Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. For some time, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be patient in an ever-changing world and how our privilege with access to technology can make us feel more impatient as we begin to demand more to feel gratified. While the tools we use can be great for helping us be more productive, I wonder if they also make us believe that things can happen quickly regardless of if you’re using technology or not. Patience is a virtue as impatience can lead to poor judgment, irrational behavior and decision making, and having a pessimistic view of the world and others. If you feel your patience waning, you can work to give yourself peace.
What is Patience?
Patience, in the most basic terms, is the ability to endure without succumbing to negative emotion or intent. This looks different for everyone because what one may find difficult to endure, another may thrive. Nonetheless, patience is when you (from your perspective) can wait without becoming annoyed, stressed, or angry. While some may feel that patience is automatic, it is not. You control your patience through your thoughts and what you choose to become attached to. You can certainly grow your ability to be patient.
One of the best ways to grow your patience for others or situations is to consider other perspectives. For example, when you begin to grow impatient because your partner is running late for dinner, or the line at the grocery store isn’t moving, try to step outside of your perspective and consider the moment from another perspective. Your partner may be late because their car broke down or they had to wait for their manager to sign off on something. The line at the store may be long because there is a new cashier training and they didn’t expect the store to be so busy. When you can reframe your experience and consider other possibilities, it’s easy to feel patient for things that you can’t control. This comes with a little emotional intelligence, empathy, and compassion.
Two other great methods to practice growing patience are to be mindful and show gratitude. Practicing mindfulness can aid in your ability to see other perspectives, but it can also make you less impulsive as you become more aware of your mind in the present moment rather than allowing a negative emotion, like anger, sweep you into feeling impatient. If you identify impatience setting in, take a few long, deep breaths to calm your nervous system. Additionally, you can practice distracting your mind by showing gratitude. Instead of focusing on what is going wrong and irritating you, focus on what is going or has gone right and feel thankful.
Your Health and Patience
Cultivating patience comes with a variety of health benefits, some are long-term while others can be felt immediately. Those who are patient usually experience better mental health. This makes sense because feelings of anger, resentment, or annoyance often accompany impatience. Aside from many of these negative emotions increasing your blood pressure and cortisol levels (stress hormone), experiencing these negative emotions that often come with impatience can disrupt your mood for days, weeks, or even longer depending on how often you become impatient or ruminate on that experience.
Other research has found that impatience can lead to a number of not-so-fun bodily symptoms, including but not limited to: acne, headaches, and ulcers. This is because impatience, as mentioned, usually creates cortisol which can lead to these symptoms, prevent a good night’s sleep, and weaken the immune system. This becomes a vicious cycle as those who are dealing with cortisol, lacking sleep, or feeling sick are more likely to be less patient (and who can blame them!). It’s not fun to not feel good or to feel stressed out, but that’s what makes it more important to work to get ahead of the curve before it gets to a point where you are burnt out and have difficulty cultivating patience.
As with all habit building, the goal is not to be perfect right away but to make incremental steps to being and feeling better. If you are regularly impatient, consider where you are impatient the most and start practicing there. Many people have road rage and become impatient while driving, and this is a great place to practice seeing from another perspective. Slow down, breathe, be mindful, and remain present to cultivate patience. Your body and mind will thank you.
Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. One of the main topics in my weekly conversations with team members and clients is emotional intelligence. They want to learn more about it and develop habits to increase their emotional intelligence abilities. Emotional intelligence encompasses two huge aspects. The first aspect is the self; being able to accurately identify and manage emotions is a key part of emotional intelligence. The second is with others; being able to accurately identify and respond to the emotions another individual is feeling. Some researchers even believe that emotional intelligence, or EI, is more important for leaders and managers in the modern era than IQ. If you’re looking to control your influence, here are some ways to cultivate emotional intelligence.
Before you attempt to understand and respond to others’ emotional states, you must understand your own first. One of the hardest things to do is transparently evaluate yourself with 100% honesty. Something our mind tends to do to protect us is to lie and tell us a story that fits into the reality we want, but these stories don’t serve us in our ability to be truly emotionally intelligent. Instead, challenge yourself. Ask yourself how others may perceive you and your ability to be emotionally intelligent. What might they say? Would you agree with them?
There is no need to judge yourself in this process. Judgment will only hinder your growth, not help it. Instead, evaluate yourself with compassion and try to understand where your emotions come from, what they are triggered by, how often they come up, and if you feel they are appropriate responses to your environment. If you struggle to understand what your emotions are, where they come from, and why, try starting with an emotion wheel. When you feel an emotion, try to correctly categorize it. Doing so will lessen the negative effects of negative emotions as giving a name to something often makes it more manageable. Once you know what the emotion is, consider where it comes from and in what other situations it has presented itself.
Observe and Listen
A key part of emotional intelligence is observing our mind without judgment to better understand where emotions come from, as well as observing how our words, actions, and emotions affect others. To cultivate emotional intelligence in both ourselves and with others, we must slow down, observe, and listen. Those who are emotionally intelligent know how to respond to others who are feeling emotions as well as how to handle their own emotional response to dealing with the situation. They do this by observing, correctly analyzing the emotions, and listening for opportunities to help alleviate the emotional suffering. Conversely, they know when there is nothing they can do to help and call upon their skill of empathy, which will allow them to respond to the situation without creating a barrier.
Those looking to build skills of emotional intelligence should spend twice as much time observing and listening than talking. The more information that is discovered, the easier it will be to respond accurately. The same is true for our own emotions; the more we observe and listen to the emotions we feel—correctly categorizing them—the better we can challenge or have compassion for our own state rather than immediately acting upon them. Again, the better you become at understanding yourself, the easier it will be to observe and listen to others who need you. It’s akin to the classic airplane safety tip: Always put your mask on first before helping others (or always understand your own emotions first before helping others).
Curiosity Over Judgment
Leaders and managers must choose curiosity over judgment when dealing with themselves and their team. Curiosity allows us to explore, ask questions, gain a better understanding, and meet ourselves or the other person where they are in the process. If we immediately choose judgment, we create a barrier between us and what we want to understand. Judgment will always hinder your ability to be emotionally intelligent. In my experience, judgment tends to come from a place where we don’t feel good about ourselves, so we project that onto others (or ourselves) as a means to alleviate our stress without self-reflecting on what is truly wrong.
Conversely, choosing curiosity is a form of emotional intelligence in that we accept that not everyone is perfect, and we continue to want to respond in a way that is helpful. When we have curiosity for ourselves and others, it becomes easier to explore the complexities of emotions as we train ourselves to want to explore them. If you are used to judging yourself and others, you will need to challenge yourself to grow the habit of being curious and asking questions. In doing so, you may find that your own stress is alleviated as this tends to help soften the judgment of yourself.
Perhaps the largest component of cultivating emotional intelligence is self-awareness, but self-awareness doesn’t come out of nowhere. It takes patience, observation, and curiosity to develop an awareness of oneself. You must become aware of your emotions, how they feel in your body when they arise, how you respond to them, and how you project them into the world. But your self-awareness doesn’t end with your emotions.
To be truly emotionally intelligent, you must be wholly self-aware. You must understand your strengths and weaknesses, your preferred communication style, how big your tank of willpower is, what leads you to burnout, and so much more. Self-awareness is born out of transparent self-evaluation. The more truthful you are, the more self-aware you will become.
If you wish to cultivate emotional intelligence because it is something that doesn’t come naturally to you, the key will be to have compassion for yourself. This is not an easy process, but it is worth it. Only you have the power to control your mind and change the way you see and respond to the world. In doing so, you will not be perfect. Most emotionally intelligent individuals understand that imperfection is part of the human condition, and it is having compassion for yourself and others that allows us to enter a world of true emotional intelligence. Controlling the mind is a journey and one that must be forgiving. Always choose curiosity over judgment and continue showing yourself compassion as you grow.
Hi team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team Series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. This week, I want to focus our attention on what it means to take the high road. Taking the high road is subjective to each of us; at The I in Team Series, we believe the high road is when you take the path that helps the most people and hurts the least amount of people. Sometimes taking the high road means leaving someone or something behind so you can continue to grow in your positive influence. It can mean swallowing your need to speak when the timing isn’t right or being patient while you give someone an extra five minutes of your time. Taking the high road is always taking the right road, but you must understand what that path means and how to find it.
Finding the High Road
The high road is always the right road, but sometimes finding it can be difficult. First, you must weigh the paths you have in front of you. Ask if these choices, and subsequent decisions, influence anyone other than you (most decisions do), and then ask which choice will produce the most positive influence. When taking the high road, remember to put yourself first if the decision will influence you the most. We believe that in order to give people your most positive influence, you must live life for yourself and put yourself first. Some may find this selfish; some will say this is taking the low road. Taking care of yourself so you can have a positive influence is anything but selfish. So, when considering the high road, you will need to take yourself into account first, and then evaluate which decision will positively influence the most people.
Making decisions can be difficult when you don’t know what the outcome will be, but you have to trust yourself to weigh the pros and cons and analyze the information you have. Be diligent and seek out more information and trust your instincts. Ask people you can trust for their opinion if you need an external source to weigh in. You may find that one day, you are walking on what you believe is the high road, but you may find yourself standing alone.
Walking the High Road
Walking the high road can be a lonely road, as most people find it difficult to take the high road. You may become unpopular and shunned by peers for the decisions you make in life, but if you know that it is your high road then you must stay true to yourself. Let’s digress to a story about a man named Nicolaus Copernicus, who was a mathematician and astronomer in the 1500s, and the first to suggest that the Earth and all the planets revolved around the sun, rather than the Earth being the center of our solar system. He made several great strides in astronomy, including correctly hypothesizing why planets go into retrograde.
However, this was at a time when everyone believed that the Earth was the center of the universe and that everything moved around a stagnant Earth. Copernicus was utterly rejected by society, thrown in prison, denounced by his faith, and all but killed for his ideas (which, most, were later proven to be true). At no point did Copernicus waiver from his findings, and he spent his life trying to help others see the truth about our world. He died being mocked and shunned by society and faith. We now know that the Earth does in fact revolve around the Sun. This is one of my favorite stories of human strength and will. It would have been easy to retract his statements to be accepted by society and his church, but he refused. He knew what was right and he died trying to teach others. There are high roads that you will walk alone, but you must keep empathy in your heart for those on the low road.
Observing the Low Road
Choose curiosity over judgement. Do not judge those who cannot see the high road, be curious as to why they can’t or why they refuse to walk it with you. Having empathy for those who are walking the low road is another form of taking the high road. Like Copernicus, the best you can do is speak what you believe to be true from your perspective. Educate others and encourage them to be curious. Do not view others as being judgmental when they ask questions in a tone that questions your position; appreciate that they are looking for knowledge and view them as curious, even if they can’t control their tone. Being on the high road means holding empathy for those who are not with you, whether they choose not to be or don’t know how. Just because others haven’t joined you on the high road yet, doesn’t mean they won’t. Taking the high road is the mark of a leader.
Taking the high road is always taking the right road. Whether it is to benefit yourself or to help others, your high road is always right. When faced with an opportunity to take the high road or the low road, envision your hands with one up and one down; the one up is the high road, the road that will bring the most positive influence to you or others, and the hand that is down is the low road, the road you take when you are not your best self (most likely to induce feelings of guilt later on). Taking the high road may seem scary, difficult, or impossible at times, but if Copernicus could do it in the 1500s, you can do it today.
Hi team, it’s your friend Mary! During one of my meditation sessions to help alleviate anxiety, my guide discussed the importance of staying in the now and focusing on the present moment. She said that if we focus on the now, we will always be ready for the future, stating that most anxiety comes to us as we anticipate the future or review the past. This has helped me immensely and my hope is to explain how we can slow down and get into our now. As Brian wrote in Find the “I” in Team, “Live in the present; the most important moment in your life is the present moment. It is in the present that all things are learned, lost, and forgotten.”
The past only serves to teach us. Reflecting on the past is encouraged but becoming trapped in an illusion of reflections doesn’t help you learn or grow. The past can trick our minds into believing we are reliving the experience again, coupled with the same emotions we felt as the memory occurred, but it’s only a reflection of what once was. Don’t let your mind fool you into thinking this is real again or that you have to observe the memory in the same state as it occurred. You can observe memories from afar, detached from their emotions, in order to learn and grow.
The best way to avoid this trap is to get ahead of it. When you start to feel your emotions rise as a memory comes to you, immediately question those emotions. Questioning the emotions tied to the past serves you by helping you learn from the experience in a more pragmatic way. Only you have the power to retrain your brain, but you can only do so if you do the work and that means getting ahead of your reactionary thoughts. Question what your mind tells you is reality because your mind is the only reality you live in. Your mind is the only trap you have, and it’s excellent at trapping you in negative or untrue thought patterns. What you tell yourself is what you will see. This is your reality and you’re in control.
We cannot control the future; we can only influence it. Dreaming of the future, planning, and being strategic are not the same as fretting about what is to come. If you are being deliberate in your thoughts, whether they be past or present, time is not wasted. However, concerning ourselves with how others will react to us, what others will think, or what may or may not happen to us or those around us in the future is time wasted when it causes unnecessary anxiety. We fret about the future because we fear we may not be ready to handle it. I promise you, that if you stay in the now, you will always be ready for the future. The future is now.
Yes, the future is now. And now. And now. And so on. Time is a social construct we use to stay organized and to make sense of this rock that we are on. There is no future. The only future is in your mind. There is no past. The only past is in your mind. There is only now. The future and past do not exist now, but the future and past can only exist now if you allow it to in your mind. You only have the now, the present moment, to hold onto and view as reality. We easily become trapped in our minds with thoughts outside the present moment, but that isn’t real. It’s only real to us because we live inside our own created realities.
One of the best ways to focus on the now is to get out of your mind and into your body. Move your awareness to your heartbeat (that never stops, without you asking), your breath (that continues without consciously thinking “take a breath”), your blinking eyes, feel your extremities and wiggle your fingers and toes, or feel the roof of your mouth and taste what’s going on in there. Take long, slow, and deliberate deep breaths as you focus on moving your awareness from your mind down into your body. This feeling, this stillness, is your present moment. This is your now. Your only opportunity in life is to seize your now, whatever your now may bring.
Slowing down is something that we discuss redundantly at The I in Team Series, but it’s the most useful tool for any situation. We know that, in the heat of the moment, slowing down may seem impossible. To be honest, retraining your brain to stay focused on the now is difficult, but not impossible. You have to slow down, be deliberate with your thoughts and actions, and put effort towards slowing yourself down and being present.
Learn More: The Benefits of Slowing Down
I’ll be honest, staying in the present moment really isn’t easy. I’ve been working on this for five years and I can say with certainty that I’ve made progress, but I’m not yet where I want to be as I still deal with crippling anxiety and depression. It doesn’t help that we are coming out of a devastating pandemic that increased anxiety and depression fourfold in our country (USA). I will promise that staying in the present is worth it. Every time you interrupt your engrained thinking patterns, every time you pull yourself out of your mind, every time you TRY you are making progress. You can absolutely change your life and your way of thinking, but you need to give yourself permission. Encourage yourself and others to live in the present moment.
Hi team, Mary here! After almost a year of living in the pandemic, many of us are still finding ourselves burnt out, exhausted, and maybe even unmotivated. I’ve been asking myself how I can be feeling more burnt and stressed out than when the pandemic began, when I read an article discussing the communication debt. Communication debt isn’t a new concept, but it’s become much more severe as we have all entered working spaces that are far more digital than they once were.
Communication debt is, essentially, the negative emotions you feel when you are unable to respond to communications, whether they be emails, texts, direct messages, or even group chats. “Communication” refers to the various types of communication you receive throughout your day, and “debt” refers to the growing mound of responses you have to get to at some point. This can usually create feelings of anxiety or avoidance and can cause issues in productivity. Dealing with your personal communication debt will take some time, practice, and willpower. Below are our top tips for dealing with your communication debt.
Put the “No” in Notification
By this, I mean, turn off your notifications (I just couldn’t resist the catchy sub-header). You don’t always have to keep your notifications on. For me, it really disrupts my deep thought work if I see a message bubble pop up on my screen from Microsoft Teams or I hear an email come into my inbox. We discuss the issues of multitasking a lot on The I in Team Series, but even if you’re not intending to multitask you can experience the same issues of multitasking because of the communication debt. If you become distracted by a group thread, either on your phone personally or one you are included in at the office, that line of communication is forcing you to multitask as you either think of a way to respond or worry about having to respond to that later (adding a task to your to do list).
The best way to combat this issue is to silence your notifications! Utilize the technology you have to work with you and not against you. If you have children or those who depend on you for emergencies, set a special ringtone for them to go off only if they call you (and set this expectation that calls during business hours are for emergencies only). Use Do Not Disturb on your phone and anywhere else you can (I love DND on Teams). You don’t have to be available for everyone 24/7 and you shouldn’t be! This is where communicating healthy boundaries comes in.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Setting boundaries so that you can deal with communication debt more easily is better for everyone. When you set boundaries, you protect yourself and ensure you are getting what you need to be your best self. One example of a set boundary that is universal is the closed door. When someone’s door is closed, you know they are in Do Not Disturb mode. However, we don’t have the luxury of closing our door when we are all working from home and connected solely via technology. One way you can offset this is by either blocking time for yourself to answer emails and only answer emails during that time, or by blocking time for yourself to do deep mind work and then alerting everyone to those times. Be sure that if you block time for yourself to do deep mind work that you also set reminders for when that time block will end (or, ask someone to get you at a certain time).
Again, set the expectations you have with those around you. Healthy individuals will respect these boundaries and work with you to ensure all needs are taken care of on everyone’s terms. Sometimes you might have to sacrifice a little bit for the sake of your own comfort, but that’s okay! As long as those around you are doing their best to respect and acknowledge your boundaries, you are in good company. Plus, pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is always encouraged to promote personal growth!
You might already have a system for tackling your communication debt, like zeroing out your inbox or unsubscribing from junk emails, but you’re always going to have more communications to respond to. Therefore, you need tactics to lessen the severity of the negative influence of the communication debt. First, you need to know yourself. Who are you and what do you need? Second, you need to love and respect yourself enough to set boundaries, including saying no to notifications. Finally, practice self-love. The world around us is becoming increasingly more demanding as we all work harder and longer days to keep up with that demand. If you practice self-love, know your worth, and strive to have a positive influence, you can tackle the negative effects of communication debt.
Hi team, Mary here! I think we can learn a lot by watching animals. Or, at least, we can better ourselves and find new standards to reach by comparing some of our behaviors to theirs. For example, my dog, Bilbo, is extremely loyal. He is a pack-dog through and through. His personality makes it seems like he is much bigger than he is! The love he shows, even to strangers, amazes me. Once someone is in our “pack,” he will protect and defend them. (I mean, he’s seven pounds. But he tries, which is what counts!) I think the trait of loyalty, love, and devotion is something to admire.
There are tons of animals we can learn from if we slow down and take the time to observe them and appreciate their efforts. Ants are hard workers and work well on a large team. Deer are cautious but still curious. And then we come to the three animals in our graphic for this blog: Turtle, sloth, and snail. All known for being slow, diligent, and mindful. There is importance in slowing down our fast-paced lives. If we don’t start today, our lives can pass us by in a blink. The way our world is currently set up is to make you fast paced. Get here faster. Send this faster. Give me what I want faster. But what if we just took a moment to breathe, be in the moment, and slow down?
Physical & Mental Benefits of Slowing Down
Slowing down isn’t just for your mental state, it’s for your physical state too. Sometimes I think we have a tendency to forget that our brains are part of our bodies and we need to take care of them like we do our body. The faster we are, the more likely we are to feel stressed and anxious. When we are stressed and anxious, our bodies create cortisol (stress hormone) and it ravages your body’s immune system and mental clarity—leading to anxiety, depression, digestive issues, headaches, and more. If you want to learn more about how stress and cortisol affect your body, read this article from the Mayo Clinic.
The benefits of slowing down are as follows, but are not limited to:
- Reduces stress
- Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
- Reduces chronic pain
- Improves sleep
- Increases mental clarity and thinking
- Increased awareness, attention, and focus
- Increased brain function
Techniques to Slow Down
Slowing down isn’t an intuitive task. It takes patience and willpower to learn how. For those that have never slowed down, it may be harder to silence your mind at first but slowing down requires dedication and practice. Although, anyone can slow down if they try! Slowing down is about getting out of your head, phone, TV, games, etc. and getting into the present moment. It’s all in your mind and you have the power to control it!
Start with taking a few deep, slow breathes. Try to focus on your breathing: Feel your rib cage and lungs expand and contract as you bring in and release air. When your mind wanders, bring it back to your breath. If it helps you, you can count your inhales and exhales. To calm your nervous system, make your exhales twice as long as your inhales. This may be as far as you want to go to slow down your mind and focus on the present moment.
If you want to go further, next you will want to do a sensory check. What can you feel, see, hear, smell, or taste? Don’t attach any thoughts to those senses, just observe them as they are happening to you. You don’t have to interact with the sensations; this is your moment to relax and let your brain take a rest. This exercise can be quick but give yourself at least five minutes to just sit and breathe. That’s only 0.34 percent of the time you have in an entire day! Easy, right?
Once you have dedicated yourself to slowing down, even just for five minutes a day (although, you should give yourself longer on the days that you can) you will begin to notice changes in your mind and body. You are allowed to put social media away, turn off the TV, and breathe. This is your life and your moment. Don’t wake up in ten, twenty, fifty years and realize you have nothing to remember. Start making memories now and that starts with slowing down. I believe in you and your positive influence! If you have any questions, feel free to message us on Twitter!