Take A Break

Rest is a technology. – Tiffany Shlain

We know rest results in a refreshed brain and body, improves our sense of well-being and makes us more productive and efficient.

We know, but we don’t know. We’ve processed this information intellectually, but often with no resulting change in behavior. We don’t take that revitalizing break.

I’m not talking about a daily break or two at the water cooler or in the employee lounge, although that promotes a positive workday. I’m referring to vacation time, taking several days to several weeks away from work. Maybe even going somewhere.

This is not a uniquely American problem, but we in the U.S. are truly terrible at it. We don’t take time off or, if we do, we keep working while we’re away. One of my team recounted a “vacation” taken by her child’s father-in-law. For his 60th birthday, he reserved cabins at a lakeside resort for his entire family for a week—months in advance. When the celebration week arrived, he spent his days working in his cabin while his family recreated and availed themselves of the resort’s amenities.

 A few years ago, Shawn Achor worked with the U.S. Travel Association on a special initiative and reported their findings. They discovered a correlation between taking vacation time and an increased likelihood of promotion, along with significant productivity improvements and managers perceiving that we are more productive because we are happier. Despite these positives, Americans are taking less vacation time than in most of the last half-century. Achor reminds us that if paid vacation time is part of our compensation package, we are essentially taking a pay cut when we don’t use it

Perhaps we fear that if we unplug, we will appear to be dispensable. Or maybe our neural pathways to work are so strong that we don't know how to do anything but work, even when we are ‘on vacation.'

Maybe we use checklists and work to manage anxiety rather than managing our anxiety. It might also be that we just love our work.

This is me talking out loud to myself as I go on vacation next week. I will likely check my email a few times, but I have no deliverables this coming week. In fact, none until July 6th — 7th. If I start promising things to you during those days, please call me out.

Achor also reports that getting away is good, even far away. But if actual travel seems too challenging or expensive right now, staying close to home can provide an essential break, too. After two-plus years of Covid, the joys of the staycation may have run their course for many of you. Is there a destination within a hundred miles or so from home where you could genuinely take a break? From work and the daily routine too? 

Use that time to rest. Do some things you don't usually do. Zoom out and play with your identity a little bit. Discover who you are when you aren't working. If you are struggling to unplug, consider this practice at being on a new S Curve. While you are on vacation, be on vacation.

No matter how much you love the S Curve you are on, your brain and body need to rest. So, go ahead and take that break!

Danny Ainge is our podcast guest this week; a former NBA superstar, coach, and longtime executive with the Boston Celtics, he recently moved to a CEO position with the Utah Jazz. 

He shares his insights into professional basketball disruptions and their all-consuming nature. As a husband, father, and now grandfather, a step back to refocus on family has at times been essential. There are great lessons here that I find would apply to life and work.

As always, thanks for being here!

My best,
Whitney

P.S. Next week – because I’m taking a break, no newsletter! There will be, though, a podcast episode from Emma Seppälä, fittingly on happiness!

Your Future Self Will Thank You

On Friday evening, my husband invited some students from Southern Virginia University over for dinner. 

Well, actually, he invited one student, who then invited four friends. 

Before they came over, I was a little anxious – not about the meal; my husband and daughter make delicious meals. They had smoked ribs, made potato and green salads, and had fresh raspberries from our garden. 

My anxiety was about how the event would go: did I have the energy to be sociable, would everyone be socially comfortable? Do the students really even want to spend time with us?

As it turned out, it went splendidly. It was a warm but mild day, slightly overcast; we sat on our deck and shared stories: how each of them came to SVU, stories of their childhood, stories that shape who they are.

When they left, I felt energized rather than drained. I couldn't think of a better way that I could have used those two hours.

A few years ago, I had Laura Vanderkam, a time management expert and author of Off the Clock, on the podcast (and I am very much looking forward to having Richie Norton, author of Anti-Time Management as my guest in a couple of months).

But here's what I am trying to remember when it comes to things like inviting people over for dinner:

According to Vanderkam, we have three selves.

The anticipating self that wonders and worries about the future.
The experiencing self focused on the here and now.
The remembering self that thinks back to the past.

She says, “Creating more memories—and creating more time and having a more fulfilling life is privileging the anticipating and remembering selves above the experiencing self.”

Frankly, the experiencing self is frequently anxious and inclined to think everything is too difficult, awkward, expensive, whatever….

The anticipating self may think it will be lovely to have people over for dinner and get better acquainted, to feel a sense of belonging in our community. The remembering self will do what I am doing right now, talking about how lovely the occasion, now a memory, was. But the experiencing self is often a spoiled child, prone to tantrums.

I am tired.
We'll need to clean the house.
It's too awkward to talk to people I don't know.
I'd rather watch a K Drama.

She concludes, “It's the effortful fun that makes today different and makes today land in memory.”

Not making an effort is, of course, easier than making an effort. But it also leaves our days flat and unmemorable, lacking distinction one from the other, days on end.

If time feels like it is passing too quickly, it may be because you need more new S Curves of Learning to make new memories.

I suggest that if something sounds wonderful to do in two weeks, two months, or two years, even if it will require effort and/or discomfort, it will also be something that you will look back on with pleasure, happy that you did it.

Think about the things you almost didn't do (like, we almost didn't go sailing as a family a year and a half ago, or even having guests for dinner this past Friday) and remind yourself that you complained about the effort demanded by those memorable events too, likely a lot.

And then tell your tantrum-throwing experiencing self that whatever new challenge is on the horizon, you will do it anyway. Letting the experiencing self run the show basically means no show. Silence it.

Your future self will thank you.

This week's podcast episodes are Lindsey Shipley, a collegiate athlete and cancer survivor turned entrepreneur, and Reggie Fils-Aimé, former CEO of Nintendo America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You'll love both for very different reasons. Please share with a colleague or friend!

As always, thank you for being here, and may your future self thank you too!

My best,
Whitney

Close the Loop

“I'm thinking about quitting my job.”

That's what one of our coaching clients said recently.

“Why,” I asked.

“I like the work,” she said, “But it's just not feeling good to me here.”

Here's the context:

For several years, this client worked in a highly toxic environment. She was repeatedly told she was doing a lousy job. Not bad enough to let her go, but…. 

You know, that kind of job. 

But she stayed, as people often do –– financial exigencies –– because sometimes, confidence erodes in an emotionally abusive situation, and it’s hard to look for another job.

Finally, she found the wherewithal to look. Her new job is at a name-brand company, with a manager and colleagues she likes, and the ability to work remotely.

Which can be a really good thing, but in this particular situation, it’s not.

There's a lot of talk about how we manage people's performance. But I'd like to flip this: how do we manage people so that they can perform? Be their best and bring their best? This is where the S Curve can be of service. It provides a tool for conversations about people’s growth—yours and theirs. Where are you, where are you headed, and what will help get you there? It’s a simple visual model that facilitates sometimes awkward or difficult conversations. 

In my client’s case, she needs information to grow. She’s not getting it. There’s an inadequate connection to her boss and colleagues and little feedback on her performance, positive or negative.

Our brains like certainty. We crave certainty. At the launch point of the S Curve, we don't have certainty. We need feedback–what isn't working along with what is. It gives us guardrails and guidance on an unfamiliar path.

For any curve, we need this; coming out of a challenging situation, like my client is, we need it even more.

In a remote environment, feedback is harder to come by. The usual physical cues are obscured. You aren't with people. You can't see their faces, their body language. Information has to be made explicit, with actual words.

I didn’t immediately empathize with my client’s dissatisfaction. I was thinking, “I really like Zoomworld.”

But on the same day as this chat with my client, I did one keynote live, and then another keynote virtually.

Doing something virtual right after the live event, I could feel the absence, the lack of information, feedback –– the lack of energy.

For this client, and for many of us, missing feedback fuels insecurity. If insecurity persists, we start to contemplate a job change.

Our new ways of working are a marvel and offer so much more flexibility, but we must consciously complete the feedback loop. It doesn’t happen automatically, nor even readily, when we are working remotely. Check out our earlier podcast, Episode 112, with Marcus Buckingham.

If you check in with your direct reports–close the loop once a week–you increase engagement by 20 percentage points.

Just check in, whether they’re at the top or bottom of their S Curve or seem to be sweetly secure somewhere in between.

I know I could do better.

How about you?

This week we have two podcast episodes. The first features Anne Chow, and her lessons learned as the current CEO of AT&T Business, and her decision to jump to a new S Curve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second has Frans Johansson, author of the groundbreaking The Medici Effect, which talks about how magic happens when you put different people, ideas, and perspectives together. You are going to love both interviews.

My best,
Whitney

P.S. Because Amazon likes reviews, everyone who leaves a review of Smart Growth between now and June 15th will be eligible for a raffle for a ½ hour coaching session with me. If you've already left a review, invite someone else to leave a review and let me know. You will be eligible for the raffle too. Thanks to Carol Kauffman for this suggestion.

Family is Family

The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.––Bruce Feiler, author, The Secrets of Happy Families

Last week, my daughter, Miranda, and I took a quick trip to Gilbert, Arizona, to visit my mother.

There were many great things about this trip, beginning with the desert and the heat. Some people don't like 100 F degrees +, but I do. Perhaps it's imprinting; I have happy childhood memories of visiting family in southeastern Arizona, an area that my ancestors pioneered.

We made memories spending time with my brother's family and his delightful 13-year-old daughter. When I said to her, “I hear that you sing well,” her response was, “I do.” I don't know many thirteen-year-olds who will unabashedly own their talents; I know many adults who struggle to do so. It was refreshing. Then there was a visit to the stunning Gilbert, Arizona temple and the requisite See's Candy run.

But my favorite part of the visit was looking at photos with my mom, especially photos of my two younger brothers. They are both quite a bit younger than I am, so we weren’t as close growing up as siblings often are. And sadly, one of these brothers took his life about a decade ago, a casualty of deep, persistent depression. What I loved about these photos was seeing the delight of my brothers as children. Glimpses of who they were, who they are, and who I think they can be again. The photos filled me with hopefulness. I loved seeing my mother's modeling portfolio when she lived in San Francisco as a young woman, straight out of college. She was absolutely gorgeous. I loved seeing photos of my Uncle Alvin, who I never knew because, while serving in the U.S. Navy during WWII, he suddenly died of leukemia at age 19. And, finally, a picture of my grandfather’s business, Nuttall's Garage, in Safford, AZ. I always loved knowing that my grandfather repaired large trucks and ran a towing company.

Photos are visual reminders of where we’ve come from and who we want to be –– a sort of action board—which is why I love my 1SE (One Second Everyday) app.

But photos also help us tell stories that ground us. Whether they are good stories or not. You may have noticed in Smart Growth that I shared a few family stories. These and many others are a part of me: the good and the not so good alike.

Relationships are an S Curve. We have to work at it to stay in the sweet spot of relationships, and often quite a few relationships at a time. Some are less important than others. But all require that we spend time with each other, even if only virtually. We tell each other our stories.

Who are the people, and what are the places imprinted in your memory?

How do you capture them and pass them on to those who will follow you?

This week's podcast is with journalist Sarah Jaffe, author of Work Won't Love You Back. It was a great conversation. 

One thing she raised is that we value some types of work more than others, which means people can be great at something and not be able to do it because it doesn't put food on the table. She proceeds to point out that work is not family. Family is family, and it matters more.

And I was reminded of it again this past week.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts!

My best,
Whitney

P.S. If you find our podcast or this newsletter useful to you, it would be wonderful if you would share it with a colleague, friend, or family!

Language Unlimited

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” Nelson Mandela

“It must be hard to speak a language that only six million speak.”

I almost said that to a few folks I met while in Denmark this past week.

But I managed to forbear.

I stood in front of a number of audiences where every single person in the room spoke Danish, but they were kind enough to allow me to speak in English without an interpreter.

Is language a limitation for the Danes or for me?

You've heard me say, “Constraints are a tool of creation.”

Certainly, that is true when you live in a small country. You could maybe get by only speaking your native tongue, but if you want to really get anything major done in the world, you'll probably need to learn another language.

That's what has happened in Denmark.

Nearly everyone I met speaks not just one or even two but multiple languages.

And that ability has opened up their world.

It creates their world. 

I will deviate for a moment to mention that the approximately six million native Danish speakers are not linguistically constrained compared to many. Even if a speaker is not multilingual, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian are close enough to be considered mutually intelligible. And there are over 1000 languages with fewer than 1000 speakers, others with fewer than 100, or fewer than 10, and 18 languages with only one native speaker remaining (like mammals, bugs, birds, fish, reptiles, plants, etc., languages are becoming extinct all the time). That’s a communication constraint for sure. 

I had the good fortune to be born in Spain; because of that I always thought I was Spanish (I am not), but that inclination led me to study Spanish in school. And when I was 21, I had the good fortune of living in Uruguay as a missionary for 18 months.

During that time, there was a particular eight-month stretch where no one around me spoke English. If I was going to communicate, I had to speak Spanish.

It was tough at first.

But then it was thrilling; not only were there suddenly a few hundred million more people I could communicate with, but different parts of myself were ushered forth by speaking and thinking in a new language and traversing a different world.

The language constraint became a tool of creation; embracing constraints is one of the accelerants of personal disruption.

The Danes have disrupted themselves by expanding their repertoire of languages and so do many others who live in smaller countries or speak languages without a wide audience.

Last week, I talked about community. Sharing a common language forges community. As part of our desire and responsibility to be positive contributors to our communities, perhaps we can open our circle to those with whom we don’t share a common language. We don’t have to become fluent, although that’s a good bucket list item and a terrific option for preserving cognitive health as we age. 

Simply learning a few words, a handful of key phrases, and a message of welcome is one of the best ways we can help others embrace the constraint of not speaking the local language, like me when I was in Uruguay. Maybe we can get by, sticking to our native language, but we are limited. Perhaps we can embrace that constraint to understand our neighbors better and expand our community. Make ourselves language unlimited.

Our podcast guest this week is Russ Wheeler, CEO of BBQ Guys; they are a portfolio company of Brand Velocity Group with whom we have the privilege of partnering. I also have the honor of coaching Russ. (It can be a challenge interviewing someone I know well. You’ll have to let me know what you think!)

It turns out Russ grew up in the small town of Mayfield, Kentucky. A small town is its own kind of constraint. 

What about you?

How have you experienced constraints around language?

Or around a small town or other limited milieu?

My best,
Whitney

A City Within a City

“A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.” – Henrik Ibsen

Our family spent a couple of days in Stockholm this past weekend.

My husband's ancestors are from Sweden, and from age nineteen to twenty-one, he spent two years as a missionary there. He hadn't been back in the intervening years, and since we were going to be in Denmark, we decided to hop to Sweden while we were in the neighborhood.

Our 21-year-old daughter, Miranda, assumed responsibility for securing our hotel.

When you delegate, you get some surprises.

Here were her criteria:

The accommodation must have a four-star rating or better.
It needed to be close to public transportation.
It had to have a reputation for a delicious breakfast.

And despite these pretty high standards, we wanted something inexpensive.

That put us in a town known as Kista (pronounced She-sta), referred to as Science City –– a technology park outside of Stockholm proper. It’s home to companies like Ericsson.

We were there on Friday afternoon / Saturday morning, so it was relatively quiet. Until we were on our way back from Gamla Stan, old town Stockholm, which is stunning, and all that you would hope for in a European City (including the Swedes soaking up the sun in t-shirts when the temperature is only 50 degrees. I, less hardy than these Scandinavians, was wearing a sweatshirt and a coat).

All of that wonderful atmosphere was what we had anticipated and even expected. What we hadn’t expected was that when we emerged from the subway on our return to Kista, we would discover, in what appeared to be a sleepy Science City on a Saturday afternoon, a bustling town square with people mingling from all over the world, especially people from Turkey, Pakistan, Africa, India, Egypt. 

It may be because winter is so long in Sweden, and people have not gotten out much until recently. But in the Kista Galleria, where they sell clothing, have grocery stores, barbers and beauticians, the metro, and a food court, the Turkish restaurant was fifty people deep on Saturday evening. It was like a city within a city, both international and intimate. People were there chatting and conversing with one another.

We felt a sense of community, optimism, and collegiality in the town square.

It made me think of my own community; I love where I live, but it’s not the town per se that creates the community. It’s people who interact openly with each other, and with trust, despite their differences. It is something that we may feel we’ve lost during the past years of isolation and divisiveness.

So, it’s worth taking stock: Where does your community gather?

Sometimes it’s a store.
Sometimes it's a church.
Sometimes it's work.
Sometimes it's a farmer's market.

Sometimes, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s a library or bookstore.

Where is that place for you? And coming out of the pandemic, will we focus more on finding those places, creating, and contributing to them? Are we prepared, in some way, to take the helm of our city within a city, and help rebuild our community?

I hope so.

Our guest on this week's podcast is Susan Cain, NY Times bestselling author of Quiet, and now Bittersweet

She was part of the inspiration behind Miranda and me attending the Jacob Collier concert (see my newsletter from two weeks ago); we definitely felt a sense of community at the concert. I invited Susan on LinkedIn Live – she is so interesting, wise, and charming, and I wanted you to hear from her.

Enjoy!

My best,
Whitney

Every Day an Occasion

Our son graduated from college this week.

We were grateful to be there with him in person to celebrate his accomplishment.

He’s worked hard. He went to the university for five years rather than four, because he decided he didn’t want to do business but instead wanted to be a doctor.

I was impressed that he continued to put in the work even during his final semester, which was the hardest.

But I digress from what I wanted to share with you.

We have enjoyed several meals together in celebrating this milestone, beginning with brunch at Herm’s in Logan, Utah, but more recently, in Rome, Italy, at the Boma Country house, where we had dinner.

We noticed that families weren’t there just to eat. They were there for the evening: grandparents, parents, and even young children (four, five, six) at the restaurant for hours, enjoying one another’s company.

Our friends, the Sowells, who have spent a lot of time in Italy, talk about a sense of occasion, creating a moment. A few years ago, I interviewed Priya Parker on the podcast about her book, The Art of Gathering.

We observed this while in Rome, and we felt it.

As we ate dinner together (some of the most delicious pasta and risotto I’ve ever had), we had an in-depth conversation. We slowed down, discussed and observed our lives, and compared our college experiences. We had a dinner conversation. It wasn’t in-and-out.

Since the pandemic began, our family has exchanged thoughts on the sweet, sour, spiritual, and surprises in our week every Sunday. It’s a way to keep our connection even though we are geographically far apart. And daily, we work through a verse-of-the-day (Come Follow Me app, if interested) for spiritual sustenance.

There is something to celebrate about simply being together. We all have milestones in our lives; it might be a college graduation or one of many other events to commemorate. What I observed and appreciated in Rome is that for many of the families we saw, the meal together was the milestone, the occasion.

Who will you have a meal with this week? How might you elevate this moment and make it an occasion? 

This week's podcast guest is Roger Martin. He has been ranked the #1 business thinker in the world and has a new book titled A New Way to Think. (Fun fact: His wife's story is featured in Smart Growth––I'll let you guess who she is.) He is so clear in his thinking and writing that I always walk away having learned something and feeling smarter at the same time. 

His view is that culture change is reinforced and changes, one interaction at a time. Applying that to this conversation, we can change our work culture and family culture, one meal at a time––every day an occasion.

My best,
Whitney

P.S. It has been four months since Smart Growth was released. If you feel the book was useful to you, will you write a review or leave a rating? It will not only help other people who want to get smart about growth find the book, it would be generous of you and deeply appreciated by me!

No Time Like the Present

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift…that’s why we call it the present.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Last Saturday, my daughter, Miranda, and I drove down to Charlotte, North Carolina, to attend a Jacob Collier concert.

If you’re not familiar with Jacob, he’s an English musician who became a YouTube sensation with his covers of popular songs about a decade ago, when he was still a teenager. His debut album, In My Room, was released in 2016 when he was in his early 20’s. It was entirely arranged, recorded, and produced in a small room in his London home. He won a couple of Grammy Awards for his efforts.

Fast forward to the present. I'd thought about seeing him six months ago but hadn't acted.

But then I had two conversations.

The first was with a friend, Richie Norton, author of the upcoming Anti-Time Management: Reclaim Your Time and Revolutionize Your Results with the Power of Time Tipping. When I said something to the effect of, ‘Someday I will…[go see Jacob Collier],” Richie called me out. With a smile. He’ll be a guest on the podcast in a few months. You'll understand why he called me out when you listen to our conversation, though the title of his new book hints at this.

The second conversation was with Susan Cain, author a decade ago of the movement generating Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. My conversation with her will also be on the podcast soon, and we will talk about her new book, Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole. One of her themes is creating opportunities for bittersweet moments, like attending a concert.

That's why we surround ourselves with people who inspire us. They can help move us to actions that we find too easy to postpone to a future, but unreliable, day.

I wanted to go to the concert, and I could allocate money to go. My daughter was a willing pal.  

So, we went.

The trip would have been a success if nothing had happened but the concert.

But more than that happened.

We had a total of seven hours of drive time (three and a half hours each way).
We listened to Emma McAdam, a brilliant therapist, talk about how to be happier.
We listened to Richie's Anti-Time Management.
We talked about K dramas and did the always fun listicle: “Which characters are the most charismatic?” followed by, “Can you guess which drama this song is from?”
We ate dinner at the King's Table: pork chops, apple butter, and biscuits.

We jammed ourselves into the Fillmore Theater along with 2,000 other people. (Note to self: In the future, buy tickets where you can actually see the person onstage.)

We learned what demographic are fans of Jacob’s music. There was a wide array of people from Gen Zen to Boomers, but mostly Gen Zen and Millennials, lots and lots of musicians and geeks generally. Men and women.

We heard two especially fun songs, Time Alone with You and All I Need, live. Oh, and here's the link where I first heard him singing Stevie Wonder's Don't You Worry ‘Bout a Thing (He was 16 or 17).

I got to watch an incredibly gracious person introduce everyone in the band. He talked about them, where they were from, including the technical staff.

He turned the audience into a choir, a hallmark of his charismatic performance style—lots of people, together, happy, enjoying music.

My daughter and I would have missed all those experiences if I hadn't bought the tickets.

What have you been wanting to do? Thinking about? Procrastinating?

There’s no time like the present. Consider this your push.

Disrupt yourself, just a little.

This week’s podcast episode is with Marshall Goldsmith, one of the world’s pre-eminent leadership coaches and executive educators, inducted into the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame.

He’s just written a book titled The Earned Life, where he tackles questions like the meaning of achievement. Having been a truly generous mentor to me since inviting me to be a part of 100 Coaches five years ago, he has certainly earned my respect and deep appreciation, and his name––he marshals the gold in people.

Enjoy!

As always, thanks for being here!

My best,
Whitney

P.S. Thinkers50 is launching a Books for Busy Managers Series. The first list will be Classic Books, books that have had a lasting influence on how we think about management. Our team has nominated The Innovator’s Dilemma, Good to Great, In Search of Excellence, Creative Experience, and The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. What books would you nominate

Precipitating the Thaw

A few months ago, someone reached out to me to blurb their upcoming book.

I was hoping to endorse the book. But ultimately, I declined because, though well-argued and persuasive, underrepresented groups were, well, underrepresented, from the book’s stories to its quotes to the citations of sources. I have felt obliged to decline to endorse books based on this lack on other occasions, too.

I understand why this happens; we are in the habit of attributing less credibility to underrepresented groups than we do to the traditionally well-represented ones. When we are trying to bolster our argument, we want to be credible. We go to the “authorities”, who are historically overwhelmingly white and male.

“Snow melts first from the edges.”

This is something I've read from Rita McGrath, one of the world's foremost thinkers on innovation, in her book Seeing Around Corners. She was building on something that famed Intel founder Andy Grove said, “When spring comes, snow melts first at the periphery because that is where it is most exposed.”

McGrath talks about this in the context of when change comes; the people in your organization who are most likely to recognize it first are the people on the edges of your organization, those who are on the front line, talking to customers.

But I think there's another way to think about this. Not limiting it to when change comes but expanding the metaphor to encompass how we can effect change proactively.

When we think about this relative to inclusion, respecting people equally, regardless of visible differences or invisible variations in background, we are thinking about melting the iceberg of exclusion. It can start with something as simple (but not easy) as thinking about the snow—is there something we can do at the edges?

It's a challenge we talked about in a recent podcast episode with Kim Scott and Trier Bryant, as well as the challenge of doing our best not to shame anyone. 

In the case of the book endorsement, my “at the edges” effort was to say, “I'm hoping the book can be made more inclusive, and then I would love to participate.”

What if you and I, whenever we call a meeting, write a memo, pull together a social gathering, or deliver a presentation, look for opportunities to ensure that those who are too often overlooked for representation are not overlooked by us.

I'm not talking about making sweeping changes today, just small ones. 

Jeff and Jami Downs, along with others, have produced a growing body of literature on starting small. Setting goals that are reasonably achievable and not paralyzing ourselves by biting off more than we can chew all at once. Or, as Carol Kauffman, Harvard faculty and one of the world’s preeminent coaches, often asks, “What would 5% better look like?” Because not being able to fix everything doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to fix something or start the fix, even if it’s just precipitating a thaw at the periphery of the problem.

What's one small thing you can do now to quit freezing out those who are currently excluded from your interactions with others?

This week's podcast guest is Patrick McGinnis, who coined the acronyms FOMO and FOBO. 

You probably know that FOMO is the “Fear of Missing Out,” a term that’s used everywhere. But less well known is FOBO, the “Fear of Better Options.” It’s a kind of decision paralysis that we all face personally and professionally, and it can be hugely detrimental when we are contemplating a new S Curve. We evaluate options endlessly, but we never actually move. Patrick and I had a lot to talk about, including how we can use FOMO to our advantage. Don’t miss it!

As always, thank you for being here!

My best,
Whitney

P.S. Last year, I interviewed Kelly and Robert Pascuzzi regarding their film The Ravine, which has now won multiple film festival awards, including the 2021 Best Picture Los Angeles Film Awards. I've already pre-ordered this amazing film! I encourage you to do the same today through Apple TV or Amazon Prime. It stars Eric Dane, Teri Polo, and Peter Facinelli. Inspired by a true-life story of tragedy, the film provides a wonderful message of hope! 

Finishing Strong

This month I am wrapping up a two-year volunteer commitment.

My goal is to finish strong, but it's not easy.

Welcome to the top of an S Curve. It's true that this is a situation to be desired. You celebrate being here and what you've accomplished; you want to anchor your new behavior(s). It's also true that once you reach the top of the curve, you will need a new challenge.

But there's another piece to this puzzle of personal growth: once you know you are ready to move on, how do you stay where you are?

It's been said that we live a large percentage of our lives in the future or the past and a relatively small percentage “in the moment.” Time management expert Laura Vanderkam writes, “We can anticipate for a year and remember for decades. The challenge is that the present…has a disproportionate effect on our actions given its fleeting nature…. Bliss is possible in the past and in the future but seldom in the present.”

Our brains naturally look ahead, anticipate, and prepare for what is next. Or we prefer to dwell on past accomplishments rather than confront the challenge of acting constructively in the present moment. But we can only act NOW, have an impact, or influence now. This is a time to stay in the present. We can wipe out years of good work in a moment if we don't. It’s not a time to get lazy or brush off responsibilities with a sense of “that’s not mine to do; I'll just run out the clock.” 

The endings of things stick in the memory. The way things finish is usually more memorable to us than most beginnings and far more memorable than almost anything that happens in the muddled middle when events can be moving very fast. Researcher Pierre Chandon says our first bite of food is the most enjoyable, but our last bite is the one that determines how we feel about the overall experience of eating it, our final impression.

It takes true commitment to the work you are doing and who you are doing it with to finish strong.

The ability to stay where you are is an S Curve of its own. It’s an opportunity to be resourceful and creative and to make something meaningful out of time that doesn’t feel valuable or even particularly valued by others.

As legendary Jedi, Master Yoda, says of a young, immature Luke Skywalker, as he attempts to stack rocks using only the Force: “All his life has he looked away. To the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was, what he was doing.”

Yes, leap. But first, go for the strong finish.  

Our podcast guests this week are John and Ana Gabriel Mann, authors of The Go-Giver Marriage.

In a marriage, the goal is to figure out what works and stay in the sweet spot in perpetuity. The ideal is not to exhaust the potential of the relationship and start looking to leap to a new relationship. The sweet spot in marriage is a moving target; individuals change and so do the seasons of our lives. There are new mini curves to climb. As Ana Mann says, a marriage should be a “safe space” to make mistakes, learn, and bring new ideas, discoveries, and ambitions to the relationship. Even when your relationship is already good, these are the things that deepen it further.

I believe there is something for everyone to learn about their relationships and personal growth from this episode, whether currently married or not. So, we are giving away 10 copies of the Mann’s book, The Go-Giver Marriage. At the end of the podcast, we tell you how to qualify!

As always, thank you for being here.

My best,
Whitney


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