Wonder Interventions at Work

In his decades of research on the psychology of flow, Mihaly Cskiszentmihalyi has studied people who like to do things that they enjoy. He has studied athletes, artists, religious mystics, scientists, chess players, rock climbers, and ordinary working people. What keeps these creatives jazzed about what they do is not money, fame, or fancy titles but rather, how they feel while doing what they enjoy. 

We often hear the message that we work hard so we can play hard, but what if hard work can (and should) be playful? According to Cskiszentmihalyi, in order to find our flow and engage in deep work, we should seek out “risky and difficult activities” that stretch our imaginations, challenge our perceptions, and involve an element of novelty to breathe fresh life into our labors. In other words, discovery, delight, and wonder are key elements of meaningful and fulfilling work.

So, how can you increase your fulfillment at work and lead an excellent life?

Practice these three Wonder Interventions to bring more delight and emotional reward into your work and inspire creative action:

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Wondrous Insights from Quest2020

Hello Questers and Wonder Trackers!

December has flown by and we find ourselves in the last week of Quest2020. For those of you who aren’t participating in our annual reflective journey called Quest, our community of change-makers from around the globe have been examining how they can shed old habits that no longer serve them so they can design a year with more purpose, openness, and curiosity in four areas: LIFE | WORK | MAKE | LOVE.

We have been impressed by the insightful and inspiring posts from the Quest community this year. To celebrate all we’ve accomplished so far, I wanted to highlight some of the ideas and reflections from this year’s Questers.

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What kind of Wonder Tracker are you?

The holiday season is upon us. That means the New Year (and the resolutions that come with it) are right around the corner.

While we make our resolutions with the best of intentions, too often December arrives and we find ourselves no closer to our goals than one year ago. We can feel confused, uninspired, or directionless. So how can we reignite our passions and reinvigorate our commitment to pursuing them? You guessed it: wonder.

A sense of true wonder is the one human experience that dissolves our habitual ways of perceiving problems—in work, relationships, and life—so we can conceive radically new solutions. Beyond grit, focus, and 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, wonder is the surprising advantage of the people who describe themselves as fulfilled and living with purpose.

Find out how much curiosity, openness, and wonder you have in your life.

Take the Wonder Quiz here:

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If you’re looking for a collaborative pack to share ideas with, a community to lift you up, offer feedback and help you step into doing your best work, I invite you to join our Tracking Wonder Quest2020 Experience.

Quest2020 is a free, month-long online experience designed to help you plan for a year of delight, wonder, curiosity, and creativity. 

As a Quester, you’ll gain access to exclusive conversations between Jeffrey and top influential Quest Visionaries on how to design your life, work, creative projects, and contributions to our culture at large for a year of purpose, wonder, and radical openness. Plus, you’ll be part of a smart-hearted community where you will receive the perspective, encouragement, and accountability to help you create more positive habits and reach your goals.

Ready to join the Quest? Take the pledge and we’ll follow up with more information shortly.

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5 Ways to Rebrand with Integrity

Businesses can get off-track. They can make a bad marketing move, have a product backfire, lose customers, form clunky partnerships. If you’re a small business or personal brand, getting off-track might be similar yet on a smaller scale. You’ll feel it if your business is losing customers, clients, community members. If that’s the case, it might be time for a rebrand. 

Rebranding is tricky, and the process can look different for everyone. Yet over the years, I’ve developed a few strategies that hold true no matter the approach. I’ve gathered tips to guide you, but first I recommend you assess whether it is the right time for you to rebrand. If it is, then I suggest you sit in a quiet place, find a pen and a notebook, and outline your rebranding roadmap with these practices and questions:

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10 Tips to Shape an Excellent, Authentic Life

Photo by Swapnil Dwivedi. Unsplash.

In his foreword for Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude, best-selling author and business advisor Jim Collins writes, “If leadership begins not with what you do but who you are, then when and how do you escape the noise [of our times] to find your purpose and summon the strength to pursue it?”

In today’s tech-fueled culture, this question is perhaps more poignant than ever. Each day digital distractions, 60-plus-hour work weeks (many of those in front of screens), and a barrage of daily news subtly warp our own point of view. It can be profoundly challenging to hear ourselves think, let alone carve out our own distinct identity. Self-knowledge can give you the courage to forge ahead with your most impactful work, the confidence to persist, the discipline to master your self and the skills to shape your days with intention. 

The hardest part of this work seems to be finding the time to get to know your self. Yet to excel at our work and to foster an excellent life, we must develop and learn to listen to – to trust – our own voice of authority. 

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Introducing Season 3 of the Tracking Wonder Podcast: The Beauty of an Excellent Life

What drives us to excel – to wake up wanting to get just a little better at our work, at our art, at the way we shape our daily as fluidly as an artist shaping clay?

Almost all of us want to get better at something, whether it is being a better business owner or painter, prototyper or parent. Inherent in this desire to improve ourselves is the drive to excel. Too often, we think excellence requires nothing more than nose to the grindstone, grueling work and we wind up missing the beautiful moments in front of us. 

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How Brands Build Trust Through Transparency and Cynical Optimism

Between recent corporate scandals, media fragmentation, and massive data breaches, it comes as no surprise that Americans have little faith in our institutions. According to this 2018 Gallup poll, only 40% of the population has confidence in the US government. That’s less than our degree of trust in Amazon. The figure is even lower when it comes to faith in religion (36%), banks (30%), and media (23%). 

I put these four – government, religion, finance, and media – together because these are the cultural institutions that have the most influence on how people make meaning of their everyday lives. The increased cynicism of recent years tempts us to detach: to disengage further from a society we don’t believe operates in our best interest. But with our trust in institutions at an all-time low, businesses have an opportunity not only to increase earnings, but to create genuine purpose as well. In fact, there are interesting trends in whom Americans invest their trust these days that should get your attention – if not your conscience – as a brand.

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Unlocking Impactful Creative Ideas Through Radical Openness

The act of making an idea into an impactful endeavor lights up every “cylinder” in us.  As psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (who coined the term “flow”) said in his 2008 TED talk, “When we are involved in [creativity], we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.” You seek this sense of fullness through imagination, artistic expression, and even subconsciously through the quirky ideas pop into your head unbidden every once in a while. Yet you don’t pursue them, or you complete your project only to stow it away in the attic of your mind thinking “maybe someday.” You hide what could be your most potent ideas, not only from yourself, but from others that could benefit from them. Why?

When we surveyed our global community of readers on this topic, we were surprised by the answer. I had thought that lack of time or resources or support might have topped the list. Instead, what held back these accomplished professionals, published authors, smart consultants and coaches and knowledge workers and leaders was this:

Fear. Fear of judgment, rejection, backlash, failure. 

The fear of revealing our unique ideas to the world holds us back from growth and discovery. Many of us have potentially brilliant ideas. Many of us have the potential to make a rippling difference in this world with our endeavors. Yet what separates the people whose ideas ripple from others is this: they work with their fear and reveal the innermost workings of their minds. They practice radical openness.

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How to Lead with Integrity

Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about the importance of belief-driven business in this information age. People today hunger for brands that express a compelling, genuine point of view and a strong sense of purpose. But before your business or brand can take a stand, you have to discover what drives you.

You see, great leaders do two things. One, they tell a Story that captivates people and inspires them to work collectively toward a common goal. This narrative is constructed from their lived experience, both personal and professional, and the core principles derived from those experiences. Two, they live that Story. They make decisions and take actions consistent with their beliefs, and this is where the real challenge lies.

It can be scary to lead – to step into the spotlight, bear your soul, and stand in the authority of your ideas, especially when doing so means going against the majority or status quo. But research shows that you lead your best when you know who you are and what you value, then lead from that strength. In the field of psychology, this stance is often called authentic leadership.  (more…)

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Brand Authenticity: What We Get Wrong & How to Get it Right

In a world awash with targeted advertising, influencer marketing, and fake news, we are starved for sincerity. We are disillusioned with the pervasive blur of fantasy and reality, spin and honest solutions, and as a result, consumers are increasingly distrustful of brands and businesses. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, only 48% of consumers today trust companies (down from 58% in 2017), and according to Gallup’s annual trust poll only 23% of Americans trust big business. 

We distrust with good reason. Traditional marketing is inherently insincere. It co-opts trends, capitalizes on breaking news, mimics popular vernacular, and glamorizes the mundane to make us believe that products can solve our problems. But in today’s cultural context, these slick and sensational tactics don’t work. Consumers are demanding that businesses define their purpose, take a stand, and operate with transparency. Consumers are demanding that businesses be authentic. A global study by Cohn & Wolf shows that 90% of consumers are willing to reward a brand for authenticity, while 52% would recommend the brand  and 49% who would pledge loyalty. 

But there’s a problem. When business owners come to me with branding needs, they know or assume they need strategy in shaping, broadcasting, and delivering an authentic brand, but they have a number of resistances. One, they do not equate “authenticity” with “professional.” Two, they misunderstand “authenticity” as meaning something like “Just be yourself” or “Express yourself.” That framing of authenticity for branding is both incomplete and misleading. 

Unfortunately, authenticity is one of those words that has been so overused it has lost meaning. Like “natural” or “artisanal,” to label a brand or product “authentic” causes you to question the very claim. What makes an apple juice “unnatural”? What kind of artisans pre-cut cheddar for a Safeway plastic-wrapped cheese plate? What does “authentic” even mean, and how can a brand be authentic?

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