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Monthly Archives: March 2017

Poll: What is Your Favorite Thing to Read About?

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At The Back Forty, we have been blogging for roughly eight months and during that time have posted over 130 different articles across more than nine different topics. We do our best to come up with lots of unique content to share with you!

Today, I would love to get some feedback about your favorite things to read about! Do you enjoy reading about funny midlife stories? Do you like to be inspired? Are you looking to learn more about different aspects of midlife?

Just pick a topic below and see how your favorite topic compares to the favorite topics of some of our other readers!

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OD Dilemmas (Part 1)

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Let’s say you are an enlightened leader and I just proclaimed my undying commitment to Organizational Development and Conscious Organizations.

(Who knows, it could happen.)  

Now what?

As I dive into the OD world, question upon question arises.  I resolve one, and two more show up.

Here is today’s sample of OD dilemmas you might be dealing with:  

  • How do we engage with people and create an environment where they love to come to work and have a support system that empowers and enables them to play big, step out of their comfort zone, take risks, and be their best?
  • How do we support new leaders in the organization to adjust to the company culture, environment, and philosophy?  How do we coach and develop them to make the needed changes and be successful with existing staff?  
  • How do we create an environment where coaching, training, and development are viewed as a contribution and commitment to each team member’s future, rather than as corrective or punitive action?
  • How do we as leaders create and define company culture such that everyone knows they have a voice and an opportunity to thrive?
  • How do we create a work culture that translates into a better family and personal life, resulting in employees being more empowered to create a conscious, high- performing organization?  

If you are looking for “THE ANSWER” to these questions, it does not exist.

Yes, that’s right – lots of questions and no ready solution.  The appropriate answers will be somewhat different for every organization.  

If you are looking for an answer, you’re out of luck.

But if you approach the very process of inquiry with a sense of curiosity and wonder, it may provide the needed awareness upon which your individual organization’s answers can be built.  

Here are some insights from Carrington Mortgage Holdings – an organization expressly committed to creating a culture of growth and learning.  

According to Claudia E. Mino, VP of Organizational Development, several things make a big difference:  

  • Carrington Mortgage Holdings is made up of 17 different companies.  Through coaching and development programs, participants build a network of relationships across business units and levels.  They create a support system of classmates and cohorts in different areas of the organization which they can count on and are as easily accessible as picking up the phone.
  • Program participants are coached by cross-functional EVPs, SVPs, or Presidents, and get to know and build relationships with leaders from other business units.  This allows for the transfer of wisdom across business units and develops a culture of mentorship and camaraderie.  
  • The organizational development team is committed to taking the time to support their program participants whenever needed.  “They trust us and feel safe to reach out for support.  Be it conflict, team dynamics, or organizational changes, we partner with them and provide a strong support system” says Claudia.
  • Organizational Development programs get full support and collaboration of the executive and HR leadership.  All coaches are SVPs, EVPs, C-level, and the organization is committed to having high-level leadership invest their time in coaching and developing talent.

At the end of the day, Claudia says, “For us, it doesn’t matter where you are as a leader.  It is our job to help you be successful, and we will do whatever it takes to help you do that.”  

Your turn.  If you begin your inquiry into the development of a conscious organization where you are – inside of the spirit of curiosity and wonder – what do you see?

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3 Steps Toward Chaotic Balance

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“Madness is somewhere inbetween chaos and having a dream.”

-R.M. Drake

The urge inside is to take on new things, play in bigger ways, and set free what’s destined for us to express. It invites chaos.

The urge inside is also to find security and predictability and order.  It invites balance.

It’s all about evening out the urges. The tendency is to mitigate the first, and feed the second. Yet, without an invitation to chaos, we stay where we are.

In my own growth toward both opening up to allow The Back Forty message to express through me as well as the friction of frustration in the learning new ways and means to deliver it, I can pretty much claim a resident element of chaos inhabiting my office and life!

First, there’s the giving of freedom to myself to just let the creativity flow.  Then, there’s the jumping into the deep end of new methods and technologies and gadgets for sharing that creative flow.  And it’s ALL NEW, mostly untested, and definitely not a reflection of who I’ve been in the past but, rather, a glimpse of who I’m becoming.

Yet, even while in the midst of that chaos, I find myself seeking ways to tame the new energies and desires by structuring my life in ways to best incorporate them.  Better scheduling, more effective and efficient communication, and even – yes, and I’m realizing as crucial – more downtime, fun and play.

All that – along with the rather oxymoronic phrase “chaotic balance” – is hard to see coming together sometimes.

How does the idea of chaotic balance land for you?

In The Back Forty, we say “you have yet to do what you came here to do.”  In order to do that, we need to face chaos…and even invite it.  Contrary to what the first half of life – and the bumps and bruises that came with it – may have conditioned us to believe about keeping life safe and predictable, we need to make room for and incorporate the chaos…in as orderly a way as we can.

Here are a few ideas for incorporating Chaotic Balance:

1. Free the Artist!

If you’re up to something big, creating something beyond what you’ve been or done before, you are releasing an artist from within you.  That includes starting a new business, writing a book, embarking on a new career, jumping into dating or a new relationship, or even re-inventing the relationship you’re in!  It’s anything new and creative that you’re taking on.

A couple great books to support Back Forty Fliers in distinguishing and freeing that inner artist are The Artist’s Way and The War of Art, both which press you beyond the resistance to staying in the comfort zone of the known.

Take steps to express in whatever your area of artistic and creative growth is.  Go take a class, hire a coach, join an action or support group, or in any other way set aside specific time to engage in that wild dream or crazy idea.

2. Expect Discombobulation

Know that the new ideas, the beta-test technologies, the expanded perspectives and the stretch of your capacities to incorporate these new endeavors – mentally, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually – WILL discombobulate you and you’re life, if you’re really playing big.

Expect it.  The discombobulation is your friend.

3. Wrangle the Wild Stallions Into Pens

Establish structures, time commitments, and new ways of running and managing your life to incorporate the wild new frontiers.

Balance your need for routine and order with carefully and strategically organized elements that allow those ideas to take root.  Keep or even build new ways to include it ALL.  Meditation, time-blocking and action buddies are just a few methods to bring the chaos you want into the balance you need.

Every now and then, I simply compile too many quotes that demonstrate what I could only attempt to say in my own words.  This is one of those days.

I leave you with these quotes to support and empower your own finding of Chaotic Balance.

“Our real discoveries come from chaos, from going to the place that looks wrong and stupid and foolish.”

-Chuck Palahniuk

“The worst thing you could do is tame the chaos in you. It’s like being told not to feel when you’re thrown in the fire.”

-R.M. Drake

“Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence.”

-Buddha

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”

-Carl Jung

“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.”

-Deepak Chopra

“Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.”

-Henry Adams

“Introduce a little anarchy, upset the established order and everything becomes…chaos”

-The Joker

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”

-Deepak Chopra

“Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.”

-Henry Adams

“Chaos is a friend of mine.”

-Bob Dylan

“Fall in love or fall in hate. Get inspired or be depressed. Ace a test or flunk a class. Make babies or make art. Speak the truth or lie and cheat. Dance on tables or sit in the corner. Life is Divine Chaos. Embrace it. Forgive yourself. Breath. And enjoy the ride.”

-Unknown

“Balance is the ability to be happy in the midst of the most chaotic…circumstance.”

-Friederick Lenz

Do You Know How to Shop for Your Wife? A Midlife Perspective

Shopping forYour Wife

Today, while searching through midlife videos on YouTube, I found a new channel that intrigued me. The channel is called RedGreenTV and “Red Green” is the star. “Red” is played by Steve Smith. He was the handyman from The Red Green Show which was a Canadian TV comedy that aired from 1991 to 2006. Even though the comedy has been off the air for over 10 years, Steve still posts videos to his YouTube channel regularly and performs live a few times a year.

If you’re looking for a laugh, take a minute to watch Red as he shares his midlife “wisdom” with the world. His video about shopping for your wife is below:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K42n5HW5JI]

So remember, even if you’ve been “buying her gifts for 25 or 30 years and you think you’re getting pretty good at it, well you’re not.”

Let me know what you think. Regardless of if you are a husband or wife, do you think your gifts have gotten better or worse over the years?

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5 Easy Ways You Can Make More Money In Midlife

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We recently created a survey to figure out what our community members’ biggest fears are. Now, our survey isn’t complete yet (you can still put in your own two cents by clicking here), but our initial feedback is overwhelming.

What is the most popular fear?

Finances.

Of all of the fears brought up by people responding to our survey, money-related fears made up a shocking 45% of all of the fears!

Because of this, I have chosen to devote this blog post to helping you at least minimize your fears. And, even if money isn’t your biggest fear, a little extra income is never a bad thing, right?

So, without further ado, here are five easy ways you can make more money in midlife – today!

Online Surveys

One of the most common ways to make some extra money online these days is to take part in online surveys. Not only do you get paid for your time, but you also get to give your opinion on different things like politics, new products, movies, TV advertisements, and the list goes on and on.

Some people will claim that you can make thousand of dollars per month by answering online surveys, and that might be true, if you are spending all your time doing surveys. That being said, expect to make anywhere between $30 and $300 extra each month if you fill out at least one survey a day. So, which online surveys should you sign up for. Here are some of the best options out there:

  • Swagbucks – This website is the most popular survey website. It’s very easy to sign up and you can earn an average of $0.20 to $1.00 per survey and surveys can last seconds or 20 minutes. You can also earn Swagbucks for watching videos, shopping online, and playing games (each Swagbuck equals about one cent).
    swagbucks

    I signed up for Swagbucks today and you can see that I’ve earned about a dollar in the first five minutes of playing with the website.

  • MySurvey – This website is another popular option. You can make as much as $0.50 to $1.25 per survey you answer.
  • Pinecone Research – This website specifically focuses on the research side of surveys. You earn $3.00 per survey and surveys last an average of 30 minutes each.

Website Testing

Another option is website testing from home. You visit a website, complete a series of tests, and then get paid $10. The downside (if you aren’t very outspoken) is that you have to speak all of your thoughts out loud. If this doesn’t deter you – it’s an easy way to make some extra cash. Check out UserTesting.com for more details.

Get Paid to Shop

This is my favorite suggestion. After all, who doesn’t love shopping? And who doesn’t love getting good deals when they shop? There are a few different options, but I can tell you that I have personally tried and approved both of the options I’m about to give you.

  • Honey – If you enjoy shopping online then this web extension is perfect for you. All
    you do is install Honey on your web browser and suddenly you get pop-ups whenever you are about to purchase an item. These are the best type of pop-ups. Honey will check every coupon code on the internet for you to get you the biggest discount possible. Before I started using honey I would spend at least 10 minutes searching for coupon codes before purchasing things online (when I remembered). Now I don’t have to spend the time and I always get the deal!
  • Paribus – Here is a reason to opt into getting your receipts digitally. Not only do you save paper, but now you can also get money for it! If you shop at Amazon.com, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Best Buy, Staples, Target, Nordstrom, Old Navy, or 22 of their other participating stores (see them all here), then you can be saving money. Paribus keeps track of your purchases through your email receipts. When a price goes down, they will submit the paperwork necessary for those “money-back guarantees” and give you the money. They do take 25% of your discount as a fee, but if you don’t normally scour your receipts for discrepancies months after the purchase, then you are still getting way more money than you would have without Paribus.

Sell Old Things

If you are anything like me, then you have a pile of things waiting to be sold at a garage sale or taken to be donated. These days there is no reason to wait. You can get rid of your items now, you don’t have to leave your house, and you can make money doing it. Here are some of the best ways to get money for your old stuff you wanted to get rid of anyway:

  • eBay – If you want to upload some pictures onto a traditional website, eBay is the way to go. eBay is the perfect way to sell old toys, collectibles, and electronics.
  • Facebook Groups – These days, almost every town has their own “Garage Sale” Facebook Group. Go to Facebook, type “garage sale” into the search bar, click on groups, and then pick the garage sale group that is closest to you. It’s that simple. Then you can simply post things you want to get rid of on the group page and tell people where to pick them up.
  • OfferUp or LetGo: If you would prefer to use an app. Both OfferUp and LetGo are great options. You simply download the app, upload what you’re selling, and message others to finalize the sale all through the app. If you’re concerned about strangers being able to look at your Facebook profile or texting your personal number, this is the right option for you.

Lose Weight

This last idea is probably the most surprising, but I promise you that this is real. You can actually get paid to lose weight! There is a website called DietBet where you can earn money by betting that you will lose weight. What is actually happening is that you are betting against a bunch of other people that you will lose weight. Whoever reaches the group goal gets to split the earnings and those who don’t make it lose their entry fee. If you want to lose weight, stay motivated, and make money doing it. DietBet is the perfect solution.

Bonus Tip!

Download your FREE Top Ten Tips for a Radical Second Half eBook by clicking the image below! This 19-page eBook is full of tips for making your life the best it can be in every aspect (not just financially). So go ahead and get started!

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6 Habits of Conscious Organizations

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“It’s as if I was watching myself be a jerk!”   

The VP sitting in my office is distressed and embarrassed as he is telling me about his recent conversation with a talented engineer.  “Dave, this is great news!” I say excitedly, and he stares at me as if I went off the deep end.

My favorite definitions of consciousness are the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world and the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself.”

Creating organizational consciousness takes practice and the adoption of consciousness-building habits.   Here is the first installment of “6 Habits of Conscious Organizations” to support you in creating conscious work environments.

1. Awareness

First things first, and that means awareness.  

Why was I so excited by Dave’s statement you ask?   Consciousness begins with awareness.  Awareness leads to taking appropriate actions as illuminated by the newly found awareness.  

Dave (a highly gifted engineer himself) was widely known to be rude and offensive at the office, without realizing the pervasiveness of his behavior or its impact on others.  Once he became aware – and able to see himself “being a jerk” – changing his behavior became a much easier task.

John Renesch defines conscious organization as “one that is continually examining itself, committed to becoming as self-aware and responsible as it can at any given time in its life. Becoming conscious is becoming aware of something, then acting responsibly in light of the new awareness.”

2. Compassion

According to Thomas Merton, “compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things.”

When I am making choices grounded in the awareness that we are all connected, the impact of my business decisions moves beyond the shareholders, stakeholders, customers, suppliers, or employees.  I start looking at it from the holistic point of view – what is the impact of my choices on my community and the world.

Blaine Bartlett, CEO of Avatar Resources Inc., speaks of compassion as the distillery of choices that has the potential to change the nature of how we conduct business.

Compassion is predicated on the notion that everything is connected.  So trade-offs – where we make a business decision in favor of a certain stakeholder group at the cost of another stakeholder group – are not an option.

3. Conscious Communication

To raise consciousness, we have to alter our way of speaking and communicating so that everybody feels safe to communicate authentically, and everybody gets heard.  Once we become truly aware of the differences in peoples’ mindsets, approaches to life and beliefs, we can actually begin to appreciate how similar we are in our deepest needs and desires.  Seeing those commonalities allows the development of deep trust and kinship.  This enables the kind of authentic and courageous communications which cause conscious leadership and conscious organizations.

4. Mentoring

In the regular course of business, knowledge transfer does not often happen in organizations.  Busy supervisors don’t take the time to create organizations of learning, discovery, and understanding.  That’s where mentoring comes in.

Mentoring accelerates and develops cultural assimilation.  Through developing ongoing relationships with their mentors, everyone in the organization more fully understands and embraces company values and culture.

As mentors and mentees spend time together, they build a network of strong relationships between people in different segments of the organization…and discover leaders in the organization they can count on for support.

Mentoring provides a unique opportunity for employees to build a bond with senior leaders they otherwise would not have even met, and benefit from their wisdom.  This builds alignment, camaraderie, and an experience of common purpose.  Both mentors and mentees become more self-aware and better versions of themselves.

Mentoring supports mentors and company leaders to have a finger on the pulse of the organization, and be more connected to the organization as a whole.  As we teach, we learn.

5. Responsibility

Being a victim is not allowed.  Neither is being defensive and placing blame.  Everyone takes 100% ownership of the situation.

This is my favorite definition of responsibility:

“Responsibility begins with the willingness to take the stand that one is cause in the matter of one’s life.  It is … a context from which one chooses to live.  Responsibility is not burden, fault, praise, blame, credit, shame or guilt.  In responsibility, there is no evaluation of good or bad, right or wrong.  … Being responsible starts with the willingness to deal with a situation from the view of life that you are the generator of what you do, what you have and what you are.”

— Werner Erhard

A few more words from the wise:

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of…”

— Jim Rohn

“All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you.”

— Wayne Dyer

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

— Winston Churchill

“Success on any major scale requires you to accept responsibility… in the final analysis, the one quality that all successful people have… is the ability to take on responsibility.”

— Michael Korda

6. Working Smart

Working smart increases velocity, produces synergy, and creates exponential growth.

It allows us to move through our day with more focus, awareness, and purpose. See Work Smart. Work Consciously. for ideas for working smart.  Try them on and see what fits best.

A few last words about creating conscious organizations.

Claudia E. Mino, Ph.D., VP of Organizational Development at Carrington Mortgage Holdings, notices a strong correlation between the health of the environment you work in and the wellness of people’s personal lives, health of their families, and their general life satisfaction.

A conscious environment absolutely translates into better family life and better personal life.  Provide a happy environment so people thrive and you’ll see conversation at home and at happy hour change from complaining to empowering.

That alone, and in turn, translates into more effective, productive, successful, and empowered people producing extraordinary results.

How are you creating a conscious organization?

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The 4 Dwarf Faces of Playing Ugly

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“I’m not afraid to play ugly – look at ‘Adaptation.’ I looked like a turd that a cat had coughed up. ”

-Nicolas Cage

The desire to grow and the subconscious commitment to “look good” just don’t jibe.

You can’t get both.  You can grow almost imperceptibly, and maybe keep your suit fairly pressed and most of your makeup in place.  Or you can grow fast…and good luck keeping your hair and tie from blowing in the wind.

In the end, extreme growth, over whatever time period you’ve allotted for it, can only come through trying, expanding, being and looking different than you did before.

Steve Martin had a comedy album in the 70’s entitled “Comedy Is Not Pretty”.

Neither is real, committed, no-turning-back, burn-the-boats growth. It ain’t pretty.

If that growth is what you want, you must allow, accept and even invite mistakes, failed attempts, gaffs, and looking like an ass.  All come with the territory.

For myself, in growing to allow, empower and accept the great gifts of “team” that I’m blessed with – after lots of solo-preneur background – I find myself not necessarily doing things in as smooth or PC a way as I’d like.  In my perfect world, I’d always be accommodating and flexible and impervious to having my ego tweaked…and yet I can’t spend all of my time either in meditation or psychoanalysis with the big game I’m out to play or the inspiring message I’m out to deliver.

Not so say meditation and therapy aren’t valuable and to be used in appropriate ways and measures…and yet perhaps the biggest element to be released as we’re growing is the attachment to looking good as we grow.

In coaching and supporting executives, entrepreneurs and “big game” players, I’ve offered to them the idea that their growth will only be limited by their level of compassion for themselves.  If they can’t accept the mistakes and not-so-pretty appearances they make at times, they will retrench, rationalize a reason for not continuing, or in whatever other ways slow down their growth and whatever that growth was to bring the world.

The world needs you to grow, because you have yet to do what you came here to do!

Here’s a few different faces you can take on when you’re committed enough to something to play ugly.

Grumpygrumpy2

Actually take some time to look at yourself in the mirror as you’re complaining about how you didn’t do this or that right, or how silly you must have looked when this or that didn’t work.

Look at that scowl.  Acknowledge that frustration.

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Lighten things up a bit by remembering that you didn’t even know anything about what you’re doing now just a short time ago. Acknowledge that you didn’t know and maybe even still don’t know all that you want…and develop a little more playful, curious attitude.

Whatever you did or didn’t do isn’t going to shift the world. Lighten up!

Docdoc23

Give yourself a little examination. Are you leveling up your self-compassion with your desire to grow and learn and expand? What prescription of self-championing, affirmative self-talk, or extreme self-care can you offer?

Your best source of continued expansion will come from those internal prescriptions of support.

happy1Happy

Acknowledge and appreciate that you’re only playing ugly because you’re one of the small percentage of people willing to get started and play first (before they have it all figured out) so as to get to where you want to go.

Find ways to see and count the blessings of where you are now vs where you used to be, and appreciate (which means “grow in value”) those blessings as getting you closer to where you want to be.

What area of growth in your life means enough to you that you’re willing to play ugly?

You won’t get there by looking Snow White.

“Play in the dirt, because life is too short to always have clean fingernails. ”

-Unknown