When people inspire us, we learn and grow. It could be someone we know or someone we admire from afar. They make it look easy and seem to thrive in what’s chaos for most of us. Their actions leave an impression and a legacy for us to follow.
I know, Legacy sounds like a heavy word, especially when we are just trying to make it through the day. But stay with me.
From time to time it’s helpful to ask, “Am I proud of my actions? Is what I am doing today fit within my life purpose?” With each work assignment and interaction, we lay the foundation for our legacy.
Legacies are about learning and living. We build legacies over a lifetime through personal values and daily actions. Creating a legacy gives us meaning and purpose. It’s a way to share insights and experiences, with those around us.
The recent passing of Garry Marshall, the creator of iconic shows such as; Happy Days and Pretty Women left an impression on me even though I didn’t know him.
Over his lifetime, Garry built his legacy through love, kindness, and laughter. He taught many life lessons through his personal interactions and the many shows he produced. Friends and colleagues remember him as “an inspiring leader who set high standards…
keep it simple,
arrive early and ready to work,
listen to others,
celebrate people and don’t take yourself too seriously.”
Garry is a reminder not to wait until the end of our career or the end of life to start building a legacy. He built his legacy one interaction at a time. We don’t need to be famous to leave a legacy. It just takes living with purpose today.
With each assignment and role, we leave a legacy with those who interact with us. At work and in life, we face tough decisions. How we handle those challenging situations makes a difference in our life and others.
We all strive to contribute something to the world. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Reflect on what’s important to you and what brings you joy.
- Make time for the people and causes that are important to you.
- Pay attention to how you interact with others and be a positive influence.
- Coach, inspire and mentor others to bring their best.
- Bring positive energy and passion to all you do.
- Be grateful and find ways to work with whatever life brings your way.
To create your legacy, what enhancement can you make to bring your best self?
An Invitation to Quiet the Mind
In the US alone, billions are spent on stress related illnesses. People are running on empty without an end in sight.
I write this for my colleagues who have expressed how stressed and distracted they are these days. Work and life are pulling us in many different directions. The “to do” list seems to be endless. The mind and body race to keep up. You finish the day exhausted and spent.
As children, we learned how to take breaks. I can remember in Kindergarten, we’d spread our mats on the floor, and the teacher would lower the lights. After a fair amount of wiggling, the quiet finally came.
As we grew older, quiet-time was abandoned and replaced with days crammed with activities.
Maybe what we learned in Kindergarten is right — a quiet break in our busy day may be just what we need to stay energized and focused.
It may be just what we need to stop the addictive, head spinning, activity junky, electronic buzz behaviors that make us feel productive but probably aren’t.
Here’s a quick sequence to recharge, and find your moment of quiet. Use this sequence to transition from one activity to another so you can make better, conscious choices.
Settle into the Moment
Find a quiet place where you will be comfortable and not be disturbed. Consider setting a timer for 5-10 minutes so you don’t have to keep wondering what time it is. Either sit in a chair or on the floor; whichever is more comfortable.
Create an Even Rhythm with Your Breath
Breathe naturally in and out through your nostrils. To relieve tension, it sometimes helps to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
If it feels good, give your eyes a little rest, by softening your gaze or closing your eyes, turning your attention inward. See if you can relax your eye balls in the eye sockets.
Start to lengthen your inhalation inviting the breath down into the lower abdomen letting your belly expand. As you exhale, relax and release any tension.
Explore the Gap Between Your Thoughts
You may start to notice the mind chatter. It’s natural. Instead of talking back to yourself, to be quiet, invite the mind to quiet. Let the thoughts come without the need to address them, or stop them. See if you can put them in the background and continue to focus on your breath.
See if you can notice the transition between your inhalation and exhalation.
What happens if you pay attention more to the space between your thoughts versus the thoughts themselves?
Notice the Sweet Sensations of Awareness
As you breathe in, feel the earth ground and stabilize you. Notice the connection from the bottom of the spine up to the crown of your head.
A few more deep breaths. Let go, let it be.
You may notice that the oxygen you take in on the inhalation starts to feel clearer, fresher, and sweeter.
Transition Back into Your Day
When the timer goes off, slowly flutter your eyes open. Maybe a nice big stretch would feel good at this moment. Before jumping abruptly back into your day, take a moment to notice how you feel.
Before you get moving again identify the one or two key actions, those most important things you need to accomplish. Step back into your day with awareness and presence.
In just a few minutes of shifting your breath, you can shift your attitude and perception. By slowing down the breath, there is more opportunity to see the opportunities and solutions.
Meetings are so prevalent these days that it’s easy to get caught up moving from meeting to meeting only to find basic participation principles get cast aside and replaced with meeting survival techniques. Good meeting manners are simple, right? So why are basic meeting participation principles often ignored?
No excuse but people are on meeting overload and find it difficult to adequately prepare for all the interactions. Poor group dynamics and diverging opinions when not properly addressed silence and wear people down. Worse yet, participants sit watching the clock waiting for the meeting to be over only to move on to another meeting. Inconsistent participation contributes to lost productivity ultimately impacting things like customer satisfaction, engagement, revenues, and profits.
It’s in vogue today to reduce the number of meetings in the spirit of being more productive. To do that, the meetings that are left need to be run effectively and efficiently. As a meeting participant you might not have control over the agenda; however, you are accountable for your meeting behaviors.
If you were to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest, how would you rate your meeting participation? Instead of waiting for meetings to “entertain” you, it’s time to play your part.
Successful meetings have a cadence and a flow. Not only does there need to be solid planning and presentation of the topics, it requires participants to contribute in the preparation, meeting discussions and follow through.
Learn more about how you can get more out of the meetings you attend.
If you didn’t have the title, would others follow you?
My guess is most leaders have convinced themselves that others would follow them just by virtue that they are in the leadership role. There is a possibility your leadership isn’t as effective as you think it is.
If we asked direct reports and colleagues to describe your leadership we may hear interesting insights and potential areas for improvement.
Could you be spending most of your time focused on the content of running the business and may have forgotten how to guide, coach and lead others? Are you working too much “in” the business and not enough “on” the business?
In these challenging times where businesses are scratching and clawing to achieve results, leaders can run out of time and energy to think about how they are leading and the impact they may have on the business. However, thinking may be just what a leader needs to make sure things are moving in the right direction.
Savvy business leaders pay attention to their leadership actions. They balance working both “on” the business and know when to and when not to work “in” the business. Experienced leaders know when and how to shift their leadership to bring out the best in others. They constantly assess the situation and make changes in their approach. They know when they take care of people in the organization, the results will follow.
Leadership is a balancing act. It takes the agility, resilience and mindfulness to be aware of the impact one’s behavior has on others. When employees feel they can trust and respect their manager, they are more apt to go the extra mile. To unlock your leadership potential consider the following:
- Find the time to think, strategize and plan
- Get clear on the direction and align and engage the team
- Actively seek ideas and solutions from others
- Find ways to listen before jumping to conclusions too soon.
- Provide positive feedback on individual actions versus waiting for the end result
- Be visible and available to remove obstacles and work issues
When a leader is engaged, others follow suit. The next time you are sitting in one of the many meetings, observe your actions to determine if you are helping or hindering the advancement of the discussion. What adjustments would you make to create more effective engagement and dialogue?
Have you ever asked a colleague for input only to stop listening to their response? Do you notice that some colleagues are so distracted that they aren’t really listening? They ask a question and move on to something else before hearing the answer.
In this instant gratification society, with the focus on outcomes, we may be losing the art of listening. Those we are listening to never get to finish their thought. We miss valuable information.
Listening aids in better idea generation, collaborative thinking, and better solutions. Listening works best when we suspend judgment or the need to change someone else’s ideas. As people tell their story, they are able to verbalize and process the information. If we interrupt them, we take away their time to think and find a solution.
Has our active listening actually become “fake” listening?
We use the verbal and non-verbal cues to show we are listening. The head nods, we mutter the uhms” and “ahas.” Instead, while someone else is talking, we’re busy formulating our response. Worse yet, we’re distracted and thinking about something else.
When we listen and let people finish their story without judgment, people start to feel heard. Active listening turns into conscious listening. It gives people an opportunity to abandon their old paradigms. If people feel heard, they are able to find their own answers. New ideas and thinking can emerge.
An executive recently said, “I don’t have time to listen to people’s stories. All I hear is whining and complaining. I need answers to make our numbers.”
When someone complains, they are uncomfortable with the current situation. They are looking for a better way but may be stuck. Hidden within the discussion is actually the answer. Through listening to the story, we can help our colleague seek a better solution.
By squelching the conversation, we actually perpetuate the same story. We inhibit others to think. It’s no wonder we end up short of the goal.
So, is the issue the company’s failing results? Or are we deficient in listening and unable to make sound business decisions?
The next time you have the urge to interrupt or check out; start listening. Set aside the electronic devices and other distractions and listen. Let your colleague finish their story. By listening, we create a safe place for discussion. Through discussion and collaboration, you pave a path to better business performance.