Why should we be interested in developing gratitude?

September 17th, 2014
by Val Kinjerski
The evidence that cultivating gratefulness is good for us is overwhelming. Although some of us are naturally more grateful than others, gratitude is something we can develop. Let me tell you about some interesting research by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, leading American investigators of gratitude.

During a ten-week study, they randomly assigned a large group of people into three groups. Every week, one group wrote down what they were grateful for, another wrote about hassles and the third wrote about neutral matters. At the end of the ten weeks, which group do you think felt better about their lives?

Those who kept a gratitude journal not only felt more joy, happiness and satisfaction; they exercised more, had fewer physical symptoms like headaches, stomach upset and muscle stiffness, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week than participants in the other two groups.

Need more convincing? Look at these statistics. In comparison to those people who do not keep gratitude journals, people who keep gratitude journals:

· Are 25% happier

· Sleep ½ hour more per night

· Exercise 33% more per week

· See a reduction in their systolic blood pressure by up to 10% and

· Decrease their dietary fat intake by up to 20%

Writing a gratitude letter and making a gratitude visit to a person who has made a significant difference in your life, but whom you have never properly thanked, is another powerful way to increase your sense of well-being. One study showed that simply writing and delivering one letter increased happiness more than any other gratitude intervention. A single gratitude visit boosted happiness for one month, but additional gratitude visits increased happiness even after six months.

Practicing gratitude has a positive effect on both the person receiving it and the person expressing it. It is hard to be upset or negative when we are being thankful. Hans Selye maintained that “among all emotions, there is one which, more than any other, accounts for the presence or absence of stress in human relations: that is the feeling of gratitude.” Moreover, study after study presents compelling evidence of the ripple effect of gratitude. So it doesn’t matter what we are grateful for, we will feel the benefit through all aspects of our lives, including work.

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A Time of Review . . . A Time of Intention

December 31st, 2013
by Val Kinjerski

Traditionally, on the last day of each year, I  take the opportunity for reflection. What were the highlights of 2013? What did I achieve? Did I really make a difference in the life of another? Did I grow, personally and professionally? Did I live in alignment with what I say matters to me? Was I intentional? Purposeful?

Did I flourish? Did I get to the heart of what matters about my work? Did I work in a way that was meaningful to others? Did I make a contribution?

Overall, am I happy with how 2013 turned out? With my accomplishments? The risks I took? The lessons I learned?

What am I grateful for?

What are my desires for 2014? My intention? What do I want to change?  How will I get there?

Lots to ponder. This type of reflection is a great opportunity for closure of the passing year. To acknowledge the gifts and accomplishments of 2013.  And, at the same time, it generates excitement and energy for the coming year. It helps us set our intention and to take responsibility for the forthcoming year.

As 2013 comes to a close, I invite you to carve out some time to do a similar reflection. And would love to hear about your accomplishments for 2013 and your intentions for 2014. Something magical happens when we write our goals . . . whether that is the power of intention, a reprogramming of the brain, or the law of attraction . . . the research shows that we are more likely to achieve our goals when we write them down.

This process has helped me to appreciate the relationship that I have with you . . . whether that is through the eCourses or self-studies you participated in, the newsletters I have crafted for your reading pleasure, or the collaborative work we have done together. Thank you for that!

I have received a lot of positive feedback from you with regards to the online learning environment we are creating and plan to grow it in 2014. I look forward to connecting again in the new year.

Wishing you a flourishing 2014!

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Power Stress: A Leadership Reality

September 16th, 2013
by Val Kinjerski

While leaders often find their work stimulating and enjoy the challenges that come with the position, the work, as you know, can also be highly stressful. Clearly, the nature of the work: increased responsibility, ambiguities, pressure to achieve results by influencing others, and the loneliness inherent in leadership positions takes its toll.

As a result of these demands, leaders often experience what is known as “power stress,” a term coined by Boyatzis and McKee, which leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, if not adequately dealt with. So power stress is part of the experience that results from the exercise of influence and sense of responsibility felt in leadership positions.

We know about the impact of stress, on our health, our relationships, and on our leadership ability. The chronic stress that comes with leadership positions have been connected to a wide range of diseases and dysfunctions. It can also lead to a state of “dissonance” which we know drains the enthusiasm and energy of teams and organizations.

But, the problem is not simply power stress. It has always been a part of leadership reality. The issue is too little recovery time. While the pressure and stresses will not relent, the key is to take steps in which recovery can be achieved. Mindfulness meditation is a key in this renewal process.

We would love for you to join us in one of our forthcoming  mindfulness courses. Both start on October 5th. Click on the titles to learn more.

The Mindful Leader: Cultivating a Leadership Presence

An Introduction to Mindfulness

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The Top 12 Workplace Myths, as Commonly Misunderstood by All Generations

October 26th, 2011
by Val Kinjerski

Jim Finkelstein and Mary Gavin, authors of Fuse: Making Sense of the New Cogenerational Workplace put this list together over the many years they’ve been in the consulting business. They have found that these myths – shared by all generations –  cause most workplace misunderstandings and career catastrophes. I thought that you might enjoy reading the list. They are ordered by how frequently we experience their fallout in our work, from least to most.

12. You have to like your job to be happy.

11. The glass ceiling doesn’t exist any more.

10. The hardest workers get promoted.

9. Everyone has sex with co-workers.

8. Office politics is about backstabbing.

7. Do good work and you’ll do fine.

6. A great résumé will get you hired.

5. It’s better to emulate Donald Trump than to be yourself.

4. Millennials don’t work for the money but for the fulfilment.

3. E-mail is always the most efficient communication method.

2. The generation gap between Boomer bosses and Millennial workers hampers productivity and the pursuit of workplace happiness.

1. You can have it all.

So what do Finkelstein and Gavin suggest?

The most likable people get promoted, not the hardest workers.

Broadcast the work you’re doing, especially to your managers.

Be yourself. Really.

Without visual and auditory cues, people often misinterpret an email’s intent and message.

You cannot have it all. You can have the things you want most only intermittently.

To read the complete article featured by the Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/career-advice/careers-book-excerpts/top-12-workplace-myths-misunderstood-by-all-generations/article2214071/page1/

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore spirit at work and its contributing factors in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and inspirational speaker, she helps renew employee wellness and increase performance and retention by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Is having spirit at work simply following your passion?

October 18th, 2011
by Val Kinjerski

For some of us, spirit at work is about following our passion. For others, following a passion is not enough. We only have to look at the number of nurses, teachers and social workers who leave their chosen field after a few years, disenchanted. 

People who follow their passion can also lose their way. Once we lose touch with why we are doing the work we do and how it makes a difference, all the constraints, pressures and lack of resources can feel overwhelming. So how can we expect to feel good about our work, never mind experience spirit at work? 

Perhaps you have lost touch with what first drew you to your particular work. Maybe you took your job because you needed work and never took the opportunity to uncover the deeper meaning of what you do each day. You might be at a time in your life where work feels like an unsatisfying burden. Family and personal responsibilities may require you to stay in your current job. Perhaps you retire in a few years and want to leave your work in a good way – feeling good about your organization and your contribution. It doesn’t matter; you get your spirit at work back. And, if you never had it, you can create it. 

I have found that there are two ways to get to spirit at work: Discover and follow your passion, or find the deeper meaning in your current work. Do what you love or love what you do. Based on experiences of everyday people who have spirit at work, I have created and tested a process you can follow to bring forth or enhance your spirit at work. What follows are nine ways to foster your spirit at work. Don’t be fooled by their simplicity. These ideas have been tested. Moreover, most of them have empirical support from other fields.

I invite you to join The Power of Spirit at Work, a six-week eCourse starting October 22. How it works: This 18-hour, 6 week eCourse is presented in six parts, one each week. It includes videos, self-assessments, readings, facilitated e-discussions, and, if you are collecting Continuing Education Credits (e.g., this qualifies for 18 Category A credits), a post test. Click on the link for more information and pricing.

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Creating Spirit at Work

October 16th, 2011
by Val Kinjerski

How do you feel about your work? Seriously. Do you look forward to work every day? Most days? Even some days? Are you passionate about your work? Do you feel good about the work you do and the contribution you are making? Are you making a difference or are you just making money? 

There is more to work than putting in eight, ten or twelve hours a day. Work is much more than meeting deadlines and coming in under budget. And there is definitely more to work than a paycheque and pension. Money isn’t everything and it certainly doesn’t buy the fulfillment many of us are seeking. Yes, we need money to put a roof over our head and food on the table, but once we have that, most of us find we are looking for more. That “more” is an opportunity to make the world a better place. To do meaningful work and make a difference in the lives of others. To feel good about what we are doing. To have spirit at work. 

Spirit at work is present in people who are passionate about and energized by their work. These are the people who would continue to work even if they won a lottery, because to them, work is an opportunity to make a contribution. Spirit at work is something that is inside each person. Accessing it is an inside job. 

This blog is about spirit at work: What it is and how we can foster it. Any yes, we can foster it.

Starting October 22, I am offering The Power of Spirit at Work, a six-week eCourse. This 18-hour, 6 week eCourse is presented in six parts, one each week. It includes videos, self-assessments, readings, facilitated e-discussions, and, if you are collecting Continuing Education Credits (e.g., this qualifies for 18 Category A credits), a post test. Click here for more information and pricing.

Because I have been tardy in getting this newsletter out (those darn competing priorities) I have decided to extend the early bird rate. That is already in addition to the already reduced introductory fee – something we have decided to do for each new course.

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Employee Engagement in 2011

April 12th, 2011
by Val Kinjerski

To fully achieve the benefits of a more engaged organization, the entire workforce needs to be accountable for their piece of the ‘engagement equation’.  Each individual is accountable for his or her own engagement.  Supervisors and managers have a role to coach team members to higher levels of engagement and manage his or her own engagement. And executives set the tone and create the culture fosters engagement. While employee engagement starts with the leader, everyone in the organization shares responsibility.

Not surprising, employee engagement continues to be a top priority in 2011. BlessingWhite is one of many organizations researching global employee engagement. I thought you might be interested in the key findings from their 2011 Employee Engagement Report.

  • 31% are Engaged, 17% are Disengaged and the rest fall in between.
  • There is a strong correlation between engagement levels and age, role/level, and tenure in the organization.
  • More employees are looking for new opportunities outside their organization than in 2008.
  • Engaged employees plan to stay for what they give; the Disengaged stay for what they get.
  • Employees worldwide view opportunities to apply their talents, career development and training as top drivers of job satisfaction.
  • Trust in executives appears to have more than twice the impact on engagement levels than trust in immediate managers does.
  • Managers are not necessarily doing the things that matter most. The actions most correlated with high engagement are not always the ones that receive the most favorable ratings.
  • Executives appear to struggle with key leadership behaviors, especially what’s required to create a high-performance culture.
  • Engagement surveys without visible follow-up action may actually decrease engagement levels, suggesting that organizations think twice before flipping the switch on measurement without 100% commitment for action planning based on the results.

So what do you make of these findings? Where do you fit in the engagement equation? And what are you doing to fulfill your part?

Similar to BlessingWhite, we find that the creation of spirit at work – that sense that we are fully engaged and inspired by our work – is a shared responsibility between the employee and employer. It is when each individual takes responsibility and the organization as a whole does its part that the magic and the results become evident.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore spirit at work and its contributing factors in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and inspirational speaker, she helps renew employee wellness and increase performance and retention by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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What makes social workers happy and what keeps them in the field?

April 6th, 2011
by Val Kinjerski

Social workers experience higher than average levels of attrition, stress and burnout than other helping professions such as nursing and teaching. Whereas 6 per cent of American nurses and 8 per cent of teachers left their occupations in any given year from 1992 to 2001, the figure was 15 per cent among social workers. Researchers at the University of Calgary suspect similar findings in Canada.

Common issues faced by social workers include scope of practice, perceived freedom and flexibility, work-life balance, support mechanisms in their workplaces, the physical workspace itself, as well as their relationships with clients and colleagues, including supervisors.

“Social workers, by their very nature, care about people,” says John Graham, a U of C social work professor. “People in human services . . . suffer from high caseloads (and) need the support to do their jobs.”

Given this concern, Graham, along with PhD Candidates Andrea Newberry and Micheal Shier teamed up to investigate what made social workers happy and what kept them in the field. This positive and affirmative approach is in high contrast to the traditional problem-based approach such as studying sources of stress and burnout.

Surveys were sent to 2500 social workers in Alberta. Of the 700 returned, the researchers completed in-depth interviews and job shadowing with the 13 “happiest” social workers.

The happiest social workers reported higher levels of fulfilment in areas such as flexible work schedules, better work-life balance and a stronger sense of engagement.  Having a high degree of freedom built into their jobs gave them the flexibility to manage the demands of their jobs with their personal lives including the opportunity for “self-care.”  This behind-the-scene support made a big difference and enabled them to do their jobs well.

“We’re much better at helping others when we’ve learned to find satisfaction and happiness in what we do, and to develop organizational cultures that reinforce these principles,” says Graham.

Their findings have implications for a variety of career fields. Our experience and research tells us that when employees get to the heart of what matters about their work, when they feel like they are making a difference, and they feel like they are part of a community, employee spirit at work –that sense that we are fully engaged and fulfilled by our work – increases. When employers create the conditions to foster spirit at work, the effects can only multiply.

We have demonstrated that not only can you increase spirit at work, as it increases so too does personal well-being, job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Client service and productivity goes up. And absenteeism and turnover goes down.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore spirit at work and its contributing factors in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and inspirational speaker, she helps renew employee wellness and increase performance and retention by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Five Ways to Increase Positivity at Work

March 29th, 2011
by Val Kinjerski

We can increase our positivity ratio by decreasing our negativity or increasing our positivity. Here are five ways to increase the positive in your life and your work.

1. Find meaning in your day-to-day life. What is good or positive about a situation? What is the “silver lining” in a difficult situation? What are you here for? How are you contributing through work?

 2. Savour the good. We have a lot of good things happening in our lives and at work, but we tend to skip over them. Be mindful. Appreciate. Slow down and attend. Enjoy. Recall the good. Share with others. Celebrate.

 3. Count your blessings. Give thanks. Show appreciation. Express gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal.

 4. Make connections. Develop relationships. Spend positive time with others. Cultivate loving concern for others. Connecting with nature is another way to increase positivity. Go outside, especially in spring or summer.

5. Use your strengths. We are far more likely to flourish when we have opportunities to do what we do best. Discover your strengths and find ways to incorporate them into your life and work. Simply learning about our strengths will give us a boost, though temporarily, in positivity. The lasting boost comes from finding ways to apply them.

Living with purpose and meaning, living in the moment, appreciating self and others, practicing gratitude, connecting with others and drawing on our strengths are wonderful ways to increase our positivity ratio and spirit at work.  Not only do they feel good, they have an incredible impact on how we experience our work.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Five Ways to Decrease Negativity at Work

March 25th, 2011
by Val Kinjerski

High-powered teams have a positivity ratio of 6:1. That’s right. Six positives for every negative. What is the positivity ratio at your workplace? And what can you do to increase it?

Two ways to increase our positivity ratio: Increase the positive and decrease the negative. Let’s talk about decreasing the negative.

Reducing negativity may indeed by the quickest way to increase your positivity ratio. The concept of “negativity-bias” tells us that our negative thoughts are much stronger than our positive thoughts. So, mathematically, we will get the best and fastest results by reducing negativity.

1. Dispute negative thinking. Dispute negative thinking the way a lawyer would: by examining the facts. Ask: What were the negative thoughts? What triggered the negative thoughts? How did those thoughts make me feel? How does this compare to reality? What is the truth here? Then dispute the negative thinking with the truth.

2. Break the pattern of ruminating. When something negative happens, we have a habit of going over it again and again in our mind. Telling others. Not letting it go. Often finding ourselves spiralling down and getting stuck in the depths of despair. Once you are aware of the fact that you are ruminating, the quickest way to stop it is to distract. Find a way to lift your mood – in a healthy way (no drugs or alcohol).

3. Become more mindful. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as: “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” So being mindful means paying attention to your inner experience and thoughts without judgment. Become a witness to your thoughts and your feelings, and in this case, your negative thoughts and the feelings that arise. With awareness comes choice.

4. Reduce the negative input. Unfortunately, negativity grabs us. It draws us in. And gets a grip on us. What are you watching on television? Reading in the newspapers? What types of movies interest you? Media violence zaps your empathy and your kindness. The same is true for gossip. Shut off the television. Get your news online and choose what you want to pay attention to. Stop the gossip.

5. Change how you are with negative people. Get interested in them as people. Take the lead in the conversation. Ask questions. Look for positives. What are their strengths? Passion? What do you share in common? Choose activities that you are both interested in. Inject compassion, hope or humour. Reframe the relationship.  Ask: what can I learn from this person? Are they a teacher in disguise?

It is next to impossible to have spirit at work and be negative. It is next to impossible to be part of a high-powered team and be negative. It Is next to impossible to feel good about our work and the contribution we make when we are negative. But it is possible to reduce the negativity in our lives and our work – simply by shifting our thinking. It is time to rethink our life and our work.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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