Nature offers us wonderful examples of growth, renewal, and transformation when we allow each of its seasons to guide our life.
Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Ian Schneider
What is your perspective on winter? What activities make up most of your days during the winter months? How much time do you spend outdoors?
Except for periodic brisk walks and sprinting from one building to another with my car acting as a shuttle service, I live a predominantly indoor life when it’s cold. Although I admire the grit and fortitude of people who choose a frigid lifestyle, I prefer to hibernate or fly south.
Instead of feeling bad and self-critical during these months, I’ve learned to embrace more inner efforts as a necessary and valuable aspect of living on a planet that circles the sun on a 23 degree angle.
How can and do you embrace each of nature’s seasons and the opportunity they offer? What inner and outer work lies ahead for you in this new year?
When you receive criticism take a moment to pause. Let this time be a kind of speed bump to slow down and “try on” what is being said.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Brett Jordan
No one likes to be criticized and judged. We like the way we are doing our lives and anyone who disapproves is clearly wrong!
Oops! What just happened? How can it be that we, too, may be just as critical of others, and they don’t care for it very much either?
What if instead of blocking this feedback and defending our positions, we simply paused to consider their perspective?
What would happen if we actually looked for the potential value in what was being said?
How might new ways of looking at ourselves create new opportunities for growth and self-improvement?
How would slowing down for the seemingly critical speed bumps offered by others make your travel through life smoother?
How might the ideas that are shared actually fit if you “try them on” for size?
If you still find them too tight, loose, itchy, or the wrong color, you can take them off.
“I am still learning.”
—Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, 14th Century Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet
Image from Unsplash By Grant Whitty
Michelangelo was born in 1475 and died in 1564. His longevity would be remarkable even today, with the average life expectancy of a man being somewhere between 78 and 83.
Perhaps it was his Mediterranean diet or disciplined exercise efforts that added those extra years. My guess would definitely include his industrious spirit and his desire for continuous learning.
His Sistine Chapel ceiling was completed between 1508 and 1512, and the Rondanini Pieta sculpture was produced in the year of his passing.
How strong is your desire to learn and grow? Where might exercising your learning muscles add more years to your life and life in your years? How does and can the pursuit of learning make your life a more beautiful work of art?
Switch up your stress story.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Elisa Ventur
To what degree do you feel like you are at a breaking point? Where are the levels of personal and professional stress having a negative impact on your physical and mental health?
I recently visited the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. Of particular interest was a glass breaking exhibition in which various types of glass were put to the test. Over the years of use and development of this miraculous material, engineers and scientists have come up with numerous processes to make glass far stronger and resistant to breakage.
Where are you being tempered and heat treated through various life experiences? How can you view these events and the stories you tell about them as opportunities for greater growth and resilience?
“I once was better at this than I am.”
—Arthur C. Brooks, American social scientist, musician, and columnist
Image from Unsplash by Armand Khoury
Where are you still climbing the ladders of life? Where do you continue to learn, grow, and achieve new levels of excellence and mastery?
Where have you peaked in your personal and professional efforts? Where it is harder to keep up with your former self?
In what areas of your life have you noticed declines in physical or mental capacities, and how well are you doing navigating this descent?
Consider reading Brook’s book From Strength to Strength and pay particular attention to the concepts of fluid versus crystalized intelligence. These concepts were first described by Raymond Cattell in his 1971 book, Abilities: Structure, Growth, and Action.
I hope these resources offer you evidence and that we can all keep getting better in ways we may previously not have considered.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin, Late American speculative fiction author
Image from Unsplash by Neal E. Johnson
What are your most important goals for 2022? To what degree have you progressed toward them and how do you feel about your efforts?
How do you expect to feel when you reach the end of your journey and stand on the peaks of your achievements? What then?
Another goal and then another. How is it possible to remain energized and not be let down soon after we actually hold the prize?
Numerous experts on personal and professional development suggest we focus on growth versus goals. This shift in perspective supports us in gaining satisfaction from our efforts and milestones along our paths instead of just the pots of gold at our journey’s end.
Where would adopting a growth versus a goal mindset enhance your motivation, momentum, and levels of success?
“Other people may be there to help us, teach us, guide us along our path, but the lesson to be learned is always ours.”
—Melody Beattie, American self-help author
Image from Unsplash by niko photos
Imagine your life as an oak tree standing tall in a healthy forest. Your life began as an acorn filled with potential from a nearby member of your family. You got lucky that first season, landing in a fertile spot with lots of water, nutrients, and sunlight.
With all of these positive influences you received the bonus of a squirrel burying you, and not remembering where, over the winter. You sprouted, started sending your branches and leaves to the sky and your roots deep into the ground. One day you, too, got to be generous, and dropped your own wise acorns onto the ground.
What are some of the most impactful lessons you have learned over the years?
Who were some of the guides and teachers that helped you grow?
What lessons are you still learning and who are the people that continue to bring out your best?
“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?