Practical Steps to Better Mental Health

This past year and a half has been challenging, right? Ponder this fact:

The number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression has skyrocketed. From January to September 2020, 315,220 people took the anxiety screen, a 93 percent increase over the 2019 total number of anxiety screens. 534,784 people took the depression screen, a 62 percent increase over the 2019 total number of depression screens.” (https://mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america)

And then there’s this from the same source: More people are reporting frequent thoughts of suicide and self-harm than have ever been recorded in the MHA Screening program since its launch in 2014. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread rapidly in March 2020, over 178,000 people have reported frequent suicidal ideation. 37 percent of people reported having thoughts of suicide more than half or nearly every day in September 2020.”

Now I am no counselor nor will I pretend to be. If you need to seek an educated counselor, please do so. That can be a great investment in you if you are suffering from anxiety and depression. In my past, I have met with a counselor who did so much good for me. It is worth it.

In my experience, here are a few things that have helped me battle anxiety and depression. Again, I’m no counselor. I’m simply sharing my story in case it will help you.

Stay Connected with Positive People

I have found in my own life and from observations of others that when a person becomes stressed and depression starts to set in, withdrawal happens. Pulling away from people that support and love you – this is dangerous. I can lose perspective so quickly when I withdraw from others. I only end up playing “bad tapes” that can drive me deeper and deeper into depression.

Years ago, I had breakfast with a friend who was going through an ugly divorce. “I just don’t know what to do right now!” he told me that morning. “Doing what?” I asked. “I just want this all to go away and I feel like I’m supposed to be doing something right now.” I replied, “You are. You’re meeting with me. Don’t forget the friends you have. We are here to support you, to listen to you, to help in anyway we can. Stay connected.”

He did. And he was able to navigate those stormy relationship waters.

Pay Close Attention to What You are Saying to Yourself

Dr. Shad Helmstetter wrote one of my favorite books – What to Say When You Talk to Yourself. Self-talk – and we all do it – is very important when you and I are fighting anxiety and depression. I would highly recommend this book and practice what Dr. Shad teaches. Our tendency is to talk negativity into our lives. We replay so many “programs” we’ve grown up with. But there is hope! You can re-program your brain. You can.

Jon Acuff in his book Soundtracks approaches the same topic. He also talks about former programs, soundtracks, that we habitually play. To overcome negative thinking, Jon tells to create positive soundtracks that we say to ourselves often.

If you know you overthink and talk negatively to yourself, get these books. Fight for a healthier you.

Walk it Off

I’m not suggesting that exercise, even a 20 minute walk, will eradicate anxiety in your life instantly, but doing something as simple as taking a walk has huge benefits for our physical and mental health. Here’s what one article listed as benefits:

  1. Protect Your Heart – in just a 20 minute walk everyday, you may reduce the risk of heart issues by 30%.
  2. Slim Down – for many of us, weight gain is a point of anxiety. Consistent exercise can improve your health in so many ways. You already know this. Try walking for 20 minutes a day. Then slowly increase it. Clear your head. Breathe. Walk.
  3. Keep Your Memory Sharp – in one study, people who walked regularly tested better on memory tests and the levels of the protein in the brain responsible for learning increased.
  4. Improve Your Mood – a study by Cal State University found that the more steps you take during the day, the better your mood. Endorphins are released and you will feel happier.
  5. Sleep Better – who doesn’t want this?! Harvard conducted a study that revealed that those who moderately walk every other day feel asleep 50% faster.

To read this article, follow this link.

Remember Your Good Times

Your life and my life have good memories we can recall. Do it. Remember something funny from you past and laugh about it again. Remember something that really touched you and feel those feelings.

Years ago, one of my teams did something for me that still moves me today. They (unknown to me) surveyed everyone on the teams that I led asking them what they think about when they think of me. They then presented me with the following. This is how they saw me:

I look at this often. I remember. I become grateful that I had the privilege of leading this team. They made me laugh, think, and they helped make me better.

Don’t let our current world-wide issues drag you down. You can do very practical things to improve your mental health. As I wrote earlier, practicing these ideas is an investment in YOU. You are worth it. You truly are.

Connecting to Customers

Entrepreneurs on Fire with John Lee Dumas | Daily Business Podcast  Interviews

Earlier this morning, I was listening to John Lee Dumas’s podcast, Entrepreneurs on Fire. Do you know this one?

JLD offers up a new podcast EVERY SINGLE DAY where he interviews entrepreneurs around the world. And he’s been doing this for years!

The episode I listened to this morning featured Jeffrey Madoff. According to the podcast bio on Jeffrey, his “careers span fashion design, film production, teaching, author, and playwright. His book, Creative Careers, was an Amazon bestseller.”

This is a great conversation to listen to if you are in the business of attracting customers, retaining customers, and/or bringing ideas and innovation to market. What follows are some questions I heard on the podcast that I am asking myself as well as asking you as we grow our businesses.

When it comes to ideas that we are working with…

Are our customers (and potential customers) in love with your idea?

  • How can you “test” your idea with customers before a grand rollout?
  • How is the love you feel for your idea stuck in the vacuum of limited perspective exposure?

How can we innovate and bring ideas to the market that will make an impact? Here are some things that came up in this podcast:

Be sure your ideas are serving the interests of your customer/potential customer. Are you trying to sell your service/product from the perspective of your customer? Are you speaking their language during the promotion of your innovative idea?

Understand the customer’s needs/wants. Here is a point that Jeffrey made: how are we making ourselves necessary to our customers? You may sell them on an initial, gateway idea that gets them in your door. But how are you retaining this customer? How are you adding value beyond this initial offering? How are you making your company necessary so the customer is not tempted to look elsewhere for similar services?

Constantly build relationship bridges to your customer. Following up and following through with your customers will build loyalty. We all know that people buy from people they know and like. Building relationships goes far beyond the sale. This is the place where you truly understand what your customer wants and needs and then delivering on that. This is the place where your ideas can be tweaked to better serve your customers. This is the place where you can build a cadence of partnership, trust, and relevancy.

Take 24 minutes and listen to this podcast. You can find John’s podcast everywhere. You can also find it here: Jeffrey Madoff interview by John Lee Dumas.

Change the Way You See Situations

As I stated in my last post, I have been reading Change the Way You See Everything.  In fact, I just finished it during my lunch break today.  This is probably the fourth time reading through this incredible book.

In the closing pages I read today, authors Cramer & Wasiak challenged me to change the way I see situations.  What is the current situation right now on April 27, 2020?  The ongoing quarantine due to the corona virus.  The economy of the world is crippled.  Millions in the US are unemployed – and this happened in a mere matter of weeks.  Small businesses are closing never to reopen.  There is a lot of depression, fear, and despair.

If we’re honest, most of us focus on that last paragraph.  The 24/7 news channels feed viewers a never-ending diet of gloom and doom.  It seems as if everything is focused on what has gone wrong.

But what if we could see this differently?  

Think back to September 11, 2001.  When that day happened, I’m sure many thought New York would be forever devastated.  But Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided this vision:

“Tomorrow New York is going to be here…and we’re going to rebuild, and we’re going to be stronger than we were before…I want the people of New York to be an example to the rest of the country, and the rest of the world, that terrorism can’t stop us.”

And New York did rebuild.  One year ago, I stood at the World Trade Center Memorial.  I walked the streets of the city.  It has rebuilt.  Our nation became stronger and more vigilant.

How did that all happen?  How will we climb out of the hole we were thrown into these past few months?  Can we?  Yes, we can!

foucsCramer & Wasiak challenge us to apply the 80-20 rule…in reverse.  “Instead of focusing 80% of your attention on problems and 20% on opportunities, concentrate 80% on opportunities and 20% correcting what’s wrong.”

 

So what are your opportunities?

  • Devoting time to invest in your personal growth and development.
  • Investing time to discover a better/more efficient way to get work done (hey, you already changed where you work – focus on how you work!)
  • Ask, “How are my customers interacting with me now?  What is working with this?  What small tweaks can I make that would make it even easier for my customers to do business with me?”
  • Ask, “How can I become more financially fit during this situation so I can better be prepared for the future?  Who can I turn to for help with this?”  (locally, here).
  • Ask: “Who can I help right now?  Who needs encouragement, support, or a friend?”

“…what if you could reach into the depth of that problem and extract a treasure – a wealth of information that could propel the situation forward in a way that benefits everyone involved, exponentially!”

Cramer & Wasiak offer solid advice:

  • Get a new vision of your world today.
  • “Turn yourself on by sharpening your vision” of what could be.
  • “Link your passion, vision, and skill set with the strengths and capabilities of those you have attracted into your circle of influence.”  
  • Change how you think about problems and set-backs.

This is not an impossible situation we are all in.  But those that will rise to the next level and challenge will be those who focus on the 80% of the opportunities this time is presenting to us.

“How can this be the best problem we’ve ever had?”

James Clear on: How Experts Practice Better Than the Rest

This is a great article by James Clear, author of the book Atomic Habits.  Here is an excerpt and the link to his entire article.  

 

What Do Experts Do For 10,000 Hours?

10000 hoursMalcolm Gladwell published his blockbuster book, Outliers, in 2008 and the most talked-about idea from the text was the 10,000 Hour Rule. Gladwell, citing research by K. Anders Ericsson, explained that the key to becoming world-class in any field was to practice a specific task for at least 10,000 hours.

As you might expect, people quickly latched onto the number 10,000 and forgot the details of the argument.

Obviously, there is no magic in the 10,000th hour, but it is true that you need to put in a lot of work to become world-class in any task. However, the important question is this, “What should that work look like? If you want to become great at your craft, what exactly should you do with your 10,000 hours?”

You can’t simply put in your time and log 10,000 hours. You have to practice deliberately on a specific skill.

But what does that mean? What, exactly, does deliberate practice look like?

What is Deliberate Practice?

During a 2012 talk, programmer and author Kathy Sierra explained deliberate practice with a very simple and elegant answer. 

Deliberate practice is when…

 

Find and read the entire article here:  10,000 Hours: how the experts practice better than the rest

Recruit a Problem that needs Solving by Jim Johnson

problem solver

This morning, I read an excerpt from T.D. Jakes’ book, Soar!   It was a simple yet profound statement that got me thinking:

“Recruit a problem that needs solving”

He was primarily referring to someone who was interested in becoming an entrepreneur.  But I believe this statement applies in a few other ways.  See if you agree with me.

First of all, I do agree with Bishop Jakes.  If an entrepreneur is going to become successful, their intended business must solve a problem that exists for consumers.  If not, what’s the point?  I met a local entrepreneur who is working on a brace to help speed the recovery of a common sports injury (ACL).  If he can successfully create this brace, his future will become very exciting.  Pro athletes, college athletes, and even high school athletes will benefit from this.  He recognized a problem (slow/ineffective healing), and he is applying his engineering background to solve this in a new way.

But what if you are merely wanting to move up the corporate ladder at work?  Would solving a problem help with that?  YES!  Your path to promotion can be paved with your reputation as a problem solver.  Where can you find problems to solve at work?  Listen!  Look!  They are every where.  Spend time with others outside of your department and find out what issues drive them crazy.  Then work through a process to collaborate with them to solve the problem.  By doing this, you will make an impact, create influence, and be seen as a trusted resource.

Wait.  There’s a process to this?  Why, yes there is.  Let me share what I teach to my call center team when they encounter a service recovery call.  We lovingly call it the “Laffy Taffy” approach:

L = Listen.  Listen to the problem/issue.  Really strive to understand exactly what is being shared.

A = Ask questions.  Don’t start advising!  Ask clarifying questions to hone in on the true issue at hand.  Ask open-ended questions.

F = Feel.  Feel what the other person is feeling.  This will help you understand the true nature of the issue/problem.

THEN, and only then…

T = Think.  Think about the resources needed to help solve the issue.  Think about possible solutions.  Who else could be brought in to help?

A = Act.  After you’ve done all of this, now ACT.  Don’t just pat your co-worker on the back and say, “good luck with that.  It sucks to be you!”  NO!  Act!  Take action to solve the problem based on all that you’ve learned.

F = Follow-up.  Most of us fail here.  We do not follow up.  If you are given the opportunity to help solve a problem, follow-up to see how things are going once the issue is resolved.  Did the solution produce the desired results?  How is the person feeling now?  What have you all learned from this?  Follow-up!

You can also recruit a problem that needs solving in your efforts to help make your community better.  You can also take an honest look at your personal habits and discover issues that are getting your way of success.  You always want to become better as a leader.  Look for problems to recruit and then solve them for your own betterment.

Problems are all around us.  Recruit one!  Help others become better.  Become a problem solver.  Deploy the process of LAF TAF. Become that trusted resource.

It works when you work it.

First Fridays – focus on NE Indiana Regional Partnership

img_0881

On Friday, November 3, John Sampson (CEO of the NE Indiana Regional Partnership) will be the inaugural speaker at First Fridays hosted by Indiana Wesleyan University. In case you are not familiar with the Partnership, read the following excerpt and visit them at http://neindiana.com.

About the NE Indiana Regional Partnership

Increasing business investment. That’s what we’re all about. We’re here to support your business, build our community, and market our region to the world. How do we do all of that? Together. Collaboration is Northeast Indiana’s secret sauce and the key to building a globally competitive economy in our 11-county region.

Our mission is to build, market, and sell Northeast Indiana to increase business investment.

Our region is made up of Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells, and Whitley counties.

Click on the link below to RSVP (required for attendance – seating is limited). Plan to be there.

First Fridays November 3

Leadership Beyond Our Walls – Aunt Millie’s Bakehouse by Jim Johnson

Yesterday, my leadership team and I had lunch with Tim & Todd Baumann of Aunt Millie’s Bakehouse.  Tim serves as the EVP of Sales and Todd is the Director of Continuous Improvement / Strategic Growth.  I met Tim while standing in a 2 hour line during early voting. We talked about bread, Cubs baseball, and leadership.I later emailed him asking him to meet my leadership team.

I have taken my leaders outside of our office to meet, interact with, and learn from local entrepreneurs and business leaders.  Aunt Millie’s has been in business in our city since 1901 and they do business all over the U.S. as overseas (Saudi Arabia, Dubai, etc.). The family who has been leading this company does so with passion, integrity, and great effectiveness.

We had an outstanding time with great conversations and shared insight.  My leadership team asks wonderful questions and are very curious and eager to learn and grow.

Here are some of our take-a-ways:

  • Creating a culture that lasts for generations takes commitment, consistency, and courage.
  • I want to help create a culture that becomes a legacy at 3Rivers – where people love being here while serving our communities.
  • Leadership matters– whether a company bakes bread or makes loans. 
  • It is worth getting better.  Always.
  • Serving others is a leader’s highest calling. 
  • “Be intentional”. None of us have all of the right answers however if your head and your heart is in the right place than great things are bound to happen.
  • Build trust.

In our community, we have a rich history of successful leaders, entrepreneurs , and community investors.  This exercise is proving to add value to my team, those we meet, and to me personally.  My team becomes ignited through these experiences.  We grow in our leadership journey as we work to always “lift our lids”.

Response Ability

On my way into work this morning, I was listening to John Lee Dumas’ podcast, “Entrepreneur on Fire”.  In the episode I listened to (#1482 from November 11, 2016), John was interviewing Rob Moore, author of Disruptive Entrepreneur.  I would highly recommend taking time to listen to EOFire.  Whether you are striving to become an entrepreneur or not, you will learn valuable insights into yourself, your work, and your world.

During an interaction, Rob pointed out that John had emphasized the word “responsibility” as “response ability”.  They had a great exchange following that.  For obvious reasons.

This past Friday, my company held its 3rd annual all-employee education day.  It was a great time to learn, collaborate, and stretch.  But now it’s Monday morning.  What are we all doing with all that information we were exposed to?

Studies show that probably only 5% of us will actually act on new insights we’ve been exposed to. That’s it!  Only 5%!

But dove-tailing off of EOFire this morning, you have the “response ability” to do more with what you learn.

  • You read an article that directly applies to your line of work.  Take time to share it with someone on your team.  Find out if your work should change based upon new ideas you discovered.
  • You read a book about personal growth.  Create an action plan to put what you’ve learned into practice.  Today.
  • You attended a seminar that got you all pumped up.  Journal about what you learned, how you felt, and what you intend to do about this new insight.

In other words, when you learn something new, TAKE ACTION!  That’s your response ability.  As Jeff Olson in The Slight Edge says, take daily, disciplined action toward your goals and you will succeed.

Are you taking responsibility?  Make a plan.  Do the plan.  Don’t let great insight and experience go to waste.

make things happen