Visuals and rituals. These two things are a powerful combo that can encourage, motivate, and emotionally charge us while reminding us of why we are doing what we do and where we are headed. We know that everyone has hills to climb at one point or another. Mentally, physically… at home, school and work. You may be a young manager who is overseeing employees that are half your age, a stay-at-home parent who’s also taking college classes, or maybe you’ve just recovered from surgery and now you have the flu. No matter who you are, or your situation, there must be some physical thing that means a lot to you when seeing it. It could be a photograph, a type of flower, or a piece of jewelry (I love the 110 Philosophy thumb ring for this!) Whatever speaks to you. Having a reminder of what your vision is in front of you makes a big difference in your drive and your attitude - which can be everything.
As I have shared with you in my book, health challenges have been some of my personal hills to climb, and sometimes they feel like mountains. Visuals and rituals have been crucial components in helping me continue to strive for excellence, health and happiness, and to achieve my vision of living to be 110 years young. Rituals have some of the same benefits as visuals in the sense that when we perform our rituals, such as brushing our teeth and reading before bed, we are reminding ourselves what is happening right now (winding down) and what is happening next (sleep). It seems so simple, yet is so powerful.
As managers and leaders, we have non-negotiable, business-as-usual (BAU) tasks that have to be completed in order for our organization to run. My employees are empathetic and wonderful, but they need to pay bills and expect to be paid even if I am not feeling well, so this is a BAU task that I simply can not put aside. I need to show up for my team.
Setting your personal non-negotiable rituals is just as important. In our personal lives, we need to show up for ourselves - for more reasons than one! When I am sick or feeling acute pain, I could easily stay in my sweats, curl up on the couch with a movie and push aside my daily routine but I don’t. I still get up, get dressed, do my hair/makeup and I show up for myself. There’s a chemical reaction that when we think we look good, it tells our body that we look good, and if we look good we feel good, so it is important to me that I can look in the mirror and feel good. I would rather look back at a sick day and know that I did every single thing I could to feel good than to know that I gave myself permission to be a no-show. No, it’s not easy but it is up to me to be the CEO of my mind, my life and MY health and to do all that I can to feel good. If I am feeling bad, I need to examine why (without dwelling) and see what I can do about it. I know that it’s easier for me to put on some makeup and get a quick boost by looking good vs trying to focus on the pain and ailments. No one else can do that for me. Not even my husband of 35 years.
If you are dealing with pain, look at a photo of something or someone of importance to you and breathe through the pain using breathing visualizations (breathe in the good, exhale the bad) your pain level will be reduced. I promise you, this worked for me.
Keep your visuals simple and powerful. There’s no need to go overboard making collages and slide shows. Look at Nike. Their logo is simple and their message is clear. It’s simple and everyone can resonate. The turtle is my most powerful visual. It keeps on moving, it has to be tough, it is determined.
I've mentioned before that I have a Bachelor of Science degree in FUN aka Therapeutic Recreation. This means that I have spent a lot of time learning about improving well-being through leisure activities and studying the importance of having fun to heal or to improve one's overall wellness. I always thought it was fascinating how there is a direct correlation between my degree as a recreation therapist and my success as a business leader.
Here is an example for team managers, leaders and for those who now are operating in a hybrid environment. This FUN exercise can help create a workplace that feels inclusive, caring and motivational. When I was bringing in new teams or needed to create an immediate bond and work culture shift within an existing organization, I needed to connect with and motivate the team. As a team-building exercise, I would have everyone bring in a picture of someone or something of significance. We would then go around the room and have people introduce themselves and explain why their photo was important. I framed these photos (all in the same frames) so that each team member had that visual to look at. Having a daily reminder and motivator really made a difference in the atmosphere. It also opened the doors for a more personal level of communication with the team, a topic we have touched on in previous blog posts. Having the entire team listening and caring about what this person was saying about their significant photo helped to create a connection and helped the employees not feel like they were just a number, they were part of the organization on a more personal level. Some folks may bring in photos of pets, camps, children, a dream real estate listing… it is up to the individual to decide what is important and significant enough to trigger some sort of emotion.
I consider myself lucky. Not because I have survived breast cancer, recovered from multiple foot surgeries, and have managed chronic pain and an autoimmune disease for years. I am lucky because my principles are engraved in me. I know what my vision is and I was able to use my own personal journey and my challenge to be truly happy in order to develop a philosophy and write a book about it. You see, I don’t believe the world is picking on me, I believe the universe is pushing me forward and giving me the skill sets to make it the long haul - if I didn’t keep moving and learning there’s no way I would make it to my goal of living to be 110. If I had of given up when things didn’t go my way, I wouldn’t be the successful leader I am today. I am lucky because it is so much worse for others who do not have the tools. I am so glad I was able to develop this system. I think this way, I live the 110 Philosophy, I KNOW it works.
I encourage you to establish your visuals and rituals and to continue reading more on pages 70-68. We will talk more next month about The Great Day Continuance.