Don’t Be Smart Be Helpful

“Don’t be smart, be helpful.”

—Author Unknown

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How do you participate in your professional and personal communities? How often do you find yourself sharing your knowledge, life experiences, and wisdom with others? What is your talk-to-listen ratio?

What if a trusted colleague or significant other took a survey of ten people in each of your communities, asking exactly how helpful you were through your various interactions? How would you score?

EXERCISE:

Using big esoteric words to communicate a simple point just annoys people. Before you speak today, ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say just me trying to be smart, or is it actually helpful?”

It is, of course, OK to be both on occasion.

Leave them with an afterglow

“Leave them with an afterglow, not an aftertaste.”

Dr. Harry Cohen, Co-Founder of Be the Sun, not the Salt

Image of a sunset

Image from Unsplash by Diego PH

Take a moment to reflect on the people in your life that always brighten your days. Look closely at all of their wonderful qualities, attitudes, and the genuine ways they share themselves and what they have with those around them.

On the other hand, who are the people in your personal and professional communities you avoid when possible, and who often leave a bitter aftertaste that lingers even after they are gone? What characteristics do they display that dampen, deplete, and darken the world around them?

EXERCISE:

Consider reading or re-reading the classic book, FISH, and focus on the concept of “making their day.” Perhaps take a quick read through Be the Sun and Not the Salt by Dr. Harry Cohen, for some extra “brighten their day” strategies, which I guarantee will improve your life as well.

When we do what we have to do we are compliant

“When we do what we have to do we are compliant. When we do what we choose to do we are committed.”

—Marshall Goldsmith, American Leadership Coach

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To what degree are you an “extra credit” type of person? Recall your early educational experiences, in which a special teacher or a special subject motivated you well beyond just meeting expectations and passing the course. They motivated you to experience new levels of excellence, achievement, and of course, greater personal growth.

What about today in your vocational and avocational efforts? Where do you choose to go the extra mile and exceed expectations versus simply doing just enough to maintain your employment (for the moment) and get by?

EXERCISE:

To help you make the shift from compliant to committed, consider exploring the work of Dan Pink in his book, Drive, to see how greater autonomy, mastery, and purpose will help you choose and eventually realize a far more fulfilling and rewarding life.

True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain, but being moved to help relieve it

“True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain, but being moved to help relieve it.”

—Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence Author

Image of three senior citizens at a sporting event

Image from Unsplash by Piliippe Leone

When I visit my 92-year-old dad in his assisted living community, he often says, Getting old is not for sissies! Before moving into this community, he lived with my mom in a senior community with about 15,000 other residents, living as happily and fully as possible.

As someone who tries to be mindful and observant of my surroundings, it is easy to see the various levels of physical and emotional pain most people experience. To my delight, I also observe tremendous compassion within these communities. It is common to see how the majority of the people do their best to help each other.

These efforts give them purpose and at least temporarily take their focus off of their own troubles.

EXERCISE:

Where are you currently moved to help relieve the pain others may be experiencing in your world? What one action can and will you take today to demonstrate a higher level of compassion?

Consider reading Being Mortal by Atul Gawande to explore aging and how we can better support one another through this process.

Friday Review of Mistakes

FRIDAY REVIEW: MISTAKES

How do you react when you make a mistake? Here are a few mistake-related posts you may have missed. Click the links to read the full message.

 

“We should learn from the mistakes of others. We don’t have time to make them all ourselves.”

 

 

 

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid you will make one.”

 

 

 

“Just because you’ve made mistakes doesn’t mean your mistakes get to make you. Take notice of your inner critic, forgive yourself, and move on.”

 

 

 

The majority of meetings should be discussions

“The majority of meetings should be discussions that lead to decisions.”

—Patrick Lencioni, Founder of The Table Group

Image of a team in a meeting

Image from Unsplash by Content Creators

Death by Meeting is one of Patrick Lencioni’s numerous books. He first made his mark with his classic, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, from which his business fable format gained considerable popularity.

How do you feel about the meetings you attend? How many, how long, and perhaps most importantly, how productive are these often stolen parts of your day?

EXERCISE:

Given the concept that people participate more fully in that which they help create, try using the More, Less, Start, Stop Exercise to upgrade the engagement and value of your meetings.

Please also check out Death by Meetings for additional ideas that can benefit you and your organization.

Don’t aim for consistently heroic efforts

“Don’t aim for consistently heroic efforts. Aim for being heroic at consistency.”

—Brad Stulberg, Performance Coach

Image of a boy shooting an arrow

Image from Unsplash by Niklas Tidbury

We all get excited when we observe heroic acts in the world. These efforts almost always require extraordinary levels of physical, mental, and emotional effort. Unfortunately, as Brad points out, we all know that these efforts are not sustainable.

Although not as sexy, consistently provides a compounding effect that is both sustainable and sticky. These habitual actions often result in excellence in virtually any life domain you choose.

EXERCISE:

Select a single area of your life where you will make the heroic effort to be more consistent. Feel free to reply to this post and share the area you selected.

Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming

“Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming.”

—David Bowie, late British singer, actor, and songwriter

Image of a fox

Image from Unsplash by Kyle Glenn

In the animal kingdom the ability to hear is critical to survival regardless of whether you are predator or prey. The other senses definitely have their role in making sure they get to experience another day, or even the next moment.

What are the ways you currently sense what is just around the corner or perhaps far off in the distance? Consider this question for both personal and professional matters that are urgent and important to not only surviving, but thriving.

EXERCISE:

How might applying a herd mentality – where you are just one of many sets of eyes, ears, and noses – broaden your capacity to sense and react more quickly and more proactively?

Consider reaching out to family, friends, teachers, mentors, and coaches in your current communities to have many more better tomorrows.

By going out of your mind you come to your senses

“By going out of your mind, you come to your senses.”

—Alan Watts, 20th Century British-American philosopher

Image of a man facing the sunrise with arms outstretched

Image from Unsplash by Zac Durant

Have you ever considered that going out of our minds was a good thing?

Not in the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest way, but in a quieting the inner voice/monkey mind way.

During a recent meditation session, the instructor led me through an exercise that focused on each of the five senses. With this shift of focus, I noticed a considerable reduction and even a few momentary stoppages of mental chatter and a greater sense of calm and presence.

EXERCISE:

Consider spending 60 seconds on each of your five senses. Make a note or two regarding what you perceived:

  • Sight
  • Hearing
  • Touch
  • Taste
  • Smell

Where in your life would going out of your mind and coming to your senses have the greater benefit?

Friday Review: Acceptance

FRIDAY REVIEW: ACCEPTANCE

What aspects of life do you accept without question? Here are a few acceptance-related posts you may have missed. Click to read the full message.

 

“If you’re able to be yourself, then you have no competition. All you have to do is get closer and closer to that essence.”

 

 

 

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”

 

 

 

“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.”