Employ Mindfulness to Give the Gifts of Connection and Contentment

Group of people gathered together during the holidays

My mind is full. These days there is so much information coming at us around the clock, from so many sources. Plus, I love to learn and assimilate new research findings, stories, and perspectives into the work we are doing on connection and organizational culture. Being an integrative thinker has its strengths. It’s certainly stimulating (and sometimes exhausting). I recognize that a downside, especially for someone consistently advocating for the importance of connection in our work lives and personal lives, is that my natural bent to be in my head can be a source of disconnection.

Resilience Is Rooted in Human Connection

Trees in a circle representing resilience

The image of trees being whipped back and forth during a storm is an appropriate analogy for humans weathering especially stressful seasons in life. It was on my mind as I followed the coverage of Hurricane Ian and the destruction it left in its wake at the same time I was reading new research that came out on rising burnout among physicians. I thought of how those in healthcare have been battered by a fierce hurricane called the Covid-19 pandemic. They faced a powerful and unpredictable foe, one that shifted and adapted as it went along, one that was fatal to some it encountered and left others unscathed. Shaken and tested by what must have felt like an unrelenting storm in the first year, some in healthcare were able to persevere and remain standing strong and some fell. Still others are upright, but for how much longer?

Now Is a Critical Time to Create an Upward Spiral of Positivity

Smiley face balloons looking up representing positivity

Emotions are contagious. For that reason, you need to pay attention to your own emotions and those of the people around you.

At work, how would you characterize the emotional state of your team? If you were to think of it as a river, is the quality of the water life-giving and invigorating, or some level of toxic? Is the water current robust or more of a trickle?

When Grit Isn’t Enough: Protection from Burnout and Suicide

Neon sign with the word burnout

Mike Ivy is not someone you would expect to contemplate taking his own life.

His experience and accomplishments communicate grit and resilience. A trauma, critical care and acute care surgeon by training, Dr. Ivy grew up in the U.S. Navy. His father was a submarine sailor; Mike joined the Navy to pay for medical school and served nine years active duty. Following the Navy, he completed a fellowship at Yale in surgical critical care then held a series of increasingly senior leadership positions at hospitals in Connecticut. Presently, Dr. Ivy is Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Yale New Haven Health System, which comprises more than 26,000 employees, including 6,685 medical staff.

Preparing for Re-entry into the Physical Workplace: Lessons from NASA

Astronaut Franklin R. Chang-Diaz works with a grapple fixture during extravehicular activity to perform work on the International Space Station

Astronaut crews living and working in space experience as a matter of course what many of us experienced unexpectedly during the SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic. Consider these similarities:

  • They are physically isolated for a long period of time from family, friends, and the majority of their work colleagues.
  • Their daily in-person interactions are limited to the few people they live with and their other interactions are intermediated through digital technology.
  • Their home also serves as their workplace.
  • They are surrounded by a dangerous environment that poses a threat to their physical health. (For them, the dangers include a lack of oxygen in outer space; for us, the danger has been the risk of contracting COVID-19.)

GovExec Daily Podcast Appearance: The Utility of Breaks and Breakdowns

Stressed man sitting outside having a breakdown

Recently, Katie Stallard and I wrote about the benefits of taking breaks and even of giving yourself time for a “breakdown” when you’ve pushed too hard. It’s a topic that’s relevant for many working professionals who face pressure to keep producing high volumes of work without sufficient rest.

GovExec Daily invited us to discuss this topic further in a new podcast. Listen to our conversation and consider what steps you can take to give yourself – and those you lead – the space to recharge.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Having an Old-fashioned Nervous Breakdown Might Be a Good Thing

Man reading and relaxing outdoors

Should the term “nervous breakdown” be embraced again? One of my (Michael’s) favorite journalists, Jerry Useem, provides a fascinating look at the history of the nervous breakdown in this article he wrote for The Atlantic titled “Bring Back the Nervous Breakdown.” Where Useem lands aligns with my thinking as an advocate for fostering connection, both for its positive effect on individuals and for how it improves the performance of groups, as well as what I share with clients about the harmful effects of stress and disconnection.

Finding Brave Podcast Appearance

Kathy Caprino Podcast Banner

Recently, I had the privilege of being a guest on the Finding Brave podcast hosted by Kathy Caprino. A therapist, career coach, and author, Kathy is on a mission to help listeners – particularly professional women – access the courage they need to honor their true passions, talents, and values in life and work.