Thursday, September 15, 2011

The New Site is Live!

Look for future entries of The Corporate Zendo here.

And make sure that you check out the whole site--there's a lot to look at--an e-guide, video, and more--

Jeff Munn Coaching.

Thanks for a great twenty months here. More to come at the new site...


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Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Reminder, and Some New Developments

When I left on vacation at the beginning of July, I said there would be some changes coming to The Corporate Zendo. And those changes continue to happen, both to the blog and the work that I'm doing.

Here's a brief update and (first) a reminder--

Meditation for Busy People
For those of you in the DC area, I will be offering a two hour workshop on bringing moments of meditation, of presence, into daily life on September 17 from 2-4 pm. Whether you work in an office or out of you home, there are times when it seems there's simply too much going on to handle. And we can get overwhelmed when we don't know what to do next.

The brain needs renewal to be at its most effective, but luckily, renewal can be a simple matter. The Meditation for Busy People workshop will talk about that renewal process as well as how and when to use it.

You can read more about the session and logistics here. If you want to come, please let me know on Facebook here.

New Website and Coaching Business
I'm in the midst of putting up a new website at The website won't have a lot of content at first, but I will be working to add content quickly. Once the new site is up, new postings on The Corporate Zendo will go up on that site, along with links to some greatest hits. I'm getting more and more familiar with WordPress, but I have a lot to learn!

I expect to continue to write in The Corporate Zendo roughly once a week and to use Facebook and Twitter to provide other information. I confess I don't have everything figured out yet--it's possible that the name and focus of each (The Corporate Zendo Facebook Page and LeaderZen Twitter feed) will change a bit.

I'll let you know when the new site is up and running, which I hope will be in a few days. Going forward, the best way to stay in touch will be through a subscription form on the website. I hope you'll continue to support me by subscribing!

As you'll see from the website, the focus of my coaching will be on stress management, at least at first (especially for lawyers and other professionals). But I'll also be taking a transformative view of both the client and the coaching relationship. I'll be talking about what that means through materials on the site and some free calls in the coming months.

I'm thrilled to be able to take the blog and this work to another level, and look forward to continuing to
support you.

Thank you!


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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Radical Thought for Stressed Out Lawyers (and Other Professionals)

I'm a recovering lawyer.

That line usually gets a laugh, but I'm perfectly serious when I say it. Because so much about the legal profession is about win lose, about competition, about doing more and more and not seeing an end to that. It has taken me a lot of years to learn that there is a different way. And I still find myself tossed back into that win lose way of thinking from time to time.

Many years ago, new lawyers joined a firm knowing that for a few years they would work pretty hard.  And then they would become a partner, reaping the rewards of that work while regaining a sense of balance and meaning in their work.

That time is long gone. There is always more work to do. There is always more business to develop, no matter where you are in your career. And if you have a bad year in a bad economy you have to worry about not just your job, but even if your firm is going to make it.

There have been times when my lawyer friends lose sleep, lose hair, lose connection to their friends and loved ones because of the incredible demands of the profession.

I've lived it. I've been in that environment, where I saw that the only way for me to advance was to work harder, to bill more, to give up more and more of my evenings and weekends getting things done. And while I was cranking out hours and giving up my life, I was watching my work quality decline (another source of stress!) while recognizing the whole set up wasn't about meaning or mastery or feeling good about how my career was coming along.

It was about money.

So here's my radical thought--

All that pressure you feel, all that stress about measuring up, about making it, about getting further down the legal path, and even about what house you're going to buy and where you're going to send your kids to school when you make partner, is just a bunch of thoughts.

Your thoughts. Your thoughts about what you want and what other people want for you and from you.

And just like you can change your habits, you can, with some effort, change your thoughts.

The first step is to stop regularly, if only for a few moments, to notice what you are thinking and what impact it has on you. How your thinking makes you feel.

Just that noticing, done regularly, can completely change your life.


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Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's Time for Radical Honesty

I was talking with a friend about leadership. We've had the same experience at a few different places--

Leadership that wants to appear forthcoming, but still holds back.

An in group that knows what's really going on, but doesn't want to acknowledge it.

Organizations that are limited because the information people have, and their power to act on it, is limited.

People, companies, and governments that consistently disappoint.

I think it's time for a change, a time for radical honesty.

It's time to share as much as we possibly can within the bounds of the law and ethics.

It's time to never, ever, ever, make things seem better, or worse, than they really are.

It's time to communicate and act from a grounding of trust and love for each other, stakeholders, and the community. To be honest and respectful in all our dealings with each other. And to work to make all better off.

I recognize that people may ridicule the idea of love in the workplace or in society in general, but what's the alternative? We've just come through one of the most frightening financial scares since the Great Depression, and we could be on the verge of another one. Companies have toed the line of legality and propriety while actively courting customers (borrowers) who were not qualified. Governments have mortgaged our future. Ponzi schemes, whether going by the name Bernie Madoff or Enron or Medicare, abound.

It's time to return to a simple standard. Tell everyone exactly what we are doing and why. And let us be praised or scorned on that basis.

Winston Churchill once said that Americans can be counted on to do the right thing, once they've tried everything else. Feels like that time is now.

Interested in your thoughts.


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Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Upcoming Workshop on September 17

I know a lot of people who have started meditation, or been interested in starting meditation, and after a few sessions (or even no sessions at all), they give up. Maybe they understand the benefits that meditation can bring, but two persistent beliefs about meditation often get in the way.

The first is that meditation takes a long time.

The second is that meditation is hard.

Suppose we taught kids to ride bikes the way we teach adults to meditate. First off, forget helmets or training wheels. Get on the bike and try to ride it. Do that for twenty minutes. Or thirty. Don't worry of you fall--just get back up and try again. If you fall fifty times in twenty minutes, that's okay. Eventually, you'll fall less.

How many of us would make it past the first session.

That's basically what most meditation techniques are about--put in the time, don't worry if it's unpleasant, and eventually it will feel good.

I designed a workshop to do things differently.

We're going to learn and practice easy techniques that allow meditation--open, spacious, relaxed meditation--in only a minute or two. And we're going to talk about how to incorporate those techniques into a busy schedule. We'll also discuss the benefits of meditation and it and similar practices affect our brains and our response to stress. In short, why meditation is as important for our brains as exercise is for our bodies.

So if you've tried meditation and you're convinced you're bad at it, this is the class for you.

And if you'd like to meditate but you just can't find the time, this is also the class for you.

"Meditation for Busy People" is on Saturday, September 17 from 2-4 at Simon Says Yoga in Bethesda, MD.

Simon Says Yoga
4701 Sangamore Road
Suite PO21 (Second Floor)
Bethesda, MD 20816

(See directions here.)

It's only $35 in advance, $40 at the door. Please join us for two hours of exploration and fun.


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Friday, August 5, 2011

The Folly of Making Plans

I spend a lot of time making plans. Thinking about the future. Thinking that if I do things just right, I can control what's going to happen and fashion the life that I want.

As John Lennon alluded to ("Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans"), there are a couple major flaws in this reasoning.

First is the assumption that I can control things. I spend a lot of time making plans that do not come to fruition. I know there's a school of thought that says what we think about is what comes to pass, but I just don't see that in my life. I'll see something I like or think about a new city or a new title and really enjoy myself while building an imaginary scenario of what that might be like and how it would be better than what I have now. But chances are those things are not going to happen. Something completely different is going to happen. And often I'm not prepared for that, good or bad.

Second is that I know what's best for me. I might know what I want in a given moment, but it's pretty clear to me that what I want is not always what is best for me. I'd eat a lot less ice cream if that were the case! The notion that I have enough intelligence to choose what is best for me is a joke. The experiences where I've learned the most are those that have been most difficult, painful, even traumatic. And yet I'm pretty confident that I would not choose those experiences for me in advance. I'd rather have a convertible, or the other trappings of the good life, than the difficulties that seem to make for the grist of true, transformational learning. But life seems to have its own intelligence, presenting me with whatever is needed at the time. I have learned tremendously from that, but didn't plan any of it.

Planning is hard to let go of. And yet when I think about it for more than a few seconds, I see very clearly that planning and life are not very closely related. Sure, there are some things that we can do that might change our future. But often these things, like going to school or taking up running, are about building habits, not about planning.

What's left without planning? Waiting? Doing? Being?

Probably a bit of all three. But it's surprising to me how much space emerges when, even for a little bit, I can let go of my habit of planning.


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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Joy of Contribution

Why do you go to work in the morning? Why do you do what you do?

Most everyone has heard of the story of the three bricklayers. There are a lot of different versions, but the essence is this.

A man is walking through a town and comes across three bricklayers working at a construction site. He asks each of them what they are doing.

The first one says, "I am laying bricks." He even seems a bit miffed at the absurdity of the question.

The second one says, "I am building a wall."

The third one looks up with a smile on his face and says "I am building a cathedral."

I've often seen this story used to support the importance of understanding the big picture. But I think something more profound is going on here. As Dan Pink and others point out, one of the things that really fuels us is a sense of contributing to something bigger than ourselves. A mission. A purpose.

We all want to do good in the world. And yet our day-to-day work lives can sometimes feel like they beat the very life from us.

But so much of that is just our own thoughts about what is happening. About who is doing what to whom and why we think things should be different.

There's a couple of things to notice about thoughts. First, they are always changing, and sometimes you don't have them at all. Practices like meditation and yoga are to some extent about noticing when you have no thoughts, and creating more of those spacious, healing moments.

The second thing is that some thoughts serve you better than others.

It can be tempting to think about all the bad things that are going on at work and focus on all the ways that you would change things if only someone would give you permission. But think back to the excitement you felt when you started your job. I bet there was some greater good in the world that was part of the attraction.

Maybe you're like me and you want to make better health care available to more people. Maybe you want to share knowledge or beauty. Maybe you want to show people how they can lead from within.

Take a few moments each day and remind yourself why the bad stuff is worth it. And notice how your attitude and effectiveness change when you do.


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