This week is Mental Health Awareness Week

The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week this year is “My Story,” highlighting that we are all unique with valuable stories of the human experience.

Every one of us has been impacted by our own or a close friend or family member’s mental health challenge. Mental health affects us all. Let’s continue to work together to reduce the barriers for seeking mental health support. And let’s share our diverse stories to emphasize the crucial need for universal mental health care.

If you are in the Cochrane area, join Wayfinders Wellness Society for our open house and BBQ on our ranch this Thursday from 11-2. We are partnering with the town of Cochrane for this event. Register for this and other events this week in the Cochrane community at: https://lnkd.in/gCVpGM8a

To learn more about what we offer at Wayfinders check out our website:
wayfinderswellness.ca

From a TO-DO List to a TO-BE List

Successful people have some kind of a to-do list – stuff that needs doing this year, this week, this day.
Living authentically means having a to-be list: How will you show up in your life? What kind of person will you be when you come to work? What kind of a leader will you be?

Here’s an example of what I would consider a great to-be list:

  • Be committed. Commitment is essential for success. Commitment to a cause beyond your self-interests. Commitment takes you past a goal or wish. Being committed means a firm resolve that inspires action.
  • Be encouraging. Encouragement means a belief in people, making everyone around you smarter and better. Rather than draining energy and intelligence and capacity by pretending to be the smartest person the room, use your wisdom to amplify the intelligence and capabilities of others.
  • Be grateful. Gratitude is the antidote to entitlement. Being grateful means inspiring others by finding the best in every person and every situation. My mother grew up in poverty and would say, “Always find a way to make your gratitude bigger than your circumstances.”
  • Be humble. Humility is a true evaluation of conditions as they are. It’s having the willingness and courage to face the facts of your life. Everyone has something to teach us and has somehow been a part of our success. Humility is about giving credit where credit is due.

hashtag#leadership hashtag#authenticity hashtag#authenticleaderhip hashtag#gratitude hashtag#humility

The Workplace as a Classroom for Self-Development

Work harder on yourself than you do on your job. It was a phrase that changed Jim Rohn’s life. As the legendary personal development speaker and author famously said, “If you work on your job, you’ll make a living. If you work on yourself, you’ll make a fortune.”

The best leaders are committed to life-long learning. They understand that the greatest gift they bring to relationships is a stronger, wiser, more self-aware person. As people grow and improve their capabilities, they amplify their impact.

Where do you go to learn? We’re conditioned to learn by going somewhere: to school, to university or technical college, to the internet, to articles, to books.

While these are all great sources of information and learning, what if we could also make life itself a classroom, and our experiences the curriculum? This mindset could revolutionize how we perceive the challenges we face. Every “problem” we encounter would be seen as an opportunity for personal growth. Every setback a chance to learn. Everything that happens to us could be viewed as happening for us.

What if all those things we find ourselves complaining about are presenting themselves as lessons? What if all those people we gossip about are there to teach us something?

Have you ever noticed that if you don’t get the lesson, you keep repeating the class with the same experiences? It’s like Bill Murray in the classic movie Groundhog Day. The events kept repeating themselves until he understood the lesson he was meant to get.

Here are three strategies for turning your workplace into a classroom for self-development:

  1. Assess Your Situation. Take a close look at your work environment to discover the potential for growth it holds. Take an inventory of your frustrations, stuff you complain about, and the things you dislike about your job. List the people that irritate you and those you gossip about. What stresses you? What overwhelms you? What activates your fear response in your work environment? (You can take a similar inventory in your personal life.)
  2. Renew Your Perspective. Start embracing challenges by seeing problems as stepping stones rather than roadblocks along your path to success. Ask, “What lessons am I meant to get from this problem?” “What is this difficult, insensitive boss here to teach me?” “How can I respond differently to those putting all these demands on me?” “What lesson is to be learned from not being appreciated?” Maybe you are meant to learn to be more clear or brave or kind. Maybe what’s required is more commitment or self-care or compassion. Instead of hiding by complaining or gossiping, start facing reality rather than running from it.
  3. Take Action. Decide how you will apply the lesson you have learned. Knowing that growth lies outside your comfort zone, what risks will you take? What actions are required? Who will support you? How will you hold yourself accountable? Apply the lesson and contribute to a healthier, more vibrant workplace culture. If you think it’s time to exit, be sure you’re not escaping from a difficult learning opportunity. Be sure you get the lesson before you leave. Otherwise, you’ll meet the same experience in your next job (or relationship). Regardless, if you’re committed, you’ll find a way. If you aren’t, you’ll find an excuse.

ARE YOU CONNECTING?

Everyone communicates but few connect.

–  John Maxwell

Our newly hired hand arrived early. When I saw an old man riding a rusted bicycle up our gravel road in the pouring rain and into the yard of our family farm, I wondered, “Who is this slightly scary, weird-looking guy, whistling and smiling, dressed in worn-out coveralls, a flannel shirt, a torn jacket, and rubber boots?”

I was a teenager and was expected to work with this newly hired hand—whose name was Norris—for the summer. I didn’t want much to do with him at first. I just hung around for a few days and quietly worked alongside him.

He didn’t seem to mind that I wasn’t talkative. He simply went on about his business. At the time, I thought it was a little odd that no matter what the weather was like, or if we were fencing or building something or hauling hay, Norris always showed up on time and was happy. Except for a short lunch break, he never stopped working and never complained. Whether we were fencing, hauling hay, cleaning stalls, building a corral or a barn, or working with the horses, from the moment he arrived until the moment he got back on his rusted-out, single-gear bicycle at the end of the day and peddled off, he was always smiling. Always whistling. Always working. Never grumpy. Always the same steady mood.

We ended up working together for three summers, and in those six shorts months, Norris changed my life. While I could never have articulated it then, here’s some of the things I learned from him:

  1. Relationships are mostly about showing up. Being reliable, being able to be counted on, being calm under pressure, being steady in the storms – all go a long way in building unspoken trust.
  2. Norris, through his safe and steady presence, taught me to bond with horses rather than break them. People have a lot in common with horses. A horse doesn’t progress or perform as you want it to because you demand that they do so or because you threaten them. Horses, like people, will enlarge their capacity only when they have the right conditions and are given the proper care. You don’t have a right to the trust of another. You must earn it.
  3. You can have huge influence on others when you’re comfortable with yourself. You make a difference when you don’t have to pretend or impress or try to make yourself big or others small to prove that you are someone that you aren’t.
  4. Listen more than you talk. In all the time we worked together I can’t tell you one thing about Norris except what I saw. As a self-absorbed teenager, I never took the time to listen like he listened to me. I never asked anything about him. I only knew that he had only a grade seven education and was a bachelor who lived in a dirt shack (my father drove me there once) and was very selective about who he worked for. He liked and respected both my parents.
  5. Bring a firm handshake to everyone you meet. One of the only times I saw Norris’s gruffness was the first time I shook his hand. “You shake a hand like a fish,” he told me. “If you are going to go anywhere in life, learn to shake a hand like you mean it.” I found out that shaking a hand firmly is a confidence builder.
  6. Assess your ignorance. Always be a student. Everyone has something to teach you. Be a learner, not a knower. Humility goes a long way to earning trust. Norris was always curious, a consummate scholar of life.
  7. Pound a nail with your arm, not your hand. While building the new round corral one of those summers, Norris shook his head as he watched me pound in a nail. Quietly he took my hand with the hammer in his hand and taught me how to pound a nail with accuracy and the least amount of effort. “You have to drive a nail with your whole arm,” he told me, “Not your wrist. You’ll wear yourself out doing that.”
  8. Attitude makes a big difference. I once asked Norris how he can be so happy all the time. In his defined Scottish drawl, he responded, “Happiness, young man, is not a destination. Happiness is a method of travel.”

Years after I left home, and after my parents sold the farm, I received a note from one of my former neighbors telling me that Norris had died. The old dirt shack he lived in caught fire and burned to the ground. He passed away in the middle of the night, alone.

I’m sure that Norris had no idea of the impact he’d had on my life, and how that impact created ripples in time that will go on to generations yet unborn.  Not just impact in the here and now, but in the here and forever. People who influence us are like that. They come into our lives at important junctures, sometimes intentionally with a request, and sometimes unexpectedly—like a passerby who stops to help us when we’re stranded in our broken-down vehicle. Most never know the difference they make.

Our world seems to be more and more in flux. Things seem more unsettled and unpredictable. I’m not sure that the use of our devices has really helped us get more connected. I think John Maxwell got it right. Everyone communicates, but few connect.

Are you connecting?

Get the relationships right

As I help CEOs and senior executives develop strategy and execute that strategy with a good accountability process, I have come to realize that if we don’t get the relationships right, none of this matters.

John Maxwell said, “People buy into the leader, then the vision.” But many people have this all backwards. They believe that if the cause is good enough, people will automatically buy into it. But that’s not how leadership works. You have to get the relationships right. It’s good to inspire people with a worthy vision, but you have to care about the people you need to realize that vision at least as much as you care about the cause. Otherwise they feel used and will eventually shut down, disengage, resist, or quit.

Three things I know about relationships:

  1. Care. If people know you care they’ll get behind you and cut you a lot of slack. If they know you don’t, it won’t end well. You might get compliance as a boss, but it takes a true leader to get commitment. And you won’t get commitment if people don’t genuinely know you’re in their corner and have their back.
  2. Listen with humility. Notice your ask/tell ratio. It’s good to spend at least twice as much time listening than talking. People will open up and provide input if you know you are aren’t the smartest person in the room and that everyone has something to teach you. And empathic listening becomes easier and builds trust if you sincerely care about the answers you get.
  3. Authenticity breeds connection. When it comes to leadership, ability matters. But inner qualities matter more. To bring these inner qualities out you need to get comfortable with yourself and past the gimmicks, fads, and flavours of the month and be real with each other.

Small Giants: Choosing To Be Better Rather Than Bigger

As my life and business unfolded over the years, I became clearer about my values. My personal business model is based on an approach inspired by Bo Burlingham, who wrote, Small Giants: Companies that Choose To Be Great Instead of Big. To quote Bo, “It has long been a business article of faith that great companies, by definition, constantly focus on maximizing their revenues year after year.

Yet quietly, under the radar, a growing number of undeniably great companies have rejected the premise of endless growth to focus on more satisfying business results.”

In our organization we don’t measure success by how big we are, but by the impact we have on people. We prioritize maintaining authenticity as opposed to record-setting revenue streams. We resist the mainstream definitions of success and march to our own drummer.

And when I forget my values and get caught up in the hype, my spouse, my team, and my friends bring me back. It’s fascinating that those who find me and work with me share the same values in their own businesses and lives.

The journey is deeply satisfying and sustainable when I remember what I stand for.