People Acuity Newsletter – September 2020

Leadership and Optimism

Seismic shifts in the way companies operate, complete their day-to-day work, and lead their people are occurring right now. The pressure on leaders has never been greater! You may be facing an unspoken expectation of showing up with endless optimism and quiet calm, yet behind the scenes, you are wrestling with all kinds of new questions for which you have no answers – even as your people look to you and expect you to have them.

There can be moments that feel energizing. But most of the time, it’s just downright exhausting. In these moments, it’s useful to remember Stephen Covey’s famous words, “don’t kill the golden goose.” He loved to cite the story of the goose that laid golden eggs, and how important it was to take care of the goose, so it could steadily keep producing every day. You are the golden goose! You have to take care of yourself so you will produce tomorrow and the day after – and for many more days beyond. You are important! You are needed.
To help you, here are three micro-habits that are making a difference for some leaders around the globe. They are tiny things that produce major impacts in overall energy and performance:

  1. Change the way you talk about what’s happening – to yourself and others. Language has the power to produce or deepen emotion. When you speak using critical, frustrated language, it often increases your negative emotions, rather than alleviate them. Leaders who learn to look for the gifts in unexpected places, or seek to learn from the challenges, lift themselves and others through their positive language and attitude.
  2. Lean in. As a leader, you might feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Because you care about lifting others, you also try to keep the pressure off of those around you. Interestingly, if you are honest about your struggle, and invite others to support and help you, they will feel valuable, and your load will be lighter. Strangely, theirs may be too – or at least their energy will be increased by the sense of trust and purpose you’ve given them. It’s a true win-win! Lean in for the sake of others around you who need to be needed by you right now.
  3. Widen your lens. COVID has a way of narrowing the field of vision to be so pinpointed that it’s easy to lose touch with the broader – hopefully bigger – picture. We’re not just talking here about the big picture of your company – we’re talking about your leadership legacy. What is the difference you will make in the lives of people around you? How will the world be better because you’ve been in it? Holding on to that view and those answers, and intentionally writing your leadership legacy into every conversation, every decision, and every day, makes it just a little easier to get through this time.

This COVID crisis can feel like a pressure cooker. The temperature is high, and the pressure intense. While you might hate it at times, when this happens, remember the lesson of the diamond. The rarest of all jewels, diamonds, are formed where the temperature is 2100 degrees Fahrenheit and the tectonic plates are shifting. If the temperature isn’t hot enough, and the pressure isn’t great enough, the diamond becomes graphite – pencil lead. You weren’t born to be ordinary pencil lead. You are a diamond, and COVID-19 is helping you develop into the great leader you were born to be. Embrace it’s gifts!

The Minimalist Guide to Winning Company Culture

Leaders and teams have barely had a chance to catch their breath in the past few months. Things seem to be changing at the speed of light, and just when you get your arms around one change, another curve ball comes your way. No wonder people are reporting the highest stress levels ever recorded by the American Institute of Stress!

this time is its impact on people. Some people have become angrier, more depressed and more overwhelmed as they try to manage their daily workload. These changes in people significantly impact the way things are done in your business and how people interact with each other, which, in turn, directly impacts all
other outcomes.

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Self-Leadership – Virtual Program

People Acuity is hosting its globally acclaimed virtual Self-Leadership certificate 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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Two Self-Care Musts for Team Members

September is National Self-Care Awareness Month! Often, team members are very busy, and they don’t take the time to care for themselves. In 2020, unfortunately, this is especially true, due to COVID-19, and businesses trying to stay afloat and find creative ways to survive this stressful time.

Perhaps they don’t see the value in self-care, believe it’s an indulgence they just don’t have time for, or feel like time away from work isn’t wise. We’re here to tell you that not only is self-care a must – it’s a luxury you can’t afford not to indulge in! Here are two practices that every team member should incorporate into their schedule.

Don’t Just Plow Through Your Workday

Have you ever sat working at your desk, head down so long it was dark when you next looked outside, then at the end of the day, all that “working” didn’t seem to knock many items off your task list? You aren’t alone. It might seem counterintuitive when you have so much to do, but it’s very important to take breaks during the day, and studies have verified it. Cognition, an international publication that shares papers on the study of our minds, published information on University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign research. The results were quite interesting – when focusing on a particular task, taking a short 5-10 minute break, or incorporating a diversion from work for the same amount of time, once an hour, resulted in not only far less cognitive decline, but better performance, focus, and attention throughout the experiment. Leader of the study, one of the college’s psychology professors, Alejandro Lleras, revealed, “We propose that deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused. From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks, it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!”

Breaks can re-energize our minds. Maybe you’ll find completely stepping away from anything considered productive to work or your career does the trick for you, like a quick call or text session with a friend to catch up. If you feel twinges of guilt from not being productive – even for a very brief time – then try watching an educational video on YouTube. Have you always wanted to learn a new shortcut in Excel? Want to improve the quality of your podcasts? Did you get an awesome deal on 4 pounds of spinach at Costco and need to figure out what to do with it? YouTube is a plethora of creators speaking on just about every subject you can imagine, and whether you want to spend 3 minutes or 30 minutes, you can probably find a video that is the length of time you care to invest at the moment.

We think there’s a lot of merit and value to this self-care tip, so in future newsletters, we’ll dive deeper into how science backs interspersing short breaks with long periods of work.

Schedule “Me Time”…And Don’t Pencil it in Either!

What do you like to do? What lessens your jaw-clenching and balled-up fists? Whatever it is, make time for it – ideally, daily. You don’t have to do the same stress-relieving, enjoyable activity every single day (unless you want to), but you should be making time regularly to do something you like.

Many team members find solace in meditating, tai chi, lying still and focusing on just breathing for a period of time, or journaling. Morning Pages, done right after you wake up, is a form of journaling that Julie Cameron, a best-selling author of over 40 books, created. Dubbed the “Queen of Change” by the New York Times, her method includes writing 3 pages of stream of consciousness, longhand, no edits, no changes. Whatever is in your mind goes on the page – no matter what it is – and the idea is to clear your mind to start your day with a clean slate, which is supposed to make room for clearer thinking, less distractions, and more productivity. If this sounds interesting to you, be sure to catch our October newsletter for more information, as well as feedback from those who have used this type of journaling.

Video games can be a good escape during “me time”. There are two caveats with this fun, immersive short escape from work – the time goes by quickly and it can be competitive. Be sure to set a timer so you don’t go over your designated chunk of time, and remember that you’re not playing the game to win, beat any high score, complete a certain number of levels, or anything similar. This activity is simply a short and fun respite from your workday – that’s it. Whether you play brain teasers on your phone, solitaire on your computer, or a car racing game on a console, as long as you can walk away when the timer goes off, this can be a great tool to revitalize your creativity.

Food is the focus of a few wonderful “me time” activities, and they nourish both your thinking power and your body. When was the last time you sat down and ate a meal without your phone in one hand, or actually sat at a table designated for food consumption and not work? While it seems like we’re saving time by eating breakfast in the car or in front of the computer, or stabbing a fork aimlessly through a salad for lunch while we go through emails that came in since we checked earlier in the morning, the truth is that eating these meals doesn’t take as long as we think it does.

Being present and aware of the food meant to sustain us is a self-care activity that many don’t employ. Enjoy the colors and crunch of your vegetables, the subtle flavor notes in your coffee or tea, and even appreciate the chicken for its egg. Being thankful and grateful for the healthy, available, nutritious food we have to eat can bring about a mindset of gratitude for other things, and that results in a good mood that’s contagious.

The first line of Meal Gatha, given to us by Buddhism, reminds us of how our food comes to us, and that it took 72 laborers to make it happen. Japanese monasteries utilize a very detailed system of dividing labor among the monks there, and this opening line of the Meal Gatha lets us know that food doesn’t miraculously just appear – we should be aware of and acknowledge the process, be thankful for it, and give reverence and respect to those who made it possible.

Cooking food can also be a relaxing “me time” activity, especially if one remembers that the presentation perfection often seen on Instagram is not a requirement for tasty food. Baking is a less forgiving sport, due to the chemical reactions happening between ingredients, so precision is more important here. If you don’t fancy yourself too handy or comfortable in the kitchen, meal delivery services like Hello Fresh and Plated give you a head start by providing portioned out ingredients and detailed recipes. Making a cake and frosting from scratch (or any baked good, really) can be intimidating, and there’s no shame in picking up a mix and pre-made frosting at the store. Both options providing assistance in creating a delicious meal and dessert come in options that just a few years ago were not on supermarket shelves, including no gluten / dairy, vegetarian, vegan, and more. If you can’t find appropriate choices for your dietary needs there, you can find them online. Another benefit – prepping meals ahead of time makes it easier to sit and enjoy your food, as mentioned above.

Use the remainder of this month to prioritize self-care, and get into the habit of making it a part of your daily routine. We’ve only listed two ways above, but they are an umbrella under which many ideas reside.

Gardant Management Solutions is among the largest senior assisted living providers in the U.S. Based outside of Chicago, Illinois they have earned several “Best of the Best” awards from the nation’s largest senior assisted living association. Additionally, they are respected by owners and peers for having operating rates 10% higher than national average and operating margins that consistently rank in the top 25% nationally.

“Because of what I’ve learned I’ve become way more motivated and passionate, a more willing and confident leader. I’m know how to influence others and am passing onto others I’ve been given. I’d do anything for an organization that is so willing to grow and help it’s people.”

Josh Dodd
Gardant Management Solutions

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If you’d like to learn more about how People Acuity can help prepare your organization for our new world, please call us at 218.368.5770, email us at, or simply use the link below.

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