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Go barefoot:  8 Tips for more mindful living

Go barefoot:  8 Tips for more mindful living

by Moyra Mackie on April 4, 2018

I always worry when HR departments seize on a fashionable idea as the panacea that may not cure all ills but will certainly tick this year’s boxes.

Andy Puddicombe, the co-founder of a terrific mindfulness app called Headspace, wrote a great article on LinkedIn criticising the vogue for “Mindfulness at Work,” given that this slightly misses the point of mindfulness.  As Andy says:

“Mindfulness simply means to be present, undistracted, no matter where we are or what we are doing at the time.”

Or like being barefoot, instead of wearing our comfiest footwear

Going barefoot – especially outside – brings instant awareness of our relationship to our surroundings.  It uses more muscles and strengthens our ankles but it also makes us think just a little bit more about where we are treading.

Mindfulness is a practice that you never perfect

There are many ways to become more mindful; more focused, attentive and present.  One of the best ways to build this ability in an increasingly distracting world is through meditation.  There is a ton of evidence emerging to show the wide-range of physical and emotional benefits of regular mindfulness-meditation.

It’s not a quick fix

Indeed it’s not a fix at all, because we can never say we’ve mastered mindfulness.

If you want to know how to get started with mindfulness-meditation, this is a great little video.  Instead of repeating those tips, I’d like to focus on eight simple things that I think really help to introduce more mindful moments into our everyday lives.

Although there is science to back many of them up, I’ve chosen them because they work for me.

#1 Stop those TV dinners

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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We need to talk:  Rekindling quality conversations at work

We need to talk: Rekindling quality conversations at work

by Moyra Mackie on February 28, 2018

From the outside it looks as if the majority of organisations are in a mess.

Surveys tell us that only a third of workers bring their A-game to the office.   More and more time is spent at work, or working via the umbilical cord of our smartphones, yet productivity is stuck in the pre-digital era.

Stressed and overwhelmed

To make things worse,  more people at all levels in organisations are reporting excessive levels of stress.  Both  employee and company suffers; when we are under stress our brain prioritises survival, and reduces our capacity to think clearly or creatively and to make rational decisions.

Grand initiatives haven’t made a dent in the discontent and disengagement

Everyone seems aware of the problem and a whole industry has sprung up, with million dollar consultancies and business schools clamouring to fix the problem.

However it isn’t working.  Three quarters of those expensive change initiatives fail and it doesn’t seem managers with MBAs can transform the way their teams feel about work either.

So where’s the real problem?

When we at Mackie Consulting listen to people in organisations through our Clarity Survey, and through our coaching work with teams and individuals, people tell us that they are not having the conversations they should be having. What we hear supports the Ken Blanchard Leadership company’s research that shows the extent to which conversations are avoided:

  • 81% say their boss doesn’t listen to them
  • 82% say their leaders don’t provide appropriate feedback
  • 28% say they rarely or never discuss their future goals with their boss
  • only 34% meet with their boss once per week

While people talk a lot, they have lost the habit of having meaningful, quality conversations 

In all too many organisations, meetings are long and formulaic. People come to meetings either to transmit information or receive it. Dialogue seems to have been substituted by the “let-s-read-this-presentation-together” practice.

Meaningful conversations are frequently avoided, and the more challenging conversations are saved up for those zinging e-mails or vented to the wrong person at the coffee shop or water cooler.

Is it time to get back to being human?

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Office Design: Psychology of the Office Space

Office Design: Psychology of the Office Space

by Tim Wayne on February 14, 2016

If you’ve ever hated being stuck in a cubicle farm or became annoyed with the distractions of an open office, it turns out that you’ve got a great reason to complain.

Office design does more than just the shape our place of work – it can also shape employees’ motivation and job satisfaction. When your workplace doesn’t meet your psychological needs, it can be devastating to your productivity.

Your work environment can make you happy (or stress you out)

According to environmental psychology, or the study on the relationship between people and their surroundings, a work space can inspire workers to be creative and happy or stress them out.

While the impact of office design on productivity is more obvious when issues like lighting, ventilation, and noise pollution are the problems, it can also harm morale when workplaces don’t offer employees enough freedom in when, where, and how they work.

Innovative design can help create an innovative workforce

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Tim Wayne

Tim Wayne

Tim Wayne is a digital content marketer and contributor to several healthcare blogs. He is interested in healthcare, education, and small business management. Since graduating from USC with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature, Tim has worked with websites across a wide range of industries in writing website copy and promoting content online.

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Calling all leaders: how warm is your water?

Calling all leaders: how warm is your water?

by Moyra Mackie on August 24, 2015

“If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will of course frantically try to clamber out. But if you place it gently in a pot of tepid water and turn the heat on low, it will float there quite placidly. As the water gradually heats up, the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor, exactly like one of us in a hot bath, and before long, with a smile on its face, it will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death.”

~ Daniel Quinn, The Story of B

Whilst German scientists in the 1880s found it was indeed possible to very gradually heat water until the poor amphibians expired, I think it’s a warning and challenge to all leaders who want to stay successful.

How warm is the water in your organisation?

According to The Economist, the average life expectancy of public companies shrank from 65 years in the 1920s, to less than ten in the 1990s. Whilst a golden parachute might break the fall, life in the C-suite is becoming ever more precarious. In just ten years the average CEO tenure has fallen from 8.1 to 6.3 years and is getting shorter all the time.

Managers at all levels are expected to do more with fewer resources in a lot less time

If they’re successful, next year they will be bench-marked against that success – if they’re lucky. If they’re not so lucky, they might be given a “stretch goal”.

In addition, technology has led to an expectation that they should be available 24/7. Reacting quickly is rewarded.

Everything is measured, all the time

I’m old enough to remember a workplace where we had five year goals. (And no, that was not Soviet Russia.)

Now we have staff on monthly goals, managers anxiously watching weekly targets and lots of people paying attention to the end of every quarter. Not to mention that we have pipelines and magnets for talent and nine boxes for all our human capital.

We even measure happiness – or engagement – and we find that’s the one thing going down.

Has your water heated up and you just haven’t noticed?

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Close encounters with elephant:  A lesson in leadership

Close encounters with elephant: A lesson in leadership

by Moyra Mackie on September 20, 2014

“The role of a great guide is to get clients as close to the animals without fear.”

Said the man on the right of this picture as he described Nic Polenakis, (centre above) a Zimbabwe guide selected by National Geographic Traveler as one of the “10 Great Tour Guides Who Can Transform Your Trip”.

Watching Nic in action certainly transformed my trip, giving a demonstration of leadership in action

Zimbabwe guides hold Professional Guides Licences, one of the most difficult, extensive and well-respected qualifications of its type in Africa.  Qualifying takes 4-5 years, including 2 years’ apprenticeship with another pro guide and a 2 day written exam.  The pass rate is around 5%.

I confess that in the moment that we came across that bull elephant standing between us and our tented room, the only thing that mattered was how Nic handled the tension – ours and the elephant’s.

Leadership is about how you show up

I had only met Nic an hour before, but I trusted him implicitly.  His rigorous training and extensive experience gave him the courage to handle our fear. He easily modelled the way he needed us to respond. read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Dealing with stress: Africa unplugged

Dealing with stress: Africa unplugged

by Moyra Mackie on September 1, 2014

In a few days’ time I will be sitting on that seat, by that fire.

In a few days’ time I will be back in Zimbabwe, the land of my birth.

As I listen to the traffic outside my office window, it’s almost impossible to imagine sitting round a campfire in a place that is only accessible by boat or plane.  A place where rush hour means the dawn and dusk ritual of animals coming down to the river to feed.

A place without the internet or a reliable mobile phone connection

I realise that this will be the first time for a very long time that  I will really and truly be unplugged.

In 1989 I spent six months backpacking through Africa, from Cairo to Cape Town.  No phone, no web, no social media.  There were weeks at a time when my family back home had no idea who I was travelling with or even which country I was in.

In 1989 I took that freedom for granted.  Now I worry about not being able to speak to my kids or check my email for a few days.

Which got me thinking about what being connected and available 24/7 does to me, does to us

read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Rebecca  arrived at our first coaching session apologizing that she had a headache and sore neck and shoulders.

Ninety minutes later her headache had lifted and the pain had gone. She left my office elated and incredulous.

I know what you’re thinking.

How did that happen?

For those cynics in the room, who may not be that charitable, please keep reading.

But the answer to the question above is: we had a trustful coaching session and then we ended with seven minutes of mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?

mindfulness, coaching, Moyra Mackie

How can “paying attention on purpose” ease physical pain?

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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The hippo, the salesman and the significance of shoes

The hippo, the salesman and the significance of shoes

by Moyra Mackie on November 8, 2013

This week I’ve been asking myself how bad things have to get before we ask for help.

I’m thinking of all the people who struggle with a relationship without seeking counselling. Or those who wrestle with a problem at work and try and solve it on their own, rather than ask for help from managers or peers, or even a coach. Brené Brown, in her research into relationships, discovered we have a strong social imperative to appear strong and avoid feeling vulnerable.  Yet she believes:

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

Which reminds me of an extraordinary day I spent back in Zimbabwe

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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