The Right Attitude

The Right Attitude

Attitude: “The way that you see life right now—your relationship with the present moment.” If you watch carefully, you’ll see all kinds of attitudes as you go through your day. Different people, in different places, seeing life from a completely different point of view. I am fascinated with the study of attitude. It makes so much difference when you begin to realize that we all have a choice as to how we view and respond to life as it happens. The problem is that most people simply react—as if they have absolutely no control. In today’s world, if you go through life reacting, you’re in store for quite a roller coaster ride—not to mention rolling through life with all the other “victims.”

I see attitude as your viewpoint, your vantage point, the way that you see and experience life. The current challenge is that there is so much bad news and negativity coming at us every day that having a healthy attitude has become quite difficult for most. We have become a society obsessed with information, and right now most of it seems bad. In so many ways, “what you see is what you get.” If I spend most of my time watching, listening, and talking about bad news, then chances are that I will see life through that dark lens. The more I watch and listen to it, and the more I talk about it– the more I FIND it. It becomes a trap that people fall into, and in a reactive state, the attitude becomes very negative and hopeless. So the question is: “How can I keep my head right with all of the bad news and negativity surrounding me?”

The first tip that I would offer is: “You find what you LOOK for.” Have you ever noticed that when you’re in the market for a particular type of car, you begin to see that car everywhere? That’s because of a fascinating part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System (or RAS). It is in charge of filtering information before it is sent to a specific part of the brain to be processed. We are constantly bombarded with billions of bits of information trying to access our brain. If we didn’t have a functioning RAS, we would be crazy. However, the RAS lets in what you tell it is important. If you are looking for a red corvette, then it begins to search for them on your behalf (without you even being aware of it!) So, if you are obsessed with bad news, guess what it believes that you want it to search for? That’s right: more bad news. Just like Google, it will find exactly what you tell it to find. The key? Set your mind first thing every day and begin to program your RAS for what is important to you. “Today I will find exactly what I am looking for.” Do you want good news, great clients, more income, strong relationships? Begin to focus on what you want, instead of what you don’t want.

The second tip I would suggest: “You find what you BELIEVE you deserve.” We all carry mental messages that we have had with us since childhood. For the lucky ones: “You’re a winner. You can do anything. Nothing can stop you.” For most of us, however, we carry different messages: “Nothing lasts. Things never work out. I’ll never make it.” Those messages affect attitude and can be the difference between success or failure, victory or defeat. We need to examine and sometimes change those important messages. The problem is that those messages live in the sub-conscious mind.

The average adult has over 50,000 unique thoughts in a given 24 hour period. The problem for most is that they have the same thoughts yesterday that they will have today and again tomorrow—and people wonder why they feel like they’re in a rut! First, we must begin to witness that little voice in the head (he thinks he’s running the show, but he’s not). You’ll be amazed when you begin to listen to and observe the “monkey mind” at work. All-day long people are finishing the sentence “I am ___” in various different ways. I believe that the way you finish that very short, but powerful sentence makes ALL the difference. “I am sick. I am tired. I am broke.” No wonder people are burned out! The way you finish that sentence defines you in the present moment, which is the ONLY moment we ever have. And the brain is always learning…

The most successful people this world has ever produced have one very important thing in common: their self-talk serves them. Affirmations are very popular today. The reason they are so effective is that the brain hears the spoken word and develops a “loop” that affects the actual brain wiring that determines how you process information. The more you affirm the statement, and strengthen its prominence in your mind, the more your brain begins to “buy-in” and eventually rewires itself to experience life from that perspective. If you constantly tell yourself “I AM HEALTHY” then eventually your brain will accept it as reality and begin to see things and look for things from a very healthy perspective. Our beliefs and habits are thousands of times stronger than our desires.

So what if I begin every day talking to myself with respect, seeing myself the way that I truly wish myself to be. Add music, the right book, or a special place, and you add power to the experience. With discipline, you can begin to “set your mind” before the world sets it for you. You will begin to live proactively instead of just reacting to the news and circumstances of the day. And what if I end every day activating my imagination, and visualizing the life of my dreams? That is much more than just fantasy. I am actively programming my RAS to look for what is important to me right before I drift off to sleep—the most effective time to work on the RAS, as well as the subconscious mind.

As you begin to do this, you will begin to witness something amazing happening: the right people and the right circumstances will begin to show up in your life at just the right time. Call it the “Law of Attraction” or just pure luck, but I’m telling you it WILL happen. The good news just finds positive people. We tend to find those that are like ourselves, and it’s always been that way. Positive people attract positive people. Faithful people attract faithful people. Successful people find successful people. Join the growing group of people who have taken charge of their attitude. You really can change the way that you think—but it takes discipline and consistency. Science used to believe that the brain was hardwired by the time you were five and that it didn’t change. Now they know that it continues to rewire itself well into our eighties—and the way you think and experience life tells it how to connect, and it is ALWAYS learning.

Would your life be different if you began to monitor and control the information that you allowed into your brain? Some time ago I began to realize that my attitude had shifted and I was becoming increasingly negative. I hadn’t realized the pattern that had developed: I was starting my day with “Fox News in the Morning.” Then I was listening to news talk radio all day long. At night my wife and I had gotten into the habit of watching “Law and Order” and “CSI”. I was wondering why I was a little blue… Then it occurred to me: I was starting my day with “drama”, followed by bad news all day long, capped off with a little “rape and murder” right before bed! Of course, I was a little “down”—what you see is what you get… It is true; we are going through a tough time in the world today. But you don’t have to be a victim and allow the bad news to dictate your reality. You can choose what you focus on—and what you focus on is what you will tend to FIND. And remember: the brain is always learning. It will find what it believes is important to you. Let it begin to SERVE you, and it will become your most important asset—and I wish you all the best!

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Leading with Empathy

Leading with Empathy

This story from “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is one that has always stuck with me and reminds me of the importance of understanding someone else’s perspective and experience:

Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway car. The children were so loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed. The man sat down next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, even grabbing people’s papers. It was very disturbing. And yet, the man sitting next to me did nothing. It was difficult not to feel irritated. I could not believe that he could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild like that and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all. It was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated, too. So finally, with what I felt was unusual patience and restraint, I turned to him and said, “Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?” The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly, “Oh, you’re right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”

This short story gave me perspective as a principal and teacher.  I remember as I progressed in my career, moments of misbehavior from students affected me less emotionally because it often had little (if anything) to do with me, and everything to do with what was going on with the student at the time. I just learned to breathe and calm down and get to the heart of what was going on.  It wasn’t that I didn’t care about what my students were going through; I just realized that it was often not a reflection due to our interactions.  Something else was often going on.

The next time you struggle with a student, colleague, or someone in your personal life, remember this Covey story.  There is probably a more significant side to the story that you are not seeing. May 27, 2018, The Push and Pull of LeadershipDecember 13, 2011 Empathy and Emotion

Source: George Couros

POST WRITTEN BY Monica Thakrar

POST WRITTEN BY Monica Thakrar

For the last few years, mindfulness has been getting a lot of attention and press.

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a leading thinker in the field, mindfulness is about “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” It is about being more in the present and thereby being able to do everything with more discipline and focus.

The Case For Mindfulness

Large companies, such as Google, Aetna, and General Mills, have been implementing large-scale mindfulness programs over the past few years. Thousands of employees have gone through their programs with data now showing that there is a definite impact on leadership skills by practicing mindfulness, such as:

• Increase in productivity

• Increase in decision-making

• Increase in listening

• Reduction in stress levels

But for leaders, the biggest benefit of mindfulness is its direct impact on the development of emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman, a leading expert on emotional intelligence, recently made a direct connection between mindfulness and emotional intelligence, saying that:

•Emotional intelligence builds attention and focus.

• Attention and focus are cornerstones in enhancing self-awareness, as well as empathy.

• Self-awareness and empathy are critical skills for enhancing emotional awareness.

Google’s mindfulness program focuses directly on the link between mindfulness and emotional intelligence, and it’s had some significant traction with employees.

How Leaders Can Implement Mindfulness

Mindfulness tools include meditation, breathing, yoga, walking, music, nature — anything that allows you to come back to the present moment. Our minds are often thinking about regrets, incidents from the past and worries about the future. Any tool that brings the mind back to the present moment is a mindfulness tool.

As a mindfulness practitioner of meditation and breathing for the last 10 years, I have seen significant changes in myself in terms of the enhancement of emotional regulation, patience, discipline, focus, and productivity, as well as a decrease in stress. While I used to use physical exercise, such as running marathons and doing triathlons, meditation has now become my tool of choice for reducing stress levels and being more productive.

So how can you as a leader get started? What tools can you use in your organization to bring yourself into the present moment?

1. Body Scan: Begin by sitting with your back straight and eyes closed. Take three deep breaths in and begin to notice your feet and legs, calves and thighs, groin and abdomen. Continue up the body and then take another three deep breaths. Continue for a total of three times. This is a great way to get in tune with your body and begin to notice any stress or strains. The breaths help you to relieve tension.

2. Alternate Nostril Breathing: Using your thumb and index finger, you can do an easy breathing exercise called alternate nostril breathing. With your right index finger, close your right nostril and take a breath in through the left nostril. Now, close the left nostril with your thumb. Open up your index finger and breathe out through the right nostril. Then breathe in the through the right nostril. Close the right nostril with the index finger. Open up the thumb and breathe out through the left nostril. Continue doing this eight-to-ten times. This helps to calm the system as well as harmonize the two hemispheres of the brain.

3. Breathing Meditation: Sit with your back straight and eyes closed. Begin to notice your breath. Notice your breath in and your breath out. Keep your focus on your breath. Whenever you notice your mind wandering off, bring it back to noticing the breath. Do this for three-to-five minutes. This is the start of meditation practice. It is a simple and easy way to start training your mind to be more present.

While mindfulness can seem like a hard thing to do, as mindfulness expert Sharon Salzberg says, “Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.” Begin a practice today.


Monica Thakrar on