UNSTUCK

by the Unstuck team

Quick health tip: The secret to good bread

Don’t be fooled by the pretty words “honey wheat” or “golden oat” in the bread aisle. If the first ingredient listed on the package doesn’t say “whole wheat flour,” you won’t reap all the benefits of this healthy grain.

There are three good reasons that 100% whole wheat has the upper hand to white bread. It contains:
• more protein,
• more fiber, and
• less processing.

This simple switch could make a huge difference in your:
• satiety (you’ll feel fuller so are likely to eat less), and
• digestive system (which could reduce bloating and irregularity).

Thanks to REFIT® for this tip. REFIT is a community-centered fitness program that engages the heart as a muscle and a soul. Learn more about this revolutionary fitness community at www.REFITREV.com

#by the Unstuck Team #health tips

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How to make the most of a big mistake

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Mistakes are really stuck moments waiting to get unstuck. We fail, we learn, we do better. Sometimes, a lot better. Such is the case with the 25 successful women profiled in Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting it Wrong, edited by Jessica Bacal, Penguin, 2014.

We’ve culled five of the stories that offer some of the best advice for all of us, and categorized them by type of stuck moment for extra clarity. Experience is the best teacher — even if it isn’t yours.

* * *

RACHEL SIMMONS GETS STUCK AS A TUNNEL VISIONARY BY CONSIDERING ONLY A SINGLE SOLUTION.

Rachel’s mistake: Rachel is used to being the best, and has a shelf of trophies and awards — plus an acceptance letter to Yale Law — to prove it. When she wins a prestigious Rhodes scholarship to study political theory at Oxford for two years, she’s determined to be the best at that too. But she hates her program, and feels defeated for the first time in her life.

How Rachel gets unstuck: Rachel realizes that she’s been so busy winning that she’s ignored thinking about what makes her happy. She drops out of Oxford and starts work on a nonfiction book about bullied girls. She never goes to law school; instead, her book becomes a beloved bestseller, and she begins a fulfilling career helping young women build confidence and self-awareness

What Rachel learned: “Listen to your ‘internal voice,’ that voice inside your head that tells you when you feel tired or thirsty, whether you should leave that party, if you should buy that cool shirt. When you think about the path you’re on right now, what does the voice say? A full-throated passionate yes? A maybe? Or an I-hate-this-but-it’s-what-I-have-to-do? You can plug your ears for a while, but eventually, that voice grows louder, more ominous, and harder to ignore. Listen to it now before you get in too deep.”

DANIELLE OFRI GETS STUCK AS A LONE LEADER, TRYING TO SOLVE EVERYTHING HERSELF.

Danielle’s mistake: When Danielle is in charge for the first time as a second-year medical resident, she faces a life-or-death decision for a patient. She shoots down her intern’s advice, and makes the wrong call. The patient almost goes into cardiac arrest. 

How Danielle gets unstuck: Danielle is stricken with shame for her error, but realizes that she has to put her humiliation aside for the sake of her patient. And she discovers that, no matter who is in charge, you can ask colleagues for their opinions. 

What Danielle learned: “You don’t have to feel the burden of ‘I must be 110 percent right on my first try, and I may not utter any evidence of hesitancy.’ Even the president of the company can turn to a trusted colleague and say, ‘What do you think? Here’s my idea. Give me some feedback.’”

LUMA MUFLEH GETS STUCK AS A DRIFTER, UNABLE TO FIND HER PURPOSE.

Luma’s mistake: Luma graduates from college without a sense of what she wants to do. As a result, she feels alienated from friends and family, and moves around a lot, working in restaurants and volunteering as a girls’ soccer coach at the YMCA.

How Luma gets unstuck: One day, Luma sees some kids playing pickup soccer and stops to kick the ball with them. She discovers that they’re refugees from war-torn countries — and getting to know their stories ignites a passion in her. She begins to tutor them after school. Later, she founds the first accredited school for refugees in the US. This becomes her life’s work.

What Luma learned: “When you get the alumni quarterly and you read about your friends who are PhDs or MacArthur fellows or Rhodes scholars, drink a shot for each one and keep a good sense of humor. Life is about doing what you love.” 

CHERYL STRAYED GETS STUCK AS AN AD LIBBER, CAUGHT WITHOUT A PLAN.

Cheryl’s mistake: Cheryl knows she wants to write but can’t see how to make it work and still pay her bills. She gets increasingly demoralized working as a waitress while her real dream remains a pie in the sky. 

How Cheryl gets unstuck: She takes a job as a youth advocate for at-risk girls in a middle school, and this experience injects fresh perspective. She loves contributing to others’ lives — and realizes she can do this through her writing. She applies to an MFA program, quits her job, and moves across the country to attend school. A decade later, she writes the bestselling memoir Wild.

What Cheryl learned: “We’re all rough drafts. If you’re living right, you’re constantly striving to make the next version of yourself one notch better. Real success is rooted in learning how to turn mistakes into successes; losses into gains; failures into the things of value that propel you forward rather than hold you back. My advice is to be humble, to listen to those who have more experience than you do, to work hard — actually hard — and also to trust yourself. No one makes your life for you. You make it yourself.”

RESHMA SAUJANI GETS STUCK AS A DEFLATED DOER WHEN SHE LOSES MOTIVATION FOR HER PASSION.

Reshma’s mistake: During her 2009 run for Congress, Reshma sinks all of her hopes and savings into her campaign. When she receives only 19 percent of the vote, she’s devastated. It feels like a huge public failure. And she doesn’t have a plan B.

How Reshma gets unstuck: Reshma gives herself permission to feel upset about her failure for two weeks, then analyzes what went wrong. Talking to people and reflecting on how she ran the campaign allows her to see her missteps and learn from them. She goes on to take a job as a public advocate for New York City, and later starts the nonprofit Girls Who Code.

What Reshma learned: “When you have major setbacks, you ironically begin to feel like you can do anything because the worst has already happened and you’re no longer paralyzed by the fear of something not working out. If I hadn’t run for office, I would never be where I am now, the founder of a successful nonprofit. That’s why I tell young people to fail fast, fail hard, and fail often.”

Next week: More patience — is there an app for that?
Last week: Unstuck Hero: Because everyone deserves to live with dignity

You can use the free Unstuck web app here or download the iPad app from iTunes. 

#by the Unstuck Team #on the job #Tunnel Visionary #Lone Leader #drifter #Ad Libber #Deflated Doer

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Creative release: When you can’t find the solution, consider the problem

When graphic designer Tom Balchin gets creatively stuck, instead of looking for an answer, he digs into the problem. Is there a tension that is getting in the way of a solution? More often than not, there is, he says. Emotional investment versus financial cost, for instance. Or personalization versus broad reach. Once the opposing forces are known, he finds it much easier to reassess what he needs to do.

Source: Breakthrough! 90 proven strategies to overcome creative block & spark your imagination, Alex Cornell, editor.

You can use the free Unstuck web app here or download the iPad app from iTunes.

#creativity #by the Unstuck Team

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Unstuck Hero: Because everyone deserves to live with dignity

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On November 19, 2011, in the slums of Nairobi, an unusual grand opening was unfolding: The unveiling of the first Sanergy Fresh Life Toilet, a bright blue, hand-painted, port-a-potty–like facility that would soon become a welcome fixture on the busy urban landscape. Hundreds had turned out to celebrate. The Town Clerk of Nairobi cut the ribbon and offered an enthusiastic keynote. Kids lined up to get their faces painted. The excitement was huge — all for a toilet. 

The product was humble, but the goal was audacious. David Auerbach and his co-founders at Sanergy — a start-up that they dreamed up as MBA and engineering students at MIT — were testing the notion that they could create economic prosperity while advancing personal dignity for thousands of Kenyans by innovating a new, community-focused sanitation model.

What may seem obvious now from the outside looking in took David six years of seeking out new perspectives, opportunities, and teammates until his original spark of an idea came together — and then almost two more years to go from concept to reality. Where do great ideas come from? How do we find the tools we need to creatively solve the problems of our lives? The story of Sanergy is a fascinating study in the steps it takes to get unstuck.

Seeds are planted
David has always had an idealistic passion for social justice. He was born into a family of career do-gooders and, as a kid in London and New Jersey, he’d spent hours writing letters for Amnesty International. But it was his two-year teaching stint in China post-college that disrupted his worldview.

As he traveled through the country during weekends and holidays, he was stunned by the terrible state of public toilets: pit latrines dug in the ground, festooned with flies.

“My distinct memory is very visceral,” he says. “At the moment, it felt like a tremendous indignity. Later, as I thought about it, I came to understand that this was happening on a day-to-day basis for the ‘statistic’ of 2.5 billion people.”

That stunning observation would become one of Sanergy’s seeds of inspiration, but David didn’t yet know that it was his first step toward his future goal. He didn’t yet dream he could make an impact at that scale.

When he returned to the US, he joined the Clinton Global Initiative. There, he met a co-founder of Kiva, the online lending platform that connects individual micro-lenders to entrepreneurs in the developing world. Excited about this innovative approach to global poverty, David worked to push Kiva’s agenda. Without realizing it, he was already building Sanergy’s network; microloans from Kiva would later become part of their business model. It was a second step.

After leaving the Clintons, David joined Endeavor, a global nonprofit supporting for-profit businesses in the developing world. He was blown away by the high-impact entrepreneurs he encountered. Their work helped him imagine what his own role could be.

“They were enacting incredible change in their countries by creating their businesses and with that, thousands of good jobs that gave people economic freedom,” he says. “It was a transformative experience.” At this point, David knew that his personal mission was to combine change-making with entrepreneurship. It was a decisive third step toward an idea he hadn’t yet realized.

Collaboration sparks a brilliant idea
Choosing to pivot once again, David enrolled at MIT’s Sloan MBA program in 2009. The class was assigned to come up with a poverty solution that would better the lives of a billion people. David recalled his experiences in China with a team of classmates, — who had similar experiences in India, Kenya, and even New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina —and they ran with it.

“It got us thinking about why there are so many terrible toilets in the world,” he says. “At the same time, if it was a question of just providing good toilets, wouldn’t that have been solved already? The question was more systemic and led to us asking: how can you extract value from waste? How do you come up with a sustainable solution that gets people to participate in the sanitation value chain?”

That puzzle occupied the team — a varied bunch of engineers, nonprofit veterans, and technologists — for more than a year and a half. With the help of sanitation experts and the MIT community, they developed a franchise model for an inexpensively produced toilet that individuals in a local community could buy and operate as a business, charging a small fee for each use. Then, to complete the loop, Sanergy would collect the waste, treat it, and convert it into products such as fertilizer — literally turning community waste into community value.

They had the technology, a business plan, a working model, and substantial funding, including $100,000 from an MIT entrepreneurship contest, where they had beaten 279 other teams for the top prize. Achieving their goal was just a few steps away — but would it actually work?

“Business plans are great, but implementation is so much harder,” David says. “There were all kinds of bumps in the road that didn’t materialize until we were on the ground. How do you find people? How do you build trust? What happens when it rains and it’s impossible to get to the community?”

There was only one way to find out.

Nairobi provides unexpected inspiration
Sanergy launched in the slums of Nairobi, where a vibrant culture of social entrepreneurship already existed — as did an urgent sanitation problem. Women and children risked violence and sexual assault by walking to distant public toilets, and so often resorted to using plastic bags.

On their first trip, they met a youth group trying to run a sanitation facility as a business. David remembers feeling crestfallen when they saw how much the group, which lacked the appropriate support or technology, was struggling.

“But then, the same youth group asked us if we wanted to see their urban garden,” David says. “We walked deep into the heart of the informal settlements, where we finally reached an open clearing. There, they had removed a trash site and put in an acre-sized farm with livestock and fresh vegetables. At that moment, I saw how committed young people were to changing their communities, and became convinced that, with the right support, we could help many people in the community tackle the sanitation challenge.”

Heartened, the team threw themselves into the challenge. They worked with local experts, such as professors at the University of Nairobi, to fit their model to Kenyan needs and sensibilities. This included changing the product name (“Fresh Life” emphasizes cleanliness) and logo.

Nearly four years later, Fresh Life toilets are a hit. Currently, 457 toilets are in operation, providing 523 jobs and hygienic sanitation to 18,000 Nairobi residents daily. With two toilets in operation, a Fresh Life owner — who has access to 0% interest loans from Kiva to make the initial purchase — can earn about $2,000 in yearly profits. That’s a life-changing sum in a country where half the population lives on less than a dollar a day. 

What’s more, the positive ripple effect of hope and self-respect continues to spread, David says. Take Nairobi resident Samuel Muindi, who joined Sanergy as a waste collector in 2011. He worked his way up the Sanergy ladder and, with his savings supplemented by loans, purchased a Fresh Life toilet in 2013 for his sister to operate. Bit by the entrepreneur bug, he’s since opened a shower facility in his community and plans to purchase more Fresh Life toilets.

“It’s allowed Samuel to think about his future in a way that he was never able to before,” David says. Just like David learned to do a decade before.

David Auerbach holds a BA from Yale University and an MBA from MIT Sloan. Previously, David co-ran Partnerships, Policy, and Outreach at Endeavor. He was the Deputy Chair for Poverty Alleviation at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2005–2006, and taught in China for two years. David is a Legatum, Rainer Arnhold, Ashoka and Echoing Green Fellow. He lives in Nairobi, Kenya.

Read our first Unstuck Heroes story here: How a grilled cheese sandwich saved the day

Next week: How to make the most of a big mistake
Last week: 
What to do when you feel stuck in a job

You can use the free Unstuck web app here or download the iPad app from iTunes.

#innovation #unstuck heroes #purpose #by the Unstuck Team

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Finding: The science of kindness

Researchers at the Stanford School of Business have found a magic bullet for personal happiness — and it’s not what you might think. 

A happy “helper’s high” is what you get when you do good for others, says Jennifer Aaker, whose experiments on the phenomenon are published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. So, if you’re feeling blue, try performing five random acts a day for six weeks. It’s been shown to increase increase happiness — as does volunteer work, and spending money on others instead of yourself.

To maximize impact and your helper’s high, the trick is to make your goals specific. A concrete goal is more achievable, and the standards for success are more clearly defined. For example, aim to increase recycling in your home vs. to save the environment. Or, aim to do one concrete thing a day to improve the life of another (as Dr. Aaker’s mother encouraged her to do in childhood) vs. to make the world a better place.

#Findings #by the Unstuck Team

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