An Ode to Productivity

To Be of Use
The people I love the best
jump into work head first

without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

 I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

 The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

 by Marge Piercy

Getting More Productive: Tip #1 and Four Simple Truths

Do you find yourself longing to be more productive?

Well, you are not alone. This longing is shared by many of us as we navigate the complexity of modern life. There is no one secret to becoming more productive ­­-- I have no formula for success to offer. What I've found is that for each of us the path to being truly productive is an evolving set of practices, an ongoing personal adventure. Alongside developing clarity on the big picture, I help people put their shoulders to the wheel and develop truly productive life habits and structures. Today I'm offering you a high leverage tip that magnetizes productivity, and reminding you of a few habits that you already know are the very foundation of a highly productive life.

The Four Simple Truths: (The ones that you already know)

  1. Get enough sleep
  2. Eat well
  3. Exercise often
  4. Contemplate daily

Tip #1 –Determine One Thing That Will Make a Difference

Take a look at your long list of to-dos and ask yourself:

What is the one thing that will make the difference if I get it done today?

Choose one thing that will have an impact, that is feasible to accomplish today.Write that down in bold letters across the top of your list, then orchestrate your day to accomplish that one task and let the rest of your to-dos follow suit --  believe me they will! Drive your day with the one thing that will make a difference, keep putting your time, attention and energy on it. When you get it done shout out, “Yes!”

Check in with your list at the end of the day and take note of all your accomplishments. Celebrate your wins and let them give you energy. Then determine what the "one thing" is for tomorrow and put that at the top of the list, big and bold,  before you close up the day. Set it up so the “one thing” greets you in the morning when you start your day.Do the "one thing" on a daily basis and keep repeating.The "one thing" will serve as a magnet, attracting your accomplishments with each daily, “Yes!” that you shout out. You will be amazed at the momentum that putting this simple tip into practice will produce.

This simple tip addresses focusing your attention in the midst of distraction and complexity. Your own productivity challenge may call for a different approach. Contact me for a free initial coaching consultation.To learn more about productivity read on.

So, what do I mean when I use the term productivity? Well, I don’t mean just getting things done. Productivity is the result of using your time, energy and attention in concert such that you are sustainably making progress on the things that support your well-being and bring meaning to your life. Productivity is the driver of fulfilling our promise. Being truly productive creates momentum. It gives us juice!

In the weeks to come I’ll offer more tips on working with time, energy and attention more effectively. But now I want to explore the four simple truths.They are the foundation of a sustainably productive life. They are “no brainers” but many of us have trouble maintaining at least one of them and when we get stressed they tend to fall away leaving us depleted, unfocused and moody. A productive life is built on a solid albeit simple foundation. Nothing will get you more productive than getting these four in place. Nothing will challenge their dynamic equilibrium more than success. So, let go of doing it perfectly, be kind to yourself, and enjoy the ride!

Invite yourself to continually work the four simple truths into your life habits:

Get Enough Sleep – Work with your bio-rhythms and make it a priority

  • Refrain from caffeine in the second half of your day
  • Sleep clean -- in a room free of the distractions of TV, tablet, and phone
  • Invest in an old-fashioned alarm clock and charge your phone in another room
  • Take naps if at all possible (10-30 minutes is optimal. Too long and you will wake up groggy)

Eat well – Keep it simple and delicious

  • Eat early and well over the course of the day
  • Include lots of leafy green vegetables in your diet
  • Get enough protein
  • Limit your sugar intake
  • Drink plenty of water

Exercise Regularly- Moderation is key to keeping it daily

  • Greet the day with a quick walk or run (10- 20 minutes)
  • Take a short walk during your lunch break
  • Ride your bike or walk, if possible
  • Build upper body strength somehow – lift weights, stack wood, carry children
  • Take an exercise class or go to the gym regularly

Develop a Contemplative Practice – Build your Jedi brain capacity and reduce the allostatic load of modern life

  • If you already have one: Commit to it and deepen it.
  • If you haven’t established one yet: Investigate a way to “meditate” that is right for you.There are many methods available for busy people with busy minds from many traditions.

My next posts will introduce the productivity triad of Time, Energy, and Attention. I’ll be offering you ways to boost and harmonize these three critical elements to achieve true productivity.In the meantime, try focusing your attention by using Tip #1 to hone in on the one thing that will make the difference, and shore up the very foundation of your productivity by inviting yourself to implement the four simple truths.

If you feel called to action and you want to work closely with me in a program that I design just for you, click here to schedule a free initial consultation.

I hope that you are enjoying these glorious summer days as much as I am!

Warmly, Lyedie Geer

Gratitude For the Life of Maya Angelou

This week Maya Angelou departed from this world for another . . . Thank you Maya, for having the courage to recover your voice in the midst of adversity and express such beauty, truth and goodness while you were here.

On The Pulse of the Morning

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Mark the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spelling words
Armed for slaughter.
The rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A river sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more.
Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I
And the tree and stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your brow
And when you yet knew you still knew nothing.
The river sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing river and the wise rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew,
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek,
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the tree.
Today, the first and last of every tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the river.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the river.
Each of you, descendant of some passed on
Traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name,
You Pawnee, Apache and Seneca,
You Cherokee Nation, who rested with me,
Then forced on bloody feet,
Left me to the employment of other seekers--
Desperate for gain, starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot...
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru,
Bought, sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the tree planted by the river,
Which will not be moved.
I, the rock, I the river, I the tree
I am yours--your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage,
Need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me,
The rock, the river, the tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes,
Into your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.
                                                                          

                              Maya Angelou (Written for the occasion of Bill Clinton's Inauguration in 1993)

 

 

Harnessing the Energy of Spring

May 2nd, Walpole, New Hampshire

It is a glorious May morning and I'm just in from a walk. While I was out there I got inspired to offer up a few simple practices for harnessing the energy that spring offers. My hope is that you enjoy them, and they are helpful to you in some way.

Many of us are looking to further our intentionality, resourcefulness and the ability to enjoy life.  Working with the cycles of nature can help us to understand how to sustain these capacities over time. The practices below are intended to build your capacity:
  - To initiate more intentional communications with others
  - To work actively with the cycles of the creative process that are inherent in nature
  - To be more resourceful

Harnessing the Energy of Spring   (A few practices)
Recent breakthroughs in the field of neurobiology are telling us just how connected we are to the natural world and to each other. The palpable uptick of spring is a gorgeous example of this truth.  Our bodies and minds are attuned to the waking up energy at play in the natural world. This provides great support for initiating communication, moving up and out in purposeful ways.

Take a Daily Infusion: Carve out time on a daily basis for an infusion of spring. This could be just 7-10 minutes of your lunch break or a longer stretch if your schedule allows. The idea is to go outside and commune with spring as it bursts forth.  Leave your mobile phone behind and refrain from engaging in conversation. Dedicate this time to being fully receptive and aware of what is occurring in the natural world — the rain falling, sun warming, buds swelling, ferns unfurling, sap rising. Let it all bring a smile to your face. Invite it infuse your energy level and mood as you go on with your day. Doing this on a daily basis will support the initiating practices outlined below

Reflection: Take note of how being receptive to the uptick of Spring actually shifts your well-being, how it changes your energy level and emotional state.

Look for Opportunities to Break out of Winter’s Grip:  As you go through your day, look for ways to break out of the stasis of winter and to push forward into new possibility. The stasis of winter is something we often experience internally as a kind of inertia.  When you are on the verge of breaking out of it you might feel euphoric (and a even a little reckless) from the uptick that spring is giving your limbic system. But it is just as likely that you will experience at least a twinge of anxiety and feel your courage quicken. At those times consciously attune yourself to the energy of spring, the “yes” energy of inspiration and yearning; go with that.

Two Ways to Break out of Winter’s Grip:

1. Start Something: Start a project (small or large) that is dear to your heart, one that you have been considering but that has been in the grip of winter's inertia. Initiate that new project at work. Make that recipe that appears daunting. Throw that dinner party. Send that letter of intent. Teach your child how to knit.  Hurl yourself into preparing that garden bed.
 
Reflection: How much energy do you gain by applying your attention and energy to something that is meaningful to you?
 
2. Break Through and Melt Ice: Communicate intentionally by saying what you see and what you’d like to see.  Tell someone what you notice is happening in the space between you. Begin with the data; describe what you observe in as objective and straight forward a way as you can. Then express your warmth and what you hope for, what you would really like to experience and perhaps why. (It could be that there is something you'd like to see more of, or something you’d like to have less of, or perhaps there is something you wish was different than it is.) Be as real as you can, be your authentic self, listen to their response, stand in your intention.  This may feel risky at first and I encourage you to start with the small stuff. Sentence stems are a great help:  
 
I notice that . . . 
I see that . . . 
 
Followed by
 
What I’d really like to . . .
What is important to me is . . .

Here are some examples:  
I notice that we don't have dinner as a family the way we used to . . . I really miss it and it is important to me that we get back on track by having dinner together at least three times a week.
 
I notice that when you ask me to make changes in the work I submit for approval, even though I value your input, I get defensive. . . . I'd really like to be able to accept criticism more gracefully and be open to feedback so that we can collaborate more effectively .
 
I notice that when you greet me at the end of the day with that quick little kiss on my cheek . . . that I really want you to linger there with me a little longer. 
 
Reflections:
What does it take for you to say what you see and to offer your tender hopes to another?
What happens when you do?
How could you become more adept at these conversations?
 
Go ahead.  The idea here is to work with the inherent full-bodied invitation of spring. Experience how spring works with you to support your intentions. Notice how spring invites us, by its very nature, to be restless in our frozen old habits, to envision new patterns and potential, and to move up and out into the fullness of life. I urge you to harness the energy it offers to do what really matters to you.

Feel free to let me know how it goes.

As a life and leadership coach I help my clients develop capacities they need to meet their objectives, and to fulfill their promise.  Developing a new capacity is building a new muscle; it takes repeated effort and awareness through practice. 
May spring bring be all that you hope for!
 
Warmly, Lyedie

A Brush With Amazement

Rain was steady and penetrating the other other day, so I took my umbrella when I walked over to the post office to check my mail.  The air was heavy and damp under the protection of the dark strutted arc above me as I walked. I arrived at the post office with my mind on the future; the to do list for the day, the client I was preparing for, scanning to be sure to remember everything. I was in a nice flow of busy.

I pulled my umbrella down and looked around for a spot to lean while I popped into the post office. As I placed the umbrella handle against the mailbox my eyes caught on a soft jewel green wing, a pale brown furry antennae. A Luna moth had come in from the rain and found a safe spot on the windowsill behind the blue metal of the USPS Mailbox.

This delicate winged creature lifted me up and out of my focused busy state. Inspired a smile in me, and I slowed down enough to briefly meet the eyes of my neighbors, who were also going about their routines, “Take a look at what is hiding behind the mailbox. It just made my day!”

The Luna reminded me that it was June, that nature was in a raucous rush to procreate and enjoy its purpose. And so, off I went to the next thing in my carefully planned day having been “mothed” into knowing that somehow I had a part in the raucous rush of this June day. Having taken in a brush with amazement.

Entrepreneurship

The rewards of truly successful entrepreneurship are freedom and fullness of a high order.

Striving for excellence. Fulfilling your promise. Maintaining forward motion on a daily basis. Like leadership, entrepreneurship requires that we trust in our expertise while maintaining a steadfast commitment to the learning curve. Entrepreneurship requires a relentlessly high level of engagement. There is an “it is all up to you” quality to running a business that insists that we continually develop many aspects of ourselves. Entrepreneurial success resides in being versatile and expert. It is by nature a risky proposition that demands we approach life with an everyday courage; it constantly challenges our ability to be aware and stay a purposeful course.

Entrepreneurs call a coach into their corner to help them to fill this tall order. Bill Gates, in his May 2013 TED Talk, expressed an idea held in common by many of our nations most successful entrepreneurs: “Everybody needs a coach. They give us feedback and help us improve our practice.” As I see it, entrepreneurship is indeed a practice—it could even be described as a set of business and personal practices—and to sustain success, it requires a commitment to self-development.

Each of my clients arrives with challenges that set the trajectory for the coaching program that I then design specifically for them. As they “work” the program, they develop new approaches and capacities, deeply practical and sometimes transformational in nature, to the challenges they face. I offer an integral perspective—one that is balanced, comprehensive, interconnected, and whole. As my client, you will find much needed support in the coaching relationship. You will have someone with whom you can think things through, someone who knows the territory of running a business and self-development, who keeps your confidence, and is on your side. You will learn how to uphold the critical work-rest-play balance more effectively in the face of urgency. Some results that entrepreneurs have come to expect from working with me are an increased ability to:

  • Envision creatively
  • Act strategically
  • Hold and position the value of their product or service
  • Create effective structure and business practices
  • Know when to let go and when to hold fast
  • Connect more effectively with others
  • Deliver on intent
  • Create value for their stakeholders

At the outset, allotting the time and money for coaching feels like a leap, and may even appear to be a luxury. Upon completion of a successful coaching program, it is invariably seen as an essential investment.

Leading With Grit and Grace

In the field of Leadership, the rise of the feminine is causing a deep rumble. Emotional intelligence is gaining perceived value. Communication skills, and the capacity to build shared meaning and purpose in our places of work, are more widely recognized as critical to success. Women are taking up leadership more firmly, with more compassion and more radiance than ever before.

We are “leaning in” at work, as Sheryl Sandberg describes, and we are still carrying the lion’s share of responsibility for the quality of life for our families. “A record 40 percent of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family,” the Pew Research Center reported in May of 2013, as it released data that certainly won’t surprise many Americans but underscores some dramatic shifts over recent decades.The juggling act that each of us performs in our own private lives is actually a societal and cultural developmental edge. We are on the front lines of a massive experiment in life with less-clearly defined gender roles; the stakes are high, the gains and the losses are very real, and there doesn’t appear to be any going back.

Particularly when working with women, I help them to step forward into the challenge of this experiment in their work and personal lives. Using developmental models, I map out the stages of life and help you to find your place so that you can broaden your perspective on the unfolding narrative. With current and ancient wisdom concerning the masculine and feminine applied to leadership theory, I help you hone your directive/assertive and supportive/receptive aspects and to bring them into a powerful balance. I point you in the direction of what is essential and true to you. While I draw on the successes and failures of my own life, I rely on Integral methodology and many years of research and personal development to help women find their way.

  • How do you navigate the demands of your work and personal life without succumbing to Superwoman Syndrome?
  • How effectively do you stand up for what you know?
  • Do you know when to stand down?
  • How tenacious is your follow through?
  • Does being authentic and strategic feel at odds to you?
  • What do you listen for?
  • Do you know how and when to give direction and support?
  • Are you able to initiate and foster real and fruitful dialogue?
  • How much quiet do you allow yourself?
  • Have you discovered the value of silence?

Together we explore questions such as these along with the specific ones you bring to the table.

Together we hold the paradoxes until the contradictions begin to shift and wane, giving rise to the opportunity for transformation.

Together we discover more and more about your leadership style, and what is essential to you; we build your capacity to lead your life with grace and grit.

Artistry

Working the creative process—getting to know it better and use that knowledge effectively is at the heart of the work I do with artists and creative entrepreneurs. Finding and forging new ways to place work in the marketplace and promote it successfully—taking the work to the next level of recognition—is a critical part of the challenge that artists generally bring to our work together. Here are some examples that might also be relevant for you:

  • Responding to the call of the work
  • Opening more fully and consistently to “the muse”
  • Being guided by inspiration and grounded in practicality
  • Managing time in a way that supports creativity
  • Developing the capacity for discipline that is required to manifest anything
  • Cultivating a devoted following and finding powerful representation
  • Wrestling earnestly with issues of sustainability and emergence

At the outset, I ask simply that you begin to see your self as an instrument of creativity, an instrument that is somehow longing to fulfill an essential promise. Everything we take up in our work together—from the practical, to the sublime, to the seemingly ridiculous—flows from that.

Integral Theory

The philosopher Ken Wilber began to develop Integral Theory in the early 1990s, when he went on a three-year retreat to map how all the truths of the world coexist—a philosopher’s peace mission of sorts. He emerged with a map and a theory that enables us to develop human potential in a more complete and groundbreaking way. As an integral practitioner, I am continually amazed at how Integral Coaching's elegant application of Integral Theory allows me to help people make significant and lasting change in their lives. Ken Wilber has been described as “one of the most important pioneers in the field of consciousness” by Deepok Chopra. He is recognized as one of the greatest philosophers of this century, and described as a “national treasure” by Harvard’s preeminent scholar, Robert Kegan.

Ken describes Integral Theory as “an all-inclusive framework that draws on the key insights of the world’s greatest knowledge traditions. The awareness gained from drawing on all truths and perspectives allows the Integral thinker to bring new depth, clarity and compassion to every level of human endeavor—from unlocking individual potential to finding new approaches to global-scale problems.”

Last Night I Was Sleeping

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

 

Antonio Machado