Productive By Design

Productive By Design

In my work with leaders and teams, the bottom line is always productivity.  But what really makes you more productive?  People look to be productive through external processes such as streamlining their business, following tips for organizing and prioritizing, and changing the furniture around, and increasingly by internal processes such as trying to think positively, not sweat the small stuff, and calming your mind through meditation and other techniques. This is because there’s a growing awareness that the thing that interferes with your productivity the most is an overactive, stressed and busy mind.  As long as your mind is overactive, you’ll lack the mental clarity required to be really productive.

What’s missing in this picture is the awareness of something built into you that allows your mind to be calm, present, and as a consequence, productive.  Understanding this design for optimal mental functioning allows you to get before you create all that unnecessary thinking, which you are then trying to help with techniques like meditation.  Your mind is designed to be productive; you just have to understand the nature of its design.

The principles that revealed the fact of this innate design for mental clarity and productivity were discovered over 40 years ago by a man named Sydney Banks.   In essence, once you see the logic of these principles, it dissolves the illusion that you can experience anything outside of you – a busy work schedule, difficult boss, problems at home – and it becomes crystal clear that in fact the only thing you ever feel is your thinking in the moment about such events and circumstances.  This simple but essential shift in perception cuts out enormous amounts of unproductive thinking.  It’s the key to aligning with nature’s design for a productive mind.

My wish for every leader and team member is that you begin to experience the incredible power of this built-in system for mental calm, clarity and productivity.  Nature is so much better at designing things than we are!

What is a Leadership State of Mind?

What is a Leadership State of Mind?

A woman leader who I’m working with asked me recently to describe to her why a responsive, rather than reactive, state of mind is essential for leadership. I have many examples of how leaders have blown it with colleagues, at team meetings and with direct reports by becoming reactive rather than responsive. But what came to mind when she asked me about it was an experience I had from 2004-2008, working with a team at a very large manufacturing company.

This company had been struggling for a number of years, and was running very much in the red, due to high cost of poor quality and high company turnover. Before the introduction of our trainings, leadership behavior was characterized as harsh, arrogant, and frenzied, and those behaviors had become accepted as the norm. The more leaders treated people this way, the more insecure they became, which lead to even more mistakes and more people leaving the company.

We taught the leadership teams how state of mind drives performance. As they began to see the link between thought and experience, they realized that when they were upset or angry, it wasn’t coming from the performance of colleagues and direct reports, or from loss of profits, it was coming from their own thinking in the moment about company issues. As they settled down and became more secure, so did the people who worked for them, and the morale of the company improved significantly. Leadership began to get good ideas about how to empower their teams. During the period when this approach was used, sales and profit increased almost every year. Every year the performance targets for sales were increased and every year they were exceeded. *

Understanding the link between thought and experience allows you to see the direct connection between your state of mind and your performance. It’s a predictor of success both at home and in the workplace.

How the Single Paradigm Impacts Leadership Effectiveness

How the Single Paradigm Impacts Leadership Effectiveness

I’ve been coaching two sisters who have started their own business, helping the elderly stay in their homes. When we started, they described their lives as hectic and stressed. After learning about the Single Paradigm, they began to see big changes in themselves and in their business. “We were working seven days a week, sometimes 12 hour days. We were hiring caregivers and doing some of the home-care ourselves. We were in a state of constant stress. We over-analyzed and worried about every decision we had to make. We were on automatic pilot, and it felt like we were headed for a crash.

“When we learned about the Single Paradigm so much unnecessary thinking fell away. It was almost spooky at first to experience that mental quiet. But then so many benefits followed. We no longer over think things. When we had to fire a caregiver recently, we were able to do so easily and with grace, instead of agonizing over it as we would have in the past. And we were able to talk with her in a way that seemed to bring out the best in her – she owned up to what she’d done and we parted on good terms.

“Our business is growing so quickly now our main challenge is keeping up with all the growth. We’re starting to meet our financial goals. And the best part is, we’re having fun doing it!

When unnecessary thinking gets subtracted from your day-to-day, moment-by moment experience of life, it frees your mind to work as nature intended – with mental clarity, and the capacity to respond well to work and life challenges. It’s all so much easier when you have a clear mind.


Magnetic Leadership:  The Power of a Responsive State of Mind

Magnetic Leadership: The Power of a Responsive State of Mind

Have you ever wondered why some leaders draw people to them, are good at decision-making, and gain your trust almost instantly? Other leaders, on the other hand, are difficult to get along with, engender a culture with high employee turnover, and make questionable decisions that negatively impact the future of the company? It has everything to do with a leader’s state of mind.

You’ve probably heard me use the terms ‘inside-out’ and ‘outside-in’ before. ‘Outside-in’ refers to the way we all get caught in the illusion that events and circumstances cause your feelings. Just as when you lose your balance and instantly get an insecure feeling – nature’s way of alerting you that you’re out of alignment with gravity – when you’re caught in the outside-in illusion you lose your balance psychologically. What alerts you to that is a sense of insecurity or anxiety. Your mind begins to fill up with lots and lots of thinking in its attempt to make sense out of what’s going on from the perspective of this outside-in illusion. Since that’s impossible to make sense of, your mind will continue to fill up with thought, and you will continue to feel anxious and insecure, no matter how many times you try to drop your thoughts, re-frame them into more positive ones (as in cognitive behavioral therapy) or settle them down through observing them or focusing on something (mindfulness). An outside-in perception of life puts you on shaky ground, and as long as you continue to see life that way your mind will keep being overactive. An overactive mind leads to stress, and eventually to reactivity. That reactivity repels people because it’s unpleasant to be around, and can lead to poor decision-making, as your IQ literally goes down when you’re in a state of mental stress. (“Where Did My IQ Points Go?,” Relly Neale, Psychology Today, 04/29/2011)

An inside-out state of mind, on the other hand, is based on the fact that life only works one way – that the only thing you ever feel is your thinking in the moment about events and circumstances. Seeing this fundamental and consistent truth about your psychological reality calms you down and gives you a fundamental sense of security about how you go about your life. Your mind will settle itself and drop enormous amounts of unnecessary thinking, as the principles that govern your psychological functioning are designed to help your mind do this on a regular basis.

That mental spaciousness is what creates magnetic leadership – it draws good things to you, as well as giving you a heightened capacity to make good decisions, engender trust and have good rapport with the people you lead. There is tremendous power in a responsive state of mind.

Mental Clarity In a Minute– the Key to Leadership

Mental Clarity In a Minute– the Key to Leadership

Mental clarity is essential for leadership, because when your mind is clear you have more intelligence at your disposal. You have a larger perspective, are more open to new ideas and are more likely to receive the kinds of insights that can solve business challenges and move your organization forward. Your mind becomes more orderly and efficient. You also have a sense of well being when your mind is clear and are more likely to connect well with others.

Every successful leader I’ve worked with has found a way to access mental clarity regularly, through working out, running, letting their mind settle and clear on the way to work, cooking, or taking a walk around the park. While it’s helpful for people to experience mental clarity in these diverse situations, it’s not always practical. You can’t always get to the gym or on an airplane when you need a solution to a complex problem. Many leaders I work with wish their mental clarity was more easily accessed and sustainable.

The fact is, the mind is designed to achieve mental clarity in a minute. When we remember to factor thought into our experience, we align ourselves with the principles that are put in place by nature to keep our minds running optimally. Then even the most potentially stressful business challenges can be much less stressful, even enjoyable. As a woman leader in charge of re-structuring her company put it to me recently, “Understanding the role that thought plays makes all the difference. If I start to get bogged down, I remember that I have higher quality thinking available to me, and then I don’t grind away at things. All that unnecessary thinking that would normally get in my way just evaporates, and I’m back in the game feeling better and more capable than ever.

May you have increasing mental clarity in your leadership roles.

With Love,