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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Passion. Rigor. Purpose.

We're sitting here watching the movie Julie Julia and it dawns on me so many of us don't have what it takes.

Or maybe it's just me.

There are days rigor is left by the wayside. By this I mean, the gym is skipped, planning is put aside and flexibility - when it's convenient - becomes the focus.

Managing self, that necessary ingredient to focusing on what's important, the key to not letting things get out of hand and putting the best light on the situation, begins with routine. Like setting the alarm for the same time daily, and getting up with it. Scooping the cat litter twice at regular times. Creating a system for putting the laundry through, ironing, polishing the shoes and routinely checking for cat hair on your clothes before leaving home.

Better yet, establishing routine, even rigor, with following through on small tasks leads us to accomplishing things that will make us proud. Especially the important things regarding family, values, career.

What ways do you establish and follow through on routines that support what is important to you? Let me know, really, because I need more insight into this. Part of my career focus is in helping individuals, professionals, create the boundaries that are important to them and break down those that hold them back.

I am very passionate about this. At the end of the day, when we have followed through on those things so important to us, we feel as though we exist.

It is a struggle, no question about it. Yet the energy that goes into anything of importance comes out the other end in multiples through our own feeling of accomplishment, through the recognition and support of others and through any other product that comes as a result.

Rent the movie Julie and Julia. Better yet, define your passion. From there your rigor and resolve will carry you into defining the importance of your struggle compared to the result.

Send me your insight. Really.

Friday, December 18, 2009

As clear as...

I love swimming. Born a Pisces, my body takes to water like tires to the road. Sparkling water, a bit of a ripple and I'm ready to soak in the surroundings energized by the powerful connection of nature to spirit.

On the other hand, sludge is such an energy sapper. It is visual proof of no movement, of static life. It bogs me down and everything around me.

I find communication similar to water. Clear language compounded with similar non-verbals gives energy to conversation. Participants respond with questions, with feedback, with interest in resolving the moment. Yet, insert vague word choice, lack of feedback and blank stares and nothing happens. The energy of those involved is spent. Conversation is stymied.

You remember those times you were with someone who didn't respond, who perhaps simply smiled when a smile was incongruent. It takes us by surprise - much like a muddy pond. We try to back away, to not stick our toes in, to search for something a bit more involved. Yet we may actually take the challenge to find the movement, to create a ripple and see how long it lasts.

I remember when dating in high school, I would often sit in cars on the return trip with nothing to say. Out of pleasantries, my mind drained of topics, I would stare out the window, longing to escape the interior, to move. Yet I know the driver felt even more ill at ease, because of my shyness which led to short answers and limited eye contact.

Was this because I didn't like my companion? No. More likely, I didn't know what I liked. I hadn't taken the time to prepare my thoughts, to consider my views, to develop my interests, to question others, to seek information nor to love things around me. So when with others, suddenly I began considering my views - and now they weren't clear. I wanted to seek information, yet I didn't know how. I realized I had very few interests and now my thoughts were inconclusive.

My language was vague. "I don't know" was a common phrase. "That's cool" was another.

Stymied communication may lead us to seeking movement, if we are up to it. If the individual is interesting enough, if the time together is captive or if we are up to the challenge. But it won't last long. When communication is clear as mud, it bogs us down. Like mud caking on our skin, vague communication is irritating, bothersome and leaves us searching for refreshment. For escape.

I'm a Pisces. I see why I was so stymied as a youth and young adult. I was meant to swim through conversation, to move with pizazz, yet my fears of the water held me back. I needed the confidence to get my toes wet - to jump in. Regardless of the grace, I had to attempt social conversations, to put myself on the edge and dive right in. To continue, despite the scorecard results, so I could develop the skills. Without that experience, I couldn't have become the "lifeguard" around the communication pool today.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Night of Peace

I so enjoy peace.

A creature bent towards contemplation, I refuel when lights are low, candles are burning, soft music is playing and I can put my thoughts in order.

Night skies with great expanse calm my mind. In 1992 I spent 8 weeks in the Catskills with the National Shakespeare Conservatory, studying theatre classics, physical discipline and focus. The days were packed with intense mental, intellectual and emotional stretching. We were in an isolated setting, yet with four to a cabin there was no quiet space even during quiet time. That's when I sought out the mountains' trails, small villages nearby and quiet coves. In the evenings, the owls, the lighter traffic and the small town glows always brought me back to home.

That's how I released my angst. An introvert, I can be sociable, friendly and nice, yet especially back then, I was passive aggressive and needed release. The performance arts helped me release tension on stage, paving the way for even more practical application in everyday life - creating healthy release of tension, refueling my energies and staying focused on what's important.

Fast-forwarding ahead 17 years and several maturity levels, I cherish the peace most when in the evening. And the best night of peace is Sunday.

Evening quickly covers the sky in the Eastern timezone and with winter edging in, warm light and red wine are staples that add extra glow. This is how my spirit smiles.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Visions of the Intangible

Not everything that can be measured is important. What can be measured is usually the tangible, black and white facts. The numbers. Actions. The hard skills.

Yet try to run a business without soft skills. Without effective interpersonal skills, suddenly profitability suffers, personnel issues mount, decision-making is limited and chaos reigns. Because what is important starts with attitude, the intangible, and flows through our communication - whether verbal or non-verbal.

Many experts and executives focus on the Hard Skills - those tangible, fact driven elements that are black and white; credentials that prove employability, professional development and technical merit. It is suggested these qualities are what sets apart the wheat from the chaff.

This thinking overlooks a key ingredient.

Human drive comes from the energy around us. The compelling force that accepts, approves and appreciates. (Thank you, Les Giblin!) See this force in social settings and transfer it into others. Before long, the timid individual begins to see themselves in new ways.

There is nothing like confidence. We experience it in how we see ourselves as well as in its impact on those around us. In time we begin to see visions of our values through life and activity around us. The more we see, the greater it amplifies our drive to continue expressing those values.

Last week I missed church again, the third week in a row. The first two I was out of town, and although I missed getting the usual dose of spirit, I moved on, discovering it in other ways. This time, I really missed the people. And I even felt guilty that I'm not being a good member. All because I've felt accepted, approved of and appreciated. This week will have a different result. I'll show up.

Although one could measure my attendance, that isn't the important piece. My spirit, and the energy I gain from those around me is what's of value. Measure that? No. But can we see it? Yes.

Anyone who tries to tell you what's important is what gets measured needs their spirit re-booted. Look around you. Do you see energy? Reflect on your sense of self. Are you feeling accepted, approved of and appreciated? Notice the eyes of those around you, and you'll see whether they feel that way. Then do something to boost the energy, to reach out to others and to drive what's important.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

All We Have

Because our name is so familiar to us, we forget its value. When introducing ourselves, we skimp at our name's importance, sloughing it off as second-rate, or mumbling it as unimportant.

At the end of the day, our name is all we have. Either we live up to it or live it down.

We make the choice. And in the choosing, we manage our impact, the impact on how others perceive us, God's creatures.