the book, Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace), Chade-Meng Tan shows us how we can manage our emotional triggers more effectively.

Self-Regulation is a Skill We Can Build

Emotional triggers can bring out our worst .. if we let them.  Little things that set us off, push us over the edge, or make us lose our cool, can really limit us, or even break us.  Self-regulation is a skill we can build that will help us respond vs. react to our emotional triggers.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“One common situation in which self-regulation skills really come in handy is when we get triggered.  That is when a seemingly small situation causes a disproportionately large emotional response in us, such as when our spouse makes an almost innocuous comment about how something we do and we just blow up. 

From an objective, third-party perspective, such an event often seems like making a mountain of a molehill. For example, all Cindy did was playfully twirl the hair of her husband, John, commenting, ‘You’re getting a little thin up there.’ John’s face immediately became red and with anger he insulted her with an expletive, right in front of his campaign staff.”

Notice When You Get Triggered

If you want to handle your emotional triggers better, you first need to notice when you get triggered.  You need to become aware that you have been triggered, and that your emotions are kicking in.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“The first step in learning to deal with triggers is identifying when you have been triggered.  Executive coach Marc Lesser provided these helpful suggestions on things to look out for:

  1. Body: Shallow breathing, rapid heartbeat, and sick to the stomach
  2. Emotions: Experiencing a fight-or-flight response, either feeling like a ‘deer in the headlights’ or having an emotional outburst (what Goleman famously calls an ‘amygdala hijack’)
  3. Thoughts: Feeling like a victim, thoughts of blame and judgment, difficulty paying attention

Triggers almost always have long histories behind them.  When we get triggered, it is very often because it brings back something from the past, that she’s doing that she’s-doing-that-again feeling

Triggers are also very often connected to a perceived inadequacy about ourselves that is a source of pain to us, sort of like a raw nerve.  For example, if I am feeling very insecure about my performance at work, a mere suggestion by my boss that she is slightly concerned about my project’s progress may cause a trigger reaction in me. 

In contrast, if I am fully confident about my work, my reaction to my boss will be entirely different.”

The Siberian North RailRoad Technique:  How To Manage Emotional Triggers with Skill

When you need to cool down fast before you blow out of control, you can practice the Siberian North RailRoad technique.  It’s a simple way to manage your emotional triggers and to learn to master your emotional responses to negative events.

Here are the 5 steps of the Siberian North RailRoad technique according to Chade-Meng Tan:

  1. Stop
  2. Breathe
  3. Notice
  4. Reflect
  5. Respond

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“Jennifer Bevan, one of our class participants, came up with the mnemonic that became the name of the practice.  She took the first letter of each day, SBNRR, and created the phrase SiBerian North RailRoad. 

I like the mental imagery behind the mnemonic.  It’s like you need to cool down from all that heat of an emotional trigger, and where better to cool down than one of the coldest and remote places in the world?”

1. Stop

That’s right.  Stop.  If you can take a quick pause, you enable yourself to choose a more effective response, rather than just react to your emotional trigger.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“The first and most important step is to stop.  Whenever you feel triggered, just stop.  Pausing at the onset of a trigger is a very powerful and important skills.  Do not react for just one moment. 

This moment is known as the sacred pause

It enables all the other steps.  If you only remember one step in this practice, remember this one.  In almost every instance, this one step is enough to make a big difference.”

2. Breathe

Take a deep breath and focus on your breath as a quick way to center yourself.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“The next step is to breathe.  By focusing the mind on the breath, we reinforce the sacred pause.  In addition, taking conscious breaths, especially deep ones, calms the body and mind.”

3. Notice

Notice your physical reaction within your body.  Don’t judge.  Just notice.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“After breathing, notice.  Experience your emotion by bringing attention to your body.  What does this feel like in the body? In the face, neck, shoulder, chest, back? Notice changes in tension and temperature.  Apply mindfulness by experiencing it moment-to-moment without judging.

What is most important at this point is to try to experience emotional difficulty simply as a physiological phenomenon, not an existential phenomenon.  If it is anger you are experiencing, for example, your observation is not ‘I am angry’; it is ‘I experience anger in my body.’”

4. Reflect

What’s behind your emotional reaction?   See if you can figure out why you react to the trigger.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“Now we reflect.  Where is the emotion coming from? Is there a history behind it? Is there a self-perceived inadequacy involved? 

Without judging it to be right or wrong, let’s just bring this perspective into the situation.  If this experience involves another person, put yourself inside the other person looking out at you.  Think about these statements:

  1. Everybody wants to be happy.
  2. This person thinks acting this way will make him happy in some way.

Again, bring perspective without judging it to be right or wrong.”

5. Respond

Focus on a positive outcome and choose how to respond.  This is your learning opportunity or your self-leadership moment, and it’s the moment you want to be proud of later.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“Finally, we respond.  Bring to mind ways in which you might respond to this situation that would have a positive outcome.  You do not actually have to do it. Just imagine the kindest, most positive response.  What would that look like?”

You’ll get better with practice.

If nothing else, just inserting the sacred pause when things set you off will help you start to get a better handle on your triggers, and, as a result, you’ll get better at managing your emotional triggers, with skill.

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JD <![CDATA[Stress-Proof Yourself: Keys to the Stress-Proof Individual]]> 2015-08-27T06:01:31Z 2015-08-18T18:01:07Z “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” — Hans Selye For some people, the stress of a roller-coaster ride is fun and exciting.  It makes them feel alive.  It’s exhilarating. For others, that same roller-coaster ride is a nightmare. It’s not what’s on your plate, it’s how you eat it, that

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“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” — Hans Selye

For some people, the stress of a roller-coaster ride is fun and exciting.  It makes them feel alive.  It’s exhilarating.

For others, that same roller-coaster ride is a nightmare.

It’s not what’s on your plate, it’s how you eat it, that determines what you get out of it.

Stress is a Part of Life

While you can’t make stress go away, you can change how you respond to it.  In effect, you can “stress-proof” yourself.

Stress is big deal in our lives.  We may pay the price ourselves, or have friends and family that do.  We could all use some insight to stress-proof ourselves and to help our friends, family, and colleagues do the same.

In the book, Magic in Practice: Introducing Medical NLP: The Art and Science of Language in Healing and Health, Garner Thomson with Dr. Khalid Khan show us areas we can work on to stress-proof ourselves.

Some People Seem Stress-Proof

There are certain qualities that enable some people to flourish in the face of challenge.

Via Magic in Practice:

“Some people, however, undoubtedly have the ability to engage fully with the day-to-day challenges of work and life while somehow remaining impervious to stress and its effects. 

Although this may be partly genetic, research indicates that the ability to flourish in the face of challenge is marked by certain qualities usually ignored in orthodox medicine.”

We Can Improve Our Ability to Respond to Stress

With the power of a few psychological modulators on our side, we can flourish in the face of stress.

Via Magic in Practice:

“Hans Selye’s largely reductionist approach (that the stress response is purely physiological) has been substantially modified by the discovery that perception of stress can both trigger and regulate allostatic load.  Known as psychological modulators, these fall into five main categories: social support / connectedness, a sense of control, predictability, outlook (optimistic vs. pessimistic) and the ability to dissipate frustration.”

1. Social Support and Connectedness

Connectedness and social support are more than a good idea.  They are key to your ability to handle and respond to stress effectively.

Your social network makes you strong.

Via Magic in Practice:

“Researchers investigating strikingly low rates of myocardial infarction report in the 1940’s from the little Pennsylvanian town of Roseto, where they expected to find a fit, tobacco-and alcohol-free community enjoying all the benefits of clean-living. 

When they arrived, they found as many smokers, drinkers and couch potatoes as the rest of the country, where heart disease was on the rise.  The difference between Roseto and other similar towns, the researchers discovered, was a particularly cohesive social structure.  Somehow, the closeness Rosetans enjoyed inoculated them against cardiac problems.

Predictably as the community became steadily more ‘Americanised’, the protection disappeared.  A 50-year longitudinal study, published in 1992, categorically established that social support and connectedness had provided a powerfully salutogenic (health promoting) effect on the heart.

Some of the established benefits of social support and connectedness include: extended lifespan (double that of people with low social ties); improved recovery from heart attack (three times better for those with high social ties); reduced progression from HIV to AIDS; and even protection from the common cold.”

2. A Sense of Control

Power is the ability to take action.  Just knowing that you have choices and feeling a sense of control over your situation can significantly reduce the impact of stress on your health.

Via Magic in Practice:

“Feeling you are in control of your work and personal life is one of the best predictors of a long and healthy life.  Conversely, feeling victimized by unpredictable forces outside of your control can be a killer. 

One large-scale study has revealed that people who feel they have little or no control over their lives have a 30% increased likelihood of dying prematurely than those who score highest in tests measuring a sense of power and control.  Whether we look at rats or humans, the effect is the same.  Where predictability and control are low, and environmental or occupational stress is high, the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease soars.

Happily for our survival in a stressful world, the converse is true.  Not only can health improve as control is restored, but even knowing we have choices can significantly offset the effects of major life-challenges, reduce our experience of pain and need for medication, and measurably increase longevity, even later in life.”

3. Predictability

While some people embrace randomness and surprise, other people need a sense of stability, consistency, and predictability.

If you need more predictability in your life, as the world changes under your feet, practice your anticipation skills.

Via Magic in Practice:

“Our ability to predict events, such as pain and stressful situations, helps arm us against their effects. 

Habituation — the regularity with which stressful events occur — also helps us cope.  Studies of urban populations in Britain who faced regular nightly air raids during World War 2 showed a greater level of resilience to stress diseases than their counterparts in suburbs, where bombing was substantially more erratic.

Once again, perception is the key to how we respond.  If our world-view is one of being at the mercy of random events — most of which are negative — allostatic load is inevitable.  If we enjoy surprises (and there are many who do), the emotional response to the resultant surge in stress chemicals and endorphins is likely to be interpreted as excitement.

It must be emphasized that predictability, like control, can have its downside.  Just as a misplaced sense of control over issues that are beyond our influence can be counter-productive, so can too much predictability. 

Studies of work-related stress have repeatedly shown that highly repetitive (read: boring) tasks can results in high levels of job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, and blood pressure.  Less predictable work interspersed with the production-line activities reverse the effects.”

4. Expectation of Improvement

Hope doesn’t always float.  Sometimes it sinks.  Rather than depend on hope, you can take a positive outlook and focus on improvement.

Improving your situation, even just by a little bit, can make a big difference in your ability to handle stress more effectively.

Via Magic in Practice:

“Blind ‘hope’, as advocated by many self-help books, may have little impact on disease outcomes, and exhorting someone to remain hopeful in difficult circumstances can prove taxing and lead to depression and self-blame.  However, realism, coupled with anticipation of improvement, however small, can moderate the stress chemicals than an otherwise serious or critical situation can trigger.

A landmark study, referred to by Robert Sapolsky in his highly readable book on stress and coping, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, demonstrated that parents whose children had been diagnosed with cancer showed only a moderate rise in their glucocorticoid levels when told there was a 25% risk of death. 

The reason for this, the study concluded, was that odds of 75% of survival were perceived miraculously high.  As Sapolsky observes, it is not so much the ‘reality’ of the situation that affects our response, but the meaning we ascribe to it.”

5. Meaning, Purpose, and Spirituality

No matter what the circumstances are, if you believe that you have unfinished business, such as a mission that you need to fulfill, and if you believe you have the ability to choose how you respond to the situation, you significantly improve your ability to stand strong when tested and improve your ability to deal with major stress.

Via Magic in Practice:

“The way we evaluate past, and anticipate future, events can influence many aspects of our experience, including our health and well-being.  Large-scale and longitudinal studies, such as those carried out at Harvard University and Harvard School of Public Health, have demonstrated that explanatory styles–whether we apply an optimistic or a pessimistic span to the meaning of our experience– are strong indicators of our future health status.

We are greatly inspired by the experience of Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who was arrested by the Nazis in 1942 and deported with his family to Theresienstadt, a notorious concentration camp set up by the Germans near Prague.  During the following three years, incarcerated in the death camps of Auschwitz, Dachau and Turkheim, Frankl lost his parents, his brother, and his wife, Tilly.  Frankl himself survived, despite nearly succumbing to typhoid fever during the last months of the war.

His seminal work, Man’s Search for Meaning, recounts both his experiences and conclusions.  Frankl spent his time at the very edge of annihilation observing his fellow prisoners, searching out the distinctions between those who survived and those who succumbed without struggle.  His observations suggested that those who looked for and found a sense of meaning in their lives — in other words, who believed they still had a mission to be fulfilled — and were free to choose their responses to whatever happened to them, were best equipped to transcend their circumstances and flourish, no matter how terrible those circumstances might be.”

6. Dissipation of Frustration

How do you let your steam off?  There are better ways than booze, and far better ways than emotional outbursts.

Find an activity that you really enjoy.  If you couple that with an activity that gives you a sense of power and control over your body and your mind, while you build up your strength, you are really stacking the deck in your favor.

Via Magic in Practice:

“We draw a distinction between dissipation and displacement (yelling, crying, punching a wall, etc.), none of which has been shown effectively to reduce chronic allosteric load, and may even worsen it.

Displacement is usually counterproductive — physically, psychologically, and socially.  Dissipation, on the other hand, may be incorporated into an ongoing programme, designed  to counter-balance, or even down regulate, the fight-or-flight response.  Some examples may be: regular exercise, especially light aerobic workouts, yoga, martial arts and meditation.  However, when making a lifestyle change to facilitate allostasis by dissipation, it is important to select an activity you find satisfying.  The positive effects are directly related to perceiving your programme as enjoyable.  If it is not, find something else.”

Audit Your Life-Balance (Questions to Check Your Stress-Proof Ability)

According to Garner Thomson with Dr. Khalid Khan, we can audit our Life-Balance by asking ourselves a simple set of questions that test our resilience to stress:

  1. How much support do I get from family and friends?
  2. How much control do I have in my life?
  3. How well do I cope with unexpected events?
  4. How much do I expect my situation to improve?
  5. What do you find helps you cope when you have a problem or challenge? How much does this help?
  6. How much ‘downtime’ do I allow myself?

Use each question as a challenge to explore what you can change and improve.

I think it’s pretty exciting to know that there are categories of stress resistance that we can work on and improve that have a direct impact on our ability to deal with stress for life.

Stress happens.

It’s how you respond.

Are you ready for it?

Eat stress for breakfast.  When stress shows up, show it who’s the boss.

I want your stress-proof-you to be able to say, “Bring it!”

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JD <![CDATA[Two-Minute Mindfulness Exercise]]> 2015-08-27T06:03:28Z 2015-08-11T17:10:49Z Mindfulness can help improve your inner peace and develop your Emotional Intelligence (EQ.) You can use your mindfulness to enjoy the moment, or to choose how you respond, instead of react to situations and events in your life.

The post Two-Minute Mindfulness Exercise appeared first on Sources of Insight.


“Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.” – John Lennon

I have a few friends that don’t like the impact of their phones and our connected world on their attention span and ability to “just be” in the moment.

So I thought it would help to share a quick two minute exercise for practicing mindfulness.

Mindfulness can help improve your inner peace and develop your Emotional Intelligence (EQ.)

You can use your mindfulness to enjoy the moment, or to choose how you respond, instead of react to situations and events in your life.

In the book, Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace), Chade-Meng Tan helps us learn how to be more mindful in just two minutes a day.

Learning to “Just Be” Can Change Your Life

By practicing mindfulness, you can deepen your calmness and clarity.  When you improve your inner peace, you’ll find more outer peace, all around you.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“This simple exercise is mindfulness practice.  If practiced often enough, it deepens the inherent calmness and clarity in the mind. 

It opens up the possibility of fully appreciating each moment in life, every one of which is precious. 

It is for many people, including myself, a life-changing practice.  Imagine, something as simple as learning to just be can change your life.”

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the mind of just being.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“In learning and teaching, the good news is that mindfulness is embarrassingly easy.  It is easy because we already know what it’s like, and it’s something we already experience from time to time. 

Remember that Jon Kabat-Zinn skillfully defined mindfulness as ‘paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.’ 

Put most simply, I think mindfulness is the mind of just being.  All you really need to do is to pay attention moment-to-moment without judging. 

It is that simple.”

Two-Minute Mindfulness the Easy Way

Ready to start practicing your mindfulness?  Let’s dive in.   But let’s start off easy.  Just breathe for two minutes and focus your attention on your breath.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“The creatively named Easy Way is to simply bring gentle and consistent attention to your breath for two minutes. 

That’s it. 

Start by becoming aware that you are breathing, and then pay attention to the process of breathing.  Every time your attention wanders away, just bring it back very gently.”

Two-Minute Mindfulness the Easier Way

If the Easy Way to practice mindfulness seems to hard, then let’s try an even easier way.  Just sit without an agenda for two-minutes.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“The Easier Way is, as its name may subtly suggest, even easier. 

All you have to do is sit without agenda for two minutes. 

Life really cannot get much simpler than that. 

The idea here is to shift from ‘doing’ to ‘being,’ whatever that means to you, for just two minutes. 

Just be.”

Two-Minute Mindfulness the Even Easier Way

O.K., so you want an even easier way?  Switch back and forth between the Easy Way and the Easier Way as often and whenever you choose.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“To make it even easier, you’re free to switch between the Easy Way and the Easier Way anytime during these two minutes. 

Any time you feel like you want to bring awareness to breathing, just switch to Easy. 

Any time you decide you’d rather just sit without agenda, just switch to Easier. 

No question asked.”

The Hard Part in Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness is easy, but the hard part is being able to summon deep calmness and vivid presence when you need it most, when life tests us.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“The hard part in mindfulness practice is deepening, strengthening, and sustaining it, especially in times of difficulty. 

To have a quality of mindfulness so strong that every moment in life, even in trying times, is infused with deep calmness and a vivid presence, is very hard and takes a lot of practice. 

But mindfulness per se, is easy.  It is easy to understand and easy to arise in ourselves.  That ease is what I capitalize on as an instructor.”

A Child Teaches Us How To Be More Mindful

Tan practices mindfulness with his daughter, and it helps remind him of the most ordinary—and the most precious– experience in life – just being.

Via Search Inside Yourself:

“Most evenings, before we sleep, my young daughter and I sit in mindfulness together for two-minutes.  I like to joke that two minutes is optimal for us because that is the attention span of a child and of an engineer. 

For two-minutes a day, we quietly enjoy being alive and being together. 

More fundamentally, for two minutes a day, we enjoy being.  Just being. 

To just be is simultaneously the most ordinary and the most precious experience in life.

As usual, I let my experience with a child inform how I teach adults.  This daily two-minute experience is the basis of how I introduce the practice of mindfulness in introductory classes for adults.”

Can you learn to “just be”?

Way to be.

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JD <![CDATA[Do You Have Monsters Under the Bed Syndrome?]]> 2015-08-27T06:05:16Z 2015-08-06T16:09:21Z How to get rid of the Monsters-Under-the-Bed and put fear and failure in their place.

The post Do You Have Monsters Under the Bed Syndrome? appeared first on Sources of Insight.

image“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” — Woody Allen

When you mess up, it’s easy to let that foul up, bleep, or blunder get bigger and bigger.

What you resist persists.  And that little mishap can get larger than life, and even take on a life of it’s own.  If you let it.

Or, you can pin that little monster down and nip it in the bud.

We mess up.  Life’s messy.  If you’re a leader, an entrepreneur, or simply human, I bet you can relate.

In the book, Survive to Thrive: 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, and Leaders, Faisal Hoque and Lydia Dishman serve up some great insight in how to get rid of the Monsters-Under-the-Bed and put fear and failure in their place.

Failure Doesn’t Define You

Failure happens.  But don’t let it define you.  Shame can grow and accelerates when we don’t confront our fears.

Via Survive to Thrive:

“The failure, Feld contends, was part of the experience.  ‘But it doesn’t define you.’  At this point it’s important not to let the embarrassment over what went wrong get the best of you.  ‘Shame accelerates when you let the narrative take over,’ he says.  ‘Shame comes from not confronting your fears.’”

Monsters-Under-the-Bed Syndrome

When you deal with the monsters head-on, they suddenly aren’t so scary.  In fact, they start to disappear.

Via Survive to Thrive:
“Instead, Feld advises, it is important to confront that fear.  Some experts advice writing down a list of worst-case scenarios in one column, and in another, ways to deal with them. 

The act of recording those fears in a concrete way not only allows you to brainstorm a solution, but avoids the entire shadowy ‘monsters-under-the-bed syndrome’ that comes from not being able to define the boundaries of a problem.“

Don’t Let Feelings of Failure Creep into Other Parts of Life

When something goes wrong, isolate it, and learn from it.  Don’t dwell on it.   And don’t let it creep into other areas of life.

Via Survive to Thrive:

“As Feld writes, ‘I separate how I feel from failure from how I feel about life and what I’m doing.’”

Examine Failure

When you put failure under the spotlight, it becomes more objective and you take away it’s power over you.  And, better yet, you take your power back.

Via Survive to Thrive:

“Resilience, then, can spring from repeated use of this practice.  Examine failure.  Hold it up to the light and recognize what went wrong. 

Take the time to define your worst fears before going forward and before they lead to shame and discouragement from reaching your goals.”

Fear, failure, and shame can’t own you.  Unless you let them.

Get your flashlight out.

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JD <![CDATA[Jobs, Careers, and Callings]]> 2015-08-27T06:08:38Z 2015-08-03T16:51:31Z One theory of work is that people tend to see themselves in jobs, careers, or callings. Depending on how you view what you do, this impacts how you show up, how engaged you are, how meaningful your work is, and your intrinsic rewards.

The post Jobs, Careers, and Callings appeared first on Sources of Insight.


“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.”  — Émile Zol

One theory of work is that people tend to see themselves in jobs, careers, or callings.

Depending on how you view what you do, this impacts how you show up, how engaged you are, how meaningful your work is, and your intrinsic rewards.

What if, instead of a job, you are living your mission?  Or pursuing your calling?  That’s a very different mindset than showing up for a paycheck. And there are lots of ways to transform jobs into careers and careers into callings.

But it all starts with you, your story, your strategies and your mindset.

I was reading “A World Without Work”, by Derek Thompson, in The Atlantic, where Thompson talks about the theory of work about jobs, careers, and callings.


If you see yourself in a job, chances are you are focused on just making a living and paying the bills.

Via Derek Thompson, “A World Without Work,” The Atlantic, Jul/Aug 2015:
”Individuals who say their work is ‘just a job’ emphasize that they are working for money rather than aligning with any higher purpose.”


If you see yourself in a career, chances are you are focused on achievement or status, and making progress in your field, and moving up the ladder.

Via Derek Thompson, “A World Without Work,” The Atlantic, Jul/Aug 2015:

“Those with pure careerist ambitions are focused not only on income but also on the status that comes with promotions and the growing renown of their peers.”


If you see yourself in calling, chances are you focus on fulfillment.  You treat your work as a chance for self-expression and a way to give your best where you have your best to give.

Via Derek Thompson, “A World Without Work,” The Atlantic, Jul/Aug 2015:

“But one pursues a calling not only for pay or status, but also for the intrinsic fulfillment of the work itself.”

10 Ways to Transform Your Job

I’ve had many odd jobs throughout my life and played many drastically different roles.  Along the way, I’ve always focused on working myself out of the job and transforming the job into something so much more along the way.

I’ve also treated each job as the ultimate dojo for personal growth.  If you treat work as a chance, not a chore, it’s amazing how many opportunities even the most seemingly trivial job can open up.

Here are some of the ways that I’ve found especially helpful for transforming jobs into so much more:

  1. Treat work as a the ultimate form of self-expression.
  2. Use each job as a chance to improve skills to become better, faster, and deeper.
  3. Use each job as a chance to learn new skills and stretch in new ways.
  4. Use each job as a chance to grow your network.
  5. Use each job as a chance to learn new ways to improve collaboration.
  6. Use each job as a chance to learn new ways to deal with conflict.
  7. Use each job as a chance to practice a job well done.
  8. Use each job as a chance to learn new self-motivation techniques.
  9. Use each job to find ways to spend more time in my values.
  10. Use each job to create new adventures and make more moments that matter.

Have you answered your calling?

Ring, ring.

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JD <![CDATA[Innovate Like Einstein: An Eight-Step System for Innovation]]> 2015-08-27T06:11:01Z 2015-07-30T16:13:46Z Innovation is a game everyone can play. But you need innovation tools and techniques to be more effective. What if you could innovate like Archimedes, Einstein, or Edison?

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“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.” — Theodore Levitt

Innovation is a game everyone can play.

But you need innovation tools and techniques to be more effective.

What if you could innovate like Archimedes, Einstein, or Edison?  What new process would you create, what new product would you design, or what new idea would you think up?

For some, innovation is more systematic.  For others, it’s more serendipity.  In all cases, a big idea is rooted in insight.

In the book, The Four Lenses of Innovation: A Power Tool for Creative Thinking, Rowan Gibson shares a simple process to innovate like Einstein.

The Archimedes, Einstein, and Edison Approach to Innovation

While everybody’s innovation process might look different on the surface, they all tend to follow a common set of steps.

Via The Four Lenses of Innovation:

“Is there really a ‘method’ by which all ideas are produced,’ as James Webb Young asserted more than six decades ago? Certainly, Archimedes, Einstein, and Edison seemed to follow quite similar steps to their breakthrough solutions, essentially corresponding with the linear, multistage models of the creative process that have been defined and refined over the past hundred years.”

8-Step Creative Process for Innovation

You can innovate like Einstein.

Here are the eight steps of how to innovate like Einstein according to Rowan Gibson:

  1. Frame a specific challenge and focus on solving it.
  2. Research a subject.  Learn from the work of others.
  3. Immerse yourself in the problem.  Explore possible solutions.
  4. Reach a roadblock.  Feel the creative frustration.
  5. Relax.  Detach from the problem.  Let it incubate in the unconscious mind.
  6. Come to an illuminating insight that fundamentally shifts your perspective.
  7. Build the insight (or insights) into a big idea–a new combination of thoughts.
  8. Test and illuminate the new idea–try to make it work.

Treat the 8-steps for innovation like scaffolding.   Just use the process as a way to build your innovation muscle.  As you start to spread your wings, you’ll find you can skip over steps or re-sequence them, as you build your fluency in the art and science of innovation.

Innovation Can Often Be Intuitive and Serendipitous

What happens if you miss a step, or skip a beat?

It happens.

Innovation happens.

Sometimes by chance, and not always by choice.

Via The Four Lenses of Innovation:

“In contrast, many other inventors, entrepreneurs, and innovators came to their ideas in ways that deviated quite obviously from their standard models.  Their approach to innovation was more intuitive than deliberate; more serendipitous than systematic. 

But, as we found out when we unpacked these latter cases, there was nevertheless a stepwise process involved in discovering and developing each of these opportunities, even though several of the steps may have been in a different order than prescribed in most models, or simply skipped altogether.”

There are Common Steps for Innovation

While you can try and wing it with innovation, or wait for creative lightning to strike, or hope that you experience great flashes of insight, it’s still a good idea to stack the deck in your favor.

I like to think of it as getting up to bat, focus on hitting the ball well, and every now and then hitting it out of the park.

But not swinging for the fence every time you’re up at bat.

I think that rooting yourself in an approach that you can count on for yourself, that allows for serendipity, but at the same time, encourages forward progress, will help you find what works for you.

Via The Four Lenses of Innovation:

“It turns out, then, that the production of ideas is not quite ‘as definitive a process as the production of Fords,’ to use James Webb Young’s assembly line analogy.  However, there are some common steps that seem to recur in every case, whether the innovators in question were deliberately trying to follow ‘an operative technique,’ or instead were just following their creative instincts

It’s definitely not wrong to consciously set up the front end of the creative process in the most effective way by framing a specific challenge and focusing on solving it, researching the subject to learn from the work of others, immersing yourself in the problem and exploring possible solutions–probably reaching a roadblock or creative impasse at some point–and then detaching from the problem to let it incubate in the unconscious mind.”

Innovation Sometimes Happens by Chance

Creative leaps happen.

Via The Four Lenses of Innovation:

“Anyone who has ever spent time in R&D, new product development, advertising or design, or who has ever worked on solving some creative challenge of their own, will no doubt immediately identify with this sequence of steps. 

But this doesn’t mean that innovation sometimes happens, at least partly, by chance. 

As we have clearly seen, it’s not always necessary to follow each one of these preliminary steps, in this particular order, to discover a new opportunity, although several or all of the steps may still occur at some point further downstream.”

Powerful Ideas are Always Inspired by Insights

If you want to innovate like Einstein, while you can follow the steps to improve your effectiveness with innovation, the real key is to master your ability to gain insight.

Insights are the fundamental building blocks of big ideas.

If you want more big ideas, then find ways to shift your perspective and see things in a brand new way.

Via The Four Lenses of Innovation:

“One element is the big idea.  Obviously, at the heart of every significant innovation there is a compelling and value-creating idea of some kind– a new combination of thoughts.   The other element is the illuminating insight (or insights). 

Without fail, every big idea was preceded by at least one insight–a new and penetrating understanding into a situation or problem. 

These two elements of the creative thinking process–the insight and the idea–are invariably present in each case, and are always inextricably connected.  Why? Because if there was one universal law of innovation, it would be this: Powerful new ideas are never simply snatched of the air.  They are always inspired by insights.”

Just because you don’t have Einstein’s cool hair or mustache doesn’t mean you can’t take a page out of his playbook.

Maybe you won’t imagine yourself riding on a beam of light, like Einstein did, but maybe you’ll see yourself riding something even more illuminating.

Here’s to you, and innovating like Einstein.

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JD <![CDATA[Insight]]> 2015-08-27T06:12:05Z 2015-07-29T16:06:15Z Insight is inner sight, mental vision, or wisdom. Insight is the creative juice that authors, artists, linchpins, entrepreneurs, teachers, trusted advisers, and other creative geniuses flow and draw from.

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“The capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing.”

What is insight?

A dictionary definition might say insight is inner sight, mental vision, or wisdom.

Maybe Edward de Bono says it best when he says insight is a eureka moment, and he describes two kinds.

The first kind of insight is where we short-circuit a longer path with a shorter one.  Maybe one day, we find a shorter way home.

The second is type of insight is like a eureka moment, where we gain a sudden flash of insight, and a new understanding.

With a flash of insight, there may be no new information, but according to de Bono, the whole thing suddenly ‘restructures itself to give a completely different pattern.’

Why Do We Care About Insight?

Why do we care about insight?  Because we can solve problems better and faster, and we can create new solutions or expand the realm of possibility.

Insight is the creative juice that authors, artists, linchpins, entrepreneurs, teachers, trusted advisers, and other creative geniuses flow and draw from.

Insight is the backbone of innovation and the art of the possible..

Insight breaks the mold, and forges new pathways in the mind, leading to deeper learning.

Our “ah-ha” moments enlighten us.

In the book, The Four Lenses of Innovation: A Power Tool for Creative Thinking, Rowan Gibson explains insight in pragmatic ways.

Insight is a New and Penetrating Understanding

Like a stroke of genius, insight helps us see things in a brand new way.  Sometimes, it’s like somebody defrosted our windows.  Other times, it’s like somebody took our blinders off that we didn’t even know we had on.

Via The Four Lenses of Innovation:

“Look up the word insight in a dictionary, and you will find it defined as ‘a new and penetrating understanding about a particular situation or a problem.’  It’s about grasping of discerning the true nature of something; suddenly noticing or perceiving a matter clearly or deeply; literally seeing into a situation (hence in-sight) in a way that sheds light on or helps solve a problem.”

Insight is a Striking Realization

Whether it’s a new angle, new information, or a new connection, insight helps us connect the dots in new and more meaningful ways.

Via The Four Lenses of Innovation:

“Thus, I like to think of an insight as a striking realization that fundamentally changes our thinking.  It can come from an illuminating new piece of information that either prompts us to look at an issue from a completely different angle, or that connects with existing information in a way that brings us a startling new conclusion. 

But sometimes these novel thoughts or realizations just seem to surface in our heads quite suddenly without the recent addition of any new information, particularly after a period in which the unconscious mind has been incubating previous knowledge, information, interests, and experiences.”

Insight Surprises and Inspires You

The power of insight is the power to inspire us.   Whether it means creating new windows or breaking down walls, or simply taking the balcony view, insight can surprise us, and take our understanding to new depths or higher levels.

Via The Four Lenses of Innovation:

“Simply put, an insight is something you previously didn’t know, or didn’t yet think about, that has the power to surprise and inspire you.  And what role do such insights play in the creative thinking process? As Scott Gray, head of planning at digital marketing agency Quirk, puts it, ‘Insights are to an idea what fire-lighters are to fire.  They represent the best way of generating ideas that inspire success.’”

Insight Redirects Your Thinking

When you change what you see, it changes your thinking.  Insight changes what we see, and what we can see, and therefore, what we can think.

Via The Four Lenses of Innovation:

“In their article, Unleashing Hidden Insights, Marco Vriens (from Microsoft) and Rogier Verhult (from LinkedIn) define an insight as ‘a thought, fact, combination of facts, data and/or analysis of data that induces meaning and furthers understanding of a situation or issue.’  It is something that has the potential of ‘redirecting the thinking about that situation or issue, which then in turn has the potential of benefiting the business.’”

Insight Reveals Profound Truths

Whether it was there all along, and now it’s revealed, or it was forging a better looking glass, insight can help us see evergreen truths, or deeper truths well beyond what we might see today.

Via The Four Lenses of Innovation:

“Executives at Mars, the global chocolate manufacturer, refer to the process of discovering insights as ‘peeling back the onion,’ in the sense that it is about looking beyond the obvious by methodically removing successive layers of shallow, superficial information in an effort to drill down to the deeper and more profound truths about something.’”

Insight Turns the Lights On

Just when you thought there were 9 planets, we found out there was 10.  And then there was 8.

Insight helps us see things better.  And sometimes, brighter.

Via The Four Lenses of Innovation:

“In The Art of Insight, Charles Kiefer and Malcolm Constable wrote that insights ‘result in a dramatically improved understanding of a situation or problem such that we see things more deeply and more accurately than before.’  That’s why Jeremy Bullmore, member of the Advisory Board at WPP, the multinational marketing communications company says that ‘a good insight is like a refrigerator, because the more you look into it, a light comes on.’”

Insight Shifts Our Mental Perspective

When the light bulb goes off, and you see things in a completely different light, insight helps you see problems and solutions from a new mental model.

The mental model that you work from can limit or accelerate your breakthroughs.

Via The Four Lenses of Innovation:

“A great example of an illuminating insight is Professor Theodore Levitt’s famous remark: ‘People don’t want quarter-inch drills.  They want quarter-inch holes.’  For his marketing students at Harvard Business School 40 or 50 years ago, this fresh understanding represented a drastic shift in mental perspective.  It immediately altered their perception by allowing them to see the marketing challenge in a completely different light.”

Insight is a many splendored thing.

Insight is accessible to all of us.

What will you do with yours?

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JD <![CDATA[Image Streaming — Think Faster, More Visually, and More Fluidly]]> 2015-08-27T06:13:08Z 2015-07-27T15:38:53Z Image Streaming is a technique you can use to improve your visual thinking and verbal fluency. Whether you want flashes of insights or simply to build your working vocabulary, you can practice Image Streaming on your own.

The post Image Streaming — Think Faster, More Visually, and More Fluidly appeared first on Sources of Insight.


“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” — Albert Einstein

Image Streaming is a technique you can use to improve your visual thinking and verbal fluency.

Whether you want flashes of insights or simply to build your working vocabulary, you can practice Image Streaming on your own.

Image Streaming is a creative thinking technique developed by Win Wenger, Ph.D.  He modeled it after visual thinkers like Einstein.  Wenger claims that Einstein developed the foundations for the Theory of Relativity while visualizing himself “driving a train and looking into mirror asking a question if he could see his face”.

Think Better, Think Faster, See More

What if you could think faster, more visually, and more fluidly?  What if you could verbalize your ideas in a much better way?

What if you could envision new ideas and describe them in rich detail?  What if you could expand your vocabulary and apply it to come up with new creative ideas.

Enter Image Streaming.

It gets the lead out.

Describe What You See In Your Mind Out Loud

Kids often have an active imagination.

Somewhere along the way, adults often lose their imagination, and yet, that’s exactly what they need to innovate or solve problems or dream up better ways to do things.

Maybe we edit too much and block any ideas from getting a chance to see the light of day.

What if instead of editing, we practiced elaborating?

How often do you practice describing your ideas in rich detail, out loud?

See the gap? (It’s hard to get better at things we don’t practice 😉

How To Practice Image Streaming

Image Streaming is simply a way to examine and explore images in your mind.  Simply explore a scene by describing it in as much detail as possible, using all of your senses.  Verbalize it out loud.

As you verbalize the image, you’ll see more, and as you see more describe it.  Describe it as fast as you can.  This will develop your verbal fluency, and will help you elaborate on details of the images and the scenes that you see.

It may feel forced at first, but it’s like building a muscle.  The more you use it, the easier it gets to do it.  And that’s your growth.

Record your session so you can play it back and reflect on your ability to describe what you experience.  Alternatively, you could describe a scene to a friend or partner and have them give feedback.

You can practice anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.

Everyone Can Readily Learn and Practice It

What I especially like about Image Streaming is that it’s visual thinking for everyone.  Anybody can practice it, and anybody can develop their creative thinking skills and their verbal fluency.

Via Project Renaissance:

“Starting advantage, differences of birth, wealth, placement, schooling, even intelligence, can make little long-run difference compared to the advantages of simple sustained practice of these activities and your active resolve to see their results through to fruition.”

How I Use Image Streaming

I’ve stumbled upon Image Streaming naturally through the course of my work.  I often need to describe scenes of the future and how technology will make an impact in our lives.  Or, I need to think of ways that technology will improve business scenarios.

Because I need to share these ideas with other people, live, I end up exploring ways to quickly explain in rich detail what a scene in my mind for the future is like.

While I still get stuck, or find myself at a loss for words, I’ve definitely gotten more fluent in painting scenes of the future for my colleagues.

Where I need to practice more is using more of my senses when I describe the scenes to really bring them to life in more vivid detail.

The more that I practice Image Streaming, the more I wonder whether Visionary Leaders happen to be good at storytelling about the future, or they simply practice describing it, and they get better over time.

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JD <![CDATA[Everyone Has a Story]]> 2015-08-27T06:14:14Z 2015-07-24T16:01:00Z Everyone has a story. But not everyone tells their story. And we don’t always ask. Sharing the stories that shaped your life doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human.

The post Everyone Has a Story appeared first on Sources of Insight.


“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” – Orson Welles

Everyone has a story.  But not everyone tells their story.

And we don’t always ask.

Sharing the stories that shaped your life doesn’t make you weak.   It makes you human.

When we share stories of the defining moments in our lives, we connect at a deeper level, beyond roles and goals.

In The Heart-Led Leader: How Living and Leading from the Heart Will Change Your Organization and Your Life, Tommy Spaulding shares how everyone has a story and how vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.

It’s OK To Be Open, Candid, and Vulnerable

Jodi had high ambitions.   While she achieved her dreams, it was not without extreme challenges, pain, and setbacks along the way.

In the process of sharing her stories, Jodi learned that it’s OK to be human.

Via The Heart-Led Leader:

“In her speech, Jodi had two messages to give the students at the National Leadership Academy.  One was that people are defined by ‘how they respond to adverse circumstances.’  The other was that it’s OK to be open, candid, and vulnerable with others.  ‘I had always felt that you need to appear confident even if you’re not,’ she said.”

Share the Defining Moments of Our Lives

The more Jodi shared her stories, the more she connected.

She was no longer just another successful leader focused on business results.  She was a fellow human being with hopes and dreams and fears like the rest of us.

Via The Heart-Led Leader:

“Jodi told me that she had only started opening up more to others recently, when she began looking for ways to build greater trust with her leadership team, clients, and customers. 

She realized that a shift toward openness, candor, and vulnerability might help

Jodi started talking more about herself with colleagues; she even gave a talk in which she discussed some defining moments in her life from her difficult childhood to her multiple miscarriages.”

Vulnerability Builds Better Relationships

When a leader shows their vulnerable side, it helps others show theirs, too.

When people feel safe to share their vulnerability, things get real.

Via The Heart-Led Leader:

“It was so effective that Jodi schedule a meeting with her 15-person leadership, team, where she asked them to share stories about defining moments in their own lives.

‘The whole group came together and we shared a lot,’ she said.  ‘Since then, I’ve learned so much more about the people who work for me, what matters to them, and what motivates them. 

It has made us a better team.  It helped me to see that by modeling vulnerability, I gave people permission to be vulnerable with me, with each other, and even with their clients.’  As she put it: ‘Vulnerability helps to build relationships.’”

Nobody Knew Her Story

Tommy Spaulding tells the story of a leadership workshop he led, where one of the attendees told her story for the first time.

She was in her sixties.  She had withdrawn from community activities.  Why she withdrew from her philanthropic ventures is the story that others really cared about.

Via The Heart-Led Leader:

“As soon as the words were out of my mouth, this lady broke down crying, which startled everyone in the room.  This wasn’t a quiet cry, with moist eyes or tears trickling down her cheek, but a convulsive cry punctuated by sobs and gasps.

‘Is something wrong?’ I asked her gingerly.

‘It’s just that my husband is now 68 years old and nobody in his family, not his parents nor his siblings, has lived past 70.  I feel like I’m in my last years with him.  He’s been my best friend for four decades and I want to spend as much time as I can with him.  I want to enjoy time with him before it’s too late.  So that’s why I pulled myself back from community activities.  My husband is more important.’

‘Thank you for sharing that with us,’ I told her. ‘We should all be so lucky to have such a strong marriage that we’re still best friends after 40 years.’

The room was silent, and I could tell that no one quite knew how to proceed.  I wanted to take advantage of the emotion of that moment, and so I asked the other people in the room.  ‘How many of you in here knew your colleague’s story before today?’

Not a single person raised a hand.”

Connect in a Deeper Way with Those Around You

How can people relate to you, if you’re above the trials and tribulations that everyone is up against, the personal demons and all?

You can’t.

We’re only human.

Via The Heart-Led Leader:

“’This is an important lesson,’ I said, ‘not only about the power of sharing or of vulnerability, but of the power of knowing the people you work with. 

When you get to know another person in this way, it helps you understand them in a new way.  It’s not about exposing dark secrets–it’s about understand the life events that made people into who they are

When you know that, you start to accept people more unconditionally; you begin to understand what makes them tick. 

And it results in stronger and deeper relationships, personally and professionally.”

People might understand us a little better, if we share a little more.

How many people do you work with or see every day and you don’t know their story?

Everyone has a story.

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