Last week I was listening to a meditation by Tara Brach (it’s great BTW, details below) and she said that we have “deep habits of judging ourselves” that she calls “the Trance of Unworthiness.” Not to be glum, but it made me think about what I’m hearing from clients during the Covid pause. Things like:
- “I thought I’d have more time without my commute, but I can barely keep up. What’s wrong with me?”
- “Yeah, I guess I hadn’t considered that worry and the change of routine could be adding to my fatigue.”
Listen up! — Even though circumstances change, core habits like self-judgment stay the same. The stories we hear from our inner critic cost us a lot of energy…and that leads directly to burnout. Yes, what if your burnout is not coming from your To Do list, but from your relationship to it and what you expect of yourself?
- Get to know your inner critic: Stop for a moment and be with the critical voices in your head. Sounds funny, but I’m not kidding. What is that critic saying? What are your feelings around it? PositiveIntelligence.com is one of my favorite approaches to managing the inner critic.
- Understand your emotional triggers: What situations make you lose your mojo? What people do the same? What is it about those situations and people? You might find there are common themes.
- Change Your Habits: Once you know what your triggers are, you can deal with them. Maybe you need to prepare before going into certain situations with certain people. Maybe you need to speak up instead of letting things go. Maybe you need to listen more and offer others the benefit of the doubt.
- Relax and do some self-care: The frantic pace of life today is one of the inner critic’s most powerful weapons. Slowing down, meditating, spending time with friends or reading. These are all ways to reduce the strength of your critic, and build the voice of your inner sage.
If the inner critic weren’t a thing, there wouldn’t be entire workshops created to deal with it! Whatever the solution is for you, spending some time with your inner critic is a great way to release its grip on you. The meditation I mentioned is called Mindfulness Daily from Jack Kornfield. If you are interested in Taming Your Inner Critic for yourself or your team, please reach out. It’s a course I teach for groups and teams.
I Have A Secret
Last week I saw a psychic. It felt great. The last time I did anything like that was 15 years ago. The most delicious part was that I got to luxuriate in daydreaming about the future! No kidding. The future. After six weeks of not thinking beyond a week, it scratched a very deep itch.
I’m someone who loves to brainstorm big, lofty (often totally impractical) ideas. It’s what I do. Not being able to anticipate and dream has been hard on me. And it made me realize something. This pause is a chance for us all to get in better touch with the self-care we need. Without mani-pedi’s, massage, the pool, coffees with friends, we have to really dig to figure out what restores us and gives us energy. For some, it’s learning something new. For others it’s service. Maybe for you, it’s connection. Or getting things done.
It’s important now because last week the collective mood seemed to shift from “We’ve got this!” to “Oh shoot, how many more months in this cocoon?” If you’re one of the lucky ones who’s feeling the goodness of humanity, then keep on keepin’ on! But if you’re feeling discouraged, prickly, and unfocused, you’re not alone. I’ve heard the same from other coaches, and friends who are social workers and therapists. A week ago my family even skipped the housekeeping which if you know me, is a good sign that things are off the rails. Right now dust bunnies roll by like tumbleweeds, and I just look away.
The good news is that human beings don’t like to be down for long, but it’s a process. I find that “Be your best self!” platitudes backfire if they are premature. A better way is using four steps that I use with teams and clients all the time.
Self-care. Understand what you need to restore. Write it down. It took me a bit to realize that I’d dropped everything to make my family feel safe and comfortable. While that is an important part of my self-care, some other things were getting sidelined.
Experience your feelings. We like resilience because it sounds positive. But you can’t have resilience without the feelings of loss, frustration, or hopelessness that come before it. There’s a scene in the Matrix where Neo destroys his nemesis by diving straight into his chest. Difficult feelings are like that. If you take a few minutes to be with them and cry or scream, their power weakens. Spend some time there.
Appreciation. Our primitive brain focuses on what’s not yet done, and that’s hard right now. What I love to do is have clients write down all of their accomplishments. Try it. Maybe your kids have actually been following their on-line schooling. Maybe you’ve managed a few heart-to-hearts with them. Maybe you’ve cooked from scratch a lot and can still see your toes without bending over. Maybe like my friend Michelle you’ve been a front line worker by day, and convinced your DJ neighbor to start a balcony dance party by night. Whatever it is, acknowledge your hard work.
Focus on what you can influence. I just created a 4-course program for companies called The Great Pause Care Package, because while you can’t influence when you’ll be able to return to the office or when your clients will come back, you can spend this time up-leveling soft skills and building more cohesive teams. (BTW, if you are interested in this course for your organization, please email me).
I do believe that we are turning a collective corner. We sprinted through phase one. Now we are looking at a longer phase and things aren’t going to snap back. You have a choice — stagnate here, or surrender to the situation, take care of yourself and focus on what you can. That is how we access our deeper creative power.
Last night at the 7pm neighborhood applause and pot banging, New Yorkers were louder and stayed out longer than we have in a while. That’s because after five weeks of lockdown, new hospitalizations and lives lost are down, and we are making real progress.
The moment shifted me out of a funk I’ve been in for several days. Last week I was discouraged by the realization that after all this, we are still looking at months before we can safely get back to life. Then, my mood darkened when I saw that people in less densely populated parts of the country were protesting to re-open.
Here’s the thing. By sacrificing in our close quarters, New Yorkers (along with Californians and Washingtonians and people from Louisiana) delayed the curve. We’ve given other regions precious time to figure out how to respond, which is saving lives. And we flattened the curve. Instead of the terrifying numbers that were projected, our intervention has reduced the number (for now) of people who are sick, and have passed, to a fraction of the worst case. We’ve reduced the spread to other regions by reducing local cases.
I wish people would say thank you. More importantly, I wish people would slow down and take inspiration from the success. It’s a classic lesson in leadership that when you focus on what you can influence, you make progress. With that realization, we can all shift from fear and uncertainty to confidence that together, we can do great things.
We’ll get there everyone. Please #ThankNYC, and keep up the good work.
Poking around for some comic relief, I came across The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He is doing the Daily Show without an audience! Seriously, if you’ve ever stood in front of an audience for work, I can tell you that no audience is really, really hard.
There’s a part of right now that just says, “get over your worry and get back to it.” Being in NYC right now, I can tell you that the news is so distracting, but I also don’t want to let this time go to waste.
Just to get the real feel, check it out (click the photo):
A reminder about my weekly communication with you:
- Regular Monday thoughts for the week
- The free course: Time Management for Connection and Balance https://mailchi.mp/c977bd92934b/timemanagement
- Friday Zoom call: https://zoom.us/j/871178246
And please, let me know what you and your teams are needing. That helps me know what content to bring you.
Clarity Conversation: Camera Ready Makeup by Emmy Award Winning Makeup Artist Sue Perez
In “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” expert Robert Cialdini calls out “liking” as a major tool of influence. Whether we like it or not, first impressions go a long way. Makeup is not about looking super glamorous or intimidating. On the contrary, when we have the tools to look and feel more like our audience, they, in turn, feel more comfortable with us.
I am thrilled to have guest Sue Perez on Clarity Conversations. Sue is an Emmy award-winning makeup artist known for her work at NBC Universal. When she’s not busy getting celebrities ready, she teaches online workshops for men and women who need expert guidance with their makeup, grooming, and personal style. Sue is author of “Beneath Makeup” and owner of Beautyphonics. Check out our Clarity Conversation for tips on how to look better on Zoom and Skype by clicking the link below. If you’d like to learn more about Sue and schedule a session with her, click here.
- Clarity Conversation (click here): Camera Ready Makeup by Emmy Award Winning Makeup Artist Sue Perez
- In case you missed it: Free – Time Management for Connection and Balance
Last Tuesday I got several texts from friends saying, “Thinking of you. You OK?” When I called them back, I said, “Wow, the new must be looking bad!” and we had a laugh. Sure enough, the news was dire for NYC. Luckily, New Yorkers have lived through a lot in the last 20 years. But what I noticed was that we’d started to turn a collective corner. Even as the anxiety continues to build, we’re tired of self-obsession and are getting beyond the initial panic of only thinking of ourselves and immediate family. That’s good. People don’t come out of crisis on their own, we come out via community. Note to self for when we get back to work: It’s the same there. Community and collaboration get you much further.
My friend Pamela is a minister at All Souls in New York. She says that the antidote for self-obsession is compassion. So if you want to feel better and calmer during this period, reach out to someone to see how they are. Share a funny or inspiring story. It goes a long way.
A great trick for those who want to help elderly, possibly isolated people. Give a call and see if they have a computer. If so, teach them how to upload Zoom! We can’t visit physically, but we can help them be less alone.
Even before Covid19, it had been a tumultuous time for me. After an intense few months, I lost my mother at the end of January. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to write about Mom. But for now, there’s something quite profound I want to share. Throughout this time, I found my energy waxing and waning in 3-4 day cycles. Even on days where I should have been really sad, I felt strong, grounded and if not happy, at least fulfilled. Other days I felt down. And I got really curious about that. I realized that in the past, as my energy levels and moods went up and down, I would assign meaning to those moods. On days that didn’t feel good, I’d spend a lot of energy wondering what was wrong — in work, in life.
It turns out nothing was wrong, it was just my normal energy flow, and that people are wired differently. Take a look at the Human Design Model. Knowing your energy flows can be super helpful in staying productive (or managing Covid19 panic). When you ignore your energy rhythm or work over it because someone or something else is driving the timeline, you become much more tired. I’ve often found that I konk out sooner than other people but that with a rest period, I come back even stronger. Now I don’t have to worry that I’m lazy! I just have to pace myself.
What a difference. And how relevant now. Check out the Human Design Model. If you find yourself having moments of panic, don’t beat yourself up. Most likely your energy will shift and you’ll feel strong again.
I’ll be honest. I have a child who gets on the New York City subway to get to school, and the Coronavirus news is getting to me. I have a brother-in-law who is an epidemiologist, so I call him to get talked down from the ledge. But a mother’s worry can easily outpace reason when your most precious are involved.
Which got me thinking about the workplace in an age where change and uncertainty are so ubiquitous. It feels like a low-level crisis all the time. So I found a good article on crisis leadership with lots of ideas.
What it boils down to is:
- Centralize communication. Have one person in charge of an initiative
- And have a playbook, meaning make sure there’s one vision and one person is updating everyone, frequently
- Look at scenarios. What might the impact be, or several of them, and what can we do to buffer that impact?
- Uncover weaknesses in the status quo that might enhance the impact
- Have a crisis-ready culture, meaning use that common vision so that everyone can make good choices and that those choices build on one another to increase the chances of a positive outcome
- Get the facts, ask questions and listen. (This is why I call my brother-in-law.)
- Avoid impulses that will make you act too soon or stick your head in the sand and blame others.
Do you have members of your team who don’t get along? Maybe there’s someone who drives you crazy. You deal with it by avoiding them, limiting what you say in meetings they’re in, venting to a friend or your spouse? And you think it’s not costing you, your team or organization anything as long as it’s under control.
Here’s the thing. Lack of collaboration shows up in hidden ways. You don’t reach your goals, but at year-end blame it on outside forces. Maybe there’s turnover in the team, but the costs are hidden because others fill in when that person leaves. What if you could uncover dynamics that, if re-wired, could make your team collaborate, tackle bigger issues, and be more competitive and more successful? And, make for a happier workplace.
This question was on my mind recently as I was thinking of Simon and Garfunkel. No kidding – I’d always heard that these two really didn’t get along, and even sabotaged one another. So how is it that they were able to make such great music? My real questions was, “Are coaches justified in selling harmony and collaboration when there are teams that do great things, even with discord and tough personalities (think Steve Jobs and Apple).”
So I did a little research. Turns out that Simon and Garfunkel created a tiny library of music, and did it when they were still getting along. Their albums were essentially remixes of a handful of those early songs. That realization made me sad for what might have been, and happy for a renewed sense of conviction that collaboration and trust are worth fighting for.
Then I saw an amazing video of a team skating to The Sound of Silence. What an explosion of beauty, technical precision and joy! And what a juxtaposition to remind us of what is possible when powerful collaboration and trust are behind our efforts.
|Super excited to have been interviewed by Emma Beutel of Inverse.com.
It seems that burnout is a big focus this year.
Take a look: https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/avoid-burnout