Mantras to Try If You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Rachel Ament suggests positive affirmations and traditional Sanskrit mantras for anxiety as a daily practice:

Mantras—repeated phrases meant to steady your mind—allow you to steer your thoughts toward a single, focused point. If your mind tends to hover in the past or future (a common thread in anxious thoughts and stress-fueled overthinking,) using mantras for anxiety can help bring you into the present.

Mantras can also help create visualizations. As you take in the texture of the repeated sounds, you can envision a new environment for the mind beyond stress. The mantra can heighten certain senses, such as sight and sound, creating rich inner experiences. Body-based meditation (such as body scans) can sometimes make you feel a little too tuned into your body and its accompanying anxieties; mantras, conversely, provide a point of focus that guides you out of your body, away from yourself.

The Right Way to Respond to Failure

Leadership coach Peter Bregman writes in Harvard Business Review,

All of us except Mimi missed what Dana needed.

We tried to make her feel better by helping her see the advantage of failure, putting the defeat in context, teaching her to draw a lesson from it, and motivating her to work harder and get better so it doesn’t happen again. But she didn’t need any of that. She already knew it. And if she didn’t, she’d figure it out on her own.

The thing she needed, the thing she couldn’t give herself, the thing that Mimi reached out and gave her? Empathy. She needed to feel that she wasn’t alone, that we all loved her and her failure didn’t change that She needed to know we understood how she was feeling and we had confidence that she would figure it out.

I wanted every leader, manager, and team member to see that, because the empathetic response to failure is not only the most compassionate, it’s also the most productive. Empathy communicates trust. And people perform best when they feel trusted.

Let Them Be

American psychologist Carl Rogers writes in A Way of Being (1980,)

People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, “Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.” I don’t try to control a sunset, I just watch with awe as it unfolds.

Truly Seeing The World As It Is

In The Prepared Mind of a Leader (2005,) Bill Welter and Jean Egmon write about the difficulty on truly seeing the world as it is:

Paradigms are wonderful shortcuts as we think about the world, but they are deadly if they are not attuned with reality. All of us are bombarded with increasing waves of data and sensory inputs, and whether we realize it or not, we have become increasingly resistant. It’s not so much a case of having to pay attention to the news of the world as it is a case of knowing when to change our filters so that the important stuff comes in.

Managers: Less of You is Probably Enough

Leadership coach Art Petty on micromanagement:

As managers and leaders, we often fall victim to the belief that our teams need us to survive and thrive. In reality, if we’ve done our jobs right in selecting, developing, and placing people in the right positions, and worked hard to create a healthy environment, what they need is less of us.

Quirky Minor Accidents, Major Consequences: Double-Helix Structure of DNA

The Guardian’s obituary of biophysicist Maurice Wilkins (the Nobel prizewinner (with Francis Crick and James Watson,) for his x-ray images to reveal the double-helix structure of DNA) notes,

The history of science is full of quirky minor accidents with major consequences. In 1951, Wilkins’s boss, Professor Randall, was invited to a conference on macromolecules in Naples. At short notice he asked Wilkins to take his place and, in doing so, precipitated a meeting of incalculable importance.

Wilkins went to Naples armed with taut enthusiasm for the prospects of his new type of research and with the best x-ray picture of DNA that he had so far taken. Dr James Watson, at this time touring European laboratories to find the best place to settle to study the biology of genes, was at the meeting. He was more or less on holiday, but thought that Randall might have something interesting to say, for he was a physicist of some note as well as one of the world’s few experienced biophysicists. However, Watson was immediately and permanently fired by Wilkins’s talk on the investigation of DNA structure and by the beautiful x-ray diffraction patterns revealed by his single slide. Watson said later that this contribution “stood out from the rest like a beacon.”

Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean in’: What’s Beyond work and motherhood

Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In(2013) initiated a counter-dispute focusing on women who choose to withdraw from the professional world altogether. Writer Lisa Belkin says at The Huffington Post,

Looking back over 10 years and a lot of reporting, I have come to see my mistake when writing “The Opt-Out Revolution.” I confused being pulled toward home with being pushed away from work. I did not fully understand, though, that what looked like a choice was not really what these women wanted most. Had their workplaces been ones that adapted to a world in which workers no longer have other halves (read: wives) focusing on home so that they can focus on the job, and where technology could be used to free employees from their desks physically rather than tethering them metaphorically, and where the “ideal worker” was understood to have priorities outside of the office—in other words, if they’d had a third path—they might well have taken it… Until we find that new path, women—and men, it’s important to note—who can afford to step off the existing path will continue to do so.

Born on Friday the 13th

Famous people born on Friday the 13th:

  • Don Adams
  • Samuel Beckett
  • Steve Buscemi
  • Fidel Castro
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
  • Georges Simenon

The fear of this date is called paraskavedekatriaphobia.

“Innovation Theater” versus Actual Innovation

Why companies do “innovation theater” instead of actual innovation:

People who manage processes are not the same people as those who create product. Product people are often messy, hate paperwork, and prefer to spend their time creating stuff rather than documenting it. Over time as organizations grow, they become risk averse. The process people dominate management, and the product people end up reporting to them.

Learning to Be Kind

Buddhist author Jack Kornfield writes in Meditation for Beginners (1998,)

As he was dying, someone asked Aldous Huxley if he would say what he had learned in all of his work with many spiritual teachers and gurus on his own spiritual journey. Huxley’s answer was, “It is embarrassing to tell you this, but it seems to come down mostly to just learning to be kind.”