Planners’ Picks — December 5, 2023

Planners’ Picks 

A collection of resources from CSN planning committee members worth mentioning

We’re overcoming imposter syndrome, heading into the woods, and admitting we’re wrong (this time). We’ll also say “Yes And” at the improv, and get 1% better each day. Another jam-packed Planners’ Picks for you to unwrap.


:: Image of the Week

When you are true to yourself you inspire others to be true to themselves, too.

Here’s something wonderful to keep in mind:

When you see someone else being authentic, it permits you to be your authentic self, too. Even if you don’t know them. Even if they’re nothing like you. Even if your authenticity is different from theirs.

The more people let themselves be who they are, the more other people gain the courage to do so, too. You have the power to change the world for the better, just by being who you are.


:: Resources on Mental Health and Self-Care

The Healing Power of the Forest

If you’re looking for a new activity this fall, consider “forest bathing” — the act of immersing yourself in an outdoor environment, slowing down and connecting with nature through “our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch,” says Qing Li, a researcher on this topic and a professor at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo.

Decades of studies have shown that spending time in the forest is good for your health. It can boost your immune system, lower blood pressure, and help with depression. It can also reduce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and turn down the dial on your body’s fight-or-flight response. Read more about this stress reliever on NPR’s site.


:: Resources on Self-Leadership Development

Join the 5-Day Challenge to Help Introverted Women Overcome Self-Doubt, Imposter Syndrome, and a Lack of Self-Confidence

In a survey that leadership coach and author Carol Stewart did when carrying out research for her book Quietly Visible: Leading With Influence and Impact as an Introverted Woman, 73% of introverted women who were senior leaders said that they experienced self-doubt.

These women had achieved great things in their careers yet still doubted themselves. This negatively affected their self-confidence and their ability to be assertive, speak up, exude leadership presence, and have influence and impact to the fullest level that they were capable of.

For introverted women starting out in their leadership journey, not yet having had the lived experience of many years of leadership, Carol finds that these challenges are magnified for them. Uncertainty and fears about the unknown, fuel the negative self-talk.

She’s offering a 5-day Mind Cleanse to help women with this challenge, using her knowledge and education to guide them, all for free. If interested, register below. Why not end 2023 with the self-belief and self-confidence needed to take you to the next level of your career and leadership journey in 2024?

Full Post on offer:

“The professional loves her work. She is invested in it wholeheartedly. But she does not forget that the work is not her.” -Steven Pressfield in The War of Art

Can You Admit When You’re Wrong?

Do you consider yourself an open-minded person? Are you able to consider another perspective – even if it opposes yours? When was the last time you made judged someone negatively because you disagreed on an issue? Most of us simply are not as open-minded as we’d like to think.

It’s human nature to see ourselves as more insightful, and more “right” than others. It’s a prime example of illusory superiority bias and and it’s true for politics, religion, social issues, and even fashion. Those topics often make for contentious, uncomfortable, and frustrating conversations. And, at a time when conflicting opinions are everywhere, it’s easier to walk away from the discussion altogether and disregard the person as an “idiot” than to consider

But consider this: the rate at which you learn depends upon how willing you are to consider opposing ideas, even if you don’t instinctively like them –especially if you don’t like them.

We live in a society where admitting when we’re wrong is more painful than it should be; where we enclose ourselves in echo chambers, in which our ideas and values are continuously validated and enforced by others in our tribes; where our identities and our egos define our world views so that changing our minds is (wrongly) misconstrued as weakness. It is not intellect that defines our growth; it is emotional and intellectual humility that enables us to detect our own cognitive biases and blind spots and make meaningful change possible.

From Melissa Hughes’ weekly newsletter:

Finding Your Groove In College As An Adult Student

Many leaders decide that more education is needed to progress in their leadership journey.

Returning to school as an adult student after a stretch of 5, 10, or 20 years can be stressful, and many people are afraid to fail. Have you thought about going back to school but aren’t sure where to start? You’re not alone. Here are some useful tips to help you through the process from Moira Kelley at Continuing Studies.

“You can’t go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending.” – C. S. Lewis


:: Resources on Communication

The Benefits Of Improv: Why Laughter Is Good For Business

“We were all taking part in a day of improvisational comedy as part of a team-building exercise. We had a blast—and learned a lot. My team members rose to the occasion and performed a hilarious sketch, thinking on their feet and changing the storyline. The word melodramatic doesn’t begin to cover it. Some of the over-the-top contributions had us all in fits of laughter. And while it was certainly entertaining, the benefits of exploring improv for business hit home with me.”

Improv and leadership have a lot in common: collaboration, creativity, building confidence, celebrating, and moving on from failure are a few similarities. Also having fun at your job is an important part of developing long-term employees who are dedicated to showing up and participating.

Read this article from Forbes on the many benefits of Improv for team building, and also know that UW-Madison has its own Leadership Improv group! You can attend monthly meetings on campus, or hire the training crew to come to your work group for a private session with a team. Their approach enables participants to become comfortable in their leadership, communications, and challenging situations. They do this by borrowing several concepts from improvisational comedy to teach concepts of leadership in a fun way.


The next UW-Madison Leadership Improv is Wednesday, December 13 from 12-1 pm at Union South! Contact the chairs at with your questions!

“The best way to change ourselves is to change our networks.” — James Currier

Building a Culture Where Employees Feel Free to Speak Up

When employees at every level speak up, they circulate local knowledge, expand the universe of useful ideas, and prevent collective tunnel vision. And not infrequently, minority views turn into novel solutions. But you can’t speak a speak-up culture into existence — doing so in the absence of true psychological safety is an abdication of leadership and an admission of failure. The author presents four steps leaders can take to create conditions that give all employees a voice — and motivate them to use it: 1) Separate worth from worthiness; 2) separate loyalty from agreement; 3) separate status from opinion; and 4) separate permission from adoption.


:: Resources on Developing Better Habits

How to Set & Achieve Your Goals by Huberman Lab

In this episode, The Huberman Lab describes science-based protocols to set and achieve your goals in a way that maximizes the likelihood of reaching them. They explain how to define a priority and reach a specific goal by systematically assessing the challenge level, measurability, milestones, and action states needed to make progress from start to finish. They also explain research-supported tools to improve your performance during cognitive or physical goal work — including directed visualization, variable reward timing, and optimizing your physical environment. Let’s dispel common myths about goal setting and achievement. This episode provides a science-supported toolkit of zero-cost strategies for goal-setting, goal-pursuit, and goal-completion that can be applied to any physical or cognitive endeavor.


:: CSN’s Book of the Week Recommendation

Atomic Habits

Packed with self-improvement strategies, Atomic Habits will teach you how to make the small changes that will transform your habits and deliver remarkable results.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Your goal is your desired outcome. Your system is the collection of daily habits that will get you there. Spend less time focusing on outcomes and more time focusing on the habits that precede the results.”  – James Clear

10 Things This Book Will Teach You

  1. Build a system for getting 1% better every day.
  2. Break your bad habits and stick to good ones.
  3. Avoid the common mistakes most people make when changing habits.
  4. Overcome a lack of motivation and willpower.
  5. Develop a stronger identity and believe in yourself.
  6. Make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy).
  7. Design your environment to make success easier.
  8. Make tiny, easy changes that deliver big results.
  9. Get back on track when you get off course.
  10. And most importantly, how to put these ideas into practice in real life.

…and much more.

In reading this book, it’s clear how it applies to every part of life. Building great habits, and the systems that drive performance is something we should all be working at. It’s a must-read. Visit for the book, more content on habits, and his weekly newsletter.


:: Resources on Work Culture & Team Development

When Business Is Slow, Do These 2 Things

Diversifying your projects and upskilling rather than upscaling are two tried and true methods to get through these hard times. Taha Elraaid tells us how focusing on training and diversifying will get you more than scaling. You need to be prepared to pivot when necessary, and ensuring you have a highly skilled workforce isn’t just beneficial to your unit or department, but also keeps your staff happy.

“You can stand tall without standing on someone. You can be a victor without having victims.”  —Harriet Woods

The Power of Love in High-Performing Teams

In the fast-paced world of work, one of the most cherished and sought-after experiences is being part of a high-performing team. Remember the last time you were on such a team? The memories of working together seamlessly, solving problems, and achieving exceptional results are truly extraordinary. This sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and belonging can be attributed to the powerful force that is love.

Teams that operate with love as their foundation create an environment where trust, respect, kindness, and compassion are the norms. These essential human qualities enable psychological safety, a team quality described by and advocated for by Harvard researcher Amy Edmondson, which paves the way for innovation, risk-taking, and healthy communication. Imagine a workplace where team members support each other, embrace differences, and foster a culture of acceptance. Love in this context isn’t a soft concept—it translates into tangible actions and behaviors that transform teams into cohesive, productive units where people are proud to work.

See the type of love that Renee Smith is referring to in this article and accompanying podcast recording.