Happy New Year!

December 30, 2010

Are you ready to embrace 2011 for all it’s worth? As my gift to you, I offer you a 10-week wisdom course on learning how to embrace the power of slow. You will receive 10 one-minute audio messages to remind you how others have found time to do what they love.

Embrace the slow today! Happy New Year, everyone!

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So I got a few last-minute Christmas gifts today. Why? It was my husband’s request. And I have to say it felt pretty good, you know? No frenzy. No worries. It was like this part of the gift hunting was gravy, like the cherry on top. There’s something to be said for holding off until the idea strikes you (of course, I’m not talking about procrastination here ~ just an ease and grace that comes with taking it slowly!).

But first, consider my conversation with my husband this morning.

(background sound ~ *Chuscha chuscha* the scrubbing of a broom. Husband is washing the tiled hallway on the top floor for the first time in two years.)

Husband: Are you going to Expert (think Circuit City) today?

Me: (considerable pause b/c I was actually headed to the gym) No.

*Chuscha chuscha*

Husband: Oh, because if you were…

*Chuscha chuscha*

Me: What do you need?

Sound abruptly stops.

Husband: That sports video game for the Xbox I bought…for our son.

*Chuscha chuscha*

Me: Okay. I’ll get it. But this year there’d better be a reaaaaaally good gift for me waiting under that Christmas tree.

Watch this video (thanks to www.latebloomerbride.com for first posting it there)!

Guess who’s watching it next? Woof! 🙂

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A percent sign.
Image via Wikipedia

“I sing to the six percent,” Roseanne Cash told me in an interview this past summer. That is to say she sings to the poets, to the creators who get it.

Whenever I’m off kilter (which, at this time of year, seems to be a lot!), I look at which percentage of myself is being spoken to or ignored. If I were to divide myself into two parts, I would say I’m 80% feminine energy and 20% masculine. In business I tug at every decimal of those 20%; but at times my 80% wants to play, too; she gets in the way when I have to be decisive. She wants to make it alright for everyone and would rather not say ‘no’.

“You don’t ever say ‘no’,” my colleague advised. “You simply tell them what it’s going to cost them. Having clients is like parenting. There are consequences to every decision.”

Wow. I would have toppled from my chair if it didn’t have armrests.

A pretty neat concept. He listened patiently to my 80/20 percent evaluation and then gave me a way to say ‘no’ with kindness.

Aren’t I supposed to be telling him how to do that, according to Chapter Four in The Power of Slow?

When your two halves are out of synch, ask yourself which half is speaking? Then acknowledge its need. Sometimes soothing that part of ourselves that is out of alignment can be just the trick to getting back on the path to slow…and wellness!

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Slow Dancing

December 17, 2010

disco ball
Image via Wikipedia

The term ‘slow dance’ brings me back to that crepe papered gym under the glitter disco ball in the seventh grade. You knew it was coming as you scoped the room for the boy you hoped would choose you for that slow dance at the end.

I still get sweaty palms thinking about it.

As an adult I have come to realize that life is a dance. Just like the glass ball that casts its rainbow glitz, we capture moments of glamour, angst and flow (not necessarily in that order) as we dance our way through life.

There are dips, slides and perfect pirouettes. We experience tap and sometimes jazz. We are always on the move, even when we are sitting still for life, my friends, is swing, Fox Trot and tango all wrapped into one.

Which dance do you prefer? The boogey? Jitterbug? The waltz? Whichever one you choose, may it fulfill you and your heart’s desire.

It’s time to put on your dancing shoes. Let’s do it!

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The Slow Power of ‘No’

December 15, 2010

You know you’re in trouble when your boss’ Monday morning question starts with “Can you do me a favor?”

How on earth can you say ‘no’ to that?

Actually, you can. In the greatest power of slow style, best-selling author of Start with No Jim Camp teaches us how. His intention may not be to save time as it is in my book, but saying ‘no’ can save you a lot of heartache, if you have the proper mind set.

Jim writes:

Most of us have been taught that if we want others to cooperate with us, we have to compromise — that is, to get something, we have to give something.  There’s a better way, however, to getting what you want: Start with no.  So, if your New Year’s resolutions for 2011 include being more assertive, standing up for yourself, and reaching your goals, the “No” system can be your ticket to success.”

So when I probed further, he revealed the top seven ways to use ‘no’ with little effort. Jim suggests the following:

1. Start with no. Resist the urge to compromise.  Instead, invite the other person to say “no” to your proposal.  (Hint: Don’t tell him or her what it is — at least not yet.)  And be clear that, personally, you don’t take no as rejection, but as a candid start to an honest discussion.

2. Dwell not. Dwell on what you want, and you blow your advantage.  Throughout the discussion, focus instead on what you can control — your actions and behaviors. [Editor’s note: this is the underyling principle in the power of slow as well. Choice underscores everything, including your relationship with time.]

3. Do your homework. Learn everything you can before you begin.  This way, you prevent a minefield of surprises, whether you’re dealing with the boss, a car dealer, or your own teenager. [Editor’s Note: If you find a great technique for dealing with teens, write to me. I’m struggling with that one right now!]

4.  Face problems head-on. Identify the “baggage” — both theirs and yours — and bring these issues out into the open.  Facing, not avoiding, problems gives you an edge. [Editor’s Note: I call that identifying expectations by laying it all out in the open.]

5. Check your emotions at the door. Exercise self-control, and let go of any expectations, fears, or judgments.  (And, whatever you do, don’t be needy.)  Sure, this is easier said than done, but it gives you an edge. [Editor’s note: As for expectations, we all have them. My suggestion is to acknowledge them from the beginning. That way they lose their power over you.]

6. Get them talking. Ask open-ended questions that begin with what and how.  Find out what the other person wants and needs, and then show him or her how your proposal actually benefits them. [Editor’s note: This is a great sales tool. Starting with ‘no’ means never asking a yes or no question!]

7.  Build a vision. Create a story that presents your proposal as their solution.  In helping the other person see exactly what he or she will gain from your plan, you spark decision-making and action.

Jim Camp is a leading negotiating coach and author of NO: The Only Negotiating Strategy You Need for Work and Home. President and CEO of Camp Negotiation Systems, he’s coached individuals, corporations, and governments worldwide through hundreds of successful negotiations. Contact him on the Web at startwithno.com.

“A snow crystal lay in my hand, beauty eternal, for a second.” ~ Josef Guggenmos. Seize the day & its beauty, for now is all there is!

Leadership is a term you read in business magazines across all industries. As the workplace rapidly undergoes its evolution, skilled leaders face numerous challenges.

The concept of leadership from a power of slow perspective is particularly intriguing because we normally don’t think of leaders as people who embrace slow, tactical solutions. At the forefront of any organization, leaders, especially C-suite ones, are tasked with high visibility. Oftentimes, they’ll go for the impressive outward move to show investors they are ‘doing something’. But is a fast pace always the sign of good leadership?

Not always.

I can recommend two books that point to the importance of taking things slowly when times call for it rather than falling prey to the sirens of speed.

Aptly entitled Strategic Speed: Mobilize People, Accelerate Execution, this Harvard Business Press book written by Jocelyn Davis, Henry Frechette, Jr. and Edwin Boswell, underscores the fact that slow is faster. They claim, among other things, that when top athletes strive to relax, they actually increase their speed. They point toward new metrics for speed. Smart organizations look to increase the time to value (meaning how long it takes to train the new employee to be ‘up to speed’ on the tasks of the job), but also consider the value over time (if I train the personally properly and invest time in him or her upfront, I will benefit from his or her value over time). More efficient companies (such as India’s Tata Sky satellite TV company) focus on clarity of vision, unity (employees stand behind the vision with a spirit of teamwork) and agility (adaptability in the changing business environment). Perhaps most importantly is the work climate in which people are employed. You can tell when you walk into a place where the morale is high. As a customer, you can feel it in every pore of your being. Great leadership trickles down to every aspect of the organization. Speed for speed’s sake is never desirable (except, perhaps, on the race track!).

The IT industry is a stellar example of how the workplace has changed. I remember fighting with the IT department to get them to fix my computer when it would crash. Their standard response was “Have you rebooted?” Today, IT is not only a part of internal affairs in most companies, but an equal player in the viability of the company in client-facing activities as well.

The CIO Edge: Seven Leadership Skills You Need to Drive Results by Graham Wallter et.al can be summarized in one sentence: “Soft skills drive hard results.” The seven skills a top Chief Information Office (CIO) needs today include:

1)      Top commitment to leadership (everything else, including tech savvy, comes second)

2)      Think analytically, act collaboratively (the social-participative leader is the most successful one. He or she asks everyone about their opinion on things, considers them, weighs them against the situation and incorporates the best ideas into an optimum solution)

3)      Go sideaways to move ahead (don’t just ‘report up’ and ignore down; consider all sides to the equation)

4)      Effective communication

5)      Inspire others

6)      Build people, not systems

7)      Gain greater fulfillment on the job and in your life

The seventh ‘skill’ is all about the power of slow from an alignment perspective. When we are aligned in everything we do, it doesn’t matter what we do or how long it takes. We’re in flow. The power of slow applies to leaders as it applies to the rest of us, too.

Everyone’s a leader. You lead your life. And that’s worth a lot more than just money in the bank.

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Winter has Europe in its firm grip. This morning I grappled with myself about whether or not I should go to the gym. My thinking went like this:

Angel side of myself: “I have a manuscript to edit. I really should work on that since I’ve been gone a lot this week.”

Slow side of myself: “You’ve been gone a lot this week. That’s right. And you know are more productive when you’ve exercised.”

Devil side of myself: “I want chocolate.”

Angel side of myself: “Okay, Slow, you can have your way, but remember. Go, well, slow. It’s icey out there.”

The sun blinded me against the white landscape as I pulled out of the driveway, only to get stuck in the neighbor’s parking space. I tried to move forward, but the car spun its wheels.

I rocked the car back and forth and realized I was going nowhere. By now, sleep had fallen from my lids. In an adrenaline rush that only driving in dangerous weather conditions can provide, I carefully pulled back into the garage and smiled.

“Okay, Angel, Slow and Devil. We’re not going anywhere. Manuscript editing it is!”

Sometimes we need to find out for ourselves that no movement is the best move we can make!

Because magic lives everywhere…


One sock at a time

December 9, 2010

Yesterday I had the unique opportunity to do an impromptu coaching session with a young economics student who had a hard time keeping on top of his laundry. We were on set at a soap opera; he played an orderly, I a doctor. While waiting for our walk-on part (which took the better part of the day), he studiously reviewed his University work and appeared non-plussed at the activities around him. The day grew long (and his textbook boring) so we began to chat about The Power of Slow.

His eyes grew bright as he considered the possibility of actually tackling the one thing that seems to beat him down every week.

“Laundry!” he exclaimed. I could see the struggle as he grew tense at the thought of the pile awaiting him at home.

“Think reward system,” I explained. Had I been more clear-headed (we were, after all, seven hours into our waiting on set), I might have used some economic terms to help him understand my point. But he got it anyway as I said he needed to think of the mountain of dirty clothes as an opportunity to reward himself once he tackled some of it.

“I’m not talking the entire thing, here,” I continued with a grin. “We’re looking at grabbing the white wash first, ya’ know?” Sort and toss. I grew animated as I laid out a plan he might consider.

“Tell yourself you’ll just do the whites first, then maybe in two days, the darks. By week’s end you will have gotten down to the bottom of your laundry basket. Reward time!”

He smiled inwardly at the thought.

No matter where we go, we can live the slow. Sometimes all we need is to take it one sock at a time.

How do you break down your work into bite-sized chunks? Share your ideas here. I’d love to know!

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