HUMBOLDT STRONG

jpkghonoRF6Ts8ZwIJYnoARecently, myself and many of my coworkers received a touching gift for our involvement in the Humboldt tragedy.  It was a really nice gesture from thousands of strangers to put together something this meaningful and gift it to so many people.  I believe other First Responders, hospital staff, families, and community members (literally anyone involved!) received quilts made from the worldwide quilting community.  The Haus Of Stitches in Humboldt collected 2000+ quilts from around the world and worked hard to finish and distribute them to people like me.  Link to their website & newsletter here.  Read that again….over 2000 quilts!  The quilting community is apparently HUGE and very generous!

The quilt I received was made in Ontario and came with a mailing address.  I happily printed a photo of myself with my quilt and sent them a note telling them how much the quilt they made meant to me…and how much this project meant to my coworkers and I.  I received a nice note in return about how they became involved.

After I received my quilt, I also found out that some women I know personally made quilts for this project as well.  I tried to let them know how important this was and how thankful the recipients of their quilts would’ve been.

The outpouring of support like this and many other things I witnessed after April 6 has been phenomenal.  From random acts of kindness around here the entire weekend after the accident, to public acknowledgement of any and all First Responders, to the outpouring of support for the families affected, and much more…has shown me that there really is good in this world!

#humboldtstrong

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My Take on a Book Review #8 – Emotional Agility – Susan David

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I heard about this book by listening to Lewis Howe’s podcast “The School of Greatness” (which I talked about in this blog post).  He interviewed Susan David and they talked a lot about how important it is to pay attention to your emotions and how doing so can help you succeed in work and life.  Sounded interesting…so I read her book…and it was really good!

She has a lot of similarities to Brene Brown (who you know I love!…see here, here, and here!).  They both talk a lot about being present, being vulnerable, facing difficult emotions/situations instead of bottling them up, etc.

Susan’s definition of emotional agility is that it’s “a process that allows you to be in the moment, changing or maintaining your behaviours to live in ways that align with your intentions and values”.  It’s not about ignoring difficult emotions, but about holding these emotions loosely, facing them, and then moving on.

There are 4 essential movements of social agility:
1. Showing up – face your thoughts, emotions, behaviours willingly with curiosity and kindness (she talks a lot in this book about being kind to yourself…even when you’re not your best self)
2. Stepping out – detach from & observe the emotions to see them for what they are – just thoughts.
3. Walking your why – your core values will provide the compass that keeps you moving in the right direction.
4. Moving on – chasing courage over comfort, challenge yourself, no regrets.

A quote I liked about compassion  “it gives us the freedom to redefine ourselves as well as the all-important freedom to fail, which contains within it the freedom to take the risks that allow us to be truly creative”.

There have been tons of studies done that show documenting your emotions (i.e. truthfully writing down the difficult situations/emotions you’ve been in) is a tremendously helpful way to deal with stress, anxiety, & loss.  She gives many examples of these studies and the results were impressive.  I would’ve never thought this could be so powerful.
“The point is that those thoughts are now out of you and on the page.  You’ve begun the process of “stepping out” from your experience to gain perspective on it”.  Makes sense to me!

While you’re working on “stepping out”, she gives tips on helping you be more mindful.  If you’re like me, your mind never stops and it’s really hard to try and make it stop.  Here are some tips to help you concentrate…
– Pick an object (a flower, your toe) and focus on it for one minute.  Really look at it…as if you’re looking at it for the first time.
– Rework a routine.  Pick something you do every day and take for granted (making coffee, brushing your teeth).  Focus on each step and action.  Be fully aware.
– Really listen.  Pick a piece of music and really tune in, listen like it’s the first music you’ve ever heard.

Walking your why is about identifying your values.  Easier said than done!  Here are a few tips to help get you started in figuring out what your values are!
– Deep down, what matters to me?
– What relationships do I want to build?
– What do I want my life to be about?
– How do I feel most of the time…what kinds of situations make me feel the most vital?
– If all the stress and anxiety in my life were suddenly gone, what would my life look like? What things would I persue?

Moving on isn’t just about leaving that “stuff” in the past, but also about getting the right balance between challenge and competence.  We don’t want to be overwhelmed or underwhelmed…we need the right amount of “whelmed”.

The ultimate test for any action should be…is this going to get me where I want to be?  It may require you to choose courage over comfort.  Or have that difficult conversation.  If you don’t, you allow misery and misunderstanding to exist/thrive.  Read that again!  There’s definitely some truth there!

This was an interesting book to read.  Lots of “hmmm” moments and quotes.  Definitely one you should put on your list!

 

 

 

 

My Take on a Book Review #7 – The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes

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This book was recommended to me by a few people, and it was also referenced in a few other books I’ve read.  So it was definitely high on my list…and it didn’t disappoint!

He’s also got a great podcast where he interviews some amazing people, and a website where you can learn more about his story, see his books, and obtain other information.

There are 8 chapters each devoted to help you become your greatest self.  At the end of each chapter he provides practical exercises to do based on that chapter.  He shares stories about some amazing people he’s met over the years from Olympians to people who’ve overcome major obstacles to be successful in life.

Here’s a couple of my quick takeaways from each chapter:

  1. Create a vision – this is about clearly defining what you want (your goals) & who you want to be (your dreams).  “You become what you envision yourself being”.
  2. Turn adversity into an advantage – This is my favourite quote from this chapter “To be good at something requires talent, vision, & action.  Greatness is what remains when that talent & vision meet adversity…& persist in the face of it”.  Adversity gives you opportunities to figure out what is not working and how to make it work.
  3. Cultivate a champion’s mindset – “Our inner voice – our belief in ourselves – is what determines our mindset.  And our way of thinking sets us up for failure or success”.   Gratitude journals are discussed, knowing your strengths and weaknesses (so you can work on your weaknesses), and having honest people around you that will help you foster your champion’s mindset.
  4. Develop hustle – “If you want to be the best, you have to do things other people aren’t willing to do”.  Some things that hold people back from hustling are the fear of looking bad, the fear of failure, the fear of success.  You need to genuinely put yourself out there.
  5. Master your body – Sleep!  If you want to make a change, then something has to be different than you’re doing now in order to get better/different results.  For the acronym lovers out there here’s a good one to find out what’s MISSING in your life:
    • Minerals
    • Inflammation
    • Stress
    • Sleep
    • Inhalation (deep breathing)
    • Nutrient density
    • Gut health
  6. Practice positive habits – the obvious ones (smoking, drinking, poor eating habits), the non-obvious ones (jealousy, anger, ego, smart financial decisions, respect).  When you meet successful people observe which positive habits have made them successful (he describes some of the positive habits the wealthiest people in the world have)
  7. Build a winning team – “You’ll never outperform your inner circle.  If you want to achieve outer success, improve your inner circle”.  All people on the team need to work towards the same direction/goal.
  8. Live a life of service – Get involved in giving back.  Find something that you can really support, something that you genuinely care about and find ways to support it.  Monetary, with your time, your resources, your expertise…anything!  You will feel so great!

This was really a great book!  Easy to read, not that long (240 pages), and LOTS of practical tips/exercises in each chapter to help you live your best life and be GREAT!

 

 

 

 

My Take on a Book Review #6 – Rising Strong – Brene Brown

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Another fantastic book by Brene Brown!  Read it!  (Should I end the post there?!)

This book is about overcoming adversity and how to “Rise Strong” from these experiences.  Great for anyone going through change professionally or personally…which is pretty much all of us.

Bravery and courage are themes in this book.  There were a lot of quotes I liked in this book.
“If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall; this is they physics of vulnerability”
“Courage is contagious” so true…in light of the recent Bell Let’s Talk Day, I saw so many people sharing their story because someone else was courageous enough to share.
“Once we start being brave we can never go back.  Courage transforms the emotional structure of our being.  It can also reignite our sense of purpose”

There is a process to Rising Strong.  Reckoning, Rumble, Revolution.
1. Reckoning – where we recognize the emotion and how it connects to the way we think and behave.  Where we chose courage over comfort.
“Denying emotion is like never taking your car out of the garage.  It’s safe in there, but you’ll never go anywhere”

2. Rumble – where we have to be honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggle (choose courage over comfort).  Then challenge them to determine the truth and what needs to change.  This is what is the hardest and takes the most time.  She spends the majority of the book talking about the “rumble”.
Topics she covers: boundaries, integrity, generosity, expectations, disappointment, resentment, heartbreak, grief, forgiveness, empathy, connection, judgement, asking for help, fear, shame, perfectionism, accountability, trust, failure, regret, criticism.  Big topics with big emotions!
“Expectations are resentments waiting to happen”
“When perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun”
“Comparison sucks the creativity and joy right out of life”

3. Revolution – writing a new ending to your story based on what you’ve learned.  Transforming the way you live.
“There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fear mongers than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise”

Just another great book by Brene Brown.  She is such a powerful person and great writer.  In case you missed my other posts on her books…take a look:
Daring Greatly
The Gifts of Imperfection

My Take on a Book Review #5 – The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene Brown

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If you didn’t figure it out yet, I’m a huge Brene Brown fan!  I’ve read this book a couple of times just like her other books.  So, so, so good!  It’s not overly long (about 140 pages maybe), so is a nice quick read with some great tips and ideas!

“Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life”…the book is based on her 10 guideposts for wholehearted living and she gives you examples from her life on how she practices these.

The 10 guideposts are as follows:

  1. Cultivate authenticity: let go of what people think.
    – a daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embrace who we are
  2. Cultivate self-compassion: let go of perfectionism
    – perfectionism is not the same as striving to be your best.  It’s the belief that we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect.  It’s trying to earn approval and acceptance.
  3. Cultivate resilient spirit: let go of numbing and powerlessness
    – 5 traits of resilient people: 1. they have good problem solving skills.  2. they are more likely to seek help.  3. they believe they can do something that will help them manage their feelings and cope.  4. they have social support.  5. they are connected with others…friends/family.
  4. Cultivate gratitude and joy: let go of scarcity and fear of the dark
    – we need to practice gratitude…try making a gratitude journal or voice things you’re thankful for every day.
    – happiness vs. joy.  Happiness is tied to an experience.  Joy is tied to gratitude and spirituality.
  5. Cultivate intuition and trusting faith: let go of the need for certainty
    – “Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty”
  6. Cultivate creativity: let go of comparison
    – comparison is the thief of happiness.  This was such a good chapter!
  7. Cultivate play and rest: let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth
    – “The opposite of play is not work, it’s depression”
    – we need to be intentional about cultivating sleep and play.
  8. Cultivate calm and stillness: let go of anxiety as a lifestyle
    – strive to be the person that you have seen be calm and not react to fear and anger. This takes a lot of practice!
    – lots of ways to do this….yoga, meditate, practice mindfulness exercises.
  9. Cultivate meaningful work: let go of self doubt and “supposed to”
    – think about doing something you love, something that inspires you…don’t think about making a living at it.  You don’t necessarily have to quit your day job to do meaningful work.
  10. Cultivate laughter, song, and dance: let go of being cool and “always in control”
    – a good belly laugh, singing loud, dancing like nobody is looking is so good for your soul!  But it’s also extremely vulnerable!
    – “When we don’t give ourselves permission to be free, we rarely tolerate that freedom in others.  We put them down, make fun of them, ridicule their behaviours, and sometimes shame them”.  So true.
    – “Cruelty is never brave, it is mostly cheap and easy”.  By far one of my favourite quotes from this book!

When you’re exhausted or overwhelmed in any aspect of your life DIG deep:
D – get deliberate in your thoughts and behaviours
I – get inspired to make new or different choices
G – get going.  Take action.

 

 

My Take on a Book Review #4 – The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch

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I was interested to read this book because I’ve heard 80/20 beat to death in almost every aspect of life (80/20 clean eating, 80/20 exercise, 80/20 at work, on and on) and was curious what I else I could take away from reading a book about it.

The author claims that 80% of our success stems from 20% of our efforts.  Interesting!

80/20 rule is not time management, it is time revolution.  Time management is how to organize your time more effectively.  Time revolution is about our use of time being the enemy.  We only make good use of 20% of our time.  For the procrastinators in the crowd…you really only use the last 20% of your time to complete a project, right?…so why not cut deadlines in half (or more) since you’re not using 80% of the time for completion anyway?

Find the 20% of your time that gives you 80% of your results, happiness, achievements, etc.  Do the same for the 80% that causes unhappiness, doesn’t give results or achievements.  Act on the 20% and find ways to get rid of the 80%.  He elaborates on this a bit more in the book.

The author’s research showed that for most people 80% of our happiness occurs during 20% of our time.  That’s brutal!  This was by far my favourite part of the book.  He proposes these 7 habits of happiness:
1. Exercise.  MAKE TIME FOR IT!
2. Mental stimulation.  Crossword puzzles, talking with a friend, journalling, anything that requires active thought.
3. Spiritual/artistic stimulation/meditation.  At least ½ hour food for the imagination or spirit.  Yoga, a concert, art gallery, watching the sunrise/sunset, meditation.
4. Doing a good deed.  A random act of kindness.
5. Talking a pleasure break with a friend.  Cup of coffee or a walk with a friend.
6. Giving yourself a treat.  Write a list of pleasures that you could indulge yourself and try to cross off one a day.
7. Congratulate yourself.  Try to accomplish 5 of these a day and congratulate yourself!

And these 7 shortcuts to a happy life:
1. Maximize your control.
2. Set attainable goals.  Challenging but not too difficult.
3. Be flexible.  Accept what you cannot control
4. Have a close relationship with your partner.
5. Have a few happy friends that you have close relationships with.
6. Have a few close professional alliances.  People who you will go out of your way to support and vice versa.
7. Evolve your idea lifestyle.  A balance between work/home/social life.

There were some interesting parts to this book, but I honestly found myself skimming through it as I found it a bit repetitive and the studies he references kind of boring.  I still think it is worth a read….especially for decision makers in a company, anyone self-employed, people in marketing careers, or for anyone feeling like they can never get ahead in their work.  None of those really apply to me, so likely why this wasn’t my favourite book!

 

My Take on a Book Review #3 – The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton

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I didn’t make a lot of notes on this book, as I thought a lot of it was common sense.  I enjoyed the book and think it would be a good one for people in charge of hiring, supervisors, or anyone in a leadership role….or anyone who works with a bunch of assholes!

Disclaimer….there’s a lot of use of the word “asshole” in this book (& in this post). So if you’re offended by that maybe stop reading this and don’t read the book!

It mostly discusses how to keep assholes out of your workplace, or if you’re stuck with them how to try and fix them.  Trying to make examples of them so that nobody else acts like them, call them on their behaviour 100% of the time (don’t ever let them get away with their asshole behaviour), and encourage them when they do act appropriately (“see you aren’t always an asshole!”).

If you’re stuck working with assholes and either can’t get rid of them, or aren’t in a position where you’re allowed to get rid of them (i.e. not the boss) it gives you some tips on how to deal with them and not lose your mind.

A couple of quotes I liked from the book:
“Fight as if you are right, listen as though you are wrong”.  Listening is so so so important (I think I might’ve mentioned that in another blog post?!).  Even if you don’t like the person, they deserve the respect of being listened to.  If you’re a leader having to give them feedback finding the spot between being constructive enough and critical enough is tough.  There’s some good info in this book about leading an asshole!

“To keep your inner asshole from getting out, be aware of the people and places that turn you into an asshole”.  This is probably my favourite line in the whole book because it is so true!  Have you ever been having a decent day and then you encounter someone who isn’t…they can drag you down with their asshole-ness almost instantly.  Sometimes we can’t avoid these toxic people, but I try to do my best to limit the time I’m around these people.

Again, this would be a great book for anyone who has assholes in their workplace…regardless of if you’re the boss or not!