Monthly Archives: March 2015

Go All The Way


If we hold back for fear of getting hurt, do we hurt any less when the relationship does not work out?  If we hold back from giving our all to hit a goal, do we feel any less disappointed if we miss the mark?  If we temper our excitement about a possibility, do we really protect ourselves from feeling deflated?

How does pessimism help temper our pain?  How does doubt, fear or reservation protect us?  Protect us from what? What other than the past, and our thoughts dwelling there, has built up these walls of fear?

If we learn to heal thoughts about what happened to us and the meaning we’ve attached to those events, then we begin to trust again.  Who is it that we learn to trust?  When we change our thoughts, the world has stayed the same. We begin to understand that true power, courage and strength reside in our vulnerability.  We are mistaken if we believe our vulnerability is our liability; for it is fear!


Is it possible that fear locks us into our past?  If we close off our deepest self, then we isolate our ability to connect in a deep and meaningful way.  We become rather busy, while doing very little.  We sweat the small stuff, after all people can’t be trusted, so we are sure they our ‘out to get us’.  We expect a hook with each kind gesture.  We wait to be betrayed, because in our mind it’s only a matter of time.

Perhaps there is a hook in every kind gesture.  What if we choose to enjoy the gesture anyway.  Perhaps everyone is going to betray us, in some way, eventually.  Do we fail to enjoy their loyalty while we have it?  How does stifling our emotions do anything other than make us hard and bitter?  When we are hard, who enjoys our company for very long? Who wishes to invest in us, when it’s obvious we have invested so little in ourselves?


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Greatness From Within


Greatness is not a word we hear much about.  Do many people even strive for greatness?  There is a difference between great actions and egos who want recognition for how great they think they are.

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What do you think?


“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

What sets us apart but our thoughts?  Someone sees each shot (missed or made) as a way to improve their game.  Another person thinks “why bother I’ve missed 9,000 times?” and both are right.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” – Henry Ford.

When we ‘miss’ an opportunity to ‘make it’ we have learned something if we chose to think about the ‘miss’ in those terms.  People with regret often recount the 9,000 missed shots. What would it look like if they believed those shots helped them refine their skill?  What would it look like if they chose to forgo regret, and instead embrace the idea they have been given 9,000 opportunities to learn?

Maybe we only truly fail when we fail to learn something.  Maybe this failure to learn keeps setting us up to make the same mistakes over and over.  We need but look at our life to see if this is possible.  Do we have the same patterns in our relationships, reactions and world view?  So how do we break those patterns?  How do we shift out of old thoughts that keep us stuck.

1.  We stop thinking people or ‘life’ are doing anything to us. Other people’s actions and reactions is about them and has nothing whatsoever to do with us.  My daughter made a smoothie tonight and it blew up all over the kitchen.  An old thought pattern could be “why is she doing this to when I’m so tired.”  A new thought pattern could be, “yep I’ve done that before too, it’s a right to passage when using a blender.”  Which thought pattern has the power to bring me closer to my daughter?  Perhaps that is the one I hang onto if I want to be joyful.

2.  We decide that we have the power to change our thoughts.  Someone attacks us and we may think “what did I do wrong”?  We may also think “people are so angry they are always lashing out and here is more evidence”.  Instead, we can flip our thinking.  We may want to consider what the course teaches us “an attack is a cry for help”.  We may think “this person may be afraid or stressed”.  Maybe we just accept that is just how they chose to be and no matter what we were are doing they are looking for an unconscious excuse to discharge their anger.  When we consider these possibilities, we are able to step away from their reaction and be non-reactive.

3.  We can chose to be joyful.  When something happens, we may chose to see it as another opportunity for learning.  Sometimes we may get the lesson right away.  Other times, we may have to practice over and over before we notice our skills improving.  In either case, we can choose to be joyful and recognize that nothing is happening to us.  This lesson is for us.  It is for our learning and improvement.

In my early twenties I had a tumor on my thyroid and had surgery to remove it.  In my 30’s I had to have emergency surgery for a life threatening condition.  In my early 40’s I was hospitalized for another life threatening condition.  In all three cases, my thoughts were about learning and understanding my conditions so that I could take better care of myself.  I did not dwell into “why me” or self pity.  These were challenges, and yet behind the challenge, was the idea that I could learn something new.  As a result, I have radically change my understanding of how to take care of myself.

Taking action to protect my health takes more time and energy than most people have to invest.  I embrace this work as something that just ‘is’ and get on with living my life.  I could have let these setbacks be an excuse to stop taking care of myself.  I could have gone down a path of giving up and letting those set backs spiral me into a myriad of health problems.

When my daughter almost died, and was in a coma for 10 days, at the age of 4, I was able to use the wisdom I had gained to help her recover.  If I had bailed out on my health, I may not have known what she needed.  In that moment, 20 years of life experience and learning gave me the skills to help her on a deep and fundamental level.  What would her story had been, if my own thought pattern had been different?

“A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes.  It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.” – Wade Boggs.

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Fulfillment “satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s abilities or character”.

We may think things outside ourselves can bring us the fulfillment we seek.  By definition fulfillment is the result of fully developing our abilities or character.

When we are willing to stretch past what we thought was possible, we are creating fulfillment in our lives.  We are doing those things others predetermine are not possible; so they don’t even try.  We are testing the boundaries of our own perseverance and belief system.

“I can accept failure, but I cannot accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan

When we are willing to do this, we push past old limits, break world records, and invent things people didn’t conceive possible.  Not all of us will go down in history for our accomplishments, but we can put mindful intent into our good work and create fulfillment for ourselves.

We can take that project we didn’t really want to do and decide to do our good work with joy.  We can feel a deep sense of satisfaction for our efforts.  We can smile when we are down, call someone to offer support when we feel the need for support, and embrace life’s challenges as an opportunity for learning.

“There is joy in work.  There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.” – Henry Ford

After all what is the alternative?  Do we begrudge someone in need because we feel our need is greater?  Do we withhold our affection because we feel disappointed in someone’s effort. Where does this get us?  Does it help us feel closer to do this or even more disconnected?  Does it help us see the beauty in life or only turn our attention to all things irritating?

“Work is love made visible.  And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.” – Kahlil Gibran.

So why not smile, put our best effort forward and break away; especially when we think we are too busy.  Will this not renew our energy?  Will this not make that impossible project possible?  Is it possible we can create our own fulfillment by changing our thinking?

What thoughts will you allow your mind to dwell on today? What areas of your life are you willing to stretch yourself instead of looking for the outside world to change?  What are you willing to change to create fulfillment in your life?


Categories: accountability, change, changing our thoughts, conflict, conflict resolution, empowerment, enilghtenment, first world problems, goal setting, gratitude, happiness, health, hope, insanity, Joy, Lose Weight, mental chatter, parenting, Peace, Serenity, spiritual development, spirituality, trust | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Leaders vs Managers


How can we attract and retain leadership?  In our own families, how can we inspire leadership in our children?  How can we create strategic partnerships in our marriage?  When top leaders are thwarted, companies become stagnant and produce a cold and impersonal work environment; usually with unhappy people and/or a high turn over rate.  This often results in top leaders being so stifled, they eventually leave.

The death of leadership begins with processes, policies and managers stuck on those systems above relationship building.  Managers are often ‘focused on technicalities and processes being right’. Technicalities and being right usually doesn’t bring people close or closer to gaining understanding.  We need only look at our relationships with our spouses to see this tactic will not get us very far!

So how do we shift our culture?  How do we create space for leadership and attract top talent? How do we shift our companies/children/marriages and ourselves toward a leadership model so can we can grow?

In companies, it starts with the on-boarding process.  Do we have interview questions designed to attract leaders?  Do we know how to identify them or what qualities they possess?  One way to determine someone’s style, is to provide an essay style questionnaire for them.  It takes some understanding of language to know what language to look for.  Not only do leaders see things differently they also use different language.

Managers use words like: Problems, Fix, Breakdowns and Blame.

Mangers see problems that need to be fixed.  They see breakdowns as a fault of a person, and look for someone to blame.  Once they fix the problem, and identify some person to blame, then they have a strong need to be identified for their hard work. They often work harder than most others in the company, because they believe they have to.  They are so busy seeing problems everywhere.  They spend most of their time addressing problems, and that is how they prove their value or worth.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

The language of leaders:  Challenges, Opportunities, Breakthroughs and Growth.

Leaders see challenges instead of problems.  Challenges are temporary circumstances that present themselves and then creative solutions are worked out to a breakthrough.  They believe breakdowns are simply a step in the process to breakthroughs.  Breakdowns often times cultivate relationships, lead to personal and professional growth, and uncover creative ways to move forward and grow.

“We are here to put a dent in the universe.  Otherwise why else even be here?” – Steve Jobs

Unfortunately, without a strong hiring process, we often don’t realize who the leaders vs managers are until we’ve hired them.  We also may not have training programs and ongoing leadership opportunities to grow talent.  We need to be the teacher by our example, create space for talent to rise on their own, and minimize the impact managers have, by training managers on how we want them to respond and why.  This takes time, but it’s worth the investment.

In fact, we may be able to help a manager grow their leadership talent.  This does happen when someone comes from a very rigid policy driven background but is ready for a more creative opportunity. An example would be to give them an assignment and explain we are not going to give them much direction.  We explain we want to give them the space to be creative and we also pointedly make them aware this is how we would like them to lead their teams.  We only give them an outline of what is needed and a completion date.  This is a great way to see where team members fall into the manager / leader category.

Loose parameters drive a manager crazy, and a leader into a creative tangent yielding all kinds of new possibilities.  

We must constantly remind managers the key to managing people is to be gentle.  Managers tend to give very abrupt and abrasive responses “our policy is we do not offer that, you do not have the authority to do that, I want to warn you, I want to caution you, I’m not saying you do this but people may think….”

This is not only the response of managers but also people who don’t want to create more work for themselves.  This is the response of a C player who does not want to explore options any further and wants to check this nuisance off their do list.

We need to be mindful that managers see problems.  So before we fall into the web of ‘whack a mole’ with them, we can learn to ask them questions like “how would you handle this, how would you share information with the goal of building a relationship with your team, is this something worth focusing on or does the bigger picture seem handled?”  By asking them questions, we enroll them in the leadership process, rather than become reactive or focus on problems with them without realizing it.

“90% of the game is half mental.” – Yogi Berra

At home, with our children, and our spouses, the key to developing strategic partnerships with our at home team is the same at work.

1. Ask questions.  So often we try to fix or solve.  Most times when our spouse or children come to us they are looking to strategize.  They want us to listen and by asking them good questions we can gain understanding about what they are thinking and how they are feeling without making assessments and then trying to fix a problem.  If our assessment is not accurate both parties may leave the conversation feeling frustrated.

2.  Share personal examples.  Too often people give advice.  Do this or don’t do this.  Instead we can share this is what happened to me and this is what I did.  In this way we learn more about each other. We stop being the authority or dictator and become the partner and leader.  One day my daughter was upset by being bossed around by her older sister.  I shared a story about when I was little and my older step sister upset me.  She laughed and hugged me.  By sharing my story, I let her know that I understood how she was feeling.

3.  Let things ‘season’.  We often times feel like we need a conclusion.  Sometimes we just need to talk and let the information season.  My rule is at least one night of sleep before revisiting a challenge. Sometimes, it’s 3 days.  There are very few decisions that must be made instantly and yet in order to check off the to do list we often give a knee jerk response.  I personally keep a list so they stay on the radar, but I prefer to make decisions in a calm space instead of ‘under fire’.

“Time has a way of showing us what really matters.” – anonymous.




Categories: accountability, change, changing our thoughts, conflict, conflict resolution, empowerment, enilghtenment, first world problems, goal setting, gratitude, happiness, health, hope, insanity, Joy, Lose Weight, mental chatter, parenting, Peace, Serenity, spiritual development, spirituality, trust, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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