5 Breathing Exercises

To be your best, it’s imperative that you learn to calm your mind. When you begin to feel pressure or stress, you’ll want to come back to simple, positive thoughts and controlled breathing. To become more centered and focused so that you can perform better, practice these helpful breathing strategies. Each of these breathing practices can be done in less than 5 minutes. If you only have enough time for a few, focused, deep breaths, that’s still better than nothing.

1. Square Breathing – For square breathing, you want to take deep, centering breaths counting up to 4 during the inhale, taking a 4 second hold, and then exhaling for 4 seconds, and holding again for 4 seconds before you inhale again. Do this at least 5 cycles and longer if you have time to really reap the benefits.

2. Counting Breaths – For this practice, you would simply count your breaths, with a nice controlled rhythm. Take 3 second inhale, and a 3 second exhale then say “1” in your mind. Then inhale again for another 3 seconds, and exhale for 3 seconds, then say “2” in your mind. So you’ll simple count and breathe. Repeating this pattern for up to 10, or 20 is one of the simplest ways to bring your focus back to something you can control, as well as calming your breathing cycle and being intentional about the pace.

Source: 5 Breathing Exercises For Peak Performance

“Take Bold Action!” 

Former actress Charlotte Thornton is the author of Talent Isn’t Enough, a book which, by introducing ten key strategies, helps aspiring actors to turn their talent into careers. “There are a lot of books about how to get started in acting,” Thornton comments, “but the trickier part is making a success of it once you’ve trained.”

I recently spoke to Thornton about what inspired her to write Talent Isn’t Enough. Thornton observed the lack of books available which actors could refer to for help in turning their talent into careers. “Partly,” she comments, “I wanted to write a book that filled that gap. But also I wanted to pass on what I’d learnt so that others could succeed or at least succeed a little faster. The status quo is far from fair, and so I have ambitious plans to level the playing field where I can.”

Source: “Take Bold Action!” : A Chat with Charlotte Thornton, Author of “Talent Isn’t Enough”

Depression changes the brain

New brain imaging research from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) shows that the brain alters after years of persistent depression, suggesting the need to change how we think about depression as it progresses.

This study provides the first biological evidence for large brain changes in long-lasting depression, suggesting that it is a different stage of illness that needs different therapeutics – the same perspective taken for early and later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, he says.

“Greater inflammation in the brain is a common response with degenerative brain diseases as they progress, such as with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson´s disease,” says Dr. Meyer, who also holds Canada Research Chair in the Neurochemistry of Major Depression. While depression is not considered a degenerative brain disease, the change in inflammation shows that, for those in whom depression persists, it may be progressive and not a static condition.

Source: Over years, depression changes the brain, new CAMH study shows

The Beautiful Practice Ground

This idea of a Beautiful Practice Ground is something I’ve developed over working with thousands of people on habits and mindfulness … let’s take a look at what it is, why it’s good news, and how to work with it.

What is the Beautiful Practice Ground?
When Greg’s meditation habit fell off, he responded with self-criticism, guilt, self-doubt, avoidance and distraction. This might seem like bad news — who wants to respond like that?

But actually, it’s good news: we’ve learned something extremely important. This way of reacting is actually Greg’s habitual way of responding to difficulty. He has conditioned himself to respond this way to similar difficult situations, to failures small and large, probably since childhood.

This habitual way of responding to difficulty is actually what’s standing in his way.

Training the mind to respond differently in this exact kind of situation is probably the most important training Greg could do.

Source: The Beautiful Practice Ground

You probably underestimate the populations of Eastern states

Chris Riederer, Jake Hofman and I have just published a new paper on this topic which will be presented at CHI 2018. In it, we propose and test methods for generating perspectives. For example, why do we feel that “roughly the population of California” is better than “roughly 10 times the population of Oklahoma,” even though they’re about equally accurate and even if the person you are talking to is from Oklahoma? It turns out that 10x not an ideal multiplier for people to work with (strange, we know) and Oklahoma is not ideal to use in examples.

Source: You probably underestimate the populations of Eastern states and the areas of Western states – Decision Science News

5 Ways to Reject Rejection

As a slightly more evolved adult, my perspective on rejection has shifted. I have much bigger priorities and levels of importance in my life than one single part. I have also dealt with new types of rejection (at work, in relationships, with a child, etc) more often than I did in the ‘old days.’

Luckily, ‘adulting’ can also mean that I don’t have to wallow in self-pity with no resources (or no lack of pride to tap into them). Knowing full well much of this is simply a perspective shift (what ain’t?), I’ll reject the rejection with maturity and grace (and also maybe-probably-definitely repeat ‘That show’s gonna suck without me’ – to myself, of course).

Source: 5 Ways for Performers to Reject Rejection

Test Your Audience

Even more importantly, though, leaders have to test for understanding. A leader has to put his or her finger on the pulse of the organization, so as to determine whether people heard and comprehended the message. How do you put your finger on the pulse of your firm? Certainly, managing by walking around helps. Meeting people informally, perhaps in small group lunches in the cafeteria, can be useful as well. Finding ways to solicit and address employee questions is crucial. Asking them to play back what they have heard from their managers is a useful technique. Listen carefullyas they speak to you. Don’t put words in their mouths. Ask them to be as specific as possible about the sources of their confusion.

Source: Communicate Goals, Then Test for Understanding & Learn from Your Audience

Can Better Teamwork Save Lives?

Q: What does a care coordination failure look like?

A care coordination failure is anytime there’s a gap in your care. For instance, if you go to the hospital and your hospital visit was not communicated to your doctor, that would be a care coordination failure. Because you really need that continuity from the hospital back to your primary care, so you aren’t readmitted.

You can also think about care coordination between specialist and generalist. If you’re seeing a psychiatrist, are the medications you’re getting from your psychiatrist being communicated back to your primary healthcare clinician? Because the patients that are taking up the most healthcare resources have a lot of chronic conditions simultaneously, coordination among their different providers is really key, both to the patient’s health and to keeping costs down. Coordination failures are associated with overtreatment, undertreatment, hospital readmissions, and also, ultimately, because of the inability to control chronic conditions, fatality.

Source: Can Better Teamwork Save Lives?

Priorities and Focus

My former colleague, Morten Hansen, has written a terrific new book titled, “Great at Work: How top Performers Work Less and Achieve More.”   Hansen built a dataset of roughly 5,000 individuals from all levels of organizations, from the C-suite to the factory floor.  He examined their performance, as well as their habits, routines, and work practices.   In the book, Hansen describes seven principles that characterize the approach of top performers.
His first principle, and perhaps most interesting one, is “doing less, then obsessing.” Hansen published an essay in the Wall Street Journal recently, in which he describes this principle. He writes,
The common practice we found among the highest-ranked performers in our study wasn’t at all what we expected. It wasn’t a better ability to organize or delegate. Instead, top performers mastered selectivity. Whenever they could, they carefully selected which priorities, tasks, meetings, customers, ideas or steps to undertake and which to let go. They then applied intense, targeted effort on those few priorities in order to excel.