Saturday, January 7, 2017

Inspirational Quote – January 7, 2017

“Remember that, wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”

Sometimes we are so caught up in just coping with life that we lose sight of what’s really important to us, i.e. our family and friends. Our endeavors in earning enough money or acquiring “stuff” can divert our attention away from the real treasure in our lives namely those we love and cherish. Take the time to let them know how much you love and care for them and that you feel blessed to have them in your life.


Physicist David Bohm on Creativity

The past century has sprouted a great many theories of how creativity works and what it takes to master it, and yet its innermost nature remains so nebulous and elusive that the call of creative work may be as difficult to hear as it is to answer. What to listen for and how to tune the listening ear is what the trailblazing physicist David Bohm explores in his essay in On Creativity, concluding that in both science and art, the quest is harmony: "a certain oneness and totality, or wholeness, constituting a kind of harmony that is felt to be beautiful."

Friday, January 6, 2017

How to Reduce Rudeness in the Workplace

By Jill Suttie 

According to a new book, practicing civility at the office is the path to better relationships and higher productivity.

Lots of us have probably experienced a toxic employer at some point in our lives. I had a boss many years ago who would lash out at colleagues and me during staff meetings with little provocation, putting everyone on edge. Yet he was also hailed among higher-ups as someone who got the job done. So, should we have just put up and shut up?
According to the new book Mastering Civility by management professor Christine Porath, the answer is absolutely not. Porath makes a clear and compelling case that rudeness and incivility in the workplace do more damage than good to work relationships and efficiency, soundly dispelling the myth of the hard-nosed-yet-effective boss. Instead, she argues, we would do well to practice civility at work.

The costs of rudeness at work

Civility in American society has declined in recent years but remains important to people, according to surveys. When employers or employees ignore people at work, walk away from conversations, answer calls in the middle of meetings, publicly mock and belittle people, or take credit for wins while pointing fingers when things go sour, it destabilizes relationships and creates hostile work environments, says Porath. And research shows that poor relationships at work increase stress in ways that can impact employees’ health and relationships outside of work, leading to decreases in workplace performance—all of which costs the organization in the long run.
Rudeness can have a toxic impact on creativity and problem-solving, says Porath. In one experiment, participants did 33 percent worse on a puzzle involving anagrams and had 39 percent fewer creative ideas on a brainstorming task after being belittled as a group. In another experiment, even just witnessing incivility caused participant performance on the same tests to decrease by 20 and 30 percent, respectively.
“Rudeness affects your mind in ways you might not even be aware of, disrupting your ability to pay attention,” writes Porath. And it can even be deadly. In a survey of doctors and nurses, 71 percent tied “abusive personal conduct” in the workplace to medical errors they knew of, and 27 percent tied it to patient deaths.

Practicing civility at work

Luckily, when those in positions of power do the opposite and practice civility, it can have many important benefits, says Porath. People who demonstrate kindness and who lift up others are seen as more warm and collaborative and are more admired as leaders. And supervisors who show respect toward others are more likely to have committed and engaged employees, she says, and be more nimble in the face of challenges.
“When leaders are civil, it increases performance and creativity; allows for early mistake detection and the initiative to take actions; and reduces emotional exhaustion,” writes Porath. In turn, when employees practice civility by being attentive in conversations, not interrupting, and smiling, their behavior is reciprocated and spreads to other employees, thereby improving the whole culture of an organization.
Luckily, her research has found that “incivility usually arises not from malice but from ignorance.” Because of this, she suggests increasing your own awareness by taking an incivility test she developed to help you see the many, sometimes subtle ways you are being rude without recognizing it.
Another tactic she suggests is learning more about our unconscious biases, which often lead to rude and exclusionary behavior. We all have biases—whether based on race, gender, religion, or political affiliations—and we need to learn to recognize them and take steps to counteract them. Individuals can reduce bias by spending more time with people whom we consider different, practicing empathic listening and communicating, and recognizing each other as part of the same team. In that way, we are more likely to diversify our workforce, too, which research shows leads to better, less-biased decision making.

Five signs of a civil workplace culture

Once people understand the importance of civility, they need to up their game to create a place where kindness is the norm and relationships thrive, says Porath. She has identified five forms of giving in a work setting that help people to get along better and be more productive:
1. Sharing resources. It may seem counterintuitive to share resources of time or money with others in a competitive work environment. Yet research shows that people who give more of their resources away are happier and more successful than those who give less. Wharton economist Adam Grant has found that generous salespeople had the highest revenues, and medical school students who helped others attained top grades.
2. Sharing recognition. No one wants to work with someone who hogs all of the credit when things go well, but then points fingers when things go wrong. Research shows that leaders who demonstrate humility and give credit to others when they succeed tend to have employees who are more engaged, satisfied with their jobs, and loyal to the organization.
3. Sharing gratitude. When you thank others for their contributions, you are bound to improve relationships in the workplace. Research suggests that when employees are thanked by supervisors, they enjoy more self-worth and confidence, and are more likely to help others. Besides, gratitude is tied to personal well-being, in general.
4. Sharing feedback. This isn’t about individual performance alone; it’s about sharing feedback about how the organization is doing as a whole. Sharing organizational progress with employees increases their sense of ownership and contributes to performance. Also, when giving individual performance appraisals, it’s important to focus more on strengths than weaknesses. Research suggests that “high-performing teams share six times more positive feedback than average teams.”
5. Sharing purpose. People want to do meaningful work and to know they are contributing to something greater than themselves. So it’s important that they know their efforts count for something that matters. Getting feedback from customers or others who benefit from an organization’s efforts can be a good way of inspiring employees.
Porath encourages organizations to create an atmosphere that fosters civility and improves worker health, performance, and loyalty. Often it takes just one person making a change for the better and indirectly infecting the rest of the team with kinder energy. The key is recognizing our own issues with incivility and taking concrete steps to solve them.
“Be brave. Try civility on,” advises Porath. “My bet is that others will like it. And so will you.”

Daily Inspirational Quote – January 6, 2017

“When something bad happens you have three choices, you can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”

We don’t have any control about the bad things that happen to us all at times but we do have a choice as to how we deal with them. We can wear it like a cloak for everyone to see, allow it to overcome us and bring us to our knees or deal with it and move on. I know which one I would choose and it’s not either of the first two choices. What would you choose?


Educating Our Children's Hearts

In November 2016, a university in Vadodara, India hosted a panel discussion titled "Education for Compassion: Rethinking Means and End," seeking to answer how schools, parents, and communities can prepare children to lead more compassionate rather than competitive lives. One of the panelists, Meghna Banker, is a graphic designer, volunteer, and a full-time mother home-schooling her daughter. In her talk she shared reflections on parenting, illustrated by inspiring personal stories with her daughter. Ultimately, she shares how her journey as a mother has been at its core, an attempt to embody wholesome qualities and explore the "unison of our head, hands and hearts." Watch or read the transcript of her quietly profound talk here.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Daily Inspirational Quote – January 5, 2017

“The earth has music for those who listen.”

The earth gifts us the pleasure of its own music and makes use of the sounds of the creatures who roam its surface, the wind through the leaves of the trees, the streams that murmur or roar, the crashing sound of waves made by the sea….surround yourself with these and you will truly feel as one with the earth we walk upon.


What Does a Compassionate Workplace Look Like?

By Nir Eyal, Monica Worline

A conversation with researcher and author Monica Worline about suffering, empathy, and kindness at work.

Monica Worline is Executive Director of the CompassionLab at the University of Michigan, a research scientist at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, and co-author of Awakening Compassion at Work, forthcoming in February 2017 from Berrett-Koehler. She sat down with author and entrepreneur Nir Eyal to discuss why empathetic teams make better business deals, how more caring leaders can help prevent corporate scandals, and the steps for cultivating compassion at work. This conversation originally appeared in Heleo: In-Depth Conversations with the World’s Leading Thinkers.
Nir Eyal: What is the business case for compassion?
Nir EyalNir Eyal
Monica Worline: Well, it might seem soft and fuzzy, but in fact, if you’re trying to innovate quickly and telling people to fail fast, people hate to fail, and failing creates suffering. Compassion is a response to suffering, to alleviate that suffering. It is key to learning on the job. In the innovation space, compassion is at the heart of failing fast and recovering quickly.
NE: So your desire is to alleviate somebody else’s suffering?
MW: Yes.
NE: It actually sounds like what we do in product development. In terms of designing good products and services, you’ve got to figure out what their pain is.
MW: That’s right. You may never have used the word compassion, but when you’re identifying somebody’s pain point and you’re trying to create something that alleviates it, that’s actually compassionate product design.
NE: Fantastic. So it makes us better at designing the products. What else?
MW: It makes us much better at delivering a service. Service quality hinges on relationships, and relationships deepen when we listen and hear what’s going on in someone else’s life. We tune into something that might be causing them pain, and we respond in an authentic way. If you’re running an organization where you really need people to be engaged and you want to retain those customers, there’s a lot of research that shows that compassion is actually at the heart of employee and customer engagement. You get people much more deeply involved in their work when they can do it with compassion for the people they work with and for their customers.
NE: What’s your favorite example of companies that do this really well? What are the most compassionate companies?
MW: I think there are a lot of pockets of compassion in almost every company. I don’t actually tend to single out any one company, because it’s much more than culture. A lot of people focus on organizational culture, but this is really about human-to-human relationships. There’s a very broad study in the financial services industry—they looked across units in the same organization, and units vary widely in how compassionate they are. You might name one organization as compassionate, but it’s actually sub-pockets within that organization.
Nir: I see. Cells within teams.
MW: Right. Units that are more compassionate in the financial services industry close more deals, keep more customers, and when they experience a downturn, they bounce back faster.
NE: This has actually been studied in that field?
MW: Yes.
NE: Why do these teams that are more compassionate close more business?
MW: They listen to their customers more. They hear what their customers’ pain points are. They’re able to adapt quickly to meet their customers’ needs, and they respond more quickly to the downturn. They keep their customer engaged even when things are bad, often by sharing what’s going on in their side of the equation and opening up the space for dialogue.
Monica WorlineMonica Worline
NE: What happens to you if you’re not compassionate?
MW: There’s some research that shows that not compassionate organizations are like ego systems. People become isolated. They drive their own success and they don’t think about the success of other people. They might trample over their customers’ needs in order to sell more or get ahead. Compassionate organizations are ecosystems where people realize that they’re interdependent, tied together, they depend on each other for success. They may measure success in terms of team or group or collective success, or they might define success larger and include more stakeholders.
NE: Do you think that goes up and down the organization? Because particularly in Silicon Valley, we have this myth that the person at the top needs to have a big ego, to drive hard, to push people, and is not often portrayed as someone who’s compassionate.
MW: The isolated hero as entrepreneur is really a myth. Most entrepreneurs need other people to succeed. They need people to get interested in what they’re doing. They rely on a network of relationships and the stronger those relationships are, the more their business is lifted up—and when they encounter a problem, the more they can bounce back. We like to have the standout persona, but some research with top leaders shows that when you get into their inner circle, even if they cultivate that strong persona on the outside, they may be quite compassionate with their inner circle.
NE: Are there particular business leaders that exemplify what compassion should look like at the top?
MW: John Chambers at Cisco Systems. He was an interesting leader in technology because he actually believed that you could build a compassionate system. He gave Cisco a mandate—anywhere in the world, if something difficult happened to an employee, he wanted to know about it within 48 hours. The organization became compassionate because people were much more aware of all the suffering that happens at work.
NE: Yeah, there’s some great stories about what he did, how he reached out to particular employees when they were suffering. How do we make sure that that still feels authentic, that it’s not something that is just mechanized and routinized, but something that actually feels like it came from someone’s heart?
MW: I think you know it by the interaction. Many of the people who interacted with him regularly knew he asked for that because he cared about it, not because he thought it was a manipulation to drive business. He really cared about people. I just heard a talk from someone at Southwest Airlines, which is another organization that has maintained a culture of heart. That seemed to come authentically from the founders, and it seems to be carried on in the leadership role modeling. Also, these routinizations of it are quite important for keeping it widespread, so organizations don’t just end up being compassionate at the top.
NE: It’s not just having it in your heart, but actually making it part of processes, part of systems within the organization?
<a href=“”><em>Awakening Compassion at Work: The Quiet Power That Elevates People and Organizations</em></a>, by Monica Worline and Jane E. Dutton (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2017, 272 pages)Awakening Compassion at Work: The Quiet Power That Elevates People and Organizations, by Monica Worline and Jane E. Dutton (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2017, 272 pages)
MW: Yeah. When we talk to people about organizational change, one of the most invisible and unexpected ways that you can change an organization is by looking at your routines and saying, “How could I make each routine a little bit more empathetic or compassionate?”
NE: How can you be compassionate and hold people accountable at the same time?
MW: When you hold people accountable with a punitive point of view, they will do everything to buck the system. For instance, we’re watching a scandal unfold at Wells Fargo right now, where people were held accountable to numbers that they couldn’t achieve. The leadership of the organization seems to be unaware of or disregarding how many people were complaining that the organization was demanding accountability to something that was impossible. If you build true accountability systems that set your goals and hold people to those goals with a sense of what’s human, people will develop more determination to meet the goal and more commitment to the organization. When you do accountability with compassion, that actually builds real human investment in meeting the goal instead of false extrinsic motivation.
NE: I heard that at Wells Fargo they wanted every customer to have eight products because eight rhymed with great, whereas in the average bank it’s something like 2.2. This non-human, non-realistic goal drove people to do these illegal acts?
MW: There’s a very in-depth study of the Enron corporate culture which sounds familiar to the reports we’ve had about Wells Fargo. There were unattainable goals set, in the service of creating wealth for a few people, and the elite part of the organization then distanced itself from the frontline of the organization. That created an immense amount of human suffering in the frontline, while other parts were buffered from it.
NE: Because they didn’t have that feedback loop. People at the top couldn’t see.
MW: That’s a quintessential example of accountability without real compassion. Without real human connection to the conditions of work and what’s possible and what motivates people.
NE: How do we do it? How do we cultivate more compassion with ourselves, for our customers, for our coworkers?
MW: Well, we talk about four steps to creating more compassion in ourselves.
The first step is noticing more. When we all get busy, distracted, or overloaded, we stop paying attention to the quality of other people’s lives. So notice more and you’ll automatically be more compassionate because you’ll see that people are in pain.
The second step is to slow down enough to interpret more generously. When a colleague makes a mistake, for instance, your first interpretation if you’re under a lot of pressure might be, “Stupid.” If you slow down a bit and say, “They’re trying, just like me. They’re overloaded, just like me. I could understand how they might have made that mistake,” that brings out more compassion in the system.
The third step is to cultivate your empathy. Empathy is the ability to feel concerned for what another person is going through, and if you interpret more generously, then that leads to the fourth step, which is stepping in to take action. So if you have a colleague who’s so overloaded that they’re making mistakes and you see it’s likely they’ll continue to do that, you may step in and offer to help. You may have a conversation with them about whether they’re aware of the pattern that they’re in. You may ask them if something else is going on in their life that’s contributing to this, that you could help alleviate. Those are the personal steps. Noticing, interpreting generously, feeling more empathy, and then taking some action.
NE: Are there different ways to do this for customers, or are they the same steps?
MW: Same steps. When you have to resolve a problem quickly, you may ignore a lot of extraneous information that the customer is offering you—which is usually what else is going on in the customer’s life that’s causing them pain. If you pay more attention to the conditions that the customer is telling you about, you may be able to feel more empathy toward them, and also to offer them a different range of services or a different range of products that help meet a wider set of needs. So building compassion for the customer can also build your service and product offerings at the same time.
NE: Definitely. I was in a meeting once and we were trying to pinpoint the problem that the customer was having. One of the people in the room, said, “Why are people going to the next step?” The response was, “Well, the customer is stupid.” Right then and there I was like, “This meeting is over.”
MW: Right.
NE: If we blame the customer for being stupid, we’re putting blame in the wrong place. We’re not being empathetic at all. We are the problem. We design the product or service! Instead of jumping to, “The customer is stupid” or “My coworker is lazy” we should cultivate empathy and ask, “What else might be going on?”

Why do we jump to that? Why do we have that hair-trigger reaction to put blame elsewhere?
MW: Psychologists call those appraisals. We do them really quickly and we tend to act off of our implicit biases. There’s a lot of talk nowadays about implicit bias around race or gender, but we have implicit bias about all kinds of human behavior. As a designer, if you have been highly trained to pay attention to aesthetics, flow, and beauty, and then you see a customer doing something that looks to you like a horrendous decision, your implicit bias is, “That person is wrong. That thing is ugly. Get it away from me.”
We tend to use our training, our background experience, our intellectual knowledge and development, whatever field we’ve been socialized in, as a set of background conditions. When we’re under time pressure or put into a kind of box and we have to make a quick decision, we jump to a stereotypical point of view about other people that comes from those.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Daily Inspirational Quote – January 4, 2017

“Just remember you can’t put your arms around a memory so hug someone you love today.”

Anybody who knows me will tell you I am a serial hugger, yes hugger, not mugger! Always have been and always will be. I’m so thankful I was made this way as I have no regrets that my parents, who sadly both passed years ago, ever suffered a lack of hugs and kisses from me, whether they wanted them at the time or not! My children are also both very tactile which is nice, so lots of hugs and kisses there too. I wish everybody felt and behaved this way but realize that’s a wish that might be stretching it a bit. The sad thing is I’ve often known people feeling remorse when a loved one passed as they felt they didn’t give them enough of their time, told them they loved them enough, hugged them enough, or just listened to them enough. It’s also been proved in some medical studies that hugs benefit peoples’ health, which is not news to me personally, but hopefully gives the green light to us all giving and receiving hugs, and more hugs, and more hugs……….


Top 10 Kindness Stories of 2016

Every year KindSpring shares a selection of the most powerful stories they've received over the last twelve months. In the spirit of anonymity these real-life stories are often posted by people who choose to use a "kindness alias". Some of the stories are about children and teenagers who have stumbled on creative ways to flex their kindness muscles, others are about adults of different ages, nationalities and backgrounds who regularly go out of their way to make our world a kinder, brighter place. Whether the stories describe a small act that made someone's day, or a gesture that forever altered the trajectory of a life, they all share one thing in common: a very big heart.

Monday, January 2, 2017

In Search of a Fainting Couch

An excerpt from Start Right Where You Are by Sam Bennett
As the creator of The Organized Artist Company, bestselling author Sam Bennett’s mission in life is clear: to assist people in getting unstuck by helping them focus and move forward on their goals.
That is also the intention of her new book Start Right Where You Are: How Little Changes Can Make a Big Difference for Overwhelmed Procrastinators, Frustrated Overachievers, and Recovering Perfectionists, which is based on the premise that small shifts in the right direction can yield big results in the realization of our creative dreams.   We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.
In addition to figuring out what well-being means for you, it’s important to learn what looks like “not-well-being” for you. How do you know when you are off track? What are your symptoms?
For me, not-well-being shows up as racing thoughts, also known as anxiety. (It’s a little annoying that in the English language we use words like anxiety and depression to describe both a mood and a medical condition. So, just to be clear, I manage both the moods and the medical conditions of anxiety and depression.) And when my anxiety really kicks in — and it rarely does anymore, but when it does, it’s a hurricane — I literally wring my hands. It’s like I’m some eighteenth-century heroine in search of a fainting couch.
I used to try to make myself stop, but now I don’t, because it’s such an important signal to me. If I’m wringing my hands, I can notice that and think, “Oh, wow. I am super off-kilter. Something’s really wrong. This is a really strong signal that I am not in my right mind.” And it’s a signal to the people who love me. My sister knows and Luke knows that if they see me wringing my hands, they should say, “Okay, she’s a goner. Let’s get her some water. Let’s get her out of this situation.”
Sometimes a symptom of not-well-being is not a physical behavior but rather a thought pattern. When depression creeps in, my first symptom is not being able to feel joy. So, for example, I might be out with friends, and I’ll think to myself, “I can tell this is supposed to be fun, because I see other people laughing and smiling. I wonder why I am not experiencing the feeling of fun.” That sensation is known as anhedonia: the inability to take pleasure in anything.
Since we’re on what I feel to be an underdiscussed subject, let me also name another symptom of a depressive episode, which is the certainty that the feeling is permanent. The depressed mind thinks, “Life is miserable, and I’m always going to be unhappy. I’ve always been unhappy, and I will always be unhappy. I can’t even call to mind any time of happiness. Any happy memories feel false to me. I maybe thought I was happy, but I wasn’t. Not really. And I can’t imagine being happy in the future.”
One of the horrible tricks that depression plays on you is to make you believe that it will never go away. Because when you’re in it, you think, “This is never going to change. There is no hope for me.” It’s not so much that the pain is so bad as the conviction that it will never end. That’s why depression can be a fatal disease.
Most of us have conditions that need to be managed: a tendency to overwork, to overdrink, to worry too much. Maybe you go on shopping sprees or get into a cycle of binging and purging. Maybe you hyperventilate or get vertigo or migraines. Maybe your back hurts. (Almost certainly your back hurts. Data from the National Institutes of Health indicate that eight out of ten people suffer back pain at some point in their lives — see “Back Pain,” MedlinePlus, National Institutes of Health,, accessed June 21, 2016. Maybe you don’t feel anxiety because your back is feeling it for you.)
Stay alert to the thoughts, behaviors, and aches and pains that let you know when you’re off-kilter, and try to preprogram your response as you would if you were having a kind of allergic reaction. “Oh. There’s my sign that I can’t tolerate XYZ. I’m noticing that something is happening, my body is reacting, and I need to treat this reaction. I need to treat this episode.”
Whatever your not-well-being symptom is, please don’t criticize yourself for it. You’ve been doing the best you can. And now that you’re going to be taking better care of yourself, perhaps that condition will lessen or even disappear.
But I want to be real here: life is a long road. My depression does occasionally come back, and when it does, I am reminded how my one-eyed therapist (I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried: I had a one-eyed therapist) told me, “When you have depression, you live in a house built on a cliff.” At the time I got all sarcastic and said, “Well, thanks. That’s inspiring.” And she replied, “No. It’s a neutral fact. Depression might always be with you. That yawning chasm might always be there, and it might always be a little dangerous for you.” Now, years later, I find that her image reminds me to not get complacent.
These days, when depression does strike, I try to find the gift in it. I consider it an invitation to slow down. Since depression causes me to ruminate, I’ll take the opportunity to examine my business, both its trajectory and its systems. After all, I’m in a pondering mood, so often I’ll notice something that I wouldn’t have been able to see if I were moving at my usual breakneck pace. I write more poetry. I make mordant jokes. I sleep more. I reread old books. And every day I push and poke at it a bit to see if I 
can get it to lift, even for a few hours. Because it has pass.
But the best medicine is prevention. If you can acquaint yourself with your own early warning signs, you may be able to head off those destabilizing moments and lessen their impact on your day.
Little Changes Action Step: Write down three behaviors or thought patterns that are symptoms of your not-well-being and share the list with someone you trust.