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Misunderstood? No Way!

Everyone does life from a little different perspective.  Just like we all have unique fingerprints or hair follicles, we all see things from our unique vantage point.  As a result, we communicate with each other from our perspective.  It seems so clear and obvious to us when we say it.  It’s unbelievably surprising when we realize that someone has misunderstood us.  In fact, we are so deeply entrenched in our perspective that it is difficult to even uncover that someone else has misunderstood us.  

I found myself consistently angry with a boss I had for a couple of years until I realized that I misunderstood him.  I finally wrote myself a note in big red letters, “If it doesn’t sound like a good plan, if you feel angry about it, you have misunderstood him.”  I went into every staff meeting with this note in front of me, so that I would not react to whatever he had communicated.  His perspective was different than mine and I was having trouble seeing things from his perspective.  

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When we understand other people’s perspective, we are better equipped to communicate well with them.  I have a friend who is detail-oriented, logical, reserved and has a high need to be accurate. (By the way, she’s a bookkeeper.  That style of hers is a perfect match for keeping the spreadsheets organized.)  Her biggest fear is being wrong.  Disorganization stresses her out in a big way.  When she is dealing with someone who is enthusiastic, talkative, all about people — not the task, she cannot expect facts and she needs to find a way to be encouraging.  No one perspective is better than the other, they’re just different.  When an outspoken, competitive, quick action, strong-willed boss, who needs control and fears being taken advantage of communicates to a friendly, sympathetic, agreeable, considerate, listening employee, what could go wrong?  Right?  The more we can understand those four different styles I just described, the more communication will flow with ease.  

As we begin to think about the other person’s perspective, their fears, their needs, the things that stress them, we will have the insight we need to communicate in a way that makes sense to them.  If you’d like more help with this, contact me at michele@lifebydesign.guru.

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Push Pause, Not Repeat

I like to end the holiday break with 1000 pieces of 1/2" by 1/2" cardboard lying on the dining room table calling my name.  The challenge of fitting oddly shaped pieces together into a work of art is the kind of demand my heart loves to indulge.  I’ll admit, it’s not for everyone.  This year, I tackled a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  Most 1000 piece puzzles are slapped together in a weekend.  Perhaps 2000 pieces will take two.  Not so fast.  This delightful snowing scene where the sky and snow covered ground use the same shades and the pieces are very nearly all the same shape has thrown me a curve ball.  What used to be a thrill and even a race, is starting to feel laborious. The old way of getting it done is not working.  The back up systems I resort to when it’s getting difficult are not bringing it together.  And yet, I continue to stand there doing the same thing in the same way.  The only difference, I feel frustration instead of delight.  

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When we keep doing it the same old way, we keep getting the same old results.  It may sound like, "Credit card debt like this is normal."  "You can’t control teenagers these days."  "I have to work these long hours to get ahead."  "I need these to help me relax." Moving forward involves finding out why things aren’t working and discovering new ways to approach it.

When my extended family got together to celebrate Christmas, we played a raucous game of charades.  My very talkative niece kept repeating the same gesture to her team until her brother-in-law said, “That’s not working, we’re not getting it.  Move on to something else.”  And then she repeated it a few more times.  We love to do what we know isn’t working.  Maybe we think something even worse will happen if we stop our current action.  Stopping the repeating cycles and the recurring hang ups, starts with simply looking at the obstacle in a different light.

What do you need to push pause on instead of repeat?

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Fresh Start

The smell of fresh bread coming out of the oven is undeniably the best aroma ever.  Fresh flowers sitting on the dining room table always bring a smile.  Fresh ideas can be incredibly energizing.  What we all love about the new year is it gives us a place to start fresh.  

This year I’m going to be intentional about allowing freshness into my life.  Fresh bread takes some work, it doesn’t just happen.  Turning the calendar year over doesn’t guarantee a fresh start.  It does provide an opportunity for something fresh.  A few things I am going to do this year to keep my life fresh.

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Look for Adventure — Find things that move me out of my comfort zone.  I’ve decided that 2018 is going to be my most adventures year yet.  What ideas do you have for me?  Going for the adventure invites new experiences.

Accept Change — Recognizing that change is good because it brings growth is a great way to step into a new year.  I’m the kind of person that drives the same car until the wheels fall off, never re-arranges the furniture and works for the same place for a couple of decades.  Change has never been my favorite but I’m learning to re-frame the way I look at change and see it as an opportunity.  Change keeps things fresh.

De-clutter — There is just something about getting the closet cleaned out or the junk drawer organized or the garage orderly that helps us make space in our world and mind. Go ahead and take the plunge, de-cluttering opens up new territory.  

Connect with new people — Friends are a human necessity.  Even if you have plenty, go find one more. If you feel like you don’t have enough, go find three more. New people in our lives bring fresh perspective.  It’s good to be around people who see things differently.  I’m very intentional about this one and am looking forward to the new relationships I will develop in 2018.  

Laugh often — So much of what is required of us is serious business — raising children, managing finances, investing in a career, serving the people around us.  With all this responsibility, we sometimes forget to laugh.  This Christmas break, my extended family got together and laughed raucously.  It was a blast to laugh and to be in the presence of people full of laughter.  Let’s do more of that this year.

Here’s to 2018!

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The Essence of Christmas

Last night, I watched Josh Groban’s A Home for the Holidays special.  Throughout the hour of music, families who’ve adopted children were featured.  As each family was introduced my heart swelled with their story of love.  Many of the children being adopted were close to aging out of the foster-care system.  One girl expressed how her time was running out and what it felt like to be chosen.  Her parents talked about how closed off she was when she first came to their home.  They worked hard at connecting with her and breaking through to her.  She sat in front of the interviewer and cried as she explained what it was like to be loved for the first time.  Her story, and the story of all the families, pushed me to think about what love is and challenged me to consider who I’m loving well.  

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Love fights for you.

Love sees you.

Love wants you.

Love doesn’t force.

Love trusts.

Love looks for the best.

Love never looks back.

Love keeps going.  

Christmas embodies love. To find love, to become love is to find the source of love — the essence of Christmas — Christ.

Merry Christmas!

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Fling JOY

Festive parties, spectacular light shows, delicious holiday food and sweet Christmas music interlaced with extra doses of joy are tasty morsels that make this season special.  What creates joy in our lives?  How do we get intentional about experiencing it all year long?

Every time someone wrings their hands together and says, “What if?” or “If only,” joy leaves the room.  This uncanny ability to spend our moments in the future forecast of doom or the past experience of regret creates a joy vacuum. Tomorrow’s grief may never come and it’s less likely to come, if we’re not willing it in to being.  Yesterday’s sadness is over and can be left in the past.  If joy is what we’re after, it seems like staying in the moment is the best way to be joyful.

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Consider making a list of small things you can do right now, to usher a little joy in your life. Then start doing them daily.  Here are a few little moments of joy on my list:

  1. Music, for me, is the very embodiment of joy.  If I can turn on the music, almost any kind of music, it puts a smile on my face.  
  2. Get outside, breath the air, hear the birds, feel the sun on my face, watch the wildlife — the beauty of creation fills my heart, soul and lungs with pleasure.
  3. Doing something valuable for others, not just running errands or bringing gifts or providing a service (although those are fabulous), but also, depositing encouragement, inspiration and vision.
  4. Unplug.  There is something about powering down the electronics that forces me to find the joy, rather than be entertained.
  5. Practice understanding.  Entering a relationship or conversation with the intent to understand the other, rather than to push my message on them brings me real satisfaction.
  6. Gratitude.  Every time I practice deep gratitude for the things and people in my life and world, I experience sweet delight.
  7. Breathe.  In my non-joyful moments, I’m often holding my breath or breathing shallowly.  When I am intentional about taking slow, deep breaths, it releases a freshness within me.
  8. Create.  I don’t fancy myself a creative  -- you’ll never find me sitting at the table doing something crafty.  But when I sit with words, ideas, concepts and create something new, a special place in my heart comes alive.
  9. Build a tribe.  When I am in the room with smart, savvy, deep thinking people who can bring a different perspective into my life, it jazzes me.
  10. Read.  Books hold great intrigue for me.  Getting cozy with a book that takes me on an adventure or teaches me new concepts sends my mind and spirit into a place of bliss.

Joy to the World . . . Fling joy everywhere!
 

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I'm Not the Only One

Peace.  Peace on Earth.  Goodwill toward men.  Popular phrases in the Christmas season.  And yet, peace is not highly valued in our current climate.  Peace has been replaced with polarization. We and they are labels that pull us apart.  Understanding is what brings peace and collaboration.  

Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. - Albert Einstein

In his Ted Talk, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks asks, “Is there something we can do to face the future peacefully?”

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I’d like to share with you two stories of individuals who worked at understanding and the result is something that goes even beyond peace.  

Journalist Robyn Passante tells these two stories. 

In 2011 Mary Parry was homeless and living in a tent in Pennsylvania when she began befriending hikers along the roughly 2,190 mile Appalachian Trail.  Today she’s one of the trial’s most well-known “trail angels,” routinely opening her two-bedroom apartment a  block from the trail to strangers with backpacks.  In a typical year she shelters or shuttles up to 800 hikers who text her or knock on her door, giving them home-cooked meals, rides and the use of her car, and a place to shower and sleep.  

To weary, grimy, hungry hikers, Trail Angel Mary is a godsend.  But she says God sent them first.  “Helping them,” Parry says, “is my way of thanking God for him bringing those people to me when I was having a rough time in my life.”

Each of these stories appeared in SUCCESS Magazine.

When Aidan Thomas Anderson got involved with charity work at age 8, he thought he’d be inspiring his generation to give back. “But adults are coming into the picture,” says the now 16-year-old, who speaks and performs music at corporate events for up to 10,000 people.  “The need is so great for people to learn how to give. . . We don’t need to be a big deal.  Just a ripple.”


Polarization is too much I, too little we.  It’s the people not like us that make us grow, our understanding of them brings peace, and our serving them brings life.  

Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.  I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.  - John Lennon

 

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Be the Light

This is my favorite time of the year.  I love the smell of fresh baked Christmas cookies, the twinkle of lights on evergreen trees, and the joy of the holiday music.  The reason I love this season so much is the hope that swirls in the air.  In the middle of the uncertainty in which we live — mass shootings, abuse of power, and barbaric behavior — a single thread of hope is powerful.  Hope anchors the soul.

Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu, a South African clergyman says, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”

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In the July issue of SUCCESS Magazine, Jamie Friedlander tells this story of hope:

Los Angeles resident Mohamed Bzeek, 62, encompasses what it means to be selfless. He has taken in terminally ill children who are in the L.A. foster care system for the past 20 years — initially with his wife, Dawn, and now alone since her death in 2014.

Bzeek, originally from Libya, has cared for 40 children throughout the past two decades and currently takes care of a 6-year-old girl who is blind, deaf and paralyzed.  He says that although he knows she cannot see or hear him, he always holds her and talks to her so she knows she’s not alone in the world.

Hope anchors the soul.

Journalist Jesus Jimenez tells this story:

 When Johnny Jennings visited Georgia Baptist Children’s Home, he felt it was his life’s mission to help the children.  He was 18 at the time and not ready to adopt a child, so he started helping financially.  Jennings began collecting scrap paper and aluminum so he         could cash in his collections for money.  Today Jennings is 86 and has donated more than $400,000 over the course of his lifetime.

A single thread of hope is powerful.  

Start hunting for the stories of hope and tell them to everyone who will listen.  Better yet, create stories of hope in the middle of your world.  Be the light despite all the darkness. Christmas is many things, above all else, it’s a story of hope.

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Secret Sauce of Happiness

When I have the privilege of traveling in Mexico, I’m always struck by the happiness of the people.  People everywhere are laughing, smiling, enjoying life.  Most of them don’t possess much by US standards.  It’s not what we possess that brings happiness, it’s how we appreciate what we have — whether it’s much or little.  The amount of appreciation we express is directly tied to the amount of joy we experience.  

If gratitude is the secret sauce of happiness, then consumerism robs our very souls of happiness.  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the thought process of “never enough.”  This insanity of ingratitude often resembles addiction.  We are driven to get the latest gadget, the most updated wardrobe, a few more of . . . just in case it brings us happiness.  That’s why gratitude is so important.  It serves as an immunization against this addiction we can so easily fall into.  

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Start a new gratitude practice this November and keep it going throughout the year.  Here are a few ideas:  

Make a list of the things you are grateful for, be specific, add to it daily.  Work toward 1,000 things or 10,000.  When we are grateful for things we experience every day — curiosity, communication, creativity — this ushers in an attitude adjustment.  

Set aside a time during the day where you will stop and be intentional about appreciating your life at the present moment — all of it, even the tough stuff.   In every single moment, we have an opportunity to find something awe-inspiring.  

Consider using a blueprint to walk you through gratitude.  Start with your body, be grateful for your toes and work your way through your body from there.  Next move to things outdoors, then people, add institutions.  Creating some kind of pattern to follow, can help you get started.  

Neuroscience tells us we are creating pathways in our brain, much like ruts in a dirt road, that become deeper and deeper, and therefore, more difficult to pull out of.  Why build a road to a place you don’t want to go, like negativity, despair, complaints.  To get the place we want to go requires appreciation.

Here’s to Thanksgiving every day!

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Who's in Charge Here?

Last night, I was talking on the phone to my 26 year old son.  In the course of the conversation, he told me he hadn’t been very productive in the evenings when he gets home from work and he was struggling with getting his paper work completed.  As the conversation unfolded, I suggested perhaps he needed to work out regularly.  He responded enthusiastically to that idea stating that’s exactly what he needed to do.  And then he added a barely audible phrase, “That’s not going to happen.”  My response was, “Wow! Who’s in charge of your life?”  He said he wasn’t sure but he was confident it wasn’t him.  We both roared with laughter hearing him admit out loud what so many of us internalize — this can’t be my responsibility.  He’s 26, single, lives alone, has a great job and makes plenty of money.  We both know he is completely responsible for his unproductive evenings, his paper work and his workout schedule — there is no one else to blame.  

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Monday on Facebook Live, I talked about the fact that we are 100% responsible for the outcomes of our lives.  It’s not the event or the circumstances that dictates the outcome, it’s our response to it.  Not long after a devastating earthquake in Los Angeles, a CNN reporter was on a highway that had been damaged.  The typical commute was one hour but the damage to the road system elongated the commute to two and three hours.  The reporter decided to get out of his media truck and interview the drivers — since they were all at a standstill.  The first driver told him how much he hated California, how no matter what he did he never got to work on time. He was bitter, discontent, and angry.  The second driver, with a pleasant tone and a big smile,  said he left his house at 5:00AM, he knew his boss would not expect anything more in light of the situation.  He had a thermos full of coffee, a snack, a book, his favorite music, an audible language lesson and his cell phone.  He was making good use of the time and was perfectly happy with his outcome.  If the event or circumstance causes the outcome, both of those drivers would have been in the same boat.

We are conditioned to blame things, people, animals, even the weather; to complain about the circumstance; to assume there is nothing we can do.  If we don’t like our outcome, we can change our response. If you’re not getting the outcomes you want, I’d love to have a conversation with you about what is blocking you.  Contact me at michele@lifebydesign.guru.

 

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What if There is Enough?

What if there is enough?  How would that change your perspective, your attitude, your decisions, your actions?  The conversations you have today?

There is not enough for everyone.  Therefore, someone gets left out.  Either we’ve decided we’ve been left out of love, wealth, success, you fill in the blank.  Or we’ve decided we must get our slice of the pie before someone else does.  Media, grandparents, co-workers, friends reinforce this idea. We repeatedly hear messages like, “I can’t seem to get ahead. I guess I’m just destined to be behind.”  “I wish I could afford that.” There is not enough is simply a myth we accept. If we simply changed our language to, "I choose not to buy that right now" or "I have different priorities," the message of scarcity would disappear.  This scarcity mentality keeps us from finding the resources, time, attitude or whatever it is we think is so limited.  If we’re not looking for it, we will not find it.

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I met an energetic, enthusiastic, humorous women named Carrie this morning.  Two of her friends are currently waiting on a heart transplant.  Her innovative idea to meet this need is to require people who are not using their hearts to the fullest degree, meaning choosing happiness and spreading it, to turn their hearts over to someone who will.  I know that’s absurd but it does cause you to think about ways you are limiting yourself.  

Much of our life is limited by the thought that there is not enough money to get something done; there is not enough time to learn something new; there are not enough resources to accomplish that huge task. There is not enough . . .  What if there is enough?  What if you believed there is enough? What would be your next step?

It’s November and we are less than 60 days from a new year.  Start 2018 believing you are enough and there is enough.  If you would like support in shifting your mindset, contact me at michele@lifebydesign.guru.

 

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The Art of Leading, Part 2

Leadership is more of an art than a science.  While there may be many laws, principles, techniques needed to lead, their is a fluidity about when and how you use each technique.  That flow is what requires leaders to employ creativity and a mixing of the elements. There is a flow between confidence and humility, giving feedback and being empathetic, listening intently and holding people accountable.  Just like the art in a museum, leaders work with a variety of texture, color, and depth.

Our digital age is designed to give us continual feedback: the dryer buzzes when the clothes are fully dry; the phone bings when an email hits our inbox; the car dashboard chimes when we need to stop for gas. We are constantly receiving feedback or, at least, the feedback is available to us.  This kind of feedback — the kind that does not take into account what else is going on with us — is easy to ignore. Necessary feedback is only as valuable as the empathy that accompanies it.

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Tom Landry, “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear and has you see what you don’t want to see, so that you can be who you’ve always known you can be.”  If we’re never told what’s expected of us, we won’t accomplish the task.  If we misunderstand an instruction and proceed anyway, we need re-direction. Feedback is essential and it’s priceless when it’s pushing us to become more.  We all need to know what we are doing well, what we are not doing well, and how to improve.  Feedback can relieve stress, improve relationships, and promote trust, as long as it’s given from a place of empathy.

Giving feedback involves describing the specific behavior that needs correction; explaining the behavior’s effect; listening from a place of empathy; asking for a change in behavior; reaffirming the person’s ability to make the change; ending on a positive note; and following up later.  Listening with empathy requires tuning into what is being said through body language, tone, and facial expressions, not just words— understanding the bigger picture.  Empathy means being fully present, calling people by name, smiling, encouraging, and showing genuine interest. When feedback is mixed with empathy, it can be fully received. Empathy is an emotional and thinking muscle that becomes stronger the more we use it.

Whatever feedback we give this week, remember we get robotic feedback (buzzs, bings, chimes) all the time that we ignore.  Balancing our feedback with empathy is an art form.

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Words, What Difference Does it Make

A couple in ancient history was unable to bear children, even though they were expected to be the source of an entire nation.  The women’s name, Sarai, meant contentious. For 75 years, when her parents, family, servants and neighbors called out her name, she heard quarrelsome, testy, antagonistic, disagreeable, argumentative.  If you or I were called that for 75 years, we would likely become it.  She probably did too.  At the age of 75, God gave her a new name — Sarah, meaning Princess.  Every time she heard her husband call her Sarah, she heard Mother of Kings.  Not just Mother, but Mother of Kings.  A year later, she gave birth to a son.  In his lineage were several kings. Yes, this was a miracle and it also demonstrates the power of what we speak.       

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Current neuroscience tells us a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.  What?  Are you hearing that? What we say or think can impact our genetic makeup.  The changing of Sarai’s name to Sarah was strategic.  

When we use positive words, we can improve cognitive reasoning and kick-start the motivational centers of the brain. Using negative words prevents the release of chemicals needed for stress management.  Negative words also increase activity in the fear center of our brain.  Do you see a connection to your fears and the negative words that have been spoken about you or to you?

Depending on the words used, functions in the parietal lobe of our brain start to change, changing your perception of both yourself and others.  Over time the structure of your thalamus changes in response to your conscious words, thoughts, and feelings, affecting the way in which you perceive reality.  Certainly, we still need miracles and we also need to pay attention to the words we speak to ourselves and others.

What shift can you make in the words you say daily that will change your perception?   

 

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Why You Need a Sweaty Mob

A 5K.  It was a warm night, the park was over-crowded, when the gun went off many began to run, others walked briskly, at the back of the pack were momma’s pushing strollers.  Sweat flowed freely and mingled often.  The 3.1 miles wasn’t going to be a tremendous challenge for me because I walk 2 miles fairly regularly — alone.  Why anyone needs to gather a mob for the occasion, is beyond my understanding. But I accepted the invitation because it was wrapped in a health challenge.  

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3.1 miles an hour is an average walking speed — 20 minutes a mile.  Knowing that I walk an 18 minute mile on average, my only goal was to do all three miles at the same pace.  Walking 4 mph is an extremely brisk walk, which would be a 15 minute mile.  At the end of the 5K and as a result of the mob, my pace was 16 minutes per mile.  That’s when the light went on — when I had my “aha” moment. This is why you get in the middle of a mob and exchange sweat, even though it sounds unpleasant.   We gather people around us to push us, set the pace for us, cheer us to something beyond what we were expecting of ourselves.  I walked faster that night than I typically do and faster than I planned or hoped for because of the people around me.

Where in life are you walking alone?  What would it look like to put people around you who are pushing the limits, challenging the current pace, expecting more?  

 

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Art of Leading, Part 1

Leadership is more of an art than a science.  While there may be many laws, principles, techniques needed to lead, their is a fluidity about when and how to use each technique.  That flow is what requires leaders to employ creativity and a mixing of the elements. There is an equilibrium between confidence and humility, giving feedback and being empathetic, listening intently and holding people accountable.  Just like the art in a museum, leaders work with a variety texture, color, and depth.

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The delicate balance of true confidence and genuine humility includes understanding the significant value and influence we can have on an individual or organization.  This confidence is not self-serving but focused on making a constructive difference.  This genuine desire to make a powerful difference is balanced with humility — the understanding that we are no better, no more important, than any other team member.  Leaders recognize that nothing significant can be accomplished alone.  Everyone’s attracted to confidence and yet most of us are repelled by arrogance.  

Confident and humble people speak with an assurance and certainty.  They are fueled by small victories and yet they don’t seek attention.  In fact, when given accolades for a specific accomplishment they are quick to point out all the people that worked on that particular project. They are always celebrating the success of others.  They listen more than they speak because they realize no one person can have all the answers.  They are constantly aware that they have more to learn. Because they understand what they are capable of and what their limitation are, they aren’t afraid of being wrong.  Often times, we learn the most from our mistakes.  The art that evolves from the balance of confidence and humility is often called leadership.  

Dave Fleming says, “To start a fire you must both surrender to and tend the flame.” The same dynamic is true in leadership.  Knowing that we have both something to do and something to yield to makes leadership less predictable and more adventurous. 

To explore this topic further, join me for Art of Leading WorkshopMore information here.

Your Design

Your Design

Do you ever feel like your living out a story to a script someone else handed you?  Maybe it's time for you to live and lead from your own design. 

What could you do today to change your story?

Pause for Beauty

I had the privilege of spending five days at Lake Tahoe, a place I’ve never been before.  The beauty is indescribable.  It was often said, “The fabric is thin between heaven and earth at Lake Tahoe.” The view of the enormous lake nestled in the middle of majestic mountains was breath taking.  The co-existence with the wildlife was captivating.  Up early the first morning, I scampered down to the lake over a few boulders, past a bunny undeterred by my presence and into the local blue jay’s territory.  You wonder how I know — they very loudly told me.  As I soaked in the sweet surroundings, I heard an announcement of a bear just above me.  I quickly hiked straight up to a good vantage point where I watched this bear enjoy his berry breakfast.  There is nothing, for me, that compares to this kind of experience with nature — a special connection to the Creator.

Each and every piece of nature invites us to stop and marvel.  Sunrises and sunsets are grand spectacles that happen twice a day mostly unnoticed by people too busy to look. Developing a habit of really noticing the beauty that surrounds us, takes us beyond ourselves. It’s a place to ponder, to create space in our heads, to pause and notice beauty, to absorb peace. Simply gazing at a rose reveals something to us.   

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Addicted to speed and action, we become all about the next transaction rather than experiencing transformation.  The more we pause and take in beauty, the more we can reflect it.  Remember the nature walks you took in preschool, take one this week.  Get outside and walk, pay close attention to the sights, sounds and colors of nature.  Notice what that experience does for you.  In what way does it transform you?

Who Do You Believe You Are?

Michelangelo, painter, sculptor and architect, is one of the greatest artist of all time.  His works are among the most famous in existence.  Michelangelo’s mother claimed to be a descendant of a Countess.  He lived his entire life believing he was connected to the most important family in Europe.  William Wallace, a Michelangelo scholar, says, “. . . when you believe it and everyone around you believes it, it informs your entire persona and that’s how people treat you.” According to Wallace, being of noble descent was fundamental to the way Michelangelo looked at life and art. This belief helped create in him a mindset of success. Much later, historians discovered he was not actually from nobility. What he thought of himself, pushed him to become something more.

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What we believe about ourselves becomes the truth.  Jeff Goins, in his book Real Artists Don't Starve says, “We don’t fake it till we make it.  We believe it till we become it.”  Michelangelo thought, acted, and demanded to be treated like nobility.  As a handful of us were discussing this concept, a colleague of mine said she tells herself, “I am a CEO of a multi-million dollar business.”  This forces her to show up looking different, sounding different and acting different than a women who is in the middle of creating a business on the side.

Who do you believe you are?  It’s informing your entire persona and that’s how people will treat you.   

Also For Me

A friend was at a fundraiser with a lot of generous folks — people who were providing significant funds for an incredible cause.  When he left the fundraiser, he drove into the convenient store next door to fill his very fuel efficient car up with gas.  He glanced back at the parking lot full of the fundraiser’s cars — Lexus, Cadillacs, BMWs, and other luxury cars.  His immediate thought was: “What a waste?”  The rationalization was that they could give so much more, accomplish so much more if they drove a lesser car.  However, they had already given more than he did, already served more people than he had, already changed more lives than he could.  That’s when he recognized his judgement and began to say to himself, “And also for me.”  In other words, when he caught himself judging the accumulation of material things, he would simply acknowledge that he could have that too, if he wanted it.  This immediately moved him out of the judgmental mindset. 

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I started wondering about using this same idea when I see people’s successes.  Instead of groaning about someone’s business success or advance in their physical workout or forward movement in their health or their fortune in good friends, what if I just said, “And also for me.”  Meaning, if I choose to put the work in, I can have that same kind of result.  It refocuses me.  It helps me turn from judgement (where I never meant to be) and take responsibility for my results (where I always thought I was). It’s a simple mindset shift but so impactful.  

Where could you apply this idea in your life?

What's Your Dashboard Telling You

“They’re driving down the road without a dashboard.  They have a brake, an accelerator, a steering wheel but no indicator lights, no speedometer, no gas gauge.”  That’s what the self-proclaimed bean counter sitting next to me at breakfast said, when I asked about the corporations with which he was working.  They are businesses that have grown quickly but find themselves in financial trouble.  Apparently, most of them have no way of gauging how fast they are going, no indicator for when they are starting to over-heat, and no gauge that tells them how much gas is left in the tank.

In college, I drove a blue station wagon whose gauges didn’t work.  I never knew how much gas was in the tank, how fast I was going or when the engine was overheating.  The good news is half of the time it didn’t start, so those things weren’t important.  The bad news is fifty percent of the time I was driving down the road blind.  As a result, walking to the nearest gas station with a gas can in tow became common.    

How do you know when you’re going too fast or not fast enough?  What signals do you get when it’s time to re-fuel?  When do you know things are dangerously close to overheating?

Just like the corporations this CPA works with, we all need a dashboard that gauges our pace, the state of our upkeep and our need for fuel.  There are physical, emotional and behavioral signs that can serve as indicators for speed, maintenance, and fuel.  Shortness of breath, feeling anxious, and continually arriving late announce that it’s time to slow down.  Tension in your muscles, feeling constantly overwhelmed, daily putting out “fires” imply that it’s time for some maintenance. Constant fatigue, feeling emotionally depleted, and having a short fuse signal the need for fuel.  

Some time yesterday, I remember thinking I was low on gas.  This morning on my way to my first appointment, the light that indicates I need gas came on.  There is a gauge that shows me I need gas.  When I ignore it, the light flashes.  I saw the light but hadn't given myself enough time to stop to fill up.  As I was driving down the road, talking on the phone a bell chimed a number of times.  I knew my navigation system was set to silent -- I was surprised that it was chiming at me.  Finally, it dawned on me that was the third warning signal from my dash, attempting to emphasize how desperately I needed gas.  Ignoring the dashboard doesn’t keep us from breaking down on the side of the highway. 

Install your own dashboard and then pay attention to it!  It helps ensure that you will actual get where you are wanting to go.  

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Run Your Own Race

Shelly signed up for a 50-mile race through the woods.  The night before the race it rained. The course was muddy — the type of mud that takes your shoe off.  Maneuvering through the clay mixture on the hills required hanging on to the trees for the climb. After the slippery climb she was all smiles — loving it. Shelly misread a directional sign and repeated the first part of the course, adding 4 miles.  She worked hard at not dwelling on that mistake.  Many of the runners where on their second loop while she was still working on her first one.

She started to get discouraged, seeing no progress and feeling like she’d been on loop number one forever.  After the second aid station, she began to feel nauseous and dizzy.  The last drink she swallowed wasn’t agreeing with her.  As she neared the end of the first loop, the crowd was already thinning out.  She had two more 16.6 mile loops and that sounded impossible.  Maybe this wasn’t her race — perhaps the best plan was to drop out.  

After the first loop, she refueled, changed her socks and started running agin.  At the first aid station, she was pleased with her decision to continue.  She had her second wind.  In the next section of the course, she fell apart again.  Finally, she’d made it to the last loop.  The first half of that loop went well.  By the second aid station, her body ached, feet ached, mental strength waned with 8 miles still to go.  By the time she arrived at the final aid station, she was nearing the cutoff time of 16 hours.  She never planned on needing that much time.  The final four miles, a friend walked in front of her and one behind her in an effort to get her to walk faster.  There was no more running.

A few hundred yards to the finish she managed to run.  She ran in with only 8 seconds to spare.  She was dead last and it felt awesome. 

Don’t compare your race to anyone else’s, run your own race!

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