So You Think You Know

“It is by teaching that we teach ourselves, by relating that we observe, by affirming that we examine, by showing that we look, by writing that we think, by pumping that we draw water into the well.“
–Henri Frederic Amiel

We all need one to one contact with others. It doesn’t matter what personality type, what you do for a living, or what your level of intimacy with others is, we all need that personalized touch. Yes, even me, who at times seems so self-sufficient (and by the way, it’s people like me that need the nurturing more than most!).

Ok, I’ll admit it, I love to hug. There is something about that physical exchange of energy that satiates a need from deep inside of me. I don’t want to get all philosophical and say it’s because my mother didn’t coddle me enough or that I blah blah blah. No, I just want to leave it that simple: to feel nurtured and loved, I need hugs, and lots of them, frequently.

I realized this week that this one to one personal connection satisfies a need for feeling heard, of worth, and important. This intimacy, whether it’s physical from a hug, or emotional by sharing parts of one’s own personal journey, removes the barriers that are so easy to put up between myself and others. And helps to quell the fear that I might make a bad decision for not having the best judgment on trusting one of my reps in the field.

After having some difficult conversations with one of my reps as we transition to new leadership, I found that spending a few days walking side by side into client’s offices, braving the fierce cold and slippery sidewalks, there was a newfound understanding of each other and empathy for the other person. Once we personalized ourselves to each other, the conversations came easier, and a level of respect and appreciation for what the other does was reached.

So I started to think about all the times that it has been easier to dismiss another out of hand without learning more about them, the situation, or their plight. It’s easier to walk by a homeless person if you don’t give them a name, or see them as another human being, a child of God. No, it’s easier to remain distant if you dehumanize them. And I’m embarrased to say, that’s exactly what I can do with my co-workers, leading to a non-sympathetic response from me at times.

Just for today I will spend the extra time to listen, and learn from my fellows, holding off judgment.

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Twinkle Twinkle I See A Star

“When life give you lemons…pucker up!!”

Sometimes you just never know what will come your way. Staying open, positive, and adventuresome can turn a challenging situation into the opportunity of a lifetime. Little did I know today when I woke up to fog (yes, in Phoenix, a rare sight) that I would be delayed on my flight out, only to run into Al Roker and Joe Namath in the Admirals Club.

Now I’m not much of a celebrity hound, but it certainly did get my heart beating a little faster when I approached them both for a photo. Here’s the rub: I’ve been away all week this week and last for work, so the opportunity to go and hang out waiting for chance encounters with celebrities was nullified. So what did the Universe put in my path for my patience and passing on pouting? A star-studded flight delay.

Yes, God has a sense of humor, and He likes to show it to me in the most unlikely of places!!

I had a friend post on Facebook the other day screaming at the visitors to our town for not driving the way he felt they should. Focus on the bad, and what does the Universe say, “OK, here you go, you are right!“ But spend time relishing in the revenue pumped into our local economy, jobs created or expanded, with all the Super Bowl activities and suddenly that frustration turns into gratitude. What a great chance for a single mother trying to support her family as a waitress in a restaurant downtown, that had a usually average week turn into a gold mine with business quadrupled!

And then there’s the disappointment I felt when I didn’t have the energy yesterday to go to the NFL experience with my fiance because I was just too tired and needed to fly out again for work this morning. When I focused on what disappointment I may have caused, I missed the gratitude for a job that I love which requires me to travel so much, and provide for us.

So do I really think I have control over another person’s happiness? Because that’s just crazy.

When you get a chance today, take a fresh perspective on a situation that is causing you discomfort, and ask, ’Where is the gratitude in this, or the lesson I am to learn.‘ You just might be amazed by what you find!!

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Am I A Clown To You?

“Not my circus, not my monkeys“
-Anon

If there is one thing I’ve learned over the course of my journey to understand myself better and not be reactive to situations out of my control is to accept things as they are, not as I wish them to be.

Every day it seems that I am being taught the same lesson, just in different settings, with different characters making up the script. The more I try to control outcomes, and influence how others feel about circumstances, the less my serenity and sanity level. I think this will be a lifelong journey.

After spending a week with my sales team at our National Training Meeting it became even more apparent that when I place my level of happiness in the hands of others, the more miserable the result. I don’t need to give away my power to others to use and manipulate for their own gain.

Not only is it unhealthy to give away control of my happiness, but it leads to frustration and animosity, that only contributes to the negativity of the situation.

I’ve said it hundreds of times (if not more): that which I focus on grows. If I choose to notice all the things that aren’t ideal, more of the less than favorable situations will appear in my life. But if I choose to pay attention to the little miracles that are around, they expand and begin to fill my experience to a greater extent.

But not only do I do myself a disservice when I choose to focus on the less than ideal, it’s not fair to my employees, colleagues, or even customers. My state of mind and attitude greatly influence my actions, whether it be through my words, or just the energy that I give off. I wear my emotions on my sleeve, and others can easily read it. To be the most effective I can be, I have to have my mind right, then the body and actions can follow.

Just for today I will keep my attitude and actions inside my hula hoop and allow the circus that sometimes goes on around me to do so without my assistance.

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Seventy times Seven

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.“
–Oscar Wilde

Sometimes I can get pretty tired of having to be the bigger person, forgiving those who have harmed me, turning the other cheek and all that BS. But you know what? I realized this morning that I don’t do this for the sake of the other person, I do it for my own sanity.

There’s one sure way to get me riled up: attack my family (chosen or blood). The easiest way for me to forget to stay calm and be rational is to have someone do something to one’s close to me, that I love, and suddenly I have this chivalrous Middle Ages sense of defending their honor.

It sounds kind of silly, now doesn’t it?

But it’s true, I don’t always make the best decisions in those circumstances of an elevated emotional state.

I don’t think there’s any coincidence that at our yearly focus on a particular spiritual principle that I ’chose‘ the piece of paper that spoke about forgiveness. Sure, I can say with my mouth that I really forgave individuals this past year, but did I really?

There are a few circumstances that come to mind, and truthfully, my gut says no, I have not truly forgiven.

The first is work related (big surprise there for those that know me well). My now former boss left in October to work for a direct competitor. I have to be honest here, my initial reaction of ’good riddance‘ to what I considered an inconsistent work ethic and a questionable ability to be fair really shook me to the core because I thought he was the type of boss that I wanted to be. I was initially attracted to his style. And truth be told, I still haven’t truly forgiven him for just being who he is.

How can you first, need to, and subsequently have to, forgive someone for who they are?

Baffling!!!

Then there’s the forgiveness to all those who appeared to derail “my“ time in leadership at the church that I love. Who am I to think that I know what is best for the church? Very presumptuous of me.

So today was a day of true epiphany and revelation. Who knew Jonah walking away from his calling by God would bring all that out of me today.

I am blessed indeed!!

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Take a Moment

“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”
—Lou Holtz

It is so easy to get caught up in the emotions of any situation. At the time, the pressing need right in front of my eyes makes me want to react, and take decisive action, to show that I know what I’m doing and make sure people respect who I am. LOL, now that’s a joke, all ‘quick and decisive’ action gets me is adding more work to my plate to ask for forgiveness from others.

So often I find myself emotionally involved with a situation more than I should be. There are no more acute examples of this than with work. An event happens, I have a fear that it will negatively affect me personally, and I want to ‘do’ something, when more often than not, inaction or a delayed action would be more appropriate.

But there’s the rub, when something does happen, if I don’t feel, I am not engaging in the situation. But someone taught me a long time ago, it’s just a feeling, it doesn’t require any action.

Sage words indeed!

More often than not, taking a breath, stepping back from the situation and allowing a response to form rather than a reaction is the more prudent thing to do. Yet I forget this very easily, and have to re-learn the lesson over and over again. At least now I recognize when I am in an elevated situation and realize that I do have a choice to engage or walk away.

So what I am learning today is to respond to situations. To listen to another and allow them to express themselves, let them know that I am hearing what they are saying, and coming up with a response and getting back to them at a later date and time, this is the way to handle situations with grace and maturity.

I find the most challenge with remaining calm and cool when I am too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. So I need to be aware when that is my present state, and act accordingly.

Just for today I will take a breath, count to five, and allow myself the opportunity to give space and time for a response to form.

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As We…

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

There are so many blessings in my life, not a day goes by without me acknowledging them in my morning meditation and again when my head hits the pillow at night. It’s that whole time in between that gets me caught up.

One of the most challenging phrases for me live by is in the Lord’s Prayer. It says that we are to be forgiven “AS WE” forgive those who have harmed us. “AS WE”-are you kidding me? I can only be forgiven as much as I am willing to forgive those who have harmed me? Now that’s a tall order for sure.

I don’t think there’s any setting, at least that I am aware, where some of the most egregious violations of personal space, boundaries, and just plain good sense happen, than when dealing with church business. It doesn’t surprise me at all that the institution of church is slowing dying. Young people, and even some long in the tooth, just don’t care to deal with the hypocrisy that is carried out in the name of the church.

I could go on a diatribe about the Crusades, and the Inquisition, and the like, but today is not about a history lesson. It is about acknowledging that some of the most broken people find their way to church, and that a small percentage of those individuals do not get much better, even after some time. The challenge is when they behave in a way that is harmful to others.

No one likes change…ok, that’s a blanket statement that might be a little extreme, but I bet if we rounded up everyone that was reading this blog knows, we could count them on one hand. Not those that profess they like change for the sake of impressing a boss, or appearing to be enlightened, but truly embrace change with joy and expectation, rather than the typical human condition of fear.

So as I am personally challenged by others’ misbehavior that glares a shining light on their defects of character, I am reminded that I need to focus not so much that needs to be changed with the world (and other people), but what needs to change in me.

I was taught a long time ago to pray for those that you want to spew venom at, that they may have all that I hope for.

I’m not that enlightened yet.

I guess I’ll have to settle for not limiting the amount of damage I create, and in turn, allow them to continue to cause, living rent free in my head.

I am not a perfect man, and no one is. Therein lays the forgiveness I need to find. May God help me to do so.

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I Promise

“Freedom is not the absence of commitments, but the ability to choose – and commit myself to – what is best for me.”
― Paulo Coelho

There are times in life that God calls us to step outside of our comfort zone and embrace the challenge of growth. More often than not I heed the call, usually after a few slaps upside the head by the virtual two by four, but heed nonetheless. The great news for me is that I can build on past experience with these opportunities for growth, and don’t have to start from the place of blind faith which was required of me in the beginning of my spiritual journey.

I find lately that my patience is not what it could be. More often than not, when I take an honest and objective look at the root cause of my disturbance, it has more to do with a decision that I have made, more than the outside agitator of the situation.

I have been on ‘vacation‘ this week, and yes, the quotes are intentional. Rather than excusing myself from checking email and engaging my sales reps, I am choosing to continue to be connected. I’m not sure if it has to do with the fear of ‘missing out‘ on something or the newness of my current position, but my ability to disengage has been difficult.

So when I get contacted by one of my sales reps asking about a year-end deal, and I choose to engage, I get frustrated. But the frustration shouldn’t be directed at them, but rather at myself. I am the one choosing to not honor my vacation time. I am the one not allowing myself to relax and recharge. I am the one who can’t give up the reins of control.

PHEW!! That felt really good telling on myself just now.

Isn’t that what growth is all about? Recognizing the behavior that I wish to change, and commiting to make that change a reality.

Now the trick is to not feel guilty for keeping my commitment…to myself…for the betterment of all involved.

Just for today I will honor my vacation!!

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