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Less-Is-More Blog by Pierre Khawand

Play in the Workplace? Three Radical Reasons For More Play at Work

Posted by Melissa Sweat on Mon, May 25, 2015 @ 01:25 PM

If having lots of levity and play in the workplace points to signs of happiness and longevity and work, look no further than the tenures of the longest running late-night show hosts as a guide.

  • Jon Stewart: 17 total years
  • Jay Leno: 21 total years
  • Conan O’Brien: 21 total years
  • Johnny Carson: 30 total years
  • Dave Letterman: 33 total years!

Source: Vocativ.com


Now, we all know that hosting a late-night comedy and entertainment show is not exactly the nine-to-five—but isn’t that the point? Don’t most of us office and knowledge workers come home feeling burnt out and wanting more from our day? And for managers, aren't your teams and employees lacking a certain cohesion and spark?

The data tells us the average worker is just plain burnt out.

And senior management is not immune. A May 2014 New York Times article, “Why You Hate Work," cited a recent survey of 72 senior leaders by Srinivasan S. Pillay, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and professor studying burnout. The survey reports that nearly all of the senior leaders polled are experiencing some form of burnout at work.

It’s a growing problem in the modern workplace spurring studies and headlines everywhere from major international publications to niche industry blogs—like this one from the HR-focused TLNT: “Will 2015 Be the Year of Worrying About Employee Burnout?"

Clearly, we should be worried. The overall wellness and productivity of our employees and organizations are at stake. So, what to do about it?

"Unleashing the Power of Play" with
Emmy award winner Gwen Gordon
June 4, 2015, 12-12:40pm PT
Sign up for the FREE webinar! Fortunately, there are many forward-thinking experts leading the movement for more play and joy in the workplace, helping to illuminate the many benefits of a work-play balance.

Here are three reasons why we need more play at work—now, more than ever:

Reason #1:  Happiness inspires productivity.

Shawn Achor, CEO of GoodThink Inc. and bestselling author of Before Happiness and The Happiness Advantage, doesn’t want you to be average. In his research in the field of positive psychology, Achor focuses on the outliers: those who exhibit exemplary levels of happiness, productivity, and success, and what we can learn from them.

We need to raise this average up in our workplaces and escape “the cult of the average,” Achors states in his 2011 TEDxBloomington talk, “The Happy Secret to Better Work." We can do this by reversing the formula for happiness and success from, If I work hard and gain success, I’ll be happy to the much-more sustaining, If I’m happy, I’ll be more productive and successful.

Reason #2:  Play is essential to our well-being.

Gwen Gordon knows a lot about play. The Emmy-winning writer and creative director began her career in a world of play on none other than Sesame Street, building muppets for the landmark show. She then went on to bring her insights to the business world at an Apple research group at MIT Media Lab, and later at Xerox PARC, IDEO, and PepsiCo.

In a 2013 Huffington Post article, Gordon writes about the need for “restoring the playground,” our well-being, and bringing us adults back to our naturally playful natures.

“The playground is our true habitat,” she writes. “Within it we become truly human, without it we perish... Perhaps the most important project of our time is to restore our own habitat, to wake up to our deep need for the unbridled joy, freedom, and fullness of play... and take it seriously.”

Gordon is currently producing a PBS special about the need for play in our modern lives and workplaces called Now Playing. Watch the trailer below.

Join Gwen Gordon as she presents at our
free webinar, "Unleasing the Power of Play"
June 4, 2015, 12-12:40pm PT

Click now to register!

Reason #3:  Play makes us more creative.

In his talk at the 2008 Serious Play Conference, CEO of powerhouse design firm IDEO, Tim Brown, shared some revealing truths about adults and play. We’re embarrassed about sharing our ideas to our peers as adults, he says—we’re reluctant, in a sense, to go out on a creative or playful limb.

But exploring in this way actually leads to greater quantities of idea generation and much better ideas. Openness leads to play, and play leads to creativity and innovation.

“Playful exploration, playful building, and role play. Those are some of the ways that designers use play in their work,” says Brown.

But play is not anarchy, he cautions. Play has rules that help lead to productive and constructive play. In the adult work, he asserts, we need to learn that we can do and be both. We can transition from play to work, divergence to convergence, and achieve markedly successful outcomes.

Play in the workplace clearly has some huge potential to achieve practical, real-world results—and dramatically transform the success of our organizations at large. Are you game?

What are your thoughts about bringing more play into the workplace? Do you think play will help improve your work performance, teams, or employee engagement? Share your comments below.

Learn more about the free webinar, "Unleasing the Power of Play," taking place June 4, 2015, 12pm PT.

Topics: wellness, human resources, business results, productivity, collaboration, managing stress

4 Tips to Recharge: The L.E.S.S. Is More Approach

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Fri, Oct 18, 2013 @ 10:40 AM

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by Jennifer Weland, Owner of Evolve Fitness & Coaching, and People-OnTheGo Faculty Member

A day full of meetings and demands from boss and coworkers. The 7 p.m. dinner reservation. Picking the kids up from soccer practice at 5. Shopping for groceries. Keeping the house habitable. And everything else on the never-ending “to do” list. Trying to keep up with all of life’s demands can take a toll on your energy—physically and mentally.

Four simple practices—what I call the L.E.S.S. is more approach—can help you recharge and give your mind and body what it needs. So you’ll be able to accomplish more with energy to spare.

Log Off

Nature and road by Sed Brayton Creative CommonsTechnology is great for keeping us connected and managing our to-do lists. But the problem with always being connected is that you’re always connected. Which means that it’s much harder for you to separate your week from your weekend, or your workday from your evening. We need down time. When you don’t get enough, it can completely drain your energy, unravel your relationships, stymie your stress recovery and ultimately ruin your productivity, research suggests.

Not only can your devices drain your energy, they can also drain away time you could be spending doing other awesome stuff (like sleeping in, connecting with friends, or spending time with family). Can you go a day without getting on the computer, without picking up the iPad, and without constantly checking your phone? And did you ever notice how we’re sort of like Pavlov’s dog when we hear the ping of our device? We HAVE to check–we can’t help it! If you can’t leave your phone at home or in the car, one of my favorite tricks is to put it on silent so I’m not tempted to check it every time I hear the ping. Here’s a great article on why unplugging is good for our mental health.

I recommend turning off the TV, too. Television itself can be tiring, and the older you get, the fewer and fewer stress-reducing benefits you get from a session with the boob tube, a University of California, San Diego study says. Instead of numbing your mind as a way to rejuvenate, stimulate it.

  • Try taking a walk along a scenic trail. Spending time in nature can help restore your energy and focus.

  • Put on some music. Research shows it can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and decrease stress hormones, and that it may increase feel-good hormones like exercise does. Music + exercise? Even better! 

  • Or, just curl up with a good book.

Eat Healthy

649px Healthy SnacksThe food on your plate can be the deciding factor between a sluggish and a supercharged day. A few small adjustments can go a long way toward optimizing your energy intake, such as:

  • not waiting too long between meals (ideally, you would not wait longer than four hours between meals)

  • swapping simple carbs like those primarily made of white flour and sugar, for complex carbs like sweet potatoes, oats and whole grain bread. 

  • adding in “super foods” including salmon, blueberries and almonds since they can actually help you stress less.

Your goal is to keep your blood glucose levels steady throughout the day. You don’t want to be on the glucose roller coaster. Once you spike it, you go through the inevitable crash and the cycle starts all over again.

And if coffee is your energy pick-me-up of choice, you may want to rethink how much caffeine you’re getting. Being over-caffeinated raises cortisol levels, makes you jittery and anxious and dehydrates you. Limit yourself to two cups a day, and for every cup of coffee you have, drink a glass of water.

Stand Up and Move More

Getting up and moving more throughout the day can benefit you many ways. From increasing blood flow to muscles, boosting productivity and creative thinking, to improving your posture.  And it will help you beat back the effects of sitting disease, which zaps your energy and puts you at risk for a whole host of health problems.  

Expending energy on exercise actually creates MORE for you to use, because it releases a flood of chemicals in your brain, like dopamine, that create feelings of greater energy. Maximize that feel-good response by getting at least 30 minutes of cardio four or five times a week and at least two, 30-45 minute muscle-strengthening sessions each week. Yoga can also be restorative because of the type of deep breathing that’s incorporated into it. Download cardio and strength workouts to try from my blog.

Stress Less

It’s ironic that one of the biggest energy consumers of our day has nothing to do with packed schedules or sweaty workouts. If you don't learn to manage your stress, little everyday stressors, like sitting in traffic, can cause a total energy meltdown. Not at first, because your initial reaction to stress is that your body starts pumping the hormone cortisol into your bloodstream, giving you an adrenaline rush. Your heart rate rises, your muscles tense, and your mind goes on high alert. But the rush is unsustainable, and before long your energy starts to crash, leaving you feeling foggy and unfocused.

Plus, when stress is always present, your body can’t get rid of the excess cortisol that builds up in your blood. It hangs around-sort of like the houseguest that won’t leave-turning your young fat cells into mature fat cells that stay with you forever. That excess cortisol can also increase your cravings for high-fat, high-carb foods because they cause chemical releases in the brain that make you feel good and counteract the stress side effects. Check out these tips to stress less.

Which tips sound like something you will try? What are your tips for recharging and reducing stress at work and at home? I’d love to hear what you tried and how it worked for you, or please leave your comment below.

Additional Resources & Webinars

Topics: wellness, guest bloggers, productivity, managing stress

Guest Blog Post for PickTheBrain: "10 Cognitive Distortions that are Stressing You Out and Sapping Your Productivity"

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Wed, Jul 24, 2013 @ 01:03 PM

describe the imageI'm very happy to have contributed my first, guest blog post over at PicktheBrain: "10 Cognitive Distortions that are Stressing You Out and Sapping Your Productivity."

In the article, I talk about the top cognitive distortions or negative thoughts that can contribute to stress, weighing down our bodies, minds, and, of course, our productivity. I also offer some helpful "counter statements" that you can use to combat this distorted thinking.

Hope you enjoy the article, and looking forward to your comments!

People OnTheGo 10CognitiveDistortions PickTheBrain resized 600

Additional Resources & Webinars

Topics: wellness, productivity, managing stress

5 Easy Steps to Establish Corporate Wellness and Prevent Job Burnout

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Mon, Apr 08, 2013 @ 06:40 PM

Take advantage of our Wellness Webinars Special this June & July! Only $19.95 for 3 webinars--Movement, Nutrition, and Stress Management.

claire r cohnBy Claire Cohn

Approximately 1 in 4 employees say their top work priority is just being present at work. These employees who admit that simply showing up is #1 are at high risk for job burnout. 

Why is this so?

Prolonged employee stress due to increasingly demanding workloads (with fewer new hires and limited career ladders) causes burnout and reduced productivity. One person is often doing the work of two and probably without support staff. The actual state of burnout isn’t just a bad day or a bad week—it’s when an employee is so consumed with symptoms (i.e. headaches, nausea, neck or back pain, anxiety) that they can’t function. It can sneak up on the best performers who might be workaholics also.  

In addition to accumulating workloads, employees may be unhappy or dissatisfied with their job. Perhaps the absence of a career ladder is demotivating for younger employees, and they are bored and stuck in a dead-end job.  

So how do wellness programs address the above burnout issues primarily related to workplace stress? Below are five steps to establish a healthier workplace and happier employees.  

Five Easy Action Steps 

  1. Put Health First. Onsite wellness programs check vital metabolic signs and assess lifestyle behaviors that could be depleting job performance, for example:  abuse of alcohol or substances, poor eating habits, no exercise program, lack of social life.

  2. Create Resilience. Exercise is the quickest way to feel better and build resilience. Building a resilient workforce will counter chronic illness such as migraines, back pain, and digestive problems. Many people suffer from sleep disorders or find it difficult to concentrate on work.

  3. Apply the Mind and Body Connection to wellness. Wellness practices that build resilience also improve mental health. Employees who set goals for weight reduction, exercise or diet are taking control of their lives and creating a healthy worklife balance. Mind-Body tools such as relaxation skills, mindful meditation and Qi Gong movement also reduce mental stress. 

  4. Provide Socializing Activities within employee groups and teams.  Games and playfulness in the workplace decreases feelings of isolation.  At Search Engine People, an Ontario company, the CEO said, “we need our people to be healthy, be happy—if you’re not happy, you won’t be able to take care of customers.” The CEO initiated ping-pong challenges in a game room useable any time of the day. The challenges break up the isolation, create camaraderie, and prevent sitting too long at computer stations—and are, not to mention, FUN.

  5. Adopt Regular Alone Times. Individuals need to practice taking breaks to energize and rejuvenate during the workday. The time-out practice could be walking 20 minutes or taking 10 minutes of relaxation sitting outside and breathing fresh air.

What do you do to prevent burnout at work? Please share your comments below.

Claire Cohn, owner of On Your Feet Wellness, is a health and wellness expert with over 20 years of experience as an organization consultant, movement therapist, and health educator.

Additional Resources

Topics: wellness, managing stress

Disruptions: Life’s Too Short for So Much E-Mail by Nick Bilton (New York Times, 7/8/12); summary + commentary by Melissa Sweat, Online Community Manager

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Mon, Aug 20, 2012 @ 09:17 PM

Haven't heard about our summary+commentary (s+c*d) format? Learn more!


summary commentary emaildistration 8.20.12

Corporate employees send and receive about 105 emails daily. Writer Nick Bilton thinks that’s a big problem as he tries to manage his more than 6,000 monthly emails, using everything from filters to away messages to no avail (see "Disruptions," NYT). He cites a 2012 UC Irvine report stating that those who didn’t check email regularly at work were less stressed and more productive than those who checked more often. Bilton considers other forms of messaging instead, like Google Chat or Twitter, or even not responding at all.


We relate with Bilton about email frustration, but “avoidant inbox disorder” is not the solution. Our methodology at People-OnTheGo is that email is a task you schedule into your day. This enables you to focus your work effort, while saving time for collaboration (email, social media, etc.). We have a unique inbox strategy that helps you prioritize emails, daily and weekly; no more switching tasks to attend to every alert. We also agree with the UC Irvine study:  those who check email less regularly—though we would add “and more strategically”—are less stressed and more productive.


Are you frustrated and overwhelmed by email? Do you try to avoid it? Are newer forms of communication like chat and social media messaging more preferable to you? What are some email solutions that you use in the workplace?

Additional Resources

Topics: summary-plus-commentary, Gmail, Technology, time management tips, getting organized, interruptions, productivity, information overload, time on social media, managing stress, email management

Is your world Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA)? Or is it full of Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility (VUCA)! By Liz Guthridge

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 @ 05:59 AM

Guest blog article by Liz Guthridge

How’s your world—your VUCA world, that is?

People Offise Stress SmallVUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, a term coined by the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in the weeks before September 11, 2001. It’s a popular phrase with Bob Johansen, a distinguished fellow and former president of the Institute for the Future.

According to Dr. Johansen, who shared his 2011-2021 forecast at theAssociation of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) Global Conference in early April, our VUCA world is not going away. In fact it’s just going to spin faster during the next decade.

In his talk “External Future Forces That Will Disrupt the Practice of Change Management,” Dr. Johansen noted that VUCA is not necessarily doom and gloom. While VUCA can provide threats, it also can offer opportunities, especially if you translate VUCA as “vision, understanding, clarity and agility.”

As for his two big predictions for 2022 for organizational change agents, they are:  

1. “The digital natives (now 16 years or younger) will create new practices to make change through gaming.” (The other key phrase besides gaming in this sentence is “make.” Dr. Johansen predicts that a culture of makers will drive the next generation of change. And as a result, leaders need to show the “maker instinct” trait.)  

2. “Reciprocity-based innovation will focus on the economic, social and psychological value of reciprocity.” (Two important traits for leaders are smart-mob organizing and commons creating. Think Creative Commons.)

Dr. Johansen challenged the 825 of us in attendance to figure out how to help people and organizations adapt to these changes and others. To do this, we should watch our terms and our questions.

For example, one of the questions we should be asking is not, “What’s new?” but “What’s ready to take off?” Quoting author William Gibson, who coined the term “cyberspace,” Johansen said Gibson was absolutely right when he said “The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.”

Both gaming and reciprocity-based innovation are here already. If you use or are familiar with DropboxEvernote, Doodle or any of the other cloud-based tools that offer free basic levels, you know about reciprocity-based innovation. The companies and others like them are giving away free services and products in the faith that they will get back even more in return. (And yes, they also are collecting our data….)

As for games, their value is that “they present obstacles we volunteer to overcome” Dr. Johansen explained. Gaming experiences are a powerful way to learn. 

In thinking about terms, Dr. Johansen observed that change management is an outdated term. Nobody wants to be managed anymore. And change is everywhere all the time. 

Yes! But what is that new term?

Tree Of Happiness SmallAs I continue to mull that over, I will commit to these three actions to help myself and others better adapt to our ever evolving VUCA world:

  • Get fit. According to Dr. Johansen, this is the age of the corporate athlete. We need to be organizationally, mentally and physically fit. This supports what Tony Schwartz has been advising with The Energy Project. The mental fitness also reinforces what Dr. David Rock of theNeuroLeadership Group teaches about the importance of keeping people in a “toward” state. Otherwise, it’s too easy to hijack people’s brains, which makes them want to fight or flee.  

  • Do peripheral learning to enhance peripheral vision. To look for people, insights and resources that will help us fine-tune and invigorate our ways of working, we need exposure to things outside our regular stomping grounds. This means hanging out with different people from a variety of different disciplines than our own and becoming aware of what they’re doing and thinking. Exposure to cross-cultural experiences is also helpful. Breaking out of our echo chamber is more important than ever.

  • Refresh language frequently. This involves more than updating our obsolete language, as I recently wrote about. It’s also tracking signals to see what people are thinking and talking about, and making sure you’re using words, symbols and visuals that resonate with them. 

For example, the phrase “executive presentation skills” is so last century. Instead, people want leaders with conversation skills who can build rapport, not just share reports. These leaders—and others too—need to convey complex ideas simply, not simplistically, and listen to what we say.     

What other actions do we need to take? And can you help me find a more up-to-date, accurate phrase for “change management”?   

Note: Please join us next week to get more of Liz's insights at her lunch & learn webinar: Communicate in a more brain-friendly way

Topics: productivity, managing stress

Can you actually rewire your brain? Can you step back instead of react? Yes, says Dr. Alicia R. Maher

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Thu, Jun 23, 2011 @ 04:00 PM

Guest blog article written by Alicia R. Maher, M.D., Founder of ScienceForTheJourney.com

brain“I prefer strawberry,” the little girl said, as I tried to hand her pomegranate juice. Such a simple statement but I was struck with how easily she knew her preference and expressed it.  It often seemed like I spent thirty years trying to figure out what was acceptable to want, with the end result being that I had no idea what I really wanted.  If I didn’t like what others did, I either tried to force myself to go along with it, convince the others why what I wanted was better or analyze what was wrong with me for having different preferences.

I see this with so many adults.  We are often trying to ‘grin and bear’ a situation because that is what is expected of us.  However, we weren’t designed to repress our feelings.  In fact, emotional repression is experienced within our bodies as stress, causing the release of the stress hormone, cortisol.  When we continually repress our emotions, cortisol remains at high levels causing a decrease in immunity and making us more vulnerable to injury.  It is almost as if the body has this built-in mechanism for causing physical problems to get us to take notice, when we refuse to listen to our emotions.

A large part of our ability to be at peace with situations that bother us is to get in touch with an internal reference point. Whether we choose to focus on what is going on around us or within us determines our relationship with ourselves and with the world.  If we’ve lived our lives trying to figure out what the world wants from us, we become like falling leaves, moving whichever way the wind blows.  How we feel depends on whatever is going on around us. If things seem to be going well in our external world, we feel great. If something isn’t, we don’t.  But what if we could establish a connection to the deepest aspect of our being, the place where we are grounded and content, regardless of people, events and circumstances?  What if we could experience tranquility, despite the inevitable ups and downs of our external environment?  Luckily, we can.

This has been compared to the ocean. If you have ever been scuba diving, you know that despite waves and turbulence on the surface, as you descend into the deeper part of the water, there is stillness.  But how do we dive beneath the choppy surface of what is going on around us, to access that calm deep within?

One way is through mindfulness.  Minfulness is calm awareness of one's body functions, feelings, content of thought, or awareness of being aware.  It is the ability to live in the present moment, without distraction. Mindfulness techniques cause one to pay attention to his or her present emotions, thoughts and body sensations without passing judgment or reacting.  This can involve calmly observing the breath as it goes in and out. Another technique is to engage the senses, taking note of the sounds, smells and sights around them.  As thoughts come through one’s mind, they can be labeled “thought” and allowed to pass on through like clouds in the sky, without judgement or attachment.

Minfulness techniques, such as these, are another way that we can actually rewire the brain.  A study in the journal Psychological Science demonstrated how this occurs.  Researchers put people into a scanner that revealed which part of their brains were active as the researchers showed them photographs.  When the photographs were of angry or fearful stimuli, the instinctual, reactive part of their brains would light up.  The researchers then had these subjects do a mindfulness practice for several weeks.  Whenever the subjects noticed anger or fear, they would label it “This is anger”, “This is fear”.  When the researchers tested them again with the same photographs, they found that a different part of the brain was now lighting up.  Now, angry and fearful photographs were activating the higher order parts of the brain, the part associated with thinking in words about emotional experiences. So, instead of experiencing reactivity upon these stimuli, their brains were now taking a step back from it.  You can imagine the profound advantage of this change.  When stimuli activate this part of the brain, you can choose an effective response, rather than just react.

Additional Resources

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Topics: wellness, productivity, managing stress

How to harness the power of working in "iterations" to overcome stress, procrastination, and perfectionism!

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Mon, Jun 06, 2011 @ 06:00 AM

working in iterationsWanting things to be right, especially right the first time around, can be stressful or even exhausting and not to mention counter-productive. This is a trap that we all fall into and those of us who may admit to be procrastinators and/or perfectionists are likely to fall into it more often.

One strategy to fight this phenomenon back is to work in iterations. I described this strategy a while back and outlined 5 iterations that can get us going swiftly and help shatter procrastination and perfectionism. Most recently, I used this strategy and adapted it as follows.

  • Iteration #1: This worked wonders. My project, which seemed daunting at first, transformed into a fun and exciting endeavor. This iteration gave me the permission to be creative and to approach the work from a problem solving perspective. Ideas started to flow without being restricted by filters and critical judgment. When there were gaps in my information or knowledge, I made a note of it, and kept going without that information. I was unstoppable during this time.
  • I skipped iteration #2 because I didn't have much time and my project was short term.
  • Iteration #3: Now this iteration started to flow easily. It is still in my opinion the more difficult iteration but a lot less daunting than if this work was approach all at once without iterations 1 & 2. Iteration #3 is when we take our original playful work and take it to the next level. This is where we fill in some of the gaps and address the issues in more depth. This is however also the most rewarding iteration because this is when results start to shape up and become more concrete.
  • Iteration #4: In this case, this involved sharing my plan with others and discussing them via a virtual meeting. Involving others helped get some alignment on the goals and implementation plan, and avoided having me invest time in areas that weren’t consistent with the stakeholder’s vision and desired outcome.
  • Iteration #5: This is still going on. Refinements are underway. This iteration is turning out to be more fun and relaxed than anticipated.

Rediscover fun and excitement in your work! let the power of iterations work for you and overcome stress, procrastination, and perfectionism! Try this out and report back in the comments section below!

Topics: business results, time management tips, productivity, managing stress

Are you experiencing the symptoms of ADD or ADHD due to modern Life?

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Wed, May 11, 2011 @ 06:00 AM

add adhd symptomsThis is one of the questions that Dr. Alicia Ruelaz asks in her book Is It ADHD or My iPhone? I am reading it right now, and finding it so insightful and applicable to today's modern life. I am also excited about having Dr. Ruelaz present at our lunch & learn webinar next week (Overcome ADD Symptoms to Achieve Breakthrough Productivity , on May 19), where she will tackle this issue and many others and give us some practical advice on how to overcome the symptoms.

The book starts with an actual quiz. Dr. Ruelaz indicates that the quiz does not replace the assessment done by a professional, but it would give you a head start and helps you determine if you need to take further steps, or if the symptoms are just symptoms of modern life! For many of us, it is modern life. I haven't facilitated a single workshop yet, where people listed many of these symptoms as challenges that they face in today's workplace.

The 7 symptoms include:

  • Inner restlessness
  • Impulsivity
  • Decreased focus
  • Lack of Follow-Through
  • Emotional Ractivity
  • Disorganization
  • Social issues

Sound familiar?

The good outcome is that there are things (an abundance of things) that we can do to overcome these symptoms and challenges. Thank you Dr. Ruelaz.

Topics: productivity, managing stress

"My manager sent me, so I won't engage!" 3 steps to overcome resistance and enjoy a whole new world of engagement

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Sun, Oct 03, 2010 @ 06:43 PM

resistance engagementThe setting was one of the Accomplishment More With Less workshops that I facilitated onsite for an intact team recently.  I had 25 engaged participants who have contributed tremendously to the success of the day long workshop. Actually 24 of the 25 were the ones who were full engaged and who had a blast learning and transforming, but one didn’t. He was disconnected and oblivious to everything that was happening around him. He started the day disconnected and finished the day disconnected. 

"My manager sent me here" he later said. And as a result, Jack (let us call him Jack) stayed isolated for the duration of the session. We went through dozens of concepts, techniques, demonstrations, individual and group exercises, team building exercises, coaching discussions, and we watched videos, played games, discussed important workplace issues, among other things. Each one of these activities presented a whole new opportunity for Jack to put aside the reason why he got to the workshop and to participate and reap the benefits of being here. Each one was a potential fresh start for Jack. But no! Jack was stuck. 

Jack was stuck on one thought and wasn't able to go beyond this thought: "Training should not be mandatory, and  I cannot stand it that I am here at a mandatory training." Whether training should be mandatory or not is not the issue here and we might even agree that Jack has a point. However, the issue is that Jack couldn't put this behind him and move into enjoying the benefits of the program. While people around him were experiencing transformation, he continued to experience resentment and despair. Later and his feedback form, he reiterated the same thing, and added that nothing would work in his organization because management want certain things to be in a certain way.

Dr. David Burns, one of the leading psychologist who teaches cognitive psychology, discussed a similar situation in his writings. The situation boils down to someone asking us to do something that is beneficial for us, but us  feeling pushed into it (because we were told to do it) and therefore resisting it and refusing to do it. It is difficult to win in this situation. If we do what we are asked to, we feel defeated, and if we don't do it, we lose the potential benefits and experience resentment and despair (as Jack did). Dr. Burns advises considering the potential benefits, and if they have merits, to go ahead and engage in the activity but make it clear to ourselves and to the other person that "we" have decided to do it based on its merits.

Back to Jack. If you find yourself like Jack in the midst of a training or an event or a project where you feel pushed into it, and maybe resentful, hopeless, and unwilling to engage and reap whatever benefits are on the table, here are some steps to consider:

  1. Write down clearly the thought that are keeping you in the state you are in (in the case of Jack, these were something like "Training should not be mandatory, and  I cannot stand it that I am here at a mandatory training"). If you don't write them down, they are likely to continue to be floating in your head, get exaggerated, and difficult to bypass.
  2. Now that you have clearly written down these thoughts, put them on the side for a minute, and write down the advantages and disadvantages of the action or event that you are resisting. If you are unable to figure these out because you are under the influence of your bad mood, look around, and see what others are experiencing. If possible, maybe get some objective input. Formulate this list also in writing, so you can more objectively review it and make use of it.
  3. Make your decision on how much you want to engage based on merits. Maybe even write your decision down such as "I evaluated this situation clearly, and I believe that it is to my benefit to engage, and therefore I will engage to the level that I see beneficial to me."
  4. Take a small step towards engagement. Our moods don't work like computer bits and don't change states from 0 to 1 on demand. It is not likely that you will now feel fully empowered and ready to engage (even though you might). It is more likely that you are more able and willing to take a small step towards engagement. Take that step and see what happen.
  5. Take another small step towards engagement.

And the rest will be history! And you now unleash the possibilities and a whole new world of engagement.

Topics: corporate training, managing stress