How to identify when frustration is limiting your flexibility

Photo credit: Pain Chaud

Photo credit: Pain Chaud

Quick – what the stickiest substance you can think of? Marshmallows that have been roasted over a campfire & are now all over your fingers? Chewing gum that’s annoyingly smeared on your favourite top?

 

Whatever substance you’re thinking of, multiple that by 100 & you’ll have an idea of how stubborn we humans tend to get when in conflict & how we get stuck in our own particular way of seeing & doing things.

 

What’s more whatever we’re thinking &/or doing in that moment of conflict has likely gone through the filter of this is ‘normal, natural & right.’ And the other person is the ______________ (fill in the blank – Moron? Idiot? Frustratingly horrible, no good, very bad person?)

 

The trick is, whatever is ‘normal, natural & right’ is based entirely on our own perspective. It can easily be ‘abnormal, unnatural & entirely wrong’ to someone else.

 

Frustration = Inflexibility

 

The more frustrated we are, & the more we’re in conflict, the less flexible we tend to be. And what’s worse, the more we’re stuck we get in same spot, with the same behaviour & the same thought patterns.

 

> of this

equals

< of this

 

Frustration & conflict

 

=

 

Flexibility

 

 

To add fuel to that fire, the more different we are from the person we’re in conflict with, the more stuck we are in our own way of thinking because, well, they just seem that much more bizarre.

 

So where does that leave us? Typically it can mean doing more of whatever it is that’s not working.

 

But wait (she says with earnest hope in her voice having married someone very different from herself)– there’s hope! Honest.

 

When stressed are you more or less likely to zoom in on details?

 

First, here’s a quick quiz to help you figure out your tendencies & more importantly, how to move forward in a conflict.

 

Let’s say you just discovered that aforementioned gum on your favourite top, you’re late for an important meeting, you’re exhausted from working late the night before, you’re so hungry you’d eat the stale gum if you could get it off your damn top… you get the picture. You’re super stressed. So which is more likely for you, most of the time, A or B?

A). When my stress meter goes up I hunker down on the details. For example someone leaving open a bunch of cupboards in the kitchen, someone messing up my office filing system, stuff getting misplaced or being disorganized – all of those things drive me bonkers, & even more so when I’m stressed because I get hyper focused on details.

 

OR

B) When my stress meter goes up I can loose myself in the clouds. I’m more likely to get a deadline mixed up, miss a meeting, be the person who mixes up said filing system above or looses my keys, my wallet or my phone. I get more forgetful & disorganized when stressed.

 

Boxed in thinking = Biased thinking

 

Either way, we’ve got boxes around our thinking that affect our choices & our behaviour. Without examination, these boxes can become our biases.

 

If you chose A from above your strength is likely in your systems & your attention to detail. In the language of the Life Lenses™ you’re likely a Carrot. And your downside when stressed, may be being hypervigilant to details that are neither strategic nor important.

 

If you chose B your strength is likely in your vision & your ability to strategize. In the language of the Life Lenses™ you’re likely a Mountain. And your downside, when stressed, may be having your head in the clouds, like an absent-minded professor who temporarily can’t see up from down.

 

The differences can dance beautifully together IF they’re acknowledged & appreciated. How do we do that? I’ll give you some quick, easy tips next post.

 

Let’s put those marshmallows to good use. Draw around the fire & tell me a story of a time you recognize being or seeing a carrot (detailed, organized, systems) &/or mountain (big picture, vision) in action. Me & my marshmallows will be waiting.

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How I found options with a fan when faced with cheetah, leopard and lions

The muddy, churning river matched the churning of my stomach. I couldn’t tell if it was because of excitement or fear. I love to take the wheel, be in charge, explore, and seek out adventure. Which is why I found myself needing to cross this river while on safari in Kenya, which is where I live.

 

I knew I could get through the river if it wasn’t deeper than the top of my wheel wells. But just how deep it was was a mystery. And I couldn’t get out to look because of leopard, cheetah & lions in the area.

 

What to do? What would you have done?

 

Have you ever been stuck in a situation where options for moving forward seemed severely limited?

 

When we’re feeling stuck, upset, stressed, or otherwise unhappy our options can close off leaving us feeling trapped. Relate?

 

Photo credit: davedehetre

Photo credit: davedehetre

Holly Weeks, author of ‘Failure to Communicate’ likens it to a closed fan. While we may feel like a closed fan, with very few options, there’s almost always more choices than we think. All we have to do is figure out how to get the fan open.

Open the fan (or press the accelerator) and more options appear. Imagine the top of the newly opened fan as a continuum of options & choices.

Sounds good you say, but how do you do that?

It starts with realizing where you naturally tend to look & simply shifting your gaze.

 

Let me explain.

 

Look outward

 

Perhaps you’re inclined to look outward – aka jump in & fiord that river & damn the consequences. I encourage you to look inward when you hit a bump – take a few minutes & pause. Think. Reflect. Slow down. Ask for help. See what resources are around to assist you that you don’t generally think to look for.

 

Look inward

 

Maybe your strength is reflection – you’re great at looking inward & planning. In that case, I encourage you to look outward when you get stuck. Take a risk, take a chance from time to time. Experiment. (Take a deep breath- most times there are no leopards, cheetahs or lions in sight.)

 

Open the fan

 

In my case I’d looked inward (planned & reflected) by taking a 4X4 course before the safari  (video clip above) & by having my very experienced safari guide friend at my side. It made looking outward (fording the river) waaaaaaaay easier. He did an excellent job coaching me through the water- where to enter, where to exit & how much to accelerate. All of my planning gave me the confidence to get me, my friend, my family & our vehicle through the river.

 

And boy did I feel terrific when I got to the other side. Confident. Laughing. Having a blast. Yelling words of encouragement to my friend who crossed next. Mission accomplished.

 

Look in, look out, it’s your choice. Simply open the fan.

It will give you better perspective & more choices which leads to more freedom.

 

Need some help opening your fan & shifting your perspective? Share your situation below in the comments.

 

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“I tell it like it is as seen through my narrow view lens.” ~Tom Peters

Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann Flickr via Compfight cc

We all have lenses that influence what we see as important, what we pay attention to, what we take action on & what we ignore because we sense it’s unfamiliar, awkward, uncomfortable or simply not a priority.

 

In my last post I talked about how a question my then boyfriend asked me led to my curiousity being shaken & stirred, & ultimately the creation of Life Lenses™ – a tool that helps illuminate the very lenses that shape our perceptions.

 

Are you a carrot or a mountain?

 

Two of the lenses are mountain & carrot. Last week I asked you to guess which one you were.  Here’s a follow-up & a quick way to see if you’re a Mountain or Carrot Life Lens™.

 

Does the thought of organizing your clothes, your desk, your files, or your _______ (insert preference here) leave you blissed out, happy & relaxed? Do you tend to know where a certain report is from 5 years ago because you have a system for organizing stuff like that? Do people tend to ask you where stuff is, ‘cause that’s the way you roll? If so, chances are you’re a Carrot Life Lens™.

 

Do you find it easy to talk about strategy & vision? Do you find yourself putting together disparate things to come up with new ideas & trends? Did you groan at the thought of organizing your clothes, desk, files etc.? And if I told you that my mother (true story) alphabetizes her spices, do you just wrinkle your nose, raise your eyebrows in disbelief &/or shake your head in confusion? If so, chances are you’re a Mountain Life Lens™.

 

How does knowing you’re a carrot or a mountain help you?

 

One of the helpful things about increasing your perspective is being able to relate to others more easily. Let me give you a few examples.

 

Calling all Carrot Life Lenses™

 

Carrots here’s a tip if you’re dealing with a Mountain Life Lens™. Imagine yourself standing on top of a mountain. Would you be able to see that lovely red-breasted woodpecker in the cedar tree on the valley floor? Nope, no way.

 

While you naturally are focused on details (the lovely red breasted woodpecker sitting in the cedar tree), here’s the thing when you’re dealing with Mountains – don’t overwhelm them with detail. Keep it simple & big picture.

 

Calling all Mountain Life Lenses™

 

And here’s a tip to make life easy for you Mountains when dealing with Carrots. Imagine yourself standing on the valley floor – would you be able to see over the mountain & what’s coming up on the horizon? Nada.

 

While you naturally have your head up & focus on the big picture, when you’re dealing with Carrots they may think you’re being vague or confusing because they’re waiting for you to give the details. So do sketch in a limited amount of detail for Carrots (or better yet, ask them what kind of details they need).

 

Calling all Carrot and Mountain Life Lenses™

 

So dig in. Give me an example of your or someone you know, Carrot or Mountain Life Lens™ perspective. I’d love to hear.

 

Me n’ my lists will be waiting.

 

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From mud to migraines – how marrying my opposite gave birth to Life Lenses™

This cartoon from Emotionz via Jules Andre-Brown, had me laughing out loud.

‘Do you get headaches doing that?,’ my boyfriend asked me, genuinely puzzled, while peering over my shoulder.

‘Say what?!,’ I thought, confused as mud, as I continued making my lists, relaxing into the task of sorting through the flotsam & jetsam of our lives & putting it all down in neatly organized lists. (Yes lists, plural.)

 

Something shifted in me though. A fit of curiousity was stirred & shaken.

 

How could the same thing that relaxed me & gave me a beloved sense of organization be pain inducing for my boyfriend? (To say the guy did not share my rabid focus on lists was an understatement.)

 

Fast forward & said boyfriend & I are coming up on our 22nd wedding anniversary. And that juxtaposition of viewpoints of lists waaaaayyyy back when ended up being the cue for a lifelong fascination with perspective. How does my radar pick up stuff you miss & vice versa? How can two people see the exact same thing & yet have such different opinions?

 

How can something I love, something that brings me ease and fills me with strength, be something close to tortuous and confusing for someone else?

 

And how do these different opinions in the workplace get in the way of clear communication, strong relationships, and truly understanding & benefiting from differences, not to mention more & easier productivity?

 

Instead of wresting with difference & diversity I wanted to dance with it.

 

That fascination with perspective has become Life Lenses™, an interactive assessment I designed to give you outta sight insight. It’s a playful exploration of how we each see the world. Life Lenses™ helps illuminate what comes onto your radar easily & naturally, as well as what you may miss because it’s odd, uncomfortable or awkward.

 

So let’s get back to those lists.

 

He said, She said – – aka Not everyone sees life the same way

 

In addition to lists, I love systems. I love organizing. I have an eye for detail. I’m a good finisher of tasks (leaving something undone gets under my skin & bugs the heck out of me). I’m a Carrot, one of the Life Lens™ pairs.

 

A saying for us Carrots is ‘God is in the details’ or ‘Success in any endeavor requires single-minded attention to detail and total concentration.’ (Willie Sutton)

My beloved loves strategy. He loves talking vision. He’s comfortable with the big picture. He has an eye for trends. He’s a good starter of tasks. He’s a Mountain Life Lens™ – the polar opposite of a Carrot Life Lens™.

 

Some sayings for Mountains are ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff (Richard Carlson) or ‘If the vision is there the means will follow’ (Faith Popcorn).

 

Calling all Carrot and Mountain Life Lenses™

 

Next week we’ll dig more into two of the lenses – Mountain and Carrots. But in the meantime take a guess – leave a comment below & tell me whether you think you’re a Carrot or a Mountain Life Lens™ & why. I’d love to hear.

 

Me n’ my lists will be waiting.

 

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An invitation to understand yourself & others waaaayyy better

come-down-the-mountain-come-back-home

Quote from Ragged Wood by the Fleet Foxes

What if I told you I had the secret sauce to building your personal & professional resilience? To simplifying communication & conflict resolution? To understanding yourself & others waaayyyy better so you can create better connections?

We’re connected & disconnected all at the same time

Because never in human history have we been so connected. In mere seconds we can find out the weather forecast in Prague, Rembrandt’s birthday & a great recipe for leeks. Yet never in human history have we been so far apart.

Because our world is becoming increasingly polarized, with people unwilling or unable to relate to each other.

Feeling frazzled, overwhelmed & exhausted

Because having a plethora of choices, leads to feeling frazzled & overwhelmed. Feeling misunderstood leads to misunderstandings. We turn inwards. Our protective shields grow thicker & more impenetrable. With a million demands on our fractured selves, we feel exhausted, stuck in a quagmire.

Because we’re uneasy & weary of the dissonance.

Because of all these reasons we seek clarity, illumination. We want a simple framework to help guide the way without giving up our sense of self (no gurus thank you). We’re ready to dig in, dig deep & connect.

 

We need & want to ‘scratch our own itch.’

We’re itching to have a way out of disorientation, when we want to bang our head against the wall because we can’t communicate with someone.

We’re itching to have options, to get off the dizzying merry go round & have a tool to give us traction when we’re stuck in a conflict.

We’re itching to find a way forward, out of confusion & into choices.

We’re itching to ditch the overwhelm & amp up ease.

We’re itching to the find a path forward, carving it ourselves out of seemingly impenetrable forest.

 

Are you with me?

Are you ready for some adventures in learning, in growing?

Are you a seeker, a wanna be sense maker? Are you curious about yourself & others & the world around you? Do you have an appetite for discovery? Are you open to change? Are you seeking clarity?

(If not, no problem. This may be a good time to leave & head outside for a nice walk. Thanks for your time.)

If so though, if you’re really ready, then welcome.

Belonging isn’t the same as fitting in. And I want you to belong.

Take a deep breath.

 

Welcome to a community for waywards ….

… those difficult to control or predict due to unusual behaviour). I’ve got your back.

Because we desperately need better relationships. With ourselves & our workplaces. We need skills to build allies instead of adversaries.

And surprise! That’s not only possible, but surprisingly easy.

 

First off, some rules.

  1. You are in control. Dip into the well of learning with your toe, wade into your waist or dive in. Your choice.
  1. Your creativity is not only welcome, it’s integral. (And if you’re saying to yourself ‘but I’m not creative’ then know two things: 1) everyone is creative, 2) creativity takes many forms, & 3) brush that negative self talk away, it’s not invited to the party).
  1. Suffering is optional. While this can be arduous, I don’t recommend it.
  1. Humour is our golden ticket. Laughing
  1. We’re in it together. Community works.
  1. This isn’t a place for lectures. Your participation is critical. It’s our path to effecting social change.

 

Laugh, learn & lead

So here we go. The journey’s beginning to unfold. With tools & trainings to help you laugh, learn & lead, as a learning & development expert with more than 30 years experience, I’ll be blogging & sending out e-newsletters weekly & listening to you.

 

Take action

  • subscribe to our learning community blog at the top right of this page
  • sign up for my newsletter  &/or
  • comment below & tell me what you want & need when it comes to laughing, learning & leading

 

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Why Mom’s Time Is Different From Dad’s Time or the Search for Wormholes

Photo Credit: gregor_y via Compfight cc

Loved this article about how moms & dads see time differently from the Wall Street Journal so much I thought I’d share it with you…

Several years ago, while observing a parenting group in Minnesota, I was struck by a confession one of the women made to her peers: She didn’t really care that her husband did the dishes after dinner. Sure, it was swell of him, and she had friends whose husbands did less. But what she really wanted, at that point in her day, was for her husband to volunteer to put the kids to bed. She would have been glad to sit in the kitchen on her own for a few minutes with the water running and her mind wandering. Another woman chimed in: “Totally. The dishes don’t talk back to you.”

According to the American Time Use Survey—which asks thousands of Americans annually to chronicle how they spend their days—men and women now work roughly the same number of hours a week (though men work more paid hours, and women more unpaid). Given this balanced ledger, one might guess that all would finally be quiet on the domestic front—that women would finally have stopped wondering how they, rather than their husbands, got suckered into such a heavy load. But they haven’t. The question is: Why?

Men and women now work roughly the same number of hours a week, but women are still carrying the heavy load when it comes to child care. Jennifer Senior, author of “All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood,” discusses on the News Hub. Photo: Getty Images.

Part of the problem is that averages treat all data as if they’re the same and therefore combinable, which often results in a kind of absurdity. On average, human beings have half an Adam’s apple, but no one thinks to lump men and women together this way. Similarly, we should not assume that men and women’s working hours are the same in kind. The fact is, men and women experience their time very differently.

For starters, not all work is created equal. An hour spent on one kind of task is not necessarily the equivalent of an hour spent on another. Take child care, a task to which mothers devote far more hours than dads. It creates much more stress in women than other forms of housework. In “Alone Together” (2007), a comprehensive look at the state of American marriage, the authors found that if women believe child care is unevenly divided in their homes, this imbalance is much more likely to affect their marital happiness than a perceived imbalance in, say, vacuuming.

Or consider night duty. Sustained sleep deprivation, as we know, consigns people to their own special league of misery. But it’s generally mothers, rather than fathers, who are halfway down the loonytown freeway to hysterical exhaustion, at least in the early years of parenting. According to the American Time Use Survey, women in dual-earner couples are three times more likely to report interrupted sleep if they have a child under the age of 1, and stay-at-home mothers are six times as likely to get up with their children as are stay-at-home fathers.

Funny: I once sat on a panel with Adam Mansbach, the author of the best-selling parody “Go the F— to Sleep.” At one point in the discussion, he conceded that his partner put his child to bed most nights. He may have written a book about the tyranny of toddlers at bedtime, but in his house, it was mainly Mom’s problem.

Complicating matters, mothers assume a disproportionate number of time-sensitive domestic tasks, whether it’s getting their toddlers dressed for school or their 12-year-olds off to swim practice. Their daily routine is speckled with what sociologists Annette Lareau and Elliot Weininger call “pressure points,” or nonnegotiable demands that make their lives, as the authors put it, “more frenetic.”

These deadlines have unintended consequences. They force women to search for wormholes in the time-space continuum simply to accomplish all the things that they need to do. In 2011, the sociologists Shira Offer and Barbara Schneider found that mothers spend, on average, 10 extra hours a week multitasking than do fathers “and that these additional hours are mainly related to time spent on housework and child care.”

When fathers spend time at home, on the other hand, it reduces their odds of multitasking by over 30%. Which may explain why, a few years ago, researchers from UCLA found that a father in a room by himself was the “person-space configuration observed most frequently” in their close study of 32 families at home. It may also explain why many fathers manage to finish the Sunday paper while their wives do not—they’re not constantly getting up to refill bowls of Cheerios.

Being compelled to divide and subdivide your time doesn’t just compromise your productivity and lead to garden-variety discombobulation. It also creates a feeling of urgency—a sense that no matter how tranquil the moment, no matter how unpressured the circumstances, there’s always a pot somewhere that’s about to boil over.

“My husband says I cause some of the worry unnecessarily,” another Minnesota mother, who was part of the same parenting program, told me when I spent some time in her home.

It’s something that I hear a lot from parents. One of them—usually the mother—is more alive to the emotional undercurrents of the household. As a result, this more intuitive parent feels that the other parent—usually the father—is not doing his fair share, while the father feels that his wife is excessively emotional and wretchedly inefficient. But what really may be going on is that the couple is experiencing time differently, because each person is paying attention to different things.

It’s important to remember that fairness isn’t just about absolute equality. It’s about the perception of equality. Women may work fewer paid hours than men, but because they devote nearly twice as much time to family care (housework, child care, shopping), it doesn’t look to women like their husbands are sharing the load evenly when they’re all home together. It looks instead like their husbands are watching “SportsCenter.”

It’s hard to overstate how stressful these perceived imbalances can be. At one point, the UCLA researchers took saliva samples from most of the subjects of their study to measure levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. They found that while leisure time went a long way toward relaxing fathers, it did far less to subdue anxiety in mothers. So what, you may ask, did calm the mothers?

Simple: Seeing their husbands make a bigger effort to reduce the pandemonium in the house.

—Adapted from Ms. Senior’s new book, “All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood,” published next week by HarperCollins.

~~TGIF- each Friday I rejig & re-post a blog entry from my www.life-lenses.com blog, which is about enhancing our perspective & worldview.~~

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What do we call non-academic skills

What do we call non academic skills

 

 

More and more people in education agree on the importance of learning stuff other than academics.

But no one agrees on what to call that “stuff”, says a great article from NPR.

What do we call non-academic skills?  You know, the ones we all intuitively know are critical but are hard to nail down.

Soft skills?  Sounds too wishy washy.

Character?  Sounds too odd.

Noncognitive traits & habits?  Sounds waaaaay to academic & not user friendly.

How about social & emotional skills?  Uhm, perhaps but still vague.

Grit? Hell no. Enter John Wayne.

21st century skills?  Sounds too techie.

Growth mindset?  Doesn’t capture enough.

I don’t have the definitive answer but I do know that the conversation is critical.

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Learning from one of the world’s best pickpockets … yes pickpocket

Photo Credit: dullhunk via Compfight cc

Hailed as the greatest pickpocket in the world, Apollo Robbins studies the quirks of human behavior as he steals your watch. In a hilarious demonstration, Robbins samples the buffet of the TEDGlobal 2013 audience, showing how the flaws in our perception make it possible to swipe a wallet and leave it on its owner’s shoulder while they remain clueless.

“Attention steers perception. 

It’s the gateway to the reality of our mind.”

~~TGIF- each Friday I rejig & re-post a blog entry from my www.life-lenses.com blog, which is about enhancing our perspective & worldview.~~

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Should art should be owned by the person who feels the strongest for it?

Emotion art auction

Art should be owned by the person who feels the strongest for it. That’s why we arranged the world’s first auction completely based on emotions, in Stockholm, Sweden.

More than 300 people placed bids on three unique art glass pieces, worth in total over € 25 000. Biometric sensors were used to determined who had the strongest emotional reaction to the art. Says Kosta Boda

Do you (knowingly) use your emotions to guide your behaviour (purchasing or otherwise)?  Watch the short video & feel free to leave me a comment in the space below.

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Revisiting your ‘Friend’s’ perspective – making the old new again

Friends

If you spent any length of time in North America in the 1990’s watching TV then you’ll know the show Friends.  You’ll also likely have the opening song resonating somewhere in the dusty recesses of your mind.

Prepare to haul it out & take a new listen.

It’s lovely.  Somewhat haunting.  Evocative.  And new.

Perspective.  Revisited.

What’s something you can haul out & revisit with new eyes?

~~TGIF- each Friday I rejig & re-post a blog entry from my www.life-lenses.com blog, which is about enhancing our perspective & worldview.~~

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