How Healthy is Your Emotional Culture?

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When we think of culture within organizations, we think of the cognitive culture–intellectual values, goals, and frameworks. But there is another type of culture within organizations and businesses which is just as critical–the emotional culture.

While the cognitive culture is generally expressed through words, the emotional culture is usually expressed non-verbally–facial expressions, body language and vocal tonality. How healthy is the culture within your organization or business? Are people stressed, tired or easily irritated?

Generally when there are problems within an organization, it involves the emotional culture because that is where the dysfunction will show up. It’s a symptom. I help leaders and managers in organizational cultures address those symptoms constructively by looking at the underlying causes with positive, realistic solutions.

Here is an article from the Harvard Business Review about how important emotional cultures are:

https://hbr.org/2016/01/manage-your-emotional-culture

 

©Copyright, 2016 Mary Claire O’Neal

Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication and leadership coach, consultant, Heartmath® Certified Trainer, and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World.  For more information:  maryclaireoneal.com  and lifeworkresilience.com

 

Mindfulness Training Brings Results

Peace of Mind

Mindfulness training to reduce stress has been around for a long time, and is now, at work, considered to be a highly effective, results-based practice that is becoming mainstream. Aetna, Intel and Keurig Green Mountain have all started to incorporate mindfulness as a leadership practice and have seen benefits to both the company and the individual employees in improvements in employee health, productivity and job satisfaction.

According to the World Health Organization, stress costs American businesses an estimated $300 billion annually, and the costs to the U.S. healthcare system might be even higher, particularly with heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Training such as the Resilience Advantage™, Heartmath’s mindfulness principles and breathing techniques (can be done anywhere, even on-the-go) bring great results in the decrease of stress, health issues, and negative emotional states like frustration, and anger. An increase in health, as well as improved sleep, positivity, situational awareness, problem-solving, creativity and performance has been found in study after study. Here is data from a study six weeks after employees took the HeartMath® training, The Resilience Advantage™:

52% reduction in exhaustion and tiredness
60% reduction in anger and annoyance
60% reduction in depression
43% reduction in heartburn and indigestion
44% reduction in headaches and body aches
33% reduction in inadequate sleep

The principals and self-regulation techniques are based on over 20 years of scientific research in the field of neurocardiology. Among a few of the organizations that have invested in this resilience training with excellent results: US Navy; Fortune 500 companies worldwide; Stanford Graduate School of Business; hospital systems; and the US Army.

For more information about Heartmath’s the Resilience Advantage training:

Mary Claire O’Neal, Heartmath® Certified Trainer and Coach

US (+1) 859-272-2515

Website: http://www.lifeworkresilience.com

Article © Copyright 2015, Mary Claire O’Neal

Photo: Getty Images

Mastery of Oneself

“The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery – not over nature – but of ourselves.” –Rachel Carson, environmentalist

What is mastery over ourselves? What would that look like?

Ultimately our intent, thoughts, words, actions and responses are the only things that we can control and master. These all involve choice and our own freewill. It’s the awareness that every moment involves a choice—whether it be on the automatic, unconscious level or with awareness and mastery.

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Photo credit: Getty Images

The awareness of those choices in the moments that make up our lives involves a discipline of mind. Sound like a lot of work? It is—at first. But that discipline of mind becomes easier and easier, and it is SO worth it! How is it worth it? A simple example is when you make a conscious choice to change a thought. Maybe it’s a thought that really doesn’t serve any purpose other than making you feel down or defeated. By changing that one thought that has been floating around in your mind all day to one that is more uplifting, you can change the course of your day. You can also change the world around you by changing that one thought. Have you ever been around someone who stays negative about almost everything or doesn’t want to see a hopeful solution? It has an effect on those who are around them. The same is true for those who are hopeful, empowered and are taking action that is consistent with hope and empowerment. The hopeful draw people to them in a good way like a magnet.

Another example of that mastery is when you look at and consider the effects a choice you make will have on others before you make it. Does insisting that it be your way make you blind to the needs of others? I can think of an instance or two in my life where I, out of fear, had inadvertently done this. If you think about it, perhaps you can remember an example of this in your own life–an instance where you were coming from a place of fear–fear of change or fear that another way would not bring the desired results. How many times have we seen the effects of choices made by others when consideration was not made first about the impact those choices would have?  Perhaps you directly felt those effects, perhaps not, but the effects were apparent.

Seeking mastery over others is not leadership; it is an abuse of power.

Seeking mastery of oneself is living a conscious life and is genuine leadership.

Masters are everywhere, in all walks of life. A master can be the person who sees her/his life as a service. It’s a janitor I know who always has a cheerful greeting and is truly joyful in doing what some people would consider a menial task. It’s the person in the parking garage booth, who recently when I asked “how are you?” answered with, “I’m blessed! I have a job where all day long I can greet people and wish them a good evening. What could be better than that?” I’m humbled by that kind of mastery.

Mastery is not perfection. Masters make mistakes, and they do encounter difficulties. Mastery can be working in a process of knowing there’s always more to know. Mastery can be about getting back up again after a fall or mistake, claiming it, apologizing for it (if it affected others), learning from it, dusting oneself off, and moving forward again.

© Copyright 2014 Mary Claire O’Neal, All rights reserved.

Mary Claire O’Neal is the author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World, and is a communication consultant and coach.

www.maryclaireoneal.com

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Overcoming Over-thinking

Have you ever thought about something TOO much?166262764_8

Have you ever not been able to sleep because thoughts keep running through your head?

While thinking through things is really helpful and important (some people could even do more of that!), sometimes we can detour our lives and get off track by thinking or analyzing too much. This over-thinking can turn into a negative direction and create a state of doubt, stress, anxiety or worry (or even cognitively convince oneself of a hypothetical situation that doesn’t even exist).  Have you ever encountered a difficulty with someone, thinking that their intent was negative and found out later that you were very wrong about that?  You discovered later that they did not have a negative intention at all?

From the perspective of Quantum Physics, simply put, thoughts are things. Thoughts have an effect on us, the world, and matter. When we allow ourselves to go down a path of negatively over-thinking something, we are having more of an effect, many times, than we realize.

Our minds work through association (association with past experiences) or perceptual connections, so given free rein, the mind can divert us from being in the moment with what is really needed. We are so much more than our thoughts. We are deeper than thought. We all have a core of strength, wisdom, joy, and, yes, love that is much truer than thought. And ideally, thought can be influenced by and arise out of that inner core of what we really are.

In many traditions throughout the ages, the area of the heart is associated with this part of us that is more than our minds, more than thought, even more than matter (or the physical aspects of life).  For thousands of years, it has been associated with the seat of the soul, with universal love, with wisdom.

Here is an activity to try:89796678_8

  • Sit quietly and focus on your breath (just pay attention to breathing in and exhaling).
  • Quiet yourself and focus on the area of your heart.
  • Visualize a beautiful white light with sparkles of gold in that area.
  • Allow the light to expand into your whole body (including your head), filling your cells with that light, like a honeycomb lighting up.
  • Let yourself feel the love coming from your heart or soul, that inner core of wisdom.
  • Send this light of love from your heart to bathe the difficulty or person with that light. Send positive thoughts for that situation or person.

You may find that this easy and simple activity not only helps bring you back to a more balanced place, it also helps with your perspective in a situation.  You might even find that things improve and the truer aspects “come to light.”  This is also a good activity (in addition to other obvious ways) when observing a situation or area of the world that needs help—pouring into that country or situation the love from your heart.

When you see yourself in a place of over-thinking, it helps to bring yourself back to the heart, to infuse the problem with love.  To some people using the word “love” sounds fluffy, and to that I say that love is a powerful force in this world–more powerful than fear, hate, and separation.  It is what we truly are. It is the hope for the world. What would this world look like if more and more people brought themselves to a place of love instead of fear?

Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication consultant, coach and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World .

© Copyright 2013, Mary Claire O’Neal

Photos: Getty Images

Facebook pages:  https://www.facebook.com/BecomingWhatYouWantInTheWorld   https://www.facebook.com/MaryClaireONealCommunication

Website: http://maryclaireoneal.com

The Value of Trust and Three Ways to Build It

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Nurture trust with others.

Today I’ve been thinking about how important trust is. It is something that is vital to nurture in all good relationships, including professional ones. Trust is not automatically given by most people; it must be earned. Being consistent in building that trust with others goes a long way in creating strong, enduring relationships of all kinds.

What are ways to build trust?

Always following through on what you agree to or say you will do is one of the most important. And if it looks like you cannot honor an agreement, renegotiate as soon as possible with the person it concerns. Neglecting to do these things is one of the biggest reasons why trust is lost.

Another way to build trust is to consistently think the best of those in your relationships, whether they be friends, co-workers/colleagues, partners/spouses, or family members. People value relationships where they can feel that kind of security in knowing that they will be given the benefit of the doubt, and that the positive will be the first conclusion.

Apologies, sincere and soon, are also very important in keeping trust with others. We all make mistakes, but communicating a heart-felt apology (when the mistake effects another) as soon as possible will help in damage control of trust.

Nurture trust with others. It’s a precious thing. Once it’s damaged, sometimes it cannot be healed. If it can be renewed, it takes time to rebuild, just as it took time to create trust in the first place.

© Copyright 2013, Mary Claire O’Neal

Photo credit: Getty Images

Gratitude All Year

November is the month of Thanksgiving, and I find myself wanting to consciously and regularly take time out from my schedule, even if it’s just a few moments, to consider what I have to be grateful for. All of our lives contain a constant stream of moments, people, experiences and things that are gifts in our lives, but it’s too easy sometimes with busy schedules to let them slip by without acknowledging them. And, it’s way too easy to only remember the things that didn’t work out (or didn’t work out the way we wanted) in our daily experience. I’ve occasionally traveled down that road in the past, and the gratitude that comes from looking at what was working in my life has pulled me out of those times of not being in the flow.

The truth of it is, there are many more things that do work and are gifts in our lives than not, but it is so easy to settle into a pattern of looking at what is not working instead of what is. I have a friend who was born without eyes and has a disease that prevents him from ever being able to walk.  He has a beautiful gift of music and has been able to play the piano since he was an infant.  He lives everyday of his life with gratitude in his heart and on his lips. He is a happy person, even though he has to work very hard with the challenges he faces every moment of his life. He says of his disabilities, “Big deal. I have so much to be thankful for. “

Happiness is a choice. Always has been. Always will be.

I’ve found that gratitude is one of the most powerful states of mind and heart that creates happiness—consistent happiness. It’s pretty easy to be thankful and grateful for the big events and things, but it’s the little moment-to-moment experiences that make up a life of happiness and gratitude. Jotting down in my journal regularly at least six experiences, people, or things to be grateful for makes that joy more concrete, more real, and gives my mind a positive focus of what I want more of in my life.  I can look at my journal when I’m finished with my entries and realize that it was a very good day and life.

Expressing thankfulness and gratitude to others for something they’ve done (or just for being who they are) not only is a gift to the giver but a gift to those on the receiving end.  Obviously, this is not a big epiphany or even something new, but why don’t we do it more often?  I work with clients who already know this simple, yet profound, truth, and they want to make the flow of that kind of communication and gratitude real in their workplaces and homes, because they know the power of gratitude and happiness.

It’s really nice that we have a day every year in November to remind us of all this, but shouldn’t the spirit of Thanksgiving permeate all days?

Gratitude can be a feast for our hearts and souls everyday of our lives.

A Gift Gandhi’s Life Brought to Millions

ENA30004456Friday, Oct. 2, 2009 was the 140th birth anniversary of a very powerful role model in my life and the lives of many others, Mohandas K. Gandhi. He showed the world that one man can live with such impeccability and integrity that he could lead and become a peaceful force that would empower a whole nation. The way he lived his life became a true model in our world for living with integrity and love in intent, thought, word and deed.

There is a well-known story of a woman asking Gandhi one day to counsel her son to stop eating sugar because it was unhealthy for him. She lamented that her son would not listen to her. She explained to Gandhi that the boy would most certainly listen to him. Gandhi was silent for a moment and asked the mother to bring him back in a month, which she did. When the woman brought her son back, Gandhi said, “Son, you must stop eating sugar. It is not healthy for you.” The boy stopped eating sugar.  When the woman asked Gandhi why he didn’t advise her son on their first meeting, Gandhi replied, “Dear Madam, I cannot counsel someone in doing something I cannot avoid, so I had to work on my habit first.”

So many times  in our world, there are voices that say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Gandhi knew that the only true and genuine teaching and change comes from those who live it. He had too much integrity to allow himself to request something of someone if he did not do it himself.

People pay attention to our actions and our choices much more than the words we speak. We can all “be the change” we want to see in the world if we live that change.  If we see a lack of understanding, peace and unity in our world, the way to bring change is to live the love, peace and unity in our own lives, in our own thoughts. This is the hope for our world. This is a powerful gift that Gandhi’s life brought to millions.

What an amazing life. What an amazing teacher.

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For pictures of celebrations on this anniversary:   http://snipurl.com/sbj7g