In this month’s newsletter we will examine the power of gratitude as a proven antidote for reducing stress and attracting successful outcomes. The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence defines gratitude as “a state of mind that arises when you affirm a good thing in your life that comes from outside of yourself, or when you notice and relish little pleasures.” According to the experts, gratitude is within your power, which means- you can tap into it whenever you need. Thank your mentor Mentors have the uncanny ability to alter our lives personally and professionally, often without even realizing it. When mentorees are in the trenches, tackling development goals and juggling multiple priorities, it can be difficult to pan out to the wider perspective and see your mentor’s impact. Quite often a mentoree will share with us a long list of things they have gained from their mentoring partnership, but then the mentor from that same partnership will worry that the mentoree isn’t getting what they need or enjoying the experience. Take a quick minute to make sure your mentor knows how much you appreciate them. Over the next few weeks pay attention to the lessons you are getting from your mentor and express your gratitude. Be sure to explicitly state what you like about being in a partnership with them. By the way, it is never too late to thank a mentor- even one you worked with years ago. If you have achieved a particular career goal or maybe even felt inspired to enroll as a mentor yourself, send a note and tell them how they left an impression on you. Use your mentoring practice to… pivot: There is no better time than now to use the skills you’ve polished as a mentoring program participant to stand out as someone who is rising to the occasion and demonstrating leadership potential. Here are some examples: Remote working: Many mentoring partners need to collaborate from a distance, using virtual resources to stay in touch. Think about the strategies you’ve used to maintain effective communication with your partner and put those to use with your day-to-day work. Demonstrate technological savviness for others and share tips for staying productive despite location. Work/life balance and time management: Often mentorees learn wellness techniques from their mentors as a means for reducing stress and eliminating emotional triggers. Now, more than ever, is the time to integrate some of these ideas into your new approach to work. Problem-solving: Your mentor has likely shared anecdotes about how they have helped their teams navigate challenges or difficult projects. Maybe you’ve even had an opportunity to observe their leadership skills in action. If you’ve learned a tip or trick that might improve a process or make your manager’s life easier, share. Keep a joy reserve Brené Brown, professor and lecturer, writes a great deal about living a life full of gratitude and joy. In her work, she has warned against “foreboding joy”- our reluctance to let ourselves feel happiness and joy when something good happens because we’re immediately nervous that it will be taken from us. If our supervisor tells us we did a good job on something, we might not be able to relish our accomplishment because we’re overwhelmed by a trickier project that’s running off track. Being selected for greater responsibility or a new assignment, might simply trigger worry about messing it up and disappointing others. If something great happens, let your mentor know. Your mentoring relationship is a safe place to celebrate achievement and build a reserve of happiness to cover you if truly anxious moments hit. Make gratitude a daily practice Establishing gratitude as daily practice or routine helps to start your day on a positive note. Taking time to observe simple pleasures is a way to acknowledge the value of the things you have in your life. Sometimes even focusing on a simple task such as tidying your desk can create a moment for quiet reflection. Start with gratitude and make time for it throughout the day. Here are some ideas to get you started. Write down five things that you’re grateful for: Time spent with your mentor A fulfilling and purposeful career An act of kindness from a co-worker Warmer days A good cup of coffee Another way to practice gratitude is by acting as a beacon of positivity for others. For example: Stay above office gossip Be a voice of optimism Pay kindness forward Regularly write notes of appreciation Write your own story- if you don’t like it, change it If you’re feeling lackluster about your current position and hoping for something new, it shows. Sometimes we can’t help ourselves but answer a simple “how are things going for you?” with a heavy sigh. Maybe we aren’t where we want to be in our career or are unsure how to make the move to the next position or a new department. Try changing the story. When people ask how things are going, tell them that you’re participating in a mentoring program, feeling energized to learn new leadership competencies and make the jump for applying to something new.
A note from Kathy Wentworth Drahosz: Working from home is presenting many new challenges including figuring out ways to stay productive and communicating virtually with your supervisors, team members and customers. Sharing office space and technology resources with your loved ones is creating another dynamic that you may not have had to deal with in the past. With so many competing priorities, your mentoring relationship might seem like the easiest thing to postpone until things get back to normal. When actually you may need to connect with your mentor (and they with you) more now than ever! Mentors can provide a sense of community, connection and support in the midst of all the chaos that surrounds us these days. In this newsletter, I have invited one of TTC’s strategic partners, Ellen Kandell, to share her thoughts on resilience and how to thrive in this new environment. Social distancing is almost two months old and it doesn’t look like it will be ending anytime soon. Your hair is shaggy, your roots are showing and you’re not looking your best. If you are a leader you may be concerned about employee productivity and how you will regroup when this crisis is over. It’s causing lots of stress for everyone. Resilience is about getting through this challenging stressful time, adapting and eventually thriving. What is Resilience? Responding well in the face of adversity, trauma or significant stress is how psychologists define resilience. Handling the challenge and bouncing back is part of resilience. Learning from adversity and the ensuing personal growth is also involved. Resilience isn’t necessarily a personality trait that only some people possess. Rather, it is an ordinary trait that can be learned. Increasing our resilience requires time and intentionality. Our ability to learn and grow from trauma is what resilience is about. Resilience Killers Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant have researched resilience, written about it and developed an organization to foster resilience. Psychologists have found that there are three beliefs that kill resilience. They are personalization-we are at fault, permanence-this crisis won’t end and pervasiveness- it impacts everything. In actuality none of these beliefs are accurate. If you get stuck on these tracks your resilience will suffer. The strategies below will help foster this important human trait. Strategies to Foster Resilience Connection: Prioritize relationships with people you care about. Reach out to those individuals during good and bad times. Find groups of people who share similar interest or passions. Pick up the phone rather than sending a text because it builds a stronger personal connection. Focus on deep listening and empathetic communication. Lately a lot of groups have been meeting for virtual lunches on Zoom. Foster community: Teams often have their own culture and traditions. Sometimes these can be replicated or reinvented in an online environment, such as the Friday Zoom happy hour that my husband’s office organizes. These connections are important to remind you of your purpose. Organized clapping sessions have begun outside of hospitals to show love and appreciation for healthcare workers, see #clapbecausewecare. Wellness: Stress influences our body and mind. Exercise helps release stress. Getting outdoors changes your perspective. Try a new activity like Tai Chi or Qi Gong. Purpose: Scientific research on resilience has shown that having a sense of purpose and giving support to others has a significant impact on our well-being. Research calls it the helper’s high. Donate to a food bank or a shelter. Make masks and give them to a senior residence. Embrace healthy thoughts: Practicing gratitude has been shown to lift our spirits. Try to maintain a healthy perspective and watch out for irrational thinking that trips you up. While taking that perspective learn from your past consider, “What has helped you deal with adverse circumstances previously”? learn from that and accept what can’t be changed. My cousin from Germany sent a family message recently containing the following quote from Yosef Kanefsky, a Los Angeles rabbi: “Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another, must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise.” Ask a Mentor 3 TIPS to ask your mentor: Connect with your mentoring partner—set weekly partner meetings for the next couple of months. Set new mentoring goals-commit time to focus on a new skill or project listed in your Mentoring Action Plan that you haven’t gotten to yet. Write down 3 things you’ve accomplished each week and share with your mentor.