“There is a gap between stimulus and response, and the key to both our growth and happiness is how we use that space.”
—Stephen Covey, 20th century American author & educator
Image from Unsplash by Brett Jordan
This past year has been disturbing and remarkable at the same time. My initial experience of the pandemic and other challenges confronting us was to become angry, frustrated, and down. My world seemed smaller and I felt increasingly confined and limited.
Eventually I stopped looking exclusively outside myself and began a far more intentional and rigorous journey within.
Through numerous practices such as meditation, daily walks, and extensive reading, I found the gaps. I took longer pauses in my thinking and feelings, which provided significant freedom and greater opportunities and possibilities to choose my responses.
Discovering this capacity to be increasingly mindful and aware of my own inner power has enhanced my growth and life satisfaction in many surprising ways.
How can and will you use the spaces between stimulus and response to more mindfully navigate life?
I’d very much like to learn about your efforts and progress, and hope you will consider replying to this and future posts.
“Why do you get up in the morning?”
—Dan Buettner, New York Times-bestselling author
Image from Unsplash by Somnox Sleep
I like to start each day as purposefully as possible to learn and grow, to express gratitude and especially to find ways to serve others.
Writing The Quotable Coach post most mornings over the last nine years is one important expression that meets all of the criteria. Today I am getting up a bit early to go shopping for food for us and a close friend.
What are some of the important reasons you get up each morning? What goals and intentions empower and energize you, make your day special for yourself and others? How will spending your day this way put a smile of satisfaction on your face when you lie down to sleep tonight?
Consider exploring the 2200 Quotable Coach posts that are sorted by categories. Please consider sharing this resource with others whom you wish to support and serve in the coming year.
“When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”
—Alexander Den Heijer, Dutch inspirational speaker
Image from Unsplash by Quino Al
Consider yourself a type of flower. Notice how you’ve grown and hopefully bloomed over the years. If you have been fortunate to show the world your colors and contributed your gifts and talents, consider giving thanks to the people and resources that surrounded you.
We are all born with the seed of possibility within us, and the evidence is clear—through examples such as early child education—of what a profound difference it makes throughout our lives.
In what ways can you nurture and enrich the environment in which you are placed? How and in what ways can and will you provide the fertile soil, sunshine, and life affirming waters to help others blossom in your personal and professional communities?
“Don’t focus on only one growth path.”
Image from Unsplash by Vladislav Babienko
To what degree are you a one-dimensional or multi-dimensional person?
Take a close look at how you spend your days and who you spend them with.
In which of these communities are you experiencing the greatest engagement and growth?
Alternatively, where do you feel stuck, stopped, or even regressing?
Over the past several months, some of my clients and many people in my professional networks have seen their growth thwarted. Many of us have had our cheese moved by the pandemic and its economic consequences. Many are exploring other options, or are engaged in what I like to call a dual strategy – pursuing alternative and supplemental career options.
Beyond the working world, many of them are also taking the time to invest in personal and professional growth efforts, to better themselves and others.
Consider downloading a copy of Seth Godin’s book, The Bootstrapper’s Bible, to see how you might pursue the idea of starting and growing your own business. The book was originally written in 2004 and while a bit dated, contains many of the fundamentals to get you going.
“What is the part of yourself that you left behind to become the person you are today?”
—Deborah Anacona, Founder of the MIT Leadership Center
Image from Pinterest
Imagine that you are a lobster that is not on the menu of some local restaurant.
You are swimming in the ocean, doing what lobsters do.
To get to be a two pound or larger crustacean, you had to molt many times. Over the years, you broke out of your shell due to your continuous growth.
What constraining or limiting factors did you have to leave behind to reach this point?
What parts of yourself will need to grow – and what parts must be shed – to become the person you will be tomorrow?
“Stop watering things that were never meant to grow in your life. Water what works, what’s good, what’s right.”
—T.D. Jakes, American pastor, author and filmmaker
Image from Unsplash by Markus Spiske
Fast forward about two months to early spring. Go outside and take a look at your lawn and your flower beds. You are just about to turn on the automatic sprinklers and all outside hoses are ready to water the hard-to-reach areas.
You take a closer look at the state of these areas and see that the most robust growth seems to be mostly weeds. What do you do before flipping the switch?
Where are you currently watering the weeds in your life?
What gardening efforts are called for so that you have more of what works, what is good, and what is right growing and blossoming in your life?
“Human nature is like water. It takes the shape of its container.”
—Wallace Stevens, 20th Century American Poet
Image from Unsplash by Delbert Pagayona
When I was a boy, one of my hobbies was maintaining a tropical fish tank with many varieties of brightly colored and various shaped species. In the early years, before they knew my level of commitment, my parents purchased a small set that included a ten-gallon tank.
As my interest grew, I graduated to more elaborate set-ups, which always involved a larger tank.
One thing I particularly enjoyed was that almost all fish species grew a bit larger in their expanded environments.
Examine some of the professional and personal containers in which you swim each day. How large is the container that supports your growth? Who are the individuals that influence your nature? What attitudes and behaviors do they exhibit?
“The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around.”
Image from NorthTexasKids
Tomorrow is my grandson Weston’s first birthday. There are so many people in his life that want to celebrate this special day that my daughter rented a pavilion in a local park to accommodate everyone.
Watching the transformation of Weston’s body and brain this year through visits and video calls has been a delight. Rolling, crawling, cruising, and of course being carried and taken many places has revealed an exponential development of how he takes in and interacts with the world.
Where will your body take your brain today? What wonderful sights, experiences, and people will you meet to bring new lessons and growth opportunities into your life?
“Grow through what you go through.”
Image from Unsplash by Stas Ovsky
Compared to traditional school, life is a paradox. It gives you the test first, before you learn the lesson.
What are some of the most difficult things you have gone through in your life? You know – the things that challenged you physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually?
Take a moment to actually picture yourself before that experience, and look again at your capabilities today.
What time in your life are these memories from? To what degree have you experienced these tests and challenges professionally or personally in the past year?
Regardless of whether challenges seem to find you or you initiate your own life-stretching circumstances, how can you more fully acknowledge and appreciate more of these growth opportunities?
“Change is inevitable. Growth is Intentional.”
—Attributed to Glenda Cloud
Image from Cadillac Gardens
A somewhat recent movement in many cities is the community garden. Residents and community members take modest sized plots of land that have gone unused or, in many cases, represent urban decay, and renew them.
Over the years, most abandoned lots have changed for the worse through the proliferation of weeds, trash, and even vandalism.
To improve these areas, committed community activists and volunteers intentionally clean up the lots and begin flower and vegetable gardens to renew and beautify their towns.
Where can you intentionally bring a greater growth mindset to create the positive change you wish to bring to your world?