Hump Day as an Opportunity

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What Does Hump Day Mean?

This expression has long puzzled me. The definition says “Wednesday, regarded as the midpoint of a typical work week”, and then goes on to say this – “it’s hump day and perhaps the toughest day of the week for you.” Now, why would Wednesday be the toughest day of the week?

As I think about this, I’m confused. It feels like we’re celebrating, or at least condoning a relationship with work, school and life that somehow devalues the week and praises the weekend. I heard someone say last week, “I live for Fridays!” and I thought, “what about the other six days of the week?”

The New York Times published an article stating that a heart attack was 20 percent greater on Mondays for adult men and 15 percent greater for adult women, which they had initially blamed on the stress of returning to work but said additional factors may be involved.[1] If we believe returning to work on Monday can cause so much stress that it effects our health, then why aren’t we looking deeper into this? I would also think additional factors that could contribute to the increased heart attacks on Monday could be or our coping habits we’ve developed for escaping from the work week, which can include excessive drinking, smoking, partying, eating, exercise, tv watching, etc. I wonder what would happen if we started working to seek the opportunity in this situation to make changes?

I know some businesses include employee wellbeing in their cultures, and I’ve read about a lot of organizations that are looking for ways to create a healthier employee. I wonder what might happen if we reshaped the problem as an opportunity using the framework of appreciative inquiry?

What might the landscape look like if we asked a question like –

  • How might we structure our company culture so that employees look forward to coming to work and feel valued and respected here?

  • What if we asked the employees that question in groups with managers and CEOs?

  • How might it create whole system change to recreate the work day, the space, and the policies and procedures?

  • What if the solution is not to fix what we have, but to explore what might be without the limitations of the current structure?

When I started working, we didn’t have computers. You got mail in a mail room, and we used carbon paper to make copies of the things we wrote. You’d think things were very different then, but really, they weren’t. We sat in workspaces similar to the ones available today, we worked the same types of shifts, had the same types of bosses, and dealt with a lot of the same issues. It feels a little like the world changed, and we just keep adjusting our old system by layering and layering new things on a foundation that isn’t big enough or strong enough to support it.

When I read about education, the comments are very similar. The current structure of having kids sit at their desks for hours and hours a day and then do hours of homework at night isn’t meeting the demands of the future workforce. Businesses need their own training departments, and Corporate Universities to give employees the skills necessary to work. What might happen if we included Universities and schools in that same conversation I referred to earlier with employees and managers and CEOs? Is it possible we could look for community solutions to create foundations for success?

In a world with so much opportunity, it seems very limiting and sad to stop one day a week and say, “Today is Hump Day, let me climb to the top of this very small hump and slide into the weekend,” when I could be saying, “Today is Wednesday. I wonder what mountain I could climb today?”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/14/health/14real.html

You Were FIRST – Why Aren’t They Celebrating?

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Have you ever been to or seen the clips of that race where the runner was in first place, saw a teammate fall, ran back to help them and they hobbled over the finish line together with the entire crowd cheering them on? There is so much energy in the moment. The crowd is watching and almost willing the duo to finish strong, while the stronger runner is smiling and focusing on one goal – getting their teammate over the finish line. Someone actually won that race – they crossed the finish line first – but in our story, we focus on the runner who went back for their teammate. They become the real winner.

That is what an Appreciate Inquiry session feels like.

When the executives sit around a conference table and plan the goals for their organization in a strategic planning session, they go for the win. The employees sit in the bleachers to watch the race, hear the results, and then receive the plan for their training practices and workouts, but they don’t get to participate. How enthusiastic would you be to workout and prepare for a race that you weren’t going to participate in? You can have the t-shirt from the race, but no entry and no number.

The Appreciative Inquiry framework is inclusive and asks your employees to train for a race that they are very much a part of and want to win. They are included in the training plan, the workout plans, and assigned coaches to help them reach their potential. In this process they have the opportunity to go back and help a fellow runner get across the finish line and they feel the glory when they get across themselves. Instead of being in the bleachers, they ask their family, customers, vendors, competitors, and community to watch as they give it their all and show what they are capable of, and when everyone is there cheering the on, the executives hold back and offer support to help everyone win. In this process, everyone can win together.

What does your planning process look like? Are you including your employees, vendors, competitors, and community? Do your employees have a voice, or do they just nod their heads and say things like, “They said we have to…, or “Apparently the new process is…,” which lets everyone know that they’ve been told to do something they do not believe is in the best interest of the customer or the organization.

I invite you to consider the power of an inclusive process and whether you want your employees to run the race or watch it.

Calendering My Sleep

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I am the Master of my calendar. I sit down weekly with my family and schedule out the week – who needs to be where, when, etc. I schedule in meditation, work, commuting, coaching sessions, workshops, personal growth and development… I make sure I schedule in time with my parents, kids, and friends, as well as volunteering…but just because I make sure everything on my calendar gets done, doesn’t mean I really SHOW UP. Sometimes I am just sleepwalking from one task to another.

I’ll go to meditation, but I am so scattered that after like 30 minutes I wonder why I even came, but I stay for the hour because I scheduled an hour. I sit down to talk to my son, but half way through his sentence I realize I’m not even listening because my mind is a mile away and I must ask him to repeat what he just said, or I call my best friend, but I’m so distracted by other things I keep putting her on hold or answering someone else. I decided I wanted to do more than manage my time and cross things off a to-do list, I wanted to learn to manage my energy, so I can SHOW UP in my life.

I called my friend Christina and we set out on the task of working with my energy. I took some time to look at the four major sources of energy: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual and see what they meant to me. I decided to tackle my hardest issue first – Physical.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle to get enough sleep. One way I know I am not getting enough sleep is that my body doesn’t wake up in the morning except to the sound of my pesky alarm, which I have gotten in the bad habit of snoozing at least three times before rising. To focus on other physical things like exercise and eating, I needed to make sure I got enough sleep first. I also though it would be the easiest to start with… nope!

What I found was that to get enough sleep, I needed to go to bed earlier – A LOT earlier. I committed to go to bed at 10:00 each evening, which sounded reasonable and totally doable. It sounded that way until I realized that some nights I didn’t get home until 9:00pm and I had a lot to do BEFORE I went to bed. I was going to have to make some real changes to make that a reality.

I’ve started, but it definitely isn’t a habit yet. Hopefully it will become second nature as I continue to focus my attention to it. I have noticed a difference in how I feel and how I show up already, so I’m excited to add to the Physical energy source. My next area of concentration will be nutrition.

What is Energy Management?

Energy management is a system for thriving among the demands of modern living. Today’s world is 24/7- work never stops and the boundaries between work and home may be blurred. Between being constantly connected and working long hours, we may find it difficult to find the time to take care for our health, spend quality time with loved ones and do the things we enjoy! Humans are not machines, though sometimes our work environments assume we operate like them. Humans are designed to work in a cyclical, rhythmic way that requires periods of rest to renew energy in between times of exertion.

 Managing energy is an alternative to managing time. Maybe you have tried systems of time management before, but nothing really changes in your ability to get things done. Maybe you even feel stretched thinner than ever. Managing time does not take into account that in order to show up and be fully engaged in what you do, it is important to manage your own energy.

Consider this scenario: You have decided to commit to an exercise routine and schedule a run outdoors after work. You have good intentions, but every day you come home from work too late and too tired to actually lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement. You were managing your time, but weren’t managing your energy in a way where you could actually follow through. Managing energy would look more like scheduling your workout for a time when you know it makes sense for your energy levels. This might mean running in the morning, which could even increase the energy levels you feel during the work day!

 Energy Management takes into account that humans are complex systems of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy. When we can care for, build awareness around and tap into these energy sources, we equip ourselves with the tools for a highly-engaged life. When we are highly engaged, we are “physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritual aligned” (Loehr & Shultz). This new paradigm of high engagement requires a fundamental shift in how we view our lives! Effective energy management allows us to allocate our resources to the tasks that are most important and create healthy habits that result in abundant energy.

 That’s why I developed the Energy Management course. How might learning to manage your energy create a positive shift in your own life?

What I Learned from Stephen Covey

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About fifteen years ago, I had the great opportunity to travel to Sanford, Florida and get certified in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I was sent to get certified to come back and train the workshop in my company. It was an awe-inspiring, growth opportunity for me in so many ways!! If you want people to point out any mistake you ever make – facilitate something like the 7 Habits workshop. It raised the bar so high on the expectation of how I would react in any given situation that I started working at home about 50% of the time to sharpen my saw. It sounds funny to talk about it now, but the employees at the law firm I worked at would analyze my reaction to things in every situation after they attended this workshop. The work is powerful and I am still striving to do my best in the habits today. Stretch goals!

Some things I still find to be amazing about that experience is that a) the habits are still relevant in my life and b) it wasn’t anything new. Stephen Covey didn’t invent the 7 Habits, he merely studied human behaviors and principles. He crated the package, but all the information he covered was available long before he wrote the 7 Habits.

So, what did I learn from the experience? I learned that your vision and values create the framework, roadmap and compass for you to get where you are going. I learned that if you don’t take care of yourself and consider your needs, you won’t be able to help others, and I learned that the most important thing that I could do in my career was listen. I’ve taken this learning with me everywhere I’ve gone and I’m still working on getting better at it today.

I found that the real power from the workshop was not the information that was covered, but the questions that were asked. The reason the workshop was so powerful was because it asked you – What do you want to achieve in your life? What is the most important thing for you? What do you want to be remembered for? How do you spend your time? It was the power of imaging yourself in that light that handed the reins over from the facilitator to the participants. It wasn’t about the workshop, it was about you.

The Website

I’m not sure if you’ve ever gone through the process of creating a website or not, but it is a great opportunity to define what it is that you are, as well as what you are not. It has given me the opportunity to really look at how to present Positive Impact Force to the outside world. I think I would have had an easier time going through Monet’s paintings and finding one that captured the essence of this company. Finding words to explain something that is bigger than you have proved quite difficult.

I did create some art to help me in the process, but still, at the end of three long weeks, I summarized the company with a set of inquiries instead of statements. I realized that we’re not really a company that is offering specific services, we are a company that is offering inquiry. Our force is group of experts on related cultural topics, and our goal is to implement the best of what each of our individual clients can be. We are the reflection of our clients. Our inquiry process allows our clients to determine what their vision is and our force of talented individuals come together to help create that vision as a reality. Since I do not know the vision of the client, it is hard to define our services as a specific solution. We are more like walking on the path with you to create a positive impact with your vision.

Since my background is in learning and development, and I know we can offer many solutions for specific learning needs, it has been an interesting journey to transform from problem solver to inquirer. We study works like Conscious Capitalism and Everybody Matters and build those principles into the fabric of our work with clients who know that their businesses do and should have a positive impact on the communities that they serve.

I had a colleague ask – “How are you going to make them do it?” I thought long and hard about that question and I realized we’re not going to make them do it. Nobody is going to make them do it. Positive Impact Force wants to work with clients who want to do this work. His follow-up question was, “What type of client is the right client for you?” That response was easy, “We are looking for clients with great vision that believe that their people are important and want to invest in a strategy for sustainable growth over time.” He mumbled something like, “Good Luck”, and smiled with his big grin. I don’t think it will take luck, just a few compassionate CEOs with great vision.