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Friday, March 29, 2013

Love 2.0: Post#8--FINAL

Final Thoughts about Love: Sometimes we get so self-absorbed that our problems seem to multiply. I love this quote from Frederickson: “Redirecting your focus toward others is the way out.” Love is our supreme positive emotion—it changes us and others around us for the better. When we learn to seek out those micro-moments of connection, resonance, and love—that come from a smile, a laugh, a meeting with another—it elevates us both and ultimately the larger community and world. Not a bad outcome that can start with a smile!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Love 2.0: Post# 7-- Loving Others

Loving Others: When you compare yourself to people like you who are better off, you feel bad; when you compare yourself to people worse off than you, you feel good. Either way, a divide forms by practicing such “social comparison.” Ceasing this practice helps you appreciate others in a way that brings you real happiness and love—positive resonance. And when it comes to misfortune, some people put distance between themselves and the suffering of others. However, compassion moves toward the pain and does not run away from it. You see this in hospice nurses and others dedicated to compassion. Further, resilience—the ability to bounce back after setbacks and problems—is fueled by positive emotion. In fact, “braiding” positive emotion with something bad that happens helps us become resilient. Thinking “This too shall pass” or “I’m not the only one suffering from this” helps us face a difficult setback. Becoming less self-absorbed and more open to others starts building resilience. Self-pity and self-absorption are the enemies of personal resiliency—the ability to bounce back from problems.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Love 2.0: Post#6--Self-Love

Self-Love: Countries like the US, that are big on self-esteem, have higher rates of depression and life dissatisfaction. Indeed, self-aggrandizement is often a defense—a protective armor donned to cover up a more negative view of self. Self-love is something different, often found in more Buddhist-focused countries which have much lower levels of depression. Visualizing others and ourselves as loving, kind people helps find reasons for us to be lovable in the world. Again, this is about opening up the heart, not self-aggrandizement, more a prayer to ourselves about our best self. In fact, Frederickson suggests that we offer the LKM to ourselves as well: May I feel safe.     May I feel happy….

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Love 2.0: Post#5--Loving Kindness

Loving Kindness: Frederickson helps us increase the loving resonance in our lives through certain “micro-moment” practices.
a.    Reflect at the end of the day about three social connections you made that day and their potential for positivity. Increased social connection strengthens vagal tone and health. “Exchanging our hearts” and not just facts and information creates the opportunity for increasing our own well-being. As you reflect on these three social interactions, ask yourself how “in tune” you were with these people.

b.    Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM) is another powerful, love-enhancing tool in our lives. An ancient Buddhist practice, LKM breaks down the self-absorption doors and opens us up to a wide community of positive resonance and love. While the practice holds for 20 minutes of meditation a day, any amount of time is a great start. Here’s a simple LKM meditative practice:  May John (or whatever person you are thinking of) feel safe; May John feel happy; May John feel healthy; May John live with ease.

c.    Don’t Fake It: Insincere love is more toxic and damaging to the person initiating it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Love 2.0: Post#4--Spreading Love

Spreading Love: Positive, love-induced mindsets make us more open and aware, whereas a negative mindset shuts down input. Experimenting with pleasant background music, subjects opened up more to information around them than those who did not listen to music. Also, when threatened, self-absorbed people get more extreme in their self-absorption and unresponsive to others.  In short, threats narrow our potential, and rewards (love) open us up to the possibilities. The nonverbal fingerprints of love:  1.)  How often you smile at each other; 2) frequent open hand gestures (open palm); 3) How often you lean toward each other; 4.) How often you affirm by nodding your head. The four fingerprints again: Smiles, Gestures, Leans and Nods. When you use these nonverbals, people “love” you more—family, friends, coworkers, anyone you interact with. Synchronized gestures, like crowds at a football game chanting or cheering, create group or “mass positive resonance.” Celebrating a friend’s, coworker’s, or loved one’s success builds resonance between you and them. Even how you say “thank you” matters. Thanking someone for a gift helps foster a relationship but not nearly as much as when you thank them for their generosity or thoughtfulness—the quality behind the gift. The effects are powerful and lasting. And how we argue determines a relationship’s health. John Gottman’s marriage research is legendary. Healthy couples have higher ratios of positive interactions and when conflict occurs, they don’t mirror the anger of their partner; rather, they offer a caring, affirming or even light-hearted gesture to allow a safe place to work out the problem. Moreover, even small daily gestures accumulate in the “Love Bank.” According to Frederickson, a lack of positive resonance in your life is in fact far more damaging to your health than smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol excessively, or being obese.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Love 2.0--Post#3--Biology of Love

The Biology of Love: When experiencing a micro-moment of love with any person, things happen: Mimicking, Oxytocin is secreted, and vagal tone strengthens:
A.    Mimicking:  Mirror neurons in our brain allow us to mimic others, get in sync with them. This was discovered when Italian scientists watched a wired up monkey’s mind repeat a neural activity of a scientist. This “brain coupling” is literally how we connect with each other. This shared action and emotion moves people toward mutual caring and ultimately love.

B.  Oxytocin is the opposite of adrenalin or cortisol, which stimulate our fight-flight response. Rather, oxytocin is called the “cuddle hormone” and plays a major part in social bonding. And while oxytocin flows during sexual encounters, with breastfeeding mothers, and in big emotional moments, it also flows in a much more subtle way in daily activities like talking to a friend, working with a trusted business partner, or playing with a child. Oxytocin mutes the fight-flight response of the amygdala and increases receptivity in the brain. Kind behaviors increase oxytocin, which curbs stress, anxiety, and depression. It produces a “calm-and-connect” response in contrast to fight-flight of the amygdala.

 C. Vagal Tone: Originating in the brain stem, the vagus cranial nerve is like the brain’s thermostat for various organs in your body, most notably your heart. It’s the vagus, with help from oxytocin, that ultimately calms a racing, fearful heart. As such, the vagus nerve gets intimately involved with love. A quickening heart takes in necessary oxygen and a slower exhale slows down the heart—creating vagal tone. And love and health are connected at the hip. Controlling your racing heart makes you more physically, mentally and socially adept and able to experience more loving moments—micro-moments of positive resonance.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Love 2.0: Post#2--What is Love?

What is Love? Love is all around us—an opportunity that arises every time we meet with people and share a positive emotion. Three things happen when you’re in a loving interaction (a physical/nonverbal exchange in a safe setting): You share a positive emotion, there’s a synchrony of biochemistry and behavior between you both (like a dance), and you have a feeling of mutual care for the well-being of each other. Frederickson calls this trifecta of happiness “positivity resonance,” an amplified emotion that nourishes the care and concern for a relationship. “More than any other positive emotion, love belongs not to one person, but to pairs or groups of people” (p. 19). When people are depressed, anxious or otherwise preoccupied negatively, they’re hyperreceptive to threats, seeing them where they really aren’t present. And, when people feel unsafe, they get cut off from love. Indeed, love’s pre-existing conditions are connections—both co-presence in the same location and sensory connection. Such sensory connections come primarily through eye contact, followed by voice, touch, gestures and other nonverbals.  In fact, smiling is the quickest way to connect with another person. We have 50 different smiles that we as humans use (Paul Ekman, p. 21). Eye contact allows us to connect with each other, read intention and emotions, thus be better equipped for the interaction. To be in “love,” connect with eye contact. Moreover, you have to be present in heart and mind.  This interweaving of body and mind becomes what’s called intersubjectivity, what Dr. Spock (“Star Trek”) might call a “mind meld.”

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Love 2.0: Post#1--Overview

Overview:  Love is our supreme emotion. A person’s need for love is as essential as the need for sunlight and water for a plant. Love literally changes the mind and body. A world class psychologist and researcher, Barbara Frederickson contends that rather than love being a lasting, exclusive, or even sexual event, it’s WAY more! To Frederickson, love is a “micro-moment of positivity resonance”—warmth and connection with another person. Two conditions for such intense loving moments: Feeling safe (not threatened) and physical co-presence. Because we connect many times a day with others in conversation and other activities, such activities can generate positive resonance—LOVE. We don’t have to pine away waiting for our one true love to come along to experience the power of love. It’s right there every day, in every connection with everyone we stop to appreciate and pay attention to. Love, like other positive emotions (joy, gratitude, hope) opens us up to become a better version of ourselves.
Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do and Become (Hudson Street Press, 2013) by Barbara Frederickson, Ph.D., reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., February 2013.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Measure: Post #11-- Purpose

Purpose in Life: Purpose in a company [and in your life] “…will serve as a beacon focusing your attention on what really matters.” Three elements of purpose: 1. Likeness—a vision of what we want the company to look like in the future—what employees hope to have built at critical points in the company; 2. Commitment—leaders have to have a “conversion” to the very vision (likeness) that will protect them from the influence of everyday forces that can push us down a very slippery slope; 3. Metrics—successful companies have to develop a reliable set of metrics to keep track of how they’re doing. Christensen argues that the power and importance of purpose must be made intentional with metrics. Then he applies this process to our lives. 1. Likeness: What kind of a person do you want to become? Describe your vision of your future ideal self in detail; 2) Commitment: allocate your time, talent and energy toward that future likeness or vision; 3) Metrics: How will you measure your life? For all of us, the author would suggest being true to our likeness/vision and commitment. How well did you stay on course? Who did you help? What relationships did you nurture? Ultimately, we’ll all have to decide on how to measure ourselves. So, figure out your purpose, steer toward it, measure your progress along the way. Many thanks to Clay Christensen.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Measure: Post #10--Ful vs Marginal Thinking

Full vs. Marginal Thinking Theory (how to stay out of jail): Small daily decisions can take us down a path—either good or bad. A loss of integrity, the author argues, is rarely a sudden thing, rather a daily compromise. Companies that ignore integrity do so at their own peril. Ask Jeff Skillings, former CEO of Enron, and a string of other very smart folks who gradually, incomprehensibly found their way to jail. Sometimes it feels easier and cheaper to take one course of action instead of “paying the full price” to do the harder but better thing. Thus, the marginal cost of leveraging overcomes the full-cost argument. “Thinking on a marginal basis can be very, very dangerous,” notes Christensen, a classmate of Skillings and others who’ve slid down this slippery slope. The same is true in our own lives. The author warns us that the way to avoid making compromising moral decisions is to avoid putting yourself in such a situation.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Measure: Post #9- Culture

Culture...
About Culture: Edgar Schein (MIT’s leading culture emeritus scholar) talks about culture as a way of working together in such a way as it breeds success and becomes a way of doing things for new people who enter the culture. Christensen says, “A culture is the unique combination of process and priorities within an organization.” Strong, positive cultures can help companies become self managing. Whether it’s Pixar, Amazon, or Netflix, strong cultures help self regulate such innovative practices as Netflix’s vacation policy—take as much as you need as long you’re doing a great job at work. You can imagine how coworkers would let you know if you began to abuse this policy. Culture in families works the same way by developing actions that support this assertion: “This is the way our family behaves.”  For example, we might assert: We are a kind, generous, and loving family. This assertion, if supported by our actions, begins to grow a culture of kindness, generosity and love. So, one day when your grown children act according to this mantra, don’t be surprised! But, enforcing rules to teach culture is often harder on the parent than the child. The author suggests creating a family motto to reinforce culture. Also, he notes, “It’s not about controlling bad behavior; it’s about celebrating the good. Allowing your children to get away with lazy or disrespectful behavior a few times will begin the process of making it your family’s culture—one you may not like.” (p.172-174)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Measure: Post #8--Capabilities

Pay Attention to Capabilities: Companies that lose sight of what critical capabilities are often have important resources taken away. Capabilities are resources, processes and priorities—and while they’re interdependent, these are also independent of each other. Resources include people, money, equipment—things you can count and value. Processes are how people in a company interact—talk, listen, work in teams, and produce stuff (processes are invisible but can be more powerful than resources). Priorities revolve around how companies decide what’s most important to guide investment of time, talent, and money. The author suggests we not outsource the future in business or in our families. If not monitored closely, outsourcing can make companies drift into becoming shells for foreign competitors. In our personal live, teaching kids tough lessons to help them cope with resources, processes and priorities can determine their future success. Christensen warns that our children need to be able to solve hard problems. We spend far too much time building self-esteem and far too little time preparing them to cope with the ups and downs of life. [Thus, we create narcissists instead of healthy and resilient adults.]

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Measure: Post #7--Hiring a Product

Hiring a Product: When you buy a milkshake, you do it to satisfy a need. However, when we sell products or marry people, we’re more concerned about us than what the customer or our mates need. This parallel error creates a lack of sales (and of love). Asking the question Why is this person or client hiring me? and gearing delivery toward their needs, not ours, can make all the difference. Christensen says asking “what’s the job to be done?” is critical to success. In one interesting piece of research, people were asked when and why they bought milkshakes from a particular store. Turns out most people bought milkshakes in the morning—when over half of the milkshakes sold.  The reason: They needed something interesting to do while on a long commute. Milkshakes that were thick, with narrow straws, took a long time to consume and entertained folks on their long commutes! Christensen discusses the “jobs” of kids in school—to feel successful and do so with friends. And schools that do this have dropout and absentee numbers nearing zero. Figuring out what you were really hired for puts you at a true advantage at work. Same with marriage—often we give others what we might want without really considering what they really want…a listening ear, a friend to just be there in support. Answering the question “What job does my spouse need me to do?” tells you how to measure success in a marriage.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Measure: Post #6--Happiness

Happiness in Relationships: We tend to overinvest our resources (time, attention and money) in our careers but underinvest in our families. Often, we invest in the short term and not the long term. Setting boundaries at work can help people reallocate their resources and direct them toward family. Leaving work on time to get home to a child’s soccer game is a long-term investment and requires much discipline. The theory of bad capital: Investors put money into a company to grow it and take out profit. Fully, 93% of all successful companies abandon their original strategy which proved not to be viable. The successful ones have enough money to pivot toward a new approach that is a winner.  “…good money from investors needs to be patient for growth but impatient for profit.” In short, you have to stay profitable in the short term or there’s no growth (and no company!) in the long term. But once a good strategy is discovered, companies need to switch from a focus on profit to growth. Same is true for our families. If we don’t invest for the long term—spending time and attention when the kids are young—our future family relationships are dim. Investing in friends and family along the way helps our long-term strategy of happiness. All too often we figure this out when it’s way too late. Here’s a research finding—the more words a parent says to a child in the first few years of life, the greater their performance on vocabulary and reading comprehension in the future. “Language Dancing” or engaging in chat with a child [talking about what ifs and wouldn’t it be nice….inviting the child to think deeply] has enormous development effects and helps the child’s brain develop rapidly. It’s not the money but the language investment that develops a child.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Measure: Post #5--Alignment & Strategy

Alignment and Strategy: A strategy that is not funded with time, money, and resources is simply a pipe dream. Christensen tells the story of SonoSite’s new handheld ultrasound device (the iLook). The company (headquarters) wanted to redirect its strategy to focus on selling the iLook. However, their salespeople refused to sell the handheld iLook; rather, they continued to sell a much more costly, bigger ultrasound brother—the Titan. Why? Salespeople were evaluated on gross sales, and selling one Titan was the same as selling 5 iLooks! What would you do? Aligning strategy throughout the organization becomes critical to success. And, resource allocation makes sure that happens. Andy Gove (Intel CEO) says: “To understand a company’s strategy, look at what they actually do rather than what they say they do.”(p. 71) On a personal level, look at your checkbook, credit cards and debit cards and see where you spend your money…that’s where your priorities are. Behavior illustrates strategy more than all the words in the world.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Measure: Post #4--Plans

Plans and Emergence. Throughout the book, Christensen provides a kind of mini-case study of how a particular theory works and then encourages the individual reader to apply to his/her life. One example was how Honda broke into the US market in the 1960s. Their early strategy focused on competing with Harley-Davidson in the area of road bikes. That strategy failed. However, Honda also shipped a few small bikes (Super Cubs), and one Honda employee took out a Cub to hit the dirt trails and blow off steam. Thus, the ”dirt bike” was invented, and the market grew and grew—an example of an emergent strategy. As the old saying goes, life happens when you’re planning something else! Christensen warns that such emergent, unanticipated opportunities crop up and compete with the more “deliberate strategy” for resources. Strategy is dynamic and messy at times. You have to be ready to experiment, evaluate, and change when necessary. Learn fast, reiterate, and adapt. Applied to the individual, the author suggests we try new things that “motivate” us (based on our interests and talents), stay open to unanticipated opportunities, and decide when the deliberate strategy needs modification. Assumptions need to get evaluated when considering alternate, emerging strategies. There’s a fascinating story about how Disney’s assumptions about a theme park they built in Paris were flawed and cost them a lot of money. Christensen’s advice about career development is to stay open, be willing to experiment, pivot toward change and adjust, but test assumptions as you make choices in your life.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Measure: Post #3--Motivation

About Motivation: Renowned motivational psychologist, Frederick Herzberg’s two-factor theory debunks incentive theory. Satisfaction (hygiene factors) is all about basic requirements for job satisfaction (status, compensation, security, etc.). However, to be motivated requires satisfaction first and then more. So salary may satisfy us, but it will never motivate us. You have to pay people a fair wage, but after that you need motivators like challenging work, recognition, and personal growth. We all crave meaning and purpose—that’s the “internal” real stuff of motivation, not some “external” factor like a bonus check. Unfortunately, many of us choose jobs based on great hygiene factors (high pay, fancy office), but then we often get demotivated with a lack of internal motivators like a job with real purpose. This explains very unhappy wealthy business people and very modestly paid but extremely motivated and happy non-profit workers. We need to ask ourselves new questions to be motivated in a new job: Is this work meaningful to me? Will it give me a chance to develop? Will I get more responsibility?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Measure: Post #2--Theory

Why use theory to solve problems?  The hallmark of an effective theory is that it is research based and reasonably predicts outcomes. Much of popular thinking and writing are not always grounded in research or its resulting theory. Robust theories predict the future with much greater success than anecdotal stories.  Priorities, plans, and resource allocations create a strategy going forward and will help you find work you love and care about.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Measure: Post #1--Overview

Overview: On the last day of class at the Harvard Business School (HBS), Clay Christensen applies the theories the class studied all semester to the students’ lives. He lists the theories on the board and then asks three powerful questions. How can I be sure that… 1) I will be successful and happy in my career? 2) [in] my relationships with my spouse, my children and my extended family and close friends I become an enduring source of happiness? 3) I live a life of integrity and stay out of jail? Christensen, himself an HBS grad, has seen classmates like Jeff Skilling, former Enron CEO, end up in jail. The essence of this book is that if, at work and in our personal lives, we find a purpose, commit ourselves to that purpose, and measure ourselves against that purpose, our chances of happiness and avoiding bad outcomes are greatly increased.

How Will You Measure Your Life? (HarperCollins, 2012) by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon, reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., February 2013.

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