Good Find Friday: The 7 Unit Weekend

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Organizer Julie Morgenstern has a radical idea: Don’t wait until the weekend to plan your weekend.

What?!

Let me guess – you’re WAY too busy during the week to even think about it?

That’s the problem.

According to Morgenstern, most people hope their weekend will magically fall together. However, when you wait until Friday night to start planning, your friends are booked. The Saturday concert you’d like to go to is sold out. And do you really want to spend Sunday just doing the laundry?

She has a simple solution. Divide your weekend into 7 units:

  • Friday night
  • Saturday morning / afternoon / evening
  • Sunday morning / afternoon / evening

Good news – planning your weekend doesn’t limit the fun. Deep couch sitting and binge watching can be just as important as getting stuff done.

Take a look at her short video – it will change the way you think about your time. Put your mindfulness skills to work and don’t let beautiful Summer weekends get away from you!

Enjoy!

The Biggest Kid

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I know a guy whose little sister was quite the troublemaker. But her trouble made trouble for him.

After she’d get into a scrap on the playground, his Dad would step in from the sidelines. He’d give him a playful smack on the head, asking, “Why didn’t you take care of that?!”

He would fire back, “Me? Why are you mad at me?”

“Because you’re the biggest kid in the sandbox!” his Dad would insist.

That may be a nice idea for a 5 year-old, but is it reasonable when you’re 35?

Yes.

Because the real lesson is how to course correct using emotional intelligence. That kind of insight is invaluable at any age, but especially when you’re dealing with difficult people, the subject of the May series, Coping With Crazymakers.

Vik devoted his retirement time to being President of the Neighborhood Watch. Their “meetings” were pretty loose, usually turning into an excuse for coffee and cookies at the local library after 10 minutes of discussion.

Then their new neighbor Chris joined.

Every encounter would stretch for hours – Chris would complain, Vik would try to explain. Why didn’t a neighbor cut their hedge shorter? When was the City going to upgrade their street? What about the people behind him who played music at their frequent barbecues? Wasn’t there a local ordinance against noise pollution?

When Chris couldn’t get the answers he wanted from Vik, he’d turn to other members. He alternated between getting them as worked up as he was and aggressively playing one off against the other. Within months, every meeting ended with someone upset.

The light bulb went on for Vik one day when his grandkids were over. He said, “As they fought outside, they sounded like Chris! I finally understood that tantrums were his favorite way to communicate. Of course! Everyone has to pay attention to a screamer.”

“Chris had an outburst at the next meeting, but that was no surprise. He had a long list of grievances, but this time I stayed calm and just let him talk. Two screaming people in the room is one too many!” Vik laughed.

“His antics broadcast the message, “If I’m not raging, people won’t hear me. They’ll think I’m a pushover.”” Vik shook his head. “That’s a pretty heartbreaking sentiment.”

“I’ve given up trying to have the perfect answer, but there’s no way he can get his way every time. What I can do is try and make Chris more comfortable with what’s worked for the group to date. Hopefully he’ll see the wisdom of working neighbor-to-neighbor instead of defaulting to the nuclear option.”

Crazymakers will probably provoke you this week with outrageous behavior, but striking back only takes you backwards.

Do you want to instantly be the biggest kid in the sandbox? Listen deeply and show compassion. That’s when real answers appear.

Make it your mission to bring kindness and insight to every room you enter. Not just for the sake of a crazymaker.

For you.

Good Find Friday: 7 Things Every Child Needs To Hear

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I ran across a gentle article by Dr. Sherrie Campbell describing “7 things every child needs to hear.”

My reaction? “Everyone needs to hear this.”

Especially during a week filled with one harsh news cycle after another…

Lead with courage and compassion by using these phrases with the kids in your life. With your spouse or grumpy co-workers. Your employees (of course!). Even your latest crazymaker.

And the last one? That’s just for you.

You’ve got what it takes, Soul Bosses!

 

Stop. Pause.

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A friend of mine is a consummate dealmaker. It’s his job to know the details, to be able to lay out all the workflows and scenarios.

But all those little pieces often take on a frantic life of their own. As tensions escalate, the team can lose sight of the original motivation for pursuing the deal. When that happens, he doesn’t push harder. He takes a time-out, grounding the group with a simple question.

“Stop. Pause. What are we doing?”

That phrase is a showstopper, and that’s why it’s important for the May series, Coping With Crazymakers. It’s a quick and easy technique to step back from the commotion and get a fresh perspective.

Organizer Hellen Buttigieg faced this challenge when she consulted a couple rebounding from a long financial crisis.

The wife was a champion crafter with limitless energy. She sewed, she beaded, she made wreaths and flower arrangements. She enthusiastically told Hellen, “I see a use for everything!”

Their house showed it. It was filled with piles of half-finished and never-started projects. Letting go seemed wasteful.

Then there was the sentimental value. You see, her husband loved his wife as much as she loved to craft. They made desperate spending cutbacks to save their townhouse. However, as a delivery man, he constantly found “free” things she could use during his trips around town.

That worked…until all that stuff took over the house. Every room was filled to the brim when Hellen arrived.

By now you might be thinking, “Isn’t it obvious? Throw everything away! Start over!”

Maybe, but that would have only been cosmetic. The real work was shifting the couple’s anxiety and well-founded fear that they would never have enough.

Purging stack after stack of freebies refreshed their vision, in every way. They started seeing a future filled only with things they really loved. And that future was beautiful. Compulsive collecting lost its appeal.

In short, they let go of the crazy.

So what can you do if you’re faced with a crazymaker going in a million different directions?

First, shift nervous energy into a neutral, collaborative discussion by using “what” questions. Try phrases like:

  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • What’s our end result?
  • What are we getting done today?
  • What would you like to see when we’re finished?

“Why” questions are emotional dynamite, especially with crazymakers. Did you ever have someone ask, “Why did you do this?” or “Why is it like this?” without feeling defensive? Skip “why” questions – they just amplify hostility, taking you into a whole other level of foolishness!

Second, make something real by writing it down. Hellen left the crafter with a “Top 10” project list to use as a North Star. There was just one caveat – it had to stay at ten. The crafter could change her mind at any time, reordering the projects or removing them. What she couldn’t do was keep adding more and more.

A crazymaker in overdrive may frustrate you this week, but staying frustrated is up to you. Redirect all that combustible energy into a common goal by asking, “Stop. Pause. What are we doing?”

Good Find Friday: It’s Time For Tapas

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It’s official: Soul Bosses are foodies.

That’s great! Because a casual, al fresco get together with friends and family is also the perfect way to feed your soul.

So let’s take a break and talk about the Spanish idea of small bites or “tapas.” We’re not talking about dishes so overloaded with spices that your mouth goes numb. Or the urban myth that Latin foods are just tortillas overloaded with a thick layer of cheddar cheese. Forget it!

The perfect tapas spread is seasonal, fresh and filled with different textures and flavors. If you’re new to tapas, start with basics like a beautiful antipasto tray and sizzling garlic shrimp. (Wikipedia has a list of 40 kinds of tapas if you’re interested.)

However, tapas is more than what you serve; it’s a feeling. The point is to create a spread that appeals to you, whether you make one or two traditional dishes or an eclectic, elaborate mix of old and new.

Go to your favorite market with a keen eye and an open mind. In season fruits and vegetables? A decadent cheese? Cured meat or seafood? Or just a wonderful bowl of olives with a slice of crusty bread? You just made tapas!

The rain keeps coming in Seattle, but that’s not going to keep me from trying out some of the recipes below. I’ll join you outside if we ever get two sunny days in a row…

Enjoy!

Basic antipasto platter

BBC Good Food 40 Tapas Recipes

Food and Wine Tapas Recipes

Real Simple Casual Tapas Party

Epicurious Tapas Party

Williams-Sonoma Tapas Ideas

20 Quick and Easy Sangria Recipes

Rick Bayless’ Margaritas for a Crowd

Good Find Friday: Make Your Own Happy Hour

You Know What I’m Doing?

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Are you feeling like the world is a pretty crazy place right now?

You’re in good company.

If your life seems overrun by people who upend your schedule, create a lot of drama, or generally make the world a harder place to be, you’re surrounded by what author Julia Cameron calls “crazymakers.”

So let’s talk about it. Because there’s no value in a practice that has to be lived out on a mountain top. There’s no point in wishing someone love and light in the hall, then griping when they turn the corner. In the May series, Coping with Crazymakers, we’ll discover techniques to deal with challenging people.

I once knew a really smart guy in the music business who finally got the chance to run his own team at a multi-national company. It was an extraordinary opportunity; the artist roster was filled with cutting edge acts.

He had spent years climbing the ladder, moving from playing in a hit band to honing his business skills. Musicians trusted him on a business and artistic level. What’s more, they liked him.

In every way, he was The Boss.

There was just one problem: his new staff included Mr. Crazymaker.

Imagine his surprise when Mr. C was one of the first people to greet him. As The Boss unpacked his moving boxes, Mr. C proceeded to compliment him for 10 minutes straight, saying how much he respected his accomplishments and what an honor it was to work together.

That would have been a nice start. Unfortunately, The Boss knew otherwise; friends had repeated the string of nasty comments Mr. C had made about him.

Then Mr. C kept going – this time talking about himself. About how he never stopped working. How he was out in nightclubs searching for new acts every night until 2 AM. And then back at his desk at 9AM, ready to work.

That was a good story, too. Except The Boss knew Mr. C hadn’t signed an artist who made a hit record in quite a while. His track record was as bad as his attitude.

By that point, The Boss was ready to get on with his day. It was time to shut this crazy conversation down.

He quietly said, “You know what I’m doing while you’re out in those clubs every night? I’ve been to London several times this year. I’m in New York on a regular basis. I’ve even been on vacation with some of the biggest bands at my former label, helicopter skiing or on the beach in Hawaii… And I’m still having a better career than you are.”

You instinctively know what is fact or fiction. You also know what to do next. That’s the power tool of discernment. But it only works if you follow your gut.

It’s simple: listening with compassion is mandatory.

Buying into someone else’s crazy world view? Getting into a war of words? Well, those things are optional.

And the next time someone starts derailing your day with wild stories, try redirecting the conversation. Just ask them, “You know what I’m doing…while you’re doing that?”

Good Find Friday: 3 Ways To Spring Clean Your Social Media

Are you done with your Spring cleaning?

Not so fast.

Have you looked at your online profiles lately?

You may be thinking, “But I’m not on a job search. I’m good!”

Fair enough – but there are still several reasons to take a second look.

Your social media accounts are your digital handshake. Imagine the big break you’re working on this year finally coming your way – your next big job, a superstar client, fantastic volunteer opportunity, or your true love. What net impression are you giving?

Now consider that hackers are spending their entire day trying to steal the identity you’ve created with care. Yikes!

Here are 3 easy ways to Spring clean your online presence:

  1. Keep Your Favorites. Have you let some accounts go fallow? (Hello, MySpace.) Delete them and be sure to use different passwords for the accounts you keep active. Think of it this way: when fraudsters take over a dormant social media profile, they have a foothold on the rest of your accounts. By now you know your must haves. Let everything else go.
  2. Crack The Party. Crafty Chica Kathy Cano-Murillo once observed that every social media site has its own groove. It’s like a party – some are black tie, others are a barefoot barbecue. To be in the groove, she likes to joke, “You’ve got to crack that party!” With that in mind, are you sure you want to post the same topics to Facebook and LinkedIn? Be sure you’re showing up in a way that’s appropriate for the site and something you want to be discoverable. Know and use the privacy settings!
  3. Search Your Name. Just for kicks, search your name and do some housekeeping where necessary. You don’t want to be confused with the convicted felon who shares your name two states away…

If you remember only one thing, consider this idea from article writer Lisa Quast: “Life is meant to be lived in real life, not online.” True dat!

Enjoy!

Goodness, Every Day

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Kim and Darrin Wade are the picture of proud parents. Their kid is on the way to an Ivy League school.

There’s just one bump in the road. They don’t have one child, they have four.

Quadruplets, to be exact.

It’s easy to use positive words when the road ahead is clear and bright, but what happens when you’re not sure what’s coming next?

This is the challenge for the Wade family. You could say they’re the family next door. Dad works at General Electric and Mom is a middle school principal. Tuition at an elite college would be tough for one son, let alone four at the same time. The boys have all been accepted to Harvard, Yale and Duke, but there’s a total of 8 schools on the list.

Most parents would have hit the panic button by now. Conversations would be filled with statements like, “What are we going to do?” “There will never be enough.” “How could this ever work out?”

Instead, the Wades aren’t letting fear get the best of them. They’re exchanging anxiety about money for the belief that everything is working out for the best.

Kim Wade says, “We told them if you want to apply, apply…I tell my sons, but I would tell anyone, we have to find a way for our kids to have ownership for their learning. You are here for a reason, you have to work hard for your dreams.”

Zen teacher Norman Fischer described this kind of everyday faith: “Bodhisattvas are committed to their practice, which means to sit, to get up, and to sweep the garden…every day, no matter what. Good times, bad times, they keep on going just the same. Bodhisattvas play the long game. They have confidence in the power of goodness over time.”

In the April series, Speak Your Future, we’ve met people actively shaping the days to come with the words they use. They’re consciously saying “no” to old scripts quietly and persistently running in the background, just like a bad computer program.

Every day they declare a future filled with hope:

  • The kids of rural Mississippi are champions of more than chess. In “Welcome to Boomtown,” they modeled how they’re rewriting the ending to a life some would have considered pre-destined.
  • In “Make Room For Big Things,” we saw how making small changes to what you say throughout the day can make a big difference. It’s simple: when you consistently support yourself by being trustworthy, amazing people show up to help you with your big goals.
  • Take the Bait” showed how experiencing your dreams of increase and abundance can require letting go of the familiar. For Shannon, professional success tomorrow meant being a little uncomfortable today.

On those days where you find yourself struggling to speak positive words, remember that you’re playing the long game. Dig deep and find your courage and faith. That’s when you can boldly affirm what is possible, not just what is.

It’s never too late to speak your future.

Good Find Friday: 3 Ways To Celebrate Earth Day

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Earth Day is on tomorrow! Here are 3 ways to spend the day.

Visit a National Park. OK, getting out into nature seems obvious…but there’s more.

All National Parks are free on April 22 and 23! (And check their site for more free days this year.) You can go for an active hike or try the new trend of forest bathing.

When you practice Shinrin-yoku, you spend time outdoors in a quiet, mindful way. This Japanese practice supercharges your health by releasing stress and lowering your blood pressure.

Plant something. Put your mindfulness skills to work as you create a Spring garden. Whether you’re out in the yard or planting in containers, follow this guide to attract all kinds of goodness:

  • Butterflies: Lilac, mint, pansies or goldenrod;
  • Bees: Bee balm, lavender or sage;
  • Ladybugs: Marigolds, fennel, or dill; or
  • Hummingbirds: Foxglove, petunias, impatiens or lilies.

Up your produce game. What’s left after you eat local and organic? Joining a CSA.

“CSA” means Community Supported Agriculture, and CSA-affiliated farmers offer “shares” to consumers. Shares usually consist of a box of vegetables selected by the grower, but some CSAs offer boxes with products from other farmers in their co-op. Visit Local Harvest to find a CSA in your area or patronize a CSA farmer.

Seattle friends – the legendary Pike Place Market offers a Summer “Farm To Go” program. Sign up at their site.

Enjoy!

Take The Bait

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I don’t know anyone who loves Spring cleaning, but everyone likes the results. There’s something about a pantry filled with fresh food and spices, or a closet with only your favorite clothes that changes the mood. By doing the work, we’re effectively saying, “Yes! I’m ready for something new!”

In the April series, Speak Your Future, we’re talking about how the words we choose shape our experiences. Everyone wants the “yes”. It’s just that getting there can require a lot of “no” and “letting go”, and that can be a real challenge.

When I met Shannon ten years ago, she was an administrative assistant. She was technically the low man on the totem pole, but everyone knew she was a girl on the move. She did more than cut through her in-box. She could “connect the dots”, understanding when a situation was getting out of hand, or when someone needed some tender loving care, even if they weren’t going to get the answer they wanted.

That’s why it was no surprise to see her climb the ladder. First she moved to Executive Assistant. Then Business Manager. Then she was promoted to Chief of Staff for a Corporate Vice President, with the responsibility of managing business strategies for a team of over 1,000 people.

She was doing great with her new responsibilities…until she got panicked about her first big event with the team.

She told me, “I wanted everything to be perfect at our Mid-Year Review, but the lunch order was up in the air. That’s why I brought it to my manager’s attention.”

“At first, I thought she was a little cold. About five minutes in, she interrupted me and said, “I appreciate your attention to detail, but this wasn’t at the top of my agenda.” Can you believe that?”

“Is that all she said?” I asked.

“Thank goodness, no! Her tone softened and she gave me a nice compliment. She said, “I need someone who can work with many kinds of personalities. I think you’re a perfect fit for this role. Let’s concentrate on how we’re going to get everyone to agree on the final marketing campaign. Let someone else worry about who ordered chicken or beef!”

“I guess she’s right,” Shannon laughed. “It looks like my famous expanding file of take-out menus is going to have to find a new home!”

Have you ever been like Shannon, where you’re in the in-between space? You’re past your old sweet spot, however, what’s next hasn’t quite materialized.

The trick is to push past the nervous urge to fall back into the familiar. The skills and talents that got you where you are still have value, but there’s more waiting. And you’ll only find out what that “more” is by moving forward with curiosity and excitement. That’s how to truly speak “increase” and “abundance” over your future.

This is the moment for a refresh, even if it feels a little like a loss. The Universe is asking you to stretch. To be smart. And creative.

Take the bait.