20180412 On running. How it all started.

I dont know if anyone already used this as a title. I know that Parker J Palmer’s blog is called: On being, so i hope he will not be insulted by this.

I have been running over the years, usually in the weekends and depending on where I was living only in the summer. I moved to Shanghai in 2016 and had never expected that i would be running outside here. But i found that there was a small park in the nabourhood where i could run. The park has a small lake inside where the attraktion is a couple of black swans – actually it is 4, 2 males and two females, but one of the males seems to be stronger, or more attractive, so he has two wifes. Never mind. Around the park is now a nice running track, it is around 1.2 km. I started running there i April 2017. I soon got tired of just running around in circles. I was not running fast either – 7 or 8 km an hour – but i was enjoying the run. I started finding routes where i could run. Always running in the morning. I went on to run 5 and then 6 km, almost every morning, when the city was waking up.

May was nice, i had got a Garmin watch which was tracking my moves and my effort. In June my wife went to Denmark for the summer, so i was all alone, so i got into a new routine. In the morning i went for a run and in the evening when i got home from work, i did another run.

Shanghai is hot in the summer, but I like the heat, so it was ok for me to run in the warm evening.

In July i joined my wife in Denmark for the summer break. We have a summer house in a seaside village, where i can also run, so i continued.

Back in Shanghai in August together with my wife the morning run continued. I started to do longer runs and especially in the weekends i went on to run above 10 km.

I have always been dreaming about running a marathon. Or how should i put it. Thinking about it. Mostly thinking about how impossible this would be for me. When i was running i was doing the calculation. If i can run 10 km at a speed of 8 km, then it should take 5 hours and something like 15 min to run a marathon, but that was under the assumption that i could maintain the speed of the 8 km, which seemed totally unrealistic.

But suddenly something happened. We were going on a company outing, and there would be a morning run. I did not want to be the last, so i tried to increase my speed, and i found that i could actually run 10 km an hour. So out of the blue i increased my speed.

The company outing came and we had the run. The better runners were soon gone, but i continued in my own pace. We ran a circuit of 3 km, the others ran two rounds, but i took one more and used the last one to cheer up some of the colleagues who were even slower than i was. When i got back to the hotel, the other runners where cheering at me and applauding.

Back from the event i continued my running. In autum there is a marathon in Shanghai, but i had not signed up for it, so that was my excuse. But then suddenly one of the colleagues in the office had signed up, but could not participate due to an injury, so he offered me his number. I accepted and was now going to prepare for my first marathon.

The very next weekend i was planning to run 30 km. I started out in the morning. After 2 km i felt something hurting on the back of my leg. In the beginning i just ignored it, but it became worse and i had to stop running and walk back home. That was it.

20180412 On running. How it all started.

“I believe that the key to success lies in knowing how to both strive for a lot and fail well. By failing well, I mean being able to experience painful failures that provide big learnings without failing badly enough to get knocked out of the game.” from “Principles: Life and Work” by Ray Dalio

“I believe that the key to success lies in knowing how to both strive for a lot and fail well. By failing well, I mean being able to experience painful failures that provide big learnings without failing badly enough to get knocked out of the game.” from “Principles: Life and Work” by Ray Dalio

“Unfortunately for happiness, your brain is sold on the idea that the next moment is more important than the one we’re in. On the other hand, the moment that already passed by is more familiar—and therefore perhaps more comfortable—than this one right now. These biases of the brain are what move us all too easily into a state of confusion, ruminating on the past or bracing for an imagined future while neglecting to pause and live in the present, even though the present is all there really is. When we’re focused on the past or the future, we’re living in our thoughts, and not in reality.” from “Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy” by Mo Gawdat

“Unfortunately for happiness, your brain is sold on the idea that the next moment is more important than the one we’re in. On the other hand, the moment that already passed by is more familiar—and therefore perhaps more comfortable—than this one right now. These biases of the brain are what move us all too easily into a state of confusion, ruminating on the past or bracing for an imagined future while neglecting to pause and live in the present, even though the present is all there really is. When we’re focused on the past or the future, we’re living in our thoughts, and not in reality.” from “Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy” by Mo Gawdat

“This is the skill level you’re moving toward as you start to see through the Illusion of Thought. So much of your happiness depends not on the conditions of the world around you but on the thoughts you create about them. When you learn to calmly observe the dialogue and the drama, you begin to see the ones and zeros. You can watch your thoughts, knowing that the only power they can gain over you is the power you grant them.” from “Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy” by Mo Gawdat

“This is the skill level you’re moving toward as you start to see through the Illusion of Thought. So much of your happiness depends not on the conditions of the world around you but on the thoughts you create about them. When you learn to calmly observe the dialogue and the drama, you begin to see the ones and zeros. You can watch your thoughts, knowing that the only power they can gain over you is the power you grant them.” from “Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy” by Mo Gawdat

“When you’re seeking modest improvement in what exists, you start working with the same tools and assumptions, the same mental framework on which the old technology is based. But when the challenge is to move ahead by a factor of ten, you start with a blank slate. When you commit to a moonshot, you fall in love with the problem, not the product. You commit to the mission before you even know that you have the ability to reach it. And you set audacious goals.” from “Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy” by Mo Gawdat

“When you’re seeking modest improvement in what exists, you start working with the same tools and assumptions, the same mental framework on which the old technology is based. But when the challenge is to move ahead by a factor of ten, you start with a blank slate. When you commit to a moonshot, you fall in love with the problem, not the product. You commit to the mission before you even know that you have the ability to reach it. And you set audacious goals.” from “Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy” by Mo Gawdat

What makes up a good team?

safety first.jpgIn an article in New York Times Charles Duhigg describes how Google approached this question.

New York Times

Analysing academics and carrying out analysis of how Google teams were working, they concluded that teams who perform best, have two common traits:

“First, on the good teams, members spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as ‘‘equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.’’ On some teams, everyone spoke during each task; on others, leadership shifted among teammates from assignment to assignment. But in each case, by the end of the day, everyone had spoken roughly the same amount. ‘‘As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well,’’ Woolley said. ‘‘But if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.’’

Second, the good teams all had high ‘‘average social sensitivity’’ — a fancy way of saying they were skilled at intuiting how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions and other nonverbal cues. “

The first observation was more an observation of how the team was functioning, this was: “The way we do things around here”, how we function and operate, by respecting the opinions and inputs from each other.

The the second one was more like a “skill” or a “trait” – something the members of the team just happened to be good at – and were doing. Some may have had it already before joining the team, some may have developed it, by being in the team and by observing and learning from other team members.

A team behaviour like the one described by the two observations can then be summarised in the term:”Psychological safety”.

Within psychology, researchers sometimes colloquially refer to traits like ‘‘conversational turn-taking’’ and ‘‘average social sensitivity’’ as aspects of what’s known as psychological safety — a group culture that the Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson defines as a ‘‘shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.’’ Psychological safety is ‘‘a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up,’’ Edmondson wrote in a study published in 1999. ‘‘It describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.’’

And here is the core to the success: The team members feel safe. They feel that they can be themselves, they feel that they can fail within the team, that they can ask for advise on subjects where they are afraid that they could be regarded as lacking knowledge, or even worse: Lacking competence.

To create “psychological safety” is important in all teams and all cultures, but I will claim that in some cultures it is even more important than in others, especially in an Asia context this is even crucial – and an opportunity.

In Asia culture the concept of “face loss” is most critical. To “loose face” means to have done something, that by the group will be regarded as wrong –  having failed in delivering, or created a “face loss” situation to a manager, colleague, customer or partner. It can also be, to have been corrected or ridiculed by a higher positioned person, and worst of all in public and in front of the group.

The “face loss” creates an environment where it becomes difficult to be creative, as many creative ideas in the beginning may look so different from the norm that they may struggle to be regarded as serious.

If a group can create an “room”, where they can exercise “psychological safety” the team can really flourish. This room becomes the place where they can share their experiences or bounce off ideas and questions, where they can ask for support, both in terms of professional advice, but also in terms of ways of handling difficult personal situations.

15-powerful-team-building-quotes-to-inspire-successful-teamwork-7-638

Because creating such a room of psychological safety within the team, is so much different from the culture of “face loss”, the right group members may prosper from this opportunity. They may suddenly discover that the world can be different, that there are alternatives to: “Fear of making mistakes” and to “being punished or ridiculed.” This experience then becomes a strong motivation to the members of the group and then the group takes over and strengthens the culture and the norm even further.

Can you create “psychological safety” or is it something which is just there as a chemical function of the members of the team? I believe it has a lot to do with the characters in the team. How do they fit together, how do they respect and trust each other. But the key is the leader of the team. Does the leader of the team support the creation of the “psychological safety” by her actions and words? The spark to ignite the fire of “psychological safety” must come from the leader. She must show that trust is the most important skill in the team. That everybody must train the skill of trusting each other. Only when trust exist in the team can the psychological safety be created and the members will feel free to speak up.

Part of the psychological safety is also to be able to give and receive critique in the team. Because the reason for giving critique will be to support the team member in becoming a better member of the team, in growing as an individual.

We are all human beings, who come with our culture, upbringing, experience and values. This may lock us into certain ways of thinking and believing how the world must be. Once we then discover that the world can be different, that there are alternatives to ex being worried about the next team meeting, where I may feel out of place, or nervous for asking the necessary questions. That it is possible to have meetings in the team where it is safe to ask questions without running the risk of being ridiculed. That my opinion or input matters and makes a difference. Then this becomes a tremendous boast to my motivation and builds my confidence. A confidence which then becomes the foundation for all future growth.

Jorgen

What makes up a good team?

To grow, you need to be able to forgive yourself.

This topic is for me so essential and has had such a profound influence and impact on myself.
Forgiveness as such is deeply rooted in religions, and many people talk and write about it’s importance. Lately I stumbled into a couple:

Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of: Eat, pray, love) attended a seminar to reflect on the concept and following that shared her observations via her Blog.

Jack Kornfield wrote about this on his blog.

Rod Arters wrote a great blog post about it too.

Without getting too theoretical, then a Google of the word forgiveness gives the following definition (Wikipedia):

“the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.”


This way to approach forgiveness contains two parties: A victim and an offender, and the key is, that the victim let go of negative emotions and change feelings towards the offender.

For me, the scoop about this way to view forgiveness is, that it becomes universal, as it can also contain the situation where victim and offender is one and the same, which then becomes: Me.
And this is really where I want to start.

I believe that forgiveness is key to achieving improvements and to grow. Far too often we get disappointed because we don’t reach the targets or the goals we have set. We get disappointed or disillusioned because of that and feel we are not worthy of growing, and then we give up.
When we are young we still believe we can make it to the top, that we can become famous, popular, outstanding in sports, arts or business. But when we try, we sometimes fail. Sooner or later we reach the ceiling or meet our limits. But, when we are young we try again. Maybe we get angry or disappointed, but we try again. But the more times we fail, the more “experienced” we get, we learn about all the things that “cannot be done”, that “I cannot do”, because “I am not good enough”, because “I am not worthy”. Some call this “experience” – “I have tried something and I have experienced that it doesn’t work”, or that “I cannot do it”, so “I better stay away from trying this any more, or trying something that even looks like it”.
I believe, that we need to keep on trying, we need to keep on failing, or we will never get anywhere.
A person who lives according to this credo is the tennis player Stanislas Wawrinka.
Tattooed on Stanislas Wawrinka’s left forearm is a quotation that sums up his philosophy of life. It’s from Samuel Beckett, whose writings dealt with the struggle to find meaning in a bleak, nihilistic universe. Written on his arm in blue script: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.” “It’s my vision of my job and my life in general,” Wawrinka said. “In tennis, as you know, if you are not Roger or Rafa and Djokovic or Andy now, you don’t win so many tournaments and you always lose. But you need to take the positive of the loss and you need to go back to work.”
http://straightsets.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/06/the-power-of-positive-thinking-doesnt-fail-wawrinka/

I see this as trying your best, but sometimes failing, however forgiving yourself for not being perfect. If I cannot forgive myself when I fail, then I do not dare take a risk some other day. If I do not dare take a risk, I cannot learn, If I cannot learn, I cannot grow or develop.

To grow and develop is crucial, because everything around me is developing at a fast pace, so if I stand still, everybody else will be moving on.
I think it is so essential to start by forgiving one self first. By getting experience doing so, one can also forgive others for their mistakes or errors, which then opens up for so much more. By being able to forgive others we can build trust.
I also see a clear connection between forgiving and practising meditation. To practise meditation you need to be able to forgive yourself, because your mind will wander so many times and you will have to look at the thoughts that came up and call your mind back to the meditation again and again.

For me personally to discover this was a big moment. To discover that the meditation practice was actually strengthening my ability to forgive myself and thereby helping me in moving on. To accept myself that way has had a profound impact on my life.
Think about this next time you get disappointed about yourself. Remember to forgive yourself, get the learning and move on. The more you practise the better you get.

To grow, you need to be able to forgive yourself.

Search inside yourself

Truly a manual for all of us who admit that we haven’t found what we are looking for. I believe it can help all of us in our journey to happiness and fulfilment.

Search inside yourself

For those of you who missed the story, then Chade-Meng (Meng) worked at Google, where he created a program to support or create a “Mindfulness culture”. The book describes the steps or activities in the program.

Meng recently left Google to join the “Search inside yourself leadership institute” which he also founded.

Search inside yourself leadership institute

The key topics in the book were for me:

Emotional intelligence. An expression developed by Daniel Coleman in his book: Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Where he classifies it into:

  1. Self-awareness.
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social skills.

Mindfulness.

  • Training attention via mindfulness attention.
  • Practise meditation. Using a simple process model.
  • Being mindful not only when doing meditation, but in all aspects of life.
  • “Happiness is the default state of mind.”

Empathy.

  • Loving kindness meditation.

 

The book has been reviewed many times, here is a link to an article in New York Times about the program:

O.K., Google, take a deep breath

 

 

 

 

 

Search inside yourself