Bette George & Associates, Inc.                                                                                                                        (703) 734-0101

April 2010               ---------------   Issue 20  ---------------               www.bettegeorge.com

"We must be brave enough to start a conversation that matters and trust that meaningful conversations can change your world."
Meg Wheatley

Welcome to Conversations on Leadership and Life, my newsletter that I hope will become a favorite of yours. In each issue, I will offer best practice tips and resources, innovative ideas and inspiration to help you begin to create the change you want to see in yourself, your workplace, and your community. My goal is to engage you in a meaningful conversation about what matters to you in your work and your life.  My hope is to make this a two-way conversation, so e-mail me at bette@bettegeorge.com to share your ideas, success stories, favorite resources and anything else that inspires you to greatness.

Poetry Corner

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though; 
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

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BOOKS
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The Art of Power
by Thich Nhat Hanh

 

 



Stopping: How to Be Still When You Have to Keep Going
by David Kundtz






Quiet Mind: One Minute Retreats from a Busy World
by David Kundtz






The Power of Now
by Eckhart Tolle





Leadership Lessons: Taking Care of Non-Business

"Be present to the life you have to
create the life you want."

“Have you got a few minutes?  I have so much to do today that I don’t know where to begin.  I’ve had a teacher conference already this morning, my house is a wreck, the sink is full of dishes and I can’t concentrate at all until I take care of them. Can you help me sort things out?”  This rather frantic plea came early one morning from a very successful woman whose goal is to make partner in her firm.  On this day, she had decided to work from home where she could focus in on her business development plan and deal with several challenging projects that needed her attention. 

Verging on panic, she began to list all she needed to get done this day.  Just the tone of her voice made me anxious!  Oops!  That was my signal.  I was mirroring my client’s emotional state.  “Stop and breathe, Annie!”  She did both, quieting down long enough for me to make a suggestion.  “Rather than prioritizing your To Do list with me right now, go wash your dishes.  Think only about washing those dishes for the few minutes that takes—no processing, multi-tasking or worrying.  Simply be fully present to washing your dishes. When you are done, walk calmly to your home office to plan your day and then get to work.”

A week later, Annie reported how this simple suggestion to focus on just one thing at a time seemed to calm her anxiety thus allowing her to concentrate her attention on what was before her.  Right away, she discovered the joy of being fully present with her little boy when they were together.   Annie is noticing when her worry about the future wastes her energy and time spoiling both the present and the future. She’s learning that when she does her work with mindfulness, focusing on one thing at a time, much of her stress disappears.  Rather than attempting to multi-task, work faster, longer and harder, Annie is finding time to pause, to breath, to have a cup of tea, and to smile! 

So how does mindfulness fit into the world of business, you ask?  If you’re focused on living in the present moment how does anything get done? In a wonderful little book called The Art of Power, Thich Nhat Hanh explains it this way: “Your well-being, your capacity to smile, rest, and breathe, as well as your capacity to care for the well-being of your family, are non-business elements, but they are essential for the well-being of business.”   The starting point is with ourselves. 

“When you take care of yourself, you take care of your family.  When you behave responsibly toward your employees, it benefits your company.  Prosperity is not an individual matter.  The well-being of our clients, our customers, our community, and our employees is linked together.”  

I watched “Undercover Boss” for the first time the other night.  Here was a CEO who, in disguise, worked alongside employees in entry level jobs in his company.   He learned first-hand how hard they worked, and how committed they were to the well-being of their families as well as to the well-being of the company. Profoundly touched by the struggles of each of the people he met, he was reminded how non-business elements must be attended to if a business is to do well.  Upon his return to his “real job,” this leader saw to it that existing programs were revved up, and new ones established to provide child-care, financial aid, scholarships and professional development opportunities to his employees.  Attending to non-business elements is good business…and incredibly gratifying.

“You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and
to be vibrantly alive in repose.”
Indira Gandhi

TIPS, TOOLS AND PRACTICES: HOW TO STOP SO YOU CAN KEEP GOING

Stopping is doing nothing, to become more fully awake, and remember who you are. Stopping, as defined by David Kundtz, is a form of contemporary contemplation designed for people who are looking for a simple, uncomplicated, non-dogmatic yet effective way to cope with a too-busy life. One of the purposes is to help us to be in the present moment so that in the moments ahead we will be on the right track. Stopping has three levels:  Stillpoints, Stopovers, and Grinding Halts. All three expressions of Stopping are to help you keep one thing in mind: all you have is “now,” “then” is gone, and “when” is not yet and may never be.

“Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance,
and there is only the dance.”
T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Let’s look more closely at Stillpoints—the expression of Stopping that can be used most often. Creating Stillpoints during the day is fundamental to the incorporation of Stopping into your life.

Stillpoints

A Stillpoint is stopping quickly and doing nothing for just a moment.  It is brief and meant to be used anytime, all the time and many times a day. 

Stillpoints are intentional and chosen for the purpose of doing nothing and of quietude.

Stillpoints are the little times, brief interludes, quick respites, one minute breaks, intermissions and lulls.

Stillpoints are designed to take advantage of the unfilled moments in life: waiting for the microwave to heat your coffee, sitting at a stoplight.  They are also used at moments of stress: going into an interview, during a feeling of anger, or when you know you’re going to be late for an appointment.

What you do during a Stillpoint is simple: you stop doing whatever you are doing, take a deep breath, focus your attention on your breathing, and remember what you need to remember.  Stop…Breathe….Remember   The remembering part is flexible---recalling a belief that motivates you or a message you need to hear like “you can do it” or “you are okay.”  You may remember people who are important to you with gratitude.

Stillpoints are life’s little moments of gold that, when taken together, can give brilliance and joy to our day.              

From Stopping: How to be Still When You Have to Keep Going  by David Kundtz


© 2010 Bette George & Associates, Inc.  All rights reserved.

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Conversations on Leadership and Life is an e-newsletter written by Bette George of Bette George & Associates.  In each issue, Bette offers best practice tips and resources, innovative ideas and inspiration to help you begin to create the change you want to see in yourself, your workplace, your community.

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