Planners’ Picks — February 6, 2024

Planners’ Picks  A collection of resources from CSN planning committee members worth mentioning

February is the month of love. At CSN, we love collaboration, appreciation, and relationships. Our newsletter focuses on these topics this week, with a sprinkle of change management (in honor of our current book club Switch) to sweeten it up a touch more.


:: Image of the Week

A cartoon of a child with a piece of cake "Brenda was delighted to have discovered what STRESSED was when spelt backwards." (Desserts)

We find the gems of life in the challenges we face. Sometimes the stress of a situation is necessary to get to the destination.


:: Mental Health and Self-Care

We Drastically Underestimate the Importance of Brain Breaks

Practice makes perfect. To become ambidextrous in basketball, dribble with your left hand, switch to your right, and repeat the process again and again. Likewise, to solve differential equations in math, pile them up and work your way through them diligently.

According to one popular school of thought, it’s this active, repeated manipulation of material that lays the neural foundations for skill development. All too often, time away from the basketball court—or the math books—is seen as a break in the learning process, a way to cool off, reenergize, and then return to the vital work of actual practice.

But for Leonardo Cohen, a neuroscientist at the National Institutes of Health and the senior author of a June 2021 study published in the journal Cell, the idea that breaks are a cooling-off period is a misconception.

Cohen and his colleagues used magnetoencephalography—a highly sensitive brain-scanning technique—to observe the neural activity of young adults as they learned how to type with their nondominant hand. After a practice session, the study participants were given a short break and then continued practicing for a total of 35 sessions.

2024 Day-to-Day Employee Appreciation Calendar – FREE!

Your Guide to Building an Everyday Culture of Appreciation

A changing workplace provides both challenges and opportunities for recruiting, nurturing and retaining employees. Workplace leaders recognize the value of being creative and adaptive during these times.

Our Employee Celebration Calendar could not come at a more needed time. Pandemic fatigue and employee burnout is waning but still present. This eBook is filled with inspiration and creative ideas to help keep employees feeling valued and important to the success of your organization.

Take advantage of this unique time to invest in employee engagement. Our popular one-of-a-kind resource provides the fresh perspective and resources you need to retool your employee appreciation efforts for today’s workplace.

Your free 2024 Employee Celebration Calendar will guide you through each month with:

  • Research-based suggestions for building a culture of gratitude.
  • Monthly celebration ideas to engage employees.
  • Recommendations for current, topical resources.
  • And so much more!

Download your copy here:

“One kind word can warm three winter months.” – Japanese Proverb

The Science of Love

What’s love got to do, got to do with it? 🎶 Well, a lot! UW-Madison alum and Psychology professor Sara Algoe dissects the benefits of gratitude for couples. For nearly 15 years, this people-watcher has invited countless couples to cuddle on a cozy couch in her Emotions and Social Interactions in Relationships Lab at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.

“If relationships are one of the best predictors of mental and physical health, everyday life satisfaction, and longevity,” she says, “then just like understanding the air we breathe, why shouldn’t we dig in to find out exactly what’s going on in relationships?”

The whole article is at OnWisconsin here:


:: Change Management

Driving Change: 8 Learnings

Rishad Tobaccowala offers his ideas on driving change in this recent article on his blog, including using incentives, reducing fear, and paying attention to culture. Which resonates with you?

Choosing Strategies for Change 

The rapid rate of change in the world of management continues to escalate. New government regulations, new products, growth, increased competition, technological developments, and an evolving workforce compel organizations to undertake at least moderate change regularly. Yet few major changes are greeted with open arms by employers and employees; they often result in protracted transitions, deadened morale, emotional upheaval, and the costly dedication of managerial time. Kotter and Schlesinger help calm the chaos by identifying four basic reasons why people resist change and offering various methods for overcoming resistance.

Managers should recognize the most common reasons for resistance: a desire not to lose something of value, a misunderstanding of the change and its complications, a belief that the change does not make sense for the organization, and a low tolerance for change in general.

Once they have diagnosed which form of resistance they are facing, managers can choose from an array of techniques for overcoming it: education and communication, participation and involvement, facilitation and support, negotiation and agreement, manipulation and co-optation, and both explicit and implicit coercion. According to the authors, successful organizational change efforts are characterized by the skillful application of a number of these approaches, with a sensitivity to their strengths and limitations and a realistic appraisal of the situation at hand. In addition, the authors found that successful strategic choices for change are both internally consistent and fit at least some key situational variables.


:: Goal Setting

How To Set Goals from Presence

We’ve seen that goals set from below the line (a state of fear) can lead to a sense of obligation, burnout, frustration, and drama. But we also know that achieving goals—as an individual, a team, and an organization—can be profoundly satisfying, especially when they align with your deeper values and sense of purpose. How do you set goals that are motivating and empowering, rather than a cause of drama or disengagement? Conscious leaders pay attention to HOW they’re setting goals, and from WHERE they’re setting them.

“Give me six hours to cut down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” – Abe Lincoln

Three Ways to Reboot a Resolution

For many of us, our resolutions have faded away like the piles of snow on the side of the road by now. What you thought would be easy to take on became a chore, and you lost interest or had a flaw in your thinking.

Author Caroline Webb has some advice on this topic, as she is experiencing it too. She’s turning to three things from behavioral science about habit formation. If you’re in a similar situation where you have a slippery 2024 goal that hasn’t yet stuck – for yourself or for your team – this might help you too.


5 Ways to Get Unstuck

In this New York Times coverage of how to achieve breakthrough even after “feeling stuck,” experts offer five research-backed tips for pushing through resistance. First, it’s important to understand that “falling into a rut or feeling stagnant from time to time is a universal experience,” and that it is normal to “hit a plateau” during the pursuit of long-term goals. Luckily, researchers have discovered practical ways to jumpstart progress again.

Five ways to get unstuck are:

  1. Do a ‘friction audit’: Ask yourself questions to identify “the things that create obstacles and add complications or stress” that interfere with your goals.
  2. Reframe negative thoughts: Don’t accept harsh self-talk. “For example, instead of ‘I’m going to fail at this project,’ you can think, ‘I’m going to do the best I can, and if I’m struggling I will ask for help.'”
  3. Try ‘futurecasting’: Practice envisioning your ideal set of circumstances, “a future life where you are unstuck,” and “then think about the specific steps that would help you work toward that vision.”
  4. Share your goal: “Just the force of putting the words into the world now makes you believe—makes you commit.”
  5. Do something meaningful: “Spending time on activities that align with your values” can give you energy and propel you forward. In fact, “we need meaning more than ever when we’re feeling stuck.”


:: Psychological Safety & Belonging

Being Introverted and Feeling a Sense of Belonging at Work

Belonging is a key factor needed for inclusion in the workplace. When organizations are looking at being more inclusive, personality is invariably not part of the conversation. A growing body of research suggests that our workplaces favor extraversion. Read this article from author and coach for introverted women, Carol Stewart.

:: CSN’s Book of the Week Recommendation

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

The Way of the Essentialist involves doing less, but better, so you can make the highest possible contribution.

The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not about getting less done. It’s about getting only the right things done. It’s about challenging the core assumption of ‘we can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time’. It’s about regaining control of our own choices about where to spend our time and energies instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us.

In Essentialism, Greg McKeown draws on experience and insight from working with the leaders of the most innovative companies in the world to show how to achieve the disciplined pursuit of less.

By applying a more selective criteria for what is essential, the pursuit of less allows us to regain control of our own choices so we can channel our time, energy and effort into making the highest possible contribution toward the goals and activities that matter.

Essentialism isn’t one more thing; it is a different way of doing everything. It is a discipline you apply constantly, effortlessly. Essentialism is a mindset; a way of life. It is an idea whose time has come.


:: Communication

Learning to Disagree: Navigating Differences Together

Dr. John Inazu provides 5 practical strategies for managing disagreements in your clinical and classroom learning environments in this short video. Thanks to CSN member Monica Messina for sharing it with the planning committee!


:: Take Five*

*Note: CSN occasionally adds “Take Five” articles to take you off the beaten path. Articles are about local or regional areas of interest, but not necessarily focused on leadership development. The intent is for you to take a break from being a leader and relax for a moment!

The Hydrodynamics of Marbling Art

Need to take a 3 minute break? This is the perfect thing to watch and destress on.

Marbling is an ancient art form that has evolved across diverse cultures. It has traditionally been used to decorate paper for bookbinding. Remarkably, its practice has remained relatively unchanged for centuries. See this creative act in action on this short, scientific study from UW-Madison and two other colleges.

“We celebrate the marbelous hydrodynamics of marbling art by focusing on two characteristic behaviors: First, the paint spreading that sets the initial color arrangement is driven by interfacial forces, and resisted in turn by inertial then viscous forces. Second, low-Reynolds-number mixing allows one to draw on the water surface in a controlled fashion. We showcase examples of traditional marbling patterns and highlight the role of interfacial tension and negligible inertia in marbling art.”