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6 Ways to Avoid Isolation Fatigue While Balancing the Demands of Remote Work – SPONSOR CONTENT FROM WORKPLACE FROM FACEBOOK

Covid-19 has confronted businesses and employees with the acute challenges of remote work, underscoring the need to provide the right tools, planning, and support to ensure people stay healthy, connected, and productive. Managers are focused on working with employees to ensure the right infrastructure is in place, not just in technology but also in the way they set up expectations, processes, and priorities.

Of course, if remote workers lack the right tools or access to information, they’ll feel disconnected, disorganized, and disengaged. So it’s been vital to put in place the right tools, from computers, microphones, and cameras to the right software and apps. To create a productive ecosystem, employees also need easy access to group and shared drives and a plan for setting up team goals, deliverables, and timelines. Sharing schedules and documenting team members’ preferred working hours are also important.

But working from home is the new reality for many people. It’s not just equipment and process that are needed; employees are confronting new issues around feeling disconnected from the office while facing new pressures at home. So leaders need to think about new ways of helping workers manage expectations around both office and family.

This means managers must be realistic about the challenges. Working at home may mean more multitasking. Some employees may be less productive, so encourage employees to set achievable daily tasks and goals. If those go well, gradually make the goals more ambitious. Get employees to agree on workloads, projects, and priorities with their manager and communicate them to the team.

Keeping the whole team connected is crucial. Get the communication wrong and team collaboration grinds to a halt, customer focus could fail, and innovation could be stifled. So it’s important for each team member to be aware of others’ projects, timelines, and goals. Syncing responsibilities and deadlines with teammates helps manage projects, maximizes efficiency, and ensures that everyone’s work gets done. Online meetings should have clear goals, agendas, and outcomes, so send pre-reads sufficiently in advance.

Connectivity is only one solution for enabling remote working. Failure to provide remote workers with the right support can affect their motivation, productivity, and work-life balance. Isolation fatigue could easily set in, so encourage employees to think about these steps:

Set Expectations With the Family

Encourage employees to agree with partners and children about schedules, quiet spaces, homework time, and when it’s okay to interrupt. Make sure they take time to get fresh air or have some fun. It’s important to be flexible and to keep checking that these expectations work for everyone.

Set Boundaries With a Workspace

Urge employees to carve out a space, zone, or approach to work that’s separate from family members when they need privacy or are on a call. Wearing headphones or placing a sign on the back of their chair or monitor works as a clear signal to others.

Build a Routine, And Practice Good Self-Care

Encourage a routine that helps get work done efficiently and effectively. For some people, this means rebuilding their home office environment. For others, it’s about establishing a new routine. It’s important to set reasonable boundaries so workers don’t feel that they’re “always on” when working remotely. Breaks need to be prioritized to avoid burnout. And routines need to include staying connected with social communities, including business resource groups and work support groups on platforms like Workplace, Facebook, and Instagram.

Stick to Meeting Schedules

Working remotely doesn’t mean working reactively. Give employees the freedom to push back on last-minute conversations and spontaneous meetings—particularly those unrelated to their priorities.

Socialize With Colleagues

Isolation is a common problem for remote workers, so it’s more important than ever to come together. Try creating and participating in chat threads where team members can talk about common interests. Video calls are better to connect with colleagues, even just for an end-of-day watercooler chat. They also help introverts—who’d rather not socialize—periodically connect with team members.

Communicate with Clarity and Positivity

Working remotely makes it vital for communications, especially by email or chat, to be clear and positive, or they may be viewed as cold or indifferent. Happy emojis, fun photos, and generous compliments all are tools to maintain morale and build rapport.

For more resources on being apart together, visit our Remote Working Resource Hub.

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The Best Managers Balance Analytical and Emotional Intelligence

Executive Summary

Being an effective manager requires balancing two networks in your brain: the analyic network (AN) and the empathic network (EN). Managers need to understand their employees and their specific challenges and they need to relate to their feelings and emotional state. They need to form and confirm their thoughts about their perspective and they need to be open to hearing and seeing what their employees hear, see, and feel. The authors point to recent research for insight into how the analytic and emphatic networks work in our brains — and how to become more adept at balancing both.

HBR Staff/Miguel Navarro/David Malan/Getty Images

Have you ever responded to a colleague or direct report in a way that left them feeling unheard or unappreciated, even though that was not your intention? Perhaps you gave them a prescriptive solution when what they needed was an empathetic ear. Or maybe you emphasized deadlines, task-related commitments, and accountability at a time when what they needed from you was compassion and understanding. As a manager, it is likely that you have experienced this at some point. These types of experiences are even more likely to occur during periods of crisis like the one in which we currently find ourselves.

These are extremely challenging times. We are in the midst of a global pandemic with the numbers infected by the coronavirus in the millions and deaths in the hundreds of thousands. Because of the corresponding economic shutdown, many businesses are closing their doors permanently. In the U.S., we are experiencing unemployment levels not seen since the Great Depression. On top of all of this, streets are filled with protesters crying out for justice after yet another unarmed black man, George Floyd, was killed at the hands of the police, seen in its entirety in a shocking nine minute video viewed all over the world.

In times like these our employees are struggling. They are stressed. They are afraid. They are worried about their health. They are worried about their ability to provide for themselves and their families. And, on a broader level, they are concerned about the current and future health of the United States and the rest of the world. Truth be told, you are likely feeling some of the same things. Yet, as a manager, you are required to soldier on. Budgets have to be managed, sales targets have to be met, and difficult decisions have to be made to ensure the ongoing viability of your organization.

It is of paramount importance to attend to the needs, fears, and concerns of your employees. It is also vital that you solve pressing problems and make critical decisions necessary to sustain the business. The problem is that these two things require us to activate different parts of our brain. And, we can sometimes get stuck in either the network in our brain that enables that task-focused attention needed to solve problems, or in the other network that facilitates reflection, compassion, and social connection.

To be most effective in leading and truly helping our employees, however, we need both networks. We need to understand them and their specific challenges and we need to relate to their feelings and emotional state. We need to form and confirm our thoughts about their perspective and we need to be open to hearing and seeing what they hear, see, and feel.

Thankfully, we can turn to recent research for insight into how these two networks work in our brains — and how to become more adept at balancing both.

Insight from Recent Neuroimaging Studies

Research by our colleague, professor Anthony Jack at Case Western Reserve University, describes two of the major neural networks functioning in our brains as the analytic network (AN), or technically the task-positive network; and the empathic network (EN), also known as the default-mode network.

The AN helps us make sense of things and events. We use it when we are solving problems and making decisions. It helps us engage in abstract or analytic thinking, like financial analysis and data analytics. The EN enables us to scan the environment and be open to new ideas and other people. What’s really interesting is that these two networks oppose each other. More specifically, they actually suppress each other. When one is activated, the other is deactivated.

Professor Jack calls these two networks opposing poles of reason. Both involve cognitive activity, both involve fast and slow thinking, both involve reason. However, the AN reasoning is more about information and analysis and the EN reasoning is more about people or qualitative observations.

As we also discuss in our book, Helping People Change, we need both networks. We further contend that the most effective leaders do indeed use both and they are able to toggle back and forth between them in a fraction of a second. We also believe that the ease with which a person can toggle or cycle back and forth between these networks depends in part on their self-awareness, deliberate practice, and conscious intent.

How to Achieve the Right Balance

1. Be aware of your own predilection. What is your “go-to” neural network?
Being aware of your dominant neural network, or the one that is most likely to get activated for you across a variety of situations, requires the practice of mindfulness. You need to be fully and consciously aware of momentary experience. Questions you might ask yourself include:

  • How am I processing things at this moment? Am I thinking about concrete facts, details, or solutions? Or, am I reflecting more openly and creatively about possibilities? Am I thinking about what is objectively right or wrong? Or, am I weighing the relative merits of what seems fair or morally just?
  • What types of situations or activities tend to pull me into the analytic network? When am I most likely to be pulled into the empathic network?
  • On the whole, do I spend more time in the analytic network or the empathic network?

2. Exercise the neural network that isn’t your go-to. There are a variety of ways to exercise your empathic and analytic neural network “muscles.” A useful approach is to spend more time exercising the network that you are less likely to use. It is similar to the benefit of a right-handed basketball player working on dribbling and shooting with their left hand to improve their overall game.

To exercise your empathic network:

  • Complete at least one 15-minute conversation each day in which your sole purpose is to understand the other person, not to solve their problem or give advice.
  • When you are listening to someone, stop whatever else you are doing or thinking about and try to give that person your full attention. Attempt to listen beyond what you hear, tuning into to the whole picture of what you hear and see, (i.e. body language, tone of voice, emotional cues, etc.).
  • If you think there is something you know with relative certainty, push yourself to challenge that assumption and consider other possibilities.

To exericse your analytic network:

  • Schedule specific windows of time within which to complete certain tasks. Hold yourself to those committed windows, even if they are not actually firm deadlines.
  • Identify a situation at work that requires a new approach to reach a successful outcome. Maybe it’s a change to an existing vendor contract. Before you seek the perspective of others, do some research. Come up with questions that you need to get addressed. List two to three new resources that you normally wouldn’t think of, including people. Write down the pros and cons of each resource, considering the cost of each and their potential contributions. Connect your notes together into a framework to help you move ahead.
  • Compile a list of household expenses incurred each month such as utilities. Record your actual expenses paid over the last 12 months. What are the trends you see in the numbers? What was the highest or lowest amount paid and in which month? How do the expenses compare to what you anticipated?

3. Practice balancing both. Once you have mastered the ability to be more aware of when you are either operating in the analytic or empathic network at any given time, and you have developed the capacity to activate either network upon demand, you are then ready to practice effectively balancing the two networks. Again, both networks are important. Your objective here is to develop an ability to seamlessly toggle back and forth between the two networks as necessary.

Specific things you can do to work on your ability to toggle between the two networks include:

  • Be clear on your intention. We may sometimes be aware of a need to toggle from one network to the other, but consciously choose not to do so. In other words, sometimes it is not an ability issue, but instead a motivation issue.
  • When making (or communicating) a decision that impacts others, think about potential personal implications of the decision. Spend time attending to these relational aspects in addition to the technical ones.

The analytic and empathic networks are waging a constant battle in your brain. When one is activated, the other is suppressed. You don’t have to choose sides, however. It is not that one is good and the other is bad. You actually need them both. The key to maximizing your effectiveness as a leader and having more productive relationships is learning to be more aware of which network is activated at any given time and being able to seamlessly toggle back and forth between the two as necessary.

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The Upside of Perfectionism? Creativity.

Executive Summary

There are downsides to perfectionism, but also benefits.  One largely unrecognized upside is how it boosts creativity. This happens in four ways:  when perfectionists are bothered by evidence that runs contrary to their own or consensus opinion, so explore it; when their desire to understand everything pushes them to seek out new information; when their stubbornness leads to an innovative solution; when your competitiveness makes you hustle to keep up with others.

Michael Blann/Getty Images

Perfectionism is a poor master but a good slave. It has downsides if you let it take over: you waste time on relatively unimportant decisions, you get excessively annoyed with yourself over small mistakes, which drains you, and, because you expect others to conform to your standards, you sometimes make collaboration more difficult.

However, perfectionism isn’t all bad. Part of what lures people into its grasp is that it sometimes pays off, like a slot machine does. It’s intermittently reinforced, and that pattern tends to be very sticky.

It’s also why perfectionists resist when told they need to change. The idea that perfectionism is a negative quality they should drop isn’t consistent with their experience. If perfectionists instead recognize both the up- and downsides, they are more likely to see a path forward in which they can turn that quality up or down depending on the situation.

The most obvious ways perfectionism can benefit people relate to when (a) cautious strategies prevent mistakes and (b) highly competitive situations in which a tiny margin in performance is the difference between being on the right or wrong side of a cutoff (e.g., for admission to medical school or in an interview for a highly competitive job). However, a largely unrecognized benefit of perfectionism is that it can enhance creativity. Here’s how.

1. You’re bothered by evidence running counter to your own (or the consensus) opinion.

I’m currently writing my next book. Here’s how that process typically goes: As I’m researching, I’ll read a bunch of studies that back up what I want to say, and then out of the blue, I’ll read one, or a snippet in a study, that runs counter to my planned argument. Part of me will want to gloss over this, but for my inner perfectionist, this is like having sand in my shoe. Whatever doesn’t make sense will bother me until I go back and figure out a way to reconcile it with the other research I’ve done. But, when I have to figure out how to combine seemingly dissonant ideas, my thinking and writing become more innovative.

Perfectionists find it harder to ignore “the emperor has no clothes” situations in which the herd has settled on a way of thinking but there are flaws in that consensus. Their tendency to ruminate and inability to block out intrusions can be helpful in challenging the status quo.

2. Your desire to understand everything pushes you to acquire more information.

Curiosity is strongly linked to creativity. Curious people are more motivated by the possibility of acquiring new knowledge than they are by the prospect of solving specific problems. Many perfectionists also tend to want to understand everything, even if it’s only very loosely related to the task at hand.  Following these tangents can lead to a much more diverse set of ideas and information than a more narrowly focused approach.

To accrue this benefit, you need to have the type of perfectionism that is driven by a desire for excellence (rather than how your performance is evaluated by others) and that manifests as persistence (rather than avoidance) in the face of uncertainty. People like this typically have a growth mindset — a belief in their capacity to improve through effort.

3. Your stubbornness leads to an innovative solution.

Perfectionists don’t like making tradeoffs or settling for reasonably good solutions. They want a plan that ticks all their boxes and they will work to achieve that, including coming up with their own out-of-the-box alternatives. For instance, I’m a working mom who wants a completely flexible schedule. Most reasonable people would sign up for part-time day care. But I didn’t want to commit to be any place at any particular time. Happily, I found a workaround. My gym has drop-in childcare, provided parents stay in the building. So you’ll frequently find me working at the gym:  walking at 2.3 miles an hour on the treadmill while reading studies or tapping out bullet points for articles. By utilizing this quirky option, I get to keep my schedule totally open and be with my child most of the day, but also have some undistracted professional time when I need it. It’s cheaper than traditional day care, and I like moving while working.

Perfectionists are often the ones who arrive at amazing, creative solutions because all the standard options have something in their negative columns. Even when settling seems like a logical decision, they refuse to.

4. Your competitiveness makes you scrappy, hustling to keep up with peers.

When a perfectionist sees a colleague racking up achievements they’re not, it tends to bug them. They think “I should be doing that, too.” This instant competitive instinct pushes the perfectionist to not only try to match their colleague’s achievement but do so as soon as possible. They don’t like the feeling of being behind anyone. This sense of urgency may lead them to devise creative routes to catch up.

The reaction is similar when perfectionists realize they’ve overlooked or missed deadlines. Many people would shoot off an email acknowledging the oversight and asking for an extension. Perfectionists are more likely to hustle to get the work done. They’ll still give it their full effort, and the disinhibition and adrenaline of the short timeline may propel their creativity.

If you’re a perfectionist, do you recognize yourself as having had any of the experiences I’ve outlined?

I often write about how to dial down perfectionism to avoid its downsides (e.g., here and here), but my real focus is on maximizing the upsides and minimizing the downsides of extreme traits. It’s important to develop a deep and nuanced understanding of when being a perfectionist can help you and when it’s self-sabotaging, so you can learn to switch in or out of that mode.

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How Working Parents Can Support One Another

Executive Summary

Working parents are hungry for inspiration, connection, and a genuine response during these uncertain times. Now, more than ever, they should be role models for others.

The authors suggest: Identifying the values that are important and incorporating those values into the new normal; being honest and vulnerable with coworkers about challenges and problems; trying new ways of doing things and be willing to revise them or even scrap them altogether if they’re not working; and encouraging colleagues, kids, friends, and family to share their successes and their failures.

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As working parents, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by our less-than-ideal options. We’re all hungry for inspiration, connection, and a genuine response during these uncertain times. Many working parents are turning to social media to share how they’re coping — from Pinterest-perfect home-schooling stations, to funny confessions (“We’re just letting the kids watch TV all day”), to the desperate query (“Is it wine time yet?”).

Now, more than ever, we need to be role models for each other. We’re living, striving, and working in an unprecedented time — and struggling, too — so we all need to support each other, be open and honest about our experiences, and be leaders in our workplaces, families, and communities. Drawing on the principles from our book, Parents Who Lead, we provide evidence-based recommendations — and a call to action — for how you can do so now.

Consciously embed your values into your new normal.

We are facing new choices about how we allocate our energy and attention now. It’s easy to get stuck in a reactive mindset, feeling like we are victims of these unfortunate circumstances. But those of us fortunate enough to have some freedom to choose what to focus on and when and how to do so should identify the values that are important to us and do our best to incorporate those values into our new normal.

Think about the values that you hold most dear, and bring your family into the conversation, too. Talk about what matters most. Then, consciously consider how you can create new routines that incorporate those values.

Further Reading

If you’re a family that values caring for the less fortunate, find ways to socially connect while physically distancing. Whether it’s sewing face masks, fostering a rescue pet as shelters close, going grocery shopping for an elderly neighbor, or drawing an inspirational message in sidewalk chalk, there are myriad ways to uplift those in need around us.

If you’re a family that values financial security, then talk with your children about how your work, now taking place at home, is essential for your family’s on-going safety and security.

If you’re a family that especially values health and fitness, explore opportunities for exercise indoors — whether it’s streaming yoga videos, running the stairs, or learning Tik Tok dance moves together.

Share more.

As you make values-driven choices, you can empower others to do the same. Explore how you can shine light on your new reality, even if you’re not normally the type to do so. Maybe you’ve shied away from social media in the past — maybe it’s time to revisit the idea of connecting with your community online. But, if that’s not really your speed, you can consider opening a bit more at the start of a conference call, at the dinner table, over Face Time, or any other time you connect remotely with people you care about.

Be vulnerable.

You have the power to be open about what’s going well during these times, but also where you are flailing, frustrated, and confused. Portraying an image of someone who is perfectly managing to keep up with all their work demands while also engaging fully with their children doesn’t just put a strain on you, it creates unrealistic expectations in others, and it reduces trust. Being vulnerable about the good, bad, and ugly empowers others to do the same. Especially in our work lives, many of us feel pressure to put on the façade of the “ideal worker,” endlessly devoted to career success. We hide the realities of parenthood from our colleagues for fear of being seen as less committed to our jobs.

To the extent that you can, consider how you might be more authentic about what your life looks like right now. While we’d never recommend doing something that would jeopardize your job, consider that being honest with coworkers about the challenges that you’re facing provides an opportunity for them to appreciate your contributions even more. And it may give them a greater sense of self-acceptance, as well.

This vulnerability may take many forms right now. It may mean excusing yourself from some work-related calls because your children’s needs take precedence. Or, it could simply mean choosing not to apologize if your children, pets, or household mess make an appearance during a conference call. It could mean apologizing to your children that you don’t have the time to help them or letting your friends know that your kids are playing video games all day. It might even include actively trying to destigmatize mental health challenges by sharing a sense of anxiety or telling a friend that your depression medication is keeping you going right now.

You don’t know how others are struggling. Hearing that you aren’t doing “perfectly” might just be the thing that helps them get through. Right now, while so many of us are in the same, perhaps leaky, boat, there may be an opportunity to explore the underside of the work/life integration puzzle with key stakeholders.

Experiment and iterate.

We’re all trying to figure this out and we will need to find unconventional solutions to do so. If you find a creative solution that works for your family, show it off (even if it’s a bit weird). Be a role model for finding new ways to do things, for leading change that’s sustainable because it works for all, not just you. You can share the experiments you’re trying as a work team, as a family, or as a community to inspire others to look beyond the status quo.

Try new ways of doing things and be willing to revise them or even scrap them altogether if they’re not working. Want to try making a family schedule for each day? Go for it…but if it ends up adding unneeded stress and guilt, try something different. Maybe a to-do list would work better. Or maybe it’s an opportunity to embrace a less structured lifestyle. Want to hide in a closet with a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door so you can get a few hours of uninterrupted work done? Try that too. But, if you’re not feeling it, working from a laptop on the couch next to your child might work better, even if it means your efficiency is slowed.

There are no precedents for this. As a role model, you can show others that you’re flexible and willing to find what works for you.

Bring others along with you. 

Encourage your colleagues, kids, friends, and family to share their successes and their failures. As a leader and role model, you can grow the leadership capacity of others. As a parent, you can help your kids learn how to become more effective leaders in their own right — demonstrating and communicating their values under difficult circumstances. As an employee, you can set the stage for on-going authentic, creative, and brave choices.

We will remember this as an extremely difficult time. As role models, we can hope to recall it, someday down the road, as a time when we stepped up in service of others — when we lived our values, embraced our flaws and vulnerability, and deepened our connections to those around us.

If our free content helps you to contend with these challenges, please consider subscribing to HBR. A subscription purchase is the best way to support the creation of these resources.

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How to Tell Your Story on LinkedIn

Executive Summary

Your LinkedIn page is often the centerpiece of your online career persona yet most of us serve up a motley buffet of achievements, experiences, identities, missions, and passions. Or we go the other way and set a sparse table with only the four basic food groups: name, current job, past experience, and education. Either approach leaves the reader — employer, investor, client, or ally — overwhelmed by or starved for information and less likely to connect. The opportunity is lost and we all go hungry.  To fix this, make your LinkedIn page tell a cohesive and concise story that connects to the audience you want to reach most and get them to reach out to you. To curate your LinkedIn page for storytelling success, figure out your end goal, narrow down your audience, look for inspiration, and get to work.

HBR Staff

Your LinkedIn page is often the centerpiece of your online career persona, yet most of us barely consider what we’re offering there. We serve up a motley buffet of achievements, experiences, identities, missions, and passions for readers to shovel through. Or we go the other way and set a sparse table with only the four basic food groups: name, current job, past experience, and education. The first approach overwhelms the reader — employer, investor, client, or ally — and the second leaves them starved for information and less likely to connect. The opportunity is lost and we all go hungry.

No matter how great you are in a role, if you can’t articulate your value, it’s that much harder to gain the sponsorship you need to move into the leadership positions you seek. With your LinkedIn page, telling the story of your professional progression, leading your audience to its happy ending, and framing it in terms they care about is the difference between casting a wide net to catch Arctic Char in the Caribbean and chartering a harpoon boat in the Norwegian Sea. The result: you get the meetings, leads, and interviews that you actually want.

In my work as a career coach, I help mid-career women get hired, promoted, and buy in for the impact they want to make. To a one, that means establishing a compelling leadership brand identity the best, stickiest, and most effective way possible: by telling a cohesive and concise story that connects to the audience you want to reach most and getting them to reach out to you. To curate your LinkedIn page for storytelling success, follow these steps.

Write Your Own Happy Ending

Where is all your hard work leading? Are you the innovative CEO of a fast-growing company bent on bringing solar technology to every home along the Eastern Seaboard and then the world? Or the female Diversity and Inclusion evangelist who won’t rest until half the CEOs of all Fortune 500 companies are women?

Knowing your professional story’s bright, bold, happy ending anchors the narrative and helps you understand which pieces of your experiences, achievements, and results are relevant to your story.

Take Nichelle. For several years she’d been glued to her laptop, working 13-hour days, jumping every time her manager named a new height, all in the hopes of making director at one of the biggest social media platforms. But no luck.

All her efforts, words, thoughts, and writings were directed at that goal until we unpacked the true happy ending to her brand story: to become a content producer, writer, and speaker on matters of race. Because the skills and experiences of a writer or producer are vastly different from those of a marketing director, she needed to evaluate every line in her resume, going over each skill she’d mastered, and boldly rewrite her internal dialogue and external communications to only include the parts that were relevant to her future as a speaker, writer, and maker concentrated on the experience of people of color.

Know Your Audience and Connect the Dots for Them

When you know your ending, you get a better sense of what your LinkedIn is for. Are you here to generate leads? Get the attention of recruiters? Make professional connections in your industry to move forward your vision? It’s common to think that your LinkedIn should be about you. But as any brand strategist will inform you, every message is about positioning the product to meet the needs of its consumer. On your LinkedIn page, your mission is to present yourself so your partners, employers, sponsors, investors or clients think “this person has the answers I need!”

First step to doing that: narrow who you’re talking to and identify their needs.

Lila, who excelled in negotiations and business development, was a rising star at a tech company when she realized she wanted to pivot to working with content creators. After identifying that she wanted to work at a large, international firm with established premium content, we pulled out the similarities between her experience in selling premium consumer brands to millions of consumers and translated it to meet the needs of established content creators looking to sell premium shows to millions of viewers.

Two seemingly unrelated business focuses now flow from one to the other and create a seamless transition that any recruiter can understand immediately, and that Lila can reinforce in job interviews.

Look for Inspiration

With your future clear and your audience set, we can now move onto style. Despite what the Internet might suggest, there is no one perfect template. Creating your leadership narrative on LinkedIn is a creative endeavor so make like all great artists and steal, steal, steal.

Choose a LinkedIn profile or two that speak to you and break down what’s working and not working about yours as you see it, and what you love about these other people’s profiles. Frankenstein the exact pieces of their profile you love into your own draft to get a sense of the right type of phrasing and order you might want.

This worked for my client Kiko when she moved from an operator to investor in a venture fund she started. When it came time to advertise her new role on LinkedIn to companies she might invest in, and investors she’d need to write her checks, she knew she needed to demonstrate strength, competency, and success in investing and operating, with hard data to back her claims.

By sending me a few LinkedIn profiles and articulating what she liked about each — the formatting of portfolio companies successes, the tone, how people blended personal details into their professional summary — we crafted a hybrid profile that hit the right style while meeting her audience’s needs and sealing her credibility.

Get to Work

With all the pieces in front of you, it’s time to make this story your own. Keep what you love about your profile and ape the other people’s style, line by line if you want. If you love how someone tells a transformational story in their summary paragraph, go through each sentence of theirs and see how you could tell a similarly impactful story by swapping their details for yours. If you love how boldly someone describes their mission, try out your own. Even if it isn’t perfectly worded, it’s a start and definitely clearer than nothing, or what you had before. Remember, you can rewrite your LinkedIn.

You can have great dreams and the best experience to achieve them, but at some point, you’re going to need help from others. If you can’t communicate what you want and instill confidence in others that you’re the right person for that job, you’re fighting an uphill battle with one arm tied behind your back and an eye patch. Developing a story around your leadership to suit your audience’s needs is the first chapter of your gripping personal brand story. Spoiler alert: learn how to use your LinkedIn to tell a great story and you’ll reach your vision faster.

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How to Manage Your Stress When the Sky Is Falling

Executive Summary

In these uncertain times, as an invisible virus spreads across the globe, we need to  manage our stress more than ever. Like the elite athletes the author works with, who can control their physiological and mental arousal, we need to employ psychological skills to move into our activation sweet spot to perform well and live well. Those who understand how to use their mind to manage stress look for the optimal state where they are “switched on” but not too tight. We may not have control over our circumstances, but we do have control over our minds. So we should all be employing mental skills and practices to get us through this trying time. Things you can do include a morning mediation routine, establishing a repeatable sleep and wakeup routine, connecting with others, and establishing a higher sense of purpose.

Renold Zergat/Getty Images

We’ve made our coronavirus coverage free for all readers. To get all of HBR’s content delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Daily Alert newsletter.

It’s natural to feel stressed right now. As we try to navigate our new normal, we’re worried about getting sick or losing our jobs, we’re inundated with news about death tolls and an economic recession, and we’re isolated from coworkers, friends, and family.

Stress helps prepare us to meet the demands and challenges of our environment — up to a point. The chain of rapidly occurring neuro-chemical and neuro-electrical reactions can sharpen attention and our ability to assess our surroundings, motivate us, and even briefly boost our immune system. But it’s designed to be a short-term response to last for minutes or hours, not days and weeks.

When our stress system stays activated for a prolonged period of time, it can suppress our adaptive immune systems and make us more vulnerable to viral infections.

Further Reading

That’s why we need to manage our stress more than ever. Like the elite athletes I work with, who can control their physiological and mental arousal, we need to employ psychological skills to move into our activation sweet spot to perform well and live well. Those who understand how to use their mind to manage stress look for the optimal state where they are “switched on” but not too tight.

We may not have control over our circumstances, but we do have control over our minds. Even if you think you’re relatively calm, know that stress is a stealth and powerful adversary. It can hit you out of nowhere. So we should all be employing mental skills and practices to get us through this trying time.

Breathe

A mindfulness practice allows us to have space from our cognition and emotion so we can see things as they really are. Rather than being anxious, we can see that we’re experiencing anxiousness. There’s a big difference.

Start from the moment you wake up. In a recent video, my colleague at Compete to Create and former Olympian Courtney Thompson offered advice on how to set our minds right each and every morning. Instead of reaching for your phone, checking the news, or scrolling through social media, try this:

  1. Take one really long deep breath — more than ten seconds — and try to exhale longer than you inhale. Express one thought of gratitude. Don’t just check a box. Are there people in your life that are stepping up? Is your family healthy? Try to really feel it. It’s not an exercise in thinking, it’s an integration between thinking and feeling.
  2. Set your intention for the day. I don’t mean your goals or to-dos. I mean, what type of person are you going to be today? An intention represents a commitment to carrying out an action in the future. Are you going to show up for others? Be calm and controlled for family, friends, strangers, and colleagues? This is an exercise in imagery, seeing yourself at your best.
  3. Pull off the sheets and put your feet on the ground. Take a moment to feel your feet on the floor. Be where your feet are. This is a primer to mentally and physically start your day in the present moment.

No matter what’s happening, remember that you’re in control of your thoughts (well, at least the one’s you’re aware of). You can decide what you’d like your first thoughts each day to be. Choose well.

If you’re feeling unfocused or anxious during the day, take eight minutes and just breathe, observing your passing thoughts without judgment and bringing your attention back to your breath when those thoughts grab your attention. If you become distracted, re-focus back to your next breath. Try it. There’s no right or wrong way to practice.

Eat and Sleep Well

Self-care, during times of high-stress, is essential. It sounds simple and obvious, but, when we’re in survival mode, many of us don’t take good enough care of ourselves

Great sleep is crucial. Recently, on my podcast Finding Mastery, I spoke with Matthew Walker, a sleep expert and Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. For optimal sleep, he suggests going to bed at the same time each night. Your brain thrives on regularity — not Netflix.

But, if you’re stressed out, you may have trouble falling or staying asleep. If you run into trouble, Walker suggests “walking it off.” I suggest one of these three tactics. Brush your teeth — to re-ignite a Pavlovian, it’s-time-to-go-to-sleep response — read a book (the more boring the better), or jot down your thoughts on a pad of paper (not your phone!) until you feel sleepy.

Try to wake up at the same time each morning, too — even if you had a bad night’s sleep. Regularity will keep your circadian rhythms in check.

Eat and hydrate well, too. In times of high-stress, our bodies crave sugar, starches, and salt. But research has found that people who have a healthy diet are less prone to infections. Eat colorfully. Dark and leafy vegetables (sorry, candies and chocolate don’t count) are an efficient way to feed the energy needs of your immune system.

And drink plenty of water. It flushes toxins from your body.

Create Connection

In times of uncertainty, we typically gravitate toward our tribe for comfort and support. In this instance, we are being asked to separate from the community, to shelter in place, to keep our social distance. But, if left unchecked, social isolation can lead to loneliness, which can have drastic effects on our mental and physical health.

Separation doesn’t have to mean isolation. Take this time to really connect with others. Tell them how valuable they are to you. Send messages of praise to your coworkers. Tell your family how much you love them. Make a list of people you want to call, to thank them for making a difference in your life. And don’t only broadcast your own concerns. Be curious about how others are doing — and truly listen. Do it today.

This is a time to practice compassion. Almost everyone will be affected by the social, physical, and economic dislocation of the pandemic. Recognize we are all in this together. There is no “other.”

Shake things up. Partake in Instagram dance parties. Sing. Or make music together. Italy offers a beautiful example of creating joy and connection while in lockdown. People have started singing from their balconies, out their windows and across rooftops at appointed times, coordinating their efforts via social media. Viva l’Italia!

This isn’t the time to be overly worried about what others think of you. We’re all in this—together—and if there were ever a time to let loose, this is it. Connecting with others, and being open and vulnerable, is what’s going to get us through.

Find Purpose

As the news gets worse, and we go about our everyday routines, you may find yourself thinking that your life and work lacks fire. So try anchoring this remarkable period in purpose larger than yourself. You get to decide the story you tell yourself. When we have an orientation beyond ourselves, it makes us more resilient in the face of challenges.

Victor Frankl, the Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, survived four concentration camps, an experience that profoundly deepened his understanding of man. Frankl learned that our main drive or motivation in life is neither pleasure nor power but meaning. Frankl wrote, “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, only by lack of meaning and purpose.” In his experience at the camps, he wrote, “Those who (were) oriented toward a meaning to be fulfilled by them in the future were most likely to survive.”

For inspiration, take note of the people who are serving the greater good in response to the crisis. Some are helping the less fortunate in their communities. Others are using this as a teaching moment for their children.  That’s living — and leading — from a place of purpose. You can do the same.

As you forge ahead, and things get tough, remember that your most significant ally lies inside you: your mind. So take care if it — for your own health and the health of others, too.

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How to Transition Between Work Time and Personal Time

Executive Summary
Physical presence doesn’t always equate to mental presence. You could be sitting at your desk but more preoccupied about a home repair than the assignment at hand, or you could be at the kitchen table thinking more about the proposal you have to finish than the people eating dinner with you. That’s why transitions from work mode to personal mode are so essential.
Whether you’re heading into the office or working from home, here are some tips for making the shift between work and personal time. First, have a starting work routine. Set up habits that tell yourself it’s time to start work. Then, make a plan for meetings, the projects you work work on, and when. Prioritize your communication to limit distractions whether you’re on work or personal time. Finally, set a wrap-up routine, so you end your workday and can be fully off-the-clock later.

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Physical presence doesn’t always equate to mental presence. You could be sitting at your …

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The Restorative Power of Ritual

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Like many families have recently, ours scheduled a virtual happy hour the other night. It was full of the …

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Balancing Work and Elder Care Through the Coronavirus Crisis

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Amy Carrier is a foundation director with a long-distance spouse and a 74-year old mother, who has Alzheimer’s …

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You’re Not Powerless in the Face of Uncertainty

Executive Summary
While part of our capacity to deal with the unknown is innate, a larger portion is learned. Those who develop this “uncertainty capability” are more creative, more successful, and better able to turn uncertainty into possibility. One of the ways people with high uncertainty capability thrive is to …

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