Tips for Introverts and Their Managers

thoreau

I’m guessing Thoreau’s plan would not have thrived in open-plan-lovin’ Corporateville U.S.A.

Plenty of people don’t fall into the extrovert category. For those inward-looking, quiet types and their managers, there are ways to make the typical work experience more hospitable.

I don’t usually share the work I do in my paid work life on Books+Body, but I think I might start doing so a bit, starting with an article that published today. The piece is called “Four Tips on Getting the Most from Your Introverted Team Members,” and it takes a look at what managers and project managers can do to foster the participation and potential of their introverted members, and I think it has interest for the introverted employee as well.

As an introvert myself, I took special pleasure in writing this. I’ve done other articles on the subject and find that writing is even more satisfying when the subject matter is close to my heart. So what is an introvert? Or, for that matter, an extrovert? In the simplest terms, an extrovert draws energy from the external world, introverts from their inner world. From the article:

Studies show that introverts make up one-third to one-half of the population. Yet most offices are set up exclusively with extroverts in mind, a fact that becomes immediately obvious when you look at traits associated with the two personality types.

  • Extroverts gravitate toward groups and constant action, and tend to think out loud. They are recharged by the external world and from being around other people. They represent the Western ideal of showy confidence and “men of action,” often moving into that action before they’ve formed a concrete strategy.
  • In contrast, introverts typically dislike noise, interruptions, and big group settings. They instead prefer quiet solitude, time to think before speaking (or acting), and building relationships and trust one-on-one. Introverts recharge with deep dives into their inner landscape to research ideas, focus deeply on work, or delve into a book.

Of course, the labels extroversion and introversion lie on a continuum; few people are purely one or the other. Moreover, it’s a rare U.S.-born introvert who hasn’t developed at least some skills to navigate the perpetually extroverted workplace. They have to. In a culture where the typical meeting resembles a competition for loudest-and-most-talkative, where the space is open and desks are practically touching, and where turbocharged confidence, charisma, and sociability is the gold standard, introverts often feel they have adjust who they are to “pass.”

In other words, the modern open office is pretty much a nightmare for the typical office worker. But for many, it’s the reality, so the piece—drawing from an interview with Self-Promotion for Introverts author, Nancy Ancowitz and the work of Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking—gives ideas managers, leaders, and introverts themselves can use in such settings. I hope you’ll head on over and read more about the deep, quiet type.

And in closing, I share my favorite quote from the piece:

“While an extrovert is comfortable coming up with ideas out loud, the introvert needs to send her thoughts to her internal editor first,” says Ancowitz. “Introverts are less likely to share their ‘drafts.’”

-Diann Daniel

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Mandy Ingber, Yoga Instructor to the Stars, Shares Health Tips

Mandy Ingber

Celebrity yoga instructor and wellness expert Mandy Ingber

Mandy Ingber makes her living promoting wellness and self-esteem. Here, she shares advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and insight into her work with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

 

Mandy Ingber, the self-esteem and wellness expert who is commonly known as Jennifer Aniston’s yoga teacher, will be leading this year’s fundraiser FenwaYoga for the Red Sox Foundation. As part of the conversation around that event, she shared with Books+Body insight into her weekly fitness routine, ideas on how to be kind to oneself, and tips for being healthy—inside and out.

Books+Body: Do you exercise in addition to yoga? If so, how do you balance yoga and the other exercise?

I was actually a certified spinning instructor prior to being a yoga instructor. Yes, I love cardio work, and have always loved all forms of moving my body. I try to incorporate yoga and stretching daily, and three to four days a week I include another modality.

How do you counsel clients on balancing different types of movement?

I encourage the client to incorporate cardio as well. Jen [Aniston] and I spin together, and she will run on the treadmill or do the elliptical machine prior to our yoga workouts. With Kate [Beckinsale], I have hiked with her in addition to yoga. Other clients hire me to be their spin buddy or yoga buddy, and I just think it’s great for people to move their bodies daily—in whatever way they like. I have multiple modalities in my book Yogalosophy, and my DVD Yogalosophy is a hybrid of yoga poses with toners as a complement to traditional yoga poses.

Women in particular can be so harsh with themselves, and that’s exponentially true when the media puts that harsh spotlight on a person’s looks. What have you found most useful, besides yoga and exercise, in helping to develop kindness toward yourself? How about in terms of helping clients?

The best I can do is to be an example, and to speak positively about my own body. Developing a loving attitude towards the self is key, as is restricting our critical self-talk. What works best is speaking out the miracles of the body. “The body is falling right into place naturally,” “this is what it feels like to get into shape,” and “appreciate your curves”…these are all ways to be kind to the self. So my goal is always kindness to the self, and others really learn by example.

This year, Mandy Ingber will lead a team of Red Sox Foundation MVPs.

On Sunday, Mandy will lead yoga classes at Fenway Park to raise Red Sox Foundation funds to benefit underserved children. One focus of the foundation’s programs is building kids’ self-esteem through fitness.

I know you must have a frenetic schedule. For example, the week after you’re at Fenway in Boston, you’ll be doing a workshop in New York. [Ingber will be holding a workshop at the Omega Institute in New York from June 13–June 15.] What techniques do you use to keep relaxed with your busy life?

I carve time out for myself for meditation, walks, gratitude lists, and journaling. It’s important for me to slow down, and take that time. I consider that my home base. I have always been pretty good at time management, but I make sure to schedule in my down time, otherwise it won’t happen! Primarily, enjoying the moment is the best way too stay relaxed. Presence is the key. But like everyone, I am working on it, one breath at a time, and it isn’t always easy.

Tips from Mandy on Being Healthy Inside and Out

  • Visualize your best self, and as you imagine that, hold on to the feeling. It should feel like being in love.
  • Commit to yourself. Make healthy choices about diet, meditation and physical activity.
  • Do one thing daily that stretches you.
  • Be of service to another. A kind act towards a fellow will make you feel amazing. When I can’t find the love in myself, I give to another, and when I am feeling awesome, I force myself to be present to someone whose shoes I will be in tomorrow.
  • Take time to feel into your heart. Literally place your mind into the center of your chest, and you will feel a buzz or vibration there. Energy flows where the mind goes. If you don’t feel it, then imagine you feel it—that’s just as good.
  • To expand your happiness, write a gratitude list.
  • Set your sights on a short-term goal, such as a workshop, to give you an immediate sense of accomplishment.

-Diann Daniel

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Celebrity Yoga Instructor Mandy Ingber on Yoga at Fenway Park

Boston's Fenway Park will serve as Mandy Ingber's yoga studio this Sunday.

Boston’s Fenway Park will serve as Mandy Ingber’s yoga studio this Sunday.

This year, Mandy Ingber will lead a team of Red Sox Foundation MVPs in two yoga classes on the warning track of the Fenway Park field.

 

Los Angeles-based celebrity yoga instructor Mandy Ingber is known for helping the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Kate Beckinsale, and Brooke Shields in such enviably shape. But on June 8, Ingber’s primary focus will be to represent the Red Sox Foundation as it holds “FenwaYoga” for the second consecutive year. The fundraiser—held on the sacred grounds of Fenway Park—will raise money for the Red Sox Foundation’s Red Sox Scholars Program, which provides academic support to promising disadvantaged students, and its RBI Program, which helps at-risk youth develop self-esteem and life skills, make healthy choices, achieve in school, and develop teamwork skills through participation in baseball and softball programs. Two classes, one for 9:00 a.m. and one at 10:30 a.m. and which can each hold 244 people, will be held along the warning track of the Fenway field. Registration fee is $25, and each participant must commit to raising $250 for the Red Sox Foundation. (If registering after 5:00 p.m. today, that amount is due at the time of registration.) To sign up, click here. (See bottom for additional information for participants.)

Ingber spoke with me for Books+Body in 2013 about her book Yogalosophy: 28 Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover, and I’m thrilled to have her back. Below, she shares some background on how she came to be involved in FenwaYoga, her excitement about leading this fundraiser, and thoughts on why physical activity can be so crucial to building self-esteem. (In the next post, she shares more on being healthy inside and out.)

Books+Body: What led to your involvement with FenwaYoga this year?

Mandy Ingber: Ever since I was a recurring character on Cheers in my late teens-early 20s, Boston has always had a special place in my heart. I used to visit my best friends at Emerson College, my boyfriend’s hometown is Boston, and my half-sister goes to Northeastern currently, so I have a lot of heart connections to that city. When the people from KIND [one of the partners of the event] asked me to participate, I immediately said “yes” because it is such a great brand—and because I was so excited to step foot on the Fenway Park field! I can’t wait to practice yoga there; it’s a dream to be able to be my version of athletic at such as historical site.

Besides being in Fenway Park, what are you most looking forward to about the experience?

I am secretly excited to be up on the screen. But mostly excited to practice yoga with like-minded people who are caring for themselves, while they work for a cause. This is the best of all worlds. For this Fenway event, everybody gets to win. Not only that, but I have never taught yoga in Boston before, and I am excited to meet the Yogalosophy fans there. I will be meeting and greeting, and DVDs and books will be available, so I am really looking forward to the personal connection.

FenwaYoga will be geared to all levels. How do you approach a situation like that when there are presumably so many different levels of ability and experience with yoga? (Not to mention the unusual setting.)

As with most yoga sessions that I teach, I will have a plan and then will likely have to adapt. Flexibility comes in all forms, right? Yoga is a little more difficult to teach to all levels than say, spinning, because each body is so different and there are multiple movements to master. A lighthearted approach, with the focus on having a good time, contemporary music, and a little prayer that it will all go okay will be my formula. I also plan to incorporate some Yogalosophy hybrid moves [yoga blended with more traditional toning exercises], which are doable for newbies and challenging for old school yogis and yoginis. I’m also pretty excited, because the Red Sox Foundation is providing prizes for the biggest fundraiser and one of the prizes is joining me at the Omega Institute the following weekend to create vision boards and set intentions for ourselves through yoga and meditation. Should be powerful.

Scene from FenwaYoga 2013.

Scene from FenwaYoga 2013.

FenwaYoga is being held to raise funds for the Red Sox Foundation, which has a cornerstone program that uses physical activities (baseball and softball) to foster the development of self-esteem and the ability to make healthy choices. Though your own primary modality (yoga) is different, these ideas have obvious parallels with what you do, and also speak to how something as seemingly superficial as “getting in shape” or “getting healthy” can really have powerful ramifications for the rest of your life. Thoughts on that?

We all have a body that needs care. From the most famous celebrity to the man on the street. It doesn’t matter how wealthy you are, if you are in love, or what your situation is, the body needs self-care, and each of us is the one responsible for that. When we take care of our bodies, we build self-esteem. It’s really quite phenomenal, this instrument we have. We can use our bodies to build strength or energy, or to mellow out and calm our nervous systems. The more you get to know how the body works—and feel how powerful feeling strong and healthy is to all aspects of your life—the more confidence you develop. Moving the body moves energy and relaxes the mind. It improves focus, concentration and presence. That phrase “you can’t think your way into correct action, but you can act your way into correct thinking” really applies.

There are advantages to working as a team as well. Since I have no hand-eye coordination, my MVP position is as a yoga instructor, and a yoga class becomes its own kind of team.

 -Diann Daniel

For FenwaYoga Participants

Fundraising prizes

First-place prize is a trip to the Omega Institute in New York, as well as yoga mat, supply of Vita Coco water, and an autographed Dustin Pedroia baseball. The second-prize is four green monster seats at a Red Sox game, as well as a yoga mat, autographed Jon Lester jersey, and supply of Vita Coco. Finally, the third prize is four in-field grand stand seats at a Red Sox game, a yoga mat, and a case of Vita Coco water.

Expo, Participant Arrival
Guests can arrive as early as 8 a.m., through the Gate C entrance. That area will host the Health & Fitness Expo, which will be open to the public from 8am-12pm, and everyone (whether registered for FenwaYoga or not) is welcome to come in and check out the vendors and the expo.

Other Boston Area Events

The Boston area will also be hosting Runner’s World’s events this weekend. For information, start here and here.

 

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Study Finds Walking Boosts Creativity

View from a walk along the Charles River in Boston.

View from a walk along the Charles River in Boston.

Many of history’s most famous thinkers were walkers—Henry David Thoreau, Charles Dickens, Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, and Walt Whitman, to name just a few—and many of them held a deep belief that walking boosted their creativity. As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”

A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, from Stanford researchers gives scientific weight to this belief.

The study, composed of a series of four experiments, looked at idea generation conducted while sitting and while walking, using different experiment constructions, for example, walking outside versus walking on a treadmill, sitting first, then walking, and so on. Walking was the clear winner. In the first and the most straightforward experiment, where participants completed a four-minute task of creativity first while sitting, then during a walk on the treadmill, researchers found that walking increased participants’ creativity by 81 percent.

Walking itself, whether done on the treadmill inside while starting at a blank wall or outside, was found to produce this greater creativity. For example, two out of the four experiments compared creative idea production for sitting, walking on the treadmill, and walking outside. Participants exhibited greater creative divergent thinking—or what you might think of as free-flowing ideas—whether they walked outside or on the treadmill. Moreover, participants experienced a residual creative boost when they were tested while sitting after they had first walked. In contrast, participants who were tested twice but both times while sitting did not show any improvement, demonstrating it was not merely an issue of repetition.

To measure creativity, researchers administered two types of tests. In the first three experiments, participants were told to generate new uses for common objects, such as a button, a shoe, and a key. As an example of this kind of test, one participant heard “button” and brainstormed “as a doorknob for a dollhouse, an eye for a doll, a tiny strainer, to drop behind you to keep your path.” The last experiment used a different kind of test for metaphoric-creativity thinking, which asks participants to come up with symbolic equivalencies for the prompt they are given. For example, a candle burning low might produce “life ebbing away” or, as an example of a more creative response, “the last hand in a gambler’s last card game.”

Previous studies have already found that aerobic activities, such as running, promote greater creativity. Yet, for those who don’t have time to run or who simply don’t want to, taking a quick walk can be a great way to get the creative juices flowing. On a broader note, it also points to the importance of gym class in schools, which seem to be disappearing, and provides yet one more reason for effective and supported workplace wellness programs.

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The Art of Small

chef-movie

The requirements of success

So much in today’s world is measured by “the big”—big numbers, impressive achievements, wide reach, big salaries. It’s understandable, of course. It’s hard to purchase a lot with “small,” both metaphorically and in real life. But labors of love and a true connection to art often require small, especially at first, and I think there’s a real craving for that in our mass production world. When you focus on pleasing the big crowds (and all that that entails), something gets lost.

That’s certainly the case for celebrity chef Carl Casper in the movie Chef. Losing his “big” job opens up the path to a richer, more authentic, and more connected life. Director and writer Jon Favreau, who helmed the Iron Man franchise and who plays Casper, has here returned to his indie roots, and it’s easy to draw parallels between the crowd-pleasing art that Favreau produces in the form of those Hollywood blockbusters and the crowd-pleasing food “hits” Carl is pressured to produce in the restaurant in which he’s chef. When Casper exits his job at the famed L.A. restaurant in some heated circumstances, he eventually starts up a food truck. This intimate setting—not to mention his refreshed mindset—allows Carl to re-connect with his authentic creativity and craft, as well as with his son, who has borne the brunt of his father’s workaholism.

Taking time for connection and art

One review of the movie criticized it for being slow and essentially plotless, but I don’t agree at all. The movie relishes its storytelling, perfectly appropriate for a labor of love, and it was hands down one of the sweetest movies I’ve seen in awhile. Carl is incredibly respectful of his ex-wife and her say in any parenting matters, magnanimous in his well wishes for his colleagues (even where they’ve profited from his loss), generous with the people around him, and incredibly touching (albeit gruff) as an imperfect father who’s trying to get it right. There is a section of the movie that meanders a bit, but it allowed for some fun bonding as well as for spotlighting the role of Twitter and other forms of social media in generating word-of-mouth marketing. It was fun, like hanging out with friends over a long, delicious meal.

I walked out of the movie feeling happy and hungry—the latter despite its focus on meat (though I will advise to other non-animal eaters that I had to turn my head on an early scene). It was impossible not to admire the themes of integrity, attention to craft, following one’s heart, the importance of relationships, and, of course, the emotional depth with which food affects our life. As Carl says, “I get to touch people’s lives with what I do. I love it.”

Chef is a good reminder of the power of small. It’s also a great testament that “art”—however you define that—is everywhere, in anything. It’s the way you approach what you do that matters.

What do you think?

 

On the same note, albeit a different medium, be sure to check out this better blogger series profiling how some writers, such as Nina Badzin, have found their own voice.

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Ugly Duckling or Swan?

photo(20)
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

-Marianne Williamson

 

And on that note…

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
-Diann_D

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Three Lessons on Believing in Yourself

The ubiquity of Boston Marathon jackets during race weekend and the examples of mental toughness shown by elite runners Meb Keflezighi and Kara Goucher provide lessons on becoming your best self.

Lesson one: Believing in yourself will be easier if you stay connected to your tribe.

Boston-Strong-Boston-Marthon-Weekend-2014

Scenes from Boston Marathon 2014 weekend

 By the Saturday before this year’s Boston Marathon Monday, all the structures for the invited guests and media were finished, tents had been set up in Copley Square, traffic was already blocked off in certain areas, and the area was swarming with marathon charity teams, runners coming to get that packets, and people like me who wanted to support the race in person even if not on the day itself (I had to work Monday). As you may know, the running field had been greatly expanded and the crowds were expected to have doubled since the previous year, sending a very clear message of strength to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers and their ilk. The area was also a virtual ad for Boston Marathon jackets. And not just the neon orange ones from this year. Perhaps it wasn’t true, but it seemed like there were more people wearing marathon jackets than regular ones. People work incredibly hard and sometimes run multiple marathons in an attempt to qualify to run the Boston Marathon, and some never succeed (and it’s only gotten harder to get in). Yet, walking around the Boston area that weekend, even accounting for the fact that some people had a jacket for other reasons (charity, for example), made the qualification seem not just doable, but almost ordinary.

There’s an important lesson in that, and it is this: If you have a goal (whatever it may be), and you spend more time with people who think that goal is worthy, doable, etc., that goal will seem more possible; those feelings are infectious. But, of course, the opposite is true as well. This power of our social connections to shape our behavior and belief system is illustrated quite well with multiple research findings that friends and loved ones strongly and subconsciously influence our weight. But I think this phenomenon holds for most things. The people around us give powerful messages about what normal is. That why if we’re not getting support for a particular goal or dream, it’s crucial we find our people/tribe somehow, even if that’s only through research (examples from history, the media, etc.). Of course, the beauty of the Internet is that if we aren’t finding our people IRL, then there’s a 99% we can find them online, people who make our dreams seem perfectly normal and natural to attain.

Lesson two: Believing in yourself is a make-it-or-break it quality.

Boston-Marathon-Winner-Meb-throwing-out-first-pitch-at-Red-Sox

Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi throws out ceremonial first pitch at Boston Red Sox game (and my first game of the year).

Of course, while who you surround yourself with is crucial, in the end doing well—however you define that—comes down to just one person: you. Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi illustrated this well. Although he was not favored to win, Keflezighi did just that, beating out younger competitors just two weeks before his 39th birthday. How? By focusing on practical skills such as skillful rehab of injuries, knowing what kind of running strategy suited him best, and racing smart. But without the more (seemingly) abstract mental toughness and its very important subcategory, a deep belief in himself, it’s unlikely that Keflezighi would have won for all of America.
As Karla Bruning wrote in her wonderful “Lessons from Boston Marathon Winner Meb Keflezighi” (bold mine):

If Meb Keflezighi believed all the press about him, he’d never be the Boston Marathon winner or finish top five at any race. But when everyone else counts him out, Meb still believes. And he turns that belief into results.

A recent study found that mental toughness accounts for 14 percent of the variables that influence finish times such as fitness, weather, fuel and the like. Keflezighi taps into that 14 percent to beat faster runners. Lesson? We all can use mental toughness to believe in ourselves, even when no one else does.

Lesson three: Belief in yourself can require a lot of work.

Lauren Fleshman (L) and Kara Goucher (R); scenes from Boston Marathon weekend

Lauren Fleshman (L) and Kara Goucher (R); scenes from Boston Marathon weekend

On the belief in oneself front, Kara Goucher is one elite runner who has been open about her battles with negative self-talk. I was thrilled to see she was at the Marathon Expo at the Oiselle section, along with the very inspirational Lauren Fleshman (who is gracing the June cover of Runner’s World in the short version of my favorite running shorts). The two were signing autographs and posing for photos with fans. Goucher has long been a personal favorite, and one of the things I like best about her is that despite being one of the most noteworthy runners today, she’s had her share of Imposter Syndrome. She has grit in spades. Confidence in herself? That’s been much harder to come by. From a 2010 Runner’s World article:

[Her mind] tells her she’s not worthy to compete at nationals, at the World Championships, at the Olympics. Look at the women around her. She’s out of her league. There’s a world record holder. There’s a gold medalist. Compared to them, who is she?

In a more recent interview with The Runner Dad, Goucher shared her “learn from the tough times” mindset:

You know, I think we all have that point in a race where we start to doubt ourselves. I mean, I have always had it, even in my best races where I think I don’t know if I can keep doing this, I feel terrible…I don’t know how much more I can give. For me, I try to go back to places in practice where I’ve struggled…Whenever I have a bad day I try to think what did I get out of this day. Maybe I didn’t hit my mile split perfectly, but what did I get? Well I learned to push through discomfort and I learned how to position my body. So I try to go back to those places in races when it gets tough…You just have to kind of stick with it and remind yourself you’ve been there and fought through it before and you can do it again.

I admire that Goucher has faced the mean girl parts of her mind head on by, for example, working with a sports psychologist. I also admire that she has been brave enough to share her battles with the rest of us and that she keeps putting one foot in front of the other (a lot faster than most of us, of course), sometimes even setting some very public goals for herself, such as intending to win Boston in 2009. She didn’t win, and I’m sure her heart was broken for awhile, but she’s continued moving and growing—while continuing to deal with roadblocks (especially in the form of injuries)—making some big changes along the way (having a baby, changing coaches, creating new goals, choosing new sponsors, etc.). I love that she seems to base her choices on what’s right for her as she grows, rather than getting caught up what was right for yesterday.

As Goucher has once said, “Progress is rarely a straight line. There are always bumps in the road, but you can make the choice to keep looking ahead.”

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