The energy that connects us.

November 2nd, 2012

With so many friends in my part of the country this week surviving the great loss of electrical energy that provides light, heat, clean water and transportation, I’m reminded of the tremendous power of human energy.

It’s our combined mental, emotional, spiritual and physical energy that fuels the leadership traits of hope, optimism, confidence and resilience we all have access to as individuals. It is our human energy that lights the passion and purpose to help and serve others in the wake of unthinkable challenges and adversity.

That is the true mastery of energy.


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The mindset reset.

October 26th, 2012

“There’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty, and whatever certainty we have is a function of our mind-sets.” – Dr. Ellen J. Langer

Jennifer Aniston will star as Harvard Professor of Psychology Ellen J. Langer in a movie titled “Counter Clockwise” about Langer’s life and work, and, in particular, a 1979 age-defying study.

Described in her 1989 book, “Mindfulness,” Langer conducted a weeklong study with a group of elderly men that temporarily reversed signs of aging simply by being asked to believe they were experiencing 1959 for the first time.  After the experiment, the men’s posture, strength and flexibility improved, as did their scores on vision, hearing and intelligence.

In her recent book, “Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility,” Langer describes another placebo-like study with a group of 84 hotel maids to track how their attitudes about work and exercise affected them. After a month, the half who were told their normal duties met the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations for an active lifestyle lost about two pounds each and showed improvements in body-mass index and blood pressure. Without any change to their level of physical activity, their belief, through the power of suggestion, had a measurable effect on their health.

I was reminded of Langer’s studies after my post last week on the power of expectation, for they support theories of mindfulness and positive thinking in creating change for the better. The groups of elderly men and hotel workers both started telling different stories. They changed their beliefs about what was possible. They improved their health and, in the case of the hotel workers, their professional well being.

If all of our limitations are self-imposed, are you telling your story the way you want it to be?

Related Posts:

How’s your mindset for success?

Happiness in business pays off.

Take control of what matters most.

How satisfying is your story?

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Expectation is everything.

October 19th, 2012

Expectations matter. That’s the premise of science journalist Chris Berdik’s new book, “Mind over Mind.”  And his interview with Scientific American’s “Mind Matters” editor Gareth Cook is worth the read as enticement to learn more about studies on the power of expectations.

While he talks about the placebo effects in medicine, Berdik goes beyond that to cite brain scan results of some remarkable lab and field experiments that demonstrate how an individual’s mindset – mental attitude, beliefs and expectations – creates hormonal changes that lead to behavioral changes.

I’ve talked before about the importance of managing our mental models, because it’s how we interpret and respond to situations that shape our individual experience. And that often just comes down to expectation.


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There are many to prophesy failure.

October 12th, 2012


It’s true that much of what I learned about Christopher Columbus in grade school was untrue: he didn’t prove that the earth was round, and he didn’t discover America. But today I give an unofficial nod to good old, never-give-up Chris, because before federal holidays were moved to the nearest Monday, Columbus Day was observed today.

Columbus was obsessed with finding a western route to the Far East. With desire, focus and persistence, he refused to accept the naysayers’ ideas of impossibility. He persevered seven years of rejections before finding a sponsor for his expedition.

I came across this 1917 poem by English-born American poet Edgar Albert Guest recently that illustrates the Columbus approach to discovery.

It Couldn’t Be Done, by Edgar A. Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done

            But he with a chuckle replied

That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one

            Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin

             On his face. If he worried he hid it.

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

            That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;

            At least no one ever has done it;”

But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,

            And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,

            Without any doubting or quiddit.

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

            That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,

            There are thousands to prophesy failure;

There are thousands to point out to you one by one,

            The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,

            Just take off your coat and go to it;

Just start to sing as you tackle the thing

            That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

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Undefeated masters of fate.

October 5th, 2012

I walk just about everywhere. I don’t wear earphones, because I enjoy listening to the sounds around me. As I pass others, I often overhear remarkable exchanges of ideas between them or maybe just one side of a phone conversation.

Here are a few of my most recent comments from the street. What excites me about them is the understanding that random, diverse people have about the power of their thoughts to shape and influence their experiences.

  • Mother to her middle school aged son: “Well, if that’s what you want, then you better start visualizing it happening right now.”
  • Truck driver talking into headpiece while unloading cartons: “I love myself a lot. This is my life!”
  • Woman descending stairs wearing phone earpiece: “You alone are the master of your universe, so you get to choose whether you’ll accept that in your life or not.”

That last statement reminded me of the closing lines from William Ernest Henley’s 1875 poem, “Invictus.”

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Have you mastered the art of thinking only about what you want as possible?


Image courtesy of Michal Marcol/