Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘grief’

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 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!

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!

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!

Make It Happen!!

If you had only one pearl of wisdom that you could share with your loved ones what would it be? Would it be about honesty, patience, integrity, hard work? Or maybe it would be words of encouragement for them to think about when the going gets tough. These ideas and a host of others are all very important but for me it would be to somehow, someway help them understand the life changing power of their own thoughts.

Often we are so busy ‘doing’ life that we don’t stop to realize that we are actually creating our own reality from the feelings we are sending out to the Universe. The cardinal rule is that THOUGHTS CREATE FEELINGS WHICH CAUSE BEHAVIOR. This is an understanding learned in goal setting that really works! Yup! That’s the long and short of what I would share with my loved ones.

We all have difficulty, challenges and events happen to us that frustrate and seem unfair. That’s part of living on planet Earth. When we choose to face those situations and handle them rather than perseverate on them we win. In fact, any time spent with thoughts that life is unfair is simply time wasted. Those negative thoughts will begin to seep into your personality and drag you down. Little by little people will start to avoid you because you are just too exhausting to be around.

Researchers have said that we have about 60,000 thoughts a day. If you were being totally honest with yourself what percentage would you say you devote to positive, energy creating thoughts …. and what percentage to negative, self defeating thoughts?
Look at those two percentages again. Is that really how you want to live your life?

Speaking about life, what if you really want something – a new house, different job or lasting relationship, for example, and it just hasn’t happened yet. What do you start telling yourself? Lisa Nichols, a contributing author to The Secret said “most of the time when we don’t see the things we have requested we get frustrated. We get disappointed. And we begin to become doubtful. The doubt brings about a feeling of disappointment. Take that doubt and shift it. Recognize that feeling and replace it with a feeling of unwavering faith. “I know that it’s on its way.”

Listen to those words, I KNOW IT’S ON THE WAY. Those are strong, powerful words that elicit a feeling of empowerment. When you take this statement to the next level and allow yourself a few minutes in you days to FEEL how wonderful it will be when it comes to pass you are manifesting the energy to make it happen. Experiencing the feeling (before it actually happens) is actually the key to unlocking the magic door that causes your dreams to become a reality. Why? Simply thinking about something you desire is not enough. You need to FEEL the emotion behind it. It is like putting gas into your engine – it gives you the power needed to send the Universe positive, consistent statements of belief in attainment. Your job then is to remember this feeling as you sit back and watch your dreams become a reality …because they will…and you can smile and realize YOU can make things happen. Remember it’s all about your feelings! You are now in the driver’s seat and the ride will be fantastic for the rest of your life.

This is what I would teach my family because I know it is the most powerful and important lesson they will ever learn.

Have a great few days!

How Do You View Disruptions?

How often do we view with grace an unexpected need or interruption that invades our scheduled lives? Do we immediately think to ourselves, ‘I don’t have time for this!’ Then go on to perseverate about how many things will need to be rescheduled, or put aside temporarily in order to handle it. The world in which we live seems to be moving faster and demanding more time and attention everyday. Yet, unexpected issues surface frequently and we have a choice in the way we respond.

The most common reaction is to view the unexpected with frustration. We see it as an imposition and internally rally our emotions around the unfairness of it all. We resist because it feels like we are being told what to do ..it wasn’t our idea or need and why do we need to change our schedule? We continue to complain until we work ourselves up to a fever pitch and yet the unexpected is still waiting (sometimes growing bigger if only in our minds) to be addressed. Finally we calm down and, rather begrudgingly, figure out a way to get it done. When we view the issue from a perspective of restrictive motivation (I HAVE TO) we bring in so much negative energy. We allow ourselves to go to a place of judgment and irritation. We can almost feel our blood pressure rise as we think about it. After we have handled the issue we often continue our mental dialog regarding ‘the intrusion.’ That’s a whole lot of time (which we don’t have) and emotional energy (which takes a mental and physical toll on us) that we have expended needlessly.

There is a better way. We can decide to respond with constructive motivation (I choose to) when confronted with an unexpected issue. By taking a deep breath and allowing ourselves a quick moment to accept, without judgment, that things naturally crop up and we need to adjust our schedule to accommodate them, we can move on quickly to figure out the specifics. When we willingly CHOOSE to accept the need to address the issue and get it done we remove the suspended animation of the tension. That’s it …just get it done and move on and chalk it off our ‘To Do’ list. When we utilize this approach we are choosing to see the issue through a kaleidoscope of possible solutions and as we turn it a few degrees we get a sharper view of the most productive way to proceed. We focus our time on the best approach for addressing the need rather than wasting our time emotionally resenting it. When we decide to just get it done without perseverating and complaining we are using a positive more proactive approach. We become are more confident and in control in the long run.

In goal setting this idea of restrictive versus constructive motivation is a biggie. It doesn’t matter the task – writing a proposal, presenting at a conference, cleaning the house or taking the time to listen with our hearts when someone needs us – the choice of how to view the unplanned need is ours and the way we decide to address it speaks volumes about our personal level of development.

Since we are all here to learn life lessons, could it be that the Universe is presenting these unexpected interruptions or additional needs as a way to help us develop more patience, and personal regard for others? If so, the quicker we decide to CHOOSE to respond with grace the less intrusions will be presented in our lives.

The next time you are confronted with an issue that causes a disruption to your scheduled day take a moment and remember the choice before you … restrictive or constructive motivation. The choice and result is always up to you.

Have a great few days!

Words Make a Difference!

In goal setting we learn that thoughts trigger emotion which then triggers behavior. So if you want to change your behavior you need to start with the thought (words) you attach to it. That sounds clear enough until we begin to examine the complexity behind the words we choose to use. They originate from our background and experiences and can either help or hinder our progress forward. How often do we really listen to the choice of words we use or stop to observe their impact. Does it sound like that would take too much time that you don’t have? If so, you might want to think again. When organizations were surveyed regarding prospective employees the item of greatest importance to them was communication skills. Further, in countless surveys on the topic of happiness people responded that the most important thing in a relationship was, once again, the ability to communicate. So whether we are talking about work, family or friends the most important thing we can bring to the setting is solid communication skills.

Sometimes we are so busy speaking that we forget to pause and ‘check for understanding’ to be sure the words we chose are fully understood by others. Sound silly? Actually it’s not. If you ask 5 people to tell you what any word mean such as comfortable, happiness or improvement you would get 5 different definitions. Why? Remember … the understanding we bring to the words we use are defined by our background and emotional experiences and are as unique to us as our fingerprints. It is up to the speaker to verify they are understood. Few listeners have the confidence to say they do not understand so they just continue looking as if they are listening while they are repeating over and over in their mind what was said that they did not understand. That makes refining our communication skills even more important as we strive for a life of greater happiness and success.

Choosing the right words invites others in or creates barriers to understanding. Think of the words that are a natural part of your vocabulary. Are they energy affirming or energy depleting. Check the faces of those you are talking to … are they engaged in what you are saying? Do they ask clarifying questions to be sure they get your meaning or intention behind the words? If not maybe it’s time to reevaluate the word choices you are using.

There is a computer term, GIGO. It simply means garbage in – garbage out. When we think about a computer being neutral it makes sense. It responds to what is fed into it. Likewise, the Universe can be looked upon as neutral for this purpose. Words are a form of energy (negative or positive) and when sent out into the Universe the same type of energy is sent back to us. Without realizing it we can be drawing negative energy to us simply from the word choices we habitual use.

To Improve our communication skills we must start by recognizing the difference between word choices. Let’s look at a few examples: PROBLEM or OPPORTUNITY – HAVE TO or CHOOSE TO – DEMAND or REQUEST – UNACCEPTABLE or NEEDS IMPROVEMENT. In each pairing did you notice or feel an energy difference between the two words? The first was demeaning or defeating – basically negative energy in action and the second word word choice offers hope, expectation and belief and resonates positive energy. Are your word choices helping or restricting you?

Developing the habit of the mindful use of words can transform your communication skills from ordinary to extraordinary. In business and family life you will see a change in the way people listen …really listen to you. They will want to follow you, support your efforts and make you proud of what they can contribute because you were able to get their attention through the use of your positive word choices.

As Buddha said, “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.”

Life is a challenge for all of us. When we find something that makes the journey a bit easier it is important to pass the idea on to others. Try giving your word choices greater attention in the future. Your thoughts, words and actions will benefit. It will make you and others feel a whole lot better!

Have a great few days!

Taking Time to Reflect

We often judge our lives by how busy and productive we are on a daily basis. There are jobs to be done, people to serve, reports to write or experiments to be run. We move faster and faster trying to leverage every last second of the day into a result. Then, one day we stop and reflect on what it all means. We have accomplished a great deal and yet may still feel a nagging sense of emptiness or exhaustion. Why?

Could it be that in our manic need to achieve we have forgotten ourselves in the process? Have we been running so fast that we forgotten to stop and and smell the roses along the way? It happens as part of living in our twenty first century world. A world of overload – information, expectation and speed.

Have we internalized the message that we are simply what we do, what we accomplish, or what we own? If so let’s mentally fast forward a few years. When all the doing and owning is achieved what is left? Do we think that simply our hard work and accomplishments will result in ultimate happiness? It takes way more than that to achieve lasting happiness.

Maybe there’s more to the story. Of course, we need to be productive in our lives and pay the bills, put bread on the table so to speak. Accomplishment gets our blood pumping but the challenge – the critical issue seems to be one of learning the importance of balance in our lives. Rarely do our parents – our earliest teachers point out the importance of it. Balance is a concept that is rarely learned early in life. But now is a new day – a chance to develop a healthier sense of self by practicing something that will serve us well for the rest of our lives.

It’s not easy to train ourselves to slow down and breathe deeply to absorb certain moments in our life. At first the practice may even be judged as either unproductive or at least an interruption in our ‘Achievement Schedule.’ Don’t be fooled – you need and even deserve it. The moments, for instance, when we take the time to visit with friends, engage in an activity, observe nature, or simply read a book for pure enjoyment are precisely what gives us greater texture and depth in our lives. We become deeper, more at peace and more gentle with ourselves and others. Life becomes more than simply getting from here to there as we learn to appreciate the moments, the stops or even detours along the way. We start to realize that we are more than simply the sum of our parts when we take time to step off the never ending treadmill of doing and move, even momentarily, into a place of pure being through reflection.

I’m not talking about taking an inordinate amount of time out of your daily schedule. Over the next few days try taking 10 or 15 minutes just for you. Inhale deeply and observe something about yourself or others more fully. Listen to your thoughts – really listen. What do you see or feel differently about after this short respite? What ‘Aha’ did you discover in the process? You have worked hard, achieved much, and helped a great deal. Now it’s time to give to yourself. The sooner you start this practice of daily reflection the happier and more balanced your life will become.

Have a great few days!

Celebrate the Coincidences in Your life!

Deepak Chopra wrote a book entitled, ‘The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire’ which is still on my bookshelf 12 years later. His premise was that everyday coincidences are meaningful as they give us glimpses of the field of infinite possibilities that are at the heart of all things. He explained that we are connected to everything that exists and everything yet to come. When we begin to notice these coincidences – not as random happenings but as events of perfect timing – we begin to think more deeply about the implications in our own lives.

While the explanation above might sound a bit too philosophical to be fully understood, below are two examples that demonstrates the idea clearly.

A recent accident in the icy waters of the Spanish Fork River near Salt Lake claimed the life of a mother,Jennifer Groesbeck, age 25. In the partially submerged car, her 18 month little girl was found trapped after 13 hours, unconscious and dangling upside down in her car seat. Police and firefighters were called to the scene by a fisherman who spotted the car. Rescuers said that as they approached the car they definitely heard a female voice calling out for “Help” from inside the vehicle. But the emergency responders said the mother was dead and the 18 month old was not only unconscious but too young to call out. Tyler Beddoes, one of the rescuers said, ‘WE ALL HEARD THE SAME THING. How do you explain that?’ The good news about this story was that the baby survived and is doing well. The other good news is that it is yet another example of meaningful coincidence. It makes us stop and wonder – maybe even stretch our belief system slightly – about something bigger than ourselves. Was the rescue of this baby coincidence or miracle? Does it matter what we label it….No…but it does give us the opportunity to think more deeply about our existing belief system.

Deepak Chopra explains coincidences as messages from a higher source that are intended to guide us in ways to act that make our dreams and intentions a reality. A much different example of coincidence also happened recently. A text message was received from a bank which indicated a possible fraud had occurred on the owner’s credit card. Immediately following up on the alert it was found to be in error but opened up a much deeper and needed discussion, at the perfect moment in time, regarding life plans. What caused the text message to happened at precisely the right moment to stimulate the discussion? Was the message directed from a higher source? What I do know is that everything happens for a purpose and there is a great deal of loving support available to us that we cannot necessarily see with our naked eye. When we are receptive coincidences happen in perfect timing and are meant as a gift to help us along our path.

Take a moment over the next few days and watch when something happens – out of the blue – that causes you to think, feel or act differently. Would you have done so if the incident hadn’t presented itself at just the perfect moment in time? The interesting thing about the area of coincidence is that the more you recognize them the more they happen. They become like our guide on the side as we live out our time on planet Earth. Rather reassuring wouldn’t you say?

Have a great few days!

Determining Your Authentic Self

Have you ever felt that you are not being appreciated or that you are doing all the giving or supporting in a work or personal relationship? If you answered yes to this question let’s look a bit deeper into it. Could it be that you are so interested in getting others to accept or appreciate you that you have not allowed your authentic self to show? Is the fear of people really knowing you blocking you from showing the world what you truly stand for? If so, let me assure you that being authentic draws people to you – not ever away. People can feel truth.

Being authentic starts by first determining what is most important to you in life. As unique individuals we each have specific values that we hold most dear – those things that are truly nonnegotiable to us. Think about them as your personal mission statement. Values such as love, accomplishment, fairness, compassion, confidence, courage, health, freedom, family, harmony, integrity, kindness, optimism, patience, service, trust, orderliness, peace, spirituality, and gratitude are just a few from a long list of values to consider. Each one speaks volumes. Once you determine your own priority of values navigating through life becomes so much easier. In essence, you become more confident and decision making becomes easier because you are more at peace in your own skin.

A helpful way to determine your authentic self is to choose five values that you find most important. You know, the ones that seem to radiate energy back to you as you consider them. The list of words above can be a starting point to consider. The list is long for a purpose. The process is important. Evaluating each word forces you to take the time to consider what it truly means to you. Determining your top five forces you to prioritize as you remind yourself of who you are in your heart. Once you have taken the time to determine your own nonnegotiable values life becomes easier. When you encounter decisions, challenges or obstacles (the should I or shouldn’t I) in life you have a measuring stick to help steer you on a course of action reflects the real you.

Growing more confident as an individual means that you allow your unique identity to be known by others. But…’what if they won’t like me or accept me for who I am’ you may wonder. It’s true not everyone may like you. Just as you do not necessarily like everyone you encounter. It’s simply a cold, hard immutable fact of life. There are bits and pieces in everyone’s personality that leaves something to be desired. It’s called being human. These little quirks in others can be overlook but the values behind them cannot. A person’s values determine not only who they are but what they will do in a pinch. That’s important to know. Likewise, if we try to morph ourselves into something we do not truly value in order to fit in or be accepted it just doesn’t work. We project insincerity or insecurity that is easily felt by others.

Determining the values you hold dear helps you project with confidence who you really are at your core. Just as truth has no versions – your authentic self has no versions either. Any future role in life will never define you because deep down you know what you stand for – no pretenses necessary. Taking the time to determine your authentic self is critical to self esteem. The process alone will help you begin to truly love yourself for all the strengths you possess and there are many! Give it a try and take the time to decide on your top five values … you’ll be glad you did!

Have a great few days!