• Chemical Brain Freeze

Being Your Best on Your Next Adventure

No coastingHave you ever asked yourself the question “What would it look like if I became my personal best on my next adventure? Most people just rise to a level of acceptability and not excellence. A great question Mike Rayburn (www.MikeRayburn.com) raised during a recent presentation. “Have you resolved to be your best?” What do you think that would look like?
In today’s world most people coast through life and that’s fine. The one thing you need to recognize and understand is that the problem with coasting is that it’s all downhill. If comfort is your goal, success is not in your future.
So what does it take for you to become the best at what you do? Interesting question because most of us know what we need to do but we just don’t do it. This why a sense of purpose is so important to us. What are those goals and adventures that are so important we don’t want to approach them half-hearted or in a coasting mode? Do you really want to be a half-hearted spouse, parent, friend or co-worker? Every adventure we embark on has an impact on others and do we provide a positive impact? Anything worth doing is worth doing well. But sometimes we need help and this can be our biggest stumbling block.
You’ve heard people talk about being self-taught and we all teach ourselves quite a bit and the Internet makes it easier everyday. However sometimes when we are self-taught we fail to notice that our teachers aren’t great in every area. Take the time and effort to find good coaches to help you with you adventures. It can have a big impact.
Sometimes when we set out on a new adventure we start by compromising when setting our goals. We aim too low and wind up settling for mediocrity and second best. Instead, continue to work on asking the question “What if? What would this adventure look like? How could I make this happen and what would be the positive impact on those around me?”
Tough questions to ask, even tougher questions to answer when you are true to yourself. But by asking these questions and answering them truthfully, you define who you are as you embark on your next adventure.
Thanks for coming along!

What if, When Making Plans for the Next Adventure

Mike RayburnThere I was, working and planning away on my new adventure and feeling good about it. Then I had an opportunity to go see Mike Rayburn(www.MikeRayburn.com) live at a recent program. He was absolutely phenomenal. Not only a gifted musician and storyteller but he really got you thinking. He has a book titled “What If?” and I would suggest purchasing it on his website. I wanted to point out just a few key things Mike got me thinking about as I plan my new adventure.

He asks the question, “What if?” Not meaning that you are going to do it but rather just asking what is possible. What if I could? How would that work if I could?
He points out that our default behavior in life is that we look at or for reasons not to do things. Instead we should change our default behavior to where we look for reasons we can do things! A very simplistic but astute rationale on how we can get things done. He also points out the only way to manage change is to create change. Again our default behavior is to fight change. What if we shifted that to creating change and embracing change? It creates a completely different picture doesn’t it? The one thing we know to be true about our plans is that nothing ever goes according to plan! So embrace change.
Here is the reason for these default behaviors: We take problems and put them on a pedestal and worship them. Mike’s perspective is, quit driving through life with the brakes on and get creative. The world need’s our creativity. He lined out three steps to get started:
1. Outside Observation – get that 30,000-foot view of what you are dealing with and get a handle of the size and scope.
2. Take a problem or situation and say, “What is the Opportunity?” Then ask, “What if?”
3. Open up creativity and take physical action on it.
Here are a couple of his other thoughts, which will get your thinking moving in the right direction:
A. Set goals you can’t achieve, not 5-10% increases. What does it take to double what you want to do?
B. Don’t start with what’s possible?, start with what’s cool?. The type of goal it takes courage to think about.
A sense of purpose is the most motivating factor. What is your sense of purpose? Some good food for thought until next time.
Thanks for coming along.

Teaching and Learning Need to be in Sync

Michael J FoxTeaching and learning need to be in sync to be successful. Whether it is in school or the business world. To be able to learn and then apply your learning is even better. Sometimes we have material put before us and there is just not a connection nor an application. Simon Sinek has a very good TED Talk on How Great Leaders Inspire Action. It’s a few years old but if you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth watching.
Start with why — how great leaders inspire action | Simon Sinek | TEDxPugetSound

Exceptional Leaders don’t mumble

GrumbleWe have been discussing the difference between playing big and playing small. We generally see more people playing small than playing big. Playing small is the easy way out and it handles a situation on a short-term basis. Playing big takes some dedication and it’s looking the big picture and the long-term results. Sometimes it takes courage to play big and make an impact.

A recent study released by the Center for Applied Linguistics came out with this interesting fact. Nearly two-thirds of all human speech transpires under people’s breath. I found that very interesting. Exceptional leaders don’t mumble under their breath. Researcher Erin Wightman said, “Our data indicates that, whether in the form of hushed grumbles of anger, a half delivered retort, or quiet self-berating, the majority of all spoken language is delivered in barely audible mutters.” She went on to note that a sizable quantity of human vocalizations are imperceptible insults made while walking away from an argument, a meeting with one’s supervisor, or a pleasant conversation with someone the speaker does not care for. Talk about playing small.

Do you or do you know of someone who is constantly peppering in low-volume sarcastic comments when interacting with others? Several people I’ve encountered pop into my mind as I’m writing this. And to be totally honest, I can remember when I have done my fair share of sarcastic comments while playing small. Think about how different your work, family or social environment would be if people spoke up and played big and told you what was bothering them. (What a relief not to have to try and be a mind reader!) But it takes courage to speak up and express yourself and empathize with others. It’s much easier to mutter and grumble while interacting with coworkers or family members.

Take time today to watch for people mumbling and grumbling. You’ll be surprised how many you will see. If you see someone close to you doing this, take time to talk to them and see what they may be experiencing. You can start with a simple question like, “I saw you grumbling just a moment ago, is there something you would like to share?” Then play big and listen with empathy. You may be surprised with what you hear.

Thanks for coming along.

Change and Fear of the Unknown

Last week we talked about unmet emotional needs and the impact they play on our behavior.  We had talked about the five key emotional needs consisting of: Safety, Power, Acceptance, Respect and Value.  When we feel one of these needs is not being met, our brain sends out warning signals and our behavioFear of the unknown Ar can change.
Let’s take a look at how change can affect how we are feeling about ourselves, especially when dealing with the fear of the unknown.

I had a discussion with a surgeon who was complaining about a piece of equipment he had bought.  It had cost him $80,000 but his staff wasn’t spending the appropriate amount of time learning how to use the equipment and getting it into the patient flow process.
Think about why people struggle with change.  In the current mode people are recognized for their performance. Their rewards are based on this performance.  They know the process, can multitask, balance out the workload, understand the patient flow and all the various intricacies of the process.  Now you ask them to introduce a new piece of equipment that will interrupt the process as the staff goes through the learning curve.  The staff is not familiar or confident in running the machine and even less confident in answering questions by patients.
They begin to question their value.  Will they be as effective and be able to provide the same performance as they have in the past?  They second-guess quite a bit about having to use the equipment.  The piece of equipment begins to take on a negative nature.
As the surgeon watches the piece of equipment gather dust he realizes that if it doesn’t get into the process quickly, he is going to have a very expensive boat anchor on his hands.
The amygdala portion of the brain picks up warning signals about this piece of equipment and the staff ‘s struggle with getting trained on the equipment and getting it into use.  Many times one of the key warning signals is the fear of the unknown.  How will this equipment affect our process?  How will it affect our workload?  Will we be able to process more patients faster or fewer patients?  Will someone lose a job because this equipment is utilized?
The best way to soothe the amygdala is at the beginning of the change process.  Communication is key at this point and the time spent explaining why the equipment is coming into the practice is time well spent.  Don’t assume the explanation has to be done only once.  Get someone trained on the equipment fast enough so they can help train others and take away the fear of the unknown.  So many times sales reps show staff what the equipment can do but don’t allow for hands-on-training.  The hands-on-training takes the fear of the unknown away.
Anytime you can remove a fear,  you’re moving in the right direction.
Thanks for coming along.

The Science Affecting Exceptional Leadership
Last week we talked about what happens when we get a Chemical Brain Freeze (CBF).  The amazing fact is we can lose up to 75% of our cognitive thoughts in a matter of seconds.  If we don’t do anything about the CBF those thoughts don’t come back for up to 20 minutes or more.  The emotional portion of the brain called the amygdala shuts the down neo-cortex thinking part of the brain when it senses fear, whether real or imaginary.  It will do this if it sees a speeding car jump the curb and come hurtling down the sidewalk at you or if it hears a door open late at night.  The amygdala is your triage center and wants to keep you alive when it encounters potential dangers.  So let’s check out what happens when the amygdala senses danger.
First of all when the amygdala senses danger, adrenaline and other chemicals are dumped immediately into your blood stream.  Your heart starts beating faster getting ready to fight or flee.  It has to get blood to the major muscle groups so you can use your arms and chest muscles to fight or your legs to run.  Your breathing gets shallow because you have to oxygenate all this blood being pumped into various parts of your body.  Your mouth will get dry because of the shallow breathing, which is why it is sometimes difficult to get words out during stressful or difficult times.
Your body temperature increases.  Why you do think this happens?  Right, your muscles have to get warmed up in order to fight or flee.  You’ve heard the expression “Getting hot under the color?”  Your body temperature raises several degrees and you get perspiration on your upper lip, forehead, etc.  The remarkable fact is this all happens within seconds.
Next time you are in a staff meeting watch when a question like this is asked in a menacing tone, “Why is this report late?”  Chances are everyone in the room will respond physically to some degree.  The person responsible will feel their heart rate pick up immediately.  We’ve all experienced these types of conversations that are not productive at all, right?  The amygdala will sense danger with just a simple question like this and respond accordingly.
So how do you stay in the game and have those difficult conversations with others?  Remember it’s not only keeping yourself in the game but keeping others in the game so they can perform at their best also.
Next week we’ll look at some of the tools for staying in the game and being a more effective leader.  Understanding how the brain and body works during difficult times will help in coping and providing exceptional leadership.  But if you aren’t in the game and your team members aren’t in the game during difficult times, exceptional leadership doesn’t happen.
Thanks for coming along.

Take Time to Unwind and connect

I received an e-mail from a good frienLLAO LLAOd I had not heard from in quite some time.  It was so much fun to catch up with him. We traded several e-mails and shared some memories.  I had traveled quite extensively with Joe.  We went on a five city tour of Australia, spent a week in Rome, Cancun, Puerto Rico and more. One of the fondest memories I had working with Joe was when we traveled to the western part of Argentina.  We went to San Juan de Bariloche in the Patagonia area to a resort hotel called LLAO LLAO.  It was for a medical meeting where we brought in about 18 of the top ENT surgeons from around the world.  One afternoon we had a chance to go fly-fishing.  Joe had never been fly-fishing before and we had a great time floating down the river fishing. Joe wound up catching the biggest fish of the day and received the top prize.  When we were done fishing, we sat down in the shallow ripples of the river in our waders and shared a cold beverage and took in the scenic wonder and beauty.
Joe said,” I don’t take enough time to unwind like this. I can’t believe I have to come half way around the world to enjoy some peace and tranquility like this and really connect with people.”
In my e-mail to him this week, I reminded him of our conversation in the river and asked him, “Have you had a chance to unwind the last several years?”
Our lives go by so fast and furious.  We get pulled in so many different directions.  Sometimes we just forget to unwind.  So take some time, unwind and enjoy the beauty and people around you.  It is worth every moment you spend taking it all in.
Thanks for coming along.

Chemical Brain Freeze

My houseSlurpee sits at the back end of two and half acres. The driveway coming up to the house actually has two bends in it. In all, it is 338 steps from my mailbox to my front door. Un-announced guests are a rarity.
I hear a knock at the front door and when I open it, there is a teenage boy who seems under a little bit of duress.
“Mr. Inman?” he asks, visibly shaking and his voice breaking.
“Yes, can I help you?” I respond, thinking he looks like the teenager across the street.
“My dad told me to come tell you the hay delivery person cut the corner too tight and he knocked over your stone mailbox.”
“Oh, is that right? And who may you be?” I query. I think I know who he is but I haven’t seen him in a couple of months and he has gone through a growth spurt.
“Do you know Guy and Kathy across the street?” he asks.
“Oh, I sure do.”
“Well, I’m their mother.” He responds.
I just about wet my pants.

How often do we get into stressful situations and we just lose it? This is when our protective brain takes over and we are helpless. We have what I call a “chemical brain freeze.” We all know what a Slurpee brain feels like. We are going to explore what happens when you get a chemical brain freeze due to difficulty and stress. It will render you just as useless as a Slurpee brain freeze but instead of lasting 20 seconds it can last for up to 20 minutes and sometimes you can’t even tell you are having one. You just don’t make any sense for that time period.
I have been working on a new book “Chemical Brain Freeze”-How to Stay in the Game during Difficulty and Stress. I will share stories and accounts with you as we move into this very interesting area of thought.
You will also get a chance to learn about my other book coming out soon, “Nimble-How to Lead Above the Turmoil of Change.” Nimble is a business book written to help start, grow or strengthen your business.
Thanks for coming along.