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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mindful Work: Post #4--Impact--Personal

Personal: Meditation calms the anxious and depressed brain, makes us less stressed, and makes us more compassionate with others. Mindfulness even overcomes the “bystander effect” by threefold! Stress isn't caused by what is happening in our lives but by how we respond to it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mindful Work: Post #4--Impact on Health

Health: "Stress finds you. You have to go looking for relaxation." Stress helped us evolutionarily, but not quite as much anymore. An overactive amygdala results in heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression and anxiety, fatigue and muscle pain. Highly stressed people are more excitable, less productive, and eat up health care costs. Mindfulness reduces cortisol levels, aids the immune system, increases happiness, and calms you down. In short: Mindfulness makes us resilient! And, stress is contagious—especially if you’re a leader.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mindful Work: Post #3--Mindfulness Impact

Mindfulness Impact. Mindfulness meditation thickens the prefrontal cortex (executive center) of the brain, responsible for positive behavior and appropriate responses; stimulates the hypothalamus, which increases learning and memory in the brain; and shrinks and dulls the effects of the amygdala (the brain’s fire alarm), making us less likely to overreact to stress. Kids in school who practice mindfulness paid better attention and were in control of their emotions. Pro-social behavior is a direct result of meditation in kids—and others. Check out the impact mindfulness has on us.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mindful Work: Post #2--The Basics of How to Meditate

The Basics. Gelles starts with a basic definition: “Mindfulness is about increasing our
a.    Sit in a chair, or on a cushion, or lie down.
b.    Take slow, deep breaths, concentrating on each breath.
c.    When your mind wanders, notice it and bring it back to the breath.
d.    Break from your busy, hectic life twice a day for time to meditate (2-20 minutes)—and quiet down the mind.
awareness of what’s happening in our minds, throughout our bodies and in the world around us.” The best way to keep our thoughts focused on the present—neither ruminating about the past nor getting anxious about the future—is meditation. Here’s how you do it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mindful Work--Post #1--Overview

Overview. Mindfulness meditation is like taking your brain to the gym for a workout. In fact, I believe it will become as popular as running has become for fitness. Sit quietly and focus on your breathing—that’s meditation in a nutshell. When thoughts come—about an argument you had yesterday, about a deadline that’s looming, or about the lawn to be mowed—simply acknowledge the thought and go back to concentrating on your breathing. The more you practice this, the stronger your mind gets. It’s like doing mental pushups—you get more resilient and stronger over time. The clinical findings have proven its effectiveness: mindful meditation helps reduce heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression and anxiety, fatigue and muscle pain. In experiments, it has reduced cortisol levels, aided immune systems, increased happiness, and even calmed kids down. Many companies, from Google to General Mills to Goldman Sachs, have significantly invested in mindful meditation for their employees.

Mindful Work: How Meditation is Changing Business from the Inside Out (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) by David Gelles, reviewed by Steve Gladis, May 2015.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Creativity: FINAL POST--Distilled Wisdom

Distilled Wisdom Ed Catmull has developed principles and advice from his Pixar experiences. Here are a few aggregations:

a.    People: Hire smart ones, let them have a voice, make them know they matter, and help them grow.
b.    Teams: Mediocre teams will kill a great idea, but great teams will grow a mediocre idea.
c.    Truth: Invite differences, disagree, drive out fear, share problems; “there should not be more truth in the hallways than in meetings.”
d.    Failure: Failure is and must be an option, uncertainty is part of life, and managers should not prevent risk taking but make it safe to do so.
e.    Change: Don’t wait for perfection to expose new ideas to the light, don’t measure competence by mistakes made but by ability to solve problems, think differently, protect new ideas from naysayers; it takes a lot of energy to change.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Creativity: Post #6--Post Mortem

Post Mortem: This section covers collective problem solving, setting limits, integrating art and technology, and doing post mortem meetings on a produced film in preparation for the next film. Change, unpredictability and randomness are certain, and all are opportunities for creativity. Catmull explains the value of play (as release) and that changing course on a project is not a sign of failure.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Creativity: Post#5--The Hidden

The Hidden: Catmull introduces the concept of “The Hidden,” the blind spots we all have in our personalities.  Often we have a personal mental model that can keep us from exploring alternative paths—like not crossing a threshold into the unknown future.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Creativity: Post #7 -- Building and Sustaining

Building and Sustaining:  Catmull believes that we all have our own mental models that determine how we see the world—what we filter out. To sustain creativity and energy, Catmull developed 8 mechanisms. Here are some of them.
1. Solving problems together as a group. Editors, animators and others showed their dailies in early form, making them all vulnerable and exposing them to differing points of view.
2. Taking research trips. The teams visited venues that helped the film. For example, when working on Ratatouille, the team went to Paris to eat! 3.
Conducting short experiments. Producing short films helped the teams test out new technologies and stories by experimenting.
4. Learning to see. Catmull brought in an artist to teach the teams to be more observant.

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