Showing posts from April, 2016

What to do when frustration has you stuck

You'll notice right away that this is not a picture of frustration. It's a picture of the opposite of frustration: people are experiencing connection and growth with other people and with the garden that surrounds them. And yet, it's also a picture of how close we always are to frustration.
Our topic at ThinkSpot was Dealing with Anxious People. When someone we love is anxious, we feel blocked at every turn. It's easy to feel that nothing will change and there's no way to move around the facts of anxiety. Everyone that came that afternoon knows that anxiety is a breeding ground for frustration.
It was our third spring day at ThinkSpot and the forecast early in the week predicted clouds and rain. I laughed. "Our usual," I thought. But the sun came out and the afternoon was a gift. Things do change.
The answer when you are frustrated is some form of what is happening in the picture above. Breathe. Move. Connect with kindness. And when you are feeling very …

Dealing with Anxious People: Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First

I have often sat in an airplane before take-off, listening to the safety presentation. When they show parents putting on their own oxygen masks before helping a child, my first reaction is always "not likely." It goes against all my fiercely protective instincts to take care of myself before making sure a child (anyone's child, really) is safe. But the safety presentations make a good point.
This weekend, I am running a workshop on Dealing with Anxious People. Of course this means that I have been surrounded by anxious people for several weeks (it's not just confirmation bias: it's end of term at college). And here's the thing I absolutely, down to the toes, know is true about handing other people's anxiety: how well I do it depends on my own state. If I don't have my oxygen mask firmly in place, I catch anxiety faster than I catch colds from the toddlers I love.
If someone else's anxiety is driving you nuts, the first place to check in is with y…

Are you anxious to get started?

This herd of deer was very aware of us as we stopped to watch them graze. Deer are interesting because we think of them as symbols of both calm and caution. There's a fine line between mindful and anxious.

Language, at least the English language, defines anxiety as worry or nervousness. We are all familiar with people who get stuck in this kind of worry and face it everywhere they go. Like deer, they regard all change with caution: all movement could lead to disaster. And yet, if they are anxious to do something or anxious for something to happen, it means that same feeling is also a mark of desire for change. Anxiety doesn't tell us whether the world is good or bad: it tells us that change creates stress (either because we want it or because we fear it).

If you are feeling anxious, imagine being a deer. Imagine that your heightened sensory awareness allows you to scan for danger and for the presence of your herd. Imagine that scanning allows you to put your head down and gra…

Vision: Leadership begins with seeing what is there

When you think of the word "vision," two quite opposite things come to mind. One is physical sight: the ability to see what is in front of you. The other is a more grand and sweeping concept of how the world could be different than it is. Understanding the link between these two apparent opposites is the key to improving the way you walk into your future.

It's always a good idea to begin with what we can test. You can play different games to find out how good you are at recognizing what you can see with your physical eyes. We all have been guilty of searching for something that is right in front of us and of walking through a room (or a textbook) and instantly forgetting what we have seen there. Our visual awareness is a bit sketchy.

Perhaps we need another word. We distinguish between hearing (which is a physical capacity) and listening (which is something we do with our attention). We don't have the same distinction with our eyes: we see something with our physical…

It's hard to speak well if you don't expect to make a difference

People often talk about communication as a skill set. That makes it sound like a good communicator can communicate well at any time in any situation. The truth is more complicated.

A good communicator's primary skill is identifying a result they want and believing they will find the words and presentation to make it happen. They are not just good with words or blessed with presence. They are good at seeing a possibility and pursuing it through communication.

If you want to dramatically improve the impression you make, begin by getting very clear about the result you want. Then nurture your expectation that this is a realistic goal. You have to believe you will achieve the result to make other people believe they should cooperate.

You probably have a routine meeting to attend soon. You probably have a strong expectation that much of that meeting will have nothing to do with you. You probably expect a small percentage of people to hear what you have to say and take action because you…