the truth you believe in

“The truth you believe in and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.”

-Pema Chödrön, American Buddhist nun

Image of Pema Chödrön

Image of Pema Chödrön from calmfulliving.com

When was the last time you had a discussion with a friend, family member, or colleague in which they said, “I know” one or more times?

Consider that at such moments their beliefs and opinions are firmly cemented into their minds. Unfortunately, in many cases, they have literally stopped listening to any other perspective.

Turning this situation around, how often do you say “I know” to others, or just covertly think it to yourself?

EXERCISE:

Where and on what subjects are you clinging too tightly to your own point of view or perspective, making you unavailable to new possibilities?

How would an “I don’t know / I’m not sure / I’m curious” perspective create the greatest value?

If you don’t read people well

“If you don’t read people well, you’re climbing up a wobbly career ladder, blindfolded.”

⏤Dan Rust, author of Workplace Poker

Image of "Workplace Poker" book cover

When you hear the phrase, “office politics,” what comes to mind? If you are like many, this idea draws strong reactions, including hate, disgust, annoyance, or for some, a bit of curiosity. Regardless of your feelings, office politics are a fact of life. In Workplace Poker, Dan Rust suggests we either learn to play it or we are likely to be played.

His advise on learning to read people includes:

  • Minimize your own emotional reactions, and set aside preconceived notions, judgements, and expectations. You can’t get inside someone else’s head until you get out of your own.
  • Learn to be a third-party observer. Notice how people speak, dress, act, and interact with others. You will gain a baseline of their behavior, which can be revealing and useful.

EXERCISE:

Consider picking up a copy of Workplace Poker if you have ever experienced bumps or dips in your career trajectory. This resource can also prove useful in many community and non-profit organizations.

Each night, when I go to sleep, I die

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die, and the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”

⏤Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India

Image of a man sleeping on the sofa with his bulldog

Image from Flickr by Andrew Roberts

When I first read this quote, I felt pretty down at the thought of dying each evening, with a sense of finality that something⏤in this case, my day⏤was over.

Many of us experience similar feelings when our weekends, vacations, or other happy times come to an end.

Consider that the same is true for bad times, and uncomfortable events we may want to wish away.

To wake up and be reborn each new day excites me with the possibilities of new and wondrous things I can intentionally do, with a fresh perspective and a fresh canvas to draw upon.

EXERCISE:

How can you interpret today’s quote to make the very best of each new day you are fortunate enough to experience?

Unplug it

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

—Anne Lamott, American Novelist and Political Activist

Image of an unplugged plug

Image from Flickr by Daniele Margaroli

How are you at problem solving and troubleshooting? When was the last time you were really grinding on a particular issue with no success?

Today’s quote points to the simple yet often effective technique of taking a break to allow a change of perspective. This gives us opportunity to come at a problem with a fresh set of eyes.

EXERCISE:

How often do you find yourself putting in marathon levels of effort with somewhat diminishing returns?

Where and when would it be appropriate and more helpful to unplug from a particular issue in order to gain greater workability?

Climate vs Weather

“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”

—Mark Twain, American Author and Humorist

QC #1024.jpg
A few months ago I had a wonderful family vacation in the San Diego area, purported to have one of the best climates in the world. We spent a rainy evening with a few of my son-in-law’s friends, who were a bit upset with the weather. Coming from Michigan, we were more than OK with a bit of cool temperatures and precipitation.

EXERCISE:

How can greater awareness and perspective regarding your professional and personal expectations help you embrace whatever the weather brings into your world?

Why is Monday

“Why is Monday so far from Friday, and Friday so near to Monday?”

-Author Unknown

Image from kappit.com

Image from kappit.com

The practice of looking forward is a powerful thing. When there is something desirable in our future, or when we are having fun, time literally flies. Conversely, when the future is undesirable or dreaded, time slows down, or seems to prolong the discomfort.

This is where a magical pair of forward-looking glasses can be helpful. The secret to this visionary tool is to look for, design, and create new and better futures in as many areas of life as possible, where the anticipation of a better tomorrow is always there to be embraced and enjoyed.

EXERCISE:

How can a more creative, optimistic, forward-looking perspective enhance the quality of each of your Mondays and Fridays to come?

The Seed of Triumph

“Always seek out the seed of triumph in every adversity.”

-Og Mandino, Author of “The Greatest Salesman in the World”

Image from wonderopolis.org

Image from wonderopolis.org

When was the last time you ate watermelon? Years ago every mouthful came with at least a few seeds. Back then, we would chew carefully and spit out the seeds. Clearly, some clever person disliked that process and found a way to create the seedless varieties we have today.

What if, instead of an undesirable, adverse barrier to your fullest enjoyment, the seeds were actually a more tasty component of the fruit? Perhaps we would all seek out the seeds as a more desirable part of our fruit-munching experience!

EXERCISE:

Where can you more fully examine and realize the growth potential and the seeds of triumph in some or perhaps all of the adversities you may be facing?

What I Might Be

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

—Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher

Image from beyouonlybetter.com

Image from beyouonlybetter.com

We all want to be ‘right’ – to have the correct answer, to know the truth. We think that will bring us clarity, stability, and peace of mind.

But what if being ‘right’ only serves to put us in a safe and limiting box?

When we define something, we limit it. Perhaps we could instead distinguish ourselves by being open to the possibility of who we could be rather than placing limits on who we are.

EXERCISE:

How and in what ways can you disengage from self-limiting beliefs?

If you find this difficult, ask a family member or close friend for their perspective.

Nothing Ventured

“Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained.”

—Geoffrey Chaucer, 15th Century English Poet

image from urbana.ie

image from urbana.ie

Take a moment today to look back over your life at some of your most memorable and significant accomplishments. Pay particular attention to the level of effort and engagement it took for you to realize these noteworthy achievements.

How much did you venture to realize these gains? We can’t relive or change the past, but the future is literally a blank canvas on which we can venture forward to realize gains of remarkable scale and scope.

EXERCISE:

What would be possible if you took a “many things ventured, many things gained” perspective today and in the days ahead? What will be the first action you plan to take to make the years ahead even more remarkable and rewarding?

Is the Glass Half Empty

“People who wonder whether the glass is half empty or half full miss the point. The glass is refillable.”

—simon sinek, speaker and author

 

Image from breacan.org.au

Image from breacan.org.au

Imagine you have an entire month to take the road trip of your life, anywhere you wish. You have just won the use of a large luxury mobile home or recreational vehicle. The only limitation is that you were only given half a tank of fuel.

Of course, we can look on the bright side of things to estimate how far we could go, or we can be upset given the limited range available for this adventure. This view of things seems silly knowing that we always have the ability to top off the tank anytime we wish.

EXERCISE:

Where in either your professional or personal worlds are you operating with the half full or half empty perspective?  What would be possible if you assumed an attitude of overflowing abundance instead?