Sleep Procrastination

I admit it, there is not much I procrastinate about, but I sometimes procrastinate about going to sleep.  That’s why I was so fascinated to see this article published this summer in Frontiers in Psychology.  The authors conclude that bedtime procrastination is the result of difficulty with “self regulation,” otherwise known as self discipline.

Perhaps this is important from a psychological research perspective, but it certainly doesn’t help me to know that basically I just need to make myself stop procrastinating and go to sleep.  Equally unhelpful is the conclusion that those who struggle with bedtime procrastination are likely to suffer from insufficient sleep.

I have long thought that my bedtime procrastination results from a desire not to let the day go, because some aspect of the day was unfulfilling and I’d like to change that in (literally)  the 11th hour.  I feel I want to spend more time with friends or my spouse who worked late that day or finally finish up the project I’ve been working on or otherwise work on something that gives my life meaning and purpose.  I find I am less keen to go to sleep on days when I didn’t or couldn’t get the most of out of my day.  So I’m going to work on reducing my sleep procrastination by doing my best to get the interaction, productivity and personal fulfillment I need each and every day–during the day!.  How about you?

Happy New Year!

I am excited to be working again after a glorious 6 week summer holiday.  I spent time with my family, reconnected with old friends and generally enjoyed a lot of sunshine.  In other words, I sharpened the saw .

September has always been a special time for me.  For most of my life I have lived in an academic rhythm.  Back-to-School is my New Year’s Eve–a time of celebration and tremendous energy surrounding working on new goals.  It is great to be once again thinking about leadership development and have some exciting new projects coming up.

Happy New Year!

Sharpening the Saw

On Fridays I often tag my tweets #sharpenthesaw.  (Shameless plug:  @sweetcoachcons) These tweets are decidedly different from my usual posts on libraries, leadership and personal effectiveness.  I hope they are funny, or perhaps speak to the need for rest and rejuvenation.  At times I’m sure they are just plain silly.  You probably recognize the tag as referencing the 7th Habit from Steven Covey’s famous book.

The concept of balanced self renewal is so important that I like to remind people of it every week, just before the weekend.  Historically a time to nurture ourselves physically, spiritually and socially, the weekend is increasingly under attack from our continually connected world.  To be our most effective we need quiet moments, we need to tend to our physical well being, and we need to connect with our loved ones.  We need to break from the act of sawing and sharpen our saws.

This is what I will be doing for the remainder of the Summer.  I’ll be enjoying a sabbatical from work, spending time with my beloved family,  outdoors, relaxing, reading fiction, connecting with friends and generally giving my brain time and space to process.  A de-frag if you will.

I’ll be back in September, rested, restored and ready to work again.  I’d love to hear your restorative plans for the summer!

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Disrupting the Library, part 1

I just read a great article with tremendous application to library services.  The trouble is that the title is 6 Highly Profitable Ways to Disrupt Your Own Industry.  Come on, an article from Forbes, applicable to a library? Profit? Industry? Disruption?  How do these concepts fit with what we do?  Are they even applicable to those of us who work in the mission-driven sector?

ABSOLUTELY!  Libraries specifically and mission-driven organizations generally have a lot to learn from business practices. There, I said it.  But we can’t just take business advice wholesale any more than we should dismiss it all together.  It’s important to think about what is being offered and consider the ways in which it can be applied to our industry.

Over the next few weeks this blog will focus on the concepts presented in this article and how, with a little thought and translation, they can greatly improve library service.  Don’t believe me?  Stay tuned for Disrupting the Library, part 2.

 

 

 

How to Survive Failure

How to Survive Failure

How do you feel about failure? When I ask what emotion is associated with failure, too often in our society the answer is shame.  Failure is inevitable–so what if we uncoupled it from such a negative, unproductive emotion?  What if we embraced our failures as opportunities to learn and improve?

How to Survive Failure Step 1:  Accept It

The first step toward embracing failure is acknowledging that it can and does happen. But while failure is inevitable it is also temporary.  People don’t fail, things fail–projects, presentations, meetings.  By exploring your relationship with failure you can begin to work more creatively and truly spark innovation.  The more you consider failure part of life the more free you will be to take more innovative risks in the future.

How to Survive Failure Step 2:  Neutralize It

The next step to survive failure is to decouple failure from emotion. James Clear calls this treating failure like a scientist.  When a scientist runs an experiment he or she simply gets data points.  These data points are infused with judgement–they simply contribute to learning.  If you think of your endeavor as your lab where sometimes the unexpected happens and provides you with new data you can begin to learn from failure. A nice side bonus is that you will also become more tolerant of risk in general.  My former boss had a sign in her office saying, “only mediocre people are always at their best.”  No one likes to fail, but If we focus on learning then failure can be a helpful, positive experience.  If we don’t welcome failure, we are welcoming mediocrity.  Welcomed failure brings learning, improvement and innovation.  Shamed failure just brings shame.

How to Survive Failure Step 3:  Practice It

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”  Like anything else, the more you fail the more you will learn that you can fail and survive–even thrive.  So how do you practice failure? By taking small risks or trying something new.  By exposing yourself to small risks you can experience small failures from time to time in a safe, controlled way.

How to Survive Failure Step 4:  Learn From It

Think about the decisions you make in your daily life.  They aren’t all perfect, are they?   When you experience failure poke at what went wrong.  Don’t blame, but see how things can be improved for next time. Focus on the learning as opposed to the failure.  One way to do this is by conducting an after action review.

How to Survive Failure Step 5:  Know That You are In Good Company

Thomas Edison’s success had to do with his relationship to failure.  He once said “I know several thousand things that won’t work.”  Even today if you walk down the sidewalks in major cities in the U.S.you are walking on cement made by Edison.  He developed a successful process to make cement sidewalks—but at the time he was trying to develop a process to remove iron ore from rocks!  By keeping an open mind about failure Edison was able to turn his failures into successes.  No wonder he is also credited as saying, “I failed my way to success.”

How have you used failure as a way to learn and grow? I’d love to hear about it.  You can contact me directly or follow the instructions below to leave a comment.

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It’s Not You, It’s Me

Recently, I read an op/ed in the New York Times that has given me a lot of food for thought.   Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield, authors of the book on  “Superachievers,” write about the importance of looking inward when it comes to making personal and professional improvements.   It’s easy to fall into the trap of blaming external forces when things don’t go as we want them to–something Harvard’s Chris Argyris calls “single loop learning.”  Most organizations use this tactic when they look to improve.  Argyris advocates that “double loop learning,”–honestly questioning every aspect of an approach–is a more effective process.

This type of self-awareness is difficult to practice, but once an individual or organization gets comfortable with it, the results can be truly transformative.  As a coach, I help clients take a holistic approach in examining what might be keeping them from their true potential. Recently, a client of mine, Emily, was struggling at work because she felt her reports weren’t pulling their weight.  Initially, Emily was unable to see the role her own work ethic played in the dynamic.  Not only were her standards for her reports too high, her standards for herself–something that had always been considered an asset–were beginning to cause stress.  By adopting the mantra, “Rome wasn’t build in a day,” she was able to stop focusing on what wasn’t working and begin to build a department based on more reasonable expectations.  Her reports responded, and the department started pulling in the same direction.

Who doesn’t want themselves, or their organization, to enjoy increased success?  Introspection can be scary territory at first, and a coach can be an important support as you begin to fully investigate how to reach your full potential.