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A blog by Ryan Quinn, Robert Quinn, Shawn Quinn, and Amy Lemley

Archive for the ‘Courage / Empowerment / Initiative’ Category

Ithaka: My Own Journey from Busy-ness to Clarity of Purpose

Friday, January 11th, 2013

By Ryan W. Quinn

I had an experience this week that is both wonderful and embarrassing: I actually applied some basic principles of positive organizational scholarship in my own life. They worked—that’s the wonderful part. And it was embarrassing because I went through many weeks and a million excuses before I finally did what I knew was necessary, what would work, and what I am devoting my professional career  to sharing. Why is it so hard to do what I know I should do? (more…)

From Emotional Labor to Emotional Opportunity: How Personal Investment in Work Pays Off

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

By Ryan W. Quinn

I walked into a restaurant a few weeks ago and was impressed with the person behind the counter. He was a fiftyish man named Jim, and he was smiling and laughing and appeared genuinely happy to be there.

He called people by nicknames, made them laugh, and engaged them about their orders. Everyone who ordered walked away from the counter smiling. If I lived in that community and wanted to get a bite to eat, I would be more likely to choose that restaurant just because that man was working there.

Emotional Labor

Since that day, I have had a number of conversations with colleagues about a concept known as emotional labor. Simply explained, the key idea behind emotional labor is that when people’s work settings require them to display emotions they do not feel, it has a negative impact on their physical and psychological health and can sometimes negatively affect social relationships later on. These are real costs, and they should be taken seriously.

Was the jovial restaurant worker just going through the motions because his work required it? Or was his good cheer authentic? I think it was real. And just as there are costs to emotional labor, there are benefits to feeling and displaying positive emotions on the job. (more…)

And the Truth Shall Set You Free: Stop Overselling, Increase Transparency, and Boost Engagement

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

By Shawn Quinn

Have you ever oversold a job you were hiring for to try to get your favorite candidate to accept? Have you ever oversold aspects of yourself to try to get a position you were interviewing for?

The normal or natural approach is to do what is good for us in the short run. Not everyone makes these kinds of decisions all the time. But all of us fall into this kind of trap on a regular basis.

Gallup data on employee engagement suggest that only around 40% of people are actively engaged by the end of six months in a new job. The “oversell” is often to blame: The newness wears off. The job turns out to be less appealing than it seemed. The candidate must spend each workday pretending to be someone else.

Transparency—at the beginning of the hiring or application process—could make a difference in both situations. (more…)

The Anabolic Organization: Living Shared Values Promotes Growth in Good Times and Bad

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

I interviewed the CEO of a small research company about the importance of living a set of common values and creating a culture in which people could flourish. Living those values is most important in times of crisis, he told me.

At one point, he recalled, the money ran out and he had to lay people off. The employees who remained became full of fear. Living the values in such a crisis is essential, this CEO explained, because only then can people trust what you say.

Then he made a statement I thought was quite interesting. “Fear to me is misdirected energy,” he said. “It is just negative energy that should be channeled to something positive.” (more…)

Positive Disconfirming Evidence: In What Wonderful Ways Are We “Wrong”?

Monday, September 17th, 2012

By Ryan W. Quinn

“I am bothered by the state of the world today,” a friend confided recently. “It’s reached a point where I feel so hopeless about the way our world is going that I feel frustrated, and sometimes I’m even upset around friends and family because of it. ”

He was not sure what to do about these feelings and needed a friend he could talk to openly about them. So I asked him to explain exactly what was bothering him about the state of the world. I thought his answer was profound. And troubling. (more…)

“It’s Like This Now”: A Meditation on Living—and Working—in the Present

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

By Amy Lemley

We’ve all heard it said that to know where we’re going, we need to know where we are. Too often, however, we fixate on what’s wrong, who failed, and why the future looks bleak.

Stepping back and observing what’s so—the facts of where things stand or what happened—takes presence of mind. In “The Power of Vulnerability,” Bob wrote about an executive he knows who reported that, “when things get intense and he is really stretched, he is more likely than usual to turn to his spiritual training from Buddhism.” I found that interesting—surprising, even. Here was a seasoned executive who chose during times of stress to open himself up and, in his words, “become more vulnerable.” I was intrigued. So when a friend invited me to attend her meditation group, I decided to go.

Now, I am not one to embrace a quiet mind. I tend to forget about my body and follow my runaway thoughts. Ryan wrote about this tendency in “Full-Bodied Work: Put Both Mind and Body into What You Do and Get a Better Result.” I just couldn’t imagine sitting on the floor in the lotus position focusing on my breathing. So I admit I felt nervous about the event. (more…)

Full-Bodied Work: Put Both Mind and Body into What You Do and Get a Better Result

Monday, August 20th, 2012

By Ryan W. Quinn

A co-worker of mine once reminded me, as we were both working, of a story we both new in which the main character was challenged for his lack of enthusiasm. Implicit in his reminder was a question: “Should we be more enthusiastic?” I pondered the story for a moment. Then, I took off running.

For the next hour, I literally ran from task to task. My co-worker tried to keep up, but found it difficult to because he was laughing so hard. Every person I encountered for the next hour was surprised by the energy they felt as I approached them. Almost everyone responded positively to requests I made of them—requests that had often been denied in the past. My performance in that hour was higher than it had ever been in any other single hour I had ever worked.


Authenticity Requires Accountability

Friday, August 17th, 2012

By Robert E. Quinn

Authentic communication is critical to the process of change. I illustrated this point with a group of nonprofit CEOs by using a story about another group I had taught.

In that earlier course, I led senior executives from a Fortune 500 company in conceptualizing their desired future.  I then helped them examine the gaps between that desired future and their own present behavior.  After that, I put them in a situation in which they had to publicly own their shortcomings and declare what personal changes they were willing to make to bring about the collective future they claimed to desire.

As I reached the height of this account, my audience of nonprofit CEOs seemed both fully engaged and deep in thought.  I pointed it out and asked why they were they were so contemplative.

“Because the communication process was so real,” one of them said. “You held them accountable to their deepest moral responsibility, and we never experience that in organizations. We continually posture, but never commit in the way you were asking them to commit.” (more…)

Proof Positive: Stop Frowning, Start Smiling, and Watch Your World Change

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

By Amy Lemley

Last week, I read about yet another study showing Botox helped eliminate depression. Paralyze the frown muscles, it found, and you somehow thwart feelings of malaise, hopelessness, and even sadness. As if by magic, study subjects developed a positive outlook, and both subjective and objective symptoms of depression lifted.

Researchers aren’t sure why. It’s not vanity—in this most recent study, the subjects chosen weren’t seeking cosmetic improvement (one even said he preferred his unaltered look despite feeling less depressed). It’s possible mood and its expression may be a biochemical two-way street—with each capable of prompting and reinforcing the other. Or perhaps people who frown less have more favorable interactions with others, which makes life seem less bleak.

Can something as small as changing your facial expression banish negativity and allow you to embrace the positive? (more…)

Being Your Best Self at Home: How Exchanging Positive Feedback to Transformed a Father-Son Relationship

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

By Shawn Quinn

Can we separate who we are at home and at work?  I’ve worked with many professionals who believe they can.  More and more experiences have led me to think it may not be possible.

In many of our executive education leadership training programs, Lift Consulting runs an exercise where people receive feedback about who they are at their best from people in all different aspects of their lives—at work, yes, but also with their families and friends, within their neighborhoods, communities, and other groups in which they interact.

When they read the positive-only feedback, our participants recognize that though they have different roles in different parts of their lives and may adjust their style, certain traits remain consistent. Who we are fundamentally comes through in all aspects of our lives. (more…)