Can You Float?

Do you remember learning how to swim? I vividly remember sinking as I entered the pool, touching the bottom with my feet. I was shocked when my head went under, and I frantically emerged to gasp for air. I gradually learned to tread water, which was helpful in the deeper area. I was then asked to float. What?! I had already learned that I would sink. No, thank you.

Finally, I began to feel more confident and mustered the courage to trust the process. With the gentle guidance of a friendly adult, I relaxed on my back and was amazed actually to float. I recall the quiet, muffled sound of the water. It required letting go of what I knew (that I would sink and possibly drown). And it required a moment of letting go of fear and inviting effortlessness. It is hard to stay afloat when contracting and exerting a lot of energy. It was magical to float and simply be. I recall the warm sun on my face and the cool water cradling me. Knowing I could float any time made me feel safer and more adventurous in deeper waters.

Reflecting on the sensation of floating and experiencing ease offers solace and a reminder to breathe through challenges. By visiting that feeling of weightlessness, I reconnect with a state of calm and presence, allowing me to navigate life’s currents with a sense of openness and grace.

I invite you to take a moment to rekindle your experience with floating–more than thinking about floating, take a few breaths and experience the sensation of ease and openness. Notice your shift in perspective.

Like floating on water, finding openness amid life’s uncertainties can lead to profound moments of clarity and resilience.

Recalling the sensation of floating with ease has supported me in times of deep waters amid life’s challenges. Take a few conscious breaths and allow yourself to re-experience floating. In the open, effortless stance, we can be more present and in the flow.

Kindly share your experience of experimenting with floating.

From Mundane to Meaningful

Alicia, a participant in a Cultivating JOYBeing course, once remarked, “I don’t think it’s possible for me to have joy! I spend my life working and taking care of others. I don’t know how to access joy.”

She’s not alone. For many of us, joy seems elusive amid the hustle and bustle of daily life. We focus on our endless to-do lists or dwell on what is not going well. Our habitual patterns of striving and working hard limit our ability to notice and experience the available joy.

A block, shared by another participant, is the expectation that joy should be grand, like fireworks lighting up the sky. “I don’t encounter joy in my day-to-day life. Life feels rather mundane with work and chores dominating my weekends.”

But what if joy doesn’t always come in flashy displays? What if it quietly resides in the small, meaningful moments of everyday life?

Some look at me blankly when I ask people what they are doing to invite joy. Yet, inviting joy into our lives requires openness and intentionality. We must actively create space for joy, expecting to encounter it in the simplest moments.

Alicia’s journey illustrates this beautifully. By taking small actions– being open to joy and engaging in interactions and activities that are meaningful to her–she gradually began to experience and radiate more joy.

But why does this matter? When we connect with ourselves and embrace joy, not only do we feel better ourselves, but we also become kinder and more generous towards others. We are more satisfied and can be less demanding. Joy has a ripple effect and spreads, enriching our lives and those around us. Joy is contagious, highlights what is meaningful, and life is better for us and those around us.

How can we cultivate more JOYBeing in our lives–experiencing the joy of being alive?

It starts with simple, intentional practices such as being aware and mindful and noticing what is meaningful. Pay attention to the beauty around you and savor small moments, such as a connection with someone or nature.

Cultivate a mindset of gratitude by reflecting on what you are thankful for in your day-to-day life.

Focus on connection with yourself, others, and what is important to you. Engage in meaningful conversations and relationships.

Allow a sense of playfulness, and don’t take life too seriously. Make space to be in nature, experience beauty and creativity, and consider a hobby that feeds your energy.

Focus on actions of kindness and service. When we reach out to others and are kind, we can experience joy and bring joy to others.

Incorporating simple practices into our daily lives can create a fertile ground for JOYBeing to flourish.

What are some ways that you support more joy in your life?

Breaking the Cycle: Transforming Negative Energy into Positive Impact

J., a manager in a large corporation, begins most interactions with what he sees as what is not working or what people are not doing. He tends to see the negative and what is wrong.

He gruffly shares the problems he sees with a project.

When he joins a meeting, people stop talking in the group but often text each other–complaining about him. Many share with me that he is not easy to be around. People who work with him report feeling a sense of heaviness and tightness when they meet with him. Others tell me they try to avoid him. His negative emotions are contagious.

I’ve coached many leaders like J. They are focused on being productive and often experience great pressure. They want success, yet they fail to realize how significant their presence and the energy they bring are. Such leaders are often shocked when, as an executive coach, I give them feedback after conversing with their peers, staff, and manager. They had not focused on their impact on colleagues and their teams. They were not aware of the kind of environments they were creating.

The good news is that with awareness and intention, I have seen turnarounds with these leaders. When they become more aware that they need to manage their energy and attention and focus on the environment and the relationships they are creating, things really change.

People in the organization can be forgiving. After all, they want a more collaborative and truly productive environment. Once they see that someone like J. is committed and is changing how he interacts, they shift, too. Everyone benefits.

What can you do if people perceive you to be like J.?

A simple step is to consciously set your intention to be open and connecting as you enter a new meeting or room. Focus on relationships in addition to the task or project. Set your intention to be kind to yourself and others. Take a moment to pause and focus on creating more positivity by reflecting on what is working and what you are grateful for. Be interested in others and work to build relationships.

Cultivating a more positive and open presence can increase collaboration, productivity, and wellbeing for everyone involved.

Reflect on your behavior and your impact on others. Are you inadvertently creating a negative or hostile atmosphere? What positive changes can you make today?

What are your thoughts on the importance of awareness and managing your energy and interactions?

Learn about ways to enhance your self-development in 12 Top Ways to Enhance Your Leadership Self-Development. Link:

How Are You Numbing Yourself?

I have been fortunate to be pretty healthy. I noticed I resorted to an old pattern when I was recently ill. I closed myself off and did not expect people to support or care for me. “I can take care of myself.” I noticed that I felt alone as I isolated. I recalled hearing my mother admonish me, “You’re going to get sick when you don’t wear a hat in the winter.” I decided that I would not show illness and not need help. I essentially never missed a day of school or work again.

We all have patterns that probably once served us quite well and were a creative choice in our youth. We learned how to numb ourselves from hurt or potential pain.

I notice that some leaders continue such patterns of numbing in the workplace. It is easy to stay at the transactional level and not show care for team members or colleagues. Some leaders hold back from giving genuine empathy. Others mask their need for belonging with busyness and overwhelm. Stress numbs our ability to be authentic and connect.

I often encourage leaders to adopt an Open Stance. We can learn to notice when we sense judgment in ourselves and others and learn to stop, step back, cool down, and shift to being open. We also benefit from recognizing our old numbing patterns that no longer serve us and cause us to become closed in an effort to protect ourselves.

We all have these patterns, and we can support one another by appreciating our humanity, listening with curiosity, and working to create environments where we can bring our whole selves and experience a sense of belonging.

We need to be open and kind to one another and create communities where we can engage in open-minded conversations, appreciate our uniqueness, and co-create solutions. We will be better positioned to support each other as we each do our inner work. Leaders I coach have noticed that when they are numb or closed and have experimented with sharing their experiences, being more vulnerable, and caring for themselves and others, they experience greater connection and even joy.

Leadership self-development is an ongoing process and a most satisfying journey. With our enhanced awareness, we can influence others and make a difference.

I encourage you to reflect on your numbing patterns and take steps to foster a more open and empathetic stance toward yourself and others and a collaborative and supportive workplace culture.

Where do you sense you are numbing or closing yourself from genuine connection?

Learn about ways to enhance your self-development in 12 Top Ways to Enhance Your Leadership Self-Development.

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What Is Your Advice?

I love teaching courses for managers and coaches. I have been fortunate to work with a wide range of people around the globe. We naturally ask for feedback, and I am grateful that many people say that my courses significantly enhance their perspectives and relationships with colleagues and families.

While people are generous in giving positive feedback, getting input to enhance programs is not so easy. Occasionally, someone will suggest making the course shorter or longer. Have you had the same experience when asking for feedback?

One helpful suggestion by Adam Grant is to ask, “What is one thing I can do to be better next time?” While feedback focuses on the past, advice focuses on the future. In addition, we honor the participants’ expertise when asking for such advice and pave the way for collaborative growth. Also, providing one suggestion is generally not too taxing for the giver or receiver.

I have witnessed the transformative power of feed-forward in action. I find that asking colleagues of executive coach clients for their advice about what a leader can do shifts the focus from critique to constructive guidance and is quite valuable. I also ask how they can support the leader. It is a more positive approach. Marshall Goldsmith calls this feed-forward.

It is essential to recognize the subjective nature of feedback and advice. It is based on the person’s experience, and you must consider how useful it is for you. I have always found it helpful to remember that feedback often reveals more about the giver than the situation–a humbling reminder of the intricate interplay between perception and reality.

I invite you to try an experiment and ask for advice with an open mind and heart. You can ask for advice anytime and from anyone. Whether from colleagues, clients, or unexpected sources, the wisdom gleaned from diverse perspectives has the potential to catalyze profound transformation. Both feedback and feedback-forward advice can help us reach our potential.

Learn more about the OASIS Conversations process to support you in giving and receiving feedback and advice here

Are You Comfortable?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve strived for a sense of ease. I envisioned navigating through life with a lightness of being. Yet, upon reflection, I’ve noticed a recurring pattern: as soon as I master one area, I am drawn to explore newer challenges and territories.

From fostering engaged and inclusive cultures in organizations to designing leadership programs for organizations like the United Nations and Ford Motor Company and from executive coaching to writing books and leading Open Stance peer coaching circles, my journey has been one of continuous growth and evolution. Each new endeavor brings with it a mix of excitement and discomfort.

Of course, these areas are related and build on one another. While I am deeply grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and the work I love, I won’t say that I am always comfortable. In fact, every time I enter unchartered territory, whether with new clients or innovative approaches, I experience a level of discomfort.

However, I’ve realized that discomfort is not a sign of failure but a hallmark of success. In Adam Grant’s insightful book, “Hidden Potential,” he shares that those who achieve their fullest potential are often “creatures of discomfort.” They embrace challenges head-on and stretch themselves beyond their comfort zones.

Grant’s research suggests that discomfort can be a catalyst for growth. When we push ourselves beyond what feels familiar, we become more focused, motivated, and willing to put in the effort required to succeed. Rather than shying away from discomfort, we can learn to see it as a sign of progress and a pathway to realizing our true potential. Helen Keller states, “Character can not be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

So, let us embrace discomfort as a natural part of the journey toward growth and success. Let us approach new challenges with courage and curiosity, knowing that each moment of discomfort is an opportunity to expand our horizons and unlock hidden potentials within ourselves.

I am grateful to be on the journey with you. What’s your experience with discomfort?

Are You Joy Watching?

Amid turbulence and uncertainty, from the lingering effects of the pandemic to global strife and tension, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Yet, amid these challenges, there are still moments of joy waiting to be noticed and embraced. Joy makes life worth living. By actively seeking out and acknowledging these moments, we not only lift our spirits but also create ripple effects of positivity that can support others in navigating their journeys.

Much like birdwatching, where setting our intention helps us spot elusive creatures, intentionally seeking joy allows us to recognize and appreciate its presence in our lives. Despite its fleeting nature, joy serves as a messenger, offering glimpses of what truly matters to us and guiding us toward fulfillment and purpose. When we consciously try to notice, savor, and nurture these moments, we cultivate a more profound sense of integration within ourselves and the world around us.

Personally, I’ve found joy in simple interactions, like sharing a smile with a neighbor or completing a project that brings a sense of accomplishment. Even taking a walk can be a reminder of the gift of health and strength. And through practicing gratitude, we amplify the vibrancy and meaning of these moments, deepening our connection to the joy they bring.

I invite you to join me in this practice of joy-watching. Take a moment today to experiment with noticing the small moments of joy that arise in your life. What do they reveal about what you value and cherish?

I would love to hear about your experiences and how embracing joy enriches your journey.

Are You Transitioning to a New Role?

Are you a seasoned leader stepping into a new role or organization? It’s a thrilling yet daunting experience, filled with both excitement and challenges. Over my years of coaching leaders in similar transitions, I’ve observed a familiar pattern unfold.

Upon joining a new organization, you’re often welcomed with enthusiasm and assured that your skills and expertise are precisely what the company needs. As you settle in, you quickly identify areas where improvements can be made—low-hanging fruit that could enhance efficiency and effectiveness. You’re brimming with ideas and eager to demonstrate your value.

Initially, your colleagues seem receptive to your insights. They acknowledge the potential for positive change. However, it doesn’t take long before you encounter resistance. Your suggestions, once met with curiosity, now face skepticism. People are wary of your proposed solutions, dismissing them as impractical or incompatible with the organization’s culture.

Despite your best efforts to garner support, you find yourself hitting roadblocks. Persistent frustration or complaints may even lead to suggestions of coaching or concerns about your fit within the team. Doubts creep in, and you question whether you made the right decision in joining this group.

So, what’s the way forward?

I advocate for a patient and empathetic approach during the initial months. Instead of rushing to prove yourself, take the time to understand the organization and its dynamics truly. Appreciate that existing processes and systems evolved for valid reasons, even if they seem inefficient to you. Prioritize building relationships and fostering an open-minded attitude. Refrain from sharing too often how things were done at your previous employer.

Consider enlisting the support of a coach early on in your journey. A seasoned executive coach can provide valuable insights and facilitate constructive conversations with colleagues. Additionally, seek out mentors within the company who can offer guidance and perspective based on their own experiences.

If you’re already facing resistance, a coach can help navigate the challenges by interviewing colleagues to identify underlying dynamics and potential areas for resolution. This collaborative approach has proven successful for both my clients and me.

As you embark on this new chapter, I extend my best wishes for a fruitful journey.

Reflecting on your experiences, what advice would you offer to professionals entering new roles or organizations? Share your insights and suggestions—it may guide someone through their transition.

Building Bridges

In today’s world, it’s too easy to get caught up in the polarizing debates surrounding us—from politics to climate change and everything in between. I’ve witnessed firsthand how disagreements among work colleagues or neighbors can escalate into personal disputes, dividing and fracturing a community.

It’s natural to believe that our perspectives are the “right” ones. Still, this mindset further entrenches us in our positions, closing us off to alternative viewpoints and solutions. Ultimately, this only diverts our energy away from what truly matters.

So, what can we do to combat polarization and foster a sense of unity within our communities? One simple yet powerful step is to befriend our neighbors, even if we hold different political views or opinions. Instead of focusing on our differences, let’s seek out common ground—the desire for safety, the well-being of our children, and the vibrancy of our workplace or neighborhood.

Initiating conversation can be as easy as chatting about the weather, discussing local events, or sharing a passion for sports. Through these interactions, we see each other as fellow human beings, each doing our best to navigate the complexities of life.

I’ve experienced the richness of befriending neighbors with diverse perspectives. Connecting with people at my gym and neighborhood has gained new insights, expanded my sense of community, and cultivated a more profound sense of optimism.

So, let’s commit to reaching out and connecting with our neighbors and colleagues, building bridges of understanding and compassion one conversation at a time. Together, we can create a community where everyone feels valued, respected, and included.

What is your experience of connecting with a neighbor or colleague who has different perspectives?

Learn more about how to engage in such conversations here. Infographic and chapter of OASIS Conversations:

You Matter?

A simple thing we can do to make life better for others and ourselves is to let people know they matter. How do we do this when we are busy and have a long to-do list?

We can turn our attention toward someone and really listen–even a few moments make a difference. Too often, we are distracted, perhaps on a device, and we fail to turn toward someone and give them our full attention. We can do this in person, on the phone, and even by text. Allow yourself to recall that your child, partner, colleague, vendor, shopkeeper, or neighbor matters to you. And they do. We sense the difference when someone listens.

Research shows that even giving a few moments of attention to a person we meet in our daily interactions supports them in feeling they matter, and you benefit, too.

Another way to demonstrate that someone matters is by showing appreciation. In addition to thanking a person for what they do, appreciate who they are and their unique qualities. Actually, name a quality you value in them. For example, “Thank you for getting the report to me; I appreciate your thoroughness and dependability.” When we take a moment to value a quality, we support and reinforce the person’s identity as a thorough and dependable person. We all benefit when people notice our strengths. In addition, people know what is important to you and that you notice.

Research shows that these small acts of recognition and connection are essential for a fulfilling life. Small actions matter, and we don’t have to be perfect. Make it a practice of showing that people matter to you. These small gestures can brighten someone’s day and enrich our lives, whether a simple text message, a heartfelt voice message, or a genuine compliment.

Finally, don’t hesitate to tell people that they matter to you. Many of us have been conditioned to assume people should know you care. Yet, too many people don’t know they matter these days.

I want you to know that you matter to me, my colleagues, and my friends. Thank you for being a part of my life and our connection.