Category: personal development

Attention Is the Rarest & Purest Form of Generosity

31 January 2008 31/366 Watching the 2nd season of The Wire. "Sometimes things got to play hard".

What does love look like?

Let’s talk about how we show people that we care. Do we buy things for them? Do we cook for them? Clean up after them? Provide a home? All of these things take a lot of time… and energy.

Attention, the rarest of commodities

What is one of the most important (and ‘cheapest’) things we can do for our children, spouse, friends, relatives, employees?

We can listen to them. Look them in the eye and give them our full attention. Try to do it for one full minute. Is it difficult? Do you feel like you ‘should’ be doing something else? email, texts, reading, exercising, paperwork, etc.

Giving someone our full attention isn’t easy in the age of distraction. Check out this terrific post by the wonderful Beth Kanter on improving focus (simple ideas to practice) when there’s too much going on.

Practice

Just for today, pick one person. Turn everything off. Sit down with them and ask them a question and then listen to the answer.  Can you repeat back to them what they said? Did you really hear them? Were you able to ask follow up questions? Did you understand how they felt, whether they told you or not? Be generous with your ATTENTION, with the people who mean the most to you. Let me know how it goes.

Image credit: Listen closely   photographer credit: 20 questions

Quote credit: Simone Weil Image credit: Quotesville.net   

I Hate Being A Grown Up, Maturity is Overrated

Maturity means:
Be Strong not Stubborn
Firm not Harsh
Flexible not Fickle
Humble not Proud
Helpful not Showy
Affectionate not Hurtful
Annoyed not Resentful
The Glue and not the Crack
Being You yet Accepting others
Brave yet Grateful
Helpful yet Modest
Right yet Wrong
Successful yet Grounded
Angry yet Composed
There are a lot of benefits to being a grown up and there’s a bunch of sh*t too. In reading this ‘definition’ of maturity, I was struck by the list of ‘opposites. “be the glue, not the crack.” The reality is that sometimes we are the crack. No matter how hard we try NOT to be. It’s complicated to be right yet wrong, successful and grounded, firm and not harsh.
The reality is that some of us will mature more fully. Lots of things get in the way of being mature… #1 is ego and I equate a big ego to someone who isn’t confident. They push and pull their way through life. The sharp edges never wear off. No. Matter. What.
My favorite saying on this list and the one I’ve worked hard on is “angry yet composed.” Being raised a ‘girl,’ I was taught, shown and constantly reinforced – girls don’t get angry. It’s ok for boys, after all, they’re boys. (Yeah, I feel sick too). Growing up in a very dysfunctional home, it was easy to be angry. I was good at it. I had a lot of practice. so what was I supposed to do with it. Channel it into new lipsticks and hairdos?
Remember, I was born before the legislation that changed the lives of American women forever, Title IX (pros and cons article). The law that sports had to be equal for men and women. Prior to Title IX, sports were not available to women. Hell, we’ve only had the right to vote since August 26, 1920. 95 years! There are women alive today who couldn’t vote in the early part of their lives. It’s hard for me to imagine.
So now that traditional outlets for learning, growing, understanding winning and losing, choosing our own destiny, etc. are available to us, finding a way to be angry and composed is easier. Not easy, but at least today, I’ve got a clue.

Against the Wind

When I take my dog outside and it’s windy … she stops and puts her face directly into the wind, even if it’s cold outside. It’s like she’s thinking, this wind is awesome … life is good.

In Paul Simon’s song, “I Know What I Know,” he uses the phrase.. “who am I blow against the wind?”

I take the lyrics to mean… “if you say so.” If you think I’m rich, a loser, a genius, a nut job… who am I to try to change your mind? It implies a passive attitude toward life. For me, that takes a lot of energy. Of course, it takes energy to stand up, speak up and challenge also. Sometimes we are greeted with a sh*tstorm. Sometimes we are patted on the head. Sometimes we help make a difference.

Rocker Bob Seger sang a song called, “Against the Wind.” In the song, Seger seems to think that as a young man, he didn’t do what was expected of him… that he did what he wanted, whether other people liked it or not. Then he got old and stopped ‘running against the wind.”

I think that there are times to run with the wind and times to run against it. No one can tell us when to go with or against. I will suggest that if you always run with (too conforming) or run against (too “too”), then think about mixing it up a little.

I’ve always run against more than with and for me, it’s been good.

Do you run with or against the wind?

And Now For Something Completely Different…

Image result for comedians in cars getting coffee

In case you don’t recognize the photo, it’s comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Kevin Hart from Jerry’s digital series, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. If you aren’t familiar with his show, Jerry picks up different comedians from their homes and takes them for ride in a car that he’s selected specifically for them (presumably to go get coffee.)

One particular “single shot” (a short compilation of clips) called, “In and Out“, shows several comedians tryyyying to get out of the various cars that Jerry has brought for them to ride it. I’ve watched it several times and each time… I laugh out loud.

Since it’s summer and everyone just wants to relax and enjoy themselves…this blog is taking a break from the serious business of finding our way through life to yuk it up. If you’ve got something that made you laugh… please share with me! Happy summer.

Curiosity – Brought Back the Cat

http://www.quotehd.com/imagequotes/authors47/tmb/eugene-oneill-quote-curiosity-killed-the-cat-but-satisfaction-brought.jpg

Now that I am old(erish), I thought my curiosity about the world would decrease. After all, it’s gotten me into plenty of trouble.

When I read, “The Routine Gene – Can Productivity and Creativity Coincide?” I knew that my love of ambiguity/curiosity was alive and well. That’s because I have a high CQ (curiosity quotient). This is in contrast to my IQ (aka Intelligence Quotient) or EQ (Emotional Quotient).

Our “curiosity quotient is measured by how inquisitive and open to new situations we are. People with higher CQ, dislike routine, but embrace ambiguity and have a knack for finding simple solutions to complex problems.”

The following quote (from the article) describes my approach to routine and creativity:

“The art is finding the balance between turning everything you do that is repeatable into a well-oiled machine (call it ‘a routine’) whilst keeping all your attention and senses open for serendipity and creativity. The best entrepreneurs zip through life on autopilot where their creativity isn’t needed and bring intense focus to those areas where they can make a huge difference.” This manifests itself in various ways; I generally eat the same thing for breakfast. Steve Jobs wore a black turtle neck and jeans.

If you are bored with your work or your life, maybe you need to figure out how to up your CQ. I like to ‘feed’ my curiosity. Here are few ways that I do it:

  • Watch a movie and imagine I am the director. What would I have changed? Who would I have cast?
  • Take a walk outside and appreciate the simple complexity of nature. I look very closely at tree bark, rocks, flowers. I look at the pattern, the texture, the color and I smell everything.
  • Listen to someone talk about what they love to do. Somehow, watching and witnessing their joy and passion is completely inspirational.

How do you feed your curiosity?

Photo credit: Eugene O’Neill Quotes

Got Values? Act Like It.

Army Photography Contest - 2007 - FMWRC - Arts and Crafts - The Colors Emerge</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Photo By: SPC Aristide Lavey</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>To learn more about the annual U.S. Army Photography Competition, visit us online at <a href="http://www.armymwr.com" rel=&qu...

Many of us feel strongly about the values we were taught by our family. We don’t think of ourselves as bigots or sexists. We think of ourselves in the way that we hope the world sees us. Patriotic, strong.

The truth, if we are brave enough to face it, is that we all have biases built into our brains and thought processes. It takes commitment, energy, time, awareness and patience to look for them and weed them out. Some we will likely never change. I was raised in Boston by a family of liberals, going back generations. It’s unlikely that I will become conservative today. However, it is very important for me to be open to looking at the world through the eyes of my conservative friends.

I enjoyed and appreciated this post titled, “Act On Your Values, A 4-Step Method to Achieve Equal Representation.”

Since we come from a history of patriarchy, the pattern of male domination will go on and on if we don’t decide to actively do something about it. Part of the reason is that when we’re asked to suggest speakers, board members, etc., we unconsciously think of people we’ve seen in similar contexts before, and so the uneven balance is reproduced over and over again – Martin Thornkvist

Recently, I was listening to and co-grading presentations for grad students. The other teacher is male.  One (male) student introduced his group by saying, “Good morning, Mr. President…”– he looked directly at the male teacher. He did not acknowledge me or look at me throughout his entire presentation. Is this student a bad person? No. Does he hate women? Probably not. Is he following the context of his experience and of those who taught him? Yes.

The problem is that we don’t see our biases. They are hidden under layers of pats on the back, instruction, belonging, etc.

Mr. Thornkvist  has some excellent suggestions for working on this… and we all must work on this!

  1. Write down your values. It’s funny how alive and real things become when they are written on paper.
  2. Communicate your values. When you ask for help, when you are speaking, when you are going about your day; be aware of what you stand for and take every opportunity to let people know where you stand. Now you’re thinking, come on.  This is a bit much.  Is it? Do think slaves were emancipated, women ‘allowed’ to vote and own property because people thought about these things occasionally?
  3. Be stubborn. The world needs to change. Let it begin with me and you. Pick one injustice… one place inside you that makes you think… hey, the world would be better if… and start to think, act, share and communicate about how YOU are going to change.

I included this photo from the Army Photo Contest because our Veterans are in need of our help. Today — let’s think about our soldiers as “us” not them. Who do you help and why?

Photo Credit: Army Photo Contest Familymwr

Oh Behave

To control Information Technology (IT) costs we think about and act within the enterprise as a whole, in part because we sell enterprise and mid-level solutions. We apply an Enterprise Architecture (EA) strategy which at the top level is comprised...

 

Maturity is the ability to live in multiple contexts; the ability, despite our losses, to courageously inhabit the past, the present and the future all at once.” David Whyte

Being a grown up is hard.

Sometimes it’s easier to live in the past or in the future. Or to live too much in the present, sacrificing our personal well-being to chase some ideal.

But peace of mind comes from integrating the past, the present and the future. To know our singular place in the world. To acknowledge that only the events and genes that have brought us to this place in time – are what is important.

Find support for your journey.

Photo credit: Controlling  Wonderlane

Trading Places

Image result for rich and famous

Whatever you think about Jim Carrey… I think he’s on to something here (even though the English isn’t good.)

I often hear people wishing their lives were different. “I wish I had a lot of money… I wish I had a big house… I wish I were famous.”

But the truth is… there isn’t anyone in the world I would trade places with. I had a rough “growing up,” — worse than many middle class kids… better than many low income kids. I was born with good health, white skin and a good brain.

When you think you wish you had… x, y, z… when you look at some other person, family, job, car and wish you had it, stop yourself. The truth is, you don’t know anything about that other person’s life. What you see on the surface, may NOT reflect the reality.

My two cents: be grateful for what you have, for who you are. You are a gift to the world and you’re here for a reason. Figure it out.

Secret to Life

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill

The whole point of life is to keep trying. Fall down, get up, stumble; stumble forward.

Many people don’t understand the joy of trying and failing. Somehow they gauge their worth by things; not by how many times they fall on their face and get back up.

I’m begging you; be weird. The world needs you.

Image result for paulo coelho quotes secret to life

Image credit: Banksy

Are You A ‘DTM’ – Difficult to Manage?

What Is a DTM?

I was one of those employees labeled as ‘difficult to manage.’ When I worked in corporate america, I wasn’t intimidated by anyone’s position in the company. I tended to say my ideas out loud, even when they weren’t solicited. I was comfortable organizing chaos and happy when working with a team to make progress where others didn’t see how it could be done. I haven’t changed; much.

In this article in the Harvard Business Review, “Improve Your Ability to Learn,I finally feel vindicated. Here’s how they describe such an employee (aka me).

“While talented, Alex had come to be known behind closed doors by the moniker “DTM” – difficult to manage. He marched to the beat of his own drummer, and he wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. He loved a challenge, and he was comfortable taking risks.”

Oh, Oh, Now What Do I Do?

The point of this article is that some DTM’s can be exemplary in their ability to learn, including the importance of “learning agility, a set of qualities and attributes that allow an individual to stay flexible, grow from mistakes, and rise to a diverse array of challenges.” It’s gratifying to know that my brashness and challenging personality were actually good things.

Here are some characteristics of DTM’s – we tend to be more extroverted, focused, original and resilient and less accommodating to slow progress and excuses. If you have these characteristics, try the following – look for stretch assignments, regularly seek real input and most of all, enhance your listening skills. As for me, I’m old… too late for me to get along like a nice girl.

Photo credit: Five tips