Category Archives: Blog

One Simple Idea for the Best Father’s Day Gift Ever!

Letters to my DadLast Christmas, my daughter bought me the most interesting gift. The photo of it is the one featured here. ‘Letters To My Mom’.

I have to admit, I got a bit teary when I saw it. As I opened it up, I noticed that it contained 12 letters. The opening was initiated by the creator of the gift, and the words that followed were all from my daugher’s heart.

My daughter gave me the whole book on Christmas day, and I decided to open one letter per month. That way, it will last the whole year. I have opened 5 so far (I will open the 6th – for June – right after I hit ‘Publish’ on this post), and I am blown away by this ‘gift that keeps on giving’.

I thought this would also be an amazing gift to give to your Dad on Father’s Day (Sunday, June 18). If my Dad were still on this earth, I would give it to him. He is no longer here, but I think I will do it anyway. I will write these letters to him … and I know that it will help me to re-experience this beautiful man who brought me into this world and who meant so much to me, to my siblings, and to my mom.

You can make a book like this yourself, and add the openings you think best fit your relationship with your father.

Here are a few ideas for the letter themes:

  • A special memory I have of you is…
  • From you, I learned the importance of…
  • The places that remind me most of you are…
  • One thing I am glad we share is…
  • I always think of you when…
  • I love that our family…
  • One thing I admire about you is…
  • The best adventure we’ve had together is…
  • I’ve always wanted to tell you…
  • I always laugh when I remember…
  • I am most of proud of you when…
  • The moment that I knew what it meant to be a father is…
  • Thank you for…
  • In the future I hope we…

You can choose to give your Dad the whole book of letters, or you can write one per month and mail it to him. What a beautiful gift it will be for him to receive this from you. Especially in this time of electronic communication. Checking the mail will be a whole new experience for him!

Happy Father’s Day…to all the Current Dads, Future Dads, Dads who have left this Earth too soon, and Dads still to come…and to all of you who love those Dads!

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker and Author, Deri’s message reinforces that positive habits are the pathway to a happier and healthier life – at work, and at home! www.derilatimer.com

 

Feast on ‘Growth’ or Starve on Ego

Man&WomanMeeting1When Bob Kegan, Ph.D. spoke at the 2016 NeuroLeadership Summit in New York and said ‘feast on your weaknesses or starve on your ego’, I took special note. The topic of discussion was Feedback That Works, and the message being delivered was ‘Stop Giving Feedback’. I was intrigued.

Research from the NeuroLeadership Institute reinforces what many of us already know. Feedback, at least the way it happens in most organizations today, puts people in a threat state,  and makes it less likely that they will actually hear the feedback, and then take constructive action to: 1) contemplate the message, 2) ask thoughtful questions, and then, untimately, 3) make any adjustments that might be required as a result of receiving the feedback. They’ll be so focused on the threat, that their neural resources will be used up defending themselves (starving on ego) rather than in maximizing the opportunity to learn and grow (feasting on growth). Since feedback often only happens around Performance Management discussions, it is inextricably associated with all of the other negative repercussions of traditional PM.

There are two major concerns with the way feedback typically happens in organizations. First, it is GIVEN, not sought. Second, it is linked to the cycle of Performance Management (which for many organization, is also linked to ‘success’ in the organization, including level of remuneration and qualification for succession opportunities).

The answer is, indeed, to ‘stop giving feedback’…and to start asking for it!

Yes, you read that correctly! Instead of relying on others to ‘evaluate’ you, to indicate what is going well and what is not, why not ask for it – regularly. And, don’t just limit the asking to your immediate supervisor – ask everyone you interact with at work. Treat feedback that you hear as the gift that it is; insight into others’ experience of you and your actions, and the opportunities available for you to continue to learn and grow as a human being.

If you are asking for feedback, and you hear that feedback as critical information that will HELP you to learn and grow, then your brain will automatically be in a positive (reward) state rather than a negative (threat) state.

This will also support all of the ground-breaking research from Carol Dweck on Growth Mindset. Choosing to believe that you can continue to learn and grow throughout your life, automatically makes you more curious, more engaged, and more resilient. Feedback is simply another way to gain insight into opportunities for personal learning and growth. You win, your leader wins, and your organization wins.

Here are some simple strategies to help you to feast on growth:

  • Choose to believe that you can (and will) continue to learn and grow throughout your entire life
  • Approach key individuals in your organization and agree to engage in a two-way dialogue about feedback; ensure that each of you ask for and then share important information that is focused on helping eachother to learn and grow
  • When someone offers to give your feedback (and you have not asked for it), frame the feedback as a gift. Choose to look at the enchange as an opportunity for you to feast on growth (so you don’t starve on ego).

Bon appetit!

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker and Author, Deri’s message reinforces that positive habits are the pathway to a happier and healthier life – at work, and at home! www.derilatimer.com

Three Pathways to Develop Self-Compassion

2017 meditation shot smallI am in a course on “Mindful Self-Compassion“. I wish you could be there with me.

After the very first session, I noticed a shift…I felt softer, I felt more loving, I felt more patient and kind. Each of those feelings were directed toward mySELF…and I noticed right away how they affected the feelings I had to important people in my life.

Kristin Neff says that ‘self-compassion’ means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings. Well, I’ve had a few personal failings. I’ll bet you have too. I know I have not been very kind to myself during those times. Have you?

Kristin goes on to say that “Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Think about what the experience of compassion feels like. First, to have compassion for others you must notice that they are suffering. If you ignore that homeless person on the street, you can’t feel compassion for how difficult his or her experience is. Second, compassion involves feeling moved by others’ suffering so that your heart responds to their pain (the word compassion literally means to “suffer with”). When this occurs, you feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly. Finally, when you feel compassion for another (rather than mere pity), it means that you realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience.”

In Neff’s research, the three elements of self-compassion are:

  1. Self-Kindness vs Self-Judgment: Being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.
  2. Common Humanity vs Isolation: Recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.
  3. Mindfulness vs Over-Identification: Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time.  At the same time, mindfulness requires that we not be “over-identified” with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negative reactivity.

Here are three strategies from ‘Wake Up to Your Habits‘ that will provide practical pathways to develop more Self-Compassion:

If you want to be more: Caring, Compassionate, Tender

Ask yourself these questions to help Connect to Your Heart:

  • Who or what brings out tenderness in me?
  • What touches my heart?
  • How can I care for myself and/or others?

Try this body exercise to ‘Blink“:

  • Sit in front of a mirror. Close your eyes and imagine that you are sitting face to face  with someone you love. Pay attention to your feelings of care and tenderness. Now open your eyes.

If you want to be more: Loving, Affectionate, Liking

Ask yourself these questions to Appreciate What Matters:

  • What do I appreciate about myself?
  • What effect am I looking for?
  • What matters?

Try this body exercise to ‘Express Appreciation“:

  • Stand tall. Notice what you apreciate about your body – your feet, legs, torso, shoulders, head. What do you like about your senses – smell, taste, touch, hearing, and sight? Expand your affection to all of you.

If you want to be more: Self-Confident, Self-Assured, Aligned

Ask yourself these questions to experience ‘Unconditional Acceptance‘:

  • What do I like about myself?
  • If I accepted myself unconditionally, what would be different?
  • What does life in alignment look like?

Try this body exercise to ‘Accept What Is‘:

  • Stand with your feed hip-width apart, with your arms and hands hanging loosely at your sides. Look into the mirror and say, “I accept all of who I am”. Now turn 90 degrees and repeat, “I accept all of who I am”. Turn 90 degrees twice more until you are facing the mirror. Repeat, turning in the opposite direction.

I love this quote by Rumi – I think it sums up what Self-Compassion is all about.

mm rumi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker and Author, Deri’s message reinforces that positive habits are the pathway to a happier and healthier life – at work, and at home! www.derilatimer.com

The Three O’s of Optimism: Grow Through what you Go Through

Keri HatYou have a voice in your head. Can you hear it right now?

In neuroscience, the voice in your head is part of your Default Narrative Network. It’s the constant stream of thoughts (chatter, images, sounds, speech bubbles) going through your mind. The data in those thoughts is a record of what you have paid attention to over time, and how you have interpreted the observations around you. It is a never ending playlist of what has occurred in your life, and what assumptions, beliefs, rules, and truths you have attached to your life experience so far. Oh, and the voice also spends some time focused on the future, based on what has happened in the past and what assumptions, beliefs, rules and truths you can attach to what might happen tomorrow (or next week, next month…….you get the drift).

When you are faced with an obstacle or some adversity in your life, the ‘voice in your head’ dictates your pessimism or your optimism. In Martin Seligman’s National Bestseller, Learned Optimism, he details that the differences between optimists and pessimists is their ‘explanatory style’. In other words, the difference is what they say to themselves about the obstacle, setback or adverse situation.

Seligman describes that the explanatory style of a pessimist follows three themes, which he defines as The three P’s of Pessimism: Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personal.  Seligman notes that a pessimist is less persistent in dealing with setbacks or overcoming obstacles because when an obstacle presents itself, the pessimist believes that it will ALWAYS be an obstacle (Permanence), EVERYTHING is an obstacle (Pervasiveness), and I (the pessimist) will NEVER be any different (Personal). The result is a sense of hopelessness that negates any chance of personal growth or opportunity for change.
Seligman’s three P’s made sense to me when I read them; however, I found myself wondering – what are The Three O’s of Optimism?  Not finding them in his book, I decided to create them!

You can change the voice in your head to be more optimistic (hopeful, positive) by changing your explanatory style – by changing what you say to yourself in times of adversity or challenge.

The Three O’s of Optimism are: Occasion, Opportunity, and Ownership.

Occasion is a reminder that the obstacle before you is just that, an occasion… a moment in time. It is not ALWAYS bad, it just happens to be bad right now. The catastrophic language like EVERYTHING, ALWAYS and NEVER, which are used by the pessimist, will by themselves make you less persistent!  You will give up before you even start.  Really, think about any circumstance in which this generalized language is true, or even remotely useful.  It is disengageing language; if you believe that something is permanent, then it shall be permanent – because you will have made it so.  You can look at all the moments in your life as ‘occasions’ or occurrences: some are positive and some are not.

Opportunity is a reminder that setbacks or obstacles are just that – blips in the road, diversions along the way – which are often opportunities for greater learning and insight.  For example, if your relationship with your manager is becoming strained (an obstacle to your performance) that is an opportunity for you to pause, think about what you want from that relationship, and plan what you want to say to your manager.  The strain (‘problem’) is actually an indicator that you need to have a dialogue about how you work together.  This is an opportunity to go deeper to enhance your working relationship and make it better. At the end of the dialogue, you will undoubtedly have a stronger connection – impacting performance for you both. Unlike the pessimists dialogue about pervasiveness, the optimist knows that every occasion is an opportunity for learning and growing.

Ownership is a reminder that sometimes a setback or obstacle is a direct result of your personal actions, and sometimes it is not.  Sometimes, the setback is due to the actions of others. You are, of course, responsible for your actions along the way – and those actions will be easier choices for you when you realize that the setback or obstacle is not permanent or pervasive! As an optimist, you take responsibility for your experience, and you allow others to take responsibility for theirs.

Tune in to your explanatory style.  What do you say to yourself when you are faced with a setback or an obstacle? Are your thoughts helping you to grow through what you go through, or are they keeping you stuck in the muck?

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker and Author, Deri’s message reinforces that positive habits are the pathway to a happier and healthier life – at work, and at home! www.derilatimer.com

 

Put a Little Love in your Heart

Heart…and the world will be a better place for you and me.

Do you believe that? Is it as simple as putting a little love in your heart? Will the world really be a better place?

I believe it. I believe that love trumps hate, that good trumps bad, that kindness trumps meanness….and I believe that we all benefit when we all have a little more love in our heart.

The lyrics by Jackie DeShannon provide a few insights about what you can do, like ‘Think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand’, and ‘I hope when you decide, kindness will be your guide’.

I am reminded in this month of love, about another song by Haddaway called ‘What is Love?’ While I cannot help but think of the Saturday Night Live skit featuring Jim Carrey, Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell (with a huge smile on my face…and a little love in my heart),

..it dawned on me that we could all use a reminder of what love is, and how we might be able to put a little love in our heart. This skit is so engaging because it reminds us all of our search for ‘love’, for acceptance, for connection as we navigate our way through life. It also adds a humorous look at how we often don’t really know what love is. Rather than focusing on what love is NOT (love is not pain, like the lyrics, ‘Baby, don’t hurt me’ remind us), let’s focus on what love is and some things that you CAN do to generate it.

LOVE is strong attachment, attraction, warm affection, enthusiasm or devotion. When you think of this definition, what is ‘love’ to you?

Here is a little LOVE acronym with some ideas to help you put a little love in your heart:

L – Look around. On purpose, every day, choose to focus on what brings love into your heart. It might be a person, a pet, a place, a thing…take a few moments at the beginning and end of your day to focus on and ‘feel’ love in your heart. Remember to purposely focus on what you love about YOURSELF, and what you add to the people, places and things around you.

OOpt for compassion. You might not always ‘lend a helping hand’, maybe ‘kindness’ isn’t always ‘your guide’ – in fact, maybe you behaved down-right badly toward another person or situation. Show compassion to yourself (and to others when they might need that from you). Give yourself the oportunity to make an adjustment. Perhaps you will apologize, or maybe you will offer forgiveness. In all cases, let go and move on (with a little love in your heart).

V – Be Vulnerable. Rather than waiting for someone else to show kindness toward you, choose to go first. Put yourself on the line. Reach out. Help someone else. Make that call you don’t have time to make. Stop and chat with someone you might otherwise walk past. Offer a compliment or a word of encouragement to another person (and to yourself).

E – Nourish the Ecosystem. You Matter. What you think, feel and do makes a difference to you and to the ecosystems of which you are a part. Every moment of every day you are either contributing positively to the ecosystem (yourself, your family, your community, your workplace), or not. You determine whether or not ‘the world will be a better place’, or not. Choose positive. Choose nourishment. Choose life. Choose love.

And, if your mind and body are full of love….if the world is full of love….there is no room, no space, no chance for anything else to exist. And that is just better for you and me.

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker and Author, Deri’s message reinforces that positive habits are the pathway to a happier and healthier life – at work, and at home! www.derilatimer.com