Friday, June 26, 2009


A little boy tugged on my sleeve after I had dismissed the kindergarten class for the day.

"Teacher, did you poop your pants?" he quietly asked. (Thankfully.)

I looked at him to see what would come next.

He continued, "Well, you're walking like this...(he demonstrated my walk)...My brother walks like you whenever he poops his pants!"

I was awaiting my first hip replacement as the joint had deteriorated to the point where I was walking around bone on bone, which explained my so-called "poopy" walk.

Clarify or mystify? From the little guy's perspective, the natural assumption was that because I was walking a certain way, I must have had an "accident." How often have you made assumptions without getting all the information? Stress can impact your ability to actively listen to the other person's explanation, since you may be wrapped up in your own "stuff" in your head.

When you transform your stress, you find that you are able to gain a new perspective which deepens learning, understanding and growth.
  • Are there times when you reacted without getting all the facts?
  • What happened when you stopped yourself from speaking out and asked for clarification?
  • Have you noticed that when you are stressed you react as opposed to act?
  • Has this affected your ability to communicate or lead?
Photo courtesy of Steve Woods

Thursday, June 18, 2009

French Files

I see the brain as a giant filing cabinet. Oh, what delights are stored, cataloged and hidden in its depths! As we age, we come to expect that some of those "drawers" will be permanently locked and the key hidden away, who knows where?

I have found that my memory has improved. Rather than being distracted by things of little or no importance, my attention now goes to the work or conversations at hand. Similar to the flashing of an alarm clock during a power outage, negative emotions like worry, sadness or fear flashes STRESS!, STRESS!, STRESS! This causes cortical inhibition and describes what happens when a small part of the brain is inhibited in preparation for flight or fight (response to the perception of stress).

When stressed, you are more likely to forget where you put the car keys or if you shut off the iron. Information that you know you know may be inaccessible and locked away in the "filing cabinet" of your brain during stressful times. A great stressor for learners is fear - fear of ridicule, of making mistakes or of making yourself look foolish, which then causes more of what you don't want because you are in cortical inhibition.

I wish to salute Twitter friends, Lucie Octeau and Louis Rondeau, who have both, in their own ways, encouraged me to dig out the "file" in my brain marked "F" for "French!"

I haven't used my French for a number of years. Now, regular implementation of stress techniques that enhance cortical functioning, together with Lucie and Louis' support, I feel confident enough to be able to take risks and be ok as I make mistakes while I practise, practise, practise. (practiquer, practiquer, practiquer!)

Un gros merci à vous deux! Un jour, peut-être, j'écrirai un billet en français.

How has fear impacted your learning? What would be different for you if you were able to transform the fear?

Image courtesy of: Elvis Santana

Friday, June 12, 2009

Kernel Knowledge of Happiness

Next time you're making popcorn, try and control when and where a kernel of popcorn pops. It's impossible, isn't it?

Do you find yourself doing the same thing in respect to happiness? Do you want to control when it will happen and what conditions need to be in place before you can be happy? Are you "Only 'iffing'" yourself? "I'll be happy if ..." or "When I have ______, I'll be happy."

Somewhere along the way, accumulated stress moves you from simply being happy to questioning, "Am I happy, yet?" One of the many side-effects of stress is an inability to experience the positives in life. Your focus narrows, you become more rigid in your thinking and you have difficulty enjoying yourself.

As I continue to practise and transform my stressors, I often catch myself being happy, seemingly for no reason.

There is a reason, though. It has to do with the chemical changes that are a result of better emotional management and smoother heart rhythms. Plainly speaking, the side-effects of stress affect how you feel - dampening your spirit and lessening your quotient for joy.

Happiness is like an elusive shadow that you can't seem to get your grips on when you chase it. You do have the ability to change how you think and feel, allowing happiness to expand and pop like so many kernels of popcorn.

Do you place conditions on your happiness? How would your life be different if you were happy? Is your bubble of happiness quickly deflated by those you encounter during the course of your day?

Related post: Smiles and Smiles of Heart

Thanks to Serkan ALP for this image!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Managing Well

"At the heart of any good business is a chief executive officer with one." ~ Malcolm Forbes

Amongst other qualities, good leadership includes the ability to be:

  • appreciative
  • adaptable
  • communicative
  • encouraging
  • organized
  • a risk-taker
  • a visionary
All of these skills can become tarnished under the constant grinding of untransformed stress. As a leader, do you feel like you're losing the abilities that made you a great leader in the first place? Do the things that once brought you joy now seem onerous or routine? These are the signs that you've lost heart - a typical casualty of stress.

The great news is that you can get back what you've lost. By learning to manage your emotions you are able to reactivate all those positive qualities you possess and lead, once again, with hope!

I recently had the honour of presenting at the CMA-BC conference, where the organizers modelled great leadership.

I was well-looked after right from my initial contact with the organization up to and including the day of the conference. I was impressed with the attention to detail that ensured that I could concentrate on my presentation. I appreciate all the help I received, including having AV support and someone in the room to welcome and assist me throughout the sessions. A heartfelt thanks to all of you for organizing a wonderful conference and making me feel so welcomed!

All these small considerations add up to provide a big dose of hospitality that extends beyond the immediate moment. Positive thoughts and emotions result in a very different heart rhythm than negative ones. The smooth rhythm helps transform your stress so you can feel better emotionally, mentally and physically. When you feel better, you do better and you are able to treat others well. You do a better job at managing, regardless of whether it is a company, a sports team or your home life.

As Napoleon Bonaparte stated, "A leader is a dealer in hope.” As long as hope is present, we are willing to push through difficulties to achieve our goals, regardless whether they are big or small.

How invaluable would that be in your work environment?

Photo courtesy of: Sachin Ghodke

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