Monthly Archives: April 2013
It seems that “not doing so well” is fashionable. Everyone is doing it ..even the superheroes!
Last year, it was James Bond in Skyfall: Wallowing in misery and booze and disillusioned with it all, it took a literal blast-from-the-past to eventually force him to face up to his demons and deal with his stress. And while we still have to wait a month or so to see the Man of Steel retreat from the world and deny his responsibilities, this week’s opening of Iron Man 3 has shown us another hero on the verge of breakdown: Tony Stark.
But if genius billionaire playboy philanthropists inside Iron Man suits are suffering from sleepless nights and bouts of anxiety, what hope is there for the rest of us? Have no fear! Read on… Fresh from the film (and without spoilers!) here’s 8 top tips for from the world of Iron to help you deal with stress and anxiety:
- Slow down and breathe. Even superheroes have “funny turns” from time-to-time. If stress is making you feel anxious or out of breath, focus on what is happening with your body for a moment. Check out these “6 mindfulness exercises that each take less than 1 minute”.
- Take some time out of the city. Tony had a reason to go to “nowhere Tennessee” but you don’t need an excuse to take a walkabout. If you need to get away, do it.
- Sleep more. Even if Tony says “Einstein only slept 3 hours a year”, he’s still tired. Turn off your work and go to bed! Need help sleeping? Check out the “faculty lounge” pages of the US National Sleep Foundation site.
- Spend more time with your loved ones. Tony has been neglecting Pepper. Who have you been neglecting? According to Kory Floyd, Associate Professor of the Hugh Down’s School of Human Communication at the Arizona State University, “being affectionate is good for you.. a cheap way to reduce stress.”
- Get a coach. You would think that if “subjective thinking retards intellectual potential” then ego-centric Tony Stark would more like Rain Man than a genius. Fortunately, he’s got his new little friend Harley to help him out. And if you’re stressed and anxious, you may not be able to fogure things out by yourself. Some external input can work wonders. Who do you have to help you think a little differently?
- Share the workload. Fighting the bad guys to save the President, you need a “War Machine” buddy (or whatever you call him!) to help you out. Whatever your job, find someone to share the work with. Here’s “6 Tips for Delegating Success” from @Forbes.
- Listen to some good old rock and roll. In my own humble opinion, the distinct lack of AC/DC in Iron Man 3 may be the single biggest reason for Tony Stark being so highly strung 🙂 Did someone turn off all the rock and roll? And even if the Marvel studios think they know “what the kids want to hear”, everyone else knows that life sometimes can get tough and life sometimes can be a drag … and God gave rock and roll to you.
- Go for a swim 😉 Of course, it’s better when you choose it for yourself, but still: “Health-care professionals recommend physical activity as a key ingredient to any stress-management initiative” and sport has many other benefits.
So that’s it. Feeling stressed? Slow down and share!
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In preparation for the ASTD International Conference and Exposition this May in Dallas, I interviewed ASTD’s Community of Practice Manager for Learning and Development Juana Llorens to get her recommendations for sessions, preparation and follow-up…
What do you expect people from your community are going to be excited to learn about at the ICE this year?
I think that many people in the ASTD Learning and Development Community are excited about taking some practical guidelines back from this year’s ASTD ICE in Dallas. This is a group that loves theory and big ideas, but they also really want to get their hands on those big ideas and put them to work. They are looking for any tools and tips to design learning faster and more collaboratively.
With that in mind, I imagine that Michael Allen’s “Leaving ADDIE for SAM” session and anything on Agile will be quite popular. People also want to figure out how to use evidence and science in practical ways to better engage their learners and get their programs to really “stick.” David Rock’s session (The Neuroscience of Growing Talent), Ruth Clark’s Scenario-based e-learning session, and Karl Kapp’s session on games will be well-attended in that arena. Also look out for the Josh Davis session and Julie Dirksen session. They will be talking about how to do a phenomenal job with brain-based and evidence-based approaches. This is just a sample of what gets the L&D Community going!
How would you advise people to prepare for their visit to the ICE?
There are plenty of tools on the conference website to help you plan your time. Put them to work and research the sessions that will have the most meaning for you. On the other hand, allow for flexibility—stop by a session or two that you might not ordinarily attend. You might be surprised. Also, set at least 3 specific goals for what you want to bring back to the job. That could be 10 new professional contacts, or a new way to perform a major task. And speaking of contacts, bring business cards! So many people travel miles away from home with no way to distribute their contact info. If you want to save trees, generate a QR code that your new connections can scan to keep in touch.
For those that can’t be present in Dallas, what is in place to follow or to get updates at a distance?
If you aren’t able to attend, there are plenty of options to get updates. Follow ASTD on Twitter using the hash tag #ASTD2013, and subscribe to one or more of the ASTD Blogs for news, tips, reminders, and fresh content about what’s going on in Dallas. In addition, the “Conference Daily” will be available online as well at http://www.astd.org/Publications/Conference-Daily (as of May 19th only).
Juana Llorens is the ASTD Community of Practice Manager for Learning & Development. She works with L&D practitioners, writers, and experts and thought leaders from around the globe to deliver meaningful content and best practices to instructional designers, students, training facilitators, and all others interested in workplace learning. Follow Juana on Twitter @ASTDLearningDev, find her profile on LinkedIn or visit astd.org/Communities-of-Practice/Learning-And-Development to read blog articles and updates from around the industry.
Sometimes I see presenters taking audience questions with a serious, stern looking face and I wonder how the person asking the question felt about that. The presenter is not doing it intentionally (just concentrated) but really looks mean! They need to use their “listening to kids” face….
Just now, my youngest daughter (4) came to my office while I was working on something and started talking to me. I wasn’t expecting the “interruption” and I had my “concentrated work face” on. She was talking about something she had just been doing and I realised that my face must have looked really miserable to her. I wasn’t miserable, but I was concentrated and a bit tired, maybe a little bit frowning.. ..and just listening to her. It looked something like this:
As I realised this, I changed my facial expression and saw almost immediately her own expression change, which I took as an indication of how her feelings (about talking to me) changed. My new listening face looked something like this:
If you want people to feel good about asking you questions in a presentation and if you want them to feel like you welcome the question and they can ask more if they want to, then you need to put on a good listening face. If you don’t, they risk to think you don’t care or that you are annoyed by their question…
Here’s a few tips to put on your “listening to kids face”:
- Relax, especially between the eye-brows
- Smile, with your eyes as well
- Nod your head a little
- Try tilting your head a little (like dogs do!) as if to say “What’s that you said?”
- Imagine yourself saying “OK, I like what you are saying. Keep going…”
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It’s true. My last CEO did a great job of making me sure I wanted to leave.
He officially joined the company in January of 2008, but I personally never saw him being active until the middle of February. In those first 6 weeks, he went around the rest of the world on a very expensive road-trip, visiting every branch of the company, talking with as many people as he could to find out who they were, what they wanted, how they operated and what was important to them.
When he finally arrived in Belgium, he did the same thing with most of our staff, including me. His approach, it seems, was always the same: He would ask a few questions, listen a lot and then say what he had to say. When he spoke, everything made sense. With me, it even made me decide to leave.
What he did was the finest form of active empathy and it allowed him to better understand his people and better communicate with them. When listening to me, he got an idea of who I was, what I was trying to achieve, my career aspirations, turn-ons and turn-offs. Listening attentively, he picked up on what really got me buzzing. And he quickly understood that what he wanted to achieve was not in-line with what I wanted to achieve. In no uncertain terms and in a way that made perfect sense to me, he outlined his strategy and what would be the place for my function. I understood I wouldn’t fit in and together we looked for ways to help me move on. Perfect!
Communicating in this way is an art and if it is done well, it is not a bad thing when other people who understand you decide to get off the train. It is a much better result that staying on the wrong train thanks to manipulative or bad communication.
If you want to align with other people, you need to do the same as my last CEO:
- Listen first. Ask lots of questions and drill down for more information.
- Try to get a sense of the situation, values and needs of the other person.
- Speak to people on their terms, using words they understand and align to their needs wherever possible.
- Don’t bullshit. Get to the point and speak clearly.
- Answer the only 3 questions that count.
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There are SO many ways to approach learning. This post is the beginning of a learning methods A to Z, based on ideas I have been collecting and discussing in various conferences and workshops… If you have ideas, please comment and I will add them!
- Agenda tracking (time-tracking – see when you are most productive etc..)
- Allowing mistakes
- Asking auestions
- Back-channel learning (eg using Twitter # to support non-present learning participants or see for example, LnDDave‘s ASTD2012 ICE back-channel blog page)
- Blogs (like this one… or related to specific topics, lessons…)
- Bottom-Up Innovation (eg: Kluwer Inspiration Market)
- Brown Paper Sessions
- Buddy System (as originally used in diving, climbing etc.. now used in onboarding and induction)
- Business Games (see also “Serious Games”)
- Case Studies
- Challenge (something to stretch you out of your comfort zone)
- Coaching (defined here as “helping other people to find their own answers to their own questions” – in contrast to “mentoring”)
- Collaboration (just working together leads to learning too!)
- Curating content (maybe using tools like Paper.Li or Pearltrees)
- Digital libraries, virtual bookshelf (like Shelfari.com)
- Documents (templates, company processes)
- Emailing (communication updates, tips and tricks…)
- Exercise (eg security drills, fire alarms)
- Evaluation (thus improving self-knowledge…)
- InfoGraphics (like this one.. you can stick them on walls like posters, email or share via SoMe sites…)
- Info Sessions (basic knowledge sharing sessions)
- “In my shoes” (another name for “job rotation“)
- Innovation (maybe using a tool like “IdeaScale“)
- Intervision (like “supervision”, but between peers)
- Job-aids (eg posters, quick reference guides, cheatsheets and other things on or near the place of work to remind processes or important behaviours)
- Job rotation
- Job shadowing
- Job sharing
- Knowledge pool (or competence matrix (per person))
- Knowledge management
- Knowledge sharing sessions (also known as “info sessions”)
- Language Lunches (native speakers of one target language eat lunch with non-native speakers in order to improve language skills)
- Learning Narration
- Learning Tracking
- “Lunch and Learn”
- Member associations
- Mentoring (defined here as “giving people expert answers to their questions” – in contrast to “Coaching“)
- (Meeting) Minutes
- MOOC – get some MOOC tips here, courtesy of @elearningPosts
- Mystery caller (common method in retail/call-centre environment for assessing service and (later) giving feedback)
- Note-making; note-taking (maybe done socially by a group of people)
- On-the-Job training
- “Parrainage” (when joining a company, a “godfather” is assigned to a new joiner who can tell you simple things like, for example, where the photocopier is or who to speak to about your car expenses…)
- Peer Coaching (like Coaching, but done in groups between people in similar functions or levels)
- Personal Knowledge Management
- Portfolio sharing – (eg Dribbble)
- Presentations (which might be shared online using tools like SlideShare or Prezi)
- Problem solving
- Q+A sessions
- Quality monitoring (common in call-centres, for example)
- Round Table events
- RSS readers or RSS feed
- Satisfaction Surveys
- Search engines
- Serious Games
- Social Learning (learning that takes place with other people, via connectivity and sharing)
- Social Media (web 2.0 sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
- Social Networking (often done using “social media”, a connected network of people who share and work together)
- Scrum Meetings
- Team Building Events
- Time out
- Tinkering (thanks @rotanarotana for this idea)
- Trade magazines
- Trial and Error
- Video (eg YouTube or other platforms as used, for example, in “BT Dare to Share“)
- Virtual reality 5platforms like, for example, “”Second Life“)
- Walking around
- Water-cooler chatting
- Whiteboard sessions
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