“Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.”
Image from Unsplash by Lucas Vasquez
Ed Kotch was the mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989. In his efforts to be a good mayor and serve the city well, he would often ask How am I doing? to gain feedback and enhance his efforts.
How often do you evaluate your own efforts and contemplate how you are doing? Where are you judging yourself and making comparisons to others to see how you stack up? Where is this habit causing you misery?
How would taking yourself out from under your microscope of judgement free you up to simply act more and think less about your life?
How would assuming that you are doing just fine at being who you are help you be far happier and satisfied with your life?
“What stories are you spreading? Catch yourself before you release all the feathers in your gossip pillows.”
Image from Unsplash by pedro via
Almost everyone enjoys a good story. Whether truth or fiction, we can’t seem to pull ourselves away from all the juicy details. Perhaps most stories seem more engaging because they involve others compared to the humdrum lives we seem to lead.
We can all be judgmental and critical of others from time to time. This fact, along with the desire to be in the know, often has us participate in throwing a few gossip pillows. What feels like harmless banter in the moment often lets many harmful feathers fly that can never be retrieved once they are out.
To what degree are you a story spreader?
Where in your life have you seen and perhaps participated in letting some feathers fly?
How can you stop yourself and investigate such situations in the future to prevent a mess that could result?
“Nothing burns like the cold.”
—George R.R. Martin, Author of Game of Thrones
Image from Unsplash by Frank Busch
Back in February, a wave of arctic air blew across Michigan. Not wanting to miss my daily walk, I bundled up and set forth to put in my 10,000+ steps.
During half of my walk, the wind was at my back and my steps felt easy and steady. Heading in the other direction, with the wind in my face, I noticed the considerable chill and the burn on my face, thighs, and fingers.
Where else do you experience cold in your worlds? Take some time to look at relationships — personal or professional — that are adversarial, in which you might be giving or getting the cold shoulder, or a frigid reception. Where do you notice the burn of anger, resentment, indifference, and judgment?
Consider engaging in a loving kindness meditation to warm up relationships in your personal and professional communities.
Sharing your experience of this exercise will be like adding another log to the fires of friendship. Please reply to this post with your own perspective.
“Negative thoughts are nails.”
Image from Unsplash by travelergeek
Where do you stand on the negative to positive spectrum of thought? How do you view yourself when you listen closely to your inner voice?
Carpenters use nails all the time to fasten and hold things together. Adding an extra nail or two can make a structure even more rigid and solid. As someone who isn’t particularly handy, I often use nails to hang pictures on the wall as a way of hiding a blemish or mark.
How are you seeing the world and relating to the people in your personal and professional communities these days?
How do you judge others on this spectrum when you examine their words and actions?
Where do you see the negative thinking in your world keeping people stuck and rigid?
How would greater positivity and optimism offer greater possibilities to build a better future?
“A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers.”
—H.L. Mencken, 20th Century American journalist and critic
Image from Flickr
Judging others is fundamental to being human. Consider this list of TV shows:
- Judge Judy
- The People’s Court
- Divorce Court
- Judge Mathis
- Kid’s Court
This is just a handful of the dozens of court programs over the years. If you add to this list the hundreds of shows that involve the process of judging singers, dancers, and other forms of competitions, you’ll become tired of counting.
It seems that judging others through the interpretation of the law and perhaps by our own standards of right and wrong and good and bad is fundamental to being human.
Where are you currently Judge and Jury in your personal and professional life? What standards beyond your own beliefs, opinions, and experiences do you use to guide the decisions and verdicts you hand down to those in your communities?
“Dogs bark at those they do not know.”
—Samuel Daniel, 17th Century English Poet
Image from Flickr by Toshihiro Gamo
Can you imagine people barking like dogs at people they don’t know?
In many ways, we do just that, except our bark is often silent, much like a dog whistle is to we humans.
This inner bark is often our judgement, criticism, and prejudice, showing that we are rarely open or receptive to another’s point of view, perspectives, or beliefs.
Take a look at the communities within your personal and professional worlds. What, overall, is the cost of the silent and not so silent “barking”?
Peace and a sense of unified community is hard to find, even if all signs point to things being fine on the surface.
Where would acknowledging and working on your own judgmental and critical tendencies support your cooperative and collaborative nature with those you’ve barked at in the past?
“Punishing others is punishing work.”
—John Heider, The Tao of Leadership
Image from Flickr by slgckgc
How often do you play the role of judge or jury in your personal or professional life?
How often are you on the receiving end of judgement and criticism?
What are the benefits and costs of being right and making others wrong?
In the arenas of organizational leadership, criminal justice, and even the family unit itself, punishment is rarely effective in controlling behavior, and fear is a horrible teaching strategy. It is exhausting, and sucks the life out of everyone involved.
What alternative and empowering strategies might you use to produce the behaviors and attitudes that will benefit your world?
“Every now and then go away. For when you come back to your work your judgement will be surer.”
Image from Playbuzz
Leonardo DaVinci was one of history’s best know inventors. Some of his most famous inventions include:
- The Anemometer: An instrument to measure wind speed
- The flying machine
- The helicopter
- The parachute
- The armored car
- The giant crossbow
- A more accurate clock
- The triple barrel cannon
- The self-propelled cart
- SCUBA gear
- The revolving bridge
Given DaVinci’s prolific productivity, how would his coaching help you to step away, then come back, and see your work or your life differently?
“By a small sample we may judge the whole piece.”
—Miquel de Cervantes, 16th Century Spanish Novelist
Image from blackboard blog
When was the last time you dined at a smorgasbord, buffet, or pot-luck dinner? What was your strategy to identify and determine the tastiest items available?
If you are like many people, you might take a small sampling of many items, knowing that if one bite was tasty, a bigger helping would be even more delicious.
Sometimes, however, when we only have a small sample of something such as a book, a TV show, or a person we’ve just met, we get an incomplete view. We can jump to premature and false conclusions about the entire experience or person.
Where in your personal or professional worlds is it appropriate or inappropriate to judge the whole piece by just a small sample?
“How will you measure your life?”
—Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard Business Professor
Today’s quote stopped me in my tracks and caused me to sit down to examine its profundity. I then watched Mr. Christensen’s TEDx Boston talk from 2012, to see what this Harvard Professor had to say.
This is a question we must all answer for ourselves, based on many factors. I looked at the personal and professional achievements that measured me against others, and more importantly, against myself. My conclusion here was that personal development and growth have always been measuring sticks for me. What became more of a priority for me was the measure of family, and the development of close, collaborative relationships. In this area, contribution and making a difference in people’s lives was paramount.
When Clayton stated, in his talk, that God does not employ accountants and statisticians, I wondered what I’d like people to say upon my passing. This caused me to set about my efforts far more intentionally, so that I might fulfill my purpose.
Explore setting up a discussion group within your personal and professional communities to ask and answer this question for yourself.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and what you discovered.