Dear God, Please Help Them to Change.

A manager I know has a very inspiring poster on his door about leadership and accountability. It is obvious that he knows the value of these qualities.

It is also obvious that he avoids conflict.

Outside his door, the employees fester with discontent, confusion, drama, and unhealthy competition. Turnover is high. Energy is low.

He hopes that someday things will improve.

He doesn’t know that it is his move.

He also doesn’t know that once he sets clear boundaries, has the courage to quit making excuses, and to follow up tenaciously with coaching and development plans, his fear of conflict will go away.

Those things that we complain about, that keep us awake at night, that drain our energy during the day are actually in our hands to fix. Here is the formula:

  1. An apology
  2. Honest ownership of the dysfunction
  3. Agreement to start over
  4. Setting a when-things-fall-apart contingency

For the manager to his employees, it might sound like this:

“I owe you an apology. I have failed you by not communicating my expectations clearly and by failing to deal with things as they came up. Can we start over? Here is my specific wish-list. What is yours? Let’s talk again in a few days, see how we are doing, and recalibrate if necessary.”

Sometimes, the relationship will not work despite our best efforts, but we will never know if it could have been fixed if we don’t take responsibility for our part first.

Check-up:

  1. Are you assuming people know what you are unhappy about?
  2. Are you expecting those around you to read your mind or to interpret the world through your eyes?
  3. Have you been honest enough to state your desires with emotional detachment (minus the drama)?
  4. Have you remembered that your happiness is not dependent upon what others do but upon your own courage to move forward?
  5. Do you set contingencies in order to avoid indigestion and regression when things go sideways?

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Things Always Get Crazy When…

 

Things always get crazy

When I don’t know what to do next

And feel empty or useless

Unless 

I remember the answer may be love

Or removing obstacles to love

Not about accomplishing something.

Otherwise

Things can get so crazy

That I will forget about those who,

So similar to me,

Might not have a clue about what to do 

Or how to do it either

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Shhhh. Wait a Minute.

I’m deciding

I’m committing to a path of power

I’m seeing the world as a canvas, sunlight’s prism as my medium

I’m watching the story unfold as a masterpiece

I’m hearing the cheers of those who have overcome

I’m laughing with the joy of triumph

I’m wrapped in the arms of the Universe who whispers, “Well done.”

I’m remembering who I am

Now, I’m ready

For anything.

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Time well spent.

Where Do You Live?

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“The words you speak become the house you live in.”  -Hafiz

In the past, when I wasn’t pleased with my situation, I thought that I had been a victim of a cruel fate, injustices, and others’ misjudgments. And, I seldom missed a chance to let everyone know about it. Now I realize:

  • my words were defining my experience.
  • many “injustices” I thought I suffered were self-inflicted. I was just clueless.
  • uncomfortable “accommodations” were part of the journey to appreciating the better ones to come.
  • happiness was always an inside job.

In the beginning was the word.

My words are the architect, the interior designer, and the realtor for the place I want to live.

It’s How You Look at It

“Not loneliness, but solitude. Not suffering, but endurance, the discovery of grim kinship with the rocks and sky. And the finding here of a harsh peace that would transcend bodily discomfort, a healing instead of the wounds of the soul.”

Diana Gabaldon (referring to Jamie Frazer from the Outlander series)

It’s fiction, although, through the character of Jamie Frazer, author Diana Gabaldon challenges us to strength, resilience, and patience in difficult circumstances.

I am not lonely. I am learning solitude.

I am not suffering. I am learning endurance and kinship with creation.

I am not wounded. I am learning a harsh peace that transcends pain and discomfort.

We can label this as way too unreal or romantic, or we can look and learn from countless men and women throughout history who have raised the bar by conquering their circumstances.

Do I need to list their names?

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If You Want to Find a Hero

Men complain about their female exes, romantic interests, bosses, and co-workers being the b-word, manipulative, or impossible to please. Women complain about men being selfish, self-centered, and shallow.

If we want to stop repeating the madness and find movie-quality soulmates, partners, or heroes, here are the rules:

  1. Quit assessing people by their outward beauty or body type (when I meet a man whose primary measurement of a woman is how fit, pretty, or built she is, or a woman who obsesses about bald, overweight, or old, I know I am in the presence of the immature and lonely)
  2. Look at all people the same (don’t measure by what they are or do, $$, or possessions)
  3. Forgive everyone (bitter people are not attractive)
  4. Honor your suffering instead of complaining about it (the nicest people in the world are often those who have suffered most)
  5. Give generously (and forget about getting something back)

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Jungle of Stone

Occasionally, someone tells a story that changes your life.

I can’t quit thinking about this book, not only because of the harrowing adventures it took to discover the lost Mayan Civilization and the brave and brilliant Stevens and Catherwood that made it their calling, but because the vastness of a “universe,” I had been only remotely aware of, has expanded my own. Jungle of Stone.

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Confronted by these two noble, gifted, driven, and humble explorers, I am inspired and humbled by my lack of knowledge, scope, tenacity, and awareness. Thanks, William Carlsen, for excavating the story for me and forcing me out of my own “backyard.”

Even if you have no interest in ancient history or archeology, the life-stories of John Lloyd Stevens and Frederick Catherwood will enlarge your existence.

Recipe for Accomplishment

Some leaders define Vision simply as imagination plus courage.  This definition reminds me that any remarkable accomplishment happens because someone had the courage to stand for what could be. And that…

  • My imagination has a purpose.
  • I have ideas that can make a difference.
  • Many brave people before me have tenaciously fought against unbelievable odds for ideas that mattered.
  • Their imagination and courage made a difference for me.

If I have imagined anything that can benefit others and if my dream makes me feel alive, chances are…this is what I was born to do.

And, if I want to accomplish anything, I must remember this on the days my efforts appear useless.

Courage.

intention

Intent of Radical Self-Improvement and Contribution

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When I do not focus my intention on self-improvement and contribution, I move into a getting-by-with-the-least-amount-of-pain mode. When I allow my life to become all about survival, or vacations and parties, eating and drinking, comfort and rest, I set myself up for big-time disappointment and frustration. Life often refuses to cooperate with these objectives, throwing stuff at us like sickness, financial struggles, uncooperative people, weather, unplanned events, and…ultimately, death.

Even focusing on accolades and achievements is a dead end if not connected to self-improvement and contribution (see cheating to get ahead, narcissism, or any other type of ends-justifies-the-means rational).

For me, the intent of radical self-improvement and contribution is about valuing every other being no less or no more than I value my self. Waking up every day with this intent changes everything.

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When the First Thought Finds Me

When the first thought finds me

Let it be the weight of light

When consciousness comes

Let it be a tiny whisper of surprise

That I have survived the night

Helpless and adrift in those dark hours

And have somehow landed safely

On the sun-soaked shore of another day

 

When the first thought finds me

Let it not be an anchor of dread

Or a tangled net of worry

Tugging me to the bottom of myself

Away from the light playing purposefully

Above my head

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I wrote this poem for a personal reminder to purposely choose a first thought in the morning: a thought that doesn’t call for a sigh or a groan.