A New Way to Work

Success and change without burnout by Dr. Geri Puleo

Archive for the category “Working Wisdom”

Working Wisdom: Every Minute Has the Power of Choice

Between stimulus and response, there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
– Stephen Covey

Life should not be a series of knee jerk reactions to the stuff that happens to us.  When things become chaotic, when we have too many responsibilities and deadlines, we can turn into robots that simply bounce around like bumper cars — with no direction, no balance, no satisfaction.  I’ve found that by focusing on that miraculous moment between an exhalation and an inhalation I can regain my ability to choose.  It’s a way of reconnecting with what really matters.  And when we consistently focus on what really matters, then we create for ourselves the opportunity for not only growth, but ultimately freedom.  We don’t have to bounce around aimlessly.  Within every breath, there’s the chance to choose our response to any given stimulus.  What a relief!

Working Wisdom uses my favorite quotes to think about work in a new way.

Working Wisdom: Life Is One Indivisible Whole

One man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department.  Life is one indivisible whole. 
– Gandhi

Balance and authenticity: it’s what I strive for every waking moment.  Unfortunately, the politics of “business as usual” often challenge these virtues.  The pragmatism of the ends justifying the means seems to be replacing ethical integrity.  The financial bottom line dominates and destroys the morale and creativity of the workforce.  Technology’s e-leash controls workers – instead of the other way around.  I agree with Gandhi that segregating your values into different, discrete environments is impossible.  If you act ruthlessly in business, I don’t believe that you can act compassionately at home.  We can’t turn it on and turn it off.  Perhaps the foundation of a new way to work is to realize that work life, home life and spiritual life are irrevocably intertwined.  All these lives create the one indivisible whole of who you are.

Working Wisdom uses my favorite quotes to think about work in a new way.

Working Wisdom: Are You Focusing on the Things That Matter Most?

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least
– Goethe

At the end of the day, how much time and energy have you spent on the things that are really important to you?  If you’re like most of us, the pressing urgency of unimportant distractions often interrupts our best intentions to focus on the important.  Life is too short.  Taking time for those people and activities that are important to us is not being selfish – it is a necessary practice that leads to greater joy arising from helping others.  Think about it:  at the end of our lives, what’s really important is the time and attention that we’ve spent the majority of our time focusing on the things that matter most, rather than those that matter least.

Working Wisdom uses my favorite quotes to think about work in a new way.

Working Wisdom: Is Apathy the Worst of All Evils?

Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.  
– Helen Keller (1880-1968), from her book “My Religion” (1927).  

Apathy precedes burnout.  As workers descend the burnout spiral, their original hope deteriorates into frustration, anger and apathy before burning out.  Why does someone no longer care?  Change is a double-edged sword:  the paradox of the excitement in the challenge and the fear of the unknown.  When company leaders ignore the emotionally draining challenges that accompany their workers’ attempts to embrace and implement the changes, once-committed workers feel devalued and depersonalized.  Overwhelmed, they retreat into apathy as a defense against the increasing stress.  All change is emotionally charged.  The stress can only be alleviated by actively embracing the humanity of those asked to change.  Science will not find the cure for apathy – but humanism can.

Working Wisdom uses my favorite quotes to think about work in a new way.

Working Wisdom: Your Response to Stress Determines Your Outcome

It is how people respond to stress that determines whether they will profit from misfortune or be miserable. 

– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990)

A stressor doesn’t necessarily lead to stress.  Surprised?  It’s because a stressor is simply an external condition or event – while stress is an internal reaction that may or may not occur in response to a stressor.  Our perception, therefore, becomes our reality.  The likelihood that a stressor will lead to feelings of unease is determined by our interpretation, perception and reaction to it.  A stressor in and of itself is not predictive of the outcome.  When something ‘stressful’ happens, do you characterize it as a catastrophe or a failure?  What about redefining it as an opportunity to learn or as an exciting possibility?  Our attitudes toward a stressful situation will determine the emotions and behaviors of our response – which, in turn, will set the stage for the ultimate outcome.  Will you be miserable – or make lemonade out of lemons?  The choice is yours.

Working Wisdom uses my favorite quotes to think about work in a new way.

Working Wisdom: The Heart of Business

Only do what your heart tells you. – Princess Diana 

Mankind is a thinking species, but also an emotional one.  This fact is often overlooked in today’s hyperactive, quantitative business environment.  Critical analysis, measurement and judgment are necessary “hard skills” of business – but they are insufficient.  “Hard skills” don’t lend themselves to innovation nor do they provide the fertile ground for insights and gut feelings that may defy linear logic.  To break out of the box requires vision, courage and emotional commitment.  Creativity and inspiration are the cornerstones of innovation and innovation requires passion arising from the hearts of workers.  Only a head tempered with an emotionally centered heart can fearlessly ask “why” and “why not.”

Working Wisdom uses my favorite quotes to think about work in a new way.

Working Wisdom: The Impact of Change on Your Mind

Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind.  To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse.  To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better.  To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.
– King Whitney, Jr. 

Change management consultants often advise to “get the right people on the bus.”  The idea is to make sure all workers support and commit to the organizational changes.  But is this realistic?  Change leaders frequently neglect to evaluate the potential and residual effects changes will create across departments, functional areas and individual workers.  My research has found that workers who are most hopeful about the changes tend to burn out as the initiative progresses.  They are “the right people on the bus” – but they become frustrated, angry then apathetic when the organization inadequately supports them in their efforts to change.  Organizational change requires individual change and only 25% of organizations successfully change.  Always consider the psychology of your workforce during a transformation.  Strive to inspire their confidence through not only the desirability of the changes but also in the humanity and vision of your change leaders.

Working Wisdom uses my favorite quotes to think about work in a new way.

Working Wisdom: Ideas to Keep You Motivated

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.  – Chinese proverb 

Profound growth requires transformational changes that take time.  Although we all have experienced the sudden “a ha!” moment in which the solutions to our problems miraculously appeared, we often forget the conscious and unconscious wrestling, weighing and assessing that preceded these moments of “sudden” illumination and transformation.  Just like you can’t eat an elephant in one bite, you can’t transform yourself or your business in one quarter.  Identify and embrace the small changes that lead to transformational growth over time.  Celebrate the small wins.  Slow growth is still movement forward, while standing still is an illusion that camouflages deterioration.

Working Wisdom uses my favorite quotes to think about work in a new way.

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