person washing hands

How I am choosing to fight COVID-19

As I write this on March 10, I’m feeling helpless. I hate that! So far, my daily life is pretty normal. I’m in my downtown Chicago office, and I just got back from a large lunch meeting listening to some very interesting panelists. My day, and the rest of my week, is heavily scheduled with both in-person and phone meetings. 

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the tidal wave to hit: the day when everything gets cancelled, when my clients suffer severe financial losses, when my travel is curtailed, when people I care about start getting sick, when I get sick. It’s really scary, and it feels as if there’s nothing I can do. As I said, I hate that!

group in office having meeting

Should I go to this? 9 guidelines for effective meetings

I worked hard over the holidays and was pleased with what I accomplished. What was the key to my productivity? Almost no meetings.

Now it’s January, and my schedule is full of meetings once again. Don’t get me wrong – many of the meetings I attend are very valuable. But like everyone else, all too often I find myself trapped in a meeting that’s a waste of my time.

work life balance

The Illusion of Work-Life Balance

It’s true – great minds think alike! As many of you know, I’ve been working on the concept of “curating your life,” the idea that instead of thinking about balance as if we’re circus acrobats, we need to think about our lives as if we’re museum curators. What’s my exhibit about? What goes in and what gets excluded? Is it time to update my exhibit? My book on this topic, cleverly titled Curating Your Life, will be coming out in April 2020.

So I was fascinated to read a recent post by James Clear, “The Four Burners Theory: The Downside of Work-Life Balance.” His theory proposes that your life is a stove with four burners: family, friends, health, and work. So far so good – most of us would agree with that. But here’s the kicker – the theory also says that to be outstanding you have to turn off one burner, and to become really great you have to turn off two. 

bias test

The Bias Test: How Harvard’s Project Implicit predicts tolerance

Nobody likes to believe they are prejudiced, even if a bias test tells them they are. Many people deny that they hold racist or sexist attitudes, or that they discriminate against certain groups of people. But both anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests that a great many of us do, in fact, hold negative stereotypes of groups who are different from us.

So how can we find out how prejudiced people are, if we often aren’t aware of our own biases? 

how to measure business success

How to measure business success by social impact, not stock price

When I was in business school in the early 2000s, there was no question of how to measure business success — and little if any talk of social impact. The most powerful idea I learned in my first year was that the sole purpose of a corporation is to make money for the shareholders. 

You have to understand that for me, with my background as a left-leaning clinical psychologist, this proposition was shocking. But I recognized that it was fundamental to how most businesses and business leaders operated.

So today, I’m flabbergasted. On August 19, the elite group of U.S. CEOs that form the Business Roundtable announced that big corporations should no longer focus exclusively on maximizing profits for their shareholders. Jamie Dimon, the chair of the Business Roundtable and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, presented a statement that business leaders should focus on delivering value to all their stakeholders — to customers, employees, suppliers, and local communities, as well as shareholders.

flow and happiness

Flow and Happiness — How to enter the state of your best work

When you lock into a state of Flow and happiness, you probably don’t know it. Usually, it happens when you’re so totally absorbed in a task that you lose track of time. Your attention is so focused that you don’t notice you’re hungry or your neck is crinked or someone is trying to talk to you. And when you finally come up for air you may feel a little disoriented, as if you’ve been somewhere far away.

I’ve been experiencing this a lot lately as I work on my first book, but the sensation was first described and labeled as “Flow” by prominent psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the 1970s. It has become an influential concept in psychology, business, sports, and the arts, sometimes labeled as being “in the zone” or “in the groove.” Flow is an intensely pleasurable state, characterized by clear goals, powerful concentration, immediate and accurate feedback, and an ideal balance between your level of skill and the demands of the task.  

The Flow state is a compelling concept because so many of us have experienced it. But as a psychological construct it has two problems. First, how can you measure it? And second, is it actually connected to creativity and productivity?

Going Back To Work After A Vacation

Avoiding the stress of going back to work after a vacation

Even in the U.S. — where we’re notoriously reluctant to take time off — many of us take at least a little time around the summer and winter holidays. I always look forward to my time off. It’s going back to work after a vacation that leaves me with regret. That’s when I get clobbered by the backlog. It usually takes less than 24 hours before I feel as if I’ve never been away.

Respecting boundaries in the workplace

Respecting boundaries with female colleagues starts with recognizing personal space

A lot of good men have come to me recently with questions about respecting boundaries — particularly those of their female colleagues. It’s not that they haven’t been thinking about this all along. But in the current environment of increased openness and feistiness about sexual harassment, many men are trying to be especially respectful in their interactions with women.