Helping leaders emerge


The Interrupter: Take the One–Minute Pause!

                    Between stimulus and response there is a space.
                    In that space is our power to choose our response.
                    In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

                                                                         – Victor Frankl

A leader recently shared with me the value of taking a one–minute pause before he spoke at board meetings so he could be more present, take a few deep calming breaths, create some space for himself, and respond in a more thoughtful, deliberate way. A Wharton student shared with me that she used the technique of taking a pause, focusing on her breath, and getting grounded in her body by feeling her fingertips to help her feel more calm during emotionally charged conversations.

Tara Brach, meditation psychologist and meditation teacher, speaks about how most things are really out of our control – even our thoughts, body sensations, and emotions – but because our mind is trainable, we can take control of how we respond to certain situations. She mentioned something called “the interrupter,” a mindful moment where we take a pause and respond to the situation at hand in an intentional way versus being stuck in autopilot or acting out based on our old patterns.

Tips around the one–minute interrupter!

  • Take a few deep breaths, with more focus on the exhale. This will help stop your fight/flight response, activate your parasympathetic (the rest and digest) system, regulate your emotions, and cultivate a sense of calm and well-being.

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Zingerman’s Ari Weinzweig

In 1982, Ari Weinzweig, along with his partner Paul Saginaw, founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a Russian History degree from the University of Michigan, four years of experience washing dishes, cooking and managing in restaurant kitchens and chutzpah from his hometown of Chicago.

Today, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is a nationally renowned food icon and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses has grown to 12 businesses with 700+ employees and $65+ million in annual revenue. And in 2019, Zingerman's Roadhouse was named a semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award.

Our family met Ari last summer on a visit to Michigan while dining at Zingerman's Roadhouse (he was the water boy, refilling our glasses!). Since then I have gotten to know Ari and continue to be inspired by his community values, artistic creative expression, prolific writings, and business success.

Ari has authored several excellent books, including recently released pamphlet, The Art of Business, in which he emphasizes that we all have the capacity to approach our lives, jobs, and businesses as artists. 

As an executive coach, I especially appreciate Ari’s philosophy of how showing up as an artist links to mindful leadership and emotional intelligence. He believes that having an artist's mindset is about being more conscious of what you think, how you view the world, what you say and do, and how you relate to others. Doing so means ultimately leading a life of your own design (versus one that was chosen for you), believing in what you do, being true to yourself and your organization, and creating more meaningful business offerings. To learn how to live as an artist, read on!

The Art of Business – Why I Want to Be an Artist by Ari Weinzweig

Here’s an idea. Next time someone asks what you do for a living, try telling them you’re an artist. Watch their response. My forecast? They will pay far more attention when you start to share more about your life. So, I’m pretty sure, will you.

Don’t worry. I’m not trying to get you to tell tall tales. I believe it—even if you’re not an artist by trade today, I have full faith that you might already live an artistically inspired life. If you don’t now, I’m confident that you are more than capable. Accountants, actuaries, and astrophysicists—regardless of profession, we all have the ability to live our lives as if we were artists. And when we choose to live our lives creatively, to make the most of the days and months and years we have on the planet, to be true to ourselves as best we can and as often as possible, then our lives—and our organizations—are truly art as well. Most of us, I know, haven’t conceived of ourselves as artists. But I’m guessing that if we start imagining ourselves in this new light, our lives will likely become richer and more rewarding. Excellent, if imperfect, works of art in the making.

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How to Deal with Difficult People!

Many of my clients sign up for coaching in order to develop their executive presence – that is the ability to show up confident, calm, and present – especially when dealing with difficult individuals. A recent client shared that one of his peers was making rude comments about my client in front of others. As a result, my client felt himself getting triggered when he came into contact with his peer. My client was concerned because he had to work regularly with this peer and intuitively understood that his colleague’s behavior was not going to change.

As you (unfortunately!) know, difficult colleagues – as well as people in our personal lives – come in many shapes, sizes and flavors, including being overly critical, bossy, unaware of how their behavior impacts others, and even – on the more extreme side – self-centered, mean–spirited, and manipulative.

Since difficult people are not always interested in or capable of insight, most likely they are not going to change. Therefore, it’s really up to you to change how you show up, so that you can remain confident and grounded and protect yourself from their negative energy.

While I don’t believe there is a one size fits all approach for dealing with difficult individuals, you can experiment with different self-management strategies to better manage difficult individuals and situations and build your inner resources.

I would say the overall goal when dealing with difficult individuals is to learn how to expand your window of tolerance for dealing with discomfort (an important life skill!), train in the skill of compassion – toward yourself and others, and ultimately feel happier and more resilient.

Here are a few different self-management strategies clients have successfully used when engaging with difficult individuals – hope you find them useful!

Set a Goal for the Interaction. Your objective is to remain present, calm and grounded and find some peace and ease during a difficult moment. For example, when I start to feel triggered, I will get grounded in my body, feel my feet on the floor, and start to focus on my breath. See Get Present and Grounded below for more information on how to use your body and breath to remain present, calm, and grounded.

Prepare. Take time and space to prepare for a difficult interaction. It’s helpful to prepare by writing out your goal and process, meditating, and/or taking a walk. Click here  to download a worksheet clients often find useful when preparing for a difficult situation.

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A Bride Married To Amazement

When Death Comes by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.


                      – Mary Oliver (September 10, 1935 – January 17, 2019)

Joy Is Not Made To Be A Crumb

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate.

Give in to it.

There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.

We are not wise, and not very often kind.

And much can never be redeemed.

Still, life has some possibility left.

Perhaps this is its way of fighting back,
that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world.

It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins.

Anyway, that’s often the case.

Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty.

Joy is not made to be a crumb.

                                                   – Mary Oliver (September 10, 1935 – January 17, 2019)

Choose Wonder – Don’t Settle!

"One of the sad things today is that so many people are frightened by the wonder of their own presence.

They are dying to tie themselves into a system, a role, or to an image, or to a predetermined identity that other people have actually settled on for them.

This identity may be totally at variance with the wild energies that are rising in their souls. Many of us get very afraid and we eventually compromise.

We settle for something that is safe, rather than engaging the danger and the wilderness that is in our own hearts.

Just as the true artist is always haunted by the desire to bring the dreams of the imagination to expression, the failure to follow one's own calling to creativity severely damages one's spirit."
                                                                                                             – John O'Donohue

How to Show Up and Lead with Intention for 2019!

                                           Practice sharing the fullness of your being,
                                           your best self, your enthusiasm, your vitality,
                                           your spirit, your trust, your openness, above all your presence.
                                           Share it with yourself, with your family, with the world.

                                                                                                          – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Given the fast pace of life, constant distractions, and multitude of demands placed upon us, we often struggle with showing up at our best – especially during important work and personal situations. Whether it's a meeting, dealing with a toxic co-worker, setting limits with a challenging teenager, or being compassionate toward an aging family member, it's helpful to pause and remind ourselves - what's my best intention for this situation?

In coaching, executives quickly learn that that how they say something – that is their style and how they show up – is just as important as the content of what they are saying. An executive recently shared, “I now spend a lot more time thinking and preparing for interactions with others, above and beyond the content itself. Working on grounding myself as well as preparing for difficult meetings has been very helpful. Not surprisingly, this has been helpful in my personal life as well.”

But how do we show up at our best – especially when there is the potential to become triggered? Here is an effective, simple exercise for showing up as your best self that works great at work or in your personal life!

How to Show Up and Lead with Intention!

Step One: What is my goal? What do I want? What is my preferred outcome for the conversation? What does success look like from the other person’s point of view?

Client examples include (recommend identifying 1-3 goals):
Learn more about the job and explore if the fit is right
• Get the job offer
• Get the promotion
• Make a good impression
• Make sure my body language and tone communicate interest in the other person
• Communicate important information
• Influence an important decision
• Share my point of view
• Delegate an important task to my direct report
• Provide the tough feedback
• Offer support in a difficult situation
• Offer career support and advice
• Gather information
• Actively listen and build trust
• Be present with the person and refrain from offering advice
• Pause before I respond
• Connect and strengthen the relationship
• Demonstrate I care about the other person
• Establish better boundaries
• Have fun

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