The Health and Wellbeing Journey

The Health and Wellbeing Journey

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1.  A key to living a world class life is to become a student of human performance. This means taking an interest in what makes you tick so you can continue to build your knowledge long after this program ends.

2. Being 1% better every day isn’t about big, dramatic changes. All you can do is give this day, or this moment, your full attention.

3. Remember to always think and focus on your dream and then weave it into everything you do.

As our Perform Better module comes to an end, I want to make a suggestion about how you proceed from here.

I believe that a key to living a world class life is to become a student of human performance. By that, I don’t mean you have to become a self-proclaimed exercise science geek like me. I just mean you should take an interest in what makes you tick so you can continue to build your knowledge long after this program ends.

The reason this is important has to do with the power of curiosity and learning. When we go through life with an interest in something, we are constantly looking for information about that subject.

Whatever interests you, you will follow it. That’s how desire works – we act on it. And if you develop a curiosity about how human beings perform, you can create an engine that will drive your improvement forever.

My advice is similar to what Walt Disney said about curiosity:

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So take all of this learning and use it as a catalyst for becoming, at some level, a student of a healthy mind-body. It’s one way to ensure you live a long and successful life.

Everything in these components has been about your personal journey. Being 1% better every day isn’t about big, dramatic changes. You can’t leap ten miles at a time. You can’t move ahead to next week or next month or next year. All you can do is give this moment – this day – your full attention.

With one exception: your dream.

As you live your days, you live your life. Make sure you are always thinking about your dream. Focus on it at all times. And then weave it into everything you do. That’s how it will become a reality, whether you are an Olympic athlete, an artist, a pilot, a flight attendant, or a business leader. 

It has been a pleasure spending this time with you. I’ve enjoyed your questions and comments and stories about your journey. I’ve heard a lot about your dreams and your challenges, and I’m grateful for that. One way of being 1% better every day is to learn from others, and I’m lucky to have learned so much from you. Thank you for participating and striving and sharing.

I wish you the very best on your journey!

Today's POWER-UP: Take the first step

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. 

Everyone – from the most decorated athlete to the simplest of folks – takes one step at a time to achieve their dream.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Practice Daily Gratitude

Practice Daily Gratitude

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Practicing gratitude, or noticing and appreciating the positive aspects of the world, has been shown to reduce mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. 

2. Adopting a “gratitude attitude” has also been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, decrease inflammation in the body, improve sleep, strengthen relationships, reduce conflict, and trigger reciprocally helpful behaviour.

In the past two decades, researchers have learned that gratitude is strongly related to all aspects of wellbeing. It has been shown to reduce mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. A person who has suffered a traumatic experience, for example, is able to recover better and even achieve a higher level of emotional wellbeing afterward if they are oriented toward noticing and appreciating the positive in the world.

Adopting a “gratitude attitude” has also been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, decrease inflammation in the body, improve sleep, strengthen relationships, reduce conflict, and trigger reciprocally helpful behaviour. This last finding means that a person who shows gratitude – for a friend’s input, a home-cooked meal, a parent's help with homework – increases the likelihood that the recipient will show more care and compassion toward others. Gratitude generates kind-hearted acts, like the ripples of a pebble dropped in water.
 
Some of us are “sunny sky” people who notice and appreciate the positive in the world. Others dwell a bit more on the negative with a “dark cloud” outlook. Either way, we can all increase the positive mental, emotional, and physical outcomes of gratitude.
 
Two things can help: 1) breaking gratitude down into its parts so you can see what it actually means, and 2) knowing that you can develop a stronger habit through practice.
 
Let’s start with understanding the parts of gratitude. Researchers have identified a handful of aspects of gratitude, which include:

  • Appreciation of other people: “I’m lucky to have David as a friend/coworker/brother.”
  • A focus on what you currently have: “I’m thankful for my family/for the healthy food available/for a safe and warm home.”
  • Feelings of awe when encountering beauty: “This waterfall is a wonder!”
  • Focusing on the positive in the present moment: “I’m going to sit here on this park bench for a moment and take in the autumn colors.”
  • Appreciation arising from understanding that life is short: “I will die and people I know will die, so this day matters so much.”
  • Positive social comparisons: “There are so many people who have less than I do.”

Considering this list, you can see that gratitude is not naïve, immature, or disconnected from reality. In fact, it’s mostly generated from the very real, sometimes even serious, features of our lives.

Today's POWER-UP: Practice Daily Gratitude

1. EXPRESSING GRATITUDE: WHEN I WAS WORKING WITH THE NATIONAL SWIM TEAM, WE SPENT A LOT OF TIME ON THE ROAD AT TRAINING CAMPS AND COMPETITIONS. THESE SITUATIONS CAN BECOME STRESSFUL. A KEY HABIT WE DEVELOPED IN DAILY MEETINGS WAS TO HAVE EACH TEAM MEMBER SAY WHAT SOMEONE ELSE HAD DONE TO HELP THEM THAT DAY. EXPRESSING GRATITUDE HELPED TO BRING THE TEAM TOGETHER AND MAKE EVERYONE HAPPIER. SCIENCE NOW BACKS THIS UP. PRACTICING DAILY GRATITUDE FOR ANYTHING HELPS YOU RECOGNIZE THE GOOD PARTS OF LIFE AND APPRECIATE THEM EVEN MORE.

2. GRATITUDE JOURNAL: ANOTHER SIMPLE ROUTINE YOU CAN ADOPT IS A GRATITUDE JOURNAL. THE IDEA IS THAT AT THE END OF EVERY DAY WE WRITE DOWN 3-5 THINGS THAT WE ARE GRATEFUL FOR THAT DAY. LIKE GRATITUDE ITSELF, THIS IS NOT A "FLAKEY" IDEA. RESEARCHERS HAVE IDENTIFIED KEEPING A JOURNAL AS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL GRATITUDE INTERVENTIONS. IT'S EASY TO DO, IT TAKES LITTLE TIME, AND IT REALLY WORKS. THE ONLY TRICK IS TO KEEP IT UP. IT CAN BE HELPFUL TO MAKE A PACT WITH A FRIEND OR TO BELONG TO A GROUP THAT ENGAGES IN THE ACTIVITY. 

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Decision Fatigue

Decision Fatigue

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Decision Fatigue is when you run out of the mental energy required to make decisions that are important for moving you towards your dreams.

2. You can avoid the negative effect of Decision Fatigue by developing good habits in the areas we've already discussed: sleeping soundly, eating smarter, and moving more. 

3. By making these daily habits, you will be able to make decisions that help you towards your dreams, without expending a lot of mental energy after a tough day at work or after a fight with your spouse.

Knowing how to avoid the pitfalls of mental and emotional life can be as important as knowing how to get into good habits and techniques. And that’s exactly the case with a phenomenon called Decision Fatigue, which occurs when you run out of the mental energy required to make decisions that will get you to your dream.

Every one of us has a limited amount of mental energy. As we make our way through a day of hard choices, we start to run down because our energy decreases every time we have to make a decision: “Am I going to sit down and get this project done?” “Am I going to the gym?” “Am I going to eat that treat?” Choices take energy.

Decision Fatigue is a problem because when you have burned through your mental toughness for the day, your habits take over and you become a slave to whatever you do normally. If your habits aren’t ideal, your food, sleep and exercise can derail in a hurry and take your ability to think clearly with them.

You can avoid the negative effect of Decision Fatigue by managing your energy levels and taking the thinking out of your basic routines.

1.    Sleep Soundly
Avoid ending your day crashed on the couch watching TV to “relax.” The flashing lights from your TV activate your brain and make it hard to fall asleep. And poor sleep quality leads to less mental energy. Make a sleep plan. Get some books on the nightstand. Make sure you're hydrating well during and after a flight, and time your light exposure to help beat jet lag. Have a pre-sleep routine that supports your success. 

2.    Eat Smarter
Plan your food. Typically, people reach for poor food choices when they are tired or busy. Just look at the lineups at Tim’s or Starbucks in the late afternoon! When you're on a two or three-day pairing, try and pack some healthy snacks that you can bring with you on the plane. For some great snack and meal ideas, check out the Eat Smarter module. 

3.    Move More
Plan to work out when there is very little possibility of something else getting in the way. Maybe it's to go to the gym as soon as you arrive at a hotel. Or maybe it's to go for a walk in the morning to wake yourself up. After a while, you’ll find that heading out to exercise is easier and easier because you have developed the habit.

World-class performers know that the “mental game” is everything. They build routines and follow them religiously to protect against decision fatigue. Workouts are scheduled, nutrition is planned, and sleep is a priority. As a result, they Think Clearly despite the exhaustion that comes with training full time, managing a high-pressure job, or juggling family commitments.

Today's POWER-UP: Plan ahead to avoid decision fatigue

The key to avoiding decision fatigue is to have a plan in place for when you will be at risk for doing things that go against your dreams, goals, and objectives. Answer these questions and you're well on your way to success.

1. What is it that you are looking to accomplish?

2. Where do you have difficulties in staying consistent with your objectives?

3. What can you do - ahead of time - to avoid problems that crop up?

IF YOU'D LIKE FEEDBACK, YOU CAN FILL OUT THIS FORM AND WE'LL BACK TO YOU WITH SPECIFIC SUGGESTIONS.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

The Locus of Control

The Locus of Control

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. The locus of control is a technique you can learn to direct your attention toward the tasks or issues in your life that you can change and control.

2. You will also be less anxious because you aren’t worrying about things that are beyond your control.

3. By concentrating on the things that you can have an impact on, and not getting worked up about those you can’t, you are far more likely to get into the Zone and succeed.

At the Atlanta Summer Olympics, American swimmer Gary Hall Jr. faced off against Russian swimmer Aleksandr Popov in the final of the 100-meter freestyle event – the 100m dash of swimming. The best in the world. America vs. Russia. Hall on home turf. Intense.

As they were introduced, Gary played to the crowd, shadowboxed, and looked up into the stands while Aleksandr stared calmly at Gary. As they prepared for the race, Aleksandr stared at Gary more while Gary looked aroud. And when they were racing, Aleksandr breathed so that he could see Gary alone.

Throughout, the attention of the two athletes was very different – and when they arrived at the wall to end the race, Alexsandr out-touched Gary to become Olympic Champion.

A key factor that led to Aleksandr’s win was his belief that, if he focused on Gary, he could control the outcome of the event. In the scientific literature, this is often referred to as the locus of control.

Dr. Philip Zimbardo describes the locus of control as “a belief about whether the outcomes of our actions are contingent on what we do (internal control orientation) or on events outside our personal control (external control orientation)."

If you can learn to direct your attention toward the tasks or issues in your life that you can change and control, you will be more able to get into the Zone and succeed. You will also be less anxious because you aren’t worrying about things that are beyond your control, such as your boss’s mood or whether that snow storm is going to arrive tomorrow. They are things to hold in mind but you cannot change them.  

Being clear about our locus of control allows us to focus on the right things at the right time. By concentrating on the things that you can have an impact on, and not getting worked up about those you can’t, you are far more likely to achieve an ideal state and excel.

Today's POWER-UP: Practice your Locus of Control

1. Look at this image of a green circle inside a red circle:

2. Write down a list of things in the white space all around the two circles that stress you out or that require your attention and energy. Brainstorm for as many stressors as possible.

3. Draw a line to the green area from each stressor that you can actually control and a line to the red area from each stressor you cannot control.

4. Act on the items in green (green means GO!) and let go of the ones in the red area (red = STOP!).

By doing this exercise a few times, you’ll quickly discover how you can control your attention and direct your efforts and energies toward things that you can affect and improve. This will make a huge difference in your life. Your mindset will be simply, “I can’t control that, move on.” Or, “I can make a difference here, let’s get to work.” Try it out and see how that helps you to direct your focus and energy.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Use Stress to Your Advantage!

Use Stress to Your Advantage!

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. When you're stressed, adrenaline and cortisol increase the activity of various organs like your heart, lungs, and muscles. This increases your capacity to function at a high level, both mentally and physically.

2. However, chronic stress damages your body, threatens your mental health, puts strain on relationships, and takes the joy out of life. Not to mention it contributes to high blood pressure, increases your risk of having a heart attack, can lead to weight gain/obesity, and causes brain changes that contribute to anxiety, depression, and addiction.

3. The good news is you can learn to deal with chronic stress by moving your body, getting into nature, practicing yoga/meditation/tai chi, having perspective, and changing the nature of your response.

You know what acute stress feels like: you hit a patch of ice, your car starts sliding off the road, and then you recover control just before you hit the ditch. Within seconds, your heart feels like it’s going to pound out of your chest. Your adrenal glands have just dumped hormones like epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and cortisol into your blood. Adrenaline and cortisol increase the activity of various organs like the heart, the lungs and your muscles. You feel like you’re buzzing.

The benefit of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol is that they increase our capacity to function at a high level, both mentally and physically. This is a good thing in short bursts. But it’s a bad thing to be flooded with those hormones for long periods. If they remain in our systems over time, or are dumped into our bloodstream day after day, they can cause problems. That’s what chronic stress is – not just a short burst but a prolonged period.

Short bursts of stress (called acute) are essential for helping us to perform at a higher level. But elevated stress over long periods of time (called chronic) can make us sick. 

So, acute stress can improve your performance during short periods. It’s not something to worry about when sporadic and it’s fairly easy to recover from: close your eyes, empty your mind, relax your body, and take some deep breaths. No harm done to your health, and a good boost to your performance while you were riding the wave.

Chronic stress is a different story. It’s really hard to live a high-performance life when stress is a daily reality. Chronic stress damages your body, threatens your mental health, puts strain on relationships and takes the joy out of life.

According to research conducted at the Harvard Medical School, it contributes to high blood pressure, promotes the formation of artery-clogging deposits, and causes brain changes that contribute to anxiety, depression and addiction. When epinephrine (adrenaline) damages your blood vessels, making them stiff, that elevated blood pressure increases your risk for heart attacks and strokes. And constant increased cortisol levels result in depleted energy and an increase your appetite, which can lead to weight gain and obesity.

Why is chronic stress so bad? Because you have no time to recover. So it runs you down and makes you sick.

You may be interested in some of the top ten life stressors according to The American Institute of Stress:

·      Death of spouse or family member

·      Divorce

·      Major personal injury or illness

·      Marriage

·      Being fired at work

·      Retirement from work

Many of us will experience one or more of these life events. So how can we reduce the ongoing flow of damaging stress hormones – and even find peace? Here are some proven techniques:

Today's POWER-UP: Rest, Recover and Regenerate

1. Move your body: rhythmic, repeated motion is particularly soothing to our minds and bodies, such as a long walk, cycling, swimming or running. But any kind of movement will relieve tension, improve circulation and clear your mind. I call this muscular meditation.

2. Get into nature: head outside to the park, the woods or the garden to lower blood pressure, strengthen your immune system, reduce tension and depression, and boost your mood. It’s stunning how good it is for your health to be in nature. Leave the cell phone and ear buds at home.

3. Practice yoga, mediation or Tai Chi: like nature therapy, yoga and Tai Chi decrease stress and anxiety, increase energy, and boost your immune system. They also give you more stamina – needed in stressful times – and improve the quality of your sleep.

4. Have perspective: don’t be so quick to conclude that you “can’t handle” a stressful situation. This is truly a mind over matter opportunity. Believing that you are strong and resourceful actually makes you stronger and more resourceful. Don’t give into negative self-talk about not having what it takes to manage life. 

5. Change the nature of your response: research indicates that taking an active, problem-solving approach to life’s challenges relieves stress and can also transform it into something positive. If you withdraw, deny the problem or spend all your time venting, you’ll feel helpless. Instead, be determined to make a change, put effort into it, and plan for better results. Pivot from threat to challenge.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Welcome to Perform Better

Welcome to Perform Better

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. If you can rise to the challenges that you are faced with, then recover and regenerate optimally, you will ultimately reach your potential.

2. There are benefits to stress, and in small bouts stress can increase your ability to perform physically and mentally. However, stress over long periods of time (chronic stress) causes you to be run down and can even make you sick.

3. The first step is to recognize the presence of stress in your lives. Then you can learn how to use stress to your advantage and minimize its negative effects so you can perform better.

Welcome to our final module - Perform Better! I think it’s a good idea to launch this module by recognizing the presence of stress in our lives and making choices about how to respond. The reason for this is that if we can rise to the challenges that we are faced with, perform to our potential, then recover and regenerate optimally, we will ultimately reach our potential.

So in this post, I want to share with you how to use stress to your advantage and minimize its negative effects so you can perform better.

Surprised that there are advantages to stress? Many people are. But stress is a lot like food: none at all is bad for us and too much can make us sick. We can learn to lower stress levels and help our bodies and minds to recover after periods of high stress.

In your profession, you deal with more stress than the average person. However, each of us has different stresses in our lives, and what bothers one person may not even register for another. But here’s what we have in common: our brains perceive a stressful situation as a threat. We respond to threats in our environment (sabre-tooth tiger or competition for food) by increasing our ability to perform physically and mentally (run faster or fight better). We activate a cascade of events that involve the brain, the spinal cord and a number of endocrine glands that release hormones.

The activation of the nervous system and the powerful effect of hormones improves our brain function and the strength and power of our muscles. The upside is that we are built to improve our performance. The problem is that running and fighting are not acceptable responses when you are faced with challenges during a shift.

So hold in mind as we explore stress that the classic signs of stress – anxiousness, difficulty sleeping, irritability, headaches, chest pain, brain fog, and so on – arise in us when we feel threatened and afraid. We might fear the end of a relationship or being tested during a job interview. For some of us, even just the prospect of being late for work fills us with anxiety.

So while we’re surrounded by many stress triggers, the answer isn’t to eliminate stress. There is upside and downside. We’re going to look at both, so you can perform better than ever.

Today's POWER-UP: Micro-Breaks

1. THE KEY TO MANAGING CHRONIC STRESS IS TO BREAK IT UP AND TO TAKE BREAKS. BUILD MICRO BREAKS INTO YOUR DAYS.

2. SO THIS WEEK SEE IF YOU CAN ADD A FEW BREAKS TO YOUR ROUTINE. WHENEVER YOU HAVE A BREAK IN BETWEEN FLIGHTS, GO FOR A WALK, DRINK SOME WATER, MEDITATE, OR TALK TO A FRIEND.

Dive Deeper

Check out this TED talk by Kelly McGonigal on how to make stress your friend.

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #5 - Impact

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #5 - Impact

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Impact is about making a difference, offering an outcome that matters. 

2. Healthy high-performance teams understand how their work contributes to larger organizational goals.

3. As you work to power up every team you’re on, be sure to help everyone involved understand their impact, their place in the system, and their power to make a difference on something bigger than themselves. 

We’ve arrived at the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to healthy high-performance teams. That piece is impact, which is all about the results of your work. Impact is about making a difference, offering an outcome that matters.

Teams need to understand how their work contributes to larger organizational goals. It’s incredibly inspiring to be able to see in advance where the part (project) fits into the whole (mission of the organization). And it’s personally motivating to take steps that have an impact on a cause larger than the self. It’s similar to aligning your daily habits and choices with your dreams. That’s living with impact.

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When I think of Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip, I think of impact. Gord was always very private, but he was very public about his diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. And he decided to do a final tour with the Hip all across the country. In the encore of the final concert, he really unleashed his emotions. He went right into his pain, right into his suffering, and expressed it all on stage. He went to a place he’s never been before in order to capture the entire country’s attention, with 13 million people watching that final concert on television.

But it wasn’t all about him or the music or the band. He wanted to say something in that stadium at the final concert with Prime Minister Trudeau in attendance and a huge audience across the country. He wanted people to tune in and pay attention for a reason. Standing on the stage between encores, he talked about our painful history as a nation that we need to address. He talked about the genocide we’ve perpetuated on our First Nations and Indigenous people. He wanted the country to understand the consequences of the past, and he laid the responsibility of addressing it at the feet of the Prime Minister, who nodded in that moment. Then he went on to finish the concert. You can see on Gord’s face how much it mattered him to finish his life as a musician in this way.

To have an impact on something that matters is a powerful motivator in life and on teams. As you work to power up every team you’re on, be sure to help everyone involved understand their impact, their place in the system, their power to make a difference.

Here, again, are the fab five elements of a healthy high-performance team: clarity, psychological safety, dependability, meaning and impact.

Remember the finding of Google’s Project Aristotle: it’s not who you have on a team, it’s how the team functions. It’s the team’s “communal health,” not its talent, credentials or experience. It’s how they view their task and one another. Those five elements can be alive and well on any team. If they are, great things are possible.

Finally, keep in mind that the five elements build mental health. If they drive us at work and in our personal lives, we’ll have more joy and greater psychological and emotional wellbeing. Our teams win, and so do we.

Today's POWER UP: Identify your Potential Impact

THIS FINAL PIECE OF THE PUZZLE OF HOW TO CREATE HEALTHY HIGH-PERFORMANCE TEAMS IS BEING AWARE OF THE IMPACT THAT SUCCESS WILL HAVE. THIS IMPACT CAN BE ON YOU, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR TEAMMATES, YOUR CLIENTS, YOUR STUDENTS, THE COUNTRY, OR EVEN THE WORLD.

I HAVE DISCOVERED THAT MY MISSION IN MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE IS TO HELP 1 BILLION PEOPLE BE HEALTHIER AND TO REACH THEIR POTENTIAL. IN MY FAMILY LIFE I SEEK TO HAVE A POSITIVE IMPACT ON THE LIVES OF MY CHILDREN. 

KNOWING WHAT THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF YOUR TEAM WORK IS CAN BE POWERFULLY MOTIVATING FOR THE MEMBERS OF YOUR TEAM. MORE IMPORTANTLY IT CAN MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY AND CONTENT DESPITE THE CHALLENGES THAT OFTEN ACCOMPANY TRYING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.

KNOWING WHAT YOUR DESIRED IMPACT IS CAN ALSO HELP YOU KEEP GOING DESPITE OBSTACLES AND FAILURES. 

SO WHAT IS THE IMPACT THAT YOU SEEK TO MAKE IN THE WORLD? MAKE SURE THAT YOU GET THIS WRITTEN DOWN AND SHARE IT AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #4 - Meaning

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #4 - Meaning

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Meaning is understanding not what you’re doing but why you’re doing it.

2. Motivation is much more powerful when it comes from the inside (why do you care about what you do, what are you passionate about, what is the significance), versus outside motivation (rewards, fame, money).  

We’re on the fourth element of building a healthy high-performance team. We’ve arrived at meaning.

What is meaning? It’s not what you’re doing but why you’re doing it: not what your job is, for example, but what drives you. A teacher might ask herself, why do I work as an educator of young people?

Of course, a healthy high-performance team needs to understand the “what” of their work. It’s the task, problem or issue. But the why is much more powerful: it’s the meaning of the work, the larger purpose. What is the significance? How does it fit into the bigger picture? Why does it matter at all?

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Most important of all, what is driving each member of the team? Is it the hope of a bonus, a promotion, some sort of reward? It’s an important question, because one thing we have learned about motivation is that when it comes from the outside (rewards), it is far less powerful and far more likely to die off than when it comes from the inside (a deep desire to do one’s best, to advance a cause).

Here’s a story to illustrate how powerful meaning and “why” can be.

Michael Phelps is the most successful Olympian of all time. Yet in 2014, he ended up in a very dark place. He was photographed smoking marijuana, acquired two driving under the influence charges, and had a series of bad relationships. He was very troubled, despite having 14 gold medals and unlimited money. He ended up checking himself into rehab and had thoughts of suicide.

Gold medals are amazing achievements, but they are also external rewards. They don’t fill the meaning gap.

While in rehab, a friend asked him a simple but surprising question: “Is that the best that you can do?” Imagine asking the most successful Olympian ever, really, is that all you’ve got? But Michael listened. And he realized, he wasn’t even close to his best. Not because he needed more wins, though he would indeed earn more. But because he was living “what” (earning medals) and not “why” (his meaning and passion).

He changed his diet. He committed to physical therapy. He added yoga, stretching, massage and functional training to his swimming. He repaired a number of relationships. And possibly the clearest illustration of his shift: he stopped reading things like ESPN magazine and started reading biographies of people like Mahatma Ghandi and Steve Jobs. Talk about two individuals driven by inner purpose!

Michael’s overall shift was away from money and medals (external rewards) and toward meaning (trying his hardest, doing his best, rediscovering his love of training). By the Rio Olympics in 2016, he was truly happy.

That’s the power of why. And it lies at the heart of healthy high-performance teams. A great team is driven by something deeper than praise or trophies: it is fueled by meaning. External rewards are fine, but they are not the meaning of our lives.

Today's POWER-UP: Know Your Why

GOOGLE’S PROJECT ARISTOTLE REVEALED THAT HIGH-PERFORMING TEAMS WERE CLEAR ON THE FACT THAT THEIR PROJECTS HAD MEANING AND WERE DESIGNED TO ACCOMPLISH VERY SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES OR TO CREATE NEW OPPORTUNITIES.

JUST THINK ABOUT THE TEAM THAT CREATED GOOGLE VOICE - A PIECE OF FREE SOFTWARE THAT ALLOWS YOU TO TALK, FOR FREE, TO ANYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD. THAT PROJECT WAS NOT ABOUT CREATING SOFTWARE, IT WAS ABOUT CONNECTING PEOPLE.

SO WHY ARE YOU DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING? WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR TEAM? WHY ARE YOU WORKING ON A PROJECT? OR TRAINING FOR AN EVENT? OR PRACTICING A NEW PIECE OF MUSIC?

KNOWING YOUR WHY AND BEING AWARE OF THE REAL MEANING OF THE WORK THAT YOU’RE DOING IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL TO ENSURING THAT YOU REACH YOUR POTENTIAL.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #3 - Dependability

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #3 - Dependability

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Dependability is being able to rely on others to complete their tasks well.

2. A dependable team is highly productive. Promises are kept, people follow through, things get done, and trust is built.  

3. The first step is to switch from time management to priority management. If every team member understands the priorities of the project, they are going to stay on track, which means the whole team stays on track.

The third element of a healthy high-performance team is dependability. This is a pretty straight-forward concept: it means being able to rely on others to complete their tasks well. We all have a pretty good sense of what “dependable” means – with our bosses, co-workers, spouses, and even with elements of the world, like public transportation or a favourite coffee shop.

Dependability matters because it draws on and leads to so many other individual and team factors. For example, a dependable team member is building positive relationships as a by-product of being responsible and reliable. That person’s word is their bond, which boosts morale and confidence all around. And of course, a dependable person – and team – is highly productive. Promises are kept, people follow through, things get done.

Most importantly, dependability builds trust. People who can be depended on are people who can be trusted. Faith in each other and in the mission is strong.

During parts of our climb up Mount Chimbarazo in Ecuador, the whole group was roped together. There were times, especially at night, when we had to completely depend on one another. The image of climbers tied together is perfect for a dependable team. With such a strong sense of responsibility and connection, you’re not going to let anyone down. If you did, the team could fall off a cliff! In our case, it felt amazing to be tied to everyone else. It was empowering. It’s also empowering for other kinds of teams.

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How can you ensure that you and your teams are dependable?

My strong suggestion is that you pivot from time management to priority management. If your team works from a sense of priority, it is going to be highly reliable when it comes to reaching stages and benchmarks. If every team member understands the priorities of the project, they are going to stay on track, which means the whole team stays on track.

I shifted to priority management awhile ago in my life. Long story short: after I ended up in the cardiac ward of a hospital with a heart infection, I reset my priorities: health first, then family, then work.

At the outset of a project, align everyone’s priorities around what is mission-critical. Cut out anything that isn’t essential. As a result, you’ll see dependability rise. People naturally become more reliable when they are engaged in mission-critical activities rather than distracting minutiae.

When my health became mission-critical as my first priority, I was able to complete an Ironman a year after my heart infection knocked me out. Right now, my priority is building great relationships with my family. I spend time with my wife and kids from dinner through to bedtime. I do it every day. That mission-critical focus has made me highly dependable and has been great for the health and strength of my family. The same happens on work teams.

On your teams, spend time at the outset of a project and then periodically afterward asking, what is mission critical? What are the right priorities? You will find that the dependability of each member and the whole team skyrockets.

Today's POWER UP: Priority Management and the Mission Critical Question

THE KEY TO DEPENDABILITY IS ACTUALLY DOING WHAT YOU SAY YOU ARE GOING TO DO. THERE ARE TWO CRITICAL ACTIONS THAT CAN HELP YOU BE DEPENDABLE AND TO ENSURE THAT YOUR TEAMMATES ARE DEPENDABLE AS WELL.

1. THE FIRST IS TO DO PRIORITY MANAGEMENT, NOT TIME MANAGEMENT. MOST PEOPLE MANAGE THEIR CALENDARS AND NOT THEIR PRIORITIES. WHEN YOU ARE CLEAR ON YOUR PRIORITIES AND THEN YOU ASSIGN TIME TO GET YOUR MOST IMPORTANT THINGS DONE EACH DAY (RATHER THAN THE OTHER WAY AROUND), YOU SET THE STAGE FOR ACHIEVEMENT AND DEPENDABILITY.

2. THE SECOND WAY TO IMPROVE DEPENDABILITY IS TO ASK A VERY POWERFUL QUESTION AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH DAY / MEETING / BLOCK OF WORK. THE QUESTION IS “IS THIS MISSION CRITICAL?” THAT SIMPLE QUESTION WILL GIVE YOU AND YOUR TEAMMATES PERSPECTIVE THAT YOU NEED TO MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE ACTUALLY GOING TO DO. 

MOST OF US HAVE TOO MUCH TO DO AND NOT ENOUGH TIME. THEREFORE, WE OFTEN CANNOT GET EVERYTHING DONE. THIS CAUSES A LOT OF STRESS AND ANXIETY, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOUR TEAMMATES ARE DEPENDING ON YOU. PRIORITY MANAGEMENT AND THE MISSION CRITICAL QUESTION ARE TWO WAYS THAT YOU CAN ENSURE THAT YOU ARE GETTING YOUR LIFE MOST IMPORTANT WORK DONE DESPITE THE CHALLENGES AND DEMANDS THAT YOU’RE FACED WITH ON A DAILY BASIS.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #2 - Psychological Safety

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #2 - Psychological Safety

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Psychological safety is when people feel that there are no negative consequences for risk-taking, such as being viewed as ignorant, incompetent, or disruptive. They also feel they will not be embarrassed or punished for making a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.

2. Here are two questions that help co-workers, students, or your family members feel that the environment is a psychologically safe place: What went well? Where do I need support?

When it comes to building healthy, high-performance teams, the Google study identified psychological safety as most important to team success.

If you’ve ever been in a perfectionist work environment or on a less than great team, you may have experienced things like this: people getting shot down for having wacky ideas, or being criticized for not having the right answer, or being afraid to speak up because someone might roll their eyes or snicker.

I would call that a psychologically unsafe situation! People feel under attack and protect themselves by clamming up or playing it safe. Kids do this in classrooms all the time – maybe you did too, when you were a student. No surprise that careful contributions – lacking in original insight or creative whimsy – lead to uninspired learning or weak solutions.

Let’s define psychological safety so you can start to integrate it into your teamwork:

·       A person’s perception that there are no negative consequences for risk-taking, such as being viewed as ignorant, incompetent or disruptive

·       Teammates feel they will not be embarrassed or punished for making a mistake, asking a question or offering a new idea

I think Saturday Night Live is a perfect example of psychological safety. Actors come together during the week to generate new ideas, and they pitch them constantly – basically, competing with one another to get their ideas on the air. Obviously, only a few get picked and make it to Saturday night. Once the final skits have been selected, the highly competitive atmosphere switches to a highly cooperative one. Everyone comes together to work on them. Both in the competition stage and in the cooperation stage, there is a high level of support. Just because you want your idea to win doesn’t mean you’re trashing everyone else. And if your idea doesn’t win, you join someone else’s to make it the best it can be.

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On any team, you want members to feel free to offer new ideas without penalty, to stick their neck out. That’s a vulnerable position. The creative flow will shut off if disapproval results. People protect themselves from harm, whether emotional or physical. It’s a survival instinct, and we need to have it for situations that really risky. A great team isn’t that situation.

Psychological safety is what got Melissa McCarthy to her Sean Spicer impersonation. It’s one of the best SNL characters ever. In order to be so creative, the support has to be greater than the risks.

This is true for the workplace, for schools, even for families. Co-workers, students, even your own teenagers need to feel that the environment is a psychologically safe place. Here are two questions that help make that happen: What went well? Where do I need support?

Those two positive questions can lead to amazing outcomes. Try it in a team meeting or at the end of every work week and see what happens when you go around a table and everyone asks and answers these questions. Or do it with your family or your spouse. What went well this week? Where do I need support?

When we talk about these things in a safe environment, everyone wins. And every team gets better.

Today's POWER UP: Daily Reflection

TO ENSURE THAT YOU ARE CREATING AN ENVIRONMENT AND CULTURE WHERE SUPPORT IS GREATER THAN RISK, HERE IS AN EXERCISE THAT WORKS WONDERS. 

ASK YOUR TEAMMATES TWO QUESTIONS AT THE END OF EACH WEEK WHEN YOU ARE WORKING TOGETHER ON A PROJECT: “WHAT WENT WELL?” AND “ WHERE DO YOU NEED SUPPORT?”

I LEARNED THESE QUESTIONS FROM MY FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE ALEX CHARFEN (YOU CAN CHECK HIM OUT AT WWW.CHARFEN.COM). 

ADD THESE QUESTIONS TO YOUR MEETINGS AND ROUTINES AND YOU WILL CREATE A POWERFUL POSITIVE CULTURE IN YOUR TEAMS.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #1 - Clarity

The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #1 - Clarity

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. High-performance teams have clarity of vision and dream. A healthy high-performance team starts by asking, what’s the dream? What’s the vision?

2. Clarity involves three aspects: understanding job expectations, understanding how to fulfill those expectations, and understanding the consequences of job performance.

3. When team members can “see” what they need to do, how to do it, and be able to assess how well they’re doing it – that’s clarity.

Now that you know that each element of a healthy high-performance team is also a critical element in your (and my and everyone’s) overall mental health, let’s jump right into the first one: clarity.

High-performance teams have clarity of vision and dream. This involves three aspects: understanding job expectations, understanding how to fulfill those expectations, and understanding the consequences of job performance. 

Let me give you an example:

About 18 months ago, I was in a group of grad students, doctors, and serious mountaineers who wanted to climb Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador. If you take into account the equatorial bulge, Chimborazo is actually two kilometers higher than Everest. We wanted to be closer to the stars than any other humans (those up on the International Space Station don’t count!).

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It’s a challenging climb: steep, dangerous in parts, and a very high altitude of over 6,000 metres at the peak. Plus, the climb begins at the memorial site of those who have failed. The psychology of starting from a graveyard is pretty bleak. Also, I developed some altitude sickness on the climb and experienced tunnel vision, dizziness and confusion. There were some tough times.

In the end, two of my grad students got onto the summit while we older people stopped just below, wanting to survive to return to our families!

We were all able to participate in that expedition because of our clear vision: we wanted to be the humans closest to the stars. We focused on that during extensive training and the climb. That clarity kept us focused. It got us up and it got us back.

Over time, exercising your clarity and focus appears to change a structure in the brain called the inferior frontal cortex, which is involved in decision making and the interpretation of information from the environment. It becomes strengthened when you focus repeatedly. The structure of your brain actually changes. And so, of course, does your ability to maintain focus.

Think of others with exceptional focus and vision, like Elon Musk. SpaceX is about making humanity a multi-planetary species. Tesla and SolarCity are about a carbon-free future. Those very clear visions drive those organizations forward rather than, for example, merely making a car. Or consider J.K. Rowling, a single mother living in poverty and struggling with depression. Her first Harry Potter manuscript was rejected by 12 publishing houses, one of whom suggested she get a day job since she had little chance of making a living with children’s books. But she had a clear vision and stayed faithful to it.

A healthy high-performance team starts by asking what’s the dream? What’s the vision? When team members can “see” what they need to do, how to do it, and be able to assess how well they’re doing it – that’s clarity. That’s the vision and the dream.

Today's POWER-UP: Clarity of Vision 

The foundation of great team performance is for leaders (you can always lead without a title - anyone on a team can and should be a leader) to be absolutely clear about what their vision is for the project that the team is seeking to complete or achieve.

The vision can be a dream if it is big picture or a goal if the task is more concrete and time-limited. The outcome of the project should be articulated and stated. The vision should be stated verbally and in writing at every opportunity. 

Some examples include:

1. When we were climbing Chimborazo volcano in Ecuador our objective was to become the humans who were the closest to the stars.

2. Elon Musk is creating a carbon-free future through his companies Tesla and Solar City.

3. A school in Baltimore changed their school culture by using meditation instead of detention.

So what is your vision for your key project for this year? Let’s get that written down and test it out by saying aloud in meetings and presentations and writing it in blog posts or other communications.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

There Are Teams…. And Then There Are Healthy High-Performance Teams

There Are Teams…. And Then There Are Healthy High-Performance Teams

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. A less functional team might make you feel low, doubtful of your own ability, and emotionally damaged.  A really great team delivers a boost of energy and confidence that lasts beyond the time you spend together.

2. How a team functions is far more important than who is on a team.

3. In this module, we'll look at "the fab five" secrets of building a high-performance team - in your workplace or even at home with your family.

It’s common knowledge that productivity increases when people collaborate well. That goes for businesses, schools, universities, even social groups like book clubs. High-functioning teams are good for profitability, student achievement and even fun get-togethers.

But what makes a terrific team? Is it putting the greatest minds together? Socializing outside of work? Grouping people by experience? Having the same level of education? Having a strong leader?

Good teams might have some or all of those things. But so do bad teams. When you take the time to review the research, none of those factors explain what makes a great team great. So that’s what I’m going to do in this series – offer some answers so you can build healthy, high-performance teams.

But first, let me ask you this: when you think back over some of the less functional, less productive teams you’ve been on, what comes to mind? What was it like? How did it make you feel?

People report feeling pretty low, doubtful of their own ability, sometimes even emotionally damaged when they’ve been part of a low-functioning or failing team. On the other hand, a really great team delivers a boost of energy and confidence that lasts beyond the time you spend together.

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Don’t confuse a bad team with a really tough situation or problem to solve. On one of the best teams I ever formed, we all experienced freezing conditions, physically gruelling 18-hour days and rough working conditions (as in, setting up an “office” on the side of a cliff using solar panels to run a satellite network). We were 12,000 feet up in the Andes Mountains. We were often cold, hungry, tired, sometimes even sick….and happy. And successful. The living was hard but the teamwork was fantastic. We were high when we got back from the expedition, not low.

We had quite a few things in common, including some fancy credentials and unusual expertise. But that wasn’t why we worked. It’s not enough to have “the best people” in order to have the best teams. There’s much more to it than that.

How much more? That’s what Google asked itself about five years ago when it embarked on Project Aristotle. Google studied hundreds of its own teams and discovered this: how a team functions is far more important than who is on a team. The team’s “communal health” matters the most. It’s not about how smart the members are – it’s about how they view their task and treat one another.

I’m going to share with you what that means. In the next five articles, I’ll draw on Project Aristotle and other research to help you build healthy, high-performance teams – in your workplace or even at home with your family.

I’ll be covering “the fab five” of healthy, high-performance teams: clarity, psychological safety, dependability, meaning and impact. And what’s really interesting is that all five areas are also critical for overall mental health. In other words, if you incorporate these five aspects into your teamwork, you’ll also be building your mental health (and that of your colleagues) for all parts of your life.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

The Power of Mindfulness

The Power of Mindfulness

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Mindfulness, which involves keeping our awareness in the here and now, is a key to mental health and elite performance. 

2. We live in the age of distraction, with e-mail, social media, text messages, YouTube, and our jobs and personal lives all competing for our attention. The idea of mindfulness is to stay in the moment in the face of massive potential for distraction.

3. By practicing mindfulness, you will strengthen your ability to stay in the present moment, develop your capacity to focus, increase the flow of information between mind and body, and enter into and stay in your Zone with more ease.

By Dr. Greg Wells & Dr. Ellen Choi

There are few moments in sport that can compete with the moment when an elite pitcher and clutch hitter square off during the playoffs with a game on the line. The pitcher’s eyes focus on the target while they try to block out the crowd, the TV and the crushing idea that this is a career-defining moment. The hitter breathes deeply to stay calm and relaxed while trying to remain on edge so they can deliver explosive power and energy at that precise moment. Both athletes are entirely present without thinking about the past or the future. They are living purely in the moment, and that is a powerful learning point for the rest of us.

As you know, mindfulness involves keeping our awareness in the here and now and is a key to mental health and elite performance. The idea is to stay in the moment in the face of massive potential for distraction. To quote Dr. Michael Gervais:
 
“When we are in a high stakes or intense situation, it’s not uncommon for our minds to jump forward, going to the next moment and worrying about what happens when this moment doesn’t go well,” Gervais said. “What happens is we give 50 percent to something that doesn’t exist yet and 50 to this moment.”

Controlling your awareness and mind is a central element for success in any area – be it music, sports, drama, or your workplace. Yet we live in the age of distraction. We have email, social media, text messages, and YouTube all competing for our attention, not to mention our careers. The problem is that distraction and multitasking go against how our brains work. In the movie Limitless, Bradley Cooper uses a drug that allows him to access 100% of his brain. But, no matter how appealing that is, the reality is that our brains can only do one thing at a time.

The nerves that make up the brain have very little stored energy. When we think, problem solve or create memories, the brain needs oxygen, glucose and nutrients to work. This “fuel” is provided by blood flow to whatever part of the brain is working on the specific task. But blood flow to the brain is limited and can only be delivered to a few small areas at once. If we activate different parts of our brain by trying to think about the past or future rather than our current reality, we end up shifting the blood flow between locations and never giving the brain what it needs to get a single job done properly.
 
If you practice mindfulness, you will

·         strengthen your ability to stay in the present moment
·         develop your capacity to focus
·         increase the flow of information between mind and body
·         enter into and stay in your Zone with more ease

So as you improve how you manage your mental space, try the age-old technique of being mindful by increasing your awareness of what is happening in and around you. Merely register the data from your senses or thoughts, rather than interpreting them: that means watching and observing without labelling, judging, or analyzing.

Committing to a consistent and daily practice, however long, is a gift that only you can give yourself. Mindfulness has positively impacted people all over the world for thousands of years. By taking just a few moments out of your day you can enjoy the benefits of being genuinely present for your life. Your performance, wellbeing, and relationships will thank you for it.

Today's POWER-UP: Practice Present-Moment Awareness

1. Take a few minutes to do nothing but collect data through your senses. What are you touching and how does it feel (cold, warm, hot, smooth, rough, soft, hard)? What can you see in terms of shape, colour, texture, distance, closeness? What sounds are close by and further away and can you identify them all? What smells are in the air (your cologne, a cup of coffee, someone’s lunch)? What taste do you have in your mouth (sweet, sour, metallic, bitter)?

2. Practice for a few moments each day and you will develop your ability to stay present, develop focus, connect to your body and stay in your flow state.
 
This technique involves being 100% present in the moment with all our attention directed at one thing only. I can do this when I listen to a great piece of music. I also love art galleries, because when faced with a masterpiece, you really can’t think about anything else. You can also do this in a conversation with a friend or family member and be absolutely focused on what they’re saying without your mind wandering or worrying about what you’re going to say back. Just listen and try to understand. One of the deepest human needs is to be listened to – you’ll be amazed by the power of this technique. Sharpening your focus and living in the moment are great ways to dissipate stress. So much of our stress comes from thinking about the past or the future. When we stay in the present, we often realize that things are pretty good.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Mindfulness and Sleep

Mindfulness and Sleep

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. We learned in the Sleep Soundly module how important sleep is for recovery and regeneration, optimal performance, and overall health. However, in today's world - and particularly in your profession - getting the optimal amount of sleep might not always be possible.

2. Recently, researchers have discovered that meditation shows similar rest, recovery, and regeneration qualities in the brain as sleep - and after a short practice people often report feeling energized. 

3. While it shouldn't be used instead of sleep, a short meditation practice can be used on those days you had to get up early, or had back to back shifts. 

By Dr. Ellen Choi

While sleep is an involuntary process, meaning we can’t force sleep to occur at will (a fact that any insomniac or parent can attest to), meditation is a fascinating alternative since we can choose to meditate anytime, anywhere, and for any length of time.

Meditation is a mental training technique that falls into the same category as sleep because they are both regenerative. While meditation and mindfulness practices have earned themselves a good reputation for stress reduction, a less well-known finding is that these practices can boost energy levels and relieve burnout. In my own research, people often report feeling energized after a short practice of paying attention to one’s breath, mentally scanning the body, or simply allowing their minds to wander from something other than work. 

Recently, researchers have discovered that meditation shows similar rest, recovery and regeneration qualities in the brain as sleep. It also appears that meditation supports deeper sleep and can even alleviate insomnia. Along these lines, one study found that advanced meditators require less sleep at night to feel refreshed and that the benefits of meditation are similar to the cognitive and physical benefits of stage-IV deep sleep.

When my baby was just born, I was barely sleeping, and what sleep I got was fragmented. In my waking hours, I could barely hold eye contact with people, let alone carry a conversation. While many advised me to “nap when the baby napped” it proved unrealistic for me so instead, I started micro-meditating. 

Any time I was sitting still, I would sit up straight, close my eyes, and connect to my breath or body’s sensations - even if it was just for ten seconds. Instead of playing on my phone when I was nursing, I would stay present with my baby, focusing entirely on her or, if it was dark, focusing on my breath. These brief but frequent moments were incredibly regenerative, allowing me to feel more present with the people around me, more productive, and overall, much happier.

Today's Power Up: Meditate to Sleep Better

For those people that are looking to sleep better, investing in a meditation practice has much to offer. Micro-meditations can help.

Particularly, if you feel daunted by the idea of meditating for an hour a day (or even 10 minutes a day), micro-meditations may be one way to begin integrating mindfulness into a busy or erratic schedule.

Here are three things to keep in mind for a very brief mindfulness check-in:

1. Set an intention. Be intentional about your practice such that you are consciously attuning yourself to the present for the next few seconds. This may seem obvious but setting the intention to be present is an important part of the process and is the difference between the practice being a micro-nap or a mental zone out.

2. Choose an anchor. An anchor is anything that you choose to be your point of focus that connects you to the present. Your anchor may be your breath, or body sensations like the feeling of your feet on the floor or the temperature of your hands.  It could also be a mantra you’re repeating in your mind, or even something in front of you that you lock your gaze on. Set your anchor and return to it anytime your mind wanders.

3. Close your practice. At the end of your micro-meditation, create a ritual that brings some closure to your practice. You might pause for one more second just to notice how you feel. Another option is to take a moment to think about something you’re grateful for, or to send a kind thought to someone in your life who needs it.  

You may discover that just a few short intentional moments can shift your entire state of mind.

The evidence suggests that sleep is a cornerstone of a healthy mind but if you can’t fit in more sleep cycles, try meditating instead!

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Mindfulness, Stress, and Peak Performance

Mindfulness, Stress, and Peak Performance

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. In a high-pressure situation, mindfulness can be used to help deal with stress and find confidence in the most intense situations. 

2. Possessing the ability to stay calm under pressure is the bedrock of outstanding performance, especially in your line of work, because in a calm state we can more reliably regulate our attention and behaviour.

3. When we feel stressed out, just taking deeper breaths for about 60 seconds is a very effective way of regulating stress because it activates the parasympathetic response in the body, which signals to the emotional centres of the brain that it’s time to calm down.

By Dr. Greg Wells

Imagine you are about to give a presentation to a large audience. Are your palms sweaty? Is your heart beginning to flutter? Is your stomach turning? Are you thinking “oh my, there are so many people out there” or worrying about what the crowd will be thinking of you?

Whether it’s a presentation, a playoff game, a life-threatening situation, or even a first date, performance under pressure is something we can all relate to. And here’s a little secret: paying attention to what you’re thinking about is the first step to mastering your performance.

George Mumford is a sports psychologist who has been working with mindfulness for years to help athletes perform at their best in the moments that matter most. He’s worked with elite athletes, like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant to name a few, training them to become more aware of their thoughts and to connect with their body so that they can find a place of ease and confidence in the most intense situations. You may not be an elite athlete, but you’ve got your own intense moments in your line of work.

Research has recently produced evidence that supports the idea that mindfulness practices are aligned with optimal performance. For example, one meta-analysis reviewed 270 independent studies and found that mindfulness had a positive effect on performance and was negatively related to how much stress people perceived in their lives.

When we react to stress, sometimes the brain and body respond in a way that is not always best for the situation. One example is how stress impacts our attention. If you are in a room with a rattlesnake, you’re likely not paying attention to the colour of the curtains! Biological programming locks your attention toward the snake. This is what psychologists refer to as the threat-rigidity response

The downside is that sometimes we don’t want our attention to become narrow and rigid. Think of how important it would be to an advertising executive to be able to think broadly and openly even when a deadline is approaching. Sometimes we want our attention to be flexible instead of focusing only on what we perceive to be our largest threat. Possessing the ability to stay calm under pressure is the bedrock of outstanding performance, in the airline industry and elsewhere, because in a calm state, we can more reliably regulate our attention and behaviour.

When we feel stressed out, just taking deeper breaths for about 60 seconds is a very effective way of regulating stress. It activates the parasympathetic response in the body, which floods the brain with oxygen and signals to the emotional centres of the brain that it’s time to calm down.

If you look over past highly-stressful situations, you may be able to see when deep breathing could have helped to calm your mind and open it to several possible solutions. That’s where mindfulness can take you – to a today and tomorrow where you can achieve a state of calm and effectiveness at a higher level than ever before. 

Today's Power Up: The STOP Practice

The next time you feel suffocated by the pressure of a situation, try the STOP practice. STOP stands for Stop, Take a breath, Observe, and Proceed. Here are the four steps in detail.

1. Stop whatever you’re doing and become aware of the present moment.

2. Take a breath. Or two. Or ten.

3. Observe your body and scan it for any sensations, tension, emotions that are present.

4. Proceed. Carry on with life and set an intention guided by “what’s most important as I move forward?”. It may even be that you need to cycle through the STOP practice again!

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Meditate to Sharpen Your Mind

Meditate to Sharpen Your Mind

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Meditation has direct benefits on both the structure and function of the brain.

2. Meditating for as little as eight weeks can actually increase the grey matter in the parts of the brain responsible for emotional regulation and learning.

3. Regular meditation helps to change the responses of a region of the brain called the amygdala, leading to better emotional control both during the meditation and in the hours that followed. 

4. Other research has shown that mediation improves mood, stress, your hormone levels, and can reduce anxiety, pain, and depression.

By Dr. Greg Wells

Most of the elite performers that I have had the privilege to work with over the last few years have a meditation practice. I have just started and am about six months into my journey of consistent meditation. The practice has helped me to decrease stress, increase calmness, speed recovery and think more clearly. I really notice the difference between days when I meditate in the morning compared to those days when I miss my practice.

Consistent meditation can change your brain for the better. Recent research at Harvard has shown that meditating for as little as eight weeks can actually increase the grey matter in the parts of the brain responsible for emotional regulation and learning. My own experience has shown that meditation is essential for learning how to manage and to sharpen my mind. It is an essential practice for anyone looking to live a world-class life – at work, home and in personal hobbies and activities. 

New research has demonstrated that regular meditation helps to change the responses of a region of the brain called the amygdala to environmental events. Overall, these changes result in better emotional control, both during the meditation and in the hours that follow. This was the first study that showed that meditation has residual effects on mood and emotion that last after the meditation session ends.

Other research has shown that mediation improves mood, stress, and hormone levels and can reduce anxiety, pain, and depression. It is an incredible tool that will make a huge difference in your life.

Take a moment to think about your work environment – its challenges and satisfactions – and your life off shift. When and where do you find your mood darkening? What are your greatest sources of stress? Remember that this whole program is about improving your health and wellbeing overall. You may think, my work is fine, I really want to improve things at home. And that’s fine – it’s a good area of focus. But what we’ve learned about the brain is that stress from one area enters into and creates more stress in others. Our experiences are whole and connected.

So I would urge you to consider your life in all of its aspects. Yes, meditation will improve work performance and satisfaction – not just to be a “good employee” but so that your wellbeing grows in all aspects of your life!

Today's POWER-UP: The One Minute Body Scan

Eventually, if you practice, the relaxation response and mind clarity becomes almost automatic. Here’s how it works. 

1. Start with one minute a day. Try “body scanning,” which involves focusing your mind and energy on each section of the body from head to toe.

2. As you direct your focus to each body part, notice any tension and use your breathing to relax that area and let the tension go.

3. Focus on your breathing and let your thoughts come and go without judgement.

4. Make this a habit and you might even be able to change the way your brain controls emotions and learning by relaxing your body and setting the stage for brilliance!

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

The Default Mind

The Default Mind

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. In the brain, the self can be perceived in one of two ways: the experiential mode, or the default mode. The default mode is kind of like being on auto-pilot, and is where most of us operate on a day-to-day basis.

2. The experiential mode is a foundational component of mindfulness practice. It is when an individual is “in the zone” and is so enraptured in the present moment that they have lost awareness of themselves.

3. When we spend too much time in the default mode, we miss out on the joy and the lessons that exist in the little things right before us. 

By Dr. Ellen Choi

When your mind wanders, what are you thinking about? Have you ever noticed that our mental chatter is often concerned with reliving something in the past or worrying about something that has yet to come? When it is focused on the present, it often has a critical voice - like, “I can’t believe that someone would park their car like that” or “what on earth is Terry wearing?”

Researchers have discovered that the brain has a default mode, a sort of auto-pilot function that most of us operate in on a day-to-day basis. There is, however, an alternative. In the brain, the self can be perceived in one of two ways: the experiential mode or the default mode.

The experiential mode is the more elusive of the two. It is a foundational component of mindfulness practices because in this mode, we are not watching ourselves as if we are the star of a movie; instead, we’re just in the moment itself. The experiential mode can be understood as a flow state where an individual is “in the zone” and is so enraptured in the present moment that they have lost awareness of themselves. Think of a hockey player skating on the ice thinking only of the stick and puck. Or what it’s like to sit on the dock at the cottage and enjoy the sound of the lake and the smell of the air instead of worrying about the email you forgot to send. In this mode or processing, the physical senses are primarily engaged. When we place our attention on our senses, like the feeling of breathing in and out, we are engaging an experiential mode of self-processing.

The default mode - also referred to as the narrative mode - has three characteristics. First, the self is experienced in the past or in the future; anywhere but in the present moment. Second, the narrative mode is self-obsessed: what am I going to eat for lunch or when am I going to get my promotion? Finally, in the default mode we see the world through a critical lens, constantly evaluating and judging our experiences. 

Imagine eating a piece of chocolate. In the default/narrative mode, instead of enjoying the chocolate, we might be thinking, “I shouldn’t be eating this since it has so many calories” or “this isn’t as good as the last chocolate I ate.” In the experiential mode, you would simply savour its taste as it melts on the tongue. 

The default/narrative mode is beneficial because it lets us learn from the past and plan for the future. But when we spend too much time in that mode, we miss out on the joy and the lessons that exist in the little things right before us. Along these lines, a recent study conducted out of Harvard found that being present was a better predictor of happiness than the specific activity one was actually engaging in. This is an empowering finding because we cannot always control what we do in a day – think of the unpredictability some of your days have! –  but we can choose to be fully present while doing it.

In the age of neuroplasticity, there are actions we can take to rewire how our brain functions. Meditation appears to be one way to literally reprogram the brain and break the default mode.

Today's Power Up: Tame The Default Mind

Here are three other ways to push back against the default mode so that you can be here for the big and little moments of your life.

1. Start developing your awareness by simply noticing when you are and are not present. There is some evidence to suggest that approximately 50% of the time we are not focusing on the task before us. In the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, a thought leader in the mindfulness world, when you’re walking, just walk; when you’re eating, just eat!

2. Start thinking more about others. Instead of worrying about what you’re going to say in your next meeting or what your peers think about your report, spend a moment or two focusing on others. Sit down and write a thank you note to someone in your life. Or try sending every person you walk by a kind thought like “have a nice day” or “may you be happy” and see how you feel after a short period of time.

3. Tame your critical voice. Practice observing and suspending judgment. It may surprise you how often and how quickly your mind is judging everything around you. Begin by observing what and when you’re judging, and then wherever possible, see if you can allow an experience to simply be without labelling it as positive or negative. The best part about decreasing the amount of time we judge others is that we tend to start judging ourselves less as well.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Meditate to Create

Meditate to Create

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Practising mindfulness and meditation has been shown to improve attentional control, problem solving, concentration, and creativity.

2. Imaging techniques that show brain activation and neural networks have demonstrated that mindfulness and meditation can improve brain function - like strength training for the brain! 

By Dr. Greg Wells

I recently participated in a thought leadership exercise at a school in Toronto. The school was interested in developing a strategic plan for how the leaders and faculty could better help students prepare for the future, which is more uncertain than ever.

I was asked to provide my thoughts on what skills and characteristics the graduate of the future would need to be successful. Others participating in this exercise had repeatedly highlighted the need for graduates to be agile in their thinking and to be creative. Mental agility and creativity would enable future grads to overcome the challenges they inevitably would face in their careers.

Practising mindfulness and meditation has been shown both in applied practice and in the research to improve attentional control, problem solving, concentration, and creativity. New imaging techniques—including functional magnetic resonance imaging, which shows brain activation, and diffusion tensor imaging, which shows the neural networks in the brain—are demonstrating that mindfulness and meditation can improve brain function, with meditation acting as strength training for the brain.

Just as you would lift weights to build and strengthen your muscles, you can use meditation to build and strengthen your brain, and then to control and sharpen your mind, ultimately making you more creative. 

Why should you care about creativity? Because it’s about much more than being artistic. It’s about being the go-to person at work when problems come up. It’s about showing leadership when original solutions are required. It’s about being the best possible team member who helps the whole group perform at its best. These aptitudes are essential in today's competitive world in all disciplines – and perhaps especially in yours, where thinking and finding solutions on your feet is a real strength. 

Creative thinking supports your career now and will help take you where you may like to go in the future. 

Today's Power Up: The 3 meditations for creativity

While a short meditation is unlikely to transform a person into a brilliant creative genius that can see the world anew, studies have found that people who participate in a short 3-minute mindfulness exercise produce more creative responses compared to those that do not undergo the exercise.

The next time you need to get yourself into an innovative state of mind, try the following three things:

1. Get in the now. Connect with the present moment by taking three deep breaths. Become aware of any pressure you feel to produce a “great” idea, simple acknowledge that it’s there, and come back fully to your breath. If you need to, take another 3 breaths.

2. Get curious. Pick up an object you are familiar with like a paper clip or a single staple. Spend a moment holding this object as if you are from another planet and have never seen it before. Feel it, bend it, smell it, stare at it up close and from afar. Bring it up to your ear and bend it to see if you can hear any sounds.

3. Get practical. Creativity requires both novelty and utility. Write down 10 things that you could do with this object that are different from its originally intended use. For example, a staple could be a toothpick or a thumbtack.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

How to Begin a Mindfulness Practice

How to Begin a Mindfulness Practice

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. Mindfulness can be formal - like sitting still and meditating for a period of time, or informal - like practicing being present and non-judgmental of whatever you are doing moment to moment.

2. You don't need a lot to reap the benefits. Even 10-minutes a day for five days in a row produces measurable changes in attentional performance.

3. Creating the intention and building the habit is the most important aspect of starting a mindfulness practice.

By Dr. Ellen Choi

It’s one thing to know one should be mindful, and another thing to actually be mindful. To yield the many touted benefits of mindfulness, like improving your performance, focus, wellbeing, and relationships, the experience of mindfulness can’t remain conceptual. Like exercise and nutrition, mindfulness is most impactful if we actually do it.

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There is an old Indian parable about two men on a ship. One is a learned and highly educated sailor and the other is a deck hand with only life’s experience as his knowledge base. As the men sail on, the educated man flaunts his intellect by calling out the names of the islands and commenting on the winds, showcasing the many years he spent learning about meteorology, geography, geology and the likes. Suddenly, the ship is hit by misfortune and a punctured hull indicates that the ship will surely sink. It is only then that the educated man becomes quiet, realizing that he has never taken the time to learn how to swim. The deck hand, having spent his life swimming in the sea despite having never studied it, smiles with the assurance of his survival. The moral of the story? No amount of talk or theorizing beats action itself. It’s not enough to know what swimming is: you have to be able to swim to save yourself from drowning.

So, what exactly does it mean to practice mindfulness? Very broadly, there are formal practices like sitting still and meditating for a period of time, and there are informal practices like being present and non-judgmental of whatever you are doing moment to moment. This could mean that as you’re walking somewhere, you are simply feeling the sensations of walking instead of thinking about your upcoming work shift.

Another common question that gets asked is how much practice is enough. This is a great question because much of the early research evidence is based on expert practitioners, like Tibetan monks, who have spent thousands of hours meditating.

To receive some of the deeper benefits like emotional regulation and increased willpower, more practice over longer periods of time is ideal. This may mean setting aside 60 minutes to meditate every day or 30 minutes twice a day.

What we know today, however, is that even a little bit of practice can generate benefits. Even ten minutes a day for five days in a row produces measurable changes in attentional performance. If you don’t have ten minutes, do two minutes. Creating the intention and building the habit is the most important aspect of starting a mindfulness practice. Furthermore, while formal practice is likely to be most impactful, informal practice can also yield benefits. Just being present and non-judgmental of your experience while showering can introduce mindfulness in your everyday life.

Today's Power Up: Download an app

1. When you feel committed to practicing for several minutes at a time, there are lots of meditation apps that can guide you through a formal practice (Calm; Headspace; Take a Break; Simple Habit; Buddhify; Insight Timer; Omvana; Smiling Mind; Wildflowers to name a few).

2. Find one you like and let the app guide you through some formal meditations. We highly recommend getting Headspace.com and Calm.com to get you started. For an app with more free guided meditation options, you can try Insight Timer or Aura

Dive Deeper

Check out this TED talk by Andy Puddicombe that explains the power of short bouts of mindfulness.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation. 

Welcome to Mindfulness!

Welcome to Mindfulness!

The STEM 1.0 Airline Program Home Page

KEY POINTS:

1. The benefits of mindfulness training can be put into three main categories: 1) performance, 2) wellbeing, and 3) relationships.

2. Mindfulness impacts performance at work largely through improving focus and concentration. Mindfulness also improves how fast we can think, what we can hold in our memory, and enables us to be more creative when we’re making decisions and strategizing.

3. When it comes to improving wellbeing, mindfulness is incredibly effective at reducing stress and burnout, and boosting how happy we feel. Mindfulness is also related to higher levels of work-life balance, greater job satisfaction, lower turnover intentions, and less absenteeism.

4. Mindfulness trains our ability to control our behaviour and cultivates our ability to empathize with another person’s humanity. Research has found that mindfulness is related to greater marital satisfaction, and the quality of relationships between leaders and their employees.

By Dr. Ellen Choi

Following the likes of empowerment and innovation, mindfulness has become the latest management buzzword. Mindfulness – or present-moment awareness with a non-judgmental and open quality – has been turning the heads of executives, politicians, Olympians, students and even the US military. So, what is all the fuss about? And how does it relate to the work you do in the airline industry?

A recent article published in the Journal of Management offered the benefits of mindfulness training I three main categories: 1) performance, 2) wellbeing and 3) relationships. On the job excellence plus wellness in life are highly relevant to all of us!

1) Performance

Mindfulness impacts performance at work because it improves attention by training two main skills: focus and concentration. Focus allows us to choose where we place our attention, and concentration allows us to decide how long we can hold our attention on the desired task.

In a world of interruptions, competing priorities and distractions, this has powerful implications on work excellence. Mindfulness training improves how fast we can think and what we can hold in our memory. It also enables us to be more creative when we’re making decisions and strategizing.

Research has even found that mindfulness leads to fewer errors – an especially important benefit in the work you do. Think about what you’re capable of when you’re fully paying attention. You especially excel under pressure because mindfulness helps manage stress and places focus on what’s most important. 

With this boost to attention and elevation of performance, it’s not surprising that everyone from professional athletes to elementary school students have been paying attention to mindfulness.
 
2) Wellbeing

You’ve likely seen some stressed out, tired and overwhelmed colleagues – and been there yourself. Mindfulness practices address stress and improve wellbeing because they are highly effective at reducing stress and burnout and boosting happiness.  

Over three decades of research have produced findings supporting these effects. Many of these studies are based on an eight-week course called Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction. This program was created by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who trained with zen masters in the east and who also holds a PhD from MIT, one of the world’s most prestigious universities. Today, studies have been conducted on some of the most stressful professions like police, military personnel, professional athletes, healthcare workers, MBA students, and even elementary school teachers. Your work fits into that category.

Mindfulness training helps people become more aware of themselves so that they can manage their thoughts and feelings in a way that reduces stress. Some researchers have suggested that since mindfulness training reduces the tendency to obsess and increases our ability to regulate emotions, we may feel happier and more satisfied with life as a result. Just think how much happier we would feel if we didn’t snap at our kids or if we could stop thinking about what that guy at work said to us. Mindfulness is also related to higher levels of work-life balance, greater job satisfaction, lower turnover intentions, and less absenteeism.

3) Relationships

How many times have you felt frustrated when you’re talking to someone and you can tell they’re not listening, or worse, they keep looking at their phone? If we’re honest with ourselves, think of how many times we have been talking on the phone while multi-tasking because we know the person we’re speaking with can’t see us. And these situations only refer to interactions when we’re not present. 

Remember, mindfulness refers to present-moment, non-judgmental awareness. How much would our relationships be enriched if we were able to apply non-judgmental awareness to our colleagues when they show up late to work or to our spouse when they insist they need help with the children? 

Mindfulness has the potential to deeply influence how we interact with others because it trains our ability to control our behaviour - like choosing to pay full attention to your spouse/partner when they call even if we are busy at work. It also cultivates our ability to empathize with another person’s humanity by suspending judgement and stepping into their world to feel what they feel. This can substantially reduce conflict in your work relationships, especially when our duties happen in very close quarters!

Research has found that mindfulness is related to greater marital satisfaction and better quality of relationships between leaders and their employees. Our brains are wired for social connections - so much so that the quality of our relationships can actually predict how long we live. The fact that mindfulness improves relationships is perhaps the most important benefit of all.

Today's Power Up: Begin or renew your mindfulness practice

1. Pick a time of day where you can consistently commit to practicing.

2. Then, start with just one breath.

If it’s in the morning when you wake up, before you grab your phone or run to the washroom, just pause and pay attention to one inhale and one exhale.

If your mindfulness practice is after lunch, then set aside time for just one intentional breath before you race on with your day.

3. Just take one breath, stay in the moment, and then add another breath. See if you can get to 10 breaths where you are 100% present.

4. As you feel more comfortable, start extending your practice longer and longer. 20-minutes is a great amount of time because sometimes it can take 10-minutes for the mind to settle down in the first place.

Dive Deeper: All about mindfulness and meditation with Dr. Ellen Choi on the Be Better Podcast.

Ellen is an expert in the effects of mindfulness in the workplace. She is delighted to be in her final year of her doctorate at the Ivey School of Business after completing a masters degree in social psychology at the London School of Economics. Presently she is studying how mindfulness training impacts such outcomes as performance, creativity, will power, and envy. Overall, Ellen is fascinated by the ability of mindfulness training to help individuals fulfill their potential in a more efficient and more self-compassionate manner.

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The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation.