Fun article for a Friday full of procrastination

Welp - it's a fine summer Friday, which means the office windows are open and we are being somewhat unproductive. Stumbled across this article and thought it was a fun examination of why we (that's a collective we, by the way) may be adverse to deadlines. I do like that the origin story is so literal... 

We're still committed to doing great work! Just looking for opportunities to avoid doing so today. ;-) Hope you're well and enjoying summer as well!

Rushing - know rushing.

Heading into the office today and was struck by a comment on the platform - "I'm struggling to get to work." And, then, when I arrived at the DuPont Circle Metro stop, politely stepped aside to let folks run on up the escalator.

At Alluvus, we don't have office hours. That's because we hold ourselves accountable to outcomes. The whole idea of rushing to get into an office, just seems counter to being intentional about your day. We're not concerned what time you get in or when you decide to leave. As long as we're on the same page as to what needs to get done - and when - we should be fine.

No rushing. Once you are able to recognize that you're rushing, it affords you the opportunity to breathe deep and re-examine how you'd like to encounter your day. The commitment here is to create the space and provide people with an environment where they can come in and start their day on a mindful note. It's a "policy" informed by being able to "know rushing."

Just one second.

And a belated Happy New Year! Man... we have not been on top of this. But looking at prior post rates, perhaps it's time to stop bemoaning our inconsistency and embrace our consistent approach to inconsistency.

Thought this latest mindfulness article from HBR was spot on as it certainly reflects the changes we've seen in ourselves as we've embraced mindfulness as part of our daily routine.

The ability to give oneself permission to pause creates incredible opportunity. In that moment, everything can change and we've certainly seen it in our work with clients. This is certainly a nice article for your own personal development, but sharing this idea with your client or coworker can result in a shared benefit as we all ultimately have a lot to gain if we only take a second to consider the opportunity that lies behind the infinite possibilities that are open to us.

The Phenomenon is Real

Merriam Webster's definition for "phenomenon" is a thing that is typically unusual but can be studied or observed. That's mindfulness folks.

Our only point would be that it isn't "unusual" - it's real. It's always been with us, but only now, as a result of the emerging research into how our brain and nervous systems work, do we understand that it's a real thing with serious benefits. Mindfulness can be studied and observed. These benefits can be both personal and professional.

But it's still hard - or can seem to be. And that's okay. So the charge is to acknowledge the challenge and the opportunity is to let go of all those thoughts and beliefs that prevent us from just trying. The thought presented for consideration here is that if you're serious about your business, it's time to give mindfulness a moment.

Blue sky thinking and the value of working to answer the question, "What if we could do anything?"

In the strategy and planning sessions we build into engagements with our clients, we set aside time for what we like to call "Blue Sky Thinking." The point being that since we know there are many barriers and challenges to overcome in working to execute our strategy, we think it's important to take time to pause and consider the ideal state (usually thinking about an 18-month timeframe in doing so). The notion being that we should give ourselves permission to be totally positive about what the future could look like.

The approach usually frees us up to consider some truly open-minded and counter-intuitive frames for the future. This article is useful in that it validates the notion of blue sky thinking and provides three observations for why working to create that space can have a profound impact for scenario planning. It was originally posted on HBR - but we're including the Mindful link because the editorial context could introduce you to a number of useful mindfulness resources. Enjoy.

Work isn't a place you go to - it's a thing you do.*

* Full props to the new office phone company, Dialpad, for our headline...

Our 60-day posting cycle for Horizons is going to change - we promise! It's just that the summer got away from us as we have worked with our clients and partners to build the foundation for some incredibly exciting announcements this fall. So stay tuned...

But in the meantime, wanted to share this post from HubSpot, which builds on our summer solstice post regarding the need to find opportunity to stop the thinking and give your mind a break. This time, it's about the need to give the traditional workplace a break given the massive potential flexible work environments have when it comes to creativity.

Last spring, we made a conscious effort to ensure that our collective fully embraces the distributed work environment. The focus here at Alluvvus is to provide our teams with the direction and tools they need to create innovative outcomes for our clients. That's it.

We have found that if we provide clear and compelling direction, and then create an environment and set of circumstances that allows us all to work from anywhere... great things happen. And the best part? Clients notice. We had one client that recently asked why the work was better and faster. We noted that we have worked to embrace the new distributed dynamic and it has paid dividends. Our team isn't fighting traffic to get to an internal meeting that doesn't matter. Rather, they are entrusted with the time and space needed to get the work done. And none of us care how and where that happens - as long as it happens.

Now... this does require a new level of trust. And all that freedom also assumes a certain maturity and shared commitment to professionalism and meaningful outcomes. But we've found that there are plenty of great, creative people out there that are happy to meet those requirements as it beats the hell out of rushing to be someplace that doesn't really matter.

Think Less, Think Better

The Gray Matter piece in Sunday's New York Times is a must read for all of us who are running from moment-to-moment in search of the next big idea or on to the next deadline.

Stop.

This has been a longstanding position here within our collective that in working with our clients the first step is to pause, take a deep breath and then proceed to focus on the work. Now, Moshe Bar, a research director at Bar-Ilan University and professor at Harvard University, notes that her research has found that "your internal exploration is too often diminished by an overly occupied mind, much as is the case with your experience of our external environment."

She recommends meditation as her starting point, but closes by simply noting that any practice that can help you "unburden the load on your mind" is something worthy of consideration. So be like the headline - find ways to think less and discover how these simple practices can help you (and your team) to think better.

The Attention Economy

Man, we are bad at this blog thing. But as we work toward our one year anniversary, we are going to reorganize and recommit in March to put in place a mature editorial strategy. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, we wanted to draw your attention to this latest article from the Harvard Business Review web site. Yes, it's about mindfulness - and in the coming weeks we'll work to put that term in context because mindfulness is just one aspect of achieving a life of purpose and balance. Positive psychology, emerging brain research and the parallels with Buddhist practices are equally important for helping to understand how mindfulness fits in.

So what, you're probably thinking, "I've got a business to run and need help making plan!" Well, as you follow that path, consider what you're up against:

"... we have entered what many people are calling the "attention economy." In the attention economy, the ability to maintain focus and concentration is every bit as important as technical or management skills. And because leaders need to absorb and synthesize a growing flood of information in order to make good decisions, they're hit particularly hard by this emerging trend."

We see this every day. Clients and prospects who are blurry-eyed due to competing priorities and data sources that affect their ability to focus. That's why the first step of every engagement is to discern to what extent a client/prospect is distracted and then put in place a plan that ensures they have the time to focus. Then... we move forward, together.

Check out this article and incorporate these practices into your work day. They will make a difference.

Further demonstration that mindfulness works in the workplace

We began the year by linking to a New York Times feature on Aetna's CEO and that company's commitment to mindfulness as an optional channel for employees to pursue. We close the year with a link to this Harvard Business Review post which once again cites Aetna, but notes how other businesses are benefiting from a renewed commitment to mindfulness. We'll feature an excerpt from the article's close here which states that:

"As many organizations can attest, bringing mindfulness to the workplace has decreased people’s stress levels while improving focus and clarity, listening and decision-making skills, and overall well-being. Perhaps most importantly from a management perspective, mindfulness gives employees permission to think. Mindfulness is the essence of engagement. Being fully present — and allowing your team to be fully in the moment — will reap rewards on a personal and professional level."

We continue to realize these same rewards in our work with our clients and welcome the chance to do the same with them again in 2016. We're also happy to talk with you about how we're bringing mindfulness into an engagement, using its power to transform the work that we do together. In doing so, we're less concerned about whether or not we'll ever enter into a business relationship. Our primary concern is to make clear the benefits of mindfulness simply because we see its value each and every day. We're happy to share these insights with you so please feel free to reach out as we work our way through a New Year.

And on that note - may 2016 be both a mindful and memorable one for you and everyone you work with.