Are You Looking Up or Falling Down?

I have been speaking with someone who is really feeling ‘down’ right now.??And, I have to admit…it’s kind of …well, ‘bringing me down’.

Partly it’s?because this person has been ‘down’ for a very long?time.? And partly?it’s because I am having to ‘fight’ to stay ‘up’ – and I don’t like it one bit.

So, I?have made a decision to limit my time with this person.? It may seem selfish, but I believe it’s what’s best?for me – and for this person.?

It has got me thinking about how we ‘grow’ that which we focus on (and surround ourselves with).? If we only talk about what’s bad (difficult, unpleasant, frustrating, etc.), that’s what we notice.? And then we say ‘see, I was right!!’? And guess what (you already know this)…everyone else around us starts to feel the same way we do…and we all fall into the muddy pool of despair together (okay, maybe I am getting a little dramatic!!)

Well, no more.? I have never been a person who stayed ‘down’ for very long; and I have to admit, I have now reached my limit!

Do I sometimes feel ‘down’?? Absolutely!? I just refuse to choose to stay there.? Frankly, it’s way too exhausting!

I have been researching the brain for a client project lately.? You likely already know that we are actually hard-wired to notice danger (i.e. what’s bad).? So, we need to ‘work’ at noticing what’s right.? And, when we do…we release all sorts of wonderful neurotransmitters like dopamine that ‘open up’ our perspective and allow us to see more possibilities.? Focusing on what’s wrong acutally ‘closes’ our viewpoint, and limits our ability to see options and opportunities right in front of us (we sometimes ‘fall’ right past them).?

We can?develop a?habit of noticing what’s good (right, beautiful, pleasant, joyful, etc.), though.? Begin by making it your intention every day to look for what’s right – for what’s good.? Have your discussions be mostly about what’s going well.? When someone shares good news with you – pass it on!? Spend just a little time on the difficulties in your life.? Share them, yes.? Label them, for sure.? Then reappraise or reframe, and carry on.? The more you stay focused on the difficulties, the more they ‘grow’ (and the downward spiral continues).

I read a couple of articles recently that struck me and support this message.? In ‘Can watching a move about Happiness make us Happier?’?? ?The author, Ryan Niemiec, says ‘The renowned observational learning theorist, Albert Bandura, observed that most of what we learn in life comes from what we observe and that this information is encoded within us for future use. Thus, it makes perfect sense that watching a movie about happiness would help us learn more about happiness and actions we might take to become happy, as we observe the positive role models in a given film.”?

And he goes on to say “?The idea is to expand and widen these moments of happiness. Along these lines, science guides us to reminisce about the positive (in this case, the positive aspects of the movie), to savor and relish in the positive state, and to share the positive feelings with others. When you see a movie that leads you to feel happy, what do you do with that positive emotion? Do you mindlessly leave the theater while the credits are rolling looking to be the first person in the parking lot? Do you turn to your mobile device while walking out of the theater, curious about who might have e-mailed or sent you a text message during the film?

Or do you take time to reflect on the work of art you just witnessed? Do you discuss the film with others? Do you examine the strengths and behaviors the characters in the film exhibited and how they might serve as models for you? Do you consider the ways in which the characters impacted you and what subsequent changes you might make?

Taking the time to be mindful of these questions might help you expand your happiness.”

A second article I read was meaningful to me more than one way.? Mostly, because I have a daughter about to graduate from high school.? And I, like all parents, have spent my life working to prepare her to be a resilient, productive, positive, happy person.?

The article in HR Magazine called ‘Graduate Recruitment:? You need a good attitude, not a good degree says Ernst & Young’? written by David Young states that “with over 22% of 16-24 year olds out of work, graduates will need to build resilience and get out of their comfort zones if they are going to realise their potential, according to the findings of a survey by Ernst & Young…(the survey)?showed that while graduates have many core strengths, they aren’t always willing to take risks and can struggle to recover from setbacks.”

In other words, you have to be able to look up or you’ll fall down.? And when your perspective is ‘down’ it really is just like falling…you are taken away, easily, down a vortex of negativity.

Looking up might take a little more work at first, but the ‘up’?view?trump the other one – hands down!!

Deri Latimer, B Mgt, CSP, is an expert in possibilities for people! She is one of fewer than 10% of speakers globally who hold the designation of Certified Speaking Professional. Deri combines a Business degree in Human Resources with experience from business sectors including health care, manufacturing, education, agriculture, government, mining, transportation, tourism, and professional services. Deri helps individuals and organizations optimize their performance by managing their energy; applying the latest research and practice in positive psychology, appreciative inquiry, emotional intelligence, neuroleadership, and employee engagement.?



Never Give Up!

I just saw this video and was completely moved by it!

Heather Dorniden of the University of Minnesota races the 600m at the Big 10 Indoor Track Championships.

She reminds us what a race really is about.

What life is really about.

We will fall. We can rise.

Never give up!

It’s a simple, yet powerful, reminder for us all.

When I was 16, I left my comfortable home in northern Manitoba to attend the University of Winnipeg Collegiate for Grade 12.? My parents were determined to help me transition to ‘university life’ by acquiring a broader perspective at a larger learning institution.

Before I left, some of my ‘friends’ made comments like, ‘you won’t make it’, ‘you’ll be back, just like the rest of us’.? At the time, I thought, ‘I’ll show you!? I’ll do this and I’ll do well!’

Well, the?University of?Winnipeg?was indeed a larger institution!? I’ll never forget my first day of school – it was orientation day.

I walked into Wesley Hall…and froze.? In that building – in one room – there were more people than I had ever seen in one place in my entire life!? I was from a? town with?a population of about 1,500…and I found myself standing among 500 of my peers waiting to enter the lecture hall.? Well, actually, I did not think of them as my peers.? I actually think I heard that Sesame Street song playing in my head ‘one of these things does not belong here, one of these things is not like the others…’.?? That one thing was me.? I did not look like anyone else, and I was pretty sure I did not feel like anyone else.? They all seemed so sophisticated and worldly; and I …well…not so much!? My hair and clothes were totally ‘uncool’ and I could not make eye contact with a single person.? I felt ‘invisible’.

A part of?orientation day was an IQ test (yes, they did that in those days).? I felt like I was in a different country – I could hardly answer any of the questions!? I did the best I could, but I knew I was ‘guessing’ mostly.? I felt a confirming thought appear in my mind.? ‘See, you can’t do it!? You don’t belong here!’

A couple of days later, I was summoned to the Dean’s office.? I’ll never forget this experience.? The Dean asked me to sit down, and he then proceeded to tell me that I had scored the lowest score he had ever seen on an IQ test.? He wanted to check and see if I had understood the test and if I was ‘okay’.? I did not know what to say.? I sat stone-faced as the Dean talked and I remember that? I wanted to run!? I wanted to run fast and I wanted to run hard and I wanted to go home.? I had indeed ‘fallen’!

The Dean was very kind and reassured me as best he could.? I went back to my room in residence at Sparling Hall, called my mom, and bawled histerically for an hour.? My mom, in her kind and gentle way, listened …and then encouraged me to give it a day or two, and she said that I would feel better soon.

I remember laying on my bed that night and thinking…’I can’t go home…I can’t let those people be right…I can’t give up…I WILL show them.’

I decided that I needed to work my tail off…and that is exactly what I did.? I went ?to class, I listened intently to my instructors, I did all my homework… I didn’t socialize, I barely ate, I just studied (No, I am not recommending this as?the most?useful strategy for academic success…it’s just the one I chose at the time.)

When I graduated, I achieved not only my diploma (of which I am still most proud today – even over my Bachelor’s Degree and my CSP Designation) but?I achieved it ‘With Distinction’.? I remember looking at the list of graduates, and there was my name near the top…I belonged.? I ‘rose’.

That’s only one example from my life…of falling and rising.? I am grateful for them all.? How about you?? What are your examples?

Are you a leader who tried a new strategy with your team, and it failed?? So what???Think about what you have taught them…that?you are open to new innovations, and you know that not all of them will work (but some surely will!!)? Isn’t that what you want to inspire in them?

Are you?a parent whose child is struggling with a social situation at school, and it’s breaking her heart (and yours)??? Have a?discussion with her about?what can be learned from this situation, about the gifts that adversity (the ‘fall’) ?brings, and about how she can learn to be her own support system (she’ll need that resilience?for the rest of her life).

Are you a friend, who is an ‘ear’ for someone dealing with depression???Remind yourself and your friend,?that falls happen and so do rises.? In fact, the rise is far sweeter after picking yourself up from the fall!

If this video?inspires you as?it did me,?I’d love to hear your story about a time you experience a fall and rise.

Deri Latimer, B Mgt, CSP, is an expert in possibilities for people! She is one of fewer than 10% of speakers globally who hold the designation of Certified Speaking Professional, the speaking profession?s measure of excellence in professional platform skill. Deri combines a Business degree in Human Resources with experience from business sectors including health care, manufacturing, education, agriculture, government, mining, transportation, tourism, and professional services. Deri helps individuals and organizations optimize their performance by managing their energy; applying the latest research and practice in positive psychology, appreciative inquiry, emotional intelligence, and employee engagement.?

Appreciative Inquiry ?at Work?

If you have not already heard of Appreciative Inquiry, check out AI Commons and learn a bit about AI and it?s founder?David Cooperrider.? I first became acquainted with AI from a colleague; that inspired me to attend the AI Conference in Orlando Florida in 2008.? Since then, I use the principles of AI regularly in the work I do with organizations.? This summer, I took extensive training with Jane Magruder Watkins and Maureen McKenna on using the theory of AI in practice.

Here?s a quick peek at?the principles of AI:

  • organizations (and the humans within) grow in the direction of their most frequent inquiries; when we appreciate what is best about ourselves and each other, and ask questions about that, we get more of what?s best
  • we learn about and create more success by asking ?what is the root cause of success??? (as opposed to creating more?failure by asking ?what is the root cause of our failure??
  • we get higher performance by focusing on our strengths, rather than ?fixing? our weaknesses (inquiring about weaknesses begets more weaknesses)
  • our inquiries are fateful?the questions we ask set the stage for what we find; instead of asking ?what is stopping us from being successful?, we need to?ask ?what is contributing to our success??
  • our perceptions determine reality (not the other way around)
  • we socially contruct our organizations (and families, and world); our interactions are the source for what is true for us; so AI requires that the entire system (organization, family) participate in the process
  • we create what we imagine?we will notice what we anticipate, positive or negative, so anticipating a positive image of ourselves, each other, and our organizations, helps us to create that reality
  • the phases of AI are Discovery (inquiring about what?s right, what our strengths are, what is occurring when we are at our best); Dream (imagining our organization as we desire it in the future); Design (identifying the elements that will construct the dream organization); and Destiny (realizing our destiny, as we have constructed it)

There is much evidence that what we think about affects our actions which in turn determine our reality.? Most of us would agree?with this idea.??Now we have the practice of Appreciative Inquiry which provides us with a process?that works!