Evergreen Leadership Blog


Outsmarting Overwhelm

I fall prey to feeling overwhelmed more than I’d like. The “to do” list is long and grows like a teenager in a growth spurt. At times there are so many tugs on my time that I can find myself paralyzed, seemingly unable to tackle even one of the hundreds of tasks facing me.

As I consult and coach and teach, I know I am not alone. Many are overwhelmed by jobs that demand them to be available 24/7.

Thankfully I’ve grown wiser about overcoming overwhelm after a lifetime of practice. As such, here are the tactics that I’ve found work to outsmart overwhelm.

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Reframing – “Fix Your Face”

Two women leaders recently shared a wonderful story to me that struck at a basic truth. Here is how the story unfolded.

Michelle was commanded (not asked, but told) to participate in a developmental program that required her to be out of her regular work for a day and a half. Her coworker, Kenya, also was asked to participate in the same program; albeit in a more inviting way.

Michelle’s first response was negative. She was angry. She was frustrated. She vented to Kenya about how annoying, unjust and terrible this whole thing was. Kenya’s first response was different. She was curious. What was this program about? How might it help her?

So when Michelle’s email came to Kenya, with all the disbelief and complaining and frustration, Kenya presented Michelle with very sage advice in three short words: Fix Your Face.

Keep reading to learn more about the story of Michelle and Kenya, reframing a situation, and how to “fix your face”.

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Gratitude: Food for the Soul

In the US, we celebrate Thanksgiving this week. It is the one holiday that is focused on gratitude, abundance, and honoring and sharing the good things in our lives.

Personally, I’m an advocate for expressing gratitude 100% of our days and not only .03% of the time.

Take five minutes to read this pre-Thanksgiving article about both the scientific benefits of gratitude and how practicing gratitude has impacted my life. You just might learn something that will leave you feeling full long beyond the holiday.

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Mindful or Mind full? 10 Simple Techniques that Foster Mindfulness

Mindful or Mind Full? Which are you most of the time? There is a big difference, and that difference shows up in many ways. The benefits of mindfulness are plentiful – for your mental health, your physical health, your relationships and your work.

But, mindfulness is a practice – and it really does take practice. I am continually both surprised and unsettled at how difficult it is to maintain a clear mind – for just 5 minutes.

Here are 10 simple ways you can begin to foster mindfulness and the benefits of doing so.

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10 Reasons Slowing Down Can Serve You Well

Do you recall Aesop’s fable from your youth – the story of the race between the tortoise and the hare? Of course, any sane person would scoff at the idea of the turtle winning the race. But as the story unfolds, the overconfident hare takes a huge lead, and believing he can never be overtaken by the turtle, gets off the path and takes a nap. We all know how the story ends.

Today, I, like many others, feel the heat of the race. The pressure to do more, go faster, keep up. And we, in spite of exhaustion, sacrifices to our health, and dents to our most valued relationships, try very hard to run as fast as we can.

There are many reasons to slow down when your pace is consuming you or unsustainable, and here, I name ten.

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Simplifying Life and Work: 12 Things to Shed NOW

The idea of having less, doing less, and managing less, runs contrary to our consumer-based market economy. Yet as Henry David Thoreau discovered at Walden Pond, it can be a marvelous thing. It can free us up for more important things. To relax. To breathe. To do the things that really matter.

Yet many of us just don’t know what to shed or how to begin. We’ve fine-tuned and socially encouraged our “more” mentality – and spent scant energy on the reverse. So in today’s post I’m providing you some specific thought starters in four categories you might consider shedding. This is not an all-inclusive list, but merely a start. I’m only going to hint at the HOW to do this… but know that you’ll find ample on-line details about purging these items from your life.

I’ve listed four categories you might consider: things, tasks, thoughts, and toxic relationships. For each category, I’ve provided three suggestions. That gives you a starting point of 12 places you might begin to shed. …

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Fueling Your Fire

I believe each of us has something that sparks us. It may be our work, or our family, or social justice, or the environment, or any one of a thousand things. I also believe that it is far too easy in our hyper-paced world to let that spark turn into a raging fire that consumes us. Work demands are high, needs are everywhere, we are connected 24/7, and being busy and feeling overwhelmed is the predominant mode.

In grade school we learned the three elements needed for combustion: a fuel source, oxygen, and a spark of heat. I think the same conditions apply to our inner fires: we need something that we are passionate about to spark us. But we also need to be diligent to avoid being consumed by it.

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The Spirit of the Season – All Year Long

How would you be different if the spirit of this season lasted all year long? As you pause, cease your paid labor, gather with friends and family, take a moment to reflect on the messages that this time of year brings, and determine what parts of this holiday you’ll carry forward. You can be a light in the darkness, you can bring hope to those in despair, and by caring for others you’ll find you’ve cared for yourself.

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Simplify and Focus

My Dad used to observe that I could squeeze more into one day that anyone he knew. And he was right. There was a plan, executable down to 15 minute increments. The pace was fast and unrelenting. Work – kids – exercise – community work – school – church – cooking – cleaning – errands. The day was a blur, but boy oh boy, could I get a lot of things done! At least on some days. However, on most days, the long task list overwhelmed me, and by Friday evening it was all I could do to order in pizza and collapse on the couch.

How I wish Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, was available 10 years ago. It provides a great guide on how to move from being buffeted from the trivial many to living in the essential few.

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Tuning in to New Signals

Today’s post is from Marilyn J. Smith, the founder of Consensus Building Partners. She uses consensus-building, facilitation and project management skills to help clients take informed, integrated and creative action. And she describes here, how her professional choices have become more anchored, and her actions more effective, due to a decision to work differently.

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