People Acuity Newsletter – October 2020

Four Realities That Can Take Your Business Down

Business today is more complicated and competitive than ever before. You’ve likely felt its complexities exponentially increasing, and with it, the pressure weighing on you like a backpack full of lead. With the rest of the world, you’ve seen companies both large and small go under, including giants like J.C. Penney, GNC, and Hertz, along with over 100,000 small businesses.[1] You might be hoping that your company isn’t next!

It won’t be, as long as you and your leaders are wise enough to not get stuck in a near-sighted view fixated only on survival – which too many leaders understandably are right now. You will know you’re one of them if you are focused on your company’s top and bottom line to the exclusion of other critical key predictive indicators in between.  It’s not just about trimming budgets or cutting costs that will keep you afloat in the days to come. Right now, paying attention to termite-like factors that erode the very foundation of your business is more important than ever.

While there are many things that can take your business down, there are four ever-growing challenges that have significantly increased during COVID and are costing American businesses $1.5 trillion this year alone.  They are eating away at your organization’s foundation, costing you precious dollars, time, and resources – all at a moment when these things must be protected with great care.

In order of costliness, here are the painful realities you may want to consider:

  1. 26% of your employees are dealing with addiction (according to an Oct. 2020 report from the American Addiction Center). COVID has increased addiction exponentially, and it’s costing U.S. businesses $740 billion this year alone.
  2. 82% of all employees have managers that are terrible people leaders, and three out of four employees say their boss is the worst part of their job.[2] According to a recent Gallup report, this is costing U.S. businesses $550 billion this year, and $360 billion of that is from health care costs related to having a bad boss.[3]
  3. 88% of employees are experiencing high stress levels – this is the highest ever recorded worker stress level (according to June 2020’s American Institute of Stress study) and is costing U.S. companies $300 billion this year.
  4. As many as one-third of all workers are affected by depression – (according to a May 2020 SHRM study), up from 23% in 2014. Sadly, only 42% of employees are willing to reveal it to their employers because they fear their job would be in danger.[4]  This is costing U.S. organizations $100 billion this year alone.

As you study this costly list of issues, what patterns do you see? 
What common root do they share, which if addressed, also solve these problems? 

If you look closely and study these challenges thoughtfully, you will recognize that there is one root cause that if resolved would positively shift all of these issues and save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity, absenteeism, healthcare costs, turnover, and lost customers.  In fact, over time, it could nearly eradicate these challenges completely.

Interestingly, the very root is the identical leadership skill identified in a May 2020 Fuzu study of 7,400 leaders as “the most important leadership skill of the 21st Century.”  Simply put, it’s today’s hard-to-find skill of Self-Leadership.[5]

If your employees are strong Self-Leaders, you can expect that they would:

  • Establish strategies and supports to help them navigate addiction, bad bosses, high stress, and depression.
  • Know how to neutralize negativity and use their strengths to overcome setbacks.
  • Have insight and wisdom to know how to “lead up” and positively influence tough managers, negative peers, or others who are struggling.
  • Live according to a self-determined inner purpose and compass that guides them and lifts their energy and performance, even when times are hard.

Additionally, if your leaders are strong Self-Leaders, your people would have clear models to imitate. Not to mention the benefits of having a culture of Self-Leadership to replace the blaming, shaming, and complaining that currently exists.

What would that be worth to your present business?
How would these changes affect your bottom line?

You can see how important it is to get your employees moving again!  Their remaining stuck comes with a heavy price tag for the business, one that may have longer-term ramifications even than COVID.  Your employees may not be able to shift out of it without help, and you are just the catalyst they need to awaken to their true greatness and get going again.

When you grow their Self-Leadership, you grow your own and their positive influence as well.  You also grow your business – and your bottom line – again.

[1] According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses have less than 500 employees.
Beck, A., Crain, L., Solberg, L., Unützer, J., Maciosek, M., Whitebird, R., & Rossom, R. (2014). The effect of depression treatment on work productivity. American Journal of Managed Care, 20(8), E294–E301.

Three HR Tips to Get People Moving Again

COVID-19 hit North America in the middle of winter like a relentless blizzard. It froze everything. It seemed to blind everyone. Business stopped. Families holed up. Some people worried it was the end of the world and prepared for the worst, hoping to just wait it out and survive.  

You might remember your own company facing paralyzing pain as the economy ground to a halt, and revenue ended or was reduced to a tiny trickle. You may have also been among those faced with the gut-wrenching decision to put employees on furlough to just keep the business alive. CEO Daniel Todd was one of those who was forced to make that decision, and he was unprepared for the way it would incapacitate people, not to mention how long it would seemingly hold them hostage.

View and Download the Report
“Taking into account what we’ve invested in the individual and team coaching and Self-Leadership workshops, and the growth it has produced in our business, we have seen a 5,000% Return-on-Investment.  For each dollar spent, we got $5,000 back.  We are seeing the ROI every day – not just in our profits, but in the growth of our people.  Every step has been worth it!”
David Thompson, CEO, Factory Outlet Trailers, Calgary Canada

Self-Leadership: Shift Up Proactive Accountability – Virtual Program December 2020

Get the Support You Need to Become a Stronger and More Self-directed Leader. Join this People Acuity Self-Leadership: Shift Up Proactive Accountability virtual program with special early-bird registration prices. This program will increase your ability to be coach-like with yourself and others and lead with greater confidence and tools for empowering yourself and others

See session dates and learn more about this 7 session program HERE.

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Morning Pages: You Want Me to Do WHAT Every Morning?!

In last month’s newsletter, in celebration of September being National Self-Care Awareness Month, we shared two self-care musts for team members. Even though we are all very busy, especially in 2020 with the pressure from COVID-19, it is vital to integrate such rituals into our daily routines.

As we pointed out then – self-care is an essential that some may see as an indulgent luxury, but it’s one you can’t afford not to treat yourself to. One of the options we listed in that article was Morning Pages, and this month, we’re discussing what the practice is and sharing some insights, reactions, and advice from people who have incorporated the practice into their daily routine.

If anyone likes them, that person is stared at in wonderment and disbelief, as if that feeling just doesn’t exist in the realm of possibility. They are the subject of countless memes – dreaded, besmirched, and beleaguered. Life is much more hectic than when these are around. Perhaps you’ve figured it out already, but if not, we are talking about mornings. And while each new day is full of possibilities and represents the opportunity to start again, according to a 2016 23andMe genome-wide association study (GWAS) of just under 90,000 people, only 39.7% of men and 48.4% of women would call themselves “a morning person”. Maybe Morning Pages can change that.

Julia Cameron is a best-selling author, has written over three dozen books, the New York Times calls her the “Queen of Change”, and she is the creator of Morning Pages. In a nutshell, this method of journaling is done as soon as you wake up in the morning, is to fill 3 longhand-written, single-spaced, 8.5×11” pages, for 3 months, and you are not to edit or change what you have written – nor can you censor your writing – in any way. Called “stream of consciousness writing”, no matter what is running through your head, it goes on the page, but dreams should not be included because they are more filler and less breakthrough-inducing substance. The thinking behind Morning Pages is that starting your day by uncluttering your mind gives you a clean slate, which allows for less distractions, clearer thinking, and increased productivity.

Upon gleaning information from people who have shared their experiences with this practice, we’ve realized there doesn’t seem to be too many fence-sitters when it comes to Morning Pages. This is especially true when recounting their first few days to a week of the ante-meridiem journaling exercise.

Perfectionist tendencies? Check those at the night table

If you are a fan of correcting spelling mistakes, grammar faux pas, and the rules of punctuation, this type of writing may be difficult for you. In fact, professional editors, proofreaders, and writers seem to be the most troubled by creating their Morning Pages. It seems almost cruel to ask a person who is used to structuring their ideas in a way that flows, brings the reader to an end conclusion through careful steps, and needs to be very conscious of the proper word choices, to leave their “work” uncorrected or unchanged. Due to the work responsibilities they are so used to, and usually analytical thinking process, a writer even just getting into the proper mindset to complete the daily free-flowing journal entries the minute that person wakes up is challenging.

There are many videos on YouTube made by creators who tried Morning Pages. Several of them went through a rough patch because of thoughts and feelings the writing exercise brought up. In the end, many made their way to the other side of that, and decided to keep the practice as part of their routine; some continued on for a short time, but didn’t see enough benefits or felt it wasn’t a productive use of their time after all. Writing every morning per Cameron’s explicit instructions would tack on – if absolutely no interruptions or breaks – roughly 30 minutes to getting your day started, when using a handwriting estimate of 25 words per minute and considering it would take about 750 words total to fill up all 3 pages.

If anxieties are cast aside, the stream of consciousness approach can be emotionally and mentally freeing. Since no one is supposed to read the entries, whatever is on your mind can be cleared out, and in addition to increasing productivity, this may make room for forgiveness and healing – somewhat reminiscent of what a letter burning ritual is meant to do. Useful affirmations and intentions to set or reinforce might come out of this form of writing as well, since what we think about ourselves, what we want or need, or concerns and worries are often on our minds with each new day.

No excuses! No skipping! No stopping early! Lots of no-nos

There are several “rules” involved with Morning Pages. For example, if there are creative blocks, or the three pages aren’t filling up for whatever reason, she urges these issues be dealt with in the journal entries – even if the problem that day is a lack of desire to write. In fact, Cameron even shares that writing the Morning Pages is even more critical when there is no interest whatsoever in writing. Rachel Wilkerson Miller of BuzzFeed wrote an article titled “Here’s Everything I Learned From Doing Morning Pages Every Day”, partially subtitled, “Yes, you really do have to write them *by hand*.” Throughout the piece, Rachel outlines some of the explicit and precise directions, including quotes from Julia Cameron:

  • On why the pages cannot be typed: “Longhand pages give us details and the truth of how we feel emotionally. Accuracy is what we are after, not velocity.”
  • On why they must be written first thing in the morning: “To catch yourself before your ego’s defenses are in place. We are after candor — that, and specificity. We want to know how you really feel about your life.”

Rules are made to be broken though. And while Julia Cameron created the method and what the best way to do it is, people who write their Morning Pages have come up with ways to make the concept work with time and other constraints. Life Coach Edwin Soriano, for example, made the following adjustments:

  • Instead of writing immediately upon waking up, he showers, does some reading, then completes his Morning Pages for the day; or he writes them in the evening.
  • Because typing is faster, he “writes blind” (as he calls it) in the Evernote app on his laptop, and “blacks out” the monitor; one time he even did an audio recording.

Soriano also shared that the first 5-10 days might seem “just sooo boring…so tedious”, and to enter that feeling in the pages, but around day 20 or 30, “you will start to feel the *need* to write your morning pages. You will feel as if your mind *needs* to release its thoughts into words…”. He also credits Morning Pages with getting him back into writing on his three blogs, becoming “more focused and purposeful…more outspoken, more expressive…and solving problems and breaking through obstacles”. Clearly, Morning Pages has made a positive difference for him!

About Morning Pages, in Julia Cameron’s Own Words

  • “When people ask, ‘Why do we write morning pages?’ I joke, ‘To get to the other side.’ They think I am kidding, but I’m not. Morning pages do get us to the other side: the other side of our fear, our negativity, of our moods.”
  • Morning pages are about tuning out our inner critic. “We learn to hear our censor’s comments and say, simply, ‘Thank you for sharing,’ while we go right on writing. We are training our censor to stand aside and let us create.”
  • “The pages may seem dull to you, even pointless, but they are not. Remember that they are not intended to be ‘art.’ They pave the way for art. Each page you write is a small manifesto. You are declaring your freedom — freedom from your Censor, freedom from negativity in any quarter.”
  • “The morning pages teach logic brain to stand aside and let artist brain play.”
  • “Write your pages daily and be open to their suggestions.”

Have you tried Morning Pages? If not, do you think you will? Do you do a different journaling exercise? To learn more about Morning Pages, visit Julia Cameron’s website. Both The Right to Write and The Artist’s Way, two of Cameron’s books, have Morning Pages listed as one writing exercise among many meant to help stimulate and inspire creativity.

Sunrise Banks is a fast-growing financial institution with 6 branches, all located in Minnesota. The organization was founded in 1986 by the currently serving CEO, David Reilling, and William, his father. Being “The World’s Most Socially Responsible Bank” is a goal of Sunrise, and its hundreds of employees help drive this differentiating factor through community service and involvement, affiliations with social impact entities, and North4Good (an effort spearheaded by Sunrise Banks to encourage volunteering with local non-profits).

“The People Acuity approach has brought marked change to our organization. Where once differences collided and created frustration, now there is curiosity, openness, collaboration, and a willingness to understand.”

Joel Johnson
EVP of HR, Sunrise Banks

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