Combining prosperous work lives and balanced personal lives
Welcome to the Summer 2009 edition of Susan Robison's free e-mail newsletter for women business
owners, executives, and professionals. Our goal is to bring you news, insights, and information
about leading a balanced and prosperous life while making a difference.
In this issue, you'll find:
- BossWoman coaching
- Up and coming workshops
My bags are packed and I’m ready to go. I am anxiously awaiting
the birth of my granddaughter due next week. The house is clean
but getting dirtier by the minute. Bills are paid but more keep
coming in. Deadlines are met and then there are new ones. The Big
Brother, age six, is trying to figure out why the grownups in
charge don’t know when The Little Sister will be born. His mother
tells him that the baby decides when she is coming.
“The baby? How can a little baby decide something so important?”
That seems to make sense to him. I’m glad it makes sense to him
because I’m not so good with surprises. I don’t know whether to
fly out before the due date and risk sitting around idle for two
weeks or wait until the last minute and miss the task they need
me the most for, corralling The Big Brother.
We all have surprises to deal with. The birth of a child is a
happy surprise; the loss of a job is probably not so happy.
The rate of surprises have increased this past year as the
changes in the economy have affected banks, businesses, hospitals,
and schools. How can we deal with such surprises especially
the not so happy ones? Lately I have learned to adopt a more
curious attitude about life’s surprises as a result of reading
the research by George Mason University psychologist, Todd
Kashdan. He has found that of all 24 strengths measured by
the Virtues in Action survey on the authentichappiness.com
website, the most helpful strength to cultivate is curiosity.
An attitude of curiosity holds back on judgments while
experiencing and even seeking new information and experiences.
While surprises may not be wanted initially, they may turn out
to be good things after all.
There is an ancient story about a farmer who has an attitude
of curiosity. In his village a farmers’ wealth is measured
in part by the number of horses he owns because the horses
represent the horsepower to pull plows and wagons. One day
some wild horses gallop through the area and the farmer’s
horses decide to join them. The neighbors come over to
commiserate or maybe to gloat. “That’s terrible,” they say.
His response is, “Maybe, maybe not.” A short time later his
horses return with the wild horses and have persuaded the
wild ones to stay, doubling the farmer’s herd. His neighbors
feel compelled to comment at how great a surprise this is.
The farmer replies, “Maybe, maybe not.” A short time later
his grown son, training one of the wild horses, gets thrown
resulting in a broken leg for the young man. Again the neighbors
have a judgment, “Too bad.” Again the farmer comments,
“Maybe, maybe not.” The next week, the country goes to war
with a neighboring country and all of the young men in the
country are conscripted into the Army - except the infirmed
ones which included the farmer’s son with the broken leg.
And so the story continues.
The attitude of curiosity sustained the farmer in good times
and in bad. He understood the rhythm of life’s surprises
and how adversity can bring success which might be followed
by adversity which could be followed by success. He models
for us the attitude of curiosity.
According to Dr. Kashdan, people with greater curiosity
challenge their views of self, others, and the world with
an inevitable stretching of information, knowledge, and skills.
An open, exploratory orientation to everyday activity appears
to be a pathway to the continual building of meaning in life,
with the simultaneous existence of a positive present
(presence of meaning) and future (search for meaning) time
An attitude of curiosity does a lot to lower stress without
changing anything in your world. It:
- Increases your tolerance for the stress from trying
new things and behaving in ways outside of one’s comfort zone;
- Motivates you to explore the world and challenge yourself;
- Promotes relationship longevity by increasing passion and
compassion keeping non-judgmental those interesting experiences
- Increases life fulfillments;
- Tunes up your sensory system to be more selective of and
responsive to activities that are personally and socially enriching,
leading to the building of durable psychological resources;
- Increases your reactivity to events that offer opportunities
for growth, competence, and high levels of stimulation;
- Expands your creativity;
- Increases your longevity;
- Adds an essential ingredient in the development of well-being
and meaning in life;
In sum, highly curious people live longer and better than their
less curious peers;
Recommendations by Kashdan:
- Try to notice little details of your daily routine that you
never noticed before. What is new about your relationship partner
that has changed recently?
- When talking to people, resist the temptation to control the
flow of the conversation. Instead, try to remain open to whatever
transpires without judging or reacting.
- Look for interesting novel stimulation in your environment.
Just notice it without having to do anything about it.
- For at least a few minutes each day, shut off your task
orientation and gently allow your attention to be guided by little
sights, sounds or smells that come your way.
- When something stressful happens, adopt a curious stance,
asking, “What does this require of me? How do I want to respond?
How might this become an i nteresting good experience? What can
I learn from this experience?
The Oprah Question
Have you ever watched good journalists interview someone with a
history of some negative events such as a job loss? Often they
will ask, “I’ve heard that you say that in an odd sort of way
this negative event was one of the best things that could have
happened to you not that you would have chosen the tragedy.
How could this be so?” Those interviewed often talk about how
the initial shock, grieving, anger or whatever gave way to
curiosity where they began to ask what good might come of the
tragedy. Out of that switch, solutions began to appear and
hope was renewed.
Angela, one of my coaching clients, had a business surprise.
Unrelated to anything she did, she lost a client that accounted
for 50% of her business. A late career financial consultant,
she was not desperate for money but not ready to retire either.
She was understandably upset. Suddenly her mother who had been
in declining health died thrusting Angela into the role of
estate executor of a sizable estate. Because of the downturn
in business she was able to give herself more fully to the
tasks at hand. In the process, she learned a lot about estates
and how matters could be made easier for survivors with a little
advance planning. As a result she has started a new business venture,
helping boomer adult children manage their parents’estates
before and after the passing of the parents. The delightful
surprise in the midst of the less delightful ones was that
her background in finance, business, and real estate gave her
the perfect bases to start her new business with very little
retooling. Her initial shock at the surprise downturn in business
and the timing of her mother’s death resulted in new opportunities
for her and a much needed service for her potential clients.
Are there any surprises that have happened to you that might curiously
be both good and bad in their results? Are you worried about something
that you could better handle with a curious attitude? That’s what
I’m trying to do about a change in location for the next couple of
weeks. I am approaching my usual need for routine and familiarity
with a more curious approach, for example, staying curious about the
new little person and how she will affect our family. What will she
look like? What kind of a personality will she have? Will The Big
Brother accept the interloper into his lifestyle? Will I finish this
eNews before the call comes? I’m curious.
Where can you switch from worried to curious? You have nothing
to lose and a lot of creativity and flexibility to gain.
Kashdan, Todd. "Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient in a
2. BossWoman coaching
About the publisher: Susan Robison, Ph.D. is a professional coach,
speaker, author and seminar leader. She loves to coach women who
want improvement in:
- work-life balance,
- career transitions,
- building your business or practice,
- time management,
- increasing productivity.
If you are feeling stuck on the way to your ideal life, give Susan
a call for a complementary half-hour coaching session.
She provides keynotes and seminars to business and organizations
on the topics of:
- leadership strategies for women,
- work-life balance,
She offers her audiences a follow-up coaching session because she
knows that workshops don’t work.
Contact Susan for your coaching, speaking, or seminar needs at
Susan@BossWoman.org or at 410-465-5892.
3. Up and coming workshops
I am temporarily overly busy this fall working with
university faculty who want to become peak performing
professors but I am currently accepting speaking i
nvitations for work/life balance and leadership workshops
for the winter and spring of 2010. Contact me if your group
needs a speaker on any of the topics listed above.
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BossWoman e-Newsletter is intended for informational and educational
purposes only. Coaching should not be construed as a form of,
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© Copyright 2009 Susan Robison. All rights reserved. The above
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