Happy How is it February already?! January just disappeared!! And it seemed that for many, January was a bit of a lost cause. The response I got to “how are you really?” was all too often “I haven’t been able to find my motivation yet this year”, or something along those lines.
So I thought I’d focus this week’s newsletter on our inner motivation, and some quick practical tips around our personal evolution and habits. Some really interesting, informative, and inspiring resources in here this week. (And yes, that alliteration was on purpose! 😄 )
FAILING FOR SUCCESS…
A few readers have recommended Elizabeth Day’s podcast “How to Fail” recently and it is such a wonderful discovery! The theme of the podcast is that failures are what teach us how to succeed. Day interviews someone each week on their top 3 failures, and what they learned through them.
My favourite episode was the interview with Brené Brown. Brown is open about being less than perfect (which makes her really relatable!) and the interview is a frank and open discussion around boundaries, how failure sets us up for success, and evolving our knowledge of ourselves.
KNOWING WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW…
The #1 book on my To-Be-Read pile for this year is Adam Grant’s Think Again. The tagline “The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know” really speaks to me. I’ve always been a big believer in the more you know, the more you know you don’t know! 😄 And of course it will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that I love learning new things!
Another new podcast recommendation [thank you, readers, for all your amazing suggestions! Keep ’em coming!!] was Maya Shankar’s A Slight Change of Plans. Articulate, erudite, and a lyrical conversationalist, Shankar has a fascinating interview with Adam Grant in this episode.
One thing Grant said that really struck me was “you should define your identity in terms of your values, not your opinions.” I work a lot with my coaching clients around identifying core values and what that means for work/life balance, and for setting boundaries. Our values are such a cornerstone of our identity, and one we don’t often spend much time actively thinking about. Definitely something to ponder.
I get asked a lot how I find the time to read as much as I do. The simple answer is: I’m a fast reader, and I don’t watch TV. The reason I don’t watch TV isn’t because I don’t enjoy it, but rather because it rarely captures my full attention. I spend the majority of my day in front of a screen, and I find that draining. If I watch TV in the evenings, I find myself scrolling on my phone at the same time. After a day of working in front of a medium-sized screen, I am not recharged by sitting in front of a large screen, looking at a little screen!
The beauty of a book is that it is nearly impossible to multitask while reading. (Unless you are my friend Susy who can walk her dog and read a book at the same time, an amazing feat!!) But most of us can only read. And I find that mono-tasking is really restorative. Concentrating on only one thing, the feel of turning the pages, the calm that settles over me while reading, it really replenishes my energy. And as my family will tell you, when I’m reading, I am not present in the real world! 😉
Divided attention is, rather unsurprisingly, neither productive nor healthy. Johann Hari, a writer and journalist, has written a book on this topic called Stolen Focus. About how our need to multitask in fact slows us down, and how switching from task to task is obliterating our ability to concentrate. In fact, it takes 25 minutes to regain focus after being interrupted. But a study of university students showed that the average length of focus is only 3 minutes. So if you are only focusing for 3 minutes, but it takes you 25 minutes to regain focus… well that math just doesn’t add up! I really enjoyed this podcast interview with Hari on the topic of attention and focus.
One of the comments I hear often from my executive coaching clients is that having coaching allows them to actually book time in their calendar to think. Their schedules are packed with back-to-back meetings and they are lucky to get a few minutes to grab a coffee! It’s virtually impossible to find the time to think.
And yet strategy is all about thinking. Marketing is about creativity. Growth is about learning new things, having new ideas, and expanding on where we are currently. And those all require thinking. Which in turn requires time.
So how do you manage to get thinking time into your schedule?? Proactively planning it, and blocking time in your calendar, is one step. We all have different parameters for planning our calendars, but as I said to one of my clients last week: “if your email is functioning as your to-do list, doesn’t that mean you are letting others decide your priorities?”. The same holds true for your calendar.
Which is why I enjoyed this podcast about setting boundaries in one’s calendar. What are your goals and priorities for your time? And how do you go about making that happen?
WHAT I’M READING…
Given how busy I’ve been lately, I confess I haven’t been monotasking with deep literature!! I’m reading the equivalent of brain candy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! 😉 While I may not be reading literature, I do very much enjoy a good story that’s well-told! And The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary was so lovely. Sure, you know from page 1 that the two main characters are going to end up together. But the story is sweet and funny and endearing and even a bit deep in parts. I really loved it and was sad when the book ended – too soon for my liking!
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO…
The thing I find so compelling about true crime podcasts is the motivation behind the criminal. What is going through their mind? Do they know what harm they are causing? Do they enjoy that? Or do they ignore it? The human psyche and thought process is so fascinating to me!!
Bad Blood: The Final Chapter is the story of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, and the incredible rise and fall of her company. To be honest, I had only vaguely heard of the company. I knew there was some sort of scandal or court case but that was really the extent of my “knowledge”. Listening to this podcast was a completely fascinating deep dive into the actions and motivations of someone who was a master of charisma, persuasion, and deception. Given that many of my clients are in the healthcare sector, the story of a company selling a story of easy blood tests was also really interesting.
The narrator was brilliant and the research was impeccable. A fascinating listen!
Next week is the kick-off session for my inaugural Together We Thrive group coaching! If these newsletter topics on personal growth and professional development interest you, and you’d like to broaden your skills on goal setting & achievement; identify your core values; set and maintain healthy boundaries; and learn how to balance your different roles, in a small group setting of incredible, intelligent, and international women, there are a couple of spots still available! I’d love for you – or someone you know who would benefit from this – to take part!! Please feel free to share!
After many many weeks of grey & dreary weather, I’m off to Austria this weekend for some skiing and hopefully some sunshine!
Hope you get to see the sun this weekend too!
Have a wonderful weekend!