being present

Your Personal Ethical Standards

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Have you taken the time to analyze your personal ethical standards and the implications of these standards as a professional in your field? The following is an excerpt from a paper I wrote for school and a methodology you may find helpful.  Ethics

Ethics are what helps you choose between right and wrong behaviors, or right and right behaviors, based on your own beliefs and values. Rothwell and Sullivan (2005) recommend you take the time to define your personal ethics and align them with professional standards. In order to complete this exercise, you need to have a high degree of self-awareness and self-development. Taking the time to identify personal and professional ethical frameworks is not a onetime activity. You must regularly take time to reflect and contemplate on your experiences. This will help you discover and maintain a high sense of personal and professional standards throughout your career.

Once you search for and identify your desired personal and professional ethical standards, Matousek (2012) found you will be able to re-wire your ethical behaviors through neuroplasticity and practice. The goal is to strive to do the best thing, not just do what is right. It is searching beyond behaviors to seek wise ethical choices that lead to satisfying personal and professional relationships and life.

When creating personal and professional ethical standards, the Josephson Institute of Ethics (1999) encourages you to find and use courage, honor, humility, and forgiveness. Striving to live up to these values over the years will help you create positive relationships, a strong reputation, and a solid support system and with good returns, some refer to this as karma.

Personal ethical standards can be a few sentences or many pages. The key is they should inspire deep thought, reflection, and identify unique temptations to your life. Once personal ethics and standards are defined, Williams and Anderson (2006) encourages you to work through the below ethical checklist to verify for practicality, focus, and logic ensuring the decision will promote respect, authenticity, and responsibility.

Ethical Checklist (Williams & Anderson, 2006)

  • The legality of policy test – does my decision break the law or corporate policy?
  • The newspaper, light-of-the day, or family test – would I mind sharing my decision publicly?
  • Respect all – have I encouraged people of other cultures to express themselves in their uniqueness, regardless of the prevailing corporate culture?
  • Involvement test – Have I involved others in the decision?
  • Walk the talk, pursue authenticity – Does the client perceive me as motivational and able to retain highly capable people?
  • Personal responsibility – Do I accept personally the consequences of my actions?
  • Relevant information – Does the organization practice glass-wall management, in which people openly communicate their actions and objectives as they relate to organizational initiatives?
  • Fairness test – How do I interpret fairness?

Being consistent by matching intention with ethical behaviors and actions will help you build a strong reputation.

Howard and Korver (2008) warn not to blindly adopt the ethics of others. It is vital to draw thoughts and feelings from within. Take time, using the below ‘Area of Contemplation’ list, to examine, identify, and embrace your personal and professional ethics and standards. This will help you prepare for challenges and uncertainties when they arise, even if they are between right and right (Kidder, 1995).

 Area of Contemplation Ethics and Standards
Field of _______. ·
What purpose brought you to the field of ____? How does that purpose relate to the work you take on? ·
Whom do you serve? Is the focus a single client, the organization, the employees, a higher power, myself, society as a whole, or something else? ·
Reflect on the principles and values that guide your work. What are they? ·
How have your principles and values guided the type of work you accept and how you do your work? ·
How have your principles and values been challenged in your work? ·
How have you resolved those challenges? ·

Source: Wheatly, Tannenbaum, Yardely-Griffin, and Quade (2003).

References

Howard, R. & Korver, C. (2008). Ethics for the real world: Creating a personal code to guide decisions in work and life. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School.

Josephson Institute of Ethics. (1999). Five steps of principled reasoning. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://ethicsalarms.com/rule-book/ethical-decision-making-tools/.

Kidder, R. (1995). How good people make tough choices: Resolving the dilemmas of ethical living. New York, NY: Harper.

Matousek, M. (2012). Ethical Wisdom. New York, NY: Anchor Books.

McDowell, B. (2000). Ethics and excuses: The crisis in professional responsibility.

Rothwell, W., & Sullivan, R. (2005). Practicing organization development: A guide for consultants (2nd ed). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Williams, P., & Anderson, S. (2006). Law and ethics in coaching: How to resolve and avoid difficult problems in your practice. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

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The Energy of Change

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Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves. We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”  ~Humbert Wolfesunset2

The autumn equinox marks the arrival of the season of fall, traditionally seen as a period of changes leading to the dark of winter. This change in the amount of light is a signal to animals, plants and, before the light bulb, people, of changing seasons. Darkness can be a place of silent nurturance, where the slow, steady gestation needed for inner growth can occur. It’s a time to look inside yourself and reflect on what you see. It’s a time of focus. The hustle and bustle of the warmer months is dying down and you have more time to focus on change; it’s quieter and easier to listen to your inner voice.

As you watch leaveFall2s fluttering to the ground in the fall, be reminded that nature’s cycles are mirrored in your life. Autumn is a time for letting go
and releasing things that have been a burden. The energy of your surroundings changes, and as energetic beings you reverberate that. What fulfills you in the winter is not going to energize you in the summer. Just as what invigorates you in the spring will not humble you in the fall. Change is important. It keeps you alive and present; it keeps you going. And it’s the only constant you can rely on.

As the seasons change, it is a good time to take a good look at your health and lifestyle. Review your dreams, hopes and desires for your personal and professional life. Do you need to make changes to your behaviors to realign to your goals?

Whatever changes are calling you this season, honor them. If it’s your job, feel inspired and excited to begin the search for a new one. If it’s your diet, enjoy the bounty of nature’s harvest available in the fall. If it’s your exercise routine, be grateful that the heat of the summer has died down and it’s easier to be outside, enjoying nature. Whatever it is welcome that change into your life. Use this change in seasons, this change in the Earth’s energy to move forward, out of the now and into the new.

Learning about and living in harmony with the nature of each season will help you stay healthy. Live in harmony with the world around you, see that nature is slowing down and contracting; preparing to rest so it is good for you to Fall4do the same. Sleeping a little longer, eating warming, nourishing foods, and moving inward – paying extra attention to your internal life. This is the season for you to give yourself some extra attention and self-love. Be content inside; be thankful for your present state because it is a gift that is meant to help you experience your life in an exceptional way.

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  ~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Your Wandering Mind

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When was the last time you were lost in thought when all of the sudden a profound insight to current problem popped into your head?  Daydreaming, also known as mind-wandering, may seem like a passive activity. However, research is discovering it could actually involve a highly engaged brain.

Researchers believe the average person spends close to 50 percent of their waking lives in a state of mind-wandering.

With the promotion of mindfulness, mind-wandering has been viewed as a negative state of mind. Mind-wandering can negatively impact reading comprehension, impair the ability to withhold automatic responses, and disrupt performance on tests of working memory and intelligence.

Emerging evidence suggests that the role of mind-wandering is not entirely harmful. Studies have shown that mind-wandering may play a crucial role in both planning for the future and creative problem solving. It enables goal-directed planning in relation to personal concerns. It also aids decision-making by allowing you to run future-oriented simulations in your head. Plus, you may have experienced mind-wandering will help you complete a tedious, repetitive task.

Recent research is showing mind-wandering may promote long-term learning and memory by promoting learning in short episodes versus a massed practice. Mind-wandering during learning creates breaks in the learning, creating an opportunity to return to the task with a refreshed capacity for attentive processing. So don’t get discouraged when you have to go back to reread something because your mind wandered. Look at it as an opportunity to reinforce what you just read.

You may not be entirely able to choose when and where to let your mind wander. You may find your mind wanders best during repetitive basic tasks, allowing your brain to enter the beneficial mind-wandering state.

Find a balance with being mindful and allowing the mind to wander. Determine what the situation needs from you. If you have a problem to solve or need a creative idea, go and get lost in an activity that allows your mind to wander (exercising, gardening, or basic household chores) and see what creative solutions emerge.wandering mind

Giving to Others

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Did you know volunteering will help you reach a great state of happiness and hope?  When you give your time to others you experience an euphoria known as “helper’s high”.  Researchers can see the neural “glow” from helping others on fMRI scans.

When you’re generous to others, you’re also generous to yourself. Your entire being undergoes a feel-good transformation at the cellular level when you support others; which boosts everything from your psychological outlook to heart and immune system. You’re also choosing to be “other centered,” which streams wellbeing back to yourself and can help you live longer. Giving your time to others is powerful medicine, research shows volunteering can:learning

  • Help you stay physically healthy
  • Combat depression and create happiness
  • Increase self-confidence
  • Bring fun and fulfillment to your life
  • Sharpen or learn new skills
  • Advance your career

Giving doesn’t have to be complicated or grand. It can be a formal, long-term commitment such as working at a shelter on a regular basis. Or, giving can be informal, a one-time interaction such as sharing an encouraging smile or a gentle hug. Start by paying closer attention to the people and situations you encounter as you go about your day-to-day life; soon you will recognize opportunities to give.

Use the following questions to find a coordinated volunteering opportunity that best matches you.

  • What causes or issues matter the most to me?
  • How much time can I commit? 
  • Do I want an ongoing, regularly scheduled assignment or short-term assignment? 
  • Do I like to work with adults, children, or animals? 
  • How much responsibility am I ready to take on? 
  • Do I prefer to be behind the scenes or do I want to take a more visible role? 
  • Do I want to work alone, with a group, friends, or family? 
  • What do I want to learn/experience? What are my goals? What am I interested in? 
  • Am I willing to participate in a training course, or do I want to start volunteering immediately?

The more you know about what you want to do, the more valuable you will be to the organization you join as a volunteer. You’re donating your valuable time, it’s important that you enjoy and benefit from your volunteering. Consider starting small so that you don’t over commit yourself. Take time to ensure the volunteer position is a good fit and to communicate openly with the people you’re working with in the volunteer organization. Ask questions. Make sure you know what’s expected. Don’t be afraid to make a change. Speak up if your experience isn’t what you expected; talk to the organization about changing your focus or consider looking for another match.

Are you convinced and ready to volunteer a small portion of your time?  Are you wondering where you can find volunteer opportunities? The following list may help you identify a match for you.Giving

  • Local animal/rescue shelters or wildlife/nature centers
  • Senior centers or libraries
  • Parks and conservation organizations
  • Service organizations such as Lions Clubs or Rotary Clubs
  • Community theaters, museums, and monuments
  • Youth organizations, sports teams, and after-school programs
  • Places of worship such as churches or synagogues

Persistence pays. The application, screening, and training may take up to several weeks to complete. Do not get discouraged if a program does not get back to you, or if a program requires several “hoops” to go through before you can start volunteering. Rewards from volunteering are well worth the effort, so hang in there and keep trying.

The most valuable skills you bring to any volunteer experience are compassion, an open mind, a willingness to do whatever is needed, and a positive attitude

Go out and give, seek ordinary moments and make them extraordinary.

Life truly is a special occasion. Enjoy yourself. 

Continuous Learning, Continuous Growth

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People are living longer, staying active in the work force longer, and need to continuously learn to keep up with the ever changing world.

Your ability to anticipate your organization’s needs, tailor your learning to meet your own unique learning style, and acquire the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to create value for your customers, employer, and organization is critical to your success. Information and knowledge in every field is doubling every 2-3 years, this means that your knowledge has to double every 2-3 years, just for you to stay even.

Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in your field. Learning is profit and competitive edge. The soul of business is innovation; the soul of personal success is the innovation of self. You can’t have one without the other. If you want to have, run, or be part of a business that succeeds in a time of change, you need to be willing and able to change.

Learning is a physical and emotional based process. It requires you to be connected with thinking, acting, and feeling. Active learning experiences (discussion, simulations, games, and role plays) change your brain as you learn new knowledge; you create new brain cell connections. These changes in the brain will reverse when you do not have the opportunity to use the skills you developed. Optimal sleep and silencing the mind through meditation will also enhance the availability of these brain cell connections.

To stay in the continuous learning and continuous growth mindset add the following active learning experiences to your daily habits:

Be great at your job
  • If you want to get ahead, first be great at what you do. If you’re great at what you do, people will take notice and have you in mind for special projects and maybe even for a promotion. There are three way to do this:
    • First, get clarity on the expectations of your current job.
    • Second, ask your manager, customers, and peers for feedback and regularly ask what you can do to improve.
    • Third, take action! Set and achieve learning goals.
Explore and apply what you learn
  • Keep an open mind:
    • On a regular basis take time to honestly assess your progress and current skills. Update your learning plan as needed.
    • Follow your intuition – let your intuition guide you to make learning enjoyable.
    • Keep a “Want to Learn” list; write ideas for new areas of study. Whatever motivates you, write it down.
  • Identify your personal learning style. Maximize on how you prefer to learn. (This link will take you to a learning style assessment created by Marcia Conner, author of Learn More Now.)
  • Actively silence the mind through meditation for at least 15 minutes a day. Sustained focus is essential for learning and creative thinking.
  • Have a book to read, take it with you so you can read it when you have ‘waiting’ time.
  • Spend at least 15 minutes a day on learning.
Develop leadership skills
  • Learn leadership skills and take action on them. Leadership is everyone’s business. Anyone can be a leader in an organization, no matter their job. Leaders solve problems. Leaders make things happen. Leaders inspire others to be their best. Anyone can do that.
  • Teach others – you learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning. Start a blog, mentor someone, or even discuss ideas with a friend.
  • Spend more time with people who think; people who invest time in learning new skills.
    • Get involved with organizations that teach skills. Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.
    • Join industry associations and organizations that encourage and support individuals with learning current information and ideas on their fields.

Learning is life. Your vision and goals will be infused with a new sense of exuberance when you commit to learning what you need to learn in order to achieve them.

DEDICATE YOURSELF TO CONTINUOUS LEARNING AND CONTINUOUS GROWTH

LearningGrowth

Mindful Meetings

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Are you feeling frustrated because the meetings you attend are long and end with no clear outcomes?  Research suggests a meeting with mindfulness creates a more efficient and successful meeting.

Mindfulness is not just a corporate trend, but a proven method for success. Mindfulness – being focused and fully present in the here and now – is good for individuals and good for business. Taking the time to practice mindfulness, whether it is simply taking a few deep breaths, or actual meditation has been shown to alter the structures and function of the brain, which allows you to learn, acquire new abilities, and improve memory.

Mindful meetings are being aware of the ‘now’ and create the opportunity for participants to be engaged, effective, and focused on the priorities of the meeting. This mindset creates an environment for exploration of new ideas and different perspectives.

Steps you can take to lead a mindful meeting:

  1. When planning the meeting, do your best to create a comfortable environment:
    • Meet in an area with enough space for everyone to fit comfortably.
    • Do what you can to ensure the room is not too hot or cold.
    • Remind everyone to bring a beverage.
  2. Start each meeting with a pause. Ask each participant to take a moment to notice where they are and their current mental state. This will prompt them to bring their attention to the present moment. Moods are contagious, taking time to pause will allow participants a chance to breathe, regroup, recharge, and reset. Recognize where everyone is with compassion. A best practice for a starting a mindful meeting:
    • Start the meeting by having participants close their eyes and take two – five minutes to just breathe. During this time ask individuals to let go of unneeded thoughts and to bring themselves completely into the meeting room.
  3. Share the intentions of the meeting, include intentions that go beyond the meeting. End the meeting with answers to the following questions:
    • What have we decided here today?
    • Who is going to do what, by when?
    • How will we resolve the issues that are still open?
    • What is likely to get in the way of us implementing what we agreed to today and how will we handle it?
  4. Ask participants to truly listen and participate in the meeting with curiosity, appreciation, or contribution. Encourage everyone to have their say, bring a different perspective, and support openness. This will prevent groupthink.
  5. Meet face to face, which provides a powerful sense of connection. If face to face is not feasible – use video conferencing, this will help participants see expressions and connect with each other on an emotional level.
  6. Respect the fact people have a limited attention span – keep meetings brief and to the point with breaks when necessary.
  7. Give the gift of time – end meetings a couple of minutes early.

By bringing just a bit more mindfulness to your meetings, you can take what most people consider the most painful part of their day and turn it into a highly productive, even enjoyable experience.

Breathe and be mindful.

Mindfulness

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Being presentStop!  Where are you?  Where are your thoughts at this very moment?  Are you trying to quickly read this post so you can check it off your ‘to do’ list and move on to your next task?  Is your mind filled with activities you need to do?  Are you thinking of emails or phone calls waiting for your reply?  People you need to connect with?  Or have these questions reminded you of tasks you need to complete? Are you caught up in the culture of ‘Hurry, I need to finish this task and move to the next!’? Take a moment, pause and take a deep breath.   Yes, take a deep breath now.  Breathe in slowly and deeply.  Exhale slowly and completely.  One more time.  This time as you breathe in, focus on centering your mind, let the chatter in your mind float away.  Be still in the moment.  As you exhale experience the sensations of your body and your surroundings.  One more round; while you slowly breathe in experience your current feelings, sounds, and surroundings.  Be present in the moment, this current moment. Slowly exhale. Being mindful in the moment takes practice, the benefits are substantial. You will feel calmer, centered, and will experience a deeper sense of the moment. Your family, friends, and peers will also appreciate your mindfulness and the benefits it brings to them.  Research shows clearing away distractions and living in the moment can alter the structure and function of the brain. Over the next couple of weeks raise the bar with being fully present during your daily activities.  Take time to check in with yourself, being mindful of moments.  Be truly present while you drive your family members to their activities, listening to and participating in the chatter taking place in the car.  Be mindful during meetings, experience the verbal and non-verbal cues of your peers provide. Truly listen and experience what your peers are saying and doing. Step out of your comfort zone with mindfulness – slowly and deeply breathe in, now slowly and completely breathe out, one more time, deep inhale . . . full exhale.  How do you feel?  Do you feel more relaxed?  Grounded in your thoughts?  At peace with yourself?  You have control of your mindfulness at any given time, where ever you want. The journey to mindfulness is yours! Enjoy your journey! All the best!