The Value of Life, The Value of Today

Sunrise 

Got to thinking this morning about worry and the time extinguished by it.  I can't think of one instance in my life where worry has produced a breakthrough, happiness or satisfaction.  You are probably thinking I've just entered the "duh" zone because we all know this.  Right?  The truth is many know, but few do.

So why bother worrying?  Who taught us how to worry?  Who wrote the book on the 10 Proven Success Strategies of Worrying?

The take-away is found in our lack of embrace of life and the time given (implies a gift) to us on this big ball known as Earth.  We don't see our life as a whole, but parts.  We pick and choose what we like (usually the pain-fee comfortable ones) and ignore or run from the others.  Believe me, I understand that it's not all a matter of choosing the path you might be on.  Some of us were influenced by parents, teachers, marketing, and society's version of the truth.  We thought we were making the right choice.  Like the person who places their trust in someone who seemed honest, but was just a good actor/actress.  Regardless of that, we cannot excuse ourselves from making a change for the better.

The value of today has all but been erased in our thought process.  We're too busy to stop and look around.  Wer're rushing to things and outcomes that we can't be sure have any value at all.  Almost like closing your eyes, jumping and hoping that what you've been taught will deliver.  This is really a vivid portrait of a culture taking much for granted.  We don't stop and ask the tough questions of why, does this fit who I am, is this meaningful to me?

So how much time do you have to get this life in order?

I'm throwing the following out to you as way of stopping you in your tracks:

  1. Stop denying who you are!  Stop stuffing the real you in a closet for the sake of the opinions of others.  I think Steve Jobs referred to this as "others dogma."  If you've decided to put all your chips on being someone else, then prepare to meet the real you further down the road.
  2. Stop thinking you have time to get around to X or Y.  This is akind to someone who continues to ignore their human relationships.  They figure the other person doesn't need to hear certain words (I Love You) becuase they already know it's true.  Goodbye is the usual outcome here.  Warped logic.
  3. Stop embracing your career as if having a great career will make everything else fall into place.  Listen up, I tried this and it does not work.  
  4. Stop bankrupting your opportunities for happiness.  This happens when you abdicate the choice of happiness to circumstances, people, etc.
  5. Create a stop-doing list and create the margin your life has been screaming for.  A stop-doing list is simply you evaluating the habits, events, etc. and making the concisous decision to stop.

 

 

Living Music

My friend, Marc, shared this performance by Carlos Santana and Wayne Shorter with me and it truly inspired. Instrumental music has always created space in my head to dream, write and most importantly live freely. The genre of jazz has always struck me as a living music as well. The movement, the improvisation, the unexpected beauty.

I hope you enjoy the video as much as I have.

 

The Looking Back Thing

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Looking back has tremendous value. I'm not referring to looking back with regret. Looking back with regret usually leads to mental paralysis. I'm speaking of looking back to gain perspective and clarity.

For me, a large part of the looking back thing is getting a sense of the notes God's been playing in the symphony of life. This has helped me be more aware of what the future could look like. My gut becomes centered around knowing what my next move should be. Here recently, the movement in that symphony tells me change is coming in my life.

Now before you think this is some overly spiritual pursuit or a complex riddle to solve, it can be very straightforward if you let it. For example, let's say your history in work has been most successful in large organizations. Maybe you've excelled there because of structure and well-established processes. Now, a new, smaller organization wants you to come on board and do your magic. Looking back will help you understand where you've performed best and what environments work best for you. It doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't work for a small organization because they're still forming, it just means looking back can inform you of where you perform best. It might even be a predictor of your success. I've had to make more than a few mistakes in this dept. to learn this.

The following are what I consider to be keys to the looking back thing:

  • Stay away from regret when looking back. You can't rewrite history, so no sense in lingering over what could have been. This is hard work and your wellbeing will be the better for it.
  • Be humble. Don't think of yourself as rock star. An inflated ego will always distort your view.
  • Look back to inform and keep record of it. Refer back to it often.
  • Don't look for guarantees. Be willing to make a mistake. Often, mistakes lead to breakthroughs. 
  • Find someone or people to be a sounding board for what you're thinking.
  • Get a coach. It can help you clear the clutter and find the gold hidden.

5 Questions with Dr. Norman Rosenthal, Author of The Gift of Adversity

The_Gift_of_Adversity COVER
When I got the email regarding Dr. Norman Rosenthal and his new book, The Gift of Adverstiy: The Unexpected Benefits of Life's Difficulties, Setbacks, and Imperfections, I was intrigued by the title of the book and his story. Dr. Rosenthal's background, and his coming of age in the Apatheid era of South Africa, are powerful introductions to someone who has faced many depths of adversity. As I look back on my own journey I am convinced that adversity is a gift.

I hope you'll be inspired by the following interview I had the pleasure of doing with Dr. Rosenthal:

Your experiences are vast and diverse. What do you
want the reader to walk away with after reading the book?

I
want the reader to come away with a sense of hope that although adversities are
unwanted and sometimes painful and even disabling, whether they are large or
small, there are often ways out of those dark places and, most important,
lessons to be gained from the journey. Those are the gifts of adversity.

What’s
different about people who accept and work thru the gift of adversity?

People
who are willing to accept reality are ahead of the game-as opposed to those
who deny reality and resort to fantasy. They will assess their situation,
reach out for help and support, and find ways to overcome, and learn from,
adversity. The book offers many specific guidelines as to how to do so.

In your book, you detail the challenges of growing up
in the Apartheid era in South Africa. How did that shape your perspective on
seeing adversity as a gift?

Apartheid
brought with it a great deal of adversity, especially for the Blacks who
labored most under its yoke. Adversity was everywhere in evidence, and I
specifically deal with it, for example, by discussing the lives of the servants
who worked for my family and the torture experienced by a cousin of mine. But the whites also suffered from the guilt of watching and often taking
no action.

What
role does arrogance play in a person’s ability to consider or handle adversity?

An
arrogant person takes on a position of superiority in relation to others. He is unlikely to learn from mistakes because he doesn't acknowledge his
mistakes. Humble people are more likely to learn and grow from adversity. In one chapter I discuss how it is important to learn something from
everyone.

Who’s
inspiring you right now?

My
patients always inspire me by the courage with which they embrace their
problems and the creativity with which they work around them to live rich and
diverse lives. Kind people inspire me. I see kindness every day,
and it warms my heart.

 

Norman Rosenthal_Author Photo (2)
In The
Gift of Adversity
by Dr. Normal Rosenthal, the noted research psychiatrist
explores how life's disappointments and difficulties provide us with the
lessons we need to become better, bigger, and more resilient human beings. The
book is available for purchase on Amazon.com

About Dr. Norman Rosenthal

The New York
Times-bestselling author of Transcendence:
Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation
, Winter Blues and How to Beat Jet Lag, Norman
E. Rosenthal
, M.D.
, attended the University of the Witwatersrand in his
native South Africa. He moved to the United States and was resident and chief
resident at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and the New York Psychiatric Institute.
He has conducted research at the National Institute of Mental Health for over
twenty years. It was there that he first described and diagnosed Seasonal
Affective Disorder
(SAD). Dr. Rosenthal is a clinical professor of psychiatry
at Georgetown Medical School and has maintained a private practice in the
Washington, DC metropolitan area for the past thirty years. Rosenthal is the
author or co-author of over 200 professional articles and several popular
books, including Winter Blues, the classic work on SAD. He currently serves as
medical director and CEO of Capital Clinical Research Associates in Rockville,
Maryland, where he directs clinical trials in both pharmaceuticals and
complementary and alternative medicine.

 

That 10% Part

From six years gone by, worth another look.

In my last post I outlined the importance of embracing the 90/10 rule.  Today I have something to share from my own experience relating to the 10% part of the rule.  You can definitely apply this to your career and many other areas of life.

My wife and I moved our 8 year-old daughter to a new school back in December.  I won't elaborate on our reasons, but in the end we thought it better for her to be at a different school.  We prayed, we researched and we took action.

It was my thought that my daughter would transition well.  My main reason for thinking this way was her personality (social animal who has never met a stranger) wiring.  I felt she would make friends, rise to the occasion and the rest would be history.

Now here's what I didn't expect: a little girl that desperately wants everyone to like her.  I know those of you out there who are counselors would remind me that I didn't prepare her for the inevitable rejection she would encounter.  Fair enough. 

My main point here is that-smart or dumb-I really didn't expect this challenge.  And I am discovering things about my daughter that I didn't know before.  Fortunately, I have a wife who carries much wisdom and I am being sensitive to my daughter's movement through a big change.

So what if I denied that my daughter was experiencing this?  What if I ignored it?  You know what the results would be.

Here are some specific insights for dealing with the 10%:

  • You don't have to like what happens, you just have to tackle it head on (delicately in the case of my daughter).
  • Don't expect things to be easy (change is a process, not an event).
  • You will make mistakes in your dealing with the 10%.  Just ask my daughter on this one:).
  • Sometimes you're gonna be powerless to do anything.  That's OK, you don't have control over everything in life.
  • There's a reason the 10% could be considered the land of the crucible.  Fire makes impurities rise to the surface.  We need to get rid of those, and that can be painful.

When You’re Ready

Talked with a friend some weeks ago and he told me that he believes people can only be helped when they're ready. I over simplify when I write that I agree. My coaching business is really predicted on the beginning that is being ready. Those that I support are fertile at the point when they're ready. What concerns me is how many don't find themselves ready or even thinking about it. Asleep.

Ten years ago I never took the time to do what I did this past week. I stopped in the middle of a project with the start-up and I went outside to watch my son do his thing on a trampoline. Flips and the joy of telling me about his newest achievement. I was tempted not to. You know, the voice that says the project is very, very, very important. I've learned to ignore that voice most days. I strain here, but readiness took root in me some years ago. My son will be what I was not.

When will you be ready?

The following are some things to consider as you look at your condition of readiness:

  1. Readiness sometimes comes out of nowhere. It's really not an issue of when, but what you will do.
  2. You'll be ready when you realize how little time you have.
  3. Readiness comes when arrogance desserts you and you discover you're not as great as you market yourself to be.
  4. Humility enters where arrogance ends. You'll definitely be ready then.
  5. Readiness is fully clear when you have no other options, not a single one.

Managing Relationships

I like Miles Davis. Whenever I meet someone who likes Miles Davis, I feel an immediate connection. This feels great. Then I meet someone who likes Kenny Chesney.

This post is about managing relationships.

Some people are just different than you and I. They were wired differently for a purpose. A purpose maybe unknown. We have to apply ourselves to give understanding, patience and grace. 

The person who loves Kenny, will probably never like Miles. Trying to change that is a waste of valuable time.