Ethan Nichtern, a meditation teacher at the Shambhala Center where I learn and practice is kind of young. I approached our first interaction with a degree of skepticism about learning an ancient tradition from someone so young. However, I quickly became a fan of his down to earth style and uncanny ability to integrate the challenges of modern living, pop culture, and technology with the ancient wisdom of Buddhism. His dharma talk this week had a few key points I thought worth sharing with readers.
Comfort is way overrated. Happiness is way underrated.
He told a story about when he started to come around the Shambhala Center where his father is a meditation teacher. They were listening to another teacher when Ethan looks to his father and asked; “Dad, this guy has been meditating thirty years, he seems a little nuts?” and with a chuckle his father responds “Yeah, you should have seen him before he started.” The lesson being that some of us go to our grave being a little less nuts, others go a little more nuts. All of a sudden a little doesn’t look so bad.
Another point that resonated a great deal; After you spend a weekend at a meditation or spiritual retreat, one often finds you are still the same confused person. However, that is not the kind of talk that gets you on Oprah. That is reserved for the people who promise transformation in an hour, day, or weekend.
There was a lot more to the talk, but that’s for another time. Working on an interview with him for the The Blog.
One of the big challenges I often hear from executives and entrepreneurs is about standing out. Everyone wants to stand out, stand out in their career, industry, job search, community, among the competition, and even in life. I admit, I have even thought about it on more than one occasion.
So last spring when Executive Coach Alan Cohen and I, were invited to present at Fordham’s Graduate School of Business, we tackled the subject head on. Looking at people who do stand out and what are the determining factors. We presented a series of 8 points that if practiced would help you stand out.
Since then, I have had the opportunity to present on the topic a number of times, each time the topic has evolved. Most recently, I presented it to about 45 Business Owners for the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and TD Bank. As most of my presentations are dialogues, I often learn as much as the audience and it helps shape my views on the topic.
What really has become apparent is that it is not as much about the “how” as it is about the “what”. What are you willing to take a stand for? What are you willing not to compromise on, saying this is what I want? This is what I must have?
Standing out is not something to be achieved, it is not a destination. It is a choice, a way of life, and an attitude. While it can feel lonely at times, it doesn’t separate you as better than. Standing Out ultimately connects you and makes you feel part of. Standing Out can’t really be done alone, and even if it could, it could never be sustained alone.
I see a lot of people who take a stand for personal and professional freedom as an example. They eitherlost their job or get fed up at work, realize they are not being true to themselves and want the independence and autonomy that come with being your own boss.
What are you willing to take a stand for? What is that you are willing to put it all on the line for, in your life? Get clear on that, reorient your life around it, and standing out happens naturally.
Remember, STAND is an attitude and a lifestyle. If your answer is “I don’t know”, consider taking a stand for figuring it out.
Are you one of those people that treat life as a multiple choice test? Do you navigate your life by picking from a pre-existing list of answers; maybe you pick the best answer, even if it is not the best answer for you; or, maybe you just guess the answer, and hope it will work out.
Back in school I think I preferred multiple choice tests, because there was the understanding one of the answers was going to be the right answer. Life is not a multiple-choice test, and there is no assurance the options you are selecting from has the right answer.
Human beings are creators, the mind thinks in pictures. Anything that has ever come to fruition in the world has been a thought, or an idea in someone’s mind first. Why not leverage that part of yourself and create the career and life you want.
You can think of your life as the essay portion of the test, or even an art project. Come up with a visual, or an idea, then sketch it out or write out the narrative. You don’t need the whole picture to begin. Start with what you do know; What do you want your surroundings to look like? Where do you work? What are the people you work with like? What are your feeling? What are you experiencing?
Play with this and have fun. Remember, this is a creative project, use your innate power to create. Think of it as a continuous work in progress, a first draft, an outline, you can come back and revise it, any time.
The strategy to bring out our best is not always what is most obvious. The common approach is to work harder and longer, until you are worn out for the day, week, decade, or your life.
If you could reduce stress, improve performance, and concentrate better from a single activity, Would that give you enough icentive to get your butt out of your office? If you are the boss and realized that you could reduce employee stress, improve thinking, and maybe even impact performance, would you bringyourself to encourage them to for wa lk in the park?
Researchers at the University of Michigan have found that contact with nature, from passive views of nature through windows to walking in an outdoor setting, leads to an increased ability to concentrate on tasks requiring high mental effort.
Nature provides a constant source of energy . Whenever we safely make contact with beauty in nature, these attractions trigger our brain to release Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces good feelings that we seek.
Nature can reduce feelings of overwhelm. Studies reveal that through consciously making connection with natural areas, humans have been observed to reverse challenging personal situations (stress, overwhelm, depression and mental confusion.)
Nature can provide stress relief. Research at NASA shows that long distant views – even painted views in photographs and posters – induce a sense of “mental tranquility,” a natural calming down of the mind. Spending even a few minutes in your favorite place on the earth can help to ease the intensity of daily stresses of life. The smells, sounds, colors and textures that surround you in nature have been known to relax the nervous system. The mind slows down so that you can start to access parts of your connection to your inner spirit that you cannot access when there are high levels of stress and tension in your body. The scent of the dirt, the colors of the sky, and the aromas of the plants increase your sensory awareness and heighten your perceptions.
By spending time in your favorite spot in nature, solutions may arise that were not there before, or you may just feel a few moments of peace . Now are you willing to get your butt out of your chair?
Don’t watch this video now. Save it for when you feel like you can’t get out of bed in the morning to start your day.
Meet Nick Vujicic:
I am not sure if it is biological or human conditioning, but it seems that we spend a lot more time worrying or stressing over what might go wrong, rather than expecting something extraordinary to happen. Worrying and stressing are not at the top of my agenda these days, don’t get me wrong, the reality of what is happening in the financial, business, and job markets certainly lend themselves to concern.I am not an economist or finance expert so my understanding of most of what is going on is limited. However, I did decide to do a little research. There have been over 30 recessions since the mid 1800’s. As there is always an expansion after a recession, this means that there have been as many or more economic expansions.
The saying “the best defense is a good offense” comes to mind. There may be as many if not more opportunities during this time. I don’t have advice to offer, just some facts from which you can draw your own conclusions.
During a recession
There are many other opportunities out there, these were just a few to perhaps nudge a shift in your thinking.I saw an interview this weekend with Patricia Routledge the English actress. When she was asked by another actor what she attributed her success to, she said taking risks. If you are successful and you continue to do what brought you that success, you will continue to have the same success. It is by trying something different or new that will bring you the next level of success.
In a feature that aired on CBS News “Sunday Morning” they point out:
The copy machine was invented in 1937, but the idea was rejected by the likes of GE and IBM. It would be 10 years before Xerox’s machine would make its debut. John Grisham’s first novel was rejected by a dozen publishing houses … and Henry Ford went bankrupt 5 times.
Feeling a little low on your capabilities or self-confidence? This kid in this short video has the best attitude.
Citing an American Psychological Association(APA) study, Medical News Today reports three-fourths of Americans say they are stressed about work & money; one-third of Americans are living with extreme stress, and the most commonly cited source of stress— mentioned by 74 percent of respondents — was work.
If you are think you are one of these people with a high degree of stress and poor quality of life due to work, take notice! companies large and small are recognizing that happy & healthy employees affect the bottom line in a positive way.
This month the APA recognized five organizations for their comprehensive efforts to promote employee health and well-being while improving performance. Companies presented with the American Psychological Association’s 2008 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award (PHWA) were Arkansas Educational Television Network, Cooperativa de Seguros Múltiples de Puerto Rico, Nike Tennessee, Porter Keadle Moore (Georgia) and Westminster Savings Credit Union (British Columbia).
If you run a company or own a business and believe that it wouldn’t be practical for you to implement this, listen to what these organizations report: A turnover rate of 11 percent compared to the national average of 40 percent according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Surveys completed by employees of the winning organizations showed overall well-being and job satisfaction for employees to be significantly greater compared to national averages.
According to the APA report; at Westminster Savings Credit Union, high employee satisfaction and low turnover means that two thirds of WSCU’s openings are filled internally, lowering administrative costs. Increased productivity is another benefit for the organizations. In 2007, Nike Tennessee increased productivity by 51 percent, while reducing injury rates by almost 30 percent. And at Cooperativa de Seguros Múltiples, an insurance company in Puerto Rico, employee loyalty is high with a 15-year average length of service and a turnover rate of less than two percent.”
In a New York Times article published this week on the same subject, they point out that “48 percent of the employers in the survey said stress created by long hours and limited resources was affecting business performance, but only 5 percent said they were taking strong action to address those areas.”
The Times highlights some well know organizations that are showing initiative in this area as well. They include:
GlaxoSmithKline has program called “Team Resilience” which combines things like health assessments, discussion groups and follow-up evaluations to deal with workplace stress.
PricewaterhouseCoopers also addresses stress in multiple ways. For example, in annual surveys, employees asked for more coaching and opportunities to connect with more experienced colleagues — and got them.
Workplace Options, a provider of work-life employee benefits, reports that a recent poll of more than 700 working adults found 76 percent believe it is important that companies offer employees wellness programs to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The U.S. Surgeon General states that 50 percent of this year’s high-cost employees in terms of health care were not in that category last year, and more than 87 percent of health care claims costs are due to an individual’s lifestyle, according to a study by Indiana University. To combat these trends, it is important for companies to consider adopting wellness initiatives that incorporate coaching for maximum results.
Predominantly from the viewpoint of Corporate Wellness, Talent Mangement cites the benefits of coporate wellness programs and coaching. “According to recent studies, pairing personalized coaching with employee wellness initiatives leads to higher success rates.”
What i think is evident is that employers are starting to realize that a happy healthy employee performs better. In order to affect this employers are recognizing that they must look at the employee in terms of their whole life, and how they can help them maintain a quality life.
TED started as an invitation only conference in the 1980’s; bringing together the most innovative minds from Technology, Entertainment, and Design. It continues today, with selected guests invited to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less. While these talks were initially only heard by those in attendance, the evolution of the web sparked the creation of Ted Talks, a video archive of these presentations. They have graciously made them available to the public.
These speakers are not just leaders in their fields, they are the trailblazers knocking down the walls of conformity. They are using their position, gifts, talent, resources and knowledge to make the world a better place.
The talks are classified in categories that you don’t ordinarily see on other sites. They include “most jaw-dropping” which is led by Blaise Aguera Y Arcas, co-creator of Photosynth a monumental piece of software capable of assembling statis photos into a synergy of zoomable navigatable spaces.
Deborah Scranton who tops the “most courageous” category shows clips and discusses her film “The War Tapes” which documents putting cameras in the hands of a unit of The New Hampshire National Guard for one year while in Iraq
The “most inspiring” category includes Richard St. John who spent more than a decade researching the secrets of success — and distilling them into 8 words, 3 minutes and one successful book; Stupid, Ugly, Unlucky and Rich: Spike’s Guide to Success
There is a dose of inspiration here for anyone and everyone.