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On-Demand: Women of EisnerAmper | Thriving During Times of Change

Oct 22, 2020

We discussed the roles of resilience and anti-fragility, and how they can bolster you not just to survive these changing times, but to thrive.


MA:Greetings, everyone. I hope that you are well during these challenging times. I am MA and I am a tax partner at the firm working with family offices, individuals, and exempt organizations on tax issues. I also have the honor of chairing, sorry, the New York Chapter of the Women of EisnerAmper.

MA:Well, let me tell you a little bit about this group, which has been active at our firm for at least 15 years. The women of EisnerAmper represents our firms pledged to provide an environment for women to fulfill their career and life objectives and to advance within the firm. The group taps into the expertise of the firm's female partnership in an effort to inspire our female staff to broaden their professional goals and fulfill individual life aspirations. The women of EisnerAmper offers coaching and mentoring opportunities on areas of interest, such as building successful business relationships and work-life balance. In addition to the talent within the firm, the women of EisnerAmper draws on the expertise of some of the brightest women working in business today, to panel discussions, round table and networking event partnerships. The women of EisnerAmper fosters an environment where women can be their best and be themselves.

Now, usually at this time, the New York Chapter hosts our annual fall reception, where we come together for an evening of networking and food and drink and fun. Well, this year things are quite different due to COVID. So, alternatively, we are coming together virtually and share in an exciting and relevant discussion on thriving and not just surviving, but thriving during times of change. COVID has not only changed the way we conduct our personal and professional lives with conditions seem to be constantly changing, focusing us to be resilient and flexible as we adapt to ever changing circumstances.

So, at this point, I'd like to turn the program over to my esteemed colleague, Natalie McVeigh. Natalie is a director at the firm's center for individual and organizational performance and has specific expertise on this topic. Natalie will be presenting using a PowerPoint and she will be taking questions. So, please use your Q&A widget on the screen to submit your questions. Without further ado, I turn the program over to Natalie.

Natalie McVeigh:Thanks, Marie. I'm glad to be here, everyone. Hi, nice to meet you, albeit virtually. I'll tell you a little bit about myself and why resilience is really important to me. It's important on a personal level, and it's also important on a professional level. I grew up not in the United States, although one of my parents is from the US, so I grew up as what's called a third culture kid. So, I ended up living outside of my home country, speaking different languages, and my mom is also from Spain. So, you could call me confused or resilient early on. And if that weren't confusing and challenging enough, I decided to, in graduate school, make it harder by being an emergency responder. So, resilience in dealing with chaos was important and it's still important.

And so, professionally, because you probably don't care that much about my past, but professionally why I'm talking about this today is I'm a practitioner of neuroscience. So, I specifically do applied neuroscience around communication, how we deal with one another, and I'm also a certified happiness trainer. And although that sounds campy and silly, happiness is based on resilience. It really is how we can thrive, as Marie said, not just survive things. And I think when we first started talking about COVID, we were talking about how do we hunker down and how do we make it past the two weeks of quarantine or the two months of X or the three months of Y. And we're now realizing it's the next normal. We don't actually know what's going to happen. And that's really hard for our brains. In fact, it is more difficult for our brain to process uncertainty than bad news, then if I were to say to you, you're going to be stuck in quarantine for 10 years, your brain will actually like that a whole lot more than thinking that, "I don't know when we'll get out of quarantine."

It's also hard for our brain to process statistics. We weren't built for statistics. We were really built for concrete relational. So, when we're talking about probabilities of transmission rates and percentiles going to home or staying to work, those are the things that are really hard. So, they're causing a lot of impact on us today. So, we're forced to change at this moment and we can't help that. And we have feelings about change. People like to think that change is bad and there are reasons why we think change is bad. It feels bad for us in many ways. But we're going to talk about today, how do we describe things neutrally? Because our brain also doesn't process fiction. So, when I say something, it becomes recorded as fact, there's not a file for fiction. So, if I say "This is hard," it in fact becomes hard.

Now, we're going to have many more skills today than just reframing because a lot of people think that that is just wishing well. We'll have real tools to make it feel like there's relief. But change is just difference. Change isn't bad or good. So, back in my emergency response days, I used to do disasters specifically. I would respond to floods and I'd respond to fires. And I lived in Colorado at the time and literally be a one week responding to floods in Boulder and one week responding to fires out in more Western Colorado. And the way we would talk about the rain was different during those two weeks periods of time. When it was raining too much, the rain was terrible. It was awful. And when there was no rain, when there was a fire, the rain was a godsend, but neither it was actually descriptively what was happening, that it was either raining or not raining. So, that really does help us frame things.

So, let's get on. What is happening right now? There's a lot happening right now. All of you are working professionals, so one of the things that's really challenging is how in general people can come together right now. We're losing that time in which we collaborate and where we have these side conversations, where we get work done. One of the researches I didn't put on here is, 40% of the time where we're having water cooler conversations and being very innovative, that has decreased over time based on COVID. We're also having impacts in our family systems. Some people are seeing that their family has been negatively impacted. Some are saying it's a positive impact. Some are saying there's no change except for we're around them a lot more than we used to, so that changes it.

And more importantly, I have this infographic here from McKinsey. There are many, many studies, too many that we would take more than the hour we have today together to discuss the research just on women. They're talking about right now being the potential recession for women in the workplace, because of many of the things on this slide. That women are still doing the lion's share of the load of work at home as well as at work. So, if you have a two family home in which, two parent family home, in which one person is doing more of the work, you are literally working more. And those of you who have children know that being a parent is a full-time job on top of what's going on. And so, people are starting to make these choices because they don't know what else to do.

And one of the things that is really difficult right now is people are not sleeping enough. Women specifically are not sleeping enough. They're making lists, they're preparing to figure out what can be done. And when we don't sleep, we're not as effective. We're not as clear-headed. The research says that, "If you get less than five hours of sleep a day, it's like having three drinks, but without the fun side effects." It really is just the inebriated part, but with no buzz. And that's everyone. Less than 3% of the population can go on with less than five hours of sleep and you don't recover sleep. So, a lot of people think, "In 10 years I'll sleep it off." Or I did, at least after grad school, I was like, "I'll sleep when I'm done with grad school." We do not make up for lost sleep.

What we're also dealing with right now is overwhelm and overload. There's this COVID fog that we're talking about. Not the type after you've gotten COVID and you have some neurological challenges, but the type in which we aren't thinking clearly. And there's something called overload theory, the theory of how much we can actually hold in our brains. I like to think of a teacup because they're fun and kind of cute. It's there's this teacup and you can only pour so much tea in it before it starts spilling out the other end. And we're dealing with that right now. There's such a massive amount of information coming at us, whether it's these statistics, whether it's about the election, whether it's about the daily changing status of COVID and ways to deal with it, that it's hard to keep up. It's hard to process because we're trying to find a place to file all of this.

So, one of the most simple tricks that I'd like to tell you, which sounds really counterintuitive, is do not watch the news, not forever, but for the first hour of your day, do not watch the news. They've done studies that show that as little as three minutes of negative news within the first hour of your day increases your chances of having a bad day by 98%. And be very selective about what you're taking in, how you're taking it in because it's overwhelming all the time. And what women have to do, as you all know, because you're women, is women not only have to be professional, exceptional, smart employees, but we also have to be really kind, that's the expectation. We have this gender bias that we have to be kind. So, the other thing that's really happening right now, that's quite challenging is there's this cognitive dissonance. And our cognitive dissonance simply is my head and my heart disagree. Right? So, my head saying one thing in my heart saying something else.

The other big impact that's going on for women right now, in general, is there's a cognitive dissonance between how I'm feeling in my heart about what's going on in the world, about my children, about my spouse, about whether I'm going to be secure at work. And yet, I have to come to work and I have to do this, I have to smile. So, my head and my heart are disagreeing. I feel a certain way, but I'm going to have to project a certain image. So again, that's this double load that's being carried that has real consequences.

One of the things we're going to go through this whole webinar is really, lots of people think there's a difference between physiological, psychological and emotional, from a neuroscientific point of view, that is absolutely false. The three are interconnected in you. And if you're experiencing one thing in one area, it's absolutely translating to another area. So, we like to say, "If you can feel it, you can heal it." So, we're going to really talk about how we can get in touch with these unpleasant experiences, really learn from them, grow from them and actually end up in a place that we weren't before now. It's hard to think about many good things about COVID, but one of the good things is that it's forcing us into practices that can build resilience or anti-fragility that many of us may not have ever encountered before. It's creating muscles. We didn't know we needed. But that if we can get through this, we can do almost anything else.

Great. So, spent a lot of time on that slide. Sorry about that. As Marie mentioned, I'm these are usually in-person and because it's not right now, we want to make this a discussion for you. Don't worry, we'll give you all the content. I know you've gotten the deck already. We want it to be useful for you, but I'm also interested in the questions you had. So real time, if something I'm saying you either need more clarification or you have an example that you want to know if it fits in, just type it in. I know you can't voice it to me, but we'll have a discussion based on your feedback.

But today we're talking about the individual and the environment. So, if you're a leader in an organization, we're going to talk about your environment. But most importantly, we're talking about you because you have the power to change the systems you're in. Whether it's your family system, your organizational system, you name it, you have that power. And there's some things that are out of your control. And so, the question becomes when we meet that stimulus and we have to have a response, how do we respond in a way that is advantageous to us versus not being advantageous to us? So, for example, how many of us like to have a drink after a tough night? Well, we're inconsistent tough nights. So, knowing what alcohol does to our bodies, it feels nice. There's some immediate dopamine hit. But it's actually a depressant and it lowers our immune system, and it does some other things to our physiology. And I'm not telling you don't drink, that's a personal choice.

The question is though, those coping mechanisms we've had for our whole lifetimes that are meant to be for acute stress, a couple of weeks, a couple months, being applied today to long-term stress may actually have the reverse impact that we intended. And so, we're going to try to talk about some coping mechanisms that are sustainable, that not only if we employ them, do we feel better after? I know that's hard to think about right now, because there's a lot of things that we don't feel better about now, but we're going to talk about it.

So, what may be happening to you? You might be having a loss of commitment, increase of accidents, drop in accuracy, lower morale, decrease in productivity, an increase in stress, increase of conflicts, and you might be experiencing weight gain. Some people used to joke when COVID started, we're all at home that we're going to gain the COVID-19 right. It's kind of like the freshmen 15. Now there's a couple of reasons we gain weight. One is cortisol, which is literally just stress. And one is actually food-based. But we've done many, many studies to know that our weight gain has less to do with just the amount of calories we put in our body, but really about how our body responds to that.

And so, this is really challenging for people right now, is how do we feel better about ourselves when our bodies might not feel the same way that we feel about ourselves in this moment? And this increase in conflicts right now, believe it or not, they've studied loneliness. Now we're physically distancing. I choose that word specifically instead of social distancing, because that tells our brain to think that we're not with people, which is not necessarily true. We're not physically near people, but we can absolutely connect. But they've done studies on people who feel lonely. And when you feel lonely, you are 250%, more paranoid, more angry and more prone to snap at others. And to be snapped at. You're just prickly.

And the challenge about loneliness is, the moment that I feel lonely instead of going towards people because I'm in protection mode, I go away from people. So, loneliness begets more loneliness. So, really trying to figure out how to connect in meaningful ways that don't cost you, that don't also deplete you because we might not have the reservoirs to be able to be caretaking for people. So, that might be another reason why we're taking space is because it feels like we keep giving and giving and we're not getting nourished. So, we're going to talk today about some skills to really build your own nourishment here.

Great. So, everyone's heard of resilience? You guys have all heard about resilience, grit? They're all the things we need to have. Get it. Got it. Good. I need it. But what is it? So, resilience studies and antifragility studies really started coming out of trauma. There are three trauma responses. One is, I encounter a trauma, and trauma is simply for today, we'll define it this way, trauma is the experience of something anticipated to happen that didn't or something that shouldn't have happened that did. That's how our body experiences trauma. Now I'm not talking about levels of severity, but that is a traumatic experience. So, in events of trauma, there are three responses.

One is, I have a failure to cope and I have a failure to thrive after. I'm not myself anymore. I just, I can't, I'm broken. Now, women know this, all of you were on the phone video here today, nothing has broken you yet. It is unlikely to break you, situations that are unfathomable, you worked through somehow. And then there's this other response, which is that resilience, where I'm able to bounce back. Think of a bouncy ball where I throw it against the wall and it comes and I catch it in my hand. It's the same size, it's the same shape. So, it comes back to its original form and it can either be group or individual resilience. So, that's response two. And the third response, this is anti-fragility. I call it resilience 2.0, because when I throw that bouncy ball against the wall, when it comes back, it comes back bigger and it's faster and it's better. So, you actually move through that trauma and you become something else. You are able to face those challenges. You are able to thrive and you've created some new skills.

So, as much as resilience is the buzz word for the day, resilience turns you into the version you were, pre COVID. And although that woman was probably pretty cool, the woman you are today is hopefully much better than that. And so, the question is, how do we come through it having learned skills versus just trying to be who we were before? And we're different people each day. We know that with neuro-plasticity. So, I don't want to be my old version. I want to be the next iteration of who I can be, I don't want to be limited by that.

So, this is a model for resilience or anti-fragility. Acronyms are helpful because it's kind of long, but it's the spiritual. And this doesn't, not pushing any religion or saying that the practice that you keep of faith, if you keep one, is important or not important, but it's about meaning. It's finding meaning in the world and being present for what's happening now. What often deprives us of joy and our ability to cope is either thinking about the past and ruminating on what happened. And we'll talk about rumination because it's very common for women, statistically. Or what will happen in the next moment. Can I be better? Can I do more? It robs us from experiencing this moment.

And then there's the physical. There's actually this physical body, because believe it or not, and you all heard when you were kids, "You are what you eat." That is also true. We're also what we do. So, are we exercising enough? And there's the intellectual piece in which they've done studies that part of why people do not feel fulfilled is that they're not engaging themselves in deep learning, learning about things well and knowing them and an exchanging in that.

And then the relational. How do we be with one another? We're absolutely social animals. And in fact, this has been studied over and over again. When they started studying attachment in adults, they found out in the UK when they started creating orphanages, and they're trying to do this to be very helpful, not creating orphanages, but they started standardizing orphanages to try to make sure that orphans didn't die. What they did is they made it really sanitary. So, they made it so sanitary and they cleaned these little babies and they put them in those bassinets and they separated from each other. And they had a higher mortality rate than when all these babies were dirty and hanging out with each other. It's because they actually can't survive without people. We cannot survive without people. But what we need is quality, not quantity of relationship. And we'll talk about that.

And then emotional. This is really our emotional responses, being in touch with our emotions, understanding our emotions, even those that are unpleasant. And why I say even those that are unpleasant is there's one emotional pathway in our body. My, it's not like my unpleasant emotions go one side, my pleasant go the other. It is one highway. And so, when you cut off that highway, you actually lessen your ability to be in touch with your emotions.

So, this is what I call aspire check in. This is something you can use for yourself every day if you want to, every few minutes, if you need to. Where it gives you two questions under these five areas that checks in with how you're doing. And then I ask you to ascribe it, give it a number. So, spiritually, I might be doing a five today and I might be doing a six on physical. Rundown the list, you give it a number first and then describe why. And it may take you a moment because many of us are so used to just doing and taking care of others that we don't actually take care of ourselves. So, describe it. What is making me feel like a five in spiritual and an eight in emotional? Then, after that, you write yourself a prescription. How do I bring that number up just one? Because we're not looking for you to do 10 out of 10 every time, that's impossible. What we've learned with change is if we can just do small successes, fractional success, they will build more success. That's one of the other things when we feel overwhelmed right now is it might seem insurmountable to be everything to everyone at every limit.

MA:Okay, great. I wanted to know if you could talk a little bit more about physical well-being, and what are some of the concrete steps one can take in that area?

Natalie McVeigh:Absolutely. Physical well-being is one of the first things that goes under stress. It's one of the things that goes for most of us in general. It's one of the things we don't make time for. We lose something with our kids if we get up too early or we work out too late. You name it. But during stress, when we need it most, because when we exercise, we create endorphins, we increased serotonin in our body, physical well-being usually stops. One of the ways you can get physical well-being is to, even just, take a walk for 30 minutes. They've done studies on this, that low impact exercises are sometimes much more effective than large, cardiovascular exercises for the group.

That's one of the ways. I'm happy. We'll talk about some of these throughout. I'll give examples for each one, concretely. I got a question from a woman that asked if I have a private practice or work with smaller groups. Yes. I am an executive coach. I do work through EisnerAmper, but I do work on one-on-one with teams. We can really create a project for you all to figure out how to do this.

But what I'd ask you to do, when you're creating these checklists, is figure it out for you. With relation, and we'll get into this if you're extroverted or introverted, does it mean one meaningful relationship, or does it mean many, and figure out how you can do something.

What I would encourage you to do is pick three days a week. You're going to do some physical thing, whatever it is, and then do that attached to another habit. We're going to talk more about habit stacks later. But habits are most successful when you can put them with a habit that already exists.

We'll move on. That's the starting bed of resilience. Now, we're talking about anti-fragility. How do we do anti-fragility? We focus on the positive and learn from the painful. It isn't just wishful thinking. We're not all Pollyanna. I don't want you to have rose-colored glasses. I don't want, when I ask you, "How you're doing?" for you to say, "Fine, fine, fine." In fact, one of the best tools for combined resilience is to say, "How are you doing, really?" to your friends. That "really" is important, and that pause is important. Because in the United States, we're used to saying, "How are you doing?" and everyone says, "Fine, fine." Then, you get really irritated when the cashier you asked actually tells you about their day, and you're like, "Ah, that is not what I wanted. I wanted to just say our normal greeting of hi."

This is not about "hi" anymore. This is about "how are you doing?" We're honest, and we share where we genuinely are. Because that cognitive dissonance I talked about before, the more you tell me when you were fine when you were not fine, is the farther apart that you and I will stay. We're not actually connecting. There's a part of our brain called the temporoparietal junction that loves connection. It is all that it wants. All I want to do is be connected to you. The more facade you put up, the harder it is. One of the great things about COVID, we're learning, is that well-being in organizations is actually being considered more than it used to. In the 1980s, they did a study that said organizations that can talk about emotions, not just the pleasant but that the painful ones, that was the biggest litmus test for a healthy organization.

Now, I'm not telling you to go to your boss or your biggest client and cry. That is not the point. Crying is an absolutely okay emotion. Use it with a time and a place, but focus on the positive and learn from the painful. Because in the paradigm of emotional intelligence, emotions are teaching us something.

Anger is teaching us about boundaries, motivation, direction. Anxiety is trying to teach us about what could go wrong. So what is the emotion telling us? What can we do about it? Focusing on past successes help us create future successes. You are all successful women. The Listserv we sent this too is highly accomplished, competent women that know EisnerAmper in some way, shape, or form. So you have the skillset. How do we take those strengths and apply them in the future?

They've done research on this. If I can use 6% of my strengths, I am 60% more effective. Rather than spending so much effort trying to curtail the 10% of the things I'm not good at, if I just focus on my strengths, I can do better. Then, when we have a physical and psychological state that are in attunement, when they're really going well, which is why that trying to take care of my physical body is important, we create a corollary that is a powerful force for change.

One of the things with my private practice clients, when we do coaching, sometimes when someone tells me they're going to do something, I say, "Great." This was pre-COVID, and when we could be in the room with one another. I would tape masking tape on the floor in front of them. I would say, "When you are ready to actually be committed to this thing that you say you're going to do, whether it's exercise every day or read a chapter of a book before bed, I want you to take a step over the line." You would see these people start to lift their foot immediately, and then they'd stop. Then, they'd stand back. They'd sit, and they'd right themselves. Some people would take 10 minutes to step over that line. These concrete things we do in our mind and our body together, these kinesthetic, are cemented in us. Then, our attitudes impact the behavior. If I feel better, I do better.

Often people believe that motivation needs to come to us. We're sitting, and we're waiting for motivation. We're waiting for the spark, but the research says the opposite. Of the 70% of really honest Americans who say that they do procrastinate, most of them are waiting because to get the motivation. The research says the opposite. If you do, the motivation will follow. There is a way that we behave as though what we do.

Then, this is the good news about the bad moods. They actually do something for us. We form arguments better because don't you know the opposite of everything you want when you're having a bad day? I sure do. I can list them in all the ways. It increases our argument skills. It improves our memory because our brain remembers negative things more times than positive. It encourages perseverance. Because if everything were rosy, if everything were dandy, I wouldn't have to work so hard. It makes us polite and attentive. Now, we might not always display that attentive. It should be polite or attentive is how it should be phrased because I might be polite to you because I'm not feeling good, so I'm being a little bit distant, or I might really be paying attention to you because I have my critical lens on because I'm feeling defensive.

When we don't feel well, it encourages generosity. Part of that encouraging generosity is in those moments when we're not feeling well. We might actually let someone do something for us in a way that we don't usually be. Women have to pick up the world and take care of everything. I'm sure you can all remember a time where a colleague, maybe, bought you a cup of coffee, and it just surprised you. It was the thing that you needed, or someone offered to take something off your desk, and you felt so cared for, and you want to be just as generous.

It makes us less prone to confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is a very powerful bias that our brain uses because we like ourselves. Our brain wants us to be right. It convinces us that we're right. What this says is, "When I'm in a bad mood, because I'm judgmental of myself, it allows me to see things that might not always be my way."

Those emotions are important. They're also teaching us something, taking the good with the bad. They're not actually good or bad. But people's experience with them, because one feels more pleasant than the other, really helps us not cut off an experience of ourselves and knowledge we have that is very useful.

Why is change hard? Because that's what we're talking about. This change has been nonstop, constant, every day, exhausting. Why is change hard? Change is hard for a few reasons, but the main one is behavior. We're going to go through this in detail, but studies show that over half of our behavior during our waking time is habitual. Half of our behaviors are habitual. We create habits for very good reasons. When we have to create new habits, which all of us are doing, whether it's working from home or homeschooling or Zoom calling, or who knows what it is, I can't even imagine naming all the habits I've had to create during COVID. I don't think you could. We're creating them and creating new behaviors. It's using a different part of our brain. It's exhausting. It feels exhausting.igo

Then, there are biases. Again, the way we process information, we'll get into those in more detail in a second, that are simple, because our brain is magnificent, does lots of things. We're not using 10% of our brain. That's a falsity. We use 100% of our brain, both sides at the same time, but it is trying to do things for us because it's so complex, so fast. It's trying to say A to B. It doesn't want to do A to C. It always wants to do A to B. That's where biases live. They live in things that we've known from the past, these models that we built for us about the way the world works. When complexity happens, the processing on our brain has to be much more complex.

It takes time. Now, it's not time that you see because many of you are probably saying, "Yes, I hear you. Fog exists. But I'm just as fast as I was six, seven months ago." You may be. On your top brainwaves, your beta brainwaves, the ones that you're aware of, but your theta brainwaves, they're taking so much time to solve these problems. They're thinking about it. We'll get into all of these as we go. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this slide. This really just says, "If you're still wondering that you need to make a change," my guess is that you're on this webinar because you're pretty sold that you want to make a change, "that this is why we have to."

The leadership profile of the future is changing. One of the things that we researched that we're finding is that the most important feature of leadership now is what's called a frictionless mind. That is, if you can tell me something I might disagree with, I might not like, I might want to have a reaction to this not positive. I can't remember the right word for that. I can take it and do something with it versus being stopped by it. This deck and this presentation today will start you on your journey for having a frictionless mind.

MA:Natalie, is that, the frictionless mind, one of the most important leadership skills to focus on, or is there something else to focus on?

Natalie McVeigh:The frictionless mind and, really, that is one. The other piece I think is that you make a difference. If we're not taking care of ourselves, think of that analogy of putting on your mask first. That's really the thing that matters the most. Because if you are not well, you cannot be all of the things that you need to be for everyone else in your life. We know this from research. I know this from being a woman, myself, and being a parent. You end up being everything to everyone. None of us want to do that poorly, and we will always do that poorly if we do not start with ourselves. You are your most important resource. I'm here today to try to help you take care of that. You cannot replenish you just like you cannot make up for sleep that is lost.

Great. We're going to talk about behaviors and habits. There are two separate studies done by wonderfully prestigious universities. Their math is spot on. I mean, they're spitting distance apart, is that our behaviors are done in habit. They're done without us knowing them. I think all of you can remember a time in which you were driving, and you were trying to get home. The last thing you remember is being at the place you were at, and then you're at home. Now, clearly, you got there safe and fine, but you zoned out because the way that you get home is habitual. You don't even think about it anymore. You know where to turn. It talks about how you perform the behavior, not what the behavior is, or if you're doing it well.

We've all heard that old adage of 10,000 hours makes a master, kind of. Ten thousand hours, doing the right thing, the right way all the time makes a master. Ten thousand hours doing the wrong thing, the wrong way makes a jerk, I don't know, not a master. The thing about the behavior we're talking about is its habit. We're not saying you're good, or you're bad, but it's there.

Many of our habits aren't good for us. We're finding that out during COVID. They're, especially, not good for prolonged stress, but habits are amazing. They help you achieve success in emergencies. I mentioned I was an EMT. If you've ever taken CPR, and I think you have, you spend a whole day doing it. By the end, if you're doing it right, this part of your muscle is hurt, not your shoulders. If your shoulders are hurt, you're not doing it right. But it's because you're pumping so much that your muscle starts being sore. We make you do CPR so many times in that day that, hopefully, in an emergency, you will have muscle memory that remembers how to take care of that person without thinking about it. We're trying to build habits for you.

Habits make us able to focus on the things that are important. Again, EMT skills, I always think about bleeding, first, because people can bleed out. Then, it's breathing. Bleeding then breathing, believe it or not. Even though in CPR, they're always talking about breathing, we're not going to get into CPR right now. The point is, there's a way that our habits narrow. They narrow for a reason because you need to be focused. You need to be laser-focused on fixing things. It's the reason why the moment you all started having budget problems around COVID, everyone had a tightening of the belt. Even if your company is going to thrive and survive, we started thinking about expenses first. What expenses don't we need? That's where everyone's mind went. That is what habits help us do.

They're inordinately successful until they go away until we can't do that thing anymore. Then, the question is, "What do we do?" We have to build new habits, but that takes time, and it comes from a different part of our brain. It's not as automatic. That's that exhaustion. They're intentional. Now, that habits we're talking about a second ago, they're not intentional anymore. They are second nature for you, but they came up over time. We're going to really try to figure out what habits are still trying to stay with us that aren't working, and how do we build new ones that will.

There's been some fantastic research about things that people are learning during COVID that they would like to keep in the future. There are going to be some things that we don't want to keep, but they probably can't go back to how they were.

We're going to talk about biases for just a second. Biases are how our brain works. You've probably all heard of the phrase "unconscious bias." I'm here to tell you that's not a thing. It's called implicit bias. Our brain has these biases that are built-in because we're trying to make sense of the world. People like to call it unconscious because we don't know about it, but we actually do. They're just given. Our brain had biases to keep us safe. Because at some point in time, we had to figure out if that shadowy creature was a saber tooth tiger or our spouse coming home, or you don't love dinosaurs, think about the Spanish Inquisition. That was not a great time for anyone. We had to know. Friend or foe?

Biases are us saying, "How do we make ourselves safe? How do we make things easier, and how do we keep going on with the behaviors that work?"

The first one is status quo. If it's not broken, let's not fix it. Let's completely think how things are. I would say one of the things we're talking about during COVID is really strategic pivoting, working on your own self, figuring out how to be even better because that agility is going to be where you're going. Status quo doesn't always work, not invented here, is really the idea of, "I didn't think about it. Not important." Argument from authority is, especially the unnamed authority. You've always heard this. They won't like this. You're like, "Who is 'they'? Who is 'they'?" But it helps us to say, "This is the way we do things here, and we're not going to do that."

Argument from age. "I'm older than you. I know better. Be quiet." Or young, impetuous people, "I'm younger than you, and I know everything." Then, there's the overconfidence bias. We all have this overconfidence bias. We all believe we're much more, well, women less so than men, statistically, because women have imposter syndrome that really plagues them, but people in general, we like to think that we're better at things than we are. We will say that. Some large amount of people think they're exceptional drivers, and they're not. A lot of people like to think that they're more generous than other people. Then, they'll also say the reverse. I think it's something like 95% of people believe they're more generous and more law-abiding than others. They would say that the reverse is true, that 95% of people are not.

In fact, when criminals were surveyed, the same survey, they also believe that they were much more law-abiding than other people. Yet, they were incarcerated for actually breaking laws. Then, there's confirmation bias, which we talked about earlier, which is, I'm just looking for data that proves that I'm right.

Then, there's the closeness communication bias. If you remember nothing else from what I say today, this is the thing to remember. We believe the people we love, we know the best. We believe that we know them so well that we're going to do them the great favor of not listening to them anymore, ever again, because we know what they're going to say. We're absolutely convinced that we know what they're going to say. Whether it's our children or our spouses or our siblings, we stop listening. At some point in time, you hear all your spouse's stories, and you do stop listening. It just happens. But we believe that there's nothing new that they're going to say, and so we stop listening to them. Then, we do not hear them when there is new information.

It is also what robs us of being present. That's where relationships erode, when we stopped paying attention to one another. I know it's probably hard. Those of you who were at home with your family, it might not feel like a bad thing at this moment if your relationship erodes. But if we aren't still curious, if we aren't still willing to think that they have something to say, we will absolutely destroy relationships.

One of the things I encourage you to say, if you can't think of a genuine question, when somebody that you love says something is just say, "Tell me more about that." Because I might think that my sister is telling me that she thinks I should go to vegetarian because I think it's an ethical reason. This actually happened to me. She kept wanting me to go vegetarian. I finally said, "Nicole, tell me more about that." Nicole told me about all the health benefits and that she'd read about this blood type diet, and we're the same blood type because we're siblings, and that meats are actually harder for us to process. That was interesting to me. I was like, "I may not become vegetarian" although I did. But I was interested then. I let my sister surprise me, even though I've known her, she's older than me, my entire life.

So if you can't think of a genuine question, if you are not genuinely interested, just say, "Tell me more about that," and see what happens. Then, the best bias is the narrative bias. We love stories. There's a part of our brain. It literally tickles our ears when we hear something personal. All of you are probably heard me talking to my sister, and you're like, "Ooh, her sister. Not just research." It tickles our ears.

For you, if you want to make change in your company, in your family, in your community, creating a story is going to be the way to do that. It's going to be very helpful.

MA:Natalie. A lot of this sounds like it's underneath the surface. How do we notice that and notice these things in ourselves? How do we raise awareness?

Natalie McVeigh:Yeah, that's a great question, Marie. One of the things that I think is, I constantly ask myself, "How true is that really?" I do it when I'm feeling negative. It's not because I want to be happy all the time. I think that's ridiculous, but it's because when I'm becoming negative, I start shutting down the information I'm allowing to happen. I don't want that because the results that happen, when you talk about not hearing other people, is that we get less innovative. We get less creative. We get less collaborative, and we get stupid, actually. A recent research study came out. You've probably heard that 70% of success is anything outside of your IQ. It's 20%, is IQ. Well, a recent study that was just released by Nobel laureate James Heckman said it's 1 to 2% of your success is based on your IQ, your intelligence quotient. 90% is based on other factors, and those factors are the ability to study hard or work hard. So it's that perseverance, it's that grit, it is that ability to encounter information differently than yours. It could be called agreeableness, in some way, shape, or form. That doesn't mean you have to acquiesce. And then the other piece, is being collaborative. So they call these factors conscientiousness.

So if I want to be successful, the question is, how do I open up to things that might be different? So if you're ever thinking in black and white and the urge to say no comes out of your mouth, that's what you want to start paying attention to. Does that answer your question, Marie?

MA:Yes. Thank you.

Natalie McVeigh:So here are the models. These are our mental models we built. Any of you have a little kid know that why is their favorite word. Why, why, why, why, why? And at some point in time, we try to encourage them to stop saying why, which is really sad. But they're growing brain cells at an amazingly fast rate, an incredible rate. It's also the reason why we thought adults weren't growing brain cells, and we know that that's not true.

We say what's fires together, wires together. We are absolutely creating new brain cells every day and every moment of the day, but children do it at an alarmingly fast rate. And they're building worlds. They're creating these massive worlds that's like LEGOs, basically, in their head. But one of the things we start doing as adults is we start defending our models, especially over the age of 40.

There's a research study that says teenagers and people over the age of 40 do one thing in common. They do not learn from negative information. So it's like when you tell your teenager, "You're going to run into a wall if you do that," and they say no, and then they run into the wall. It's better to say, "It would be great if you took this route because you'll see something cooler."

So we defend our models. We think we've made sense of the world, and we're pushing everything else away. So one of the things I ask is, "How can this enhance decision-making?" Or to scenario plan, when we can do what's called transformative scenario planning together where we can do a pre-mortem or a post-mortem on an idea of what our desired future looks like. It's much more impactful than trying to defend the way it's always been, because this advice might not have been true nine months ago, but there's nothing like the way it's always been. That just isn't going to work, and us trying to stick with it and pull that with us is just like carrying a bag of weight behind us.

So there are varying pain points for people during COVID. And those pain points have to do with your own orientation, whether you are outgoing or reserved, is usually how people thought about extroversion and introversion, for years. If you talk a lot or you talk a little, you're either extroverted or introverted. That isn't true. Introversion or extroversion is really about where I get my energy from. If I'm an extrovert, I get my energy from people, from connecting with people. If I'm an introvert, I get my energy from being alone. So believe it or not, a lot of my extroverted friends would say that COVID is the worst for them. They thought it was the worst for them. They were crawling the walls, because they thought they needed to be with more than just their family. Now, I'm not saying that isn't true, that extroverts don't want and need more stimulation. They do. However, introverts who are stuck with, we say safe at home, but sometimes it feels like we're stuck at home. If we're stuck at home with family members, we are probably not actually getting time alone. And so, people are having different pain points around their experience for COVID.

So one of the things, for you, is to try to figure out if you're an introvert or an extrovert, and how to actually facilitate that. Introversion genuinely needs time alone, reading, bath time usually works for introverts. For extroverts, even though they like quantity of interaction, it's quality of interaction that'll be helpful. And really good Zoom calls or phone calls, one-on-one, work really well with extroverts, so they can feel like they're getting to know someone. Whereas introverts don't mind being on those big Zoom calls, because they can get away with not saying a lot.

So trying to figure out where you are on the scale, and the specific tools that you need would be really, really helpful. And then the last piece of that model we were talking about that get in the way, is the complexity. And there's complexity in the organization and complexity in the individual. And there are ways that we're asked to be in organizations, relative to that complexity. And it's a little bit unfair, because we're asked to usually be team players, to follow along, to be really kind, and be really nice, but that's not for complex activities. That's not for a complex world.

And eventually, usually when you go higher and higher up in the ranks, and you're in the C-suite, you become this self-transforming mind, this leader who problem solves and is interdependent, which is I can problem solve with you, but many of us are stuck in this self-authoring place, where I'm agenda driven, I'm going to get my tasks done. I'm going to be very process-oriented. I'm very tactical. Even though we like to say strategic, when we're talking about tactics, because it sounds better. We're often just executing tactics. I want to be independent. I want to know that I'm Natalie, because I'm not Marie. And it's going to be hard for Marie and I to collaborate and interdependent.

And so the question here, for you, is at what stage of change are you, and what is your organization asking you for? Now I know you're all business women, so when you're thinking organization, you might be thinking your company, but I'm also asking the organization of your family. And I'm asking you that, because that's where I'm hearing from most women I work with that is the challenge. It's both at home, and it's at work, and it's all coming on you. So you might need to be self-authoring at home and you might need to be transforming at work, or the reverse is true. If you are really stuck in that socialized mind place, email me. We can talk about it, because that isn't going to work for either situation, because of the complexity is just undeniably high at these times.

So, we now know everything we're facing. The question is, what do we do about it? So the main thing you can do is increase your emotional energy. Emotional energy is increasable. It is something you can do and you can do on your own or with others, that really makes you feel better. So I'll give an example of what emotional energy feels like. I'm not a runner. I don't like running, but I like Habitat builds. I've always done Habitat builds and I could do a 12-hour Habitat build one day, where I'm putting in drywall, exerting all kinds of physical energy, and I should come home dead tired. Right? That should be my experience. But instead, I come home excited and energized, and I could, maybe, run a mile that day. I don't. That is emotional energy. That is not physical energy. Our physical energy is set, but we have both emotional energy and physical energy.

So the question is, what gives you emotional energy? And right, we can't do Habitat builds right now. So I'm not asking you to do things that you can't do. But the question is, from this list, what are things you can do, and what can you do for your family? A lot of people experience boredom right now, and they're unhappy because things are the same. So surprising people, and this activities button is a hotlink to activities you can do is helpful. Now, it's hard to surprise yourself, but you can surprise your spouse or your kids. Music, specifically music from our teens and our 20s, have an emotional connection to us. It's why we still like that music and our kids end up calling them oldies, because they were from a part of our life when we were growing and changing and things were new. Plants really are useful. They're a living thing we don't have to care about. They oxygenate the world. And believe it or not, bright colors, obnoxiously bright colors, really do invigorate us. So if you want to wear a bright color, or if you want to put a bright color around yourself, that is really important, but the more variety you can have, the more possible.

There's a great book. It's called The Emotional Energy Factor, and I forget the name of the author. I think it's Mira something, that has one chapter in it that literally just has a list of 25 ways to get emotional energy. And I've coached even my CEO clients, just try all of them, even if they seem woo-woo or silly, and find the one or two that work for you. And you can really increase that emotional energy to draw from when you need it, so that you're not dragging all the time. So that it's not such an effort that you can actually find a real joy in the things that you're doing, in your office, with others. And then, really don't rake yourself over the coals. That's the most important part. There's guilt, and then there's shame. Guilt is, I did something bad. So naturally, we make mistakes all the time. Shame is, I am bad. It is the most exhausting, most depleting emotion. So the more we internalize these failures of shame versus embracing that we're all perfectly imperfect. We're just human. We're going to say I made a mistake and I'm happy to do something else, is really important. I did, I made, I have, is going to be really, really important.

A question just came in that said, "How can I get over being someone that doesn't like to ask for help?" That is a really good question. And I think the answer is, think about it as collaboration, and think about it as support. I try not to say help, even when I work with my clients. I say, "How can I support you?" Because I don't believe adults need help. I believe that everyone needs support. We all need connection, and we all need to feel like we've been seen and we've been heard. And so, for the woman who asked this question, and thankfully she did, because my guess is many other people have the same thought is, how can you support someone else? And how can they support you? And you are stronger together than apart, might be a good reframe for help. And believe it or not, work-wise actually, they've done studies on this. You are seen as more successful and more likable, if you ask colleagues for help, you're seen as more competent, and people like to help other people. Yes, if you ask the wrong person for help, they'll never let you forget it. But I think at the end of the day, it's going to make you more successful. And it's going to take things off your plate. But if you can think about it as support, and think about it as mutual, and think about it as reciprocal, that'll be more helpful.

I had another question come in that says, "How do you combat what ifs?" I'd like some more details about the what ifs, specifically. I don't know what those are, a hundred percent, but my guess about the what ifs is really, if this, then that. I'm always afraid of what may happen next. And at the end of the day, and this is that part about, we're in uncertain times, and our brain does not process that well. So what ifs are really us just trying to know. Our brains just desperately trying to know, and we're not going to. We're not going to know. So the question becomes, with the information I have, with the things I'm allowed to do, can I make a decision, and can this be a decision I'm okay with? And that's really where you want to go. Your next best decision.

I put that picture of the brain up early. You can probably look at it later. There are four parts of our brain. We call them four brains, and then there's our heart-brain. And then there's our gut-brain. There are glial cells that go from our gut to our brain. Those gut instincts often may be right. And if you feel calm when you're making a decision, that's your heart-brain calibrating saying that it's probably a good decision. And so those are some other litmus tests to take. If you wanted to meditate or make yourself calm, to really sit and try on decision, act as though you're doing it.

And these are the change impacts today, there's technical, adaptive and competing. Technical are very simple. I'm going to pick up some skills. Adaptive are slightly more complex. But why we fight change, is if it competes with our values. So if we're having a hard time executing on something, let's get clear on what it's competing with, for you, to really make those decisions in the future.

This is my favorite tool that I'm sharing with you all today, and I think it's very, very helpful. For you, again, you can use this slide. This is from Appreciative Inquiry, where we studied in organizations, how they do well. And for many, many years, until the '90s, we kept asking why these organizations were terrible. And they kept staying terrible, surprisingly. It was the question we were asking. We should've been asking those people in the organization and those things that are going well, why did they go well? And when we started doing that, we realized a model for making organizational and individual change. And it's remembering the positive past. We've talked about that earlier. The things that I am good at, naturally, is unequivocally good at, like, I'm good at being a nerd, right? Write that down. What am I good at? Make a list of all the things I'm good at in a situation, very similar to the situation right now. And imagine that fantastic future. I like alliteration, so it's silly, but it's fun.

 What is that thing that I want? But what is that thing that I want, really, that is important. How do I see myself getting there? And by when? And then we move it down to the concrete commitment. That is where I break it down to no more than a year. And then I'll do six months. And I do three months. I do a day, and I do a week. And these are the commitments I'm making to myself. What does it feel like? What does it taste like? I can write down that vision, and everything about it, what I'll be wearing when it happens. And then the fourth is, realizing authentic action, it is those concrete steps I'm taking, who have I told about it? Who is holding me accountable for this? And we've done research on this. Habit change happens most when you're doing it as a group. There's much more success there.

MA:Natalie, is there a limit as to how often you can use this goal-setting technique?

Natalie McVeigh:There's not a limit for how often you can use the goal-setting technique. What I would encourage people to do, and we're going to go through the Habit Stack in a minute, is to not try to do more than three things at once. Partly, because our brain can only remember three things, but it can feel very overwhelming. The LA Lakers were the most losing team for a very long time. And then their coach had this brilliant idea, where he asked every person on the team to be 1% better in five areas, 1% better in five areas. I can't even think what it would look like for me to be 1% better in five different areas, but it's very minimal thing. So for them, it was concrete. It was basketball, like being better at passing to someone, or whatever. I don't pay attention to basketball that much. But what happened is they became the most winning team. They won the most NBA championships after that. 1%, five different things.

So yes, there's no limit to this, but being realistic about the changes and being concrete. I mean, concretize, the goals that you were talking about, by what it looks like, how it's going to happen. And in that fantastic future, if you want to make a vision board you can, or doing, what's called a better self journal of who you will be, and how you will know it has happened. So if I want a promotion, yes, you can put in the salary, but how I will know I will have the promotion. I'm thought of as a thought leader, I've done X, Y, and Z, really setting that out, putting this together, is very, very helpful and meaningful for making realistic change.

So we're going to talk about the Habit Stack, because this is going to be part of that concrete, that fourth step, is really saying, "Okay, now I'm concretizing the habits I'm creating." So you can make a list of the three daily habits you want to create. And context, repetition, and reward make a habit. So the context is what happened before the thing.

So I'll use an example. I grew up in Italy, as I mentioned. I used to smoke. Everyone smoked in Italy. And I used to smoke at the bar, not bars here, like at night, but the cappuccino bar, that you go to in the morning, you get cappuccino. You'd go there at lunch. You'd go there all the time. So I always smoked at the cappuccino bar. I wasn't a smoker, smoked really at other times, but I smoked when I was socializing. And then the repetition was that I was smoking. And the reward was, I don't know, tasted good, felt good. I don't know something. I don't know. But that was my habit. That's how I smoked. It took me a very, very long time to understand when I wanted to decide to smoke that the context was the cappuccino bar. It wasn't anything else. I always thought it was we smoked when we socialized. So when I stopped smoking, I just stopped going to the cappuccino bar. What I didn't do though, was to stop socializing. I asked my friends to meet me somewhere else, and they didn't mind.

And so, we still did the thing that I liked, but away from the context that exists. And so, understanding our context were most often confused about the context for a habit. We usually have something close to it, but we don't actually know the context. So spend some time figuring out the context. And then what you do, is try to find the habit, and put it next to another habit that you already have. So here's an example here, that somebody walks their dog every morning and they want to start running. So what they do is, the moment they get up next to the leash, they put on their running shoes and they walk the dog, and then they go run. Now they don't run instead of walking the dog, because that usurps the existing habit. They walk the dog with the running shoes, with the intention to run after. And most of the time, when you've taken those steps to go and do that, you can start exercising.

So there was a young woman I was coaching recently. She does one of the, what they're called anchor habits. There are anchor habits that actually help you create other new habits better. Believe it or not, they're making your bed and flossing. So, and I was coaching this young woman, and she didn't make her bed. But what she did do every morning, is she took her PJ's off and folded them and put them at the bottom of her bed. That was her morning habit. And I asked her, how could she do that and also make her bed? And she kind of looked at me. She thinks that making beds are really stupid, because you just get in them anyway. And I was like, "I get that. I get that. But I'm wondering, how could you do it?" And she said, "Well, I could probably fold my PJ's and put them under my pillow. And then I could just pull up my blanket then." So she moved her pile of her things and she did, she end up doing that, and she created a bunch of other habits. So the question is to find habits that already exist, that are working for you. I do not want you reinforcing habits that don't work for you. That's not going to work out very well. But the habits that you have that are working for you, and how can you stack these concrete commitments in there?

And again, no more than three, and try to make a reward. So that's the other piece, is we want that reward. So believe it or not, people who want to start exercising, if they give themselves one piece of dark chocolate, again, dark chocolate has health benefits, antioxidants, you name it, they end up losing more weight than people who work out without any reward. So there is some idea of adding in some things that still make you feel good. You want a dopamine hit. Dopamine is what makes us feel good. It's why we do these habits. It's why we continue to make these changes. And you want to do these habits for at least 65 days. You've all heard that it takes 21 days to create a habit. That is not true.

There are two habits, and they're not habits you're trying to create that can be created in 21 days, but it is 65 to 99 days to create a habit. And this has been studied over and over again, unless you can absolutely remove the context from your life. And in many cases, when we're talking about COVID, our context is the same over and over again. So we're not going to be able to completely remove the context, but we can change up the context.

Ah, great question. Someone asked a question, "How do you Habit Stack when you want to break a habit?" There's some interesting research on this. So if I tell you not to think about the purple elephant, you're going to think about the purple elephant. So part of the habit we want to reduce, we want to stop thinking about, because habits are neural pathways. And we have deep neural pathways, especially around negative things, whether it's overeating or anger, we have created very deep neural pathways in our brain. Just think about walking in the snow, and the more you've walked in the snow, you've got a deeper trench. So negative patterns never go away. They lessen their intensity. So you want to substitute habits. So a lot of people tell me, they want to stop snacking. Some people have noticed that they've started snacking when they're in COVID. So instead of reducing snacking period, you can switch it out with pistachios, and you can use your left hand if you're right hand dominant. So you're still doing the thing, but your left hand, since your right hand is dominant, makes you more aware. It's not as easy, so every time you reach for a snack, you're actually more aware of it, you become more conscious. There's other ways that you can substitute habits, but just thinking about the habit you don't want isn't terribly helpful. It also can't come from a deprivation mindset. So if I decide, I don't want to eat treats anymore. The moment I say that, and I know I have a treat in my house is literally the moment my brain has made up that I'm going to eat treats. I have decided that already even though I'm saying the opposite words. So it would be finding something else that's a healthy alternative that works out.

So someone asked. I stated that we shouldn't watch news in the morning. What would I suggest then? People, this person loves to watch Gayle King and team, and that would be a hard habit to break. I don't know how negative Gail is or not and the timing. So it's within the first one to three hours of your day is the suggestion to not watch negative news. So what I would suggest is you do anything else. You can create a mindfulness practice, and we're going to talk about that. You can go work out. You can do something to end up getting, to watch your show and balance it out by something more positive.

The challenges in my experience with the news right now in the United States is it's very polarizing and it's very negative. It always has been. In fact, there is a book that came out early 2000s, like fear-mongering or something. Our news is meant to be sensationalized. And so I'm not saying never watched the news. However, in the first one to three hours, if you can try to find something more balanced, something that doesn't send you off kilter. And that would be very similar to this idea of substituting more positive habits versus focusing on breaking a different habit.

One of the things people do as well for when you're trying to create new habits or stop another habit is they create a talisman. They have something physical and tangible, but again, you're thinking about something else. So for me, this is presence. It's not about being distracted by work, because that's my issue. I love to work. It is about remembering to be present. So you can create your talisman that reminds you of the positive thing you want to achieve versus what you want to get rid of.

Yes. A woman said you could listen to music instead of watching the news. That's another alternative to the news. The question is though, if Gail King and team brings you pleasure, more pleasure than pain, and it's not as negative, then keep those small pleasures. This is not the time to deny yourself of small pleasures. Now, if you are getting lost down a rabbit hole on your phone of the ton of news, then we have a question Mark, because it's going to be challenging for you to come out of that.

So this is what I wanted. Spend some time on. LUCA, you've all heard the term. It's volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity. One of my friends from positive psychology has actually changed this. And volatility, he substitutes for vulnerability and complexity for connection, ambiguity for achievement. Doesn't really matter. But I think we can understand that we're in a VUCA world and the only way to deal with constant change is to really separate your space and your time to come together.

Now, these are five ways to achieve the same results, which is synchronicity between our heart-brain, our gut brain and the four brains in our head. That's what these techniques are for. They're all, believe it or not, areligious. A lot of people think that they're religious. They do not have to be. And this list just goes through the research on them. I have tried all of them. Some of them work better for me than others, but I would encourage you to take some time to try to find 10 minutes a day in which you can do any one of these activities that really change the difference between impulse and action. And I'll talk about that in a minute of why that's important.

MA:Natalie, what if none of these are things that you think you can do or have time for?

Natalie McVeigh:The time is always hard for people. But what I tell people is do you have time not to. We are all so busy. We've talked about that. And many of you got time back from commuting to work, and yet you still feel that time crunch. We will always fill up our time. And I don't know if you don't have time to. I think that there's no time like the present, but I do think it is a commitment to find. And so these would be perfect to habit stack. Habit stack them with something else that you can do. So there are some articles on music as meditation. Music can be meditation. So if you do take a walk in the morning already, instead of thinking through your list of things to do, could you listen to your favorite songs? I think that's possible. So the question is, how do we habit stack these?

Now I know there's a discomfort for some. Some people say mindfulness and meditation I can't do. I can't still my mind. And that's why you can use either breathing techniques, which often you can count out, the Navy seal, four box breathing team is really, really helpful where you were counting, one, two, three, four, and you can count the breaths. And so then your mind isn't still. It's busy counting. And mind, body movement somatics, that can be Qigong, Tai Chi, yoga. Because, again, many of you self sooth by being active. And so the idea of sitting is really challenging. They've done research on meditation, Tai Chi, Qigong, sorry, not meditation, but yoga, where that kind of slow paced, sustainable exercise actually increases bone density, increases overall health throughout our lifetime. So if you take a five mile run, those of you who are much more ambitious than me, could you take a two mile run? And they take 20 minutes to do these low impact exercises.

I would try them all and see which ones work for you when. Because there may be a place where you do a meditation at night. It's called yoga nidra meditation. Meditation that specifically help you to sleep at night, and that's important. But maybe you do breathing techniques in the morning. I can tell you with HeartMath, they even sell, if you'd like information, contact me, I can give it to you, a little monitor you can get attached to your ear. And you can do two minutes throughout the day. And it will remind you when and how. And it sets an alarm of just doing your breathing. And it has a little app that can help you because it's sensing your breathing, where it'll help you figure out the pace.

And why these are important is habits are so encompassing for us because they're in our brain. A neuroscientist, Benjamin Libet did a study in which he was doing neurosurgery on someone. And he created a clock that had milliseconds on it and he did brain surgery on this young man, can't do this stuff anymore, but it did happen, in which he told this young man to move his finger. And the part of his brain that lit up was impulse. There was an impulse to move his finger a quarter second later. Quarter second after he says, move your finger the young man, his brain told him to move his finger. A quarter second later, the part of this young man's brain that is about awareness... Awareness. Think about that. A quarter second later, he became aware. One quarter second later, the finger moved. The action impulse happened.

Our desire to execute our habits happens a quarter second before our awareness does. We call this in neuroscience, the magic quarter second. If we can catch you between when you become aware and when you make the movement, which is not very much time, you can be intentional. You can be aware of your emotions, your impulses, your actions, instead of them being the tail that wags the dog. And so these things here allow you more time. And it does, when you start doing these practices. It feels like you have more time in the day. And there isn't more time in the day. You're just able to process at a different rate.

So we say these are the things to take away. Focus on the bright spots. What's working? Don't get bogged down on what isn't working, but what's working. Vision what you want, not what you're trying to avoid. Because when we talk about what we're trying to avoid, we end up going through that pattern over and over and over again. And then we punish ourselves so on and so forth. And then co-create small successes.

So the woman who asked her earlier about having a hard time with asking for help, how do you support yourself with other people to be successful? There was a Harvard study that said, if you can come up with at least one thing you did well during the day and voice it aloud to someone, the next day, you're much more creative, much more generative, much more effective, much more clever, clear and collaborative. So finding ways to set up collaboration points in which you can be successful with others is useful.

And then play. We don't play enough as adults. There's actually a book called play that talks about why play is really useful. But all of this we've been talking about from a neuro scientific lens. We're trying to create new neural pathways. And to create a habit, it takes about 144 repeats. Sending that signal 144 times before I've created that pattern that I don't have to send the signal anymore. That's a lot of repeats. That's a lot, a lot of repeats. And the only way, the only way that number of repeats gets reduced is if I'm doing it and I'm having fun. If I'm laughing and doing it and it feels like playing and it doesn't feel like effort. In that case, it takes about 20 repeats, which is why when people make new year's resolutions, if they do them as a group, whether they're working out together, playing sports together or doing whatever together, they're much more successful.

So there's a question that said, making lists before you go to bed. So you're not ruminating or starting this day fresh with a mindful morning routine and then making the list. Also, do you prefer pen and paper or electrics? So there are three questions there. Making lists before bed, anyway that you can complete, yes. You can make a list before bed. I would encourage you to keep that list next to your bed. A physical list of pen and paper. If you are trying to sleep shutting off electronics two hours before you sleep or wearing UV glasses all day for computers are helpful. It's not UV, I forgot what they're called. Blue light glasses make sleep more effective, yes. And if you do happen to wake up with something, if you can just write it down and release it, yes.

Physical pen and paper, why? For two things. We actually remember things better that we write down on physical pen and paper. We actually also feel like we can exert more control when we physically write it than in a computer. There are times and many people have this experience, you might be much better at it before, but when people went to all electronic calendars on their phone, people were constantly missing dates. They don't know what day it is even before COVID. Whereas when you used to write on a physical calendar and planner, you could picture it in your head.

And do you want to make this list in the morning? I don't know. It really is up to you about whether you make your list at night or the morning, but a good close exercise is to release things at night. So I would have that list next to your bed. I do think a morning routine of mindfulness, a way to gather yourself is important, which was asked in this question as well.

And here's some effective communication patterns that I think would be really helpful for connection during this time. We want to build rapport. We want to care about one another. So you want to use as many mechanisms as possible. You want to be open. You want to ask questions. We spend 6% of time in conversation asking our questions. That's very little. And you probably noticed this. You probably have peers who aren't asking you a lot of questions. But 60% of ensuing conversations happen. Again, if you can't think of a good question, just say, tell me more. But when you're thinking about questions, what, how, when, never, why? Because when someone says, why did you do that? The first thing I feel is, why wouldn't I do that? Whereas you could say, what about taking that action was important to you? And I think that really opens up people to think that you want to know. Asking open-ended questions you don't know the answer to is going to be really helpful.

 Listen to connect. Really, really listen to what someone else is saying and respond to what they say before you have something to say, before you counter it. You would not imagine how many people don't feel heard as much as you don't feel heard. The truth is also the same. The research on listening, and there isn't much, it's one of the most neglected research fields, but they have some. And what it says is, bad listeners are actually people who don't feel heard. So if you have a spouse or sibling or boss are not listening to you, the first thing to think about is when have I not heard them and how do I help them to feel heard. Create casual connecting times. It's really important to do more than just work, to create community. Employee engagement is going to be huge for employee retention. For lack of burnout, it's essential.

So I like quotes. Quotes are really helpful. Resilience is accepting your new reality even if it is less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing, you can scream about what you've lost or you can accept that and try to put together something that's good. And that may sound trite or silly, but it's true. And I'll give an example of my brother. My brother and I, we moved to Italy for secondary school. My brother was a little bit older than me. So for me, I didn't mind. I thought it was fine. It was fun learning a new language, but my brother for the six years we were there, refused to go on trips with us or refuse to leave the hotel when we were in Athens, Greece. So he saw the Parthenon from his hotel room. He also refused to learn the language.

And now he's married to a woman who thinks Italian's really an attractive language, and it is. And he's studying Italian now. He's spending a lot of money on Babel, and you name it. And he doesn't remember all those opportunities he had. And I know COVID isn't like moving to Italy. Don't we wish we could all move to Italy. But believe it or not, it was actually quite hard not to live in our own country. And there's a lot that happens to what's called third culture kids that isn't as romantic as moving somewhere sounds. And I think that's the challenge with COVID. We're at home more. Many of us can be in nature more. There are these things that, yes, they're inconvenient, but how do we take the joy in them? And the biggest piece of research for that is single tasking, focusing on the one thing we're doing. They've researched this. When we're trying to answer emails and spend time with our kids, we're not doing our emails well or our kids well.

So how do we single task and singly focus on the things that we're doing and draw boundaries when we cannot do the things that we cannot do and forgive ourselves for that. So we have the question and answers for other people who didn't submit their questions throughout the webinar. We'd love to spend some time answering those. So this questions says, after a conversation, how do you handle a delayed reaction and have a need to discuss the conversation that already happened an hour ago? So if the conversation was a tense conversation, it increases a chemical called cortisol in our brain. It's the stress hormone that can last 26 hours. So we may be upset about things for 26 hours. We may also ruminate, but in conversations, there's the things we say, the things we meant, the things we hear and how we felt about it. And that how we felt about it always happens after. And those other three arrive at different times during the conversation as well. And so the question becomes, what about that is unresolved? What about that conversation is unresolved? And is it unresolved within me or within them?

And we've all done things. I'll probably listen to this later and say, gosh, I said 17 things wrong. Is that about Natalie wanting to feel competent? Can I let that go and be imperfectly perfect or did I actually make a factual error that I would like to write everyone an email about so that they have better information? And that's the question. Do I feel bad about how I made someone feel and do I want to apologize? And apologies are really important. The most important part of apology is making an acceptance of, I made a mistake. Marie, I cut you off earlier. I am sorry. Closed. Doesn't have to do with the fact that I was running late, that I thought I knew what she had to say. Those are the pieces. And so deciding how much of it's for you and how much it is for them and how to go back to someone at a frame of reference when they can hear it or when you can say it the way you want. Not all apologies are received. I don't know if that answers your question that you just put through around the pieces of conversation, but that's been my experience.

Any other questions? All right. So it seems like everyone feels great. This is Marie and my contact information. We'd love to hear from you at any point in time. Thank you. I know this was a lot of time. And someone asked, how do we get an appointment with me? I'll just email. My email is here. I'd love to understand what's going on with you. Send you more resources, taking coaching clients, so on and so forth.

MA:Thank you, Natalie. that was an excellent presentation. I've certainly learned a lot and I want to thank all of you for attending our event today. And enjoy your afternoon.


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Natalie M. McVeigh

Natalie McVeigh is a Managing Director in the Center for Individual and Organizational Performance and the Center for Family Business Excellence Group within the Private Client Services Group and has more than 10 years of experience as a consultant and coach.

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