Gut and Brain, Heart and Brain

There is so much more to our bodies than we know.

Keep Learning

I know about the Heart and Brain connection as I am a Certified HeartMath (TM) Trainer (though there is always more to learn). Check my blog about the Heart Brain Connection. I know a little about the Gut and Brain connection, but there is a lot more to learn. A friend and colleague sent me an interesting article about some research that was done at the University of Lethbridge. The information is easy to understand and makes sense. I hope everyone will read this article.

They All Work Together

Cartoon human organs set with liver heart stomach brain kidneys lungs intestines spleen female reproductive system isolated vector illustration

What Will You Do Next?

I continue to share what I learn and encourage everyone to investigate the universal connection among us all. Nothing exists in isolation. What happens to one is the result of something and is spread to someone or something. Keep that in mind as you make decisions. Keep that in mind about your behaviour. Keep that in mind with the words you choose. You have much more power than you know, and you can control more than you ever expected.

Whether you investigate the physiological connections among our body systems, or the spiritual connections among everything in the universe, I encourage your next steps to include learning and bettering yourself.

Journey to Joy and Calm

Join me Monday, 5-December-2022 evening 6:00pm to 7:00 pm MDT

This course will run for 6 Mondays: December 5, 12, 19 and January 9, 16, 23 – 2023.

Week 1: 5-December-2022: Introduction: Getting to Know Yourself

In this first week we will learn about ourselves. We will discuss and practice Meditation, Body Scan, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Heart-Focused Breathing so you can determine what will benefit you.

Week 2: 12-December-2022: Building Self-esteem and Confidence

Why do we have trouble with self-esteem and self-confidence? We will identify what gets in our way and how to overcome these obstacles.

Week 3: 19-December-2022: Resiliency

During this week we will discuss the definition of resiliency: Why resilience is important: And, how to build resiliency.

Week 4: 9-January-2023: Decrease Your Stress and Increase Your Energy

We can’t get rid of stress, but we can control many stressors and learn how to respond rather than react to our emotions. We will learn techniques to decrease stress and increase energy.

Week 5: 16-January-2023: Success

What is success? What do you need to be successful? We will address these questions and discuss the big picture of success.

Week 6: 23-January-2023: Being in the Zone/Flow and Wrap Up

What does it mean to be “In the Zone” or “In Flow”? We will discuss these terms and how to achieve them. Then we will wrap up the program discussing your next steps.

Order Out of Chaos: Bringing Care Back to the World

I first learned about order out of chaos, during my doctoral process.

The current state of the world and behaviour of the people demands action to restore or create new order.

blue yellow and red coated wires
Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

My doctoral studies, in management and organizational leadership, revealed concepts I liked, Complexity Theory, Chaos Theory, and Complexity Leadership. What I have learned from these theories gives me hope for our world despite the current state of chaos.

I’m starting with some definitions/explanations to lay the foundation for my thoughts.

Chaos

1. a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.

2. any confused, disorderly mass

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/chaos

Complexity Theory

modern residential building facades in summer city
Photo by Athena on Pexels.com

Jason Collins explains complexity theory this way:

While chaos theory is not complexity theory, it is closely related. It was in chaos theory where some of the analytic tools used in complexity science were first explored. Chaos theory is concerned with the special case of complex systems, where the emergent state of the system has no order whatsoever—and is literally chaotic.

https://www.jasoncollins.blog/posts/complexity-versus-chaos

Keeping these theories in mind and believing humans are intrinsically good, I plan to share my hopes for the future. Complexity theory can be understood, in part, by considering the Butterfly Effect. Collins goes on to state:

[A] contribution of chaos theory is demonstrating … dynamical systems are highly sensitive to initial conditions. …sometimes referred to as the butterfly effect. This refers to the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil might precipitate a tornado in Texas. This evocative—if unrealistic—image conveys the notion that small differences in the initial conditions can lead to a wide range of outcomes.

https://www.jasoncollins.blog/posts/complexity-versus-chaos

The small behaviours and actions of each of us can lead to many bigger outcomes. Thus, we can hope our behaviours and actions can adapt in a way to ensure a beautiful world of love, peace, caring, and respect. Every choice you make is important and can make a significant difference. Change will happen. We need to decide what change we want and make the appropriate choices to ensure our wants and needs are met.

Maybe our leaders do not understand this concept, or maybe they understand, choosing to take actions that will not result in the beautiful world I believe we can have and deserve. Let’s ask ourselves what the driving force for the events that have us in this current state of war, crime, killing, and unrest.

scraping the earth
Photo by Julia Fuchs on Pexels.com

Greed!

I say it is greed. Everyone seems to want more. More of everything – money, power, stuff – without thought to costs. Health concerns are in the forefront because of the pandemic. This might be good. Why, you ask; because the pandemic has forced us to examine health and health care. The pandemic has also forced us to recognize the importance of social contact. However, like an iceberg, many of the problems lie beneath the surface.

Have you heard the phrase treat others as they would want you to treat them? This is a paraphrase of the Platinum Rule. This might be a new concept for many. This rule takes into consideration the different values, beliefs, expectations, and preferences of the individual. Though we are all the same, we have our differences, and those deserve to be recognized. Can you imagine what that world would look like?

Imagine!

Strawberry Fields, Central Park, New York

Imagine a world where we recognize and respect differences in beliefs, values, principles, and expectations though we don’t agree. There are benefits to differences. An example that comes readily to my mind, having just adopted a mixed-breed dog, is what has unfortunately happened to many purebred dogs. The flaws in a specific breed become predominant to the point of being a detriment of the dog: for example – bad hips, such a smushed in nose that the dog can’t breathe properly. This happens within organizations when there is a practice of only promoting from within. As nice as it is to know that if you put in the time, you will be rewarded, it is also a limiting factor for the organization and all members. Disagreements, different beliefs, different values, and different expectations, when discussed respectfully, can result in creativity, new ideas, and changes allowing growth and development in positive ways. ‘This is the way we have always done it’, is a phrase that needs to be retired. We want to always be open to examine and consider a better way. Sitting back and doing nothing is a choice, consider the action you will pursue.

Action

gray newton s cradle in close up photogaphy
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We must act. We have a job to do, and it needs to be done now. Our world is in turmoil, chaos, a state of depravity. Our world is also beautiful, full of wonder, magnificence, caring, and miracles.

We need to choose the future.

From chaos we can achieve order.

Don Brown (2016) wrote:

As a leader of others, your job, too, is to create order out of chaos for others, every day. If you sell, serve or lead, you influence others for a living. You are responsible for helping others make sense of what swirls around them every day…to help them create order out of their chaos. And the best way to do that? Figure out your rules of engagement.

https://trainingindustry.com/blog/leadership/to-create-order-out-of-chaos/

Brown, (2016), goes further suggesting the establishment of a new set of rules of engagement to set your standards of excellence. Leading has changed, he says, but new rules will help us create order out of chaos. These are his suggested rules:

Discover what your people want you to know and do.

Master today’s #1 leadership competency: being present with others.

Learn to ask more and tell less.

Target your influence where you can make the most of every leadership moment.

Learn to follow an influence protocol to calibrate need and create positive movement in others. Discover what your people want you to know and do.

https://trainingindustry com/blog/leadership/to-create-order-out-of-chaos/

These rules might not suit everyone. However, they provide you with a starting point. Afterall, we don’t all have to agree. We can look for other rules or choose to add to or subtract from what is presented here. We do, however, need to act now to influence the future in ways that are positive and sustainable.

I don’t know if what I write, state, and share with others will have an enormous influence on anyone, I hope it will. But I can and will continue to share my thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and what I learn so that everyone can consider their own actions and behaviours. We can have a beautiful world and a beautiful life. What you choose to do is up to you, but I beg you to do something.

pondering female secretary picking folder in workplace
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Another Awakening

21-October-2022

I have experienced another awakening in the past while. There was no one thing that jumped out to tell me “Elaine, pay attention to what is happening and how you are responding?” But as I chatted with a colleague, I became aware of many things occurring in my life and became aware of how I was feeling.

Self-Development

I have been focusing on bettering myself in many ways the past few years to be the person I want to be which includes improved health and the ability to help others by sharing what I learn and experience with others.

My numerous life experiences from which I have learned give me something I can share with others as I coach them or as I write blogs and social media posts. Though not all my experiences have been ideal, the overall outcome has led to a beautiful life.

I love learning. If anything, I might get a bit too carried away with learning. I am forever signing up for a new course. There are so many free opportunities available online.

Recent Times

12 – October this year my husband and I said goodbye to our beautiful pup, Sadie. We didn’t have children together and Sadie was a bit like our child. There was no doubt Sadie was a member of our family. I have been heartbroken by her death and cannot explain how deeply hurt I am.

Late last year the father of my children died. My children, grown adults with children of their own, were heartbroken. I too was deeply saddened. He and I had gone to school together and had many friends in common. He and his wife, my husband and I all got along well. So, it was a big hurt. Then two days ago another close friend from high school died. We had dated a few times in high school, and we have remained friends. We lost touch for a few years in our early 20s, yet we were close even though we would sometime go years without being in touch. In the last 10 or more years we communicated more often. His loss is again incredibly sad.

These events and my less than perfect health have had my mind in a whirl. I’ve been having more questions than usual. The big question…

What’s Next?

More than one of my clients has recently shared they don’t know what comes next, what to do next, they are unsure of what they want. Their question has not been quite the same as mine, because they are not sure what they want next. I know what I want. I have been on a journey of self-discovery for several years now and will continue that journey. Despite being a senior, I am still learning about myself, about life, and refining the details of what I want; there is so much to learn.

Since my retirement in December – 2014 I have continued to learn. I have become a Certified Trainer for HeartMath, I became certified as an Everything DiSC Partner, completed my Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership, and certified as a Life Coach. I’ve taken numerous courses as I moved to helping others by becoming a life and leadership coach. I had the recurring feeling I needed to know more. But guess what?

I Don’t Need to Know More

Guess what? I don’t need to know more. Knowing more is nice and I do believe it is important to remain up to date with what is happening in the world, with leadership, management, health, psychology, and numerous areas I find interesting. But I do this because I want to, I do not need to. Right now, I am taking an aromatherapy course. I’m sure I will be able to help others with what I learn, but the reason I am taking the course is because I want to. I have always been interested in aromatherapy and love the essence of flowers, herbs, oils, nature, and cooking and baking. They seem to go so nicely with the outdoors, water, comfort foods, and the comfort of home. I also find a connection between aromatherapy, health, and spirituality.

Spirituality

Yoga Relax Change Body Peaceful  - johnhain / Pixabay
johnhain / Pixabay

I started a journey exploring my spirituality several years ago. I have investigated a few options and have settled on a practice that I am enjoying. The word ‘settled’ might not be quite accurate as nothing is settled; I continue to learn and grow, and to explore. There is so much to learn.

My health started to challenge me prior to my retirement in 2014. Chronic sinus infections were not new to me. Exhaustion was. The cause of my exhaustion, an autoimmune disorder. Now I knew why. I learned there were going to be things I could not do, changes were afoot.

My Health Journey Woke Me Up

My health journey became quite extensive over the next several years with surgeries, complications from surgeries, cancers, and another autoimmune disorder. During these times, my spirituality and determination were a huge help. Though there were many “why me?” moments.

I’m on my way to 3 years of being cancer free and I feel my health improving almost daily. The journey continues, however that is my own choosing. I want to feel better than before I started to decline. It isn’t easy, but I have also learned that there is not a rush. I know when the time is right if I pay attention to my body, mind, emotions, and soul I will be the best me possible. I am growing into who I have known I want to be, who I am now ready to be. Who I want to be is difficult to put into words as it is more an overall sense of calm, peace, love, joy, and harmony, connecting me with the universe.

Think Quantum

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Photo by Fiona Art on Pexels.com

One of my important beliefs is we are all one. I am a part of you, you are a part of me. What I do has an influence on everyone. What I experience, and what is done to me influences all others. Everything we do involves a choice, even when we “don’t make a choice” we have chosen to maintain the status quo.

The more I learn the less I know. I choose to continue to learn, to listen, to read, to be curious, and to explore. There is nothing I must do, but there are many, many things I want to learn, share, and practice. I hope you will join me on my journey.

What Next

I am in the process of developing a series of online courses to include in my programs. I already offer in-person and virtual coaching. Courses offered now will remain available, but also be offered in a new and exciting format. Watch for me to request people to check out what I have by taking part in a variety of webinars and online events.

I don’t have to do it all at once. I don’t need to take another course. I don’t need to do anything I don’t want. The only thing I need to keep in mind is to ensure that my actions, words, and attitude align with my values.

Learn more about your values. I am not promoting this site or the associated quiz, I am merely giving you one source to explore. There is a great deal of literature available if you choose to learn more. Or give me a shout and we can discuss values together. I am always open to conversations, whether they be on my blog, postings, or via messages, virtually, or in person. What better way to meet more people and learn about others and our world?

The Quiet Leader

coniferous trees covered with snow in sunny winter day
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Is there such a thing as a quiet leader? I don’t mean someone who doesn’t make decisions, doesn’t have ideas, or just doesn’t lead. I’m talking about someone who doesn’t shout and push their own agenda, who must have things done their way. I’m talking about a true leader who leads from a quiet, respectful, strong position of listening and working with others to do what is best. A quiet leader will encourage others to take time to think, to share their thoughts, to listen respectfully to the thoughts of others, and to discuss different opinions and concepts in that same respectful manner.

Leaders All Around Us

The leaders whose names we know are often in politics, big business, entertainment, sports, or have made a name for themselves in some way that puts them out front in the media. Other leaders that we might know more personally are our bosses, teachers, religious leaders, or coaches. Then there are the people we listen to and trust, but who might not have a title that reflects leadership, are not famous, and might not think of themselves as leaders, but to whom we trust for direction and advice. When you need help with something at work to whom do you turn? Often you will turn to a work colleague who will help and guide you or to your boss. I don’t know about you but in many of my jobs turning to the boss just didn’t happen because the boss was in a meeting.

Formal or Informal Leaders

Many of our formal leaders, those with a title indicating leadership are quiet and unassuming, yet excellent leaders. Other formal leaders might be outspoken, demanding, and insist on their way or the highway. And, of course, there is a lot in between. Depending on circumstances there is often nothing wrong with any type of leadership. We might have leadership styles we prefer – as either the leader or follower – but that doesn’t mean any are wrong or right.

Some people don’t think a quiet introverted person can be a good leader. One of the best physicians I ever worked with was a very quiet, gentle man. He was not an introvert, but he was quiet. Everyone listened and learned from this doctor. He did not have to raise his voice to get attention in our busy ICU which was generally noisy. ICUs tend to be noisy at the best of times with machines, oodles of people requesting assistance, doctors giving orders, tests being carried out, and families with their loved ones and talking to the healthcare staff. Imagine trying to be heard in such an area. One of the best ways is to speak quietly, don’t talk when it is not necessary, and make sure that what you are saying has meaning. Most of all, think before you speak. Being aware, being present, understanding yourself, your emotions, and the emotions of others all help guide you before you speak, and guide you in your responses. One way to do this is to learn about and develop Emotional Intelligence, to build qualities that improve our leadership ability, whether a formal or informal leader.

The Quiet Leader

Gregory (2010) stated:

Quiet leaders have earned the respect of their team; they display the appropriate level of confidence, are understanding, compassionate, and open-minded. They think laterally rather than hierarchically, are likeable, relatable, and approachable.

Quiet leaders know and understand the importance of relationships.

Quiet, introverted people can be good leaders. The characteristics often displayed by these people include:


Reference: https://www.childlife.org/membership/aclp-bulletin/spring-2019-table-of-contents/q-is-for-quiet-leadership#:~:text=Quiet%20leaders%20have%20earned%20the,recognize%20the%20importance%20of%20relationship.
  1. They are good listeners.
  2. They think deeply about goals and challenges.
  3. They let others shine. (It isn’t look what I did, it is “look what the team did”).

Reference: https://www.biospace.com/article/3-skills-that-make-introverts-excellent-leaders/

Wow! Don’t these characteristics sound reasonable and something we would like to see in all leaders? I have said many times we are all leaders. We are not all good leaders, most people – regardless of position – can improve their leadership skills, we all have room to develop and grow. If we were to all do just those three things; listening, paying attention to goals and challenges, and boosting up others we would be well on our way to being good leaders.

A Few Questions to Consider

For the next while, a week to a month, I urge you to pay attention to the people around you and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What leadership qualities are they displaying?
  2. Are they formal or informal leaders?
  3. Do they consider themselves a leader?
  4. Are the formal political and business leaders in our world demonstrating the kind of leadership qualities we have mentioned here?
  5. Are those formal leaders the kind of leader you would want to be or to follow?
  6. What leadership skills could those around you benefit from learning?

Learning never stops. Life-long learning is especially important and needed by anyone who identifies as a leader. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please join in a discussion on leadership, quiet leadership, and characteristics of a good leader.

The Heart and Brain Communication

This short video, about 3 minutes, provides information about heart and brain communication. Learn a bit about this relationship that provides us with wonderful opportunity to learn how to live a beautiful life.

The Fascinating Relationship Between the Heart and Brain

The Heart and Brain Relationship

Now that you have watched this video give me a shout and let’s talk about how this can be of help to you.

email: drelaine@drelaineleadership.coach

Learn more about HeartMath from my experience.

From the Heart

“What Do I Want to Do with My Life?”

What Will the Next Leg of Your Life’s Journey Look Like?

Not sure what you want? Most of us have been in this situation at some point in our life. I’m sharing a few questions you can ask yourself to get started. These questions are just the beginning of learning about yourself.

When I completed my doctoral degree, I had also retired from work. Retirement was not my choice; health issues played a huge role. I could no longer work as a nurse, I finished school (again), and my health left a lot to be desired. So, what was I doing to do with my life? First, for me, was to find out how to cope with my diagnosis of an autoimmune disorder that had left me with almost no energy – no matter how much I slept I was exhausted physically and mentally after about 2 hours of minor activity. What did I want? I wanted my health. But that is not what most people want. Most people want to be happy and have a sense of purpose.

“What do I want to do with my life?” is a question we all ask ourselves at some point. We wonder: What career do we want? How do we want to spend our time? What really leads to a life worth living?

The answer to what we want to do with our lives depends on several things. Let’s examine a few questions you can ask yourself to get started toward finding your answer.

1. What makes you happy?

Child Bath Boy Little Boy Bathing  - trilemedia / Pixabay
trilemedia / Pixabay

We all want happiness. We have also been told that we will find happiness inside ourselves. Other people and things will not give us happiness. Have you asked yourself ‘What makes you happy?’ Asking yourself that question is a good place to start. We have a plethora of emotions some sad, some happy, some exciting, some ho-hum, and everything in between. No matter what emotion you experience, it is real and deserves to be acknowledged. However, we don’t want to dwell on the emotions that don’t lift us up. Instead, focus on those things you can identify that make you smile, make you feel good, and make you happy. We want to experience positive emotions and eudaimonia, which can be defined as meaning in life, well-being, or even happiness. So, start to pay attention to yourself and find out what makes you happy. Knowing what makes you happy will help you decide what to do next in your life. Afterall, why would you want to choose something that you don’t enjoy or that won’t lead you in the direction you choose?

For example, what do you like to do? When are you the happiest? Who are you with when you are the happiest? What goals bring a smile to our faces? Now, what kind of life would help you do these things and feel this way more often?

2. What are your needs?

unrecognizable man working on street near railway
Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com

What do you need in life? Don’t confuse want with need. Most of us would love to have a million dollars, a perfect relationship, perfect children, and a beautiful home with the workers to look after the house, yard, and anything else connected with our home. There are basic needs: food, shelter, safety, clean water, access to healthcare, access to education, a job we like and that pays us enough to have financial stability. Not everyone has those things. For those who do not have those things deciding what you need becomes easier to decide, but not necessarily easy to obtain. If you are curious about this do a search for Social Determinants of Health. If you have not seen this before you might be surprised. Identify what you need, as in those things which are most important to you right now. This is where your values could come into play. A loving relationship, a family, education, food security, a home, or enough money to pay the bills. I still have a need for health. Though my health is much better than when I was forced to retire, I still must make some advances and be even better. Using health as an example of what I need I am obligated to identify what actions to take to improve my health i.e., eat a healthier diet, and eat and drink less, drink more water, increase my physical activity, get enough quality sleep, and do things I enjoy. What are your needs? What is important to you and why? My health is important to me because my family is important to me. When I was at my sickest my husband had a lot of work to do to care for me, the house, and the yard. He did all the cooking, cleaning, and laundry. I don’t want him to have to be in that situation again.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, social/love needs, and self-esteem needs are of higher priority than self-actualization—or living up to our full potential. Other needs—like competence, autonomy, and relatedness—are also thought to be keys to well-being and living a good life (Reis et al., 2000). We all deserve safety, love, and appreciation therefore, we might need to take some steps to achieve those items.

3. What are your values?

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Photo by kokokara on Pexels.com

I am big on values, and you will know this if you have read many of my previous blogs, or LinkedIn and Facebook posts. Values guide us in our actions, behaviours, our treatment of ourselves and others. Our values are somewhat like a globe – many details aren’t apparent, but they give us the guiding direction we need to get started. Our values help us move forward in ways that matter and are important to us (Roccas, Sagiv, Schwartz, & Knafo, 2002). If you have not identified your values now is a suitable time to do so. If you have identified your values quite some time ago, this is a time to evaluate and reflect on them. Aligning day to day activities with your values will put you on a path of which you can be proud and keep you moving in the right direction. If you value social connection, then you understand that being around others is important in your life. Working full-time from home might not be a viable choice for you. If you value kindness, you might want to look for work or volunteer activities that provide an opportunity to help others. By reflecting on your core values, you can better understand what you want.

4. What activities make you lose track of time?

man riding white surfboard
Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Pexels.com

Have you ever been so absorbed in something that you have lost track of time? Chances are that activity was something you enjoyed such as a game, a hobby, an activity, or something fun. I recently painted ceramics with my daughter and granddaughter, we had no idea of the time. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. When you are absorbed in something you enjoy the time passes quickly as opposed to when you are trudging your way through an unenjoyable task. I cleaned my fridge yesterday, and I am happy with the end product, but it felt like it took forever – time dragged. That feeling of total absorption is referred to as flow—or the positive feeling of being totally connected to our performance (Jackson & Marsh, 1996). Flow occurs when we’re doing what we really enjoy and is just the right fit for our skill level.

Identify the activities in which you get super absorbed. These activities are clues to who you are and what you want in life.

5. What would you do if you could do anything in life?

astronaut astronomy cosmonaut galaxy
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There are no restrictions here – no time, money, health, or other people stand in your way to your choice. In reality, we know we can’t fulfill all our wildest dreams. I applied to be an astronaut, and I got a rejection letter. That wild dream did not come true, but I took the step to apply. I knew my qualifications were the bare minimum and that I was a bit old, but if you don’t try you will never know, I didn’t give up hope until I got the letter. Are you putting limits on yourself? Often these limits are needed or aren’t accurate? Are you merely making excuses because you are afraid to fail? There isn’t really failure, you just haven’t found the best way that works. Don’t put false limits on your potential. Take the time to acknowledge what you really want as this can help you identify the general direction for your journey to your next adventure.

6. What is the gestalt of your life?

Gestalt is German for “pattern,” “shape,” or “configuration.” The way I like to think about gestalt – the end result is larger than the sum of the parts. Consider your house. Is your house your home? For some people it is, for others home is where they are or where their family is. A house is only a home when the people they love are there, this is one way to consider gestalt. What is this for you? Rather than think of the small parts examine the larger picture. My job as a nurse wasn’t just a job, it was my profession and something I loved doing. Yes, it brought in the money to pay the bills and give me a good life, but it was much more than a job, it was my calling. I miss working as a nurse.

What will bring you satisfaction and allow you to lead the type of life you want? How will you describe the feeling you will have when you achieve the life you want to have? How will the pieces fit together? Imagine you are a fly on the wall looking at your dream life. From the perspective of someone or something else what do you see?

brown concrete building on cliff by the sea
Photo by Thomas Fournier on Pexels.com

These questions are a starting point to figuring out and deciding what to do with your life. You can delve more deeply into who you are and what you want, but these questions will get you rolling to move forward to life of joy and happiness. Do you have questions, need some clarity, or aren’t sure where to go next, contact me and we can chat. Sometimes that is all you need – a chat to say things aloud, to get those thoughts clearer in your mind.

References

  • Reis, H. T., Sheldon, K. M., Gable, S. L., Roscoe, J., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). Daily well-being: The role of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 26(4), 419-435.
  • ​Roccas, S., Sagiv, L., Schwartz, S. H., & Knafo, A. (2002). The big five personality factors and personal values. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 28(6), 789-801.
  • Jackson, S. A., & Marsh, H. W. (1996). Development and validation of a scale to measure optimal experience: The Flow State Scale. Journal of sport and exercise psychology, 18(1), 17-35.

I Want to Work for a Great Leader

julius caesar marble statue
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Why shouldn’t we all be able to work for a great leader? If you are working for a great leader, you are in a beautiful position. As an assistant manager in one of my nursing roles the manager was very clear – I did not work for her, I was not her assistant, I was an assistant manager and we worked together for the unit staff. Now that demonstrates a good leader’s sense of valuing others. I remember being thrilled when I got the job because I wanted to work for a great leader. Working with a great leader was even better, and I learned so much, as I had expected. What kinds of things make a leader great? Here are some traits I found.

5 Traits of Positive Leaders

I want to work for a great leader. To do this I need to know what a great leader looks like. Here are five (5) traits from the Roffey Park Institute

  1. Charisma
  2. Focus on Development
  3. Take on the Role of a Mentor
  4. Ability and Willingness to Listen and Learn
  5. Honesty

Fun

People also want to work for leaders who have a sense of humour. Employees, apparently feel funny leaders are more competent.

The stories of leaders and leadership reveal their explorations of life, the world, and their experiences. What have you explored? As a child you explored the dirt, mud-puddles, insects, animals, and the things your parents told you not to. That exploration taught you many things about life, safety, and enjoyment. Children are curious. As an adult are you still exploring? Are you still curious? Ask yourself what you have explored lately and if you can’t think of anything it is time you decided to explore. Later this week I am going to paint some pottery. I’ve never done this before. It isn’t a big challenge, but it is something new. Exploring can be as easy as reading something of a different genre or an author new to you who has a different viewpoint, or it can be as challenging as taking up a new sport or learning a new language.

Brain Training Presentation Skills  - geralt / Pixabay
geralt / Pixabay

Challenging yourself with new things helps your brain to function optimally. There is much we can do to ward off Alzheimer’s and dementia. Among the things to do are exercising your brain and your body. As a leader it behooves you to set a good example. Challenge yourself and challenge those you lead. Of course, I encourage you to make those challenges fun.

Many of the great leaders from history aren’t known for having fun experiences. The historical leaders were often involved in acquiring more land and riches, causes and wars.

a brown and white dog eating on a cooking pot
Photo by Elina Volkova on Pexels.com

“Not only do employees who laugh at work tend to be healthier and more productive, but they are also absent from work less often. This reduction in absenteeism helps reduce costs to your business and increase business profits.” https://risepeople.com/blog/why-workplace-humour-is-the-secret-to-great-leadership/

But what the past will not do is provide the magic formula for how to become an effective leader. Looking for clear lessons in history seems a futile quest: there are too many lessons, and they are often in dispute. History can be useful, however, in suggesting patterns and parallels, raising questions, and – equally important – giving warnings about why things go wrong.

Commonalities of Great Leaders

  • Workaholics
  • Ability to plan
  • Great memory
  • Luck
  • Understanding public sentiment
  • Well-timed unreasonableness
  • Steady nerves
  • Inspiring persistence
  • Empathy
  • Political awareness

Healthy Workplace Culture

We hear about toxic work environments, but there are also healthy work environments. A good leader is the foundation for a healthy work environment. A positive leader can create a healthy environment while retaining performance and meeting outcomes even when there are ongoing challenges. A healthy, positive work environment is built upon personal relationships (yes, these are also professional), where the leader encourages the employees and makes them want to work for them.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence came to the forefront several years ago. Workplaces had frequently focused on the IQ of the employees, and that is important. However, it was discovered that there was more to business and organizations led by smart people. Smart people aren’t necessarily great at social skills. Think Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, for a comedic example.

EQ vs IQ has led to debate and numerous studies comparing the two. One study, focused on manager performance, suggests that what separates the most outstanding leaders from the others is their high EQ. A study at UC Berkeley suggested that EQ is 4-times more powerful than IQ in predicting success in their given field.

What and where have you learned about Emotional Intelligence? Our educational systems have not embraced EQ, still focusing on IQ. Emotional Quotient tends to be the responsibility of the employer. Some information suggests that companies are focusing more on EQ competencies than IQ when reviewing resumes. Many companies have found that EQ is important in the working environment where people work together. Work is about relationships, especially when working in teams or on projects.

Do EQ Leaders have Specific Habits?

With the current unrest in the world, I urge you to consider our world leaders and their EQ. We see charisma, EQ, negotiating skills, power – my way or the highway. Regardless of nation, the leadership role is demanding and fast moving. Often solutions to problems are not black or white, there are numerous options, and the leaders, despite their power, need others. In many nations the leader must have the support of others for anything to really happen. Some studies suggest that the most successful presidents (though they have not defined success) have been ones with high EQ. World leadership requires those who carefully choose their battles, are assertive when needed, and demonstrate courage in unnerving situations.

Whether a world leader, or leader of an organization, self-awareness is incredibly important. Leaders need to understand their emotions, moods, and what motivates them. They also must be in control of themselves, their feelings related to difficulties, and ensure they are rational in their decisions. Leaders need to be aware of how their words and actions affect others. Leaders want to answer questions such as how they can align with others toward a common goal, how to inspire others to work together toward that common goal and how to stand up for what they believe. Great leaders understand what inspires and motivates others.

How Do Great Leaders Influence and Inspire?

A great leader knows about emotions, feelings, passions, and what drives people to be the best they can be. The great leader must also know how all those same things can bring a person down and be the source of pain and hurt. Sharing stories, creating rituals and traditions, being inspirational to boost the team, and to celebrate all the little successes are important qualities for any leader, but come more readily to someone with high EQ. All teams have conflict and disagreements. A great leader with a high EQ knows how to prevent conflict by ensuring that respectful, open, non-judgmental discussion is encouraged. The great leader is a great communicator and guides employees to become great communicators. A work environment is built on relationships, and relationships are built on communication.

Leaders need many skills. One of my recent posts, 7 Must Have Leadership Skills tells you more about what a leader must have.

How to Increase Your EQ

Emotional Quotient increases with age, but you don’t have to wait till you are old to have excellent EQ. Learn about your own emotions, what triggers your various emotional responses or reactions, how to be in control of your responses so there are no more unplanned reactions that get you in trouble. Learning how to improve your communication skills, make better decisions, understand what drives you and what drives others are important parts of developing EQ. Build your resiliency, learn to maintain positivity, be assertive, and engage in self-development – personal and professional. A good leader will also ensure that these opportunities are available for all those they lead.

What are your next steps to increasing your EQ and developing your leadership skills? I’m available to help drelaine@drelaineleadership.coach.

Reference

EQ information from Norwich Pro

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You Are Enough: 7 Ways to Overcome Feelings of Inadequacy

7 Ways to Overcome Feelings of Inadequacy

What is inadequacy and how do you work through it?

Have you ever struggled to feel good about yourself? Do you wonder if you’re good enough? Do you question whether you’re competent enough? Then you may be dealing with feelings of inadequacy. Many of us go through this at some point, some of us go through it a lot of the time. You are not alone. Remember, You Are Good Enough!!

Feelings of inadequacy are when we feel we’re not enough or not good enough. These feelings usually have nothing to do with our actual performance or abilities. In fact, these feelings may have a lot more to do with low self-esteem or low self-confidence than any fact-based measure of ability or competence. This sounds like there might be a bit of a connection to Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome: this is when you doubt your ability and feel like a fraud. Do you see the similarity? I can’t say this enough You Are Good Enough!

The American Psychological Association defines an inadequacy complex (more commonly known as an inferiority complex) as a feeling of inadequacy or insecurity coming from actual or imagined physical or psychological deficiencies. This feeling of being “less-than” or “inferior to” others can often cause us to shut down (withdraw) or act aggressively depending on our coping styles.

Feelings of Inadequacy, Imposter Syndrome, Inferiority Complex, Lack of Confidence – these seem to all relate to the feeling that we need to be more. Of course, we can always learn and improve ourselves. That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with how we are now. What is important is that you address your fears.

How do you know if you are feeling inadequate, or are lacking self-confidence? If you are experiencing the following six (6) signs they are suggesting, you might be feeling inadequate:

  1. Withdrawn/shy/quiet
  2. Insecure
  3. Negative
  4. Unhappy
  5. Angry/hostile
  6. Unmotivated (Guindon, 2002)

We all feel these emotions to some extent. Some of us just feel more inadequate than others (Heidbreder, 1927). We all have a wide array of feelings and emotions and there is nothing wrong with any of them. However, some of these feelings and emotions cause us to react in ways that aren’t beneficial. That can be changed. Having become a Certified HeartMath Trainer and Coach I am very aware of emotions and how we can learn to respond rather than react. In learning these skills, you also save energy. Fear, anger, guilt, self-loathing, frustration all sucks our energy. If you are like me, you don’t need anything draining your energy.

7 Tips to Overcome Feelings of Inadequacy

If you’re feeling inadequate in general—or about something specific—below are approaches that research shows can help you to feel better:

  1. Modify your expectations and ideals. If we’re constantly falling short of our expectations and ideals, it may be that we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and what we would be able to accomplish. Though I don’t like to suggest you worry about what others think, in this case you might want to ask someone what they think. Or you might want to turn your thinking around – if you were assessing someone doing what you are doing what would your thoughts be? Would you think that person was inadequate?
  2. Seek help from others. Identify areas where you feel inadequate and seek help with those. If you don’t feel capable and you know someone who could teach you what you need to know, reaching out to them can be helpful. Asking questions to help you learn and understand is one way to boost your confidence. You can also seek out a life-coach to help you through these feelings and emotions. I’d be more than willing to have a chat and coach you myself or refer you to someone who addresses your specific concerns.
  3. Build skills and expertise. I encourage life-long learning. If you’re feeling inadequate at a particular task, take time to build your skills in that area. You didn’t learn to walk or talk overnight. We keep trying, we fall, but always get up one more time than you fall. Eventually, you’ll feel more competent and capable. No one is good at something right away, so try not to get down on yourself for being a beginner at something (Lindqvist, Weurlander, Wernerson, & Thornberg, 2017). Be kind to yourself and be patient.
  4. Cultivate emotion regulation skills. We often feel most inadequate in difficult situations (Lindqvist, Weurlander, Wernerson, & Thornberg, 2017). But we can learn effective ways to respond to our our emotions in these difficult situations. I love the HeartMath approach, the skills are easy to learn, they do, however, require practice. With time you will learn to respond rather than react and feel good about yourself. Remember, there is nothing wrong with our emotions and feelings, but we can learn to make them work for us, rather than against us.
  5. Practice self-compassion. Regardless of how competent we are at a given task, we have value and are worthy of self-kindness. Practice showing yourself self-compassion and using loving-kindness meditation to grow your love for yourself and others. Practicing self-love, self-compassion, and kindness are things we all need. You Are Good Enough! Also check out my blog https://leadnurses.com/emotions-heart-stress-be-in-charge-of-your-emotions/ to learn about being in charge of your emotions.
  6. Build a growth mindset. A growth mindset is when we believe we have the ability to grow and improve. If you don’t have this mindset, I once again encourage you to seek out a coach with whom you can work to create this mindset and help develop your self-confidence. This growth mindset will help to overcome skill deficits more easily. In many cases, depending on the skill, all that is needed is practice. We know we can improve so we put more effort into improving ourselves. As a result, we can end up more skilled than we ever imagined.
  7. Focus on your strengths. We all have strengths. By finding your strengths and capitalizing on them, you focus your attention more on what you’re good at than what you’re not good at. Plus, you can put your strengths to work and succeed in areas that rely on these strengths. Identifying our strengths is something many of us find difficult. Once again, a life-coach can help you uncover your strengths. There are also online quizzes you can take that will help you identify some. If you go for the online approach, I encourage you to also seek out someone to help you dig a bit deeper to uncover some strengths of which you might not have been aware. Check out this link to help you identify your strengths https://4b8psy2uo4yodnurz3750edr-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Identifying_Your_Strengths.pdf

Putting any of these ideas into action can help you feel more competent and comfortable in situations that have produced feelings of inadequacy in the past and teach you to approach similar situations in a more positive manner.

It’s normal to feel inadequate from time to time. If we work at it, we can reduce the amount of time we spend feeling this way and we can leave more room for self-confidence. Give me a shout and I will be happy to guide you in a direction that will work for you.

References

  • Guindon, M. H. (2002). Toward Accountability in the Use of the Self‐Esteem Construct. Journal of Counseling & Development, 80(2), 204-214.
  • Heidbreder, E. F. (1927). The normal inferiority complex. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 22(3), 243.
  • Lindqvist, H., Weurlander, M., Wernerson, A., & Thornberg, R. (2017). Resolving feelings of professional inadequacy: Student teachers’ coping with distressful situations. Teaching and Teacher Education, 64, 270-279.

What Does a Leader Look Like?

What does a leader look like?

Lincoln is considered a leader. A statute of Abraham Lincoln at Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC United States
Photo by Gagan Cambow on Pexels.com

When you see someone can you immediately know they are a leader? Do they look different? Do they behave differently? Has your first impression of a person always been correct?

A leader can be short or tall, fat, or thin or anything in between, and skin colour doesn’t matter. If we are going just on looks to determine if someone is a leader, does it matter what they are wearing?

Are these stylish friends standing outside their vehicle all leaders? Is one of them a leader? Are they all followers?
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
A possible leader, or maybe a follower or influencer - woman standing indoor
Photo by Konstantin Mishchenko on Pexels.com
Blonde young woman presenting grunge style - could she be a leader?
Photo by aydin aydinpolaris on Pexels.com

What do the leaders you know have in common?

I encourage you to take a few minutes and think about leaders you know. Identify the similarities and differences. Leaders come to us in many situations home, work, sports, community, politics, religion, school, and social interactions are some we can consider for starters.

As children we probably didn’t think of our parents as leaders, but as we got older, we realize that is exactly what they were and are – they lead us – rightly or wrongly but usually with the best intentions. What qualities do they have that you would consider are needed to be a leader? This is similar to others in our life.

We are all leaders at some times. You can’t go wrong improving your leadership skills. Learn more about Leaders, Followers, and Influencers from my previous blog.

Good and not so good leaders in our lives.

As with most of you I had teachers and bosses who were good leaders, ok leaders, and downright poor leaders. I had leaders who helped me toward my potential. I had leaders who lied and some who put me down. And, I had leaders who were people in leadership roles but didn’t really do anything much of anything. Some people are assigned leadership roles and they don’t want the role or have any idea of what is needed.

What I want in a leader!

Attributes of a leader
Leadership Attributes – an overview

I want to step away from how a leader might look and identify behaviours I expect.

How a person looks doesn’t determine what they can and cannot do. A person’s behaviour however, tells us much more about the type of leader they will make.

Get to know the person before you decide if they are a leader and determine what kind of leader they are by their actions and words. How they treat others, how they behave when no one is watching will tell you a lot about the type of person and leader they are.

Leadership is a life-long journey.

Learning and developing leadership skills is a never-ending process. I expect a leader to always be learning and encouraging others to learn. Don Clark’s web site is one I have often referred to for leadership information. It is nicely broken down into short bits that are quick and easy to read. A coach, a guide, and a mentor are terms I expect to be part of a leader’s qualities. What do you think?

Seven – 7 – Must Have Leadership Skills

There are far more than seven (7) leadership skills. I suggest if you happen to get thrown into a leadership position without adequate development you start with developing these seven (7) skills. They are a good start. Of course, a definition of leadership is also helpful. Check out my blog What is a Leader, What is Leadership?

We could all benefit from developing our leadership skills and we can do that in a variety of ways. And, who needs to develop leadership skills “You”. We all need these skills. The ways to learn and develop skills are vast – experience, courses, books, any form of media, and role models.

Leadership Skills

There are numerous leadership skills to learn. We can’t learn them all at once and as time goes by and we evolve, these skills might have to be adapted. Leadership has evolved over the centuries. I have seen many lists of ‘must have leadership skills’ and they tend to be similar, but I can support these as being ones that will most benefit you and your followers. These skills don’t even touch on communication, conflict management, and addressing change as just a few examples: These you need to work on, too.

Let’s Start with these 7 Skills:

  1. Remain focused on the vision.
  2. Set bold goals.
  3. Be a coach and mentor.
  4. Build a learning organization.
  5. Be a good role model.
  6. Flatten the hierarchy.
  7. Build and sustain diversity.

Vision

Maintain focus on the vision of the organization. As a leader you will be pulled in many directions. During those push and pull times maintain site on the bigger picture, the vision and intent of the organization.

toddler playing soccer
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

Goals

Do you make easy goals that can easily be attained, or difficult goals that require work and dedication? Some think the goals should be easy so that everyone is encouraged because they achieved the goal. Others think the goals need to be difficult to keep the organization competitive and give the followers a sense of awe when they achieve them. I think it should be both; you want success for encouragement, and more difficult for challenge.

Coach and Mentor

Support your followers. Provide them with the resources they need (human and material), guidance, support, and your listening skills so they can achieve the established goals, working toward the vision.

Learning Organizations

Leaders are human, and so are followers. Leaders and followers make mistakes. What you do with those mistakes says a lot about your leadership characteristics and the culture of the organization. As a leader it is an expectation that you provide the necessary learning and development to achieve the goals of the organization, and additional learning for personal development.

Role Model

You are on stage all the time when you are a leader. You set the standard. What will people see and hear from you? Are you demonstrating the qualities you want to see from your followers? This is where you might need to do some work on yourself. You want to make sure that you are demonstrating what you think you are demonstrating: active listening, non-judgmental, ethical, fair, a visionary, lifelong learner, honest, creative, and approachable. Consider a coach for yourself or for the whole team.

Hierarchy

three people standing on the stairs
Photo by Leonardo Monção on Pexels.com

Many organizations continue using a hierarchy. Coming from a healthcare background, I know this continues to be a model followed by many. This is not a sustainable model. Rather than information flowing from the top down or bottom up, form networks to deliver information across numerous forums. Depending on your leadership position you might be able to direct the organization to change to a flatter, networking model. Or, you can at least have a network model for you and the followers. In other words, it isn’t you and the followers – it is the network.

Diversity

In the hierarchical model employees can often advance up the ladder in their turn. This doesn’t necessarily work. Think of the Peter Principle – promote to the level of incompetence. What if other qualified people were admitted to the organization who had different ideas, beliefs, and backgrounds? We can learn from people who are different. Diversity allows new insights, embracing differences, valuing each person’s uniqueness, and using the differences to achieve the goals. A diverse team or workgroup can work cohesively with the guidance and direction of a good leader.

Take Aways

We don’t always plan to be in leadership roles, and it can be scary. Theories have come and gone and are still being developed. Some of the skills needed to be a good to great leader are what I consider life skills – communication, open-mindedness, respect, fairness, honesty, and well my list could continue. However, if you are thrown in consider these as the first ones to get down along with communication, and all those other things I have mentioned.

No matter how many skills you have they can all be honed, or as Stephen Covey would say “sharpen the saw”. Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a good read for anyone, but especially applicable for leaders.

If We Could Talk to the Animals

figurine of thee meerkats
Photo by Mike B on Pexels.com

If we could talk to the animals, what would they tell us about leadership? I couldn’t resist searching to see what information I could find on how animals lead. We know there are alphas and betas, leaders, and followers, and sometimes loners. We also know that sometimes there is a fight. Is it always with a fight? How are the leaders determined? Is there hierarchy? It depends on which animal you talk to.

We have a beehive and recently there was no queen. We don’t look after the bees; we have a beekeeper. He brought a new queen, and she was accepted. I’m sure we can learn a lot from animal leaders, have fun, and remember the information we get a bit easier.

I have decided to take a quick look at 7 animals identified by Tom Sommer to see what he had to say in 2018. The meerkat, the bee, the elephant, the octopus, the crow, the dog, and the gorilla.

Meerkat

a furry meerkat standing on a wood
Photo by Volker Kaes on Pexels.com

I love meerkats. They seem to be very aware of what is going on around them. While at the zoo one day watching and photographing the meerkats, we noticed one of them following my grown granddaughter and posing for pictures. It was quite noticeable and other zoo patrons were getting a laugh at this activity.

Stop running, pop your head up, look around, adjust course, then keep going.*

We don’t want to get so focused on the task at hand that we don’t see what is happening around us. Make sure to plan your work and work your plan.

Bee

honey bee perched on pink and yellow petaled flower closeup photography
Photo by Miss Pooja on Pexels.com

Bees and beehives have always fascinated me. I don’t know much about them, but I have learned more in the last few years. One day the bees from a neighbour’s hive ‘swarmed’ and gathered in a tree in our yard. We were told that the owner of the property can keep the bees and set up their own hive – we did.

If I understand the concept of swarming, this occurs when the hive becomes overpopulated. A second queen is produced, and she leaves with a bunch of the worker and drone bees (or at least that is my understanding).

Create autonomy and empowerment to enable your team to work efficiently without a centralised leader.*

Bees go out every day and gather pollen. The work in the hive is carried out by the worker bees with little involvement of the queen – she delegates. The queen doesn’t have to go out and tell them what to do. The colony is cooperative and works together to take care of the needs of the hive. She leaves them to do what they know to do, no micromanagement. But she is aware when there is overcrowding.

Elephant

close up of elephant family
Photo by Katie Hollamby on Pexels.com

They do the neatest stuff. I’ve seen paintings, I’ve watched them play, and though they didn’t create the paper, their poop has been used to make paper. The moms are incredibly protective, and I think many of us have seen documentaries showing elephants grieving. Elephants develop strong bonds with friends and family. This makes me think of the saying “It takes a village…”.

Create a healthy and safe environment for your team to ensure ongoing success and productivity. *

Oh, for all our leaders to do that.

Providing the resources and safety necessary for workers to meet the set goals is an important role for a leader.

Next is an example of situational leadership.

Octopus

“Adapt your leadership style to each unique situation. No single way to lead is always right.”

Octopuses are great at camouflage. They can adjust their appearance to blend in with their environment and situation. Imagine if we could all adapt to the environment and situations we encounter.

Octopuses lead their 8-arms. However, Octopuses are solitary animals who adapt to the situation and environment in which they find themselves.

Crow

bird animal beak outdoors
Photo by Odd Falch on Pexels.com

Aren’t these absolutely amazing birds? I love watching them and how they interact with people and other animals. Crows are highly intelligent and if you pay attention to, you will see how they come to recognize you or others you see, and how they remember where danger has lurked.

Develop and grow those around you in a consistent and systematic way. *

Crows have learned and I am guessing they continue to learn. This suggests that the crows encourage learning. What an important concept for all leaders; how are you ensuring your workers are learning for the job and for personal development?

Dog

Our Sadie

My husband and I have a dog. There is no question she has done a good job of training us. Though we did our best to establish my husband as the Alpha, that only seems to hold true some of the time. She is also a great communicator. She was a rescue, and I remember when we brought her home as pup and she would roll onto her back and be submissive in all new encounters. We never heard a sound from her for months and she has remained quiet, though she has gotten more talkative as she has aged.

Dogs, well at least the ones I know, make their expectations known very clearly.

Watching dog interaction is a learning experience. A look, then a soft growl, then watch out if you don’t pay attention to these signals. Don’t go near my food, don’t come between me and my mom.

Gorilla

animal portrait of a gorilla
Photo by Pierre LESCOT on Pexels.com

More about communication, you need to provide feedback to be a good leader. Do you beat your chest like a gorilla? Probably not, but make sure you provide constructive feedback.

Feedback is the most important tool for a leader to help others grow. *

Although variable in form, every animal society has some form of dominance hierarchy. Hierarchy is defined as priority of access to resources and probability of winning competitive encounters and reflects underlying asymmetries in power. (Cronin, K. A. et al. Hierarchy is Detrimental for Human Cooperation. Sci. Rep. 5, 18634; doi: 10.1038/srep18634 [2015]).

*These are quotes are from the works of Tom Sommer.

When Things are Bothering You – 7 Tips to Help

When you are bothered by upset, frustration, or feeling overwhelmed you can choose to calm down. “Thanks” you say “but I think you are out to lunch”.

I’m sharing a short bit from HeartMath(R) with you. Check out the graphic on this link – it is pretty darn cute.

These 7 tips are easy (not necessarily simple) but you can learn if you focus and do some practicing so that when such situations arise you have tools to use.

  • Heart-Focused Breathing (TM).
  • Talk to a friend or adult.
  • Walk away.
  • Send love and care.
  • Use your words to express your feelings.
  • Do something you enjoy to relax.

You can also connect with me to gain access to additional tools or just to talk. Some people are more comfortable talking to someone they don’t know rather than a friend or family member – I’m here for you at drelaine@drelaineleadership.coach

https://www.heartmath.org/resources/infographic/connect-with-your-heart/

Leaders, Followers, Influencers

Following the leader, the leader, the leader
We’re following the leader
Wherever he may go

Bobby Driscoll, Paul Collins

Children playing after school
Children Playing

Who are the leaders, followers, and influencers of today?

Who do you look to as a leader? We have leaders in many areas: politics, sports, religion, business, media, entertainment, and social media influencers. There are many other places where leaders are present and influence our lives. Sometimes we are happy to follow the leader – remember playing that game as a child? Other times we follow the leader because it is our job, and we are expected to do as the leader directs, or we feel we don’t have a choice because the leader is thrust upon us. We do what our teachers, parents, and coaches tell us to do.

The other categories I have identified have the same requirements. I wonder though if those we admire and emulate are leaders or just famous people due to the media. Ahh – the media. TV, newspapers (yes, they still exist), and social media all present their own interpretation of events. In giving us their interpretation, we are left to figure out the facts on our own.

Our current political leaders leave me questioning their leadership abilities. I might have a different perception of leadership. If you have read a bit from me, you might already know that respect, humility, kindness, truthfulness, integrity, love, compassion, and being non-judgmental are some of the qualities I believe a leader must have. However, if we examine our world leaders, I’m afraid many will fall short in these areas.

Are entertainers, athletes, religious, business, and social influencers leaders, or just celebrities? Are they setting good examples of human beings that we would like to see our children follow? Or that we would aspire to be?

Not all leaders are good leaders.

Not all leaders are good people. How do you choose who to follow? We can look at current world leaders – what are your thoughts about Putin? I’m sure there are some people who admire him and will follow his lead. Remember history, Hitler had followers and believers. Putin, Hitler, and others who have done things we don’t think are right have been influential, charismatic, and persuasive and convince people to join with them to support their vision. More characteristics of leaders – vision and motivation. How do we know if we are choosing the right person to follow if they are able to sweep us up with their charm, words, and ideas?

Are the world leaders we now have doing a respectable job? What are their values? I choose to follow leaders whose values are like mine, and who maintain and display those values in their words and actions. There are times when we don’t have a choice of our leader. In politics we can make a choice when we vote, but we have no guarantee that our choice will become the leader. Think about the qualities we are seeing in the world leaders of today. Often, we find the qualities being displayed do not match our ideas of a leader and go against our values. Trying to find a way to influence these leaders is not an easy task. If we don’t speak up or make our thoughts and ideas known in some way, are we being complicit in the actions being taken, but with which we don’t agree? 

There are certainly business leaders. Some quite famous and some who have helped us learn to be good leaders. Some business leaders are unethical, unkind, dishonest, and seek only to satisfy their own needs of money and extravagant lifestyles. Though there are business ‘leaders’ who have good management skills and many leadership skills, they are not the leaders I necessarily want to follow. Having the skills of a leader doesn’t necessarily make you a leader. 

Social media influencers.

It wasn’t until recently that I grasped what influencers were. I had heard about them. Again, they might have some incredibly good leadership skills, but influencing isn’t necessarily the same thing. Leaders do need to be able to influence others. Being influenced to buy certain things, eat in specific places, party at the “in” club, and “hang” with the in people is not necessarily advantageous to us. Influencers and ad agencies lead us in the direction that will benefit them, not us.

We need to be discerning when we choose who to follow. Learn to ask the right questions. Find out if the leader’s values align with your values. Additionally, remember a leader in one area is not necessarily a leader in another situation. I might be an excellent nursing leader but if my house is on fire, I will follow the lead of the firefighters. There are times when a group or team might have more than one leader. Think of sports – the captain, the coach, the first base coach, the trainer, and others on the team who have experience and could lead.

I have repeated this often in my blogs and postings – “everyone is a leader!” Uncover your leadership skills and develop them to the best of your ability. Why would you do this if you don’t want to be in a leadership role? The skills of a leader are the same skills that can be used in life – communication, negotiation, motivation, inspiration, empathy, listening, compassion, and supportive to name only a few.

There is an incredible amount to learn about leading and leadership. I have years of experience and formal education in leadership, and I learn more every day!

You don’t have to enroll in formal education to develop leadership skills. All you need is to keep an open mind, do a bit of reading, be aware of what leaders (good and bad) are doing, and identify areas that you would like to improve. Consider starting with leading yourself and learning to communicate. Those two items will give you a solid foundation on which to develop and build your leadership identity.

Do you have questions or comments?

person standing on black sand beach in front of question mark
Photo by Marlon Trottmann on Pexels.com

I’d love to communicate and get a discussion going. Please let me know your thoughts.

I also offer programs and courses that can be tailored to your learning needs. https://leadnurses.com/programs/

Where Does Your/My Energy Go?

Happy energy of children
Adelkazaika / Pixabay

Once upon a time, in years gone by there was an abundance of energy for me to access. Have you experienced that? As the years went by, I found myself needing more breaks, getting tired more quickly, and even needing more sleep. The four to six hours of sleep no longer was enough. Where did my energy go?

I had been able to work full-time, go to school, run, and exercise daily, and care for my children and home. (I am not and never was a good housekeeper, so that saved me some time). As the years passed, I found this more difficult. By this time, my children had grown and were independent, and I had a husband to help. I refuse(d) to believe this was the ‘aging process,’ give me a break, I don’t feel old. Age, as time is an illusion – right?

I had no idea that stress and stressful events can drain our energy. Good grief – work, school, children, home – those all have stress accompanying them. Of course, though I knew it wasn’t the right thing to cut, I decreased my exercise time. My knees were bad anyway so running was gone from my life. That is when the weight started to pile on – lovely.

I have since learned that our emotions and things that annoy us daily, like our commute to work, cause us stress that we don’t even notice and that stress depletes our energy. I have also learned ways to boost my energy.

There are many things influencing the amount of energy we have available. Think of energy like a battery. Some things charge the battery, and some things drain the battery.

Fight or Flight

Many of us are aware of this term, but we don’t really think much about it. Fight or flight response occurs when there is an “acute threat to survival that is marked by physical changes” (Britannica, 2019). These changes include our nervous and endocrine (hormonal) systems, which we rely on to keep us safe by either running away or staying to fight. There are few events in our day-to-day life that are life-threatening, but our body still responds as though the stressors are life-threatening. We have been a little slow to adapt to this. And these responses drain our energy. We can learn to have some control over our responses and conserve some energy.

White Heart

Even though we are not being chased by a lion there are things that make our heart rate and breathing rate increase, sending more oxygen to our muscles so we can run or fight. The threats we have today tend to be cognitive (thoughts, beliefs, opinions) rather than physical. Most of our fears these days don’t call for either fight or flight. However, our body doesn’t recognize the difference between physical and cognitive threats, and our heart and breathing rates increase. I wonder if that is where the run-away bride comes from – stressed by getting married she needs to run or fight, she isn’t going to fight the man she loves, so she runs. The increased heart and breathing rate are from the activation of our sympathetic nervous system. This heightened sympathetic nervous system activity gives us some of the symptoms of anxiety.

To counter the sympathetic nervous system, we have the parasympathetic nervous system. Think car – sympathetic is gas and parasympathetic is the brake. When our heart is racing and our breathing is rapid, we want to bring these under control, we want to activate the parasympathetic system. We can learn to have some control of these and stop the battery from draining dry, we can learn how to charge the battery. This is an example used by HeartMathTM.

 Breathe Inhale Exhale  - kathleenport / Pixabay
kathleenport / Pixabay

Since learning about HeartMathTM I have been in much better control of my energy drains. I have learned controlled breathing and to plug some energy leaks. First, I needed to be aware of some of the areas that were draining my energy. Some of these are things that occur every day, and we rarely think of them as anything but routine, let alone that they are using up our energy. Some examples for you:

MeetingsEmailsFinances/BudgetsPoor sleep
Technology glitchesDeadlines, time, overloadOther’s mistakesChallenging people/clients
Unexpected changeDecision makingHome/workplace DramaBalancing work/family
TrafficNoiseHealthInefficiencies

Though many of these things are part of our daily life we don’t tend to think of them as anything but routine. Knowing that they are draining energy I also found ways to decrease the drain and charge my energy. I’ll share some ways to decrease energy drain, I wish I had known this years ago.

  1. Breathe: When our sympathetic nervous system is triggered our breathing becomes rapid and shallow and uses up our energy. Taking slow, deep breaths will help you find calm and reduce your energy expenditure. Combining breathing with some positive thoughts, feelings, and memories can also help boost your energy.
  2. Notice and Prep: Being aware of when you find yourself in fight or flight reactions is a good start to counteraction. Knowing that you get ‘up-tight’ at a certain meeting you can prepare for that meeting by breathing, doing some positive self-talk, and adjusting your perception. Remember: you are enough.
  3. Acceptance: Knowing what you can change and what you can’t change is a good start. If you cannot change something/someone you might as well go with the flow. But to do so means awareness and choosing how you will feel – no use worrying, accept that is the way it will be. Even if you still find your heart racing and your breathing rapid and shallow, you can accept this and know that a few slow, deep, abdominal breaths will help you.
  4. Exercise: We don’t know why exercise helps but we might be able to guess. When we are exercising, we are focusing on what we are doing rather than the stressful situation(s) we face. Exercise increases our heart rate our breathing – so what is different? Your state of mind. Also, you are in control. The rapid heart rate and respiratory rate aren’t all that is draining your energy, there are other hormones and chemicals in the body that react to feelings and emotions. While exercising you aren’t thinking about the department budget meeting that you know will be difficult; instead, you are focused on your health and well-being, and this changes what occurs in our bodies.
  5. Cognitive-Behavioural Approaches: When you are in fight or flight mode take a moment to reflect on what you are thinking. Then ask yourself, “Is this the best solution, the best way to be thinking of this? Is there a better solution or action?” By taking the time to consider options you might find you can reduce your energy expenditure by finding a new solution.
  6. Talk to a Professional: You want to make sure that your mental and physical health is good. A professional can help you learn ways to deal with stressful situations, anxiety, panic, or even poor sleep. You do not have to do everything on your own.

In summary, our fight or flight response is important to keep us safe. Sometimes that response is overactive, and we need to find a way to get control. Getting control will help improve your health and energy. Who wouldn’t like that? There are many resources available to help you find a way to better health, less stress, and happiness. We all deserve a beautiful life.

I am available to discuss how you can boost your energy rather than decrease it, and to be in control of your emotional responses. Check my calendar to book an appointment at your convenience https://koalendar.com/u/drelaineleadershipcoach

Dr. Elaine Leadership Coach

Put Yourself in a Better Mood

Photo from my trip to New York’s Central Park. John Lennon’s songs always give me hope and lifts my mood,

Put yourself in a better mood. How? Check out these science-based ways to increase positive emotions, decrease negative emotions, and make yourself feel better.

Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes bad things happen, and we find ourselves in a bad mood. At times we make decisions that get us down. Other times we feel bad for no obvious reason. We know we want to feel better…but how? Psychological research has shown us there are ways we can boost our mood. Check out a few of them:

1. Practice gratitude to boost your mood

​One of the best ways to start feeling better fast is to practice gratitude. You can write a gratitude journal or a gratitude list. This practice can lead to a quick and fast boost of feeling more positive.

2. Don’t be too hard on yourself

How you treat yourself matters. Treat yourself at least as well as you treat others. Learn self-compassion, being hard on yourself can bring you down. Being gentle with yourself can help you feel better about yourself. When we’re not judgmental of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, we treat ourselves better. You can boost self-compassion by writing a self-compassionate letter to yourself. In this letter remind yourself of all your good qualities, and good things you have done, and celebrate by treating yourself kindly.

3. Boost your mood, boost your self-confidence

When we are confident, we are more likely to take action to improve our lives. Being in a better mood can help make that happen. Boost your self-confidence by examining your strengths and positive qualities. Name your strengths and write or record them so you can refer to them during tough times. These don’t have to be big—are you a good cook, good at playing video games, or have a good, creative imagination.

4. Write yourself a ‘feel better soon’ letter

Research suggests we look at our current situation from a time in the future. Doing this can lead to decreased negative emotions and make us feel better (Bruehlman-Senecal & Ayduk, 2015). That can be tough to do, depending on the situation. This suggestion has you think about what you want to do and where you want to be (dream a little, then write those things down).  If you’ve experienced a breakup or other negative situation or event leaving you in a bad mood or unhappy, imagine the future you want (remember you are in control). Then write this letter to yourself, but from the future. This letter is from the view that you have achieved all your dreams and are reflecting on the tough time. In this letter praise yourself for all you have accomplished (from what you want to do, want to be, and for your happiness. Tell yourself to “feel better soon”. You recognize how proud you are of all your future self is doing when this challenging time has passed. You might also want to consider a vision board for long-term dreams and goals or even a quick collage for the immediate future (I like pictures, though I know this isn’t for everyone).

How can that smile not help lift your mood?

5. Notice positive things and watch your mood improve

Numerous studies show that focusing our attention on the positive rather than the negative can improve our well-being (MacLeod, et al., 2002; Wadlinger & Isaacowitz, 2008). For example, if we lose a job, we might say to ourselves: “I am so happy to have my family and friends” or “It was time for me to find something new” or “I deserve better than this”.

6. Positive images can make you smile

Science is great for helping us learn strategies to feel better. But sometimes we just want to look at something funny or cute. (Science suggests positive images do boost our mood.) Sometimes, when we’re feeling down, it can be helpful to let our brain rest, look at cute cat videos or pictures, and just let our mood improve that way.

For quick fixes check out this short article from Psychology Today.

7. Oh, just one more thing to wrap up

If you’re in a bad mood, there are things you can do to feel better. Try these tips. Be gentle with yourself and take your time. Don’t forget to breathe. As a Certified HeartMathTM Trainer and Coach I have programs to guide you to be in control of how you react to your emotions. I can tailor these to meet your needs, we work together. See more information here https://leadnurses.com/programs/

References

  • Bruehlman-Senecal, E., and O. Ayduk. 2015. “This Too Shall Pass: Temporal Distance and the Regulation of Emotional Distress.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 108 (2): 356.
  • MacLeod, C., Rutherford, E., Campbell, L., Ebsworthy, G., & Holker, L. (2002). Selective attention and emotional vulnerability: assessing the causal basis of their association through the experimental manipulation of attentional bias. Journal of abnormal psychology, 111(1), 107.
  • Wadlinger, H. A., & Isaacowitz, D. M. (2008). Looking happy: The experimental manipulation of a positive visual attention bias. Emotion, 8(1), 121.

I Get So Mad. Are Your Emotions Holding You Hostage?

pexels- ronald- 1260644

I get so mad. Are your emotions holding you hostage?

Husband: “Why are you always talking in the middle of a tv show? You know I can’t follow the show when you are talking.”

Wife: “Humph! I was just asking the dog if she wanted out. I wasn’t even talking to you.”

Wife to her friend: “He makes me so mad. Everything must be his way. He can talk to me when I am watching something or on a ZOOM call, but everyone must be perfectly quiet for him.”

How often have you said something like this, or heard someone else say it? “She made me so upset.” “He really hurt my feelings.” We say these things often not even thinking. But was it really the other person who made you mad, upset, or hurt? No. Those feelings come from your response to that emotion. What if you could control your response?

Sure, that sounds ok. But does it really make any difference? And what does it have to do with the way I lead?

You can control how you respond. I will share a bit more about that shortly. And as a leader, you are setting an example. Furthermore, as a leader you want your team to function optimally, and to do that, they also need to be able to be in control of their emotional responses.

Let’s examine more about emotions; where they come from, and why we react the way we do. First, we don’t want to get rid of our emotions. What we want is to be in control of our response. Emotions aren’t good or bad, but they do drive our physiology. Some emotions drain our energy, while others recharge our energy, like your cell phone battery. Some emotions are more intense than others. Regardless of the emotion, they affect our energy, how we perform, how we communicate, and our ability to self-regulate, or be in control.

Without going into a lot of detail I will explain what happens to our bodies when we are experiencing stress. After all, when we are angry, frustrated, or frightened we are experiencing stress. Knowing what is going on physiologically might help you to understand why you want to be in control of your emotional responses.

Within seconds of sensing a threat – real or perceived – fear, anger, or frustration your body is at work releasing adrenaline and noradrenaline to increase your blood pressure and heart rate. This is needed to ensure that you get the required oxygen and blood to where it is needed – the brain, muscles, heart, and lungs. You need this to ensure you are physically strong enough to protect yourself. (Remember, your brain doesn’t know if it is anger or a lion attacking, it merely knows there is stress.) When your heart rate increases you are stressed. There is also less blood going to the skin, digestive system, and kidneys – that is what causes the ‘butterflies’ in your stomach. Noradrenalin also hones your senses making you more alert, causing your facial muscles to become tense, you might clench your teeth, you might get goosebumps, and you are likely to look more aggressive.

Cortisol is also released and converts stored fat into energy to drive your muscles. However, too much cortisol weakens your immune system. Have you ever noticed that after the big project is completed, or the exams are written you get a cold, cold sore, or other infection? I often got ill when I took a vacation – why? – because I had been under stress, knew it was time for a break, but I had waited too long and there was just too much cortisol that had weakened my immune system.

Learning to control our response to emotions will help keep our stress down. It won’t make it go away, but it will help keep it in control and less cortisol will be released.

What are we going to do about this? There are numerous things that we experience daily causing us stress. Some of them we don’t even notice anymore because they happen all the time – your daily drive to work, your rush in the morning to get the kids off to school and you to work, or standing in the grocery store check-out line.

When you react to your stress you are prevented from thinking as clearly as usual, you can’t solve problems as easily, and your production decreases.

Have you ever found yourself saying something along the lines of

“that made me so mad, and when I get mad, I cry, which makes me angrier cause that looks like he had hurt my feelings, rather than I was angry”?

I know I have certainly done that a time or two. I have learned over time to have better control of my emotional responses. Of course, that doesn’t mean I will never do that again. Being in control of my emotional response is the way I expect to respond most of the time.

Have you noticed the use of the words react and respond? They are not the same. In this situation ‘react’ means what happens is spontaneous, without thought. Respond means you have taken a moment – now or at some point in the past, to evaluate how you will behave to the words or activity that stimulated a specific emotion. That time between the action and what you say is where you choose to either react or respond. When you choose to respond, you are in control. When you react, your emotions are in control. Most of us like to be in control of our actions, words, and behaviours.

Learning to respond rather than react isn’t easy. We have probably been reacting all our life. This kind of change takes some work, but with a few simple steps, it can be done.

Gaining Control of Your Emotions

  1. Acknowledge and name your feeling.
  2. Focus your attention on your breathing – the chest area or your upper lip where you can feel the cool air going in and the warm air coming out. Picture your breath flowing in and out of your chest area. Breathe a little slower and deeper than usual. Choose a rhythm that is comfortable for you. Do this for 3 – 5 breaths, or more if you feel you need to.
  3. Identify a positive attitude or regenerative feeling – calm, peace, sitting on a beach enjoying the sun, something you appreciate, petting or playing with your dog, or just relaxing and reading.
  4. Now ask yourself – what would be a more appropriate, effective, or efficient way for you to respond to the feeling you identified. (What would be a better solution than displaying your reaction?)
  5. Notice the very subtle change in how you perceive the situation, your feelings, and your attitude. Make a promise to yourself to sustain this feeling and your attitude in this and similar situations.

You have now taken a few minutes to go through this process and in doing so you have not reacted to the emotion. Will this happen the next time an emotion overcomes you? Good chance it won’t. But, as soon as you realize that you reacted and were not in control, go through these steps. Continue to do this practice until it becomes comfortable, and you can do this before you react. You will find that as you do this with each emotion you will be establishing a new pattern for yourself.

What if you don’t identify a better way to respond? Don’t worry about it, just repeat the process later, or the next day until you identify a better response. The more you practice the easier it will be to have the response come naturally.

You can use this technique at times when you feel frustrated, angry, impatient, worried, or scared. Identify your emotional reactions that could benefit from being controlled with a response.

Check out an earlier blog for some more about stress and emotions and the video that accompanies it:

Emotions – Heart – Stress: Be in Charge of Your Emotions!

Our world is full of potential stressors. We aren’t going to be able to control all of them. But there are many emotions connected with these stressors that can be tamed. You can avoid some stressors – don’t have the news on constantly or even take a few days to not listen to the news, consider a change in your morning routine, or maybe change the time or place you do your grocery shopping (or maybe get someone else to do it occasionally).

Your health includes managing your response to stress. Give me a shout and we can discuss this in more detail and plan what you can do that is specific to your needs.

Let’s talk: drelaine@drelaineleadership.coach

or set up an appointment on my calendar: https://koalendar.com/u/drelaineleadershipcoach

Gratitude, Happiness, and Leadership

As a leader are you demonstrating gratitude and happiness?

Does a leader need to be happy and grateful?

Are you promoting gratitude and happiness in your workplace?

My belief is that everyone would have a much better life if they demonstrated gratitude and made the choice to be happy. This does not mean you need to hide your troubles, not pay attention to what bothers you, to ignore your unhappiness or your illnesses, and struggles; these need to be addressed. As a new friend of mine says “you have to feel it to heal it.” As humans, we have oodles of emotions to which we react or respond. Some emotions lift us up while others bring us down or lead to outbursts. We can learn not to react to emotions but instead to respond in a more efficient and effective way. Of course, this will not happen all the time, but it is what we want as our usual response. We are human, and as such we have a wide variety of emotions some uplifting, but not all of them. Embrace your emotions as you learn to be in control of your responses. Where your thoughts go, your energy will flow. Make sure your energy is used for enjoyment, and for what you are grateful.

Gratitude has been identified as a feeling or emotion that promotes happiness. Gratitude can be hard to find now with a pandemic and a war in Ukraine. Much has happened to leave us feeling beat down, and that the world is against us. However, if we focus on being thankful for the small things like sunshine, life, food to eat, clean water to drink, and no war (yes, that is a big one), we are making a good step in the direction of discovering more things for which to be grateful.

I want to make sure we are all talking about the same thing when we use the word gratitude. According to Harvard Health Publishing’s article, (Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness, mindfulness, and inner strength – Harvard Health)

“Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what you receive, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, you acknowledge the goodness in your life.”

You can have gratitude for events or people in your past. Think about the people for whom you are grateful, do they know you appreciate them? Take a few minutes and write a thank you note. Once done, send it to them (electronically or by snail mail), or even better take it to them and read it aloud. Plan to do this once a month. And don’t forget to write a thank-you note to yourself every once in a while.

If gratitude and thinking positive are so important, why do we often have negative thoughts and remember the bad things that have happened? Our evolution primed our brains to focus on danger or anything bad that might be able to harm us or kill us. Our brains were wired for our protection. The dangers of the cave dweller days are not the same today, and our brains do not have to remember quite so many ‘bad’ things. We are now ready to retrain our brains to be aware of and enjoy the ‘good’ things in our lives. Today, if we focus on what will harm or kill us, we aren’t likely to make ourselves safer, but instead, leave us worried, stressed, and unhappy.

Don’t take what you have for granted. Harvard Health Publishing’s article, Positive Psychology (Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness, mindfulness, and inner strength – Harvard Health) shared this scientific evidence:

Robert Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Mike McCullough of the University of Miami examined the impact of keeping a gratitude journal. All participants in their study were asked to write a few sentences each week, focusing on five things. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily hassles or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on hassles. Numerous other studies have pointed to the beneficial effects—not only for adults, but also for children and adolescents—of regularly making lists of things for which we’re grateful, keeping a gratitude journal, or expressing gratitude to others. Cultivating gratitude in these ways may also help us deal with common forms of psychological distress, such as anxiety or depression.

You deserve appreciation too. I appreciate me for being strong and successfully getting through chemotherapy and feeling so much better, two years later. There are many other things about me for which I can be grateful. If you don’t write yourself a letter, write your gratitude and appreciation in your journal or on post-it notes, and if writing isn’t your thing, take time to contemplate your blessings. We all have much for which to be grateful.

Those in leadership often arrive in that position because it was their turn for promotion. Education and development in leadership are often absent. These leaders are flying by the seat of their pants, learning through trial and error. There is no need for that with all the programs, books, and courses available. Leaders are responsible for determining the culture of their workplace. With that being the case, why not strive for a culture including happiness and gratitude?

I’m more than happy to chat with you and direct you toward a life of happiness.

What is Happiness?

Is Happiness a Choice?

Don’t worry, be happy” – that is how the song goes. The song is very uplifting, and I find myself singing along. At times it is hard to be happy. We tend to worry a lot, and are anxious, sad, or unhappy. Worrying can use up a lot of energy, as does anxiety, and sadness. Worrying usually doesn’t solve anything, it just tires us out and makes us miserable.

Happiness – joyful, excited, content, calm, relaxed, ecstatic, sometimes this results in a warm feeling, causing us to smile. Have you ever walked down the street and smiled at people as you walked past? If you haven’t,  try it and notice the reaction of others. It is a fun exercise to do. An article I recently read suggests smiling at the first ten people you meet today – I love this idea. Just smiling can make you feel better. I’m a Certified HeartMath Trainer and Coach, I practice breathing to help me get into coherence and I have found I can increase my coherence by smiling.

We don’t need to be unhappy. There are things we can do to help make us feel happy. According to Positive Psychology, a Harvard Health Publication, the following things can help make you happy (I’ve added a few of my own):

  1. Feeling good – seeking out pleasurable activities
  2. Being fully engaged – going after goals and activities that are important to you. Do you know what these are? Have you identified your values?
  3. Being of service – helping others, volunteering
  4. Children (to a certain extent)
  5. Gratitude
  6. Vacations and special events, if you live in the city – get out of town for a hike
  7. Being mindful and focusing on one thing only – i.e., no multi-tasking
  8. Enjoying simple things like sunshine, being outdoors – a walk around the neighbourhood or a park, curling up with a loved one, popcorn, and a movie
  9. Not taking on too much, or being a workaholic – spend time with yourself, family, and friends
  10. When is the last time you coloured, painted, or did something that you enjoyed as a kid – hide and seek, tag, a snowball fight, a pillow fight, a board game?
  11. Look through old photos, reminisce, and plan some fun activities for the future.
  12. You can also try meditation or going on a retreat (I have done at-home retreats; they can rejuvenate and be fun).
  13. Get yourself out of a boring routine, turn off the screens, don’t listen to the news for a few days, try new things – cooking classes, dancing, swimming, sports, reading a book
  14. Put on your ‘thinking cap’ and come up with some fun things to try, some boring things to get rid of, be active, be with others. You don’t need to spend money; you only need to think and get active.

Research has also shown that being grateful helps a person be happy. Though not having enough money, being ill, and being in a country at war certainly give you the right to be unhappy. Nonetheless, to get through such times with a bit of hope, and taking the time to think about what you do have, rather than what you don’t have can lead you to a state of gratitude. As nice as it would be if money could buy happiness, it just doesn’t.

Happiness is a Choice

Young people, those in their late teens, report being happy, but people in their eighties report being even happier. Positive Psychology also reports that happiness and enjoyment decline until about 50 years and then steadily increase over the next 25 years.

Where you live can also influence how happy you are. The following are the ten countries identified as the happiest:

  1. Finland,
  2. Norway,
  3. Denmark,
  4. Iceland,
  5. Switzerland,
  6. the Netherlands,
  7. Canada,
  8. New Zealand,
  9. Sweden,
  10. Australia.

The happy countries, according to Positive Psychology, are often those where the culture and economy allow the people to experience pleasure, purpose, and security. I don’t want you to dwell on this, but what is the culture and economy of your country now? The current state of the world has created economic concerns in many nations – this could decrease happiness worldwide. If that is the case, we need to be paying attention to our own state of happiness and take every measure we know to maintain and build our own happiness and that of our family and friends.

We have learned much during the pandemic. We have become very aware of the need for social contact. Social support has been identified as one of the Social Determinants of Health, it is not a new concept. Additionally, social support is also important for happiness. Accessibility to healthcare, another Determinant of Health, and “healthy years of life expectancy” also support happiness.

Marriage can assist in happiness, but that happiness can decline after the birth of the first child and not recover until the child(ren) leave home (these days they are often at home for an exceptionally long time – don’t wait for them to go to be happy). Personal relationships are important to happiness, as are having friends and frequent sex. Though we sometimes take our partners for granted, we don’t have to, and it does nothing for happiness. Plan for time together doing something you both enjoy. Plan for family time and learn to enjoy the children, they can be fun, and family fun is important. That is how great memories are made.

Life has many ups and downs, how you choose to respond to them will make a difference in whether you are happy. Happiness is a choice.

As a leader, you want to instill happiness in the workplace. The benefits are numerable. I can help you focus on achieving the happiness you want in your life, and in the life of your organization, you do not need to do it alone.

Book a ‘get to know you’ call: https://calendly.com/fromtheheartwithdr-elaine

More to come on Happiness, Mindfulness, and Inner Strength in the next few weeks.

08/04/22

The Search for Happiness

Girls Nature Happiness Kids Happy  - Adelkazaika / Pixabay
Adelkazaika / Pixabay

Most of us want to be happy. Many people search for happiness unsuccessfully. Many people don’t need to search, they are happy. Some people are happy, sometimes. Where do you fall?

What is happiness?

Merriam – Webster Dictionary gives the following definition:  

a: a state of well-being and contentmentJOY

ba pleasurable or satisfying experience: I wish you every happiness in life. I had the happiness of seeing you— W. S. Gilbert

Wow! That sounds almost simple. Well-being can vary from person to person, and contentment can be a bit obscure. Nonetheless, most of us know if and when we are happy. Let’s dig a bit deeper into happiness and how we can achieve that beautiful state.

What we might be wanting is a good quality of life. Is this different than happiness? My guess is that it is part of happiness. My quality of life has deteriorated over the last several years. However, it has now improved significantly. It isn’t what it once was and probably won’t get back to what it was 10 years ago. Nevertheless, I continue to be happy, and I am learning to adjust – slowly, but I am getting there. I am also noticing that my health seems to be improving daily and I am also calmer, less likely to get upset, and when I do it doesn’t last very long. Part of that is because of meditation, spiritual practices, and HeartMath. Focusing on my strengths and what I can do, rather than what I can’t make a huge difference. Positive Psychology (A Harvard Medical School Special Report) suggested supplementing traditional mental health treatments with positive psychology, focusing on both a persons’ strengths and weaknesses, as this is beneficial to achieving happiness and improved quality of life.

Dog Pet Animal Cute  - Pexels / Pixabay
Pexels / Pixabay

There is also a belief that Happiness Is a Choice You Make, (I believe there is a book by that name) by choosing to live in the moment, appreciating what you still have, and building on your strengths. I have found this to be true and am seeing more validation of this as the years go by. Autoimmune disorders and a bout with cancer have not dampened my overall happiness. This has not always been easy: I have gotten benefit from increased meditation, paying attention to my spirituality (I’m not religious), developing spiritual practices, increasing my use of HeartMath, and focusing on all for which I am grateful. I am incredibly grateful for my life. I find I have more patience and when I do get upset or pissed off, it just doesn’t last as long.

Because happiness is very subjective, you might determine if it is worthwhile to find a way to track how you are feeling. You might discover identifying your emotions a good method to track your feelings. Identify some words that resonate with you: content, excited, calm, enthusiastic, happy, peaceful, sad, angry, frustrated, down, or any of the multitude of words that can be found. Happiness can often be equated to inner peace. You might find spirituality or religion beneficial to you.

Numerous online tools are available to help you assess your happiness. You can also consider Maslow’s Hierarchy. Maslow’s 5 levels include:

1) basic physiological needs – food, water, clothing, shelter, breathing, sex, homeostasis, excretion.

2) safety needs – police, fire department, medical care, schools, employment.

3) love and belonging – family, friendship, sexual intimacy, interpersonal relationships.

4) esteem – self-confidence, self-esteem, achievement, sense of accomplishment, self-respect, and the respect of others.

5) self-actualization – morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem-solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts, personal fulfillment, sense of accomplishment, being the best you can be.

Supposedly if you have all of these you will be happy and fulfilled. What do you think? Is it enough for you to have all of these or do you need something more? If you need something more, can you identify what that is?

Easter Child Baby Spring Children  - gabbrielleite / Pixabay
gabbrielleite / Pixabay

You might find that your happiness is based on emotions. Emotions can lead to a good feeling, or a not-so-good feeling, to down-right miserable. More often than not, it is our reaction to the emotion that is the actual cause of our feeling. How you respond to your emotions can be learned and changed. I have written about this in the past and will soon be doing another blog on emotions including some brain information. This is one of the things with which HeartMath can help.

I am planning a series of blogs related to positive psychology. Look for my next blog Monday, 11 – April. Till then be happy and content with your life, seek out all for which you are grateful.

Learning to Breathe

Yes, We Need to Learn and Practice Breathwork

Breathing Exercises

Street Art Breathe Inhale Exhale  - kathleenport / Pixabay
kathleenport / Pixabay

Why is breathwork important?

Who thought we would need to learn how to breathe? Yet as we go through life we don’t often pay attention to breathing unless we are having difficulty. Think about how often we tell ourselves or others to ‘breathe’. When we are scared or upset someone is apt to tell us to ‘just take a deep breath’, during labour a mom is instructed how to breathe, playing a wind instrument or singing requires breath control, as does swimming and other sports activity. Anyone with lung problems knows the importance of breathing and breathing properly. However, we don’t often think about why our breath is important in various circumstances and how our breath can affect the body and mind.

According to Deepak Chopra’s information, there are numerous benefits related to breathwork:

  • helps relieve physical, mental, and/or emotional tension
  • causes activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which then slows down your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure and thus causing a sense of calm
  • helps reverse the effects of cortisol and adrenalin (released during stress) and relaxes the body
  • deep breathing can help you slow down the monkeys busy in your brain
  • helps you reach a deeper state of mind; calms the mind and helps you focus
  • helps you attain inner peace and awareness

One of the first things I encourage you to do is notice how you are breathing. When you breathe in you should see your belly rising, and then with breath out, your belly will relax. A good deep breath helps increase the amount of oxygen you are getting and gets more oxygen to the brain – more oxygen, better brain activity.

There are many breathing exercises available. I am sharing a few for you to try if you are healthy. If you have any health concerns check with your physician or healthcare provider before launching into any of these exercises.

Warning!!! If you feel lightheaded at any time stop & breathe normally. Though these breathing exercises are generally safe, if you have any health problems check with your physician before giving any of these breathing techniques a try.

Abdominal/Belly/Diaphragmatic Breathing

  1. Sit or lie comfortably.
  2. Place one hand on your chest & the other hand on your belly, just below your rib cage.
  3. Breathe in slowly through your nose & feel the air move down & your abdomen rises.
  4.  Breathe out through your mouth. Let your belly relax.

Don’t force the breath in or out. Breathe in & out smoothly. Start with doing this 3 times. Eventually, you can work up to 5 – 10 minutes.

You can do this several times a day for short periods.

Box Breathinga powerful, yet simple, relaxation technique to return breathing to its normal rhythm. May help to clear the mind, relax the body, and improve focus.

  1. Sit or lie comfortably.
  2. Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.
  3. Hold your breath inside while counting slowly to four. Try not to clamp your mouth or nose shut. Simply avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.
  4. Begin to slowly exhale for 4 seconds.
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 3 at least three times. Ideally, repeat the three steps for 4 minutes, or until calm returns.

Sistali – Cooling Breath – builds breath awareness, is said to calm hunger & thirst. As well as cooling the body, it adds moisture to the system.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Close your eyes, and practice diaphragmatic breathing for several minutes.
  3. Open your mouth & for an “O” with your lips.
  4. Stick out your tongue & curl it into a “U” shape.
  5. Inhale deeply across the tongue, into the mouth as if drinking through a straw.
  6. Focus your attention on the cooling sensation of the breath as your abdomen & lower ribs expand.
  7. Draw your tongue back in & close your mouth, exhaling completely through the nostrils.

Continue Sistali for 2 – 3 minutes. Then return to diaphragmatic breathing for several minutes & repeat cooling breath for another 2 – 3 minutes. You can gradually work up to 10 minutes.

Bellows Breathingboosts your energy, eliminates morning doldrums, and strengthens your immune system. This is not a relaxation practice – it will invigorate you. Don’t do it at bedtime as it could cause insomnia.

  1. Sit comfortably.
  2. Take a few deep, diaphragmatic breaths through your nostrils.
  3. When ready to begin, exhale by contracting the abdominal muscles quickly & forcefully.
  4. Immediately follow the exhale with a quick diaphragmatic inhale of equal force, letting the abdominal muscles relax.

There is a challenge to this breathing technique. You want to coordinate the action of the diaphragm & abdominal muscles, so the air is moving quickly in & out of the lungs. As the abdominal muscles relax at the end of exhalation, the diaphragm contracts to begin inhalation. After your peak inhalation, the abdominal muscles immediately contract.

This exercise takes practice. I find it to be a good abdominal workout. You will have noise as you breathe in & out through your nostrils. Goal: make inhale & exhale equal.

Heart Focus Breathing – is a useful technique that can be used before, during, or after a stressful situation. Heart-focused breathing is about directing your attention to the heart area & breathing a bit more deeply than normal. You can practice this anywhere. In the beginning, you might want to start by:

  1. Sitting comfortably.
  2. Direct your attention to the heart area & breathe a little more deeply than normal.
  3. As you breathe in imagine you are doing so through your heart.
  4. As you breathe out, imagine you do so through your heart.

(In the beginning, placing your hand over your heart as you breathe can help you direct your focus to your heart.)

Breathe in about 5-6 seconds & breathe out 5-6 seconds, or at a rate that is comfortable for you.

We all need to breathe for life. Breathing can be difficult for some, be grateful if you are able to breathe without thinking about it. Then take some time to learn breathing techniques to help you maintain or improve your health.

Stress vs Burnout: What Is the Difference?

Do you feel disillusioned, helpless, exhausted? You might be on the path to burnout or burned out. What to do?

We have heard of stress and burnout, especially in the last couple of years. Unfortunately, with the current state of the world, I don’t think we will see a decrease in either stress or burnout anytime soon. We also know that many people are experiencing one, the other, or both. What can we learn, how can we help ourselves, and others?

According to the referenced article, burnout causes physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion because of prolonged stress. I think we are seeing these signs of burnout and stress in many people.

I found the following information about Stress and Burnout.

StressBurnout
Characterized by over-engagement.Characterized by disengagement.
Emotions are overreactive.Emotions are blunted.
Produces urgency and hyperactivity.Produces helplessness and hopelessness.
Loss of energy.Loss of motivation, ideals, and hope.
Leads to anxiety disorders.Leads to detachment and depression.
Primary damage is physical.Primary damage is emotional.
May kill you prematurely.May make life seem not worth living.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms in the chart above, please seek help from a physician, psychologist, coach, or whoever is your source of support. If you know of someone experiencing these symptoms, be a friend, and encourage them to seek support.

Do you tell your employer? Tough question. If you choose to let the employer know, don’t go into much detail, at least initially. However, see about taking a vacation, a few days off, sick day(s), and don’t take on extra work. Speak up for yourself. Are others at your place of work feeling the same thing?

If you don’t work for someone else, don’t work outside the home, or are unemployed – the same things apply. What can you let go of? What can you do to lift yourself up – something you haven’t done for quite a while, that will make you feel good. Consider reconnecting with friends and family. Go outside. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition, and activity. Also, look at what you are doing to cope, are you using too much alcohol, drugs, food, tv, gaming, gambling, sleeping a lot, and decide which of these things need to go. They all need to go, but you can start with one or two. Have a reasonable plan that will ensure you succeed.

You want to get yourself feeling better, have hope, feel positive and be healthy. I can’t state this too much – find someone to help. If you don’t know where to look or who can help, contact me – I can guide you to someone or I can help.

We deserve to live a vibrant, fulfilling, beautiful life. Together we can have such a life.

There are physical, emotional, and behavioural signs of burnout, and thus it can affect all areas of your life. Identify how you have changed. Because burnout doesn’t occur overnight, the signs and symptoms might sneak up on you. Consider talking to those around you, help each other do a check on how you are doing. Maybe even set up a group to work together to help each other, to hold each other accountable, and maybe even prevent burnout.

Life is more than surviving, don’t let the troubles of the world take over. There is likely nothing you can do about the state of the world, you can only control yourself. Take charge of you! Be the best at whatever you do.

Let me know how you are doing and if I can be of help.



The Farmer Who Grew Excellent Quality Wheat

I received the following message on FB today. These words are not mine and I don’t know who the originator is. I googled the words and found numerous entries from people who were sharing this message, but I couldn’t find an original. These are great words of wisdom, and wouldn’t it be nice to see much more of this in the world today?

There was a farmer who grew excellent quality wheat and every season he won the award for the best grown in his county. One year a reporter from the local newspaper interviewed the farmer and learned that each spring the man shared his seed with his neighbors so that they too could plant it in their fields…“How can you afford to share your best wheat seed with your neighbors when they are entering their crops in the competition with yours?” the reporter asked….“Why that’s very simple,” the farmer explained… “The wind picks up pollen from the developing wheat and carries it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior wheat, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of all the wheat, including mine. If I am to grow good wheat, I must help my neighbors grow good wheat”…The reporter realized how the farmer’s explanation also applied to peoples’ lives in the most fundamental way… Those who want to live meaningfully and well must help enrich the lives of others, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.

How to Attract High-Paying Clients: Is This Your Goal?

Everything we do influences everything else. How are you influencing the world?

I receive emails, Facebook notices, LinkedIn information on numerous courses and programs to attract high-paying clients. I have even taken one course. That course was highly valuable. The only problem is that I don’t want to attract only high-paying clients. There is nothing wrong with getting high-paying clients, in fact, if coaching is your full-time job, it is probably a good idea. However, I am retired, I don’t want to work full-time. I also want to make coaching services available to people who cannot afford the thousands of dollars often associated with receiving coaching.

Why would I want to do this when I can potentially make much more money? Several reasons: 1) I want my services to be available to everyone, 2) I value myself but I don’t believe that has to be attached to dollars, 3) Everyone deserves to be their very best and that usually means they need some sort of guidance, 3) I don’t want to have to work that hard, I am retired and full-time work is not for me, and 4) I don’t like making cold calls. I’m a retired RN, both my master’s and doctoral degrees are in leadership (Master of Health in Leadership Studies, and Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership), can you guess where my interests lie? I like to help people.

How do you define wealth and success? I don’t equate success and wealth with money. I am highly successful and wealthy. My success is because I have a beautiful family, a home, I’m retired from a job I loved (nursing), I have returned to school many times and have enjoyed it. My wealth is similar, it is my beautiful family, my dog, my home, jobs I have enjoyed or loved, I am alive, and in remission from cancer, I feel good about myself – most of the time. There is more I could add to these lists, but these are the first ones to come to mind.

I have been fortunate to have had support for all that I do. I haven’t always had that, but I have for most of my life. I have not become successful and wealthy (not monetarily) on my own. I have had a wonderful education, mentors, coaches, family, and friends who have helped me along the way. I am also an avid reader and have read oodles of self-help books over the years. At 71-years I am still learning, and I love sharing what I learn.

Some of the greatest support I am receiving right now is from HeartMath®. I am putting together an online course and HeartMath® people and information has been invaluable. I am a Certified HeartMath® Trainer so I am fortunate to have access to incredible people and information. I also belong to numerous groups which provide me with information and support. My husband is a constant support in all that I do. Numerous friends also help me, especially now as I run programs by them for feedback. I believe everyone deserves access to support, coaching, mentoring, and information, and these things should not be only for the financially wealthy. I also believe that those who work shifts, have more than one job, are unemployed or underemployed, or who have chosen to not work at a paying job also deserve access to these same things.

Am I underselling myself? You can decide that for yourself. If a financially growing company wants to hire me, I will expect to be paid accordingly. If individuals are financially wealthy, they also will be expected to pay accordingly. One thing to remember, my wealth does not rely on dollars. Seeing others become satisfied with their life, learning, being in control of their emotions, improving their health (mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual), and living the life of their dreams is incredibly rewarding. If I can be successful, wealthy, and happy without the huge income I can offer my services to everyone, regardless of what they can pay.

I haven’t found an ideal way to advertise my wide variety of pricing, but I believe this is my start. I have some ideas for advertising and will be getting started with putting those on my website soon, some wordsmithing is in order.

How do you define your success and wealth?

If I can be of service get in contact drelaine@drelaineleadership.coach, www.leadnurses.

I am at your service.

Neuroplasticity, Development, Leadership Do They Go Together?

I love this topic. Neuroplasticity is incredibly interesting and holds so much potential for our development. What more will we be able to do? How will neuroplasticity influence our health in areas such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, autoimmune disorders, brain injuries, and mental health? According to Britannica:

… neurogenesis has spurred an interest in stem cell research, which could lead to an enhancement of neurogenesis in adults who suffer from stroke, Alzheimer diseaseParkinson disease, or depression. Research suggests that Alzheimer disease in particular is associated with a marked decline in neurogenesis.

Interesting information I recently found can be accessed through the following link neuroplasticity. This is an easy-to-understand one page of information I hope you will read and learn a bit more. As someone with autoimmune disorders, in remission from cancer, and a long history of depression I am excited to check out all the possibilities.

I have confidence that with my ongoing use of HeartMath and incorporating neuroplastic behaviours into my routine I will see amazing improvements in my health. There remains much to learn about neuroplasticity and according to Positive Psychology there are two main types of neuroplasticity:

  • – Structural neuroplasticity, in which the strength of the connections between neurons (or synapes) changes.
  • – Functional neuroplasticity, which describes the permanent changes in synapes due to learning and development.” (Demarin, Morovic, & Bene, 2014)

Of course, neuroplasticity is not going to cure everything. Britannica goes on the suggest, some neural functions seem to be hard-wired in specific locations of the brain, while other neural networks are able to deviate from their specific functions and reorganize themselves.

The information I have found points to medical uses for neuroplasticity. The information tells us about developing new neural pathways. This suggests an opportunity for our personal and professional development, education, leadership development. The way our brains work allows us to jump to conclusions. This could be connected to the notion that the brain loves patterns. We will go along with those already formed patterns whether they are right or wrong. The things we have learned can result in unconscious bias and judgmental behaviour resulting in low workplace morale. (Reference)

Leaders need to be on the ball, life-long learning is a must for a leader to be truly successful and a true leader. Neuroplasticity can be implemented in ways to promote a positive work culture “where every worker feels valued and respected, helping employees to thrive“. What employer wouldn’t want that? If this can be done in the workplace it seems to follow that the same or similar approach could be used in numerous areas i.e. education, communities, family, and other relationships.

Where else might we be able to incorporate what we are learning about neuroplasticity?

How does neuroplasticity work with the heart-brain connection? How can it be used with HeartMath(R)?

I encourage you to keep seeking information about neuroplasticity and its uses to help us all achieve the beautiful life we deserve.

Let’s work together to make a start at achieving your beautiful life – be what you want to be – do what you want to do.
Follow me on: LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-elaine-leads-nurses/ or FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/fromtheheartwithdrelaine

Synchronicity

Image from Lonerwolf

Has something like this ever happened to you? You have been thinking about your friend, whom you have not seen in years, and they contact you.  


Psychologist Carl Jung introduced synchronicity.


What is it?
“Synchronicity is a phenomenon in which people interpret two separate—and seemingly unrelated—experiences as being meaningfully intertwined, even though there is no evidence that one led to the other or that the two events are linked in any other causal way. Though many people perceive signs or spiritual meaning in synchronistic events, most scientists believe that such events are more likely coincidences that only seem meaningful due to aspects of human thinking such as confirmation bias” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/basics/synchronicity)

We don’t need to seek synchronous events, we merely need to be aware. If the whole idea of synchronicity seems a bit strange there are other ideas that are somewhat similar: “grace, serendipity, extra-sensory perception, miracles, divine providence, and being in The Flow. They occur without conscious effort; but, what if you could attract or anticipate these experiences to benefit yourself or your organization? There are a few things you can do to cultivate more synchronicity in your life. Tom Zender, in Phoenix Business Journal, gives some ways to cultivate more synchronicity. Stay in the present moment, be authentic, and allow your intuition to help guide you:

  • Believe in your idea with a feeling that it will have a positive effect on you and your organization.
  • Give shape to the idea by visualizing a positive result from implementing the idea. See how the idea can actually work.
  • Ponder the idea, share it with others, and get some feedback. Often, input from others will enhance the idea.
  • Spend time to clarify how the new idea can be implemented. Feel what it would be like to have the idea working perfectly.
  • Allow the idea to rest – let go of it.
  • And when the inner “nudge” happens, act upon the idea.

Examples:
You have just received your last check from unemployment when suddenly a job comes along.
You walk into a book store not knowing what to buy, and the book you need falls from a shelf and practically hits you over the head.


You don’t need to have any belief or thought about synchronicities, but I encourage you to pay attention when they occur. Who knows what you might discover? Sometimes getting out of our head and paying attention to what our heart, gut, and events are suggesting can be well worthwhile.


#leadershipdevelopment#coaching#psychology#heartmath


Our Brain and Leadership: Where Does Neuroplasticity Fit?

Leaders need to always be learning. As I continue to delve into information on leadership, neuroplasticity, and synchronicity I am learning unbelievably interesting material. Of course, I will be sharing at least some of what I read with you.

As leaders, we are influencing others all the time and a good leader is cognizant of their attitudes, actions, and words. Leaders also have a large influence on their work environment. With the influence on the work environment leaders also influence the brain development of employees. Self-directed neuroplasticity, according to Bosch (2021), “is the process of the brain adapting to the work we do and how we do it.” As such, leaders want to endeavour to create a positive workplace recognizing peoples’ needs for such things as “autonomy, relatedness, and fairness” (Bosch, 2021). A few steps Bosch (2021) suggests to create a positive work environment include:

  1. Positive feedback in a timely manner
  2. Learning opportunities
  3. Communication – all forms, by everyone
  4. Participation in ideas  
  5. Limited distractions thus allowing people to focus and develop new neural pathways
  6. Necessary breaks encouraging reflection and new thinking – did you know some studies suggest longer hours make people less effective

Knowing that we can continue to develop neural pathways throughout our life we must consider what those pathways will be and how we will develop them. How we use our brain determines what we develop. Just as you train for physical competition, or for a chess game, or a spot on Jeopardy, we exercise and plan. The same must be done to develop the brain. Practice what you want to learn, expose yourself to new ideas, new people, new experiences. Challenge your brain and your memory. Your neurotransmitters need to be kept in balance.

Our brains play a vital role in emotions and memory. Our brain is also involved in our reaction or response to stressors. As I have written about in the past, the heart is also involved. Stress results in both physiological and biological responses with the fight or flight response: increased heart and breathing rate, increased blood sugar, the release of adrenaline and cortisol, our pupils dilate, and we are not able to digest food as easily as blood is redirected to essential areas for survival. When cortisol (the stress hormone) is released this, in turn, releases stored glucose for energy, and over time our immune system is suppressed.

There are ways to adapt our response to stress. I encourage the use of HeartMath and any other techniques that you find work for you. Bosch (2021) identifies the following as ways to help reduce your stress level:

  1. Make your goals realistic
  2. Learn your triggers and how to decrease your response to them, or avoid those triggers
  3. Take time during the day to refresh yourself through calm moments that could include conscious breathing, HeartMath techniques, meditation, go for a walk or other physical activity
  4. Connect with people – friends or family – did you know loneliness increases your vulnerability to stress
  5. Physical activity also reduces levels of adrenaline and cortisol, so make it a regular part of your daily routine

We can do a myriad of things to improve our well-being and as leaders demonstrate to others healthy habits. Include healthy habits with additional activities to build a safe, positive, desired workplace.

I can guide you to learn specific techniques and systems that relate to you and your situation, personally or professionally. We all deserve to live a beautiful life.

Reference:

Bosch, H. 2021. Why We Do What We Do. EBSCO Information Services – www.ebscohost.com

Brain Fitness

I recently wrote about Neuroplasticity. I’ve done more reading and am sharing what I have discovered. I found a fitness program for my brain, and it is provided by HeartMath, of which I am a Certified Trainer, Coach, and Mentor.

According to Amen (2013) “The brain is an organ of loving, learning and behavior, and so is the heart”.

As I get older, I notice my brain is not performing as well as it once did, like my body. I also found things I can do to help my brain be in better shape. Having read that cognitive decline starts in our mid-twenties I can understand why my brain might need some work. We can continue to be alert and be developing our brainpower into our 80s and 90s. I have a few good years yet and who knows, maybe I can keep going past that 90 mark.

To understand Neuroplasticity, you need to know the word Neurogenesis: the regeneration and growth of new brain cells. Neurogenesis goes hand in hand with neuroplasticity. One way to stimulate neurogenesis is through activity – physical activity –

“Aerobic activities such as running, cycling, swimming, and even sex, are effective ways of boosting neurogenesis.” (5 Ways to Boost Your Neurogenesis, 2018). Additional ways of encouraging neurogenesis include environment, diet, psychoactive substances, and meditation. More information is needed for a better understanding of how these ways boost neurogenesis. (Caution: Though most of these are harmless, you might want to be careful with psychoactive substances, most are illegal and are still being researched, and have not been approved for medical use. I am not sure about the reliability of the site from which I retrieved this information. I strongly suggest peer-reviewed research for further clarification.)

A current article by Dana Smith, supporting the above-mentioned ways to stimulate neurogenesis was found in MIT Technology Review, Sep/Oct2021, Vol. 124 Issue 5, p30-33.

Through neurogenesis, neuroplasticity is possible. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adjust and refurbish itself. Some of us older folks, the baby boomers, have been learning how to manage our emotions, listen to our hearts, and become able to enhance our creativity, problem-solving, and discernment abilities. We can continue to learn as we age.

We have been hearing the negative effects of COVID-19 on our mental health: And remember if it affects your mental health, it is also affecting your physical health. We need positive emotional states to help us improve and maintain our cognitive functions. To slow down cognitive decline, we want to ensure we have social support – consider volunteering in your community – to fulfill this suggestion, another way is to learn emotional self-regulation (I can help you with that). Keeping a positive outlook benefits our health by improving the processing of information in our brain and nervous system. All three of these suggestions work best if you do them all. You don’t have to start everything at once, take your time and start with what works best for you.

We want to spend more time being in a positive state than in a stressful state. Some examples of the two are:

Positive Outlook: hopeful, appreciative, joy, caring, compassion, excitement, and loving

Stressful Outlook: irritation, frustration, resentment, anger, worry, fear, or apathy

As I became interested in neuroplasticity and reading as much as possible, I had no idea that I already had tools to help me train my brain. I have been using several of the HeartMath tools for numerous years. There are some specifics I want to review, identifying what each tool is promoting in my brain. Being aware of how these activities work for specific areas/functions such as Freeze-Frame for decision making, or Quick-Coherence for resetting after a challenging situation will no doubt guide me in encouraging neurogenesis to develop some areas of my brain that could use a tune-up.

Watch for more from me about our heart, brain, neuroplasticity, and what evolves from this fascinating area of our lives.  

Amen, D. (2013). HeartMath Brain® Fitness Program. HeartMath.

References

How to Train Your Brain

I recently blogged about Neuroplasticity. I’ve done more reading and am sharing some of what I have discovered with you. I found a fitness program for the brain, and it is provided by HeartMath(R), of which I am a Certified Trainer, Coach, and Mentor.

According to Amen (2013)

“The brain is an organ of loving, learning, and behavior, and so is the heart”.

Radiant Life Chiropractic

As I get older, I notice my brain not working as well as it once did, like my body. I’ve also learned that there are things I can do to help my brain be in better shape. Having read that cognitive decline starts in our mid-twenties I can understand why my brain might need some work. We can continue to be alert and develop our brainpower into our 80s and 90s. I have a few good years yet and who knows, maybe I can keep going past that 90 mark.

We can’t talk too much about Neuroplasticity without the word Neurogenesis: the regeneration and growth of new brain cells. It goes hand in hand with neuroplasticity. One way to stimulate neurogenesis is through activity – physical activity –

“Aerobic activities such as running, cycling, swimming, and even sex, are effective ways of boosting neurogenesis.” (5 Ways to Boost Your Neurogenesis, 2018) https://www.neurotrackerx.com/post/5-ways-to-boost-your-neurogenesis. Additional ways of encouraging neurogenesis include environment, diet, *psychoactive substances, and meditation. I will do more reading to get some details on these suggested ways to boost neurogenesis. (*Caution: Though most of these appear harmless, be careful with psychoactive substances, most are *illegal and are still being *researched, and have not been approved for use. I am not sure about the reliability of the site from which I retrieved this information. I strongly suggest peer-reviewed research for further clarification).

A current article by Dana Smith, supporting the above-mentioned ways to stimulate neurogenesis was found in MIT Technology Review, Sep/Oct2021, Vol. 124 Issue 5, p30-33. Through neurogenesis, neuroplasticity is possible. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adjust and refurbish itself. Some of us older folks, the baby boomers, have been learning how to manage our emotions, listen to our hearts, and become able to enhance our creativity, problem-solving, and discernment abilities. We can continue to learn as we age.

We have been hearing the negative effects of COVID-19 on our mental health: And remember if it affects your mental health, it is also affecting your physical health. We need positive emotional states to help us improve and maintain our cognitive functions. To slow down cognitive decline, we want to ensure we want to have social support, also consider volunteering in your community, and learn emotional self-regulation. Keeping a positive outlook is beneficial by improving the processing of information in our brain and nervous system.

We want to spend more time with a positive, outlook than with a stressful outlook. Some examples of the two are:

Positive Outlook: hopeful, appreciative, joy, caring, compassion, excitement, and loving

Stressful Outlook: irritation, frustration, resentment, anger, worry, fear, or apathy

As I became interested in neuroplasticity and reading as much as possible, I had no idea that I already had tools to help me train my brain. I have been using several of the HeartMath tools for many years. There are some specifics I want to review to identify what each tool is promoting in my brain. Being aware of how these activities work for specific areas/functions such as Freeze-Frame(TM) for decision making, or Quick-Coherence(TM) for resetting after a challenging situation will no doubt guide me in encouraging neurogenesis to train some areas of my brain that could use a tune-up.

Watch for more from me on our heart, brain, neuroplasticity and what evolves from this fascinating area of our lives.  

If you want more help training your brain schedule a chat at your convenience: https://calendly.com/fromtheheartwithdr-elaine

References

Amen, D. (2013). HeartMath Brain® Fitness Program. HeartMath.