Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Archive for May, 2015

Humility Is Seeing the Greater Purpose

Recently I wrote a blog entitled, ‘The Power of Humility.’ I chose the topic after hearing about a college professor who actually listened to his students’ request for a change in schedule for a midterm progress report and then adapted his semester plan to respond to their request. Was it absolutely necessary – probably not – but was it a brilliant thing to do – absolutely! He gave his students two gifts – recognition and respect. Can you just imagine how those students will want to succeed in the course? This master educator had the confidence to take what could have been a power issue off the table, neutralized it and refocus on the individual’s commitment to learning. How many times have we seen examples in any walk of life where the person in charge is confident enough to humble themselves and listen then respond to a request for a change. To often it is a rare occurrence but one to be recognized, applauded and shared with others.

The term humility comes from the Latin word ‘humiliates’ which may be translated as ‘humble’ but there is another meaning to this definition and that is to be ‘grounded’. When we are grounded we are fully present and focused in the moment. We stay balanced, centered, and sure enough of our direction that we are able to control any knee jerk or defensive reaction coming from our ego. We are confident enough to welcome input, mid course corrections and even competition as we share the applause. Examples such as these highlight the difference between a pseudo and authentic educator, leader and person. The former is busy trying to demonstrate THEIR own greatness while the later is busy being sure you understand YOUR own greatness. Why? Because they are comfortable in their own shoes. They see a purpose greater than themselves. Who have you come across in your life that encouraged you to see your own greatness?

By definition, humility has two possible interpretations. The one we most commonly think of is lowering oneself in relation to others. But there is a much more powerful interpretation. It is having a clear perspective of one’s place in context to the greater whole – trying to make the world a better place – one person at a time. It is the difference of talking to someone and not at them. When we go the extra mile to make someone’s day just a little bit better it is a powerful example of just how important acts of humility are in our human pursuit.

When we practice humility we are not afraid to try new things because we realize it is an opportunity to learn. We are resilient and not afraid of failing because we recognize that even in momentary failure there is something that can be gained from the experience. In fact, we realize that there is always something to learn from everyone.

Maybe the power/humility thing just boils down to this … it takes a powerful person to demonstrate humility. Somehow that thought just feels right to me.

Have a great few days!

Be Part of the Change!

Every once in a while we experience a serendipitous event – being in the right place at the right time – which causes a renewed sense of belief in tomorrow. We take a deep breath and think to ourselves ‘Yes, there is much right with the world.’ This is how I felt when reading a newspaper article about money, happiness and a CEO’s determined action to change his company for the better. Some of you may remember one of my April blogs about Dan Price the CEO Of Gravity Payments. (You can retrieve the original blog by going to the archive section of my website.)

Mr. Price, the remarkable human being mentioned in the New York Times article, has chosen to make a BIG difference in the lives of his employees. After reading articles about income and happiness (those of you who follow this website realize that the two are absolutely NOT correlated) this incredible individual decided to do something about it. Rather than following the typical pattern of other CEO’s and amassing millions upon millions of personal wealth this modern day hero has chosen to change the frame – the mindset – and the lives of all of his employees. He will reduce his annual salary to $70,000 and redirect both his salary difference and 80% of Gravity’s annual profit to his employees. Over the next three years even the lowest paid employee will begin earning $70,000 per year.

If you are like me you may have had to read the punch line more than once to believe it. Yet it’s true. Incredible don’t you think? Something tells me that his personal happiness factor will be off the charts! He has internalized and acted upon the true meaning of love, gratitude and compassion. The Dalai Lama would be proud.

What if … just what if … his actions begin to influence others. Can you imagine if other CEO’s decide to do something – anything – to distribute more money back to the rank and file of their companies? Before Dan Price we would have responded, ‘right …when pigs fly!’ But our disbelief must now be put aside because we have one living, breathing example before us. He is one of the 1% that gets it!

Like everything in life change starts with one individual who sees a better way and acts on it. It doesn’t always make one popular with their peers – at least initially – but it does make the world a better place. Their actions stand out like the tallest billboard along the highway flashing with neon lights and says, “Together we can make a difference!”

Let’s add our two cents into this scenario. I understand that the company would like to facilitate discussion on this through their social media avenues. Remember one voice added to another can make the changes we want to see in our world. Please take the time to comment on their Facebook and Twitter accounts at or DanPriceSeattle or Gravitypymts. From the comfort of our own home we could be instrumental in propelling this change forward!

Have a great few days!

The Power of Humilty

Have you ever met someone who despite what they have accomplished just acts like a ‘regular joe?’ They seem to put you at ease from the moment you meet them. They listen when you talk and engage in the conversation. We feel comfortable around them. They just seem to know that the greatest desire of all human beings is to be recognized and appreciated. Later someone might tell us about all that individual has achieved in their life and we may think to ourselves, ‘they seem so down to earth.’ Therein lies their power.

What makes them special? I believe that they have learned the power of HUMILITY. These are the people who others want to be around. They may be hard task masters but do so for a purpose greater than themselves. They value the contributions of everyone from the street sweeper as Dr. Martin Luther King talked about to the greatest minds in their field. They realize it takes all of us working together to become greater than the sum of our individual parts. They radiate a calm belief in themselves and others.

Humility is the secret ingredient of their successful life. It frees them to act from purpose and not mere emotions. These individual realizes that they don’t need to be better than someone else – since life is so much more than a mere competition. They simply need to bring their entire self to the purpose at hand. They free themselves from petty grievances by realizing a greater goal for their life.

Humility does not mean being a doormat, avoiding conflict, or suppressing our own views. What it does mean is handling a situation from the higher intent of purpose (think about being emotionally neutral – looking at the pure facts of a situation) rather than the emotional competition of the people behind it). It is not about being right – that’s somewhat easy – it’s about being inclusive, respectful and focused on the tangible rather than the intangibles. It’s about accomplishment without the drama.

Humility takes the steam of being right out of any argument and replaces it with the higher goal of mutual benefit for a purpose greater than self. Whenever we feel ourselves getting stressed out about a circumstance it is about the people behind it not the pure circumstance. That type of emotional reaction dissipates our effectiveness.

The powerful gestalt therapist, Fritz Perls once said, “I am I and you are you; I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine.” He knew the power of humility and accomplished a great deal during his life in the study of human happiness.

Humility is about a strong sense of self-esteem not self-restraint. When you bring your entire self to whatever you are trying to accomplish in life, your journey is too important to be sidelined by the limiting emotions of mere competition.

We are drawn to people who demonstrate humility because they are strong enough to encourage, appreciate and validate us. We want to do more, be more because they truly see us – with all of our warts and imperfections and respect us anyway.

Have a great few days!

The Magic Elixir…Patience and Gratitude

Gratitude is the magic pill – the vaccine, antiseptic even antitoxin that helps us increase our happiness and well-being. Many of us have become conditioned to expect immediate results in our lives. It seems to be part of our DNA. It certainly is in mine.
We are the folks that look at the clock after experiencing 6 hours of the 24 hour flu bug and become impatient as we count the seconds until we begin to feel better. We know in our hearts that we have much to be grateful for and at times even remember to remember that point … until we get caught up, once again, in the whirlwind of living. Then something happens and our world is turned upside down and inside out and we are left wondering when it will right itself again.

Over the last couple of weeks I have experienced my world being turned upside down. Scheduled for surgery I did what many people probably do … refused to read more about it as I simply thought it would be a quick procedure that would result in my being sidelined for a few days. I only heard the words ‘major surgery’ a day of so after it was over. Okay I said to myself, since it was termed ‘major’ it will probably take a couple more days to fully heal (in my mind I was now allowing up to 6 or 7 days to fully recoup).

Reality has now set in and I’m hoping to be back to my old self in a month or so. It is frustrating, challenging, and, admittedly at times, still close to unacceptable … and yet it is what it is. During this time of limited everything … mobility, nourishment, the list goes on – I have come to realize that it is not simply mind over matter. The physical matter has a mind of its own even with both traditional and non traditional medical support. You just can’t speed certain things up no matter how much you want to. The bottom line then seems to be two fold, patience – the operative word for the day, week and even the month ahead and gratitude. Practicing gratitude seems to help, even momentarily, right the ship of my thinking and makes all the difference.

I have experienced wonderful care and concern from both family members and friends. One friend put her life on hold to make sure I had everything I needed every moment of the day. She deserves a medal since I’m obviously not an easy patient! I even heard from some of you wondering about these blogs since I hadn’t posted recently. That helped … to know that something I am doing in my life is having an impact on others helps renew the spirit. For all of this I am indeed grateful. It is amazing to realize the impact each of us can have on a fellow traveller when we take the time to let them know we care and are important to us. It can put a smile on their face at just the perfect moment when they need it the most. Yes, each of us has been put on this earth to have an impact on others. As Albert Schweitzer said, “Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.”

Have a great few days!

Space and Time are the Magic!

How many times have you instantly responded back to someone’s comment and regretted it after? Later you might think to yourself, ‘my ears didn’t hear what my mouth said … until it was too late.’ We may then start to worry about how others will view us. Regret usually follows as we remember the last 10 times or so that we also responded without thinking. We may, at first, try to justify our response. But after a short while we start to feel embarrassed and begin to put ourselves down. We add to the negative view we have of ourselves. Eventually we become worried that others might think we are always ‘that way.’

Our rapid fire responses comes from defensiveness or fear that we learned ages ago. Over time, we have developed a habit of striking back immediately at any perceived slight from an individual. We have become quite good at something that does not serve us well in the long run. But once habits are recognized they can be changed.

The author, Steven Covey, wrote about this in his book, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. His first habit is to ‘Be Proactive – Become aware of the Space’ between every stimulus and response to achieve greater happiness. That space – that moment in which we have the freedom to choose our response actually defines us. Do we choose anger or calm, a negative, positive or neutral reaction? When we become aware that we have an opportunity to redirect any challenging emotional response simply by using time (it may be only 30 seconds) which is the space Covey is referring to – between what happened and how we respond to it we put ourselves in the driver’s seat. We are able to use both our mind and heart to achieve personal growth and a feeling of being more in control. We then experience a more positive self concept and greater happiness. Just think … All this happens when we train ourselves to take a deep breath BEFORE reacting or responding to a comment or circumstance. As Covey said, “Next to life itself, this self-awareness of our freedom to choose, to direct our lives, is our most precious gift and power.”

The space thing is a big deal. Just like music, visual and performing arts, and writing the white space is purposeful. It allows for greater meaning and deeper understanding when we train ourselves to observe and work with it. Think of an actor who delivers his lines quickly compared to one that uses space and pauses for greater emotional impact. The space – the pause often speaks louder than the actual words.

There are no blue ribbons or best in show awards given to the person who practices a rapid fire response to life. In fact, it speaks volumes to the maturational level of the individual. Think of a young child – they react quickly to someone or something because they have not fully matured and developed a more appropriate response mechanism that will serve them better over time. They have not yet learned the magic of space and time.

When someone says something that sounds hurtful or uninformed the magic is in YOUR chosen response. Remember the concept of space and time. You can build up, educate and win or merely strike back. It really is a choice that is completely yours.

Have a great few days!