Self Care: Just Do It

"Massage for Kate- paid for" popped up on my calendar last week. I felt a wave of euphoria and gratitude come over me! Then a little bit of, "Do I have time? Should we be spending the money?"


It is fair to say that historically, I have stunk at self-care. My husband knows this, which is why he scheduled and paid for my massage (he goes monthly for a massage and is much better at self care all around).So I have no room to be sanctimonious but want share methods I have found to be helpful, for me or others. And maybe to kick my own butt into gear...

I used to think self-care was mostly woo-woo stuff-- just an excuse not to work hard.
But now, finally, in my mid-life, I get it. It is wellness and self preservation. It is also how we enjoy our short time on this earth. I fully appreciate the younger folks who have come along with this life balance thing already figured out.


I speak to clients regularly who share their stress, frustration and/or lack of life balance and it makes me know we all need to do better. How effective are we in this state? The pandemic with all of its challenges and fallout, a contentious presidential election, and people fighting daily for equity and human rights, takes a toll. We need to take a deep breath, sit back and chill for a bit.


Back in March, I saw these "quarantine questions" and found them very helpful. As we approach winter with the pandemic still nipping at our heels, I am posting this at my desk again.


What can we do to take care of ourselves? Those are personal choices. Consider what makes you feel good and take uninterrupted time to do these things. I like drives on hilly country roads with music blaring. What's your thing? 


Here are some ideas for you and that you can share with your teams:




            
Ø  Practice gratitude even in you worst moments (note to self).

Ø  Take midday outdoor breaks - enjoy the sunlight. Dress for the weather and get outside!

Ø Work with a life or business coach and/or a therapist - talking helps, keeps you clear-headed and can help you be accountable to your goals.

Ø Keep a list of work successes (stuff is hard -- celebrate what went well!).

Ø Yoga at Your Desk (or anywhere); stretch and let your body feel good.

Ø Keep a daily routine and then break it on a weekend day so the day feels extra special.

Ø Have a dance party on your own, with family, or on Zoom with others; make a playlist you like to jam with and share it.

Ø Go for a drive. Enjoy the air and sites. Jam out to your favorite music. (I had Roberta Flack on repeat last Sunday on my drive)

           Ø  Forgive yourself. This is such an important one and the hardest on this list. This                         means different things to different people. Start working on this.

Ø Get a massage (with a therapist who is taking serious COVID precautions).

Ø Take a nap or just sit/lay and rest.

Ø Eat healthy, but don't beat yourself up about it. So what --you ate takeout 5xs this week, try cooking at home next week.

Ø Move your body. Try Fitness Blender to try new exercises at home.

Ø Work on a jigsaw puzzles to use your brain differently and let your thoughts roam, like meditation. (I’ve been kind of obsessed. Pro tip: Dollar Tree)

Ø Learn something new - a craft, a new language (try Duolingo), a winter sport

Ø Avoid too much news watching/reading- no need to buy into the 24-hour news cycle as it is repetitive and not good for you.

Ø Put down your phone; turn off your email/texts. It can wait. 

                                       

         Please take care of you. You deserve it and we need you! 

Ø



Leaders: Talking about Racism & Inequity with Your Team

“I don’t believe in mixing politics with work.”


I heard that statement from a leader as a reason to not acknowledge the Black Lives Matter movement and current protests with their team. I can imagine that this person, a white person, is a good leader in other ways, but they missed an important opportunity to show that they care and to say "I see you" to the people of color on their team and those they serve.


With the murders of Black people, the injustices and the protests to combat them, it is an emotional time. To help you (and me), below is a list of articles with helpful advice on how to address the pain people are experiencing, as well as how to lead in supporting racial justice. Whatever your race, this is a very important time to be a strong leader.  Realistically, for white leadership, there is much more work to do.


There is no set best approach. It is suggested to:

  • Read & learn

  • Digest what you are hearing that is new to you

  • Take time to really empathize with Black people (if that is not you)

  • If you are white, be careful not to ask Black folks to "teach" you

  • There are many resources out there and we need to put in the effort.

  • LISTEN

  • Speak/act from your heart

Credit: The Boondocks

Remember, saying and doing the right things during this time is very important. However, operating your organization with anti-racist practices is the true goal.


I am happy to connect you with consultants with expertise in this area.


Articles for Leaders:

George Floyd And Racism: 5 Conversations Credible Leaders Must Have In This Moment

How to Talk Trauma & Protests at Work. The (very non-definitive) Guidelines

How should you address George Floyd’s death with your employees?

Leading During Traumatic and Triggering Events

Talking about Race and Inequality at Work

Would you like to talk over your leadership with me or with a group of other leaders to share ideas? Let me know and I will follow-up with you to make this happen.



"Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength."

- Dalai Lama


Happy Feet



“Those shoes are cute! They look comfortable too!” 

I hear that often. Well, it is not a coincidence.

We all work hard. We need to be comfortable and like how we look. Happy feet make for a much better day. Check out my recommendations -- this is my Valentine to you.

I will say, this post is mainly for the ladies as we tend to have this struggle more than men (speaking in generalities here). Feel free to share with coworkers and family. They will appreciate it.

After getting plantar fasciitis (foot pain issues) a few years ago, my podiatrist suggested better shoes. He twisted the shoe I was wearing like ringing out a wet rag to demonstrate the lack of support.

It was painful (literally and figuratively) but I went home and started to throw out a closet full of shoes. Then started on the hunt for cute and comfortable options. Not an easy combo to find! With some trial and error I found a few brands that I really like (shared below).

Here’s to happy feet!

Dress Shoes, Flats, Sandals
Jambu
Taos
Spring Step/ L’artiste
Lifestride
Naot

Casual/Boots
Merrell
Keen
Teva
New Balance
Asics

Brands Recommended to Me (but I have not tried them yet)
Dansko
Vionic
Rothy’s

Most of these brands have one or more shoes using sustainable or vegan materials. These are not inexpensive, but do seem to last. If you are an Amazon, Marshalls, or TJ Maxx shopper, you can occasionally find some deals. There are many brick and mortar shoe stores who sell these brands too if you want to keep it local.

ENJOY! 


Be Kind While Doing Good

I turned to two colleagues next to me, who looked stunned, and said, “Being respectful and professional is never underrated”.

I had just been loudly and aggressively rebuked by a colleague during a very large community event, in front of others. She barked these words after being difficult, non-communicative, planning poorly and generally not being on the ball for months. Now in the heat of the event, she is snapping at me in front of our colleagues and guests. Lovely.

I ignored her, and addressed my younger colleagues who witnessed it instead. I figured it was more important to invest in their development in that moment and frankly, it was a way to steady myself -- “When they go low…” Thank you again, Mrs. Obama!

Would I choose to work with her again? Or refer her to someone else. No way!

I think of my friend Candace often, who will literally shrug her shoulders and swipe negativity with the back of her hand, off of her body when she interacts with such a person... and then she moves on. Another colleague says that if she meets with a negative or unkind person, she feels like (swiping her shoulder), “Ew, they got some of their stuff on me.” I feel like it is sage stick time.

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Whether it is office gossip, blaming, disrespect, aggressive, passive aggressive, harassment, rudeness or another kind of bad behavior, it is draining and toxic. Good people leave. Productivity and reputation suffers. Often the one dishing out the unkind behavior appears incapable. It is a threat to people’s health and a threat to success.

There are many articles on the “toxic” work environment. Here, I am saying, start with the basics - be kind. Be firm and direct, yes, AND be kind.

Note: Before going further, I want to note an important distinction here. This is not focused on racism, microaggressions or other blatant or passive discriminatory or bigoted behavior. That type of behavior is a whole other, totally inexcusable, level of disrespect and dehumanizing that needs to be handled in a much more serious manner than is addressed here. Though kindness and compassion is a good starting point. There are many great books, podcasts, articles and local experts on this topic and I am happy to share resources on request.

I am certainly far from perfect in the area of kindness at work though value this and do my best to emulate it. In my personal and professional life I have found that kindness brings more personal peace and good will. I find that people trust me more and teams I worked with have good morale and better productivity when we are good to one another. Catching more flies with honey is an old adage for a reason.

The accounting system I use for my consulting practice, prompts you to send a personalized email with an invoice, as they have found that when “thank yous” are included people get paid twice as fast! Imagine that!

As I wrote this, I thought of people who I have enjoyed working with, and specifically those that made a project better, with their efforts, kindness and professional behavior. Listed are behaviors that created an atmosphere of collaboration and success and a general congenial experience. Hopefully this is helpful to you.

  • Pleasant interactions- Friendly attitudes of “how can I help?” are always impressive. We all have moments where we “snap” at someone or are not as kind as we can be. Such is life. If you do snap, take a breath, go back to the person and apologize.
  • Clear communication- I take note of people in meetings, emails, and calls who have thought through what the other people need to know to be successful. They use clear and direct language and are focused with the information they are sharing.
  • Keeping emotional and personal problems at bay - We are human. Emotions and personal issues will show at times, but should not dominate day after day.
  • Being responsive - “She got right back to me" -- one of my favorites. “Timely” is subjective based on the project but this is always appreciated. Even just to say, “I received your email, I need to check on a few things and will get back to you by the end of the week.”
  • Being informed - People who are “in the know”. They may not know everything about a project, but they make an effort to be knowledgeable, beyond their silo, and if they do not know something, they find out and get back to you.
  • Using humor -  Joking with one another, even under pressure, helps alleviate some stress and lets you know, "we are are all in the same boat and it is going to be ok".
  • Taking responsibility - “I did not know this, let me see what we can do” or “I may have made a mistake, let me look into it” versus “No one told me….!!”. I feel confident in people when they own what is their responsibility and work to be successful.
  • Showing appreciation- Thanking others (individually and publicly) for their efforts is a huge motivator to others (many studies on this) and is gracious.
  • Giving 100%- People who care about a project, pull their weight, stay focused and are a supportive partner are the best!

Below are links to a few interesting articles on why being kind at work matters AND how to deal with people who have yet to read these articles 😉:

Being Kind to Others Benefits You
7 Surprising Reasons to Be Nice at Work
17 Simple Habits That Make You Look More Professional

Be kind and prosper!






From Flab to Fab! Making the Most of Your Meetings


There was a tall woman in a blue camouflage Navy uniform, with a commanding presence, coming out of the ladies room as I entered. I bumped into her. We had just finished a meeting. I said to her, “If people in my life, ran meetings like you do, my work would be so much easier.” 
I thought she’d nod and keep going. She stopped and talked with me for about 5 minutes in the privacy of the women’s bathroom at a Navy command center. 

Conversations meander in meetings. It is a hard job to keep the conversation focused. We laughed about it and also cringed a little. How about when it just goes on and on? Ugh. And nothing gets accomplished? UGH. We discussed that meeting management can be one of the hardest aspects of working in teams, but also one of the most important.

I learn and improve from people like this woman, who show me how to run meetings efficiently and effectively. Here I share my observations of her style, a few other tips and 2 helpful articles for more guidance. 



Upon reflection, what worked with her style was she: 

  • Had an agenda, which was shared prior
  • Was professional and in-charge, shown with her posture, voice and body language
  • Referred to the agenda - “Ok, done with that, moving on…”
  • Called on people for their turn to talk, based on the agenda.
  • Clarified who was following up on a task.
  • Went around the room at the end and asked each person, one by one, if they had final comments.
  • Reminded us when we would be meeting again and what tasks we needed to do between now and then.
Done! Perfection. I felt like I gained half a day!

Other Helpful Tips:

  • Invitees - Consider who needs to be there versus just needing to be informed of decisions made
  • Parking lot - Issues that come up that should be decided outside of the meeting or with a different group of people are noted, to be discussed later.
  • Stay on schedule - Start and end on time. Offer time checks (“We have about 15 minutes left.”). Meetings tend to take up the amount of time allotted, so it is typically best to keep them to 30-60 minutes to be efficient.
  • Follow-up - Assign someone to take notes with assigned tasks with deadlines to be sent following the meeting. Check in on these assignments at next meeting or in between.
  • Bring snacks - Really, if it is a high-paced group who often don’t have time for lunch, snacks help.

For more on this subject:


7 Tips to Productive Meetings

The 5 Essentials of a Well-Run Meeting



Best wishes for fabulous meetings!