April 19, 2019
Reimagine Busyness at Work
Dear Friend, whether you’re an activist or not, as our country continues to grapple with its “operating system” you’re likely affected in some way by what is unfolding in our nation's capital. Staying focused on your own goals can be challenging in the midst of such uncertainty, but there is a lot you can do to maximize your time, attention and impact.
This past December, I began a blog series, Reimagine Success with a post called Reimagine Busyness, in which I discussed how to begin taking the reins of our often overly busy lives and imagined a more integrated world where we can meet the full range of our needs, slowing down while still maintaining ambition. In my latest post, Reimagine Busyness at Work, I discuss the importance of knowing what you need to work optimally in the midst of constant distractions, disruptive technology and extremely heavy workloads.
Avoiding the “busy trap” entails getting to know what I call your Optimal Work Needs (OWN) — the set of particulars that define how you work most effectively and allow you to be intentional with how you spend your time and energy. Fully tapping into your potential means not seeing your OWN as a luxury, but rather a critical component of how you lead yourself and others to contribute what you're meant to. Key questions I explore in the blog include:
What are your optimal work hours?
How much rest is ideal for you to recharge yourself for maximum energy at work?
How can you create time and space for uninterrupted work?
I developed an Optimal Work Needs Inventory to help you begin gathering key data points on the above questions and more. I’d love to hear what you discover, and how your winter is going! —Cathy
Note on my recommended reading, videos and blog posts — I strongly believe technology can and does improve our lives greatly. I also think it's critical to be mindful of how and when we use it. Without doing so, it's easy to lose ourselves in its endless distractions, sacrificing time and focus that could be used to create and share more value in our lives. I think that we're at a critical moment as individuals and a society to get into a more humane and human relationship with ourselves and each other. Technology is shining a bright light on our deepest yearnings and on our shadow. In the coming months, I look forward to sharing my thinking on how we can harness the rich opportunities technology presents us with to truly OWN our power and live more freely and with more consciousness.
Are you ready to own your OWN?! To work most effectively, you need to know what does and doesn't allow you to sustain your contributions over the long term. This quick inventory will give you key information to build your clarity.
THE MACHINE STOPS Written not long before his death in 2015, this poignant essay by the great neurologist, naturalist, historian of science and author, Oliver Sacks, published in the New Yorker this February, is a moving, heartfelt letter to the planet about how technology is changing the fabric of our day-to-day life.
There's Only One Thing Office Employees Really Need for "Wellness" This Quartz at Work article makes a convincing case for designing workplace cultures that prevent burnout and have humane, realistic expectations of staff.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World A professor of computer science and author of books about the intersection of technology and society, Newport shares important points about what kind of time, focus and energy impacting work requires and how hyper-connectivity is an obstacle to reaching our full potential.
This short film by Max Stossel and Sander van Dijk asks: In the Attention Economy, technology and media are designed to maximize our screen-time, but what if they were designed to help us live by our values?
December 21, 2018
Dear Friend, As winter begins and the holidays continue, I hope that you’re making the space to slow down and take extra care of yourself. We tend to get even busier than usual in December — finishing projects, gift shopping, holiday cards, family plans and thinking ahead to the new year. All this pressure can be really stressful and take you off path. If you’re not too, ahem, busy, I’d like to share more thoughts on the subject of busyness below and in my December blog post, Reimagine Busyness, which is the first installment in a series I am doing over the next few months called Reimagine Success. In both the blog and this newsletter, I begin to explore how to take the reins of your stress levels, productivity and potential in a 24/7 world.
Go Slow to Go Fast
Being hyper busy and always plugged in is a way of life too many of us know too well, and we pay a price for it. You may find yourself skipping meals and exercise, making mistakes at work, not taking time for family and friends or even losing your sense of purpose. I love helping individuals and organizations explore how slowing down can actually serve as a catalyst, not an obstacle to your ambition, vision and impact. It’s critical to examine your unique recipe for creating a smart, focused and, dare I say, playful approach to work that is integrated with the rich rewards and recharging benefits of life beyond your professional mission.
It may feel like a luxury to step back, assess your values and plan how you can more intentionally manage your time, energy and focus. However, my experience is that it’s a necessity, not a luxury. In order to take charge of your life and sustain your positive contributions, it’s key to commit to and follow through on a daily work and life plan that allows you to meet the majority of your needs and feel inspired, supported and successful.
Assessing Your Needs
When you're too busy, you tend to short-change some of your needs. Over the long-term, this can create serious consequences because meeting your needs is an important foundation of a healthy Busyness Index. My experience is that when you prioritize meeting the majority of your needs, it's much less likely that you'll be busy in ways that deplete your resources, make you less effective in work or less present for yourself and others. Knowing the best way to integrate the full range of your needs provides you with a powerful tool to keep yourself centered and growing. I’ve created a Busyness Inventory to help you get a quick, initial sense of how your level of busyness is and isn't working for you. You may be surprised by the results!
I’d love to hear how you’re making it through December soulfully and your plans for 2019! —Cathy
Does your busy schedule allow for a full life? Find out by taking this quick inventory! It will give you a sense of how well you’re meeting the full range of your needs with suggestions for what you can do about it if the busyness trap has got you!
From 2012, before social media fully took off, this is a very good opinion piece from The New York Times, “The Busy Trap,” by Tim Kreider. I remember reading it the day it appeared and it seems as fresh and relevant six years later. It’s far from an advice column, more of a witty polemic for the great value of idleness.
Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Rest. Alex Pang is a scholar, researcher and writer with lots to say on a wide range of subjects related to technology, rest and optimum human performance. This book is a kind of manifesto for a more humane work ethic.
This lovely short film by Francisco Kitzberger, “Busy,” takes a Thoreau quote and translates it into a beautiful and enlightening experience of constant busyness through art and music.
“My Dinner With Andre,” the 1981 classic, written by and starring Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn and directed by Louis Malle, is a feature length meditation on life. The film consists almost entirely of a conversation between two men over dinner, yet is a captivating look at the magic that emerges when we give relationship and conversation real space.
October 15, 2018
New Website. New Resources. New D.C. Location.
Hello! A lot has been happening in my and our world since I last wrote. It's been a momentous and stressful few weeks filled with extremes — we've seen some of the most incredible organizing in recent history with many people raising their courageous and important voices while our government strays further and further off the path of democracy. The perfect time to move to Washington, D.C. right?! Well, after 20 years in NYC, I took the plunge and relocated to the belly of the beast earlier this year :). Believe it or not, it's a slower paced life for me and a great base to deepen my collaborations to build a better world. I'm still coming up to NYC regularly and working with clients across the US and around the globe. I hope you’re thriving in your corner of the globe, despite this wild roller coaster we’ve been on! Please scroll down for a special offer and recommended reading and watching.
In the midst of all this, I’m excited to announce my new website! When you have a moment, please mosey over and check it out. Note I've changed my website's URL to cathywasserman.com from self-leadershipstrategies.com.
As you’ll see, I'm emphasizing ideas and techniques I’ve developed over decades that show how and why using all your "colors" — your strengths and vulnerabilities — not only helps you to achieve your goals, but is a critical part of what leads to success and what we need more of in this turbulent cultural moment. The new site also reflects some key additions and an evolution in my services and resources, including my new blog and upcoming podcast.
I’m continuing to provide personal, career and executive coaching. Plus, I’ve added coaching for duos — colleagues, business partners, co-founders, family members and others. I’ve also deepened my services to organizations and I'm offering more workshops, retreats and facilitated conversations in the following areas:
Across all of my services, I’m providing support for staying strong and seizing opportunities in these intense times using a unique modality that I've developed called cultural therapy.
Also, if you or someone you know has an idea or project — including a job search — they would like to launch and need affordable, comprehensive support, my IncYOUbator groups may be just the ticket!
I’d truly love to hear how things are going for you and what you've been cooking up in your work and life! I wish you a fabulous and fulfilling fall! —Cathy
Why Technology Favors Tyranny by Yuval Noah Harari in the Atlantic. This alarming, in-depth essay breaks down how technology — artificial intelligence and the centralized nature of the internet — may threaten to further concentrate power and make liberal democracy obsolete. I think this article is useful to consider even as we acknowledge the many incredible benefits of technology.
The Power of Vulnerability Brené Brown’s talks are well known, but worth revisiting now. This is a video highlighting her essential ideas on vulnerability and shame, particularly important to bear in mind during such triggering times.