Archive for July, 2017

Activity: YCISL Photo Essays – Focus on Gratitude

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 8.40.24 AMOne of the YCISL agenda topics that has evolved over the past 6 years is emotional intelligence. Early on in this program, my colleague Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu shared with me and my students the idea of four emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) domains. Soon after, he chose to focus on Mindfulness as a practical discipline in exploring EI and I formulated the expression

KI + EI = LeaderI

to position how our workshop activity in EI helps achieve our sustainable leadership objective.

In one of the Mindfulness-focused workshops, Stephen played the video “A Good Day” With Brother David Steindl-Rast which called my attention to the topic of gratefulness. Steindl-Rast also has a great TED Talk titled “Want to be happy? Be grateful” that provides an actionable promise-ask. This resoundingly connected with the Happiness and Positive Mindset topics I had brought into the YCISL program via the ideas of Shawn Achor (see his 2011 TEDx Talk “The happy secret to better work”).

In 2016, I found the 2013 TEDx Talk “Getting stuck in the negatives (and how to get unstuck)” by Alison Ledgerwood in which she discusses the benefits of practicing gratefulness. This reminded me that Shawn Achor (in his TEDx Talk mentioned above) had also suggested a gratefulness training routine to increase optimism and focus on positives among the thatch of negatives. These ideas – and more – had led me to start an iOS app project called the GratitudeApp (that’s another story) in late 2016.

The final piece that has converged on this YCISL activity is the 2014 opening of the Windhover Contemplation Center at Stanford which demonstrated that the university considered mindful behavior of having merit and value in its academic setting. This has become the place we bring our YCISL workshop students so that they can focus on the Your Personal Story mid-series question of “Who am I?” and appreciate the present.

All this has led to the refinement of our Visit-Experience Photo Essay into a Visit-Experience-Gratitude Photo Essay where the emotional component is focused on the daily training of grateful reflection. Students in our most recent workshop were first introduced to the practice of being grateful in the present, then tasked with building a gratitude photo essay through daily reflection on that day’s events and experiences. We set up our Photo Essay Gallery on the last workshop day as usual. This was a great example of simple, but not easy. The idea of building this photo essay is a simple idea, but the emotionally positive portraits were powerful and lent great insight into the leadership confidence that gratitude enables.

We have a keeper.