Posted by: The Dynamic Introvert | June 13, 2020

Reinvent Yourself During COVID 19 – Understanding the Grief Process

“Before you begin something new, you have to end what used to be. Before you can become a different person, you must let go of your old identity.” William Bridges

In his book Transitions, author and psychologist William Bridges provides a framework for looking at change that may be helpful. Basically, change has three parts:

  1. Endings
  2. Middle or mid-zone
  3. New beginnings

Of course, change isn’t linear. Life doesn’t move along in a straight line. Instead there are twists and turns, ups and downs and we may get stuck in one place for a while. Eventually we will go through all three stages of change as described by Bridges.

Change involves loss and loss can cause us to feel angry, anxious, sad, disoriented or depressed. We may also deny that things have changed or are changing. I think this is partly a form of protection. When we face multiple losses as we have with the COVID 19 pandemic, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Grief is a necessary part of the change process but one that we don’t often recognize. In fact, most of us are so busy worrying about surviving the day-to-day or looking toward the future that we fail to recognize what we are losing.

In an interview with journalist Christiane Amanpour in May, Jack Saul, psychologist, spoke about the collective trauma that families and communities face when dealing with a disaster such as the COVID 19 pandemic. He spoke of the need for rituals to help people grieve. Rituals can be private or public. Around the world different cultures and religions offer rituals to mark endings and help people cope with their losses.

Similarly, psychologist Romeo Vitelli wrote in Psychology Today in 2014:

Since people who have suffered a loss often feel as if their lives are out of control, using rituals can help restore that feeling of control and make it easier to cope with grief.

Vitelli also noted that not all people react to grief in the same way: some people experience no symptoms; others are over their grief in a few days and some struggle to deal with their loss for longer periods of time.

COVID 19 happened quickly. All of a sudden, we were told to shelter in place or isolate at home.. This feeling of overwhelm and fear was accentuated by the fact that we didn’t know how long we would be living in isolation.

I felt like I was living in an alternate reality.

We were told by our public health and government representatives that things would never be the same again but that eventually we could look forward to a “new normal”.

For months we existed in a state of suspended animation.

I am writing this post at the beginning of June and in Western Canada the economy is slowly opening up again. I haven’t felt the need to grieve perhaps because my life hasn’t changed a huge amount. But then again perhaps like so many others, I feel like when this nightmare is over, I will wake up and things will be normal again.

Of course nothing will ever be the same again.

In the next post I will talk about the second phase of William Bridges model of change: the mid-zone. This is a time of creativity, innovation, learning and envisioning a new beginning.






Posted by: The Dynamic Introvert | April 27, 2020

It’s Time to Reinvent Ourselves!


Is it time to reboot your life? To reinvent yourself? On the surface this might seem like a crazy idea and you are probably thinking that you’ve got enough going on without taking on another project. There is a lot going on I agree; but since many of us are spending more time at home this might be the perfect time to re-evaluate our lives.

No-one knows what life will be like post-COVID but one thing for certain is there will be a lot of opportunities. In order to make the most of these opportunities we need a road map to help us understand and make the most of change.

In 1991 psychologist and author William Bridges, created a model for understanding change that we can use to make sense of the changes that threaten to engulf us today.

Bridges made an important observation about the difference between change and transition:

Change is what is happening externally. In the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic we have seen changes in how many of us work (or don’t work if we have lost our jobs), changes in how we socialize with others, changes in how we learn especially if we are going to school, and changes in how we do simple tasks like grocery shopping, getting a haircut, or going to the dentist. The number and severity of the changes that impact our lives is overwhelming.

Bridges described the second part of the change process as the transition. This is the psychological process we go through in order to come to terms with external changes. Change is external, transition is internal. We may not have much control over our external circumstances but we can control how we cope with what is happening.

We can take a wait and see attitude or we can look at this challenging time as an opportunity to make some positive changes in our lives. You’re probably thinking, “Not more change!” Although this may seem counterintuitive, COVID19 has given us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves.

In order to do this William Bridges suggests that we start by finding answers to the following three questions:

  1. What’s changing?
  2. What will be different because of the change?
  3. What will I lose (or gain)?

During times of crisis it seems as if everything is changing and most of it is out of our control.

But not everything is out of our control. Take a minute and make a list of the things that you do have control over. My list includes spending time every day writing, exercising (although now I can’t go to the gym), planning and cooking healthy meals, connecting with family and friends, doing housework and gardening. You may have young children or elderly parents to look after or a job to go to even if you are working at home.

Keeping focused on the things that remain the same will provide you with an anchor during these unprecedented times. Creating some structure in our days is one way to cope and is recommended by astronaut Chris Hadfield, psychotherapist Esther Perel and others.

We are now faced with unimaginable changes being forced upon us. Writing in Fast Company this week authors Parag Khanna and Karan Khemka describe the corona virus as being like an earthquake, with aftershocks that will permanently reshape the world.”

This is a terrifying thought and one that is causing many of us, including me, to feel anxious and stressed about our futures

No-one knows what the world will look like but we are certainly being given the opportunity to reinvent the future for ourselves and for the world as a whole.

In the next post I’ll share more of William Bridges model and explore the role of creativity in helping us to reinvent ourselves during times of nonstop change.

Be kind, be calm and stay safe!


Posted by: The Dynamic Introvert | April 7, 2020

Internet Addiction in the Age of COVID 19

In 2017 I wrote about internet addiction or more precisely the dangers posed when we spend too much time on our devices.

Fast forward to spring 2020 where the world is a very, very different place. Thanks to COVID 19 our entire world has moved online. Everything from work, education, exercise, entertainment, weddings and funerals. The list is only limited by our ability to find new ways to share our lives via the internet.

We are now glued to our devices in ways we could never have imagined.

On the plus side technology is enabling us to continue working (for those who are lucky enough to be able to work from home), go to school, exercise, and socialize. I’ve been enjoying some amazing on-line yoga classes offered by a Canadian company based on Vancouver Island.

Even Toastmasters International has adapted to this new world by moving its meetings and speech contests online.

So, we have lots of positive things to be thankful for.

What’s the downside you might ask? Today, as in 2017, overuse of technology can do us harm.

Spending all day everyday in front of a computer or on our phones can lead to some negative consequences including depression, lack of energy, insomnia, anxiety and obesity. But now, with increased internet usage, the threat to our health is far worse and will be devastating unless we become aware and start protecting ourselves.

Because of the deadly COVID 19 virus everyone around the world is being asked to self-isolate. Stay home as much as possible except for infrequent but necessary trips to the grocery store or pharmacy. In Canada we are still encouraged to exercise outdoors as long as we keep our physical distance and stay 3 meters away from other people.

On my daily walks I have noticed that a) there are not many people out and about and, b) those that do venture outside are careful to keep a safe distance away from me.

Most of my day is spent indoors and like everyone else I spend too much time on the internet.

It may be time to consider doing a digital detox!

On her website, Celestine Chua writes about digital burnout and provides the following examples of things we can do to reduce or prevent this from happening:

  1. Opt out of receiving information that you don’t need and try and be aware of who you are connecting with and why.
  2. Spend less time on-line. Set aside 1 – 2 hours a day where you do something away from the computer or your other digital devices. Watch a movie, meditate, walk, listen to an audio book, do a puzzle, or play a board game.
  3. Don’t confuse internet with life. This is probably really difficult for the younger generation who have grown up using the internet. But as Celestine reminds us the internet is only a tool that we can use to make our lives better.

Celestine wrote this blog post before COVID 19 but her suggestions are as relevant today as they were back then.

We are being told that COVID 19 will eventually pass and the optimist in me believes that it will. But what the world will look like post-COVID is anyone’s guess. What we do know is that the vast majority of us will continue to spend a lot of our time on-line and as a result some of us will suffer from internet addiction. So, be aware, take stock of how much time you spend on-line and do something every day to un-plug.

Stay safe and stay connected!


Posted by: The Dynamic Introvert | November 17, 2017

Are You Addicted to the Internet?

We’ve all seen them: people who are mindlessly glued to their mobile devices, oblivious to the world around them. When my dad was in hospital for a lengthy stay I had plenty of time to observe the goings on around me. On more than one occasion I watched a member of the cleaning staff as they checked their phone in the hallway outside my dad’s room. The corridor was in a blind spot away from the hustle and bustle and the watchful eyes of the nursing station.

At the time I remember thinking that if the cleaners spent as much time doing their work as they did checking their phones the hospital would be in a much better state of affairs. I also remember wondering how they got away with it day-after-day.

Overuse of digital media is harmful to both humans and the organizations in which they work. But who’s to blame? You might be surprised at the answer. Recently I learned that Facebook  is designed to exploit human vulnerability by distracting us and pulling us away from our current, mundane realities. Of course FB is not alone and other social media giants are also exploiting us in the much the same way.

In a recent CBC Marketplace interview, Ramsay Brown, co-founder of Dopamine Labs,  stated that his company is “moving into a new era where we aren’t just developing software but we are rewriting minds.” Using artificial intelligence (AI) and neuroscience Brown and his colleagues are actively looking for ways to make digital apps more addictive.

This overuse or addiction can be harmful in that it can lead to a myriad of health problems such as depression, insomnia, and obesity. Socially it can have a negative effect on our relationships, our school success and our careers.

In extreme cases, employees may react with irritability and anger if they are told to limit their digital media use. This is in large part because the use of technology is addictive and like any addiction we will go through withdrawals if we don’t get our “fix”.

In addition, too much time spent on the internet also interferes with our people skills and our ability to communicate with the people around us.

According to writer Royce Calhoun, “1 in 4 employees have a serious online habit.” Calhoun goes on to say that in the workplace it is difficult to determine if someone has a problem since most of us are expected to be on our devices a large part of the day.

What should employers do?

First of all you must recognize that internet addiction or i-addiction is a real or potential problem. Educate managers and staff and provide resources and tools to help people cope.

What can individuals do?

Here are a few questions for you to consider:

  • How does your current use of technology distract you or undermine your health and well-being?
  • How many times a day do you stop and check your phone for messages? You may be surprised to learn that the average person checks their phone 150 times a day.
  • How does your internet use support or get in the way of your relationships?
  • What is one action that you can take right now to help you unplug and get control of your internet use?

Take Care!




Posted by: The Dynamic Introvert | September 15, 2017

Do You Have a Best Friend at Work?

Do You Have a Friend at Work?

Years ago I was asked to develop an employee satisfaction survey as part of an HR team. After doing some research and giving it a lot of thought we recommended the Gallop Employee Engagement Survey. The Gallop Survey is considered to be the gold standard in the world of employee surveys and is used in all manner of organizations through-out the world.

You can imagine our surprise when the boss told us that he didn’t like the fact that we were focusing on friendship and asked us to rewrite Item Number 10. His argument being that he was paying people to work and not to socialize. His reaction caused us to reconsider and to dig deeper into the reasons why Gallup chose to keep Item Number 10 despite widespread criticism.

The Most Controversial Gallup Question

Item Number 10: I have a best friend at work, is considered the most controversial of the 12 items on the survey, so perhaps my boss wasn’t that far off the mark when he asked us to reword it before he would let us proceed.

Of course, changing Item 10 wasn’t an option and in the end the boss agreed to continue with the survey as it was intended to be used. The Gallup Employee Engagement questionnaire is based on years of research into what makes a workplace healthy. In addition, high scores on the survey are consistently linked to workplaces that are

  • productive,
  • profitable, and
  • score high on customer satisfaction and employee retention.

Health Benefits of Friendship

 It seems that everyone benefits when employees are encouraged to have a best friend at work.

According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic in New York, having a friend can “Boost your happiness and reduce your stress. Improve your self-confidence and self-worth. Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one, among other things.”

Making Friends is Not Always Easy

 But, it’s not always easy to make new friends or to keep the ones we have. Friendship takes a lot of work which sounds counterintuitive. Why should something enjoyable require so much effort? Of course children make friends fairly easily but as adults we often find that our friendships take a backseat to other things in our lives such as caring for elderly parents or the demands of work. Sometimes we move away from the friends that we grew up with and may find that as adults, it’s not as easy to make new friends.

Author Shasta Nelson notes that there are three requirements for friendship:

  • consistency,
  • positivity, and
  • vulnerability.

It’s easier to maintain a consistent friendship if you have fewer friends. Nelson recommends that we aim for four or five close friends. I think positivity speaks for itself. None of us want to be around people who are constantly negative. Of course our friends will go through difficult times and will need our support but I know from experience that spending time with negative people can be emotionally and physically draining. Nelson’s third and final requirement is vulnerability. Sharing the different parts of ourselves both the good and the not so good goes a long way to building friendships based on trust.

In 2016, Fast Company reported that people are less likely to have friends at work than they were in the past. This is due in part because in years gone by people were more likely to stay with the same company for decades while today workers are more likely to move on after only a few years.

Getting back to the controversy over Item # 10 on the Gallup survey: Should we have friends at work? Yes, of course we should and many of us do. We spend a good part of our lives at work and as adults we are likely to make friends with the people we work with day in and day out.

But, the workplace is changing. We may not find it easy to make friends there. Or we may chose not to make the effort, wanting instead to keep work and life outside of work separate.

What do you think?

Posted by: The Dynamic Introvert | May 30, 2017

Dealing with Uncertainty

Change is the only constant. Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

The world in which we live and work is unpredictable and becoming more so. And although uncertainty can play a positive role in our endeavours, most of us don’t like change. In fact, when life becomes too unpredictable we may find that the resulting stress is overwhelming.

In 2014, MacLean’s Magazine reported on a large study conducted in 2006 by Columbia University, the National Institute on Aging and Leiden University.  The study reaffirmed that,

“over-worrying taxes the body and promotes cardiovascular problems and that prolonged periods of stress weakened participants’ endocrine and immune function, making chronic worriers more susceptible to disease.”

On the plus side a more recent study out of Duke University found that when children were introduced to stressors that they could manage they were likely to be more resilient later in life.

The reverse, of course, is that if we don’t have enough challenge in our lives we become bored. Or at least I do. A balance would be nice but unfortunately the constant change and uncertainty in the world is often beyond our control. So we need to focus on what we can have some influence on. We need to focus on the here and now.

I worked in health care for many years and then, as now, there was non-stop change. I coped with the uncertainty because my home life was relatively stable. I also learned how to meditate.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, wears the same grey T-shirt every day so that he can focus his energy on more important things. A bit extreme and not possible for most of us but Zuckerberg has a point.

Whether it is wearing the same color T-shirt or waking up 15 minutes earlier than usual in order to start the day with a quiet meditation or a short walk there are small things that we can do to simplify our lives and help us feel more in control. In this way we can conserve our energy for life’s bigger challenges.

We often think of habits as being negative and there has been a lot written on ways to change one’s behavior. A negative habit might be driving to the corner store rather than walking there. Smoking, eating foods that aren’t good for us, drinking, and gambling can all be considered unhealthy habits.

But healthy habits or routines play an important role in helping us reduce stress and feel in control of our lives. Healthy habits utilize less mental energy and provide us with a sense of being in control.

Besides simplifying our wardrobes and creating healthy habits what else can we do to reduce or manage the uncertainty and stress in our lives?

Ned Bell and Shala Nicely, authors and co-founders of the website provide some interesting suggestions for dealing with uncertainty.

The bottom line is this: for your own health and sanity you need to learn how to deal with the anxiety, fear and stress that often accompany uncertainty. Recognize what you can control and find ways to deal with what you can’t.

Posted by: The Dynamic Introvert | March 18, 2017

Isn’t It Time To End Age Discrimination In The Workplace?

Retirement is our reward after decades of hard work. It’s an opportunity to spend time doing the things we want to do when we want to do them. Whether it’s spending time with family and friends, travelling, volunteering for causes that we believe in or finally sitting down to write our memoires most of us expect to retire and enjoy a long and healthy retirement.

But how many people can actually afford to retire? For people in developing countries around the world retirement is still a luxury. Even for those of us lucky enough to live in countries that have “social safety nets” retirement is not always possible or desirable.

Take Jean for example, who after working for years as a health care manager finally took the plunge and retired at age 64. Now she has discovered that the condo unit she bought needs major repair work and she will have to return to work to make enough money to cover her costs. Or Sarah, who changed jobs throughout her career, completed her master’s degree at age 55, landed a great paying job and has plans to work until she is at least 70, maybe longer.

Dr. Suzanne Cook, adjunct professor at York University and Faculty Fellow at the Trent Centre for Aging & Society has been studying the phenomenon of later life careers for almost 10 years. In fact, through her ground-breaking research Dr. Cook discovered that “a new stage of career is emerging. Redirection is an alternative to retirement as working life is extended.” Her research has resulted in something she’s calling The Redirection Project which includes a newly released documentary.

In Canada, mandatory retirement was abolished years ago. But, age discrimination is still an issue and makes it difficult for job seekers over 50 years of age to find work.

Workplaces need older workers to fill existing and emerging jobs but the following are persistent beliefs about older workers that act as barriers for older job seekers:

  • If old people keep working they will take jobs away from younger people in need of work.
  • Older workers miss more days of work than younger workers.
  • Older workers can’t keep up with technology.
  • Older workers resent having to report to younger supervisors.
  • It’s not work training older workers because they will soon leave the workforce.

In fact, all of the above “myths” have been proven to be false.

“The over 50’s are a major untapped resource—a hidden talent pool that can boost output, employment and living standards now and in the future.” Dr. Ros Altmann, Business Champion for Older Workers in the UK.

In future posts I will cover some of the interesting approaches being used around the world by governments and organizations seeking to decrease age discrimination and encourage the recruitment and engagement of older workers.

Lesley Taylor


Posted by: The Dynamic Introvert | August 27, 2016

Big Data in the Workplace

Big Data Straight Ahead

Privacy has been a hot topic in the workplace for years. Questions abound: Should employees be monitored and, if so, how?

My youngest brother is a long distance truck driver and someone in his company knows where he is at all times during the workday. Sometimes this type of monitoring is helpful as in the Work Safe requirements for certain types of occupations—specifically for those people who work alone at night or in dangerous situations.

Recently I came across an interesting article in the fall 2015 issue of the Rotman Management School’s magazine. The article, written by Mihnea Moldoveanu, head of the Mind-Brain-Behavior Institute (MBBH), focuses on “harnessing brain science and wearable devices” for personal learning.

The implications go far beyond the classroom and will impact all of us to some degree!

According to Moldoveanu,

“The technological revolution in wearable computing devices and brain-body sensing is well underway; there are already 500 companies with $50 billion invested in this area.” He notes that, “Sensing the right data at the right time and displaying it in the right format for the right purpose will enable wearable devises to turn Big Data into the Smart Data revolution”

Big Data refers to large amounts of data or information that can be analyzed to reveal patterns, trends and associations as they relate to human behavior and interactions. In other words Big Data is about collecting information about what people are doing (e g what they are purchasing online) and, in the case of e-commerce, using this information to increase the financial bottom line of businesses that sell products on the internet.

I’ll use Google’s search function to explain how Big Data works. When you enter a request into Google’s search box you will quickly end up with millions of responses. I entered “smart data definition” and received 96,200,000 results in 56 seconds. That amount of data or info is mind boggling. Fortunately the people at Google, who are the leading experts on collecting and using data, have created some tools to help me refine my search by country and there is even an advanced search option that allows me to narrow my search even further. And Google is analyzing my searches looking for patterns so that it can sell ads to businesses that are located near where I live and who would like my business. Fair enough!

Now, let’s get back to Moldoveanu’s innovative work at Rotman University. I must confess that my initial reaction to the idea of harnessing brain science to improve our ability to learn was mixed. On the one hand we can use this technology to monitor our own behavioural responses to events and decide if and/or when we will use this information.

But with this new technology there will be the temptation for some businesses to mandate that their employees wear monitoring devices so that their personal data can be collected and analyzed. The type of data that can be collected includes, but is not limited to, the following: brain activity, visual activity, heart rate, blood volume and pulse, body temperature and muscle tension. Think about having to wear the equivalent of a lie detector all day long knowing that your employer can monitor your vital signs as you move throughout the day.

The question becomes, what data is collected, by whom, and for what purpose?

“Big Brother” is not far away!

Posted by: The Dynamic Introvert | July 24, 2016

Succeeding at Change Management by Lesley Taylor

Succeeding at Change Management

Change Ahead

I’ve been purging! No, I’m not on a diet but I am determined to clear my office of old files and papers.

In one of my filing cabinets I found tax returns dating back to the early 1990s. Of course, amidst all of the useless clutter I did find a few gems, including some notes on change management that I made in 2001.

In those days I worked as part of an interdisciplinary Change Initiatives Team at Providence Health Care (PHC). At that time PHC was well ahead of most organizations in its approach to change management and our team provided change management leadership and support throughout the organization.

Reflecting back on those earlier experiences with organizational change got me curious about the state of change management today.

A quick look on Google produced a Harvard Business Review article written in 2013 by Ron Ashkenas. Ashkenas noted that, in 2013, there were over 83,000 books on change management for sale on Amazon but that most studies showed a 60 – 70% failure rate for change management projects. He went on to say that this statistic hadn’t really changed since the 1970s.

Based on his experience as a change consultant Ashkenas recommended the following as being necessary for successful organizational change:

  1. Integrate the change into the organization’s overall strategic plan.
  2. Provide a common framework for employees to use; including a common language and tool box for managing change.
  3. Ensure that leadership and management, not Human Resources, nor outside consultants, are held accountable for the outcomes.

I believe that successful organizations will take these suggestions one step further and make leading change an essential component of everyone’s job. But in order for this to work businesses and non-profits will need to provide leadership development opportunities for all employees at all levels.

Some of the early experts in the change management field were interested in the question of how people experience change in their organizations. Later on writers such as William Bridges provided models and tools to help people deal with the psychological and emotional roller coaster that comes with organizational change.

If you contemplating introducing new changes to your team or entire organization here are 5 Critical Questions to ask at the outset. These were part of the notes that I found in my filing cabinet and they are as relevant today as they were back in 2001:

  1. Who needs to be involved?
  2. What would be different as a result of this change?
  3. What are the conversations that we need to have?
  4. What is the best way to have these conversations?
  5. How do we ensure that everyone has a voice?



Posted by: The Dynamic Introvert | June 7, 2016

Reverse Mentoring: An Old Story with a New Twist

 Mentor Cloud

The earliest examples of mentoring can be found in ancient Greece. Traditionally mentors were seen as being “older and wiser” than their mentees. But, today, reverse mentoring is getting a lot of attention, and for good reason. Young people, especially millennials, have a lot to offer and want to be respected for their knowledge and skills.

Younger members of staff who are just entering the workplace often have new skills and expertise, and they can provide fresh perspectives and ways of working that can benefit their more established colleagues.

 Writing about mentoring for the Vancouver Sun in 2012, Chelsea Emery had this to say about how our understanding of mentoring is changing:

“In a modern twist mentors are also relying on their protégés. Older employees often depend on younger staff for technology guidance. As employment security wanes, laid-off bosses may need to turn to former subordinates for job leads.”

The former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, is credited with inventing the concept of reverse mentoring. He recognized his lack of technology skills in the late 1990s, and believed that the youngest people joining the company were far more knowledgeable about new technologies than their managers. So, he asked 500 of his top executives to seek out mentors from among these new joiners.

If the organization you work for doesn’t have a formal mentoring program and there are no mentors available on an informal basis, then you may have to seek out a mentor on your own. Peer Resources is a Canadian company that provides links to well over 100 mentoring sites around the world as well as mentoring training and tips for locating a mentor. Some of the resources are general in nature but many focus on special interest groups.

Here are some tips for seasoned workers on how to get your mentoring process off to a great start:

  1. If you are looking for a mentor, be specific about what you want help with. Seek out a mentor with an impressive set of skills and who appears interested in learning and helping others.
  2. Once you’ve “found” a potential mentor meet them for coffee and see if you will be able to work with him or her.
  3. Expect to feel vulnerable when you first ask a younger person for help with something that is completely new to you, such as social media.
  4. Think about what you can offer your mentor. Be prepared to share some of your wisdom and experience and if possible connect your mentor with people in your network.

And, if you are a younger employee being asked to engage in a mentoring relationship, here are some of the ways you might benefit from helping your more seasoned colleagues:

  • Developing your leadership skills
  • Understanding and dealing with conflict
  • Navigating organizational politics
  • Exploring work-life balance and dealing stress



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