”Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can’t strike them all by ourselves.”

”Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can’t strike them all by ourselves.”

—Laura Esquivel, Mexican novelist, screenwriter and politician

Image from Unsplash by Georg Eiermann

Just like a single hand is unable to clap without another, we all need assistance from time to time to have our inner spark ignite and keep burning.

Consider your relationships with close friends, parents, teachers, mentors, coaches, and other individuals. How have they sparked ideas and helped you stay motivated and in action to see things through?

Most images of match boxes show only a limited number of matches inside, with somewhere between 20 and 32 matches. I did, however, find a jumbo box with a count of 300 and numerous multi box options!

EXERCISE:

How many matches have you used so far? How many are left? Who are the current individuals who partner with you so that you can burn brightly and perhaps shed light on others? Where and with whom are you the flint to help others spark their unique gifts and talent?

“Get out there. See the people.”

“Get out there. See the people.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Unsplash by krakenimages

I have a friend and client named Tim who is a highly successful business leader. He exemplifies many strong qualities of leadership and personal character that most of his customers, colleagues, and even competitors admire.

Among his most positive attributes is his willingness to take initiative and proactively put himself out into the world to see the people and make things happen.

Where do you find yourself on the introvert-to-extrovert spectrum, especially given the constraints caused by the pandemic?

How have you continued to reach out to connect despite your efforts to be physically distant and keep one another safe?

Where have you not made the effort to be out in the world in some essential way?

EXERCISE:

How can and will you get out there and (safely) see the people in the coming months?

How can and will you encourage others in your personal and professional communities to do the same?

“I think that when the dust settles, we will realize how little we need, how very much we actually have, and…”

“I think that when the dust settles, we will realize how little we need, how very much we actually have, and the true value of human connection.”

—Author Unknown

Marvin Demp

On March 7 at 1:47 a.m., my father Marvin passed on to be with my mom and other loved ones in Heaven. The morning of his passing, I asked Google to play some of his favorite songs. A direct message came from my dad when “Cheek to Cheek” played — it begins with the words, “Heaven, I’m in Heaven…”.

As we cried and celebrated the life of this wonderful man, my family, friends, and the many loving and generous caregivers who supported him experienced the value and joy of our many human connections.

EXERCISE:

What are some of your stories of extraordinary and simple moments of human connection? How can you more fully embrace the richness these moments offer you each and every day?

 

“Yelling silences your message. Speak quietly so children can hear your words instead of just your voice.”

“Yelling silences your message. Speak quietly so children can hear your words instead of just your voice.”

—L.R. Knost, Founder/Director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting

Image from Unsplash by Icons8Team

What is your natural reaction when someone yells at you? Consider your childhood and your interactions with parents, teachers, or other authority figures. For many, such verbal attacks cause the receiver to shut down and back off.

During a counseling session in the early years of my marriage, I was told by our very kind and perceptive advisor that when my wife disagreed with my perspective, I simply raised my voice and said the same things, only louder. This approach silenced my message and often resulted in raised voices on both sides.

Speaking quietly to be understood and of course seeking to understand one another has helped support our successful marriage of 41 happy years.

EXERCISE:

Where is too much yelling occurring in your world? Where and with whom would calmer, quieter voices help us hear one another better?

 

“Dialogue is balancing advocacy with inquiry.”

“Dialogue is balancing advocacy with inquiry.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Unsplash by Priscilla Du Preez

 

In his book, Dialogue: The Art of Thinking Together, William Isaac describes this critical skill as the intention to reach new levels of mutual understanding.

Doing so, he indicates we can form a totally new basis from which to think and act.

He further states that this capacity for talking together constitutes the foundation for democracy.

EXERCISE:

Where are you observing and participating in true dialogue in your various communities?

How could a better balance between advocacy and inquiry improve communities throughout the world?

“When you edit your soul, no one wins.”

“When you edit your soul, no one wins.”

—Erin Loechner, Author of Chasing Slow

Image from Pinterest

To what degree have you done more than a bit of soul searching over the past several months?

What have you discovered about yourself, those you care about, your community, and the world?

It appears that many of us are reading deeper than at any other time in our lives, to a more soulful and sacred place in which passion, purpose, and our very best selves reside.

Another quote from Erin’s book is “Keep slowing down. You’ve got a race to lose.” This may be pointing us to the “rat race” many of us run unknowingly.

Consider your soul as a kind of Pulitzer Prize of Life, which requires no editing.  It need only be read and re-read, expressed and shared generously.

EXERCISE:

What are a few soul-searching activities you engage in on a daily basis?

How can and will you bring forth the very best of you so everyone wins?

“Every great group is an island – but an island with a bridge to the mainland.”

“Every great group is an island – but an island with a bridge to the mainland.”

—Warren Bennis & Patricia Ward, Organizing Genius

Image from Unsplash by Mohamed Thasneem

During my walk this morning the lyrics, “No man is an island, no man stands alone” ran through my mind. The topic of my daily meditation session was interconnectedness.

My daughter and grandson are visiting for the first time in almost six months. Belonging and being a part of our communities has clearly been disrupted and challenged recently, and most of us can feel a sense of emptiness longing to be filled.

Take a close look at all the groups to which you belong. How do they look today? Consider examining any or all of the following, and a few of your own:

• Family • Race
• Neighbors • Age
• City, State, Country • Religion/Faith
• Gender • Career

EXERCISE:

How and in what ways can you see, build, and cross the bridges between the numerous islands in your life, to find the fundamental mainland we all share?

“Use ‘Truth Talk’ sparingly, like a seasoning.”

“Use ‘Truth Talk’ sparingly, like a seasoning.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Unsplash by Josh Massey

How often do you use a “tell it like it is,” “tough love,” or “scared straight” approach in your personal and professional interactions?

Where does this “Truth Talk” or as Coach Marshall Goldsmith suggests, “Feed Forward” provide the desired outcomes you intend?

Where are you currently a bit too heavy-handed on the salty or peppery words and attitudes you offer others?

Although often well-intended, our truth and desire to offer our “correct” perspective on virtually any matter results in making the other individual wrong. This usually causes them to shut down or push back with their own truth talk to defend and protect their behaviors and views.

EXERCISE:

How and with whom would a lighter hand on the salt shakers of your truth talk help lower the blood pressure levels in your most important relationships?

“Draw strength from others.”

“Draw strength from others.”

—Cheryl Strayed, Author of Tiny Beautiful Things

Image from Unsplash by Neil Thomas

To what degree do you consider yourself the rock in your family or community?

How often are you the one to come to the rescue or lend that helping hand in your personal and professional worlds?

About 20 years ago, I overextended myself through a rigorous workout, resulting in a significant case of sciatica. It caused severe back and leg pain, and I missed many days of work.

Beyond the physical pain, I took a very unfamiliar emotional ride, which included frustration, anger, and even a sense of worthlessness. My normal optimistic view on life was flipped, and I did a fair job of playing the “Why Me” victim card.

Surprisingly, letting others serve and support me through it was very difficult. Frequent thoughts of “That’s my job,” or “I’m supposed to do that,” ran through my head.

Eventually, someone must have turned on my gratitude switch, allowing me to more fully accept and embrace many acts of kindness and generosity from family and friends.

EXERCISE:

When in the past, or recently, have you been reluctant to seek the support of others?

How and in what ways may you more fully seek and draw on the strengths of others in your personal and professional communities?

“Let others fill the blanks.”

“Let others fill the blanks.”

—Liz Wiseman, Author of Multipliers

Image from Unsplash by Ross Sneddon

There is at least one bright spot in our economy as a result of the pandemic having kept many of us home. Game sales of all types are rocketing!

What indoor, outdoor, high-tech, low-tech and even retro games from your youth have come off the shelf in your home?

For many families, the good old-fashioned jigsaw puzzle is making a comeback. Puzzle maker Ravensburger’s sales rose 370% in March!

Recall a time when you completed a puzzle with others, especially if those others were children. How did they act and react when you filled in the blank spaces compared to when they discovered the missing pieces on their own?

EXERCISE:

Where are you taking it upon yourself to fill in the blanks for others in your personal and professional communities?

Where would letting others fill in the blanks be the best strategy to take today?