Have you ever noticed the different ways we greet each other? In Japan bowing is a traditional sign of greeting that shows recognition and respect. In many African countries hand clapping signals a greeting. Saying hello, shaking hands, even fist bumping and hugging are different ways we greet people in English cultures. Sometimes it feels rather perfunctory and at other times it feels – well actually genuine – and it stops our brain momentarily from thinking about the next thing on our to do list. We truly see the other human being who despite all odds, trials and challenges are here in front of us at this moment in time.
A similar thing can be said for sales associates and check out clerks. You can just tell that someone above them on the corporate ladder has instructed them to greet each customer usually with a question such as. ‘Did you find everything you were looking for?’ Or ‘How are you doing today?’ As the words come tumbling out of their mouths there is little to no eye contact as they are busy surveying what needs to be checked out on the friendly conveyor belt that is going at warp speed as their manager views the action from a perch high above. Until …wait for it … you stop and look them in the eye, respond and then go to the next step and actually ask them how their day is going. Usually they will stop mid task, a bit surprised that you took even a moment to ask about their day. Such a small thing to do and yet you can just feel the person warm up inside. It is, as if, they are saying to themselves, ‘Well, my day is actually getting better with thoughtful customers like you!’
When we take a moment to look people in the eye and let them know that we see them – truly see them – it means something. We are choosing to use a few precious seconds of our life to stop and appreciate the spiritual presence of another. There is a single word that means all of this which is used in the form of a greeting around the world. The word is ‘Namaste’ (pronounced na-ma-stay). Roughly translated it means the heart and spirit in me sees the heart and spirit in you. Regardless of our background and experiences when a fellow traveler takes the time to recognize us it’s a good thing. Often this one word greeting is done with the hands together and pulled close to the heart.
I know it may sound like a stretch to suggest such a greeting to some – especially the part with the hands held to the heart but regardless of the type of greeting we are comfortable with the important part is taking the time to mean it right? To take even 30 seconds out of our busy day and offer kindness, recognition and respect to another.
Over the next few days check it out. I’ll bet you can stop someone in their tracks who is being paid to service you in the most efficient manner by looking at them and asking how their day is going. Just think you are sending out those good vibrations into the world and it didn’t cost you a cent even though it created value for others.
Maybe the big things in life are made just a bit easier when we remember to take care of the smaller things along the way.
Have a great few days!
The greatest gift we can give to someone is nurturing and unconditional love. It creates a bond that withstands even the most difficult challenges in life. There is now research that demonstrates that early maternal nurturing and love creates a bond in the child that serves them well throughout life and actually results in changes in the brain. According to Dr. Joan Luby from the University of Washington in St. Louis, Missouri, the hippocampus area of the brain has been found to be up to 10% larger in children who were loved and nurtured early in life. Since the hippocampus stores memories with emotional ties it just makes sense that early memories of love and adoration serves a person well for the rest of their lives. As they mature into adulthood somewhere in the back recesses of their minds they remember the feeling of being totally accepted and loved and know they are worthy of the same feeling in later life. They may be more discerning as they evaluate future possible relationships. They have memories that help them recognize true feelings of love and acceptance. It seems to me then that early bonding helps create a more positive sense of self. A willingness to seek rather than settle until that special moment when that feeling of unconditional love and acceptance once again appears in their life.
In educational research the importance of having at least one person in a child’s life that loves them unconditionally has long been recognized to be the most important factor a child brings with them to school. It often means the difference between success or struggle.
Once again, we see that unconditional love is the greatest thing we can give to another human being.
A new book just published entitled, ‘Unforgettable” and written by Scott Simon from NPR demonstrates this concept beautifully. As he sat by his mother’s beside for a few days as she was dying he began tweeting his thoughts. Over 1.2 million Twitter followers lived through this journey of his beloved mothers’ last days with him. He expanded upon those original tweets to create this book. Rather than being a sad, depressing read it is a celebration of a life between mother and son that is beauty beyond words. It continually resonates with laughter, shared memories and life lessons. You live through the challenges of this mother trying to keep a roof over her son’s head, making sure he had enough to eat by passing on the food herself. Yet always, always making light of the circumstance at hand so as not to burden him with worry. She becomes a real person – someone you would like to know. A person you just know you would have some laughs with as you discuss the latest absurdity of life.
The son, ahh yes, then there is the son – Scott Simon – he stands above the crowd with his unconditional love and devotion for his mother. His book is more than a memoir or tribute to a her. His words help us experience the emotions of a life well lived and remembered. They create a beautifully soft envelop of love that surrounds you as you turn each page and ultimately leave you with a feeling of gratitude for having been privileged enough to walk a mile in his shoes.
Have a great few days!
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!
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 Facebook.com/Gravitypayments 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!
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!
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!