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March 9, 2020 / Blog / Mariposa Articles

Working from Home: The Opportunity

by Sue Bethanis, CEO/Founder of Mariposa, sueb@mariposaleadership.com, @suebethanis

If you’re a knowledge worker living in the Bay Area and are not already working from home (WFH) by choice or by company policy, my guess is you soon will be. I suspect we will be following Seattle’s lead this week or next.

I have been working from home for 24 years as an Executive Coach, and I work with tech leaders who have made the transition to WFH in the past. Am working from home today, in fact, keeping tabs on my sick teen (he’s without-a-fever, but keeping him home for public health reasons).

Last Tuesday, I “penned” an article on “How to Be Leaderly in Utter Uncertainty.” Today, I am addressing WHAT AN INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY WE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO WORK FROM HOME. The Economist addresses the business opportunity of WFH here. The WSJ addresses the practical things of WFH, like your tech set up, here.

I am looking at a different opportunity: what you can do with that hour (or two) you just got back from no commuting and not having to sprint from meeting to meeting. And you’re not traveling, so you’re getting that time back, too. So, you really do have more time on your hands. I imagine you’re spending time getting set up and getting used to the idea that you’re using your dining room table or old card table as your workstation.

Once you have your set up, what are you going to do with that extra hour?

Three Ideas: Self-care, Family, Strategic Thinking

Self-care: meditation and exercise

If there is ever a time to practice meditation, now is the time. There is no question our collective anxiety is heightened because of COVID-19, the economy, uncertainty; and our individual anxiety is increased as well. Meditation and mindful breathing can calm us. Perhaps you have let your meditation practice go; if so, start it up again with 10 minutes in the morning. If you have never had a meditation practice, perhaps it’s time to start one up. One way to start is through repeating a mantra. I have used this practice for 30 years; it has never gotten old.

Sit in a quiet place with your feet on the floor.

Focus on your breath so that you can feel it go in and out of your nose.

Repeat this mantra:

  • May I be happy,
  • May I be safe,
  • May I be healthy,
  • May I live with ease,
  • May I be free.

Next, choose a person you’re closely connected with. Say his/her name in your mantra. You may want to choose a different person each day or repeat the mantra a couple of times in a day with various people:

  • May (name) be happy,
  • May ____ be safe,
  • May ____ be healthy,
  • May ____ live with ease,
  • May ____ be free.

Family: walking and connecting

You can create a “two-fer” opportunity if you walk with one of your family members or friends in the morning or as a break in the late afternoon. What an incredible opportunity we have that we get to see our family members more. Yes, I know – especially if you have kids – you’re going to have to create some boundaries for your work space and time; however, use this opportunity to put attention on your family members that you haven’t been able to do the past year, 5 years, 10 years…you know what I am talking about. Connect with them in a way you haven’t been able to in the past.

Strategy/Design: (Yes, you have been putting this off)

Once you get into your daily routine of WFH, think about that hour you have because you’re not sitting in your car. You have been putting off doing strategy work. And whatever strategic or vision documents you do have, they might need to be revised based on the new normal – the business climate took a huge detour last week, and today, March 9th, the DOW dropped 2000 points.

Re-looking at your business proposition, product, or market(s) might make some sense! So, what new scenario planning should you do? What approach could you take? For the past 10 years, I have used a Design Thinking approach with my company, Mariposa Leadership, and have worked with many execs and their teams using this approach. This requires looking at the market in a different way and bringing in your customers to solve problems WITH you. This Design Thinking method is outlined here. Typically, these types of journeys are done in person. Now, you have the time to do these types of brainstorming meetings via videoconferencing. What a cool opportunity!

To download a PDF of this article, click here.

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November 30, 2017 / Articles We Like / Leadership

On “4 Ways to Train Your Brain to Be More Open-Minded”

There’s always more than one point of view. And now, in an ever-polarized world, it’s important to consider those that are not your own. According to John Brown, who was recently featured in the Fast Company article, “4 Ways to Train Your Brain to Be More Open-Minded,” truly being open-minded is actually a counter-intuitive mental task that takes purposeful action.

So, what if our divergent values and ideas could provide for healthy dialogue and innovation instead of polarization?

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September 30, 2017 / Articles We Like / Stress / Work-Life Integration

On “Here’s What Mindfulness Is (and Isn’t) Good For”

According to the media, the benefits of mindfulness have recently exploded into an ubiquitous cure-all for fixing our problems. As it happens, most of the research around mindfulness is not grounded in rigorous scientific evidence.

In his recent Harvard Business Review article “Here’s What Mindfulness Is (and Isn’t) Good For,” Daniel Goleman found that less than 1 percent of the studies he researched met rigorous scientific standards. So, while you can’t believe everything you hear about mindfulness, he is quick to point out that there is solid research that shows us what meditation can really do.

What do you think about Daniel Goleman’s four key benefits of mindfulness?

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June 26, 2014 / Leadership

Ask Mariposa | My Performance > My Confidence

Ed asks: I’m a senior executive with a track record of high performance.  My performance levels have led to interesting career growth opportunities as well as increasing amounts of responsibility over the years.  Given all I’ve achieved, my peers and colleagues believe I have a high level of confidence.  But, the truth is, I don’t feel that way inside. I wish I felt as confident as my performance indicates it is. What steps can I take to work on closing this gap?

Eric Nitzberg, Executive Leadership Coach, responds:

Your confidence levels have not become a barrier to performance.  However it will take some work to unwind the stories you’ve been telling yourself over the years about your limitations.  One way to start working on this is to recognize when your internal narrative is at play.  When you are in situations when you are feeling unsure, what are you thinking?  How does your body feel?  Begin to notice what transpires in these moments, and write them down.  Once you’ve identified your internal narrative, you can work on interrupting these habitual responses with more positive experiences.  Reflect on prior successes when you’ve overcome similar feelings and have pushed through to positive outcomes.  You can also try positive affirmations to change the narrative in these moments, as well as any meditation or mindfulness technique to get centered.

Somatic work might also help you embody your own leadership.  Work on getting more into your body to feel and experience your own strength.  Practice several ways you might walk into a room, perhaps to give a presentation.  Observe the sensations in your body and where you feel them. Notice your posture.  What feels good to you?  Meditation or mindfulness practices can help with this as well.  Practice tightening and relaxing your body while you sit with your eyes closes and notice what you feel.  The idea is to consciously embody the strength that resides within.

You might also want to watch Amy Cuddy’s 10-minute TED talk, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are. In this talk, you’ll learn how standing in a confident stance even when you’re not feeling confident can impact success.

Good luck!

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