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Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

angry peopleWhy are we so angry?

In the past week we’ve watched as our politicians, sports stars and entertainers have behaved in disrespectful and angry ways.

And these are just the public displays of rudeness.  Have you noticed that people don’t respond to invitations anymore?  Don’t call back or respond to emails?  Feel it’s perfectly acceptable to “say what’s on their mind,” regardless of what it is? Be ignored in stores and even in doctor’s offices?

Several weeks ago I had to have a nerve test done in my arm.  I arrived several minutes early for my appointment and approached the desk.  The receptionist was busy chatting with two of the nurses.  Even when she finally noticed my presence, she didn’t acknowledge me in any way…not even a nod.  I timed it, it took seven minutes for her to finally recognize my presence.

To make matters worse, as he was conducting my nerve test, the doctor both took and made cell phone calls?

It seems that anger and rudeness has become an acceptable form of human expression. Civility, respect, courtesy, compassion, empathy, all seem gone from the U.S. society.  We see it in politics (whatever happened to responsible disagreement?) and political campaigns, in road rage, at  school board meetings, in doctor’s offices.  Sadly, everywhere.

And in most of these cases, there’s little or no apology or regret.  If there’s any at all, it’s merely lip service, and often with back-tracking (“I’m sorry people were upset, but I stand behind my position.”)  What’s going on?

Is this merely the next incarnation of the decline of civility?

It used to be that people went to great extremes to be civil…they actually wrote thank you notes. Returned phone calls.  Responded to invitations.  Chatted politely, at least in public.  Then we went through a recent phase were it was almost politically correct to create a scandal, apologize publicly, have to resign, then write a book about it.  [There’s even a new television show based on this premise…The Good Wife.] Now they go straight from scandal and pat apology to writing the book…no need to resign.

When did socially acceptable public behavior become a dinosaur?  Was it the gossip magazines that made celebrities out of the scandalous…an extreme example of no publicity being bad publicity?  Is it a backlash to the decades of Political Correctness?

I’m not sure of the reasons we have descended to such bad behavior, I only know that it’s reached a crescendo pitch.  But maybe that’s a good thing…maybe we needed to hit bottom before we can begin to return to being respectful and civil again.

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The Falling Man…a window on 9/11

Much will be said today in remembrance of 9/11.  This powerful documentary of the search for one falling man brings home once again the very personal tragedy this continues to be. 

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I was talking to my friend Natalie Tucker Miller and we talked about how summer was ending, meaning a return to “normal” after residing in a summer state of mind.  Here’s the thing though…we both work for ourselves.  We don’t have to work Monday-Friday, 9-5.  We can choose when, where and how we work.  We could have a summer state of mind all year!

What is a summer state of mind?

Well, at it’s most literal, it’s long days of daylight, barbecues and picnics, no school, and summer vacations.  But really it’s a mindset, I believe hearkening back to our own school days when summer meant freedom.  Pushing open those doors on that last day of school meant endless days of adventure, play and day-dreaming.

It’s no wonder that even when we’re all grown up, leading responsible lives, we still see summer as a time to slow down the pace and step up enjoyment of life.  So what’s to stop us from doing that all year long?

I’m thinking that we could learn a lot from children about how to live in a summer state of mind.  Every day would bring the opportunity to have an adventure, look at life with curiosity, discover new things, savor an ice cream cone–one slow lick at a time.  We’d look for every opportunity to laugh and tell silly stories and jokes.  Ask our friends to come out and play.  We’d try to catch the rain with our tongue, step into puddles to see them ripple, and dance barefoot in the grass. We’d live in the moment…reveling in the sun, watching the clouds, swinging in a hammock with no cares.  Most important, we’d view life with a “why not” attitude, believing all things were possible.

So come Labor Day in the U.S. I’m going to embrace being a grown-up and act like a child with a summer state of mind all year long.

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Patience is the greatest of all virtues. Cato the Elder (234 BC – 149 BC)

Last week, I wrote about starting where you are, and from there, taking it one step at a time as you begin to gain clarity and evolve.  The challenge for many, me included, is to take it slowly and not get impatient because the pace of change is not fast enough.

It’s so easy to fall into a pattern of wanting instant gratification even with our personal growth; but it’s important to remember that we shouldn’t rush things and allow them to blossom in their own time.  You wouldn’t run a marathon without putting in the necessary hours of training, nor should you push yourself to make changes in yourself or your environments too quickly.  That’s true whether you’re trying to perfect a new skills, lose weight, find a mate, or change an environment.  You have to give yourself time.

Take me for example…and my impatience with meditation.  Even though it’s just been a few days of listening to Zero Limits, I find it’s getting easier to allow myself to relax and focus my attention in the present (most of the time.)  I’m tapping into my long ago TM training, and when I find myself slipping into thinking about what I need to be doing instead, I gently bring my thoughts back to the meditation.

When you practice patience, whether it’s with yourself, other people, or even technology, you give yourself the space to breathe, to notice your surroundings, to listen intently.  To be totally and completely focused on the moment.

There are other benefits of practicing patience.  You’ll find yourself less stressed and less frustrated.  You’ll make fewer mistakes, and make better decisions, since slowing things down gives you time to see other possibilties.

So the next time you’re feeling impatient, whether it’s with your computer, the sales clerk who is waiting for a price check, or with someone who is irritating you, take a moment to stop.  Recognize what you’re feeling, and take a few, slow breaths as you consciously tell yourself to relax and have patience.  And have patience with yourself as you practice being patient.  You’ll like the result.

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My hair's not perfectI’m not perfect.  (And have never claimed to be, except maybe to my children when they were young.)  So I’m not sure if it’s flattering or funny that I’ve received several emails from people reading this blog, saying something along the lines of “it’s such a relief to know that even you aren’t perfect.”

No, I’m not…and I would never want to be.  Seems like way to much to live up to; not to mention dull.  Imagine always having to be perfectly dressed, coifed (I’ve always loved that word) and made up.  Always having to be utterly correct.  Never saying an even slightly bad word. Never slouching.  Never grouchy.  It would be like being the always sunny Southern California of people…I think the sameness would be boring.  I like a little rain.

If I thought I was perfect, I’d never want/need to grow.  Never need to learn anything new.  Never want to be better at anything….or at life.

If I thought I was perfect, wouldn’t I always be right?  How exhausting would that be?

Perfection can be paralyzing. Seeking perfection means always looking for what’s wrong.  Imagine if you were building a house, and refused to move in until it was perfect.  You might never move in.  What might you be more willing to attempt if you didn’t have to do it perfectly?

Without needing to be perfect or do things perfectly, it’s easier to take risks, be creative, be fearless.  I can freely admit that I am TERRIBLE at meditating.  But getting better thanks to my dear friend Stephen Josephs who is coaching me along (and told me not to try to meditate perfectly I might add.)  Still, I admit that even with the guided meditation in the Zero Limit DVD I am listening to morning and evening, my mind is impatient and wandering, counting down to when I can stop and get on with whatever is next.  I’m working on it.

Not being perfect is what makes us all unique and interesting instead of Stepford People.  So go be your beautiful, imperfect self.  And that’s just perfect.

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Polar Assessment completed!  All in all, I fared better than I expected to.  The interesting thing was that the young (younger than my eldest child) personal trainer seemed to think I’d judge myself, and kept reassuring me that everyone started out with a less than stellar assessment.  I assured him that I had no delusions that I was ready to run a marathon or enter a triathalon (or even run down the street for that matter.)  I was more than willing to start where I am, and work at getting stronger and leaner bit by bit.

It may seem like an obvious thing to do…starting where you are.  But I have to say I have seen way too many people start in the past or the future.

Those that start in the past, hold on to old goals that may no longer serve them, old hurts which can be energy vampires, negative beliefs that are huge obstacles towards moving forward.  Those that start in the future are often focused on “someday’, “when I find the perfect job, the perfect spouse…”,  pipe dreams (when I win the lottery or Hollywood discovers me) , or even worse, fears about the future which not only prevent them from moving forward, they preclude living in the present as well.

So how do we stay focused in the now?  Start by noticing when negative thoughts come up.  Are they based on mistakes or beliefs from the past?  Are they fears about the future?  In either case, how are they preventing you from moving forward right now?

Instead of dwelling on what might have been or might yet be, what would happen if you decided to start where you are right now, and move forward from there?  What’s the first thing you can do?  And the next?  Just keep focused on the now and doing the very best you can.  That’s all anyone can expect of you.  That’s what I’m doing.

To paraphrase Thomas Leonard, I’m always doing my best, even when I’m not.

And that’s just perfect.

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bulb2 I’m rethinking life balance.

That’s mainly because of late, I don’t seem to have much.  Now that’s a scary admission for a coach!

Now don’t get me wrong….it’s not that I don’t have much of a personal life, it’s that my personal life and my professional one seem to be merging.  While I do have friends outside the realm of the personal development and coaching world, more of my friends come from “my tribe” and we have great fun working and playing together.  Swapping book ideas, sharing tidbits gleaned from workshops and webinars. Learning from each other.  Learning the ins and outs of social media together.  Swapping YouTube videos of Susan Boyle and The Big Mind.

And that’s not the only place life has merged.  The three to four conferences I attend or put on each year, plus the additional ones of my aforementioned colleagues/friends that I am invited to speak at or attend, have become increasingly personal.  More a reunion of friends and meeting new folks of the tribe than work.

I can be as eager to speak to clients and work on projects with my colleagues (I rarely do any project alone anymore…it’s much more fun with a friend) as I am to go to the movies or have lunch with a local friend.  It’s no longer work vs play.

What I am moving towards is the idea that there is a higher ideal than work-life balance, and that’s to work-life integration.  And sometimes that may be “off-balanced”, as it is right now where I am in the countdown days to my annual Conversation Among Masters conference, finishing up an ebook on Creating Your Life Plan, planning fund raising activities for my non-profit, and a wild (yes wild, in addition to wide) variety of other activities I’m involved in.  So I’m juggling faster than usual as a few deadlines approach.  But it’s grand.

And I’m still looking forward to dinner and a movie with friends this weekend. Perhaps some extreme self-care as well.

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