“Bouncing Forward”

Instead of “bouncing back” from trauma and loss, Sheryl Sandberg, in her book Option B, suggests the possibility of, and preference for, “bouncing forward,” citing multiple examples of how real peoples’ lives improved after horrific ordeals of pain and loss.

As Sheryl Sandberg, I do not want to minimize the pain of having “option A” ripped from our hands, only point out that believing in “Option B” will do us a heck of a lot of good. Rather than succumbing to the mantra of “I can never recover from this,” we can join forces with those who bounce forward by asking, “How can I make this pain count?”

Here’s to a day of bouncing forward…not just back. Cheers.

No One Is Listening

No one is listening when we…

  • nag

  • preach

  • repeat ourselves

  • brag

  • make excuses

But, we keep doing it, with irrational hope, ignorance, or annoying arrogance.

Suggested alternatives (only if we want to be heard):

  • Ask more questions.
  • Mirror emotions.
  • Listen without interrupting.
  • Drop our agenda and just be present.

Transformation of the Unappreciated

I never liked Phantom of the Opera…until I understood it was about my own struggle with the dark side.

I dissed Sci-Fi…until I found it could teach me essential things.

I mocked country music…until, okay, I still mock country music.

I hated tomato juice…until I tried it.

I ignored animation…until I laughed my way through Toy Story and Shrek.

I never made the effort to learn enough about other cultures…until important people came into my life from other cultures.

I undervalued my enemies…until I knew they were like me.

I didn’t appreciate other points of view…until I listened carefully.

I can become bored with my partner…until I look at him as an eternal, masterfully-created being.

I wonder how much wonder, joy, insight, pleasure, and happiness I have missed because I confidently and callously refused it.

When Telling Our Story is Inappropriate

If someone is telling you about…

  • their cancer diagnosis
    • They don’t want to hear about your diagnosis or someone else’s.
    • They are only asking you to care enough to listen.
  • their pain or challenges
    • They don’t want to hear about yours.
    • They are only asking you to show concern.
  • how you offended them
    • They don’t want your excuses.
    • They are only asking you to hear and understand first.

A friend recently shared his frustration since his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer; “Everyone wants to tell their story. We only want people to care.”

Disabling the “Shut Down Switch”

While teaching a management class, one of the participants continuously spouted off condemnations against his boss, his company, stupid coworkers, and the “tragically unmotivated younger generation.” When solutions were offered for one of his complaints, he shut it down with a standard reply; It won’t work. Tried that. You can’t fix stupid.”

He reminded me of me; of the times I refused to listen to anyone who challenged me to take responsibility for change.

As much as we hate a Know-It-All, sometimes the Know-It-All is us.

To keep myself from throwing cold water on others’ suggestions, I am learning to say:

Tell me more about that.
What am I missing?
What else?

By disabling my shut-down switch, I listen, learn, and grow up.

Got a Chaos Management Plan?

Do you have a chaos management plan (CMP)? Not just for North Korea but for the other times when your life is “nuked” by relationship, financial, or circumstantial violence.

We can’t be lulled into thinking we don’t need one, especially if we are currently quite impressed with ourselves and our “cool.”

It doesn’t take much for the props that make us feel cool to fall away and our inner deficits to be embarrassingly exposed.

My simple CMP:

  1. Accept what is.
  2. Forgive myself and others for the chaos.
  3. Invest in inner strength more than props.
  4. Expect chaos and smile at the future.

What Difference Does It Make?

Craving significance is a huge part of our human condition.

When we understand how our work matters, everything changes. We have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. We have a reason to overcome obstacles. We have a reason to keep going when pain is unbearable.

One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is to acknowledge the difference we make. Great managers do this. Good people do this.

“If it breathes, it needs encouragement.” -Charlie Chaplain

This Will Shut Us Up

“If you have time to whine and complain about something, then you have the time to do something about it.”

That might sound trite…until we calculate the astonishing amount of time that we have wasted whining and complaining.

With just a little of that wasted time, I have found that I can…

  • Ask the Universe for wisdom and help
  • Offer what I do have without complaining about what I don’t
  • Seek out mentors and inspiration to counteract my feeling of helplessness
  • Decide to do what I don’t want to do
  • Take a baby-step toward something meaningful

Probably worth the discipline it takes to watch what I say…

To Freak-out or Simplify?

Hmmmm, which is better? To freak-out over my concerns or to keep it simple?

What if…? WTF? How will I make it? Why am I such a loser? Who do they think they are? Why is this happening to me? What am I going to do?

Or…

I’m going to do the best I can with what I have, trusting that all will work out, breathing the oxygen that miraculously feeds my trillion cells (while traveling through the Universe at one-thousand MPH on a planet made of hot molten lava).

How to Save Your Life

Our health, relationships, jobs, and special concerns have a (significant and scientifically-proven) statistical advantage of survival if…wait for it…we learn to state our opinions on emotionally-charged issues honestly and respectfully.

Really.

Most of us don’t, and skillfully blame the other party for our failure, i.e., “They don’t listen to me,” “They think they are always right,” “I tried,” “It doesn’t do any good,” etc. When the actual truth is: our approach fails to provide a safe place for the exchange of real information. 

Getting better results is easier than we think. We just have to be humble enough to learn, prepare, and practice new skills.

If, instead, we choose to do what we have always done, we must accept the consequences…

  • The costly games we play sabotage our jobs, relationships, and plans.
  • Relationship stress and frustration break down our immune systems.
  • 75% of all violent crimes are committed against family members, coworkers, friends, and neighbors.

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