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“The flow experience is good in that it has the potential to make life more rich, intense, and meaningful. It’s good because it increases the strength and complexity of the self.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

 

I’ve been blogging a lot recently about goals, probably because I, too, have been trying to find the right mix between “being” and “doing“. Perhaps you’ve thought about this as well. In fact, in addition to a few very focused whole-life goals that I set for myself this year, I also created one over-arching theme for my year, which describes how I want to feel. It goes like this:

FLOW IN ALL THINGS

(You dig it, don’t you?!!) I have to say that because I’m focused on being whatever I need to be in each moment, I’m definitely feeling the flow, while accomplishing a lot more! It’s an interesting phenomena, and quite the opposite of what many of us are used to, which is DO, DO, DO and keep going!

So how does this work? Well, for me, it can go something like this…

1. Look at my to-do list once at work and begin to plow away.

2. Today I am not feeling so well, and I realize that I may not be able to accomplish some things on that list.

3. PAUSE. Become fully aware of how I feel and what I need in this very moment (more self-compassion; less action). P.S. – This is hard for Type A’s!!

4. ACCEPT how I feel and decide what the best use of my time is in this moment. What can I focus on and move forward with the energy I have available to me right now?

5. I choose to BE in that feeling of “not-so-good”, honor it, and identify what I can do in this moment that affirms how I feel and also allows me to act. In this real example, I made the decision to push-off some tasks to later in the day, or worst case, the next day. I decided that I would respond to some communication that I felt well enough to tackle.

6. By consciously choosing this action (and not feeling badly about it!) I was able to focus on just that, let the rest go, and flow– BE and ACT at the same time.

In the book FLOW  by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, this is referred to as The Merging of Action and Awareness.

Now, we can take my reason in #2 above and replace it with any other reason that could have interrupted my plans for the day. Many of us lead hectic careers, where emergencies pop up all the time. I used to work in a hospital, and that feeling of being on your toes all the time was ever-present. You were always looking over your shoulder waiting for that “thing” to happen. Sometimes we can’t change the nature of work environments like this (some people are hard-wired to thrive in these environments!), but we can learn to flow with them and find enjoyment in them. This is the ultimate benefit of flowing, and it can be one of the best ways to be engaged in your life and in your work.

Awareness and choice are really KEY in helping to make this happen. As stated in FLOW, “(It is) An individual’s ability to restructure consciousness so as to make flow happen.” You have to choose it, folks!

Although I know that we can and do achieve flow most often by simply leveraging our strengths, which can create optimal and enjoyable states, we also can consciously create the conditions of flow. Some of these conditions are:

  • Concentrating on the task at hand
  • Having a sense of exercising control
  • Doing something that is not done with the expectation of some future benefit (not of the self!)

So when that “thing” happens, or the other shoe drops, what will you choose? Consider going with the FLOW, and knowing that you can, indeed, find happiness in those moments and love what you’re doing right now.

“Give your fullest attention to whatever the moment presents.” —Eckhart Tolle

 

It’s your life. Lead it well.
Monique

 

 

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4 Ways to Achieve FLOW Through Results-Oriented Operating

 

In the world of conscious living and leading it is understood that when we are not able to “flow”– to focus and be “on”– we are not fully connected with, or aligned with the universe (or “source”). Have you felt those moments, when you’re  not fully present, or have a difficult time motivating yourself to get something started or finished? It happens to all of us, and one way to look at your development as a leader is to be very conscious of those moments where there is a disconnect, and through awareness and action, make the necessary shifts in order to get back to flow (and achieving!). As leaders we cannot make things happen and connect with and lead others without the ability to do this. I like to call it–Lighting it Up!

Just last week I attended our Center for Leadership’s Lecture Series, where distinguished global executive Jorge P. Montoya, who among other notable positions and appointments was the President for Proctor & Gamble Latin America, spoke on “Really, The Only Thing That Counts Is Delivering Results.” As a leadership trainer and coach, the title intrigued me quite a bit, and I attended, mostly, to ensure that Mr. Montoya would at some point discuss the human side of leadership and its importance to the bottom line. I’m happy to say that he did do that! In fact, he encouraged those present to learn, learn and continue learning; keep a positive attitude; cultivate and practice humbleness and servant leadership, and infuse love and passion in your job.

However, I respect where he started the conversation, and it reminds me of the idea of flow and being “on”. If you have your own business, or work for a business, there is no escaping the bottom line. Businesses must be profitable, and it does take an enormous amount of time, energy and focus to both reach and surpass profitability, and do it in a way that will support and grow those who work for you, or those with whom you work. Ideally, when business is good, so too is the livelihood of those connected to or surrounded by those businesses. We want business to thrive, right? So, igniting your flow from a very results-focused, bottom line-oriented perspective could certainly do the trick for both you and your business/company you work for.

Although Mr. Montoya’s presentation was mostly directed to the future leaders who were present, I believe his message is crucial for those of us who are in leadership positions, and who want to have more moments where we are Lighting it Up! In fact, what I share with you below has broader meaning. You can apply it to how you lead your finances, for example.

Here’s his prescription:

Principle:

Delivering Consistent Results is the Only Thing That Counts! Generally, you can do this via:

  • Flawless execution of a good strategy

  • Using your leadership to deliver results (through others!)

  • Build the mindset very early on to develop operating discipline

  • Design clear, stretch goals for yourself

Executing the Principle via the 4 F’s:

  1. Focus – Know where to play. Choose 2-3 core competencies. Less is better!
  2. Forcing Choices – Know how to win. Choose 2-3 choices or “weapons” to beat the competition. Choose what not to do. Don’t fix every problem; feed the strong and starve the weak.
  3. Frugality – Be brutal on costs, permanently! Develop a permanent scarcity mentality. Free spending sickness is contagious and can get out of control.
  4. Foresee a Crisis – Anticipate volatility/crisis and competitive moves. Change is constant and inevitable; the adaptive will survive and the proactive will win.

In applying it to my own life and leadership, I can see how those moments when I am not Lighting it Up are in fact times when I’m working on too many things at once. That “focus”, or “forced choice” was not present. In fact, this concept aligns directly with strengths-based leadership–feed what you’re strong at, and starve (or delegate!) what you’re weak at!

In true “Learner” fashion (my #1 strength), I’m always happy to learn and share these learnings with you!

Where in your life or in your leadership can you apply Mr. Montoya’s 4 F’s strategy?

How can you apply this strategy to get back into a flow and Light Things Up?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and examples. Write me a line below.

It’s your life. Lead it well.

Monique

Pushing Through.

February 27, 2014

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As a young child I experienced a strong sense of motivation, because I knew at a very young age that I loved to dance and perform.  I began dancing at the age of three, and time stood still when I danced. Even when I was not in class, but at home, I would play music and choreograph my own dances in front of our ceiling to floor mirrors. I was in my flow.

That was my experience, but not necessarily my daughter’s. As an achiever, it would be easy for me to push my dream, or a form of my dream on her to do the same, but I have worked so hard not to do that. I remember the day she told me she wanted to dance, but those classes did not last long. Although she was great, it was not her thing! She is now going on 10 years of age, and I think to myself, “Is she really going to grow up not playing any sports, or dancing, or…?” Recently, I heard the statistic that 80% of the most successful women in Fortune 500 companies all played competitive sports in high school, and my next thought was, “Wow, as a ‘good’ mom do I need to force her to do something to ensure her success?” That thought, of course, came from a place of fear, not love.

I think back to when she was potty training and everything that could go wrong did. In fact, it wasn’t until she was almost five that one day she said, “Mom, come look. I did it!” And that was it. She knew what she had to do, and she did it when she was ready.

Nia finally picked something new to try. She recently started Karate. Although her general modus operandi is to be a bit lazy when it comes to physical things (she’d rather be exploring out in nature!), I find that she likes Karate just enough to not quit. In fact, one of her teachers saw something in her, not on the physical toughness side, but, in her energy—her essence to want to do be noticed for her intelligence and to win. She is quite competitive! So, she’s was invited to try out for the competition team and I’ve seen her turn a new page. I see her fighting harder and not giving up when the going gets tough. She is pushing through. I also know that these teachers breathing belief into her is helping so much! They, too, could easily give up on her and tell her she’s not yet ready. What they have done is open the door for her to decide to do something very challenging while feeling supported.

In the same, the protective parent in me wanted to make it easy and safe for her. I had many “Oh no, she can’t do that!” or “She’s not ready to do that!” moments. But I kept those thoughts in my head. Instead, I cheered her on and allowed her to make the decision to stick with it or walk away.

Reflecting on this has helped cement a few concepts for me, which also may help you in a particular situation in which you may find yourself. They are:

  1. We each have unique passions that call to us and put us in our “flow” and/or help us to feel strong/on the verge of greatness.
  2. There is a time and place for everything.
  3. Pushing through in some way in our lives helps us to achieve a sense of purpose and pleasure.

Where can you apply this learning?

Where can you Push Through?

How can you support someone else to do the same?

Make sure to comment below. I’d love to hear your examples of pushing through.

It’s your life. Lead it well.

Namaste, Monique

Once in a Blue Moon!

August 31, 2012

by Ellie Kane

 

I love to find excuses to make things happen, so here is one that you can use as well…

because it is once in a blue moon, after all!

That’s right, today we will be dazzled by the rare blue moon. It’s rare because it only happens every 2-3 years, and this month, we get two full moons! Although it may not be blue (from where you may be), according to astrologists, the energy of this blue moon may provide an ideal time to take all the intensity it will create and funnel it toward something BIG, something you have been putting off, haven’t had the energy to do, or something that could really make a difference for you or others in your life. That’s why it can be BIG. Ideally, this energy is perfectly suited for tapping into your creativity and deepening your intuition.

How can you get your creative juices flowing this weekend?

What are you being drawn to?

What is a BIG goal you can get started on?

What are you avoiding that you can break through right now?

In past postings I’ve talked about getting in the FLOW. This weekend provides the perfect time (and mood lighting!) to make that happen.

Personally, I’m already in the flow. My creative juices began tempting me early this week and my BIG goal (which I definitely have been avoiding!) is to give up TV to find time to put into place these ideas and plans that are tantalizing me.

Get your Blue Moon ON!

Care to share your BIG to do? Would love to hear about it. “-)

Namaste,

Monique