600 Million Breaths

600 Million Breaths

600 Million Breaths

– 5 min –

 

It was a beautiful summer night in Chicago. Hot during the day but, once the sun went down, just right. I was on a balcony that overlooked lake Michigan, sharing laughs and conversation with a great leader. We were trading philosophical quips on what we were calling ‘proof of concept’ in our lives and careers, and how those accomplishments aligned with a sense of fulfillment, when she sighed, staring wistfully over the water.

I’ve read ‘The Great Gatsby’ a handful of times and couldn’t help but note a ‘green light’ sort of moment. “You okay?” I asked.

She was. “Just nostalgic,” she said. Gotta love nostalgia. Once again, my literary mind couldn’t help but dig in. We started to reminisce about early successes and our athletic careers (we both played sports in college). Ultimately, we came upon a powerful recognition…

All the accolades that accompany success, we decided, are less an identification of fulfillment than a light shined on the impermanence of things.

Wow. Now we were both staring out over the water.

Accolades – an award, a write-up in the newspaper, a radio spot – were nice. As goal-oriented people, we took pride in finishing a task and being celebrated for it. However, neither of us lingered on that sense of pride. Each of us, when we were at our best, had used those accolades as punctuation marks for a successful process, a meaningful journey.

Each of us, it seemed, wanted ‘proof of concept’ that our endeavors were meaningful. We each also wanted to evolve and grow. But what would prove that we were evolving and growing in the right direction? More acclaim. It can be challenging, when locked in this cycle, to appreciate the moment and focus on what truly matters.

“I’ve been there,” she admitted. In her own version of the story, it was an obsession with ‘blasting KPIs’ early in her career. If she wasn’t being publicly applauded for going above and beyond the call of duty, she felt something was wrong. She would spiral into self-doubt. “It wasn’t a healthy place to be,” she said.

She asked how I shifted my focus, how I got out of the loop, and how I coached others to do the same. How, she wondered, could you be in pursuit of lofty goals, without focusing too much on the goal? It was a fair question.

The Lifecycle of the Breath

If we’re lucky, we get about 613,200,000 breaths in a lifetime. Not an exact science, but if we take 8.4 million breaths per year and the average lifespan is knocking on the door of 73 years, that’s what we end up with.

Buddhists would name each of those breaths – from inhale to exhale – an opportunity. They might actually call it a life and death. A lifecycle. You breathe in life and then it is gone. It is a humbling and oddly comforting way to understand mortality and the impermanence of things.

Impermanence is the key word. If breaths are like pages in a book, turning over, never to be read again, then each one should be cherished. If we spend a few breaths working toward a goal, then accomplish that goal, fantastic! Truly meaningful and worth celebrating. You could say those were breaths well spent. But those breaths are gone. Even breaths taken in the moment of reward, up on a stage or seeing your picture in the newspaper, are gone. They were good. But they’re gone.

Gaining comfort with this process is important. When measured in breaths, time can seem uncomfortably fleeting. Once we think about it in this way, we must work to appreciate it all and try not to hold on too tightly to one single moment.

My friend and I talked through these ideas while overlooking Lake Michigan – waves reaching toward shore and retreating, never the same wave twice, each wave valuable on its own. “That was a good wave,” she said. Then said the same about the next one. Then the next one, making a point.

An Exercise in Perspective

Marshall Goldsmith, noted executive coach, is a practicing Buddhist and proponent of the ‘every breath’ mindset. He believes in finding meaning in every moment.

I often use letter writing as an exercise in my own coaching and recently came across what Marshall calls the ‘2 Letters’ exercise (check out his new book, ‘The Earned Life’, when you get a chance). The 2 Letters exercise is simple but profound. Simply, you write two letters, each to yourself.

Try it! In the first letter, thank a previous you. Write a letter to your younger self, thanking them for some of the decisions they made that have worked out well for you, but that you might not have realized at the time. Marshall mentions one person writing a letter to their 6-year-old self for toughing it out through swim lessons, which has saved their life on more than one occasion. Take a moment to reflect. Think hard. Then write a note to that younger you.

The second letter should be written to a future you. Thank the future you for something specific. Be sure to articulate the investment, sacrifice, effort, and continuing education needed for any worthwhile endeavor. The bigger you dream while writing this letter (and please do dream big), the more credit you’ll have to give yourself for the diligent process it requires.

Save these letters. Return to them.

In my own practice, I’ve had leaders send themselves similar letters in the mail. If not through post, I might have them tuck it away on a high shelf, then set a calendar reminder to return to it in a few months.

This sort of practice creates separation within one’s vision of self. Important for gratitude and, often, for forgiveness (especially of a younger self). It also shines light on the cause-and-effect nature of the world. These pages, turning one at a time and each as valuable as the next, will eventually write a story.

With this perspective, laughing with a friend on a summer evening is every bit as valuable as securing a big contract. Every successful practice is as valuable as a championship game. Many athletes note that the moments inside the locker room, or on the team bus, matter as much to them as any moment on the field. Moments matter.

One breath, then another. All good.

James (Jim) Davis, Executive Director

is a leadership and organizational development expert, educator, and nonprofit director recognized for numerous awards, including AD Magazine’s 40 under 40 list. His interests lie in the cross section of human development and psychology and he writes extensively in the areas of leadership and education when he’s not speaking at conferences and workshops all over the world. Learn more »

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JEM and Interplicity Announce Partnership To Offer Transformative Leadership and Team Development Programs

JEM and Interplicity Announce Partnership To Offer Transformative Leadership and Team Development Programs

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JEM and Interplicity Announce Partnership To Offer Transformative Leadership and Team Development Programs

– 4 min –

NOVATO, Calif., September 6, 2022 /3BL Media/ – JEM, publisher of Biznology, and Interplicity announced a partnership today to offer transformative leadership and professional development to individuals and organizations, including a new, breakthrough program to advance equity in the workplace using the latest diversity and inclusion research and methods. The goal of this partnership is to provide today’s leaders the latest science-based knowledge, skills and tools needed to address team dysfunction and discontent and amplify performance, equity, satisfaction and wellbeing across the enterprise.

Through this new affiliate partnership, JEM will feature Interplicity’s branded InnerProfessional catalog of online engagement programs via JEM’S digital magazine and learning platform Biznology. The InnerProfessional catalog offers state-of-the-art online education, coaching and team facilitation.

“This affiliate partnership with Interplicity will enhance the value of Biznology to our audience and further our mission to be a valuable resource for leaders who are dedicated to improving, changing and ultimately transforming their organizations for the future,” said Jennifer McClure, founder, JEM and publisher of Biznology. “It also aligns with our mission to help organizations innovate, change and improve to successfully shape the future and ultimately make the world a better place.”

“Biznology subscribers and JEM’s network of business leaders will now have easier access to our InnerProfessional catalog,”said Curt Dowdy, CEO, Interplicity. “Leaders, teams and individuals will benefit from breakthrough facilitation methods that are highly engaging, massively scalable and inherently cost-effective for organizations aspiring to attract, inspire and retain the best talent.”

To kick off this partnership, JEM and Interplicity are offering a special promotion on Interplicity’s latest online team facilitation program, Disrupting Workplace Inequity. Teams will learn how and why, after decades of investment in diversity and inclusion, even the most well-respected organizations still suffer from systemic inequities. Participants will further strengthen and practice their knowledge, skills, and influence for circumventing hidden inequities, toward advancing equity as a key result of diversity and inclusion actions. The program combines online social participation, practice partners, direct interactive facilitation with the expert, and self-paced engagement in bite-sized, on-demand content and exercises. Over the three-week session, participants engage in just under two hours per week of programmed learning, practice and interactivity.

The three-week program will begin with a live, online kickoff/orientation event on October 20, and access to the course material opens on October 24th. Teams can register here with up to a 55% discount depending on team size.

About Interplicity
Interplicity, via its InnerProfessional brand, offers a catalog of transformative leadership and team development engagements designed to elevate individual and group focus, teamwork, equity, and long-term satisfying results. Experiences are built upon the latest discoveries in psychological, neural, and behavioral sciences. The massively scalable and cost-effective online facilitation methodologies include dynamic peer-group learning and practice, direct engagement with an instructor/coach, and compelling, short-topic on-demand resources and exercises. Participants testify that these online experiences and the results they produce are unparalleled by any they’ve experienced before. Interplicity.com

About Biznology
Biznology is JEM’s digital magazine and online learning platform for 21st century leaders dedicated to improving, changing and ultimately transforming their organizations for the future. Biznology is focused on a range of topics that are top of mind for today’s leaders and features insights and expertise of the 2GO Advisory Group. https://biznology.com/

About JEM
JEM publishes Biznology, a digital magazine and online learning platform for 21st century leaders. The world of work is changing. We make change work. https://www.JEM.LLC

Olanike A. Mensah, CEO, Mosaic Consulting

Olanike is a strategist and executor rolled into one, experienced in applying the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) lens to all aspects of workplace management and at any stage of DEI development. Her 20+ years of experience spans corporate and non-profit organizations operating at local, national, and international levels. Learn more »

 

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Where Do You Resonate Amidst All the Chaos?

Where Do You Resonate Amidst All the Chaos?

Where Do You Resonate Amidst All the Chaos?

– 3 min –

People are struggling today with a deep sense of disruption. We are facing a world of uncertainty, not only dealing with threats and realities of war and the backdrop of a climate crisis, but also witnessing increasing polarization and social inequities. COVID upended life and work for so many of us, and we’re still trying to regain our balance and figure out new ways of working. Many of our current structures and systems no longer work well – witness mass resignations in healthcare, education, and law enforcement – and we find ourselves in new terrain navigating through this unpredictable environment.

So, how can we find our place and make our greatest difference amidst all the chaos? My own wrestling with this question has been guided by a rich scientific background and 30+ years of physical training and leadership teaching. In my online course, Resonate, I share with you the insights and practices that have come from this experience and, in joining me, I hope you find them as life changing as I have.

The lens of resonance is the most useful way I’ve found to work with “big life” questions, such as: “‘What part of this picture is mine and how can I make my difference in it?” By centering yourself, relaxing, and feeling into the deep wisdom of your integrated body-mind, like an antenna picking up a signal, you’ll be able to sense what is yours to do and move forward with confidence.

Why does this work? Because life is a flow of energy and resonance is the way energy changes form by vibrating with another energy flow. You and I are the instruments that life’s energy is running through. We can become much more resonant instruments when we’re breathing correctly, when we’re grounded, centered and attuned to what is going on around us. So, as leaders, we can train ourselves to use energy more skillfully, pick up more of it, blend it with our gifts and purposeful intents and co-create outcomes.

These are the kind of practices that I love to teach in my course as they help people connect with themselves, with others, and with the purposes that stir them. Where can resonance build in your life? Where can resonance lead you in life? When you’re ready to explore the energizing possibilities, I’ll meet you there.

Ginny Whitelaw, Author & CEO, Institute for Zen Leadership

A biophysicist and former senior manager for integrating NASA’s International Space Station, Dr. Whitelaw has trained leaders on the path of making a difference for more than 25 years, working with mind, body, energy and resonance through the Institute for Zen Leadership. Learn more »

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Expect to be surprised by the joy, resilience and “effortless effort” of working with resonance in real-life applications from a challenge you’re facing, to strengthening a relationship, to leading change in a team or system.

Why Is This Happening “For” Me?

Why Is This Happening “For” Me?

Diversity Training Now What

Why Is This Happening “For” Me?

– 2 min –

We all face unwanted challenges in our life from time to time. And as a coach, as you might expect, my clients bring these challenges to my attention. How can we re-frame this and see how it impacts the way you feel about the situation?
Mike Normant, CEO, Unlimit Group

A former global learning & development director at eBay, Mike is now CEO of The Unlimit Group, an executive coaching and leadership training company. Mike is also an active member of executive coaching cadres at Skyline Group International, Lee Hecht Harrison, and Sidekick.
Learn more »

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600 Million Breaths

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Coach Your Self Up

Practical self-coaching techniques to identify and break through self-limiting behaviors and thought patterns. Learn to be your own coach and take more ownership of your career development.

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Linking Uncertainty to ESG

Linking Uncertainty to ESG

Linking Uncertainty to ESG

– 5 min –

 

If we know anything for sure, it is that the business environment will continue to be characterized by unrelenting uncertainty. From economic downturns to geopolitical influences to new ways of working and living, futurists are predicting that we will see more change in the next two years than we have seen in the last decade.

This current business environment presents significant – and new – challenges for leaders like you. We see market disruption happening across all industries and organizations. Every business faces increasing competition to stay relevant, from start-ups to mature organizations who are transforming themselves every day. And with the increasing focus on ESG – Environmental, Social and Governance standards – the landscape for leaders to be successful has changed – forever.

Inevitably, there are ripple effects of implementing ESG – defined as environmental, social, and governance standards that broadly describe a company’s behavior. The focus on ESG means that stakeholders from every corner have a broader vision of the role of corporations in today’s environment. And that in turn means leaders that are responsible for a wider range of charting the course for company standards are consistently dealing with moving targets. New regulations, societal forces, or opportunities to shift toward improved sustainability, equity, or contribution to “the greater good” have to be continually orchestrated against states of organizational inertia, protection of profits, and resistance to change. And in today’s new business environment, the urgency to adapt is increasing ever more rapidly.

So, what does this mean for you?

For one thing, the timeline for how you operate from this point forward has been altered forever. We often overestimate the time it takes to adapt and regroup, but now things can and will change in an instant. And with the current pace of change, any delays in taking action can result in disastrous consequences for you and your team.

I know this lesson well about making in-the-moment decisions. Let me share with you a relevant personal experience from my first Ironman race.

If you’re not familiar with an Ironman, it’s a long-distance triathlon that includes a 2.4 mile open-water swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride and finishing with 26.2-mile run, a full marathon. That’s 140.6 human-powered miles of pain and suffering.

The only real fun part is crossing the finish line.

So, there I was on the morning of my first race. I had trained, I was prepared, I was nervous and anxious, but I was ready. Or so I thought. The swimming portion of the event is called a “mass start”. I was in the water with 2500 fellow athletes at the same time, waiting for the starting gun to go off promptly at 7:00 am. Once the starting gun went off, it was total chaos – “combat swimming” is what we like to call it. I did my best to steer clear of the hundreds of arms and legs slashing through the water all around me. But somehow, I got kicked in the face and my goggles flew off, lost somewhere in the water. So now what?

My first instinct was to give up. I mean, how could I possibly swim more than two miles without goggles? It would have been easy to give up, right? For me to just say “it’s not my day, not meant to be”. But I wasn’t prepared to give up. I knew I could figure out a way through this. I just needed to keep making progress. And I did.

How I responded – the choices I made that day in the heat of the moment, instinctively being able to adapt and regroup – created the conditions for my success down the road.

So, what does this have to do with the increased focus and demands presented by ESG?

Well, do you ever feel like you got (virtually) kicked in the face?

I’ll bet there’s been a time when you got hit with a change, an unexpected situation, resistance or an out-of-the-blue request that made you feel that way.

Who hasn’t?

Often, our natural instinct when dealing with significant change, like the demands presented by ESG, is to hesitate, hit the virtual “pause” button, and wait for “certainty” to return.

But this is exactly the opposite of what leaders need to do. Because certainty will never return. We are now in a world of unrelenting uncertainty. And there is no question that the current business environment will continue to present demands on all leaders to adapt continuously and quickly. Leaders now need to accept and embrace that uncertainty as we challenge ourselves to move forward towards greater success. This is it – it’s either sink or swim.

Roberta A. LaPorte, Organizational Consultant

After spending 25 years leading Fortune 50 organizations and technology start-ups, Bobbie draws on positive psychology and her experience as a six-time Ironman triathlons finisher to help organizations navigate uncertainty and get ready for anything. Learn more »

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600 Million Breaths

600 Million Breaths

- 5 min -   It was a beautiful summer night in Chicago. Hot during the day but, once the sun...

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