Our Cracks Let the Light In: Vulnerability Opens Possibilities

“Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

–  Singer/ songwriter Leonard Cohen

Public speaking is not the biggest fear of leaders.  It is, as one leader so aptly put it, ‘being exposed as a fraud’.  What he was referring to was a fear of being found not to have the answers, of being less than omniscient.  He was referring to fear of being seen as imperfect. Continue reading

Apologies in the Workplace – Sign of Weakness?

apologies at work“Never apologize, mister, it’s a sign of weakness.”
John Wayne

“I know I blew it,” said Linda.  “He was acting badly in the meeting.  It was irritating me, and I came back with something that in retrospect was demeaning to him.  After that he didn’t say anything.  What should I do now?”

As I suggested to Linda that her first move should be a sincere apology, she bristled – a reaction we’ve seen often when we suggest this to clients.  She was articulate enough to put into words what all the squirming is about when people actually imagine themselves in the act of saying “I’m sorry” at work.  “Isn’t an apology an act of submission?” she asked.  “Doesn’t it create a signal of weakness?  I’d prefer to just tell him that I recognize I messed up.  Wouldn’t that be enough?” Continue reading

The Science of Stress – and De-Stressing

While we’ve been stressing out, science has been figuring us out – the physiological changes that occur in our brains when we’re stressed, what makes some of us more prone to stress than others, and what reduces stress.  The Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin is a leader in studying human emotion – and stress is one area of focus for their work.  What they’re learning has practical application in our work and home lives.  Let’s review a few of their research findings and what it means for us. Continue reading

“I’ll Never Get Better at….” – Science Kills Off an Old Excuse

One of our clients, Rich, let out a mournful cry when he saw his 360 feedback results indicating he was viewed as argumentative and not collaborative by his executive peers.  “I know this is true.  I’ve heard this feedback for 15 years.  Even my wife gives me this feedback.  I’ve tried, but I’ll never get better at being a warm, helpful guy!”

Not so fast, Rich.  Today’s science isn’t buying that old “I’ve-tried-but-I-can’t-get-better” excuse.  Daniel Goleman, the emotional intelligence guru, cites compelling scientific evidence that brain cells don’t just reach a peak in our youth and then start dying off.  In fact, they regenerate and create new circuitry at the rate of 10,000 new neural connections in a matter of four months.  The evidence also shows that most often, this ‘neurogenesis’ is directed toward learning new things. Continue reading