Transforming Boardrooms – Dare to be different!
Recently I was facilitating a workshop and noticed that by the time everyone had “run” in from whatever they were doing for the day (including me), everyone’s personal energy was way up there in the head space and beyond. I could see that they were jumpy, all over the place and were physically holding their breath as they plonked themselves down in their chair.
The look on their faces indicated that they were still thinking about how they got there, what had just happened at work/school/play, and they were already thinking about what they were going to do after.
No one seemed present, in the room.
How could they be focussed on or open to learning, listening or participating in the workshop if they were not really in the room?
As the one who was delivering the workshop I needed to “get people in the room” not just physically, also mentally and emotionally.
I asked everyone to sit comfortably and have a minute’s silence, to focus on their breathing and let go of what was happening outside and bring their attention to the reason for the workshop. I asked them to open themselves to hearing something new and to open themselves to new possibilities.
This had the effect of centring people, providing focus and attentiveness to what we were there to talk about and we ended up having a brilliant workshop where everyone actively participated. What a pearler!!
Does any of this sound familiar? Have you ever held a meeting and felt like no one was really engaging?
What has this got to do with business or any other group of people convening to make decisions, discuss or learn?
How many times have you organised a meeting at any level of your business (Board, Executive, Senior Management, Project level or even your daily team meetings) and the so called participants were not really there?
I know from experience how frustrating a meeting of the minds can be when everyone has different agendas and they are so "busy" they find it difficult to concentrate on the intent of the meeting.
Consider being a transformative leader, try something different and put at the top and bottom of your Agenda:
Agenda Item 1 - Contemplate, Centre and Focus (1 minute in silence)
Here’s how it would go …
Agenda Item Final - Gratitude and Close (1 minute)
Really! I hear you say.
That’s a bit airy fairy! That won’t work, I am not doing that!
Well consider this:
This morning I read the following from Reverend Deborah Moldow, advisor to the United Nations. She writes:
"In my experience of countless meetings -whether with the NGO community at the United Nations, among visionary evolutionary leaders, or in the tiny meeting room at my local church – I have noticed that a very few simple procedures help to dramatically shift the quality of the experience (meeting), and hence the result.
The real key is in the opening, which sets the tone for all that follows. At the United Nations we always begin with a moment of silence. This invitation alone signals to everyone that the meeting will not be business as usual, a contest of wills and opinions. In the silence the heart prevails. Unless it’s a very large group, it’s good to go around the table letting everyone introduce herself and himself or say a few words of greeting so that each voice is heard, if only briefly. Then we are all truly present. In this style of meeting, no single contribution is dismissed. Each person is honoured and gently brought back around if necessary. Voting is only to find out how people are feeling, not decision making, because if someone is not comfortable with a decision, there is something amiss. I remember one painful meeting where the group simply could not agree. So we stopped and went into silence again. We emerged clear, aligned, and on track, as though a little miracle had taken place.
Closing time is for acknowledgements in gratitude. If the exhilarating sense of group mind has been created, every person present at the meeting has helped in some way. I like to close with “May Peace Prevail on Earth”" (1)
If it’s good enough to take this approach at a meeting of the United Nations then it’s good enough for me.
Besides Einstein said that the definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
TRANSFORM your Board Room or meeting room!! Be a TRANSFORMATIVE leader and take 1 minute at each end of your meeting to Contemplate, Centre and Focus.
Dare to be different! I challenge you!
Learn more about how I could help your business.
(1) Schaaf, K., Lindahl, K. H., & Cheen, G. (Eds.). (2012). Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership - Where Grace Meets Power. Woodstock: Skylight Paths.
Staying mindfully in the moment – or miss them all together!
Our son recently got married and when we sat back afterwards and people started asking us for photos I realised that I had been so in the moment with the whole day that I had not taken ONE photo!!
Coming from a family whose grandmother made sure we posed for at least seven photos every time we met for a birthday or anniversary this was completely out of the ordinary.
Being in the moment is about having all your senses switched on and experiencing each second as the moments unfold. When you are in the moment you smell the smells, feel the emotions, hear the noises, and catch the glances and smiles. It means occasionally locking eyes with people in brief moments of deep and personal sharing and feeling like you are part of something bigger than yourself.
Sometimes we get so caught up in life and it’s busyness and about worrying about the future that we forget to enjoy the moments. Life is so fast paced now that we can be trapped in the cycle of always thinking about the next thing.
You may have just dropped the kids off to their sports training and your mind is already turned towards what is happening for dinner and getting them to do their homework. You race off to fill that gap when they are there to fit something else in. You go back, pile them in the car and go home to make sure all the nightly routine is done without a hitch and then you fall into bed wondering where the day went.
Did you really even connect with them? Did you have a conversation about their day and REALLY listen? Did you give them a hug?
You might go for a daily walk like I do. Some days you find yourself planning the day ahead and being so in your own mind that you walked past someone without even acknowledging them or you didn’t see the flock of black cockatoos pass overhead on their daily journey, or wave to your friend as they drove past on their way to work.
On days like that something is usually weighing heavily on your mind and you walk in auto mode with your head down and eyes directed on the ground, not seeing or hearing anything going on around you. You are home before you know it and don’t feel any more relaxed than when you started out.
How many times have you missed the moment because you have run to get your camera or have been distracted by fumbling to quickly get the phone out so you can take a photo of the moment?
You end up asking everyone to “do it again so I can take a photo because I missed that!” Then you miss it again, only seeing it through the mechanical lens with your mind thinking about whether you got it all in or if the light is good enough. Everyone groans because they have moved on to the next moment already.
Some moments are so fleeting in their spontaneity there is no way to recreate it. That moment your child took their first step, witnessing the look on their face when they won the race they were in, catching the wildlife moment on your safari trip in South Africa.
What makes you feel more alive?
Being in the thick of the moment, seeing, hearing, touching, smelling OR looking at life through the lens of a camera?
Sure, get that photo that reminds you of the moment you were part of which will jog your memory of the more juicy and memorable moments you experienced. Just don’t let it take away from living the moment in the moment or worse still missing it all together!
Here are 5 steps for staying mindfully in the moment by focusing on your breathing:
Step 1 – Notice how you are breathing.
How you are breathing is a pretty good indication of whether you are in the moment or not. If you find yourself holding your breath you are probably off with the fairies thinking about something that has happened or worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet. Your teeth may be clenched and your body tense.
Step 2 – Look up and look around
Put the camera down and look at and listen to the person you are with. What are they wearing, what are they saying, how are they feeling?
If you are on your own and in auto mode with your head down and your mind is caught in a tangle of what if’s and what for’s, look up and look around. Where are you, what is going on around you?
If you are at work, stop thinking about what it is you need to do next and start listening to and focusing on what is happening right now.
Step 3 – Take a deep breath out
Stop. Take a deep breath in and fill your belly then let it out at your own pace. Feel your shoulders relax, your jaw slacken, your neck release. Feel yourself settle into your own person again as you become aware of what is happening in the moment.
Step 4 – Continue with what you are doing.
Step 5 – Notice and correct (Repeat Steps 1 – 4)
Throughout the day just take a moment (no pun intended) to repeat the steps. Being aware or mindful about your breathing helps you to cope with stress, regain composure, and stay calm during the day to be fully in in the moment. There is no right or wrong. Whenever you remember or notice you are caught up in the daily pressure of life gently refocus your awareness on your breathing and go through the steps.
In reality it only takes less than a minute to bring yourself back into the moment.
ABOUT YOUR BREATH
Breath is life. It is a fundamental necessity to living. To get to know and understand your breath is to strengthen your relationship with life itself. Your life!!
Breathing is our link to survival, without it we cease to be able to live in our physical body.
Did you know as adults we take up to 30,000 breaths a day when at rest and up to 50,000 breaths if you add in some daily exercise.
How many of those do you take notice of?
You are invited to contact me to find out more.
Have you ever felt like your ideas don’t matter or you are not being heard?
Do you dismiss other people's ideas out of hand?
I was recently visiting family in remote South Australia on a property that had not mobile coverage (AT ALL!) and only 4GB of internet for 4 people for one month. Shopping is a major expedition to the nearest town 300 kms away once a month which meant meals had to be planned and when you ran out of something you ran out and that was that. No nicking down to the corner shop to get an icecream on a whim!!
Because of this – make or fix is an essential (no hardware store) and the quintessential Australian saying that “necessity is the mother of invention” is a daily truth.
So…. Getting into the swing of back to basics I decide to make my favourite carrot cake for morning tea. Improvising in the kitchen is something that I am used to as I rarely cook to a recipe and for the fancy stuff rarely have ALL the ingredients needed to follow the recipes. All was going well until I got to the icing. Now this is literally the icing on this cake! Carrot cake with Philadelphia cheese and lemon icing .. the best!
Into the fridge …. No philly cheese … Now what!
I know, I will try and make it with Greek Yoghurt instead I only need 50 grams. This I thought was a good plan and I was merrily going about doing this with three other women and my son in the kitchen bantering away (no TV either) that evening.
As I started the icing, my mouth was salivating in advance as I could smell the freshly cooked cake and was anticipating the delight when I had iced it and it would be ready for the next day’s morning tea.
As I started mixing a phenomenon happened, the more icing sugar I put into the yoghurt the runnier the icing got!! And I gradually got more anxious and cranky because:
1. The icing was just not happening,
2. I was wasting good ingredients that were not easy to come by, and
3. My ego wanted to make the perfect cake!
Finally I said in frustration “This is NOT working and no icing for the cake!!” as I stirred furiously.
I got back a barrage of great ideas! “Try more icing sugar”, “try putting it in the fridge” , “try this try that”, “we could get more Philadelphia cheese in 2 days’ time and we could make it on the road”. Everyone was brainstorming ideas to get me out of the proverbial pickle!
I stomped my feet and said “NO, ...... yoghurt doesn’t work, I am NOT making this tomorrow, It won’t get better in the fridge. No No No! I am throwing it out, we will have cake with no icing” and into the bin the icing went. The only man in the room got up and left, he “couldn’t get a word in edgeways”, everyone else sat in stunned silence for a bit whilst I went to another room to calm down.
In hindsight – a couple of things here –
1. Later I explained to the others that I was just stating my frustration out loud and didn’t really need or want anyone to come to my rescue with a solution;
2. In the heat of the moment I may have over reacted. I could have validated their input by acknowledging the ideas. The response could have gone like this “Hey. Thanks for all your great ideas AND I really just want to finish the cake right now and not be bothered with it tomorrow”;
3. My ego was over shadowing the possibility of working with people to find a solution.
Although the kitchen and cake making are a far cry from the workplace the relationship dynamics can draw some parallels.
Do you validate people by listening and acknowledging ideas or do you dismiss then out of hand?
In that moment of stunned silence after I “spat the dummy” I could feel the energy of the group. “She is not listening to me, my ideas don’t’ matter, I feel like I am not being heard”, “wow she is over reacting!”…. And as for the man of the house, he just withdrew all together (albeit to a place where he could read in peace and let us sort ourselves out).
Does this happen to you in the workplace?
How many times have you been to a meeting and your ideas have been dismissed out of hand or not acknowledged or worse still you have not even said them because you knew you wouldn’t be listened to?
How does this make you feel?
Many people stop participating. They are thinking “don’t ask me if you are not willing to listen to what I have to say”, and tend to withdraw from the process.
How many times have YOU dismissed someone’s thoughts, ideas, feelings out of hand?
Validating and acknowledging is especially important in times of change. In order to facilitate change, change managers know that real cultural change is successful when people have bought into the process, participate fully and feel acknowledged.
Validate, Validate, Validate.
Listen to and acknowledge all ideas, concerns and comments. This says to the person “I hear you”, “Your ideas and input matter”. Of course, you don’t have to put all of them into action and you may even get that one idea from the most unexpected source that is the game changer in your workplace.
We can all let our ego’s get in the way at times and not hear other people’s ideas AND we have all had times when our ideas are not being heard.
Which one will you strive to be in relationship with others at work and at home?
I challenge you to take notice and look out for the moment you choose to close off to other people’s ideas.
Did you really get the outcome you wanted or could you do it a better way?
Do you have a way of capturing ideas in your workplace?
What happened to the cake you ask?
We enjoyed it the next day with a cuppa made from the billy.
Last year at HMAS Kuttabil I happened upon a fellow that I haven’t seen for 26 years since the shipyard at Carrington Slipways was shutdown.
We got talking about our careers since and what moments defined or steered the direction we took.
For me it was the day I saw the transom of the William IV being fitted by a shipwright craftsman and it sparked a desire to be able to do that. I mean BE THAT GOOD!
This led to Ken Wickner “taking a chance” on me to put me on as an apprentice in the 1980’s and my TAFE teacher, Ron Stewart, being enthusiastic about having a women in his ship and boatbuilding class even when I announced I was having a baby half way through my apprenticeship.
Each of these people were encouraging and I am in humble gratitude for their support. I can see the exact moments with clarity and the positive emotions associated with them came rushing back with joy as I chatted to my colleague.
Since then, in my career I have many positive defining moments and support from colleagues as I progressed and navigated through my career path.
Many of you will recall with joy those types of defining moments.
It got me thinking though…….
There are other defining moments that are not so joyful and which are also defining in terms of how you see and react to the world from that point forward.
Like the time I was 14, and for the first time in my life I got the message that I couldn’t do something because I was a girl! As a youngster my parents had allowed me to try whatever I wanted regardless of any perceived social acceptance. It took an external influence to define which direction I would go in for the next 30 years. Much to my irritation at the time the rules around girls attending Outward Bound where that girls of 14 where not accepted. So it was that I watched with a sulky look on my face as my brothers head off to the Pack and Paddle adventure round Canberra to have a great time doing outdoor stuff as the name suggests, leaving me stunned and hurt at home.
At the time, “I got over it”, consciously that is, until 30 years later when I was doing some work on my personal self it came up bubbling up from my subconscious again. The feelings of unfairness, rejection, anger and defiance surfaced and I realised that from that day forward I had set out unconsciously to prove that the world was wrong and that I was good enough as a girl to do anything the boys could do.
YOU may be able to recall a situation where you felt you had no control, or you were bullied or abused , or you witnessed something that left you feeling hurt, angry or upset. Many of these things happen when we are children, when we are learning how to live and react in the world. These moments can define the sorts of relationships we pursue, how we feel about ourselves, and our ability to live a happy and fruitful life.
At the time, you may have learned or been told to “suck it up”, or “stop crying”, “or just get over it”, or “children are seen and not heard”, so you stopped crying, buried your anger and hurt feelings around the situation and life seemingly went on.
Fast forward to adulthood.
You have a job, you are kicking goals in your career, you have accumulated “things” like a good car, you have friends and you are doing okay. Despite all of this you are wondering why you feel like there is something missing.
You might be making the same old mistake over and over again, your relationships are unfulfilling and you are just not as happy as you “should” be. On the inside you are not coping, your feel stressed, anxious and overwhelmed and you don’t know why.
In other words you may be a functioning emotional wreck.
Nothing has changed since you were a kid in that you are expected to hold it all together for everyone else’s sake and not express your emotions. You may be a leader at work or on a committee and normally you are so in control! Many of us have been conditioned not to appear emotional at all and to be ashamed or embarrassed when we are. Western culture expects us to put on the brave face and not show how we really feel at the time.
Trouble is you are feeling so full up that your emotions are starting to burst out at the most unexpected and inappropriate times, or they are seeping out through the cracks in your façade in other ways. How you are feeling today is an accumulation of all the suppressed negative emotional energy of the past.
Unreleased emotional negative energy follows you around in your life. Without the opportunity to clear your body system of this energy it will continue to block the flow of love, joy and peace in your life. You continue to swallow your pain until it manifests itself in poor health physically and/or mentally and/or emotionally.
I mentioned earlier that I was doing some work on myself in later life and had discovered an unconscious defining moment that came when I was a young girl of 14.
At the time I had sought help to find out why it was that despite my life being “successful” I was still not happy. I found Breathwork Therapy, which simply described is emotional release work which uses the power of your own breath to let go of stress and collections of unwanted emotional build-up. This release leaves you calmer, stress free and lighter so you can have deeper relationships and more energy to take care of the daily tasks at work and at home.
Enter another “Defining Moment” for me.
Now a fully trained in Breathwork Therapy I apply the principles daily and part of what I do is help other professionals to clear negative emotional energy so they can develop professionally and lead with clear heads and hearts to get better outcomes for their business and their lives.
If you are curious to know more I invite you to contact me.
My passions are nature, people, and building cultures of cooperation, harmony, sharing and reverence for life. I enjoy working with people to help them understand themselves and others so they can reach their full potential in life.