Do you take the time to be aware?

Take time to be aware. It’s the opportunity to help others. As a graduate school instructor I am continually amazed when I ask my students how many of them have done training or received instruction on the topics of attention, listening and conversing. The response rate is pretty low which I see as a window of opportunity! Many of us take for granted our ability to fully listen or be fully aware of what is happening around us.

Time after time, many a client have missed key clues or signals as to what’s going on around them and therefore, work with a very limited view of the situation. This limited information becomes the basis for their determination of what the problem is that they are trying to solve. They then launch into problem-solving without ever fully understanding what was going on in the first place. So things only get worse with everyone getting more frustrated. What if we could do better?

There are many reasons why we may not be aware. The first is that we all move way too fast to even have the capacity to take notice. Our lives are so jam packed with activities and hurrying to get to the next place we miss the opportunity to notice. We miss the opportunity to observe and to even think about asking a question or connecting with others. Secondly, our brains and bodies are so bombarded with stimulation from all our senses that we have no bandwidth to capture anything more. We cannot prioritize all the information coming at us so we begin to tune out what is happening around us because all the information is simply too much to handle. Most importantly, many of us have not taken the time to learn the skills needed that can heighten our sense of awareness in both active and passive situations.

When we have the capacity and the skills to be aware of the world around us and most importantly our fellow human beings, then we can begin to tune into how we can best serve others. Often times I will be in a situation and without asking I will go over and offer assistance, or send a hand written note or prompt another to aid someone. Unfortunately, so many others will have completely missed these opportunities. Those situations are teachable moments; opportunities for me to help others see what I have noticed.

One key piece of teaching others is to do so without judgment. I don’t want others to feel bad, I want others to feel safe and to be open to learning how they might better serve others. Better yet,  is seeing the opportunity to serve another and to see either a student or one of my children step into that moment because they were aware. These are the moments I treasure!

So take the time to slow down. Take time to think about what you give attention too. Take time to learn skills that will help you increase your awareness (body language, listening & conversing/group dynamics) and find the opportunities to help serve others.

For more stories about what you can see and find by slowing down, please follow the link to my book Seeing the Extraordinary in the Ordinary.

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Take Miser Out of Miserable and You Get Able

What a delight to find this good thought of the week in my dad’s box of his favorite ideas, insights, and quotes. What a powerful reframe for all of us. How do we see things when we are miserable? We tend to close our hearts and minds. Wen we are stressed, tired and grumpy how do we see the world? And more importantly, how do we appear to the world?

Each of us has the potential to be a miser and be miserable. What is a miser – I would say it is one who is grasping to hold to what they have and one who doesn’t know the concept of sharing and giving of self. A miser tries so hard to hold onto what they have that they never learn the real gifts of living from a place of generosity. A miser feels entitled, a miser becomes stuck in the accumulating rather than in the living, sharing and being. When you cannot see your provision – then you will never have enough. The whole of seeking and needing will never be filled by any amount of stuff –  never.

What do you choose and why do you choose it? I ask you to reflect on this important question and take the opportunity to turn misery around. Find a place where you can become the hands and feet of the One who made you, who gifted you to be a blessing to others.

What I am asking is not easy and for many, it is not quick. It takes a time to be able to see where you are and then more time to find the path from miserable to neutral.  From neutral, you can then think about moving into an “able” mindset. Moving from a negative frame takes time and many times it takes the love and honesty of a close family member, friend or peer or a life-shattering pain or crisis to wake up our massive ego’s to the false frame we have been carrying around and operating within.

Be kind to yourself. Don’t expect smooth sailing at first as it will take time. Celebrate small wins and find someone whom you trust to hold you accountable. Find a truth teller who will tell you what’s going on and then find someone (it could be the same person) who can define the path to help you re-frame, and then do something every day that moves you forward.

Remember, it takes sixty-six days to improve your golf swing, so don’t expect quick changes. We are not talking about any overnight miracles. Give yourself time and space, and find others who can model and support you through this. You can do it!

Do you have an example of when you were able to move past being miserable and found yourself ABLE? Please share your stories in the comments section. Would love to hear from you!

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Stop Externalizing, Start Being

I love the writings of Parker Palmer. He challenges you to think about who you are in this world. He asks that each of us stop externalizing our problems and begin to own the space in which we live. He suggests drawing a Tic-Tac-Toe board. Put yourself in the middle. Now can you name all your neighbors, co-workers and those around you? Are you in relationships with those around you? Do you even know the names of those around you in the workplace or where you live? When I pose this question to individuals and organizations, many times I see blank stares as the audience realizes they are not in relationships with their neighbors.

This post is not about pointing fingers. To the contrary, this is all about owning your space and choosing how you want to live and where you want to BE. Our world is in need of humans who are in relationships with each other—not just people who are like them, but people who will challenge them to see things from a new angle, perspective or thought process. I know the world around us can seem scary. I know the headlines can leave you wanting to hide under the covers and never leave. But know this—until we reclaim our connectedness until we get to know our neighbors and are in relationships, we will continue in the same direction.

So I ask you: today in the grocery store; today in the parking lot; today by the copier; today at the bank—what would it feel and look like if you were to meet someone new? What would it feel like to say hello to someone you haven’t met yet? What would be different if you introduce yourself to a neighbor you haven’t met yet? I say breath in a deep breath, dig deep and be brave. When we can live from an authentic and courageous place, we can change who we are and the world around us—one human being at a time. Begin with you and see what happens.

When we can live from this place, we become the most effective change agents – ones that are trustworthy, authentic and very powerful!

I would love to hear how you connect with your neighborhood and even better examples of influencing the world for good. When we can share in community powerful things, happen. We have the power. Making a difference starts with the small and starts with building trust in relationships!

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What the World Be Like If It Imitated Me?

Be ye imitators of me. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NSRV). This great scripture was written by St. Paul and poses a great question for us to ponder. Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if everyone were to imitate you? Maybe the world is too big a stage for you to wrap your head and heart around so let’s pull it in closer. Let’s pose the same question but at a much smaller and more intimate level. What would your family be like if they were to imitate you? What would your workplace be like if your co-workers were to imitate you? What would your classroom, your team, your “you fill in the blank” be like if they were to imitate you?

What kind of world would it be? Would it be kind? Patient? Fully present? Now imagine your experience in it. What would that feel like if it fully reflected and resembled how and who you are today? Your perspective shifts when you step outside of yourself and view the world as if everyone behaved like you.  So often we complain about our WORLD and how terrible and broken it is. My challenge to you is what are you going to do about it? You hold complete power on how you are in this world.

Each of us has been given a role to play in making our world a better place and must take responsibility for our actions. I believe that every human being is uniquely made and gifted. As Henry Winkler, the Fonz, recently shared so beautifully at WE Day Minnesota, “It’s our job to dig up that talent and share it with the world.”

Today as you go about your day, I challenge you to think about how you behave within our world. Know that other will imitate you for both the good and the not so good. Choose intentionally and choose well.

Please share your insights in comments below. I love how we learn from each other. Sharing is powerful. How are you showing up in the world?

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Be Still and Know

One of my favorite memories is having spent a week on Cape Cod with my family. Every morning we would hike out to an isolated spot on the peninsula to enjoy the ocean. As it was low tide, we could explore the shallow areas for magical sea creatures. As the tide began to rise, we needed to move closer to shore to avoid the water. We moved to higher ground as the waves began to claim the shallow areas we had been exploring. We even had to move our blankets and beach chairs.

Just like the ocean, our lives also have ebbs and flows. There are times when we are in shallow waters that are easy to navigate, and there are times when we are in deep waters that take a lot of energy even to survive. There are times when we are full and times when we are empty. I think we tend to forget that we are human and we, just like the ocean, have beautiful rhythms in our lives. Some we can control, but many we cannot. Where we fall off the tracks is thinking that we control everything. We become so reliant on ourselves we begin to lose sight of what God has in mind for us. When we learn to trust God’s timing and will for each of us, and when we learn to trust the rhythms and ebbs and flows, we find true freedom.

Wherever you are today, whatever your troubles, my hope for you is that they pass just as surely as the tides rise and fall. Take a breath, and trust the rhythm in your life and the plan God has for you.

I would love to hear about your journey. We learn so much in a community and sharing with each other.  Please post a comment about the ebbs and flows of your life.

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