Simon Sinek claims there are four factors contributing to a disturbing trend in statistics where the millennial generation is experiencing plummeting self-esteem, increases in addictive behaviour, depression, suicide and death due to drug overdoses. The first being failed parenting strategies which was discussed in Millennial Paradox - Part I - Helping Hand or Holding Back?
According to Simon Sinek the second reason for why you might be challenged when working with someone from the millennial generation is “technology”.
For starters I am prefacing this blog with the fact that I am Gen X and in terms of being social media savvy I am lagging behind in practice and also desire to fully embrace (and keep up with) social media in all its forms. Therefore I probably have some unconscious negative bias towards the ability to build relationships with people over social media.
Before I lose everyone under 33 right here ….. I challenge you to keep reading.
Have you ever felt like you were sinking? You are so busy with work, running around after the children, worrying about paying the bills, maintaining the family home, volunteering on the P&C that you feel like you are treading water with your head just breaking the surface. Everything seems out of balance and your centre of gravity is off.
Building a ship is like building a great life. If you don’t get the centre of gravity right you will sink like a ship
Getting the centre of gravity right in shipbuilding is paramount to launching a ship that floats. Many a naval architect has got it wrong only to find the ship moving down the slipway into the water and quickly either lists heavily to one side, or worst still sinks to the bottom before it even goes on its maiden voyage.
Shipbuilding provides a great analogy for life.
To build a ship you need a design and design checks, a plan, materials, resources and time to put it all together. Likewise to ensure a life that floats you need the same things. Most people don’t have one or more these elements and much of the time life is pretty hit and miss with people finding themselves in deep water on a leaky boat and in crisis mode where emergency help is required.
There are 5 basic stages to building a ship and your life:
Stage 1 – Design with the Life of Type in mind
In ship design, “Life of Type” means the expected lifespan of the vessel that is being designed and built. The Huon Class Minehunter vessels, for example, built in the late 1990’s in Newcastle were designed with an expected lifespan of 20 years.
Recently I watched an interview with Simon Sinek explaining the millennial paradox and why you might be challenged when working with someone born after 1984. He claimed that there were four factors contributing to a disturbing trend in statistics where this generation is experiencing plummeting self-esteem, increases in addictive behaviour, depression, suicide and death due to drug overdoses:
Now I know plenty of well balanced, happy and responsible young people under 33 so I recognise that being categorised as a millennial in this context may seem like a gross injustice to you. In the same way that as a Gen X (that’s me) being tarred with the same general brush that my generation is typically being perceived to be disaffected and directionless ….. hmmm
But here’s the thing, you are likely to become parents too in the next few years so will your children befall the same increase in statistics as they say your generation is prone to?
The facts are that the statistics are rising which means there a greater proportion of young people experiencing depression and addictive behaviours than there was before (and probably across a broader generational range than we are talking about here).
Have you ever sat with a friend and they keep going over the same old negative stuff and don’t seem to be able to get past it?
Have you tried talking about a past issue, made some progress and feel like you have hit a wall in working it all out?
Can you openly talk about “it” without getting emotional but you think about “it” every waking moment with no respite when you are asleep?
Is everyone telling you to “get over it” and “it’s time you moved on” but it’s still stuck in your story and you feel like there must be something wrong with you?
Talking about past hurts and trauma is great and can help a lot of people and sometimes though it is not enough. Sometimes talking about it doesn’t bring the relief you thought it would or it only takes you so far.
That’s because your body still remembers what if felt like at the time.
Every experience we have from pure joy to absolute trauma invokes an emotional response which gets stored in your body at the cellular level. For example, when we experience the exhilaration of climbing to the top of a mountain or the warmth of a loved ones hug our body remembers elation, laughter, joy, love. Physically we stand tall, are relaxed, and feel pretty good with a warm glow spreading in our bodies when we recall the moment.
“You have got to be in it to win it” are the words mumbled the morning after the $50 million lottery is drawn and people in the game check their tickets over breakfast.
By the time breakfast is over and the email alert hasn’t pinged or the phone is silent there is resignation in the voice because “some other lucky so and so won it …. oh well maybe next time”.
The thing with playing lottery is that you can choose whether you want to spend your hard earned moolah on being “in it” or to spend it on something else. And yes you DO have to be in it to win it. Never a raffle prize was won without obtaining a ticket first.
What about the game of life?
Each morning you get up you have purchased another ticket in life. Some people hold a shiny golden ticket full of possibilities, opportunity and prizes, like the one the child in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory had. Whilst others hold a dull and lack lustre ticket like the one you take at the delicatessen as you wait in line, waiting as others push in anyway.
The difference between the lottery and having the golden ticket in life is the amount of winning tickets available and the expiry date.
The lottery, footy raffle, and a TAB ticket all have one thing in common. That is the availability of winning tickets. There is only one set of winning numbers, one winning raffle ticket and only one greyhound will make it to the finish line first.
In the game of life anybody can have a winning ticket …. There is no limit and there is no expiry date.
Why is it that some people always seem to be the lucky ones, get all the breaks and seem to be holding the golden ticket?
There is nothing lucky about holding a golden ticket. ....
The days of reading maps and plotting courses with sextants and compasses have largely faded into the past. In the 21st century, technology has made finding our desired destination as easy as the click of a button. If you are in an unfamiliar city you can use a navigational aid to successfully arrive at your meeting or appointment. By searching for “nearest restaurants”, your smart phone will find one for you then proceed to tell you how to get there, and how long it will take depending on your mode of transport. It even does a risk assessment of sorts and produces a number of routes with information about tolls, roadworks or other obstacles along the way. Very little thought from you is required and no resources except you and your device.
A little less automatic and requiring a bunch of collective thought and resources depending on the complexity is a work or business project. Generally a Project Manager is engaged to undertake a project at work or in business using some level of project management plan, or roadmap. There is a project destination in mind (outcome or deliverable), a plan is developed from a whole bunch of inputs, a set of actions are produced , along the way progress is monitored via a set of milestones (smaller goals) and at the end there are a set of measures which determine whether you got to your destination. The course taken on the roadmap has considered resources required (time, people, cash, and infrastructure), the potential risks or roadblocks and strategies to mitigate them, and how the Project Manager will know that the project has met expectations and the project destination has been achieved. When things come up that throw the plan off track, the team can go back to the roadmap and make the appropriate decisions and tweaks required to get back on track.
Earle Nightingale, author of The Strangest Secret audio series said: “All you need is the plan, the roadmap, and the courage to press on to your destination”.
So what about your life?
So far there is no technological device in which we can access a satellite to determine where we are now with respect to our life journey. You can’t just type in the destination (the life you want to live) and then .. cool … up pops a road map.
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.
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.