Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Practicing Gratitude

Psychological research finds that people's happiness levels are remarkably stable over the long-term. A possible explanation comes from studies in the psychology of gratitude. Yes, you read that correctly -- being thankful just may be the secret to happiness.
The study* cited that people who were in the gratitude condition felt fully 25% happier -- they were more optimistic about the future, they felt better about their lives.

The words "gratitude" and "grace" share a common Latin origin, gratus, meaning "pleasing" or "thankful." When you are in a deep state of gratitude, you may feel the presence of grace. Reflect on this. As we become more mindful of the present moment, we begin to recognize the things around us that we may have taken for granted.

Learning to practice gratitude is one of life's most valuable lessons. As Aristotle taught us, all virtues have value and the virtue of gratitude helps to increase feelings of satisfaction with our lives and keeps us from falling into the excess of a greedy or entitled frame of mind.

There are many simple, yet powerful ways to practice gratitude on a daily basis.
  • Thank, separately, both the cashier and the bagger at the grocery store.
  • Send a hand-written thank you note when you receive a gift, however small.
  • Make "thank you" a common phrase in your vocabulary.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Each night write 1-3 things for which you were grateful during the day.
And remember to live a gracious and flourishing life.

*Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389

Monday, February 10, 2020

Five Dimensions of Leadership

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind." ~ William James

When I present leadership program, I often reference information from studies on leadership conducted by McKinsey & Company. While the 5 dimensions discussed below focus on leadership in the workplace, I do think they are quite valuable in how we live our lives in general. Here are some highlights from the article How Centered Leaders Achieve Extraordinary Results.*

McKinsey & Company's Centered Leadership Program distilled a leadership model that is comprised of five interrelated dimensions. This 5-dimensional model is useful for helping people realize their full potential and to maximize the most of your team and process. As the name implies, it’s about having a well of physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual strength that drives personal achievement and, in turn, inspires others to follow.
Centered leadership emphasizes the role of positive emotions.

Meaning or finding your strengths and putting them to work in the service of an inspiring purpose. Meaning is the motivation that moves us. It translates into greater job satisfaction, higher productivity, lower turnover, and increased loyalty.

Managing energy or knowing where your energy comes from, where it goes, and what you can do to manage it. This is where doing the first leadership element -- self-awareness -- can help you identify the conditions and situations that replenish your energy and those that sap it.

Positive framing or adopting a more constructive way to view your world, expand your horizons, and gain the resilience to move ahead even during conflict and crises.

Connecting or identifying who can help you grow, building stronger relationships, and increasing your sense -- and your team’s sense -- of belonging.

Engaging or finding your voice, becoming self-reliant and confident by accepting opportunities and the inherent risks they bring, and collaborating with others.

Barsh, J., Mogelof, J. & Webb, C. How Centered Leaders Achieve Extraordinary Results. Retrieved from

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Monday, January 27, 2020

What's Your Vision for 2020?

The new year is here. What will this new year look like for you? What is your plan, your goal for 2020? A fresh start? A desire to make changes (personally and/or professionally) to live a more motivated and inspired life?

To plan for the new year it is important to look back at the past year and examine what you've done and what you didn't do; what were your successes and what were your greatest challenges. Create a road map that details your 2019 journey. This map is vital to your success, to plotting the journey that lies ahead.

In creating your New Year goals, your year in review roadmap will show you the pattern of missteps and detours that derailed your 2019 goals, allowing you to challenge and change the greatest habits that do not serve you.

In preparation for my 2020 undertaking, I have spent the past few weeks examining the process and uncovering my self-sabotaging behaviors and the "explanations" I've attached to them. While I had to contend with some severe health challenges, I can look back at 2019 and see that I really did have the inner strength to push through. In fact, 2019 was my busiest year and I met every obligation and gave my best despite the physical pain.

While I am still finding ways to accept and to deal with some limitations, what I learned about myself in 2019 can be summed up in the lyrics of that Chumbawumba song: "I get knocked down, but I get up again. You are never gonna keep me down."

Wishing you all a success-filled new year and the courage, wisdom, and tenacity to get back up when circumstances knock you down and to reach your 2020 goals.