Mind the Grip

February 17th, 2017   •   Articles, Blog, Leadership, Next-level Leadership   •   Comments Off on Mind the Grip   

by Jennifer Sellers

I felt the grip as I rounded the first corner. I was on one of my usual routes in our desert-scape neighborhood, accompanied by my walking buddy, Tia, a rather reactive but usually smiling black-coated retriever mix. Was there a coyote, a javelina, a bobcat…as is often the case these sunrise mornings? No, the subtle feeling came from inside me.

I had a thought, and then there was the grip. The thought was about a conversation later in the day with a potential client. I had completed a Phase I project for this group and was to talk with one of the leads about whether and what Phase II is. On the one hand, I was looking forward to the conversation, to connecting, and to seeing if there is a way in which I can be of service. On the other hand, my fight-flight-freeze nervous system felt threatened, perhaps for no good reason other than that’s what it does.

Everyone experiences the grip. A friend told me he feels a slight discomfort whenever he opens his email or the phone rings at work. He doesn’t want to react this way; it just happens. I’ve never met anyone who likes to feel vulnerable, but the grip doesn’t just pack up and leave because we ask it to.

Rounding that corner, as soon as I noticed the slight constriction in my gut, I laughed a little and relaxed. My amygdala might try to convince me otherwise, but the afternoon’s conversation was not really a threat to my well-being. And the paradox is that welcoming the sensation is the trick to gaining from it. It does have something to say, after all, and in this case jotting down what I’m curious about for the meeting was a good idea.

The natural instinct is to reject the apprehension and push it away with another – maybe happier – thought, but that’s not as helpful as it seems. Denying it doesn’t make it go away. The counter-intuitive move to “lean into the sharp point,” as some Tibetan teachers put it, is the move that allows you to work with the experience, and opens the next moment up so that you can respond rather than react.

Everyone can practice relaxing into the grip, looking at what is troubling, and making a conscious choice about how to proceed. If it’s super-sized, it may take more time. In some cases, one breath is enough to help you turn toward it rather than away from it. The trick is to recognize the grip then create a gap. A pause allows you to take that energy and turn it into positive action.

If you’re a leader in a new role or are about to become one, you are likely experiencing more unease than normal. Knowing that and giving yourself the permission to mind the grip and create the gap will help you smooth the inevitable rough spots. It will help you read new situations. It will help you form valuable relationships. It will serve you well as a walking buddy on your path to next-level leadership.

Pausing, Lojong, and Leadership

September 11th, 2016   •   Articles, Blog, Leadership, Mindful leadership, Personal mastery   •   Comments Off on Pausing, Lojong, and Leadership   

by Kate Harper
lillysI was recently introduced to lojong, a centuries-old Buddhist practice for training the mind in compassion. As Pema Chodron describes it, lojong contains “fifty-nine pithy slogans that remind us how to awaken our hearts.” The slogans point to practical instructions for ways to awaken amidst the beauty and difficulty of the world.

I was struck by lojong’s use of pithy sayings as invitations (or exhortations) to practice a different way of engaging with what is right in front of us. And that made me think, this is what we created with Pause, Inspired Mastery’s book and card set of 52 practices for leaders.

Concise practices and pithy quotes that cultivate presence

Hang on for a minute. Before you think I’ve gone crazy, I am not comparing Pause to lojong as an important spiritual text. I’m not saying Pause is the path to enlightenment. And yet, Pause is a set of concise practices, with pithy quotes, that invite a different way of engaging with what is right in front of us. The Pause practices open possibility, expand awareness, and cultivate presence. In pausing and inviting a new perspective, we access our natural resourcefulness and open-heartedness.

I often reach for Pause when I’ve got my knickers in a twist. Feeling frustrated with my ability to help a client get unstuck? Pick a practice at random.

Practice 5: Stay in the Game

A hero is no braver than the ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer. — Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Ahh. I breathe. I relax. I get back in the game.

Less stress, more impact

Lojong also reminds me to use Pause in a conscious and dedicated way. I pick a practice for the week and apply it several times a day. I choose a signal – e.g. when the phone rings or before I begin a meeting, to remind myself to practice. This week I picked practice 27.

Practice 27: Turn Problems in to Assets

If you fall in the mud puddle, check your pockets for fish. — Anonymous

As I take a moment to practice I feel less stressed and more resourceful. I have a greater ability to do my work well. Isn’t that what we all want? Less stress and more impact.

If you already have Pause, take it out and pick a practice for this week (or day). Or try on one from the free sample pdf. Choose a signal as a reminder. Work with what is right in front of you, in the moment. No extra time required. Be dedicated, deliberate, and compassionate with yourself.

If you’d like to learn more about lojong, there is a wonderful short article by Pema Chodron at the Lions Roar website. Learn more or order a copy of the Pause book and cards here.

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Entelechy uses Pause to Unleash Leadership Potential

September 11th, 2016   •   Blog, Leadership, News, Pause   •   Comments Off on Entelechy uses Pause to Unleash Leadership Potential   

by Sheri Boone
entelechy-logo“I was destined to have this card today,” or, “God sent me this card.” Those are some of the reactions Donna Iacopucci, Executive Vice President of Entelechy, Inc. gets when using the Pause book and cards in Entelechy’s core program, Unleash your Leadership Potential.

“When I do a train the trainer, I use them during the training and I give participants their own copy so they can use them during and after the training. I walk around the room, fan out the 52 cards, and say, ‘Pick a card.’ Everyone picks one and I ask them to read their card, then I read the corresponding section from the book aloud. People have positive responses such as, ‘I was destined to have this card today,’ or, ‘God sent me this card.’”

They help everybody be a better leader

Donna noted that after the training, leaders and managers love having the cards on their desks. People will pick one card for the day and post it on their computer. “They help everybody be a better leader,” she says.

The word, entelechy, comes from the Latin for “unlocking potential.” Entelechy specializes in customized management and leadership development programs and customer service training for clients such as Direct TV and CA Technology.

In their core program, Unleash your Leadership Potential, Pause book and cards are used in the training as well as given out as gifts to trainers and senior leaders. Donna teaches her clients about the importance of taking a pause to reflect on the moment and their leadership.

Thank you very much to Donna Iacopucci and Entelechy, Inc. for your meaningful and powerful work!

You may contact Donna at: UnleashYourLeadership.com

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Think Bigger

August 4th, 2015   •   Articles, Blog, Leadership, Mindful leadership, Personal mastery, Practice to go   •   Comments Off on Think Bigger   

by Jen Sellers

Yellow FlowerOne way to think bigger is to question the thoughts you’re having. Questioning your thoughts requires you to know what they are. Knowing what they are requires self-awareness. And self-awareness requires practice.

Notice Any Thoughts

Begin by just noticing any thoughts you’re having, any time you can. You might take a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days to practice this step. Notice whether each thought that you become aware of evokes a positive, a negative, or a neutral feeling in your body and your psyche. Just this much may lead you to insights.

Listen to this practice here:

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Don’t Believe Everything You Think

August 3rd, 2015   •   Articles, Blog, Leadership, Mindful leadership, Personal mastery   •   Comments Off on Don’t Believe Everything You Think   

by Jen Sellers


Mindful Leadership

“Mindfulness” and “mindful leadership” are buzzwords in business today, but they are concepts that people have practiced for thousands of years. And self-awareness – a form of mindfulness – is one of the basic components of emotional intelligence, a suite of traits that is more and more valued in the workplace.

The components of mindfulness are simple. It is present-moment awareness without judging something good or bad. Any time a leader looks at something with an open, curious mind, he or she is practicing mindfulness. A flurry of studies shows that even short-term mindfulness practices can bring many, many benefits, including increased physical health, emotional health, focus, and memory; and decreased stress, depression, and hostility.

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Nine Breath Mind Clearing

June 1st, 2015   •   Articles, Blog, Leadership, Mindful leadership, Personal mastery, Practice to go   •   Comments Off on Nine Breath Mind Clearing   

by Jen Sellers

BowRiverAndMtnHere’s a Mindful Leadership practice for you – a nine-breath mind-clearing exercise. Use it between activities, as you leave one activity behind and prepare for the next, for example, between email and a meeting, between one phone call and another, between a conversation and working on a project.

You can be sitting or standing, and as you gain experience with it, you can even be moving from place to place. This practice takes only a few minutes to learn and a few seconds to do. Listen to the exercise here.

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Pause Used at the Institute for Courageous Principal Leadership

June 1st, 2015   •   Blog, Leadership, News   •   Comments Off on Pause Used at the Institute for Courageous Principal Leadership   

by Sheri Boone

Minnesota StateThis month we are very happy to feature the excellent work of the Institute for Courageous Principal Leadership at Minnesota State University, Mankato. We are extremely proud that our Pause book and card deck is a part of the Institute’s curriculum and is being used by the principals to navigate their change. The program is gaining national recognition for changing the way principals lead and for making a difference in school leadership.

Dr. Candace Raskin, Professor and Chair of the the Department of Educational Leadership tells us, “The Institute for Courageous Principal Leadership changes how they lead. The principals need to be courageous, and when they have resistance, we ask, ‘what tools can we use to help them get through this’?”

Focused on racial equity, with the realization that black students’ achievement is 30% lower than white students in test scores, the Institute’s two year program works with a cohort of 150 current and future principals from both urban and rural school districts in Minnesota.

The curriculum is aligned with current research on effective leadership and is infused with racial equity. Principals grow in all areas and are more racially engaged and focused. The program is committed to developing courageous leaders who deliberately educate all students, including students of color.

Thank you, Dr. Raskin and your faculty of former principals and superintendents, for the wonderful work the Institute is providing these excellent educators!

Learn more about The Institute for Courageous Principal Leadership.

Curator of the Good and Useful

May 14th, 2015   •   Articles, Blog, Leadership, Mindful leadership, Personal mastery   •   Comments Off on Curator of the Good and Useful   

by Kate Harper

curateMy client had a tough decision – go on the last business trip before retirement with a very special colleague or stay put and keep an eye on a very high profile project.

“Choose your answer,” I coached him. “Now imagine it is 10 minutes from now. How do you feel? Now move forward 10 months. How do you feel? How about 10 years from now?”

He got his answer. “Great tool,” he said.

“It’s not mine. I stole it from Suzy Welch.”

“Fantastic. I’ve never had an original thought, but I’m great at recognizing them.”

That got me thinking. I’ve always been in awe of people who create something – those with a message, philosophy, or good and useful tool. I’m sheepish that everything I have to offer has been learned from someone else. My client’s words stopped me short. What if the eye for something good and useful is a talent? Indeed one of my gifts is the ability to find, absorb, and share things that are genuinely helpful to my clients. I hereby claim my gift. I am a curator of helpful perspectives, practices, and tools.

Please join me for my first curated exhibition: one perspective, one practice, and one tool.

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Thank You Kevin Pokorny

April 2nd, 2015   •   Blog, News   •   Comments Off on Thank You Kevin Pokorny   

kevinporkonyWe are very honored and appreciative of our affiliate, Kevin Pokorny, principal of Pokorny Consulting in Des Moines, Iowa. Recently, Kevin presented a leadership workshop featuring our Pause book and card deck and wrote this:

Slowly but surely, mindfulness practices are seeping into business organizations in Des Moines. Every time I introduce your book and cards, I receive meaningful responses. Your book, cards and work with leaders have opened the door for me to bring your message to my clients. I’m so grateful to know you three and your work.

And we are grateful to Kevin for his very committed and thoughtful work in the world. You can read about Kevin at: www.pokornyconsulting.com

Trendy or Timeless?

April 2nd, 2015   •   Articles, Blog, Leadership, Mindful leadership, Personal mastery   •   Comments Off on Trendy or Timeless?   

by Kate Harper

Years ago, I was told to just be present. What? What the heck does that mean? Mindfulness – being present to what is happening in the moment with openness, curiosity, and compassion – is an ancient practice garnering a lot of buzz in leadership circles.

Trendy and Timeless JacketsIs mindfulness this season’s polka dotted coat or a Chanel jacket? Our vote is for Chanel. From the beginning, we at Inspired Mastery have supported our clients to bring mindfulness to everyday circumstances. One of Jen’s clients, Lucianne Walkowicz, a stellar astronomer and TED Fellow shares her experience (excerpted from her blog post Be There Then):

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