Archive for December, 2012

Is. It. Worth. It.

Four (well, ok, three with one repeat) small words that are so, so powerful. This short question applies to nearly any decision, transition, or turning point you will encounter in your life. And depending on the decision you make, you have the power to change not only your life but the lives of others around you — for better or worse.

A number of years ago, a friend shared with me a weight loss hypnosis program. The foundation is to be aware of what you are doing each time you take a bite or drink of something, and to make a conscious decision rather than mindlessly eating and drinking whatever is put in front of you.

I ask myself this question when I am tempted to indulge in dessert. For me, if I am going to consume something, it needs to taste as delicious as I expect it to, so that I can deem it worth the calories I am consuming. If not, the answer is clearly no, it’s not worth it; at least not for me.

Last week, I finished reading What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, by Marshall Goldsmith, a very successful executive coach. There’s a section in the book in which he discusses encouraging his coaching clients to consider whether what they are about to say is worth it. It’s not only executives who could benefit from asking this simple question. The idea is to be aware of the potential impact and consequences of what you are about to say, including the way you would say it, on whomever you are speaking to.

I can think of a number of situations in which this question could prevent a lot of pain. Like when you’ve allowed someone to push your buttons and you are about to respond with a mean, hurtful remark. Like when you are in pain and want someone else to feel it, too. Like when you are already aware of what someone has decided to share with you, and you are tempted to say so — potentially giving the impression of superiority, or diminishing the value of the messenger and what they have to offer. Like when you are upset about something entirely disconnected to the person you’re with and are tempted to take it out on them.

Consider the value of this question when posed with a situation — perhaps an opportunity — that may be questionable. Meaning, it might seem like a good idea unless whatever it is were to become known publicly. In this case, it speaks to integrity (see earlier blog on “who are you when no one is looking”!). Are the risks and consequences worth whatever it is you think you will gain from doing whatever it is you are about to do?

What about when you are offered an opportunity that isn’t exactly on the path you’ve set for yourself? If the “detour” is a brief one, but offers the chance to learn a new skill, gain some new experience, or otherwise provide you with some benefit, and you can smoothly resume your journey, the answer may be yes; it may be worth it. If the “detour” will pull you in a very different direction than the path you’ve set for yourself, and you risk waking up one day in the future wondering “how in the world did I end up here? This isn’t what I wanted…” Well, in this case, it may not be worth it.

It applies when making financial decisions, as well. Do you purchase something simply because it carries a specific logo? Is your purchase decision based on quality? Is it based on the value you perceive the item to have, or based on the value others will perceive it to have?

I won’t pretend to imagine I know every single situation you may encounter when asking yourself this simple, yet oh-so-powerful question might save you — and those around you — some unnecessary pain, anxiety, discomfort, set-back on the way to your goals, but I do know there are numerous possibilities…daily.

The key is to be aware, to consider the potential risks, benefits, and consequences, and make a conscious decision about what to say or do next.

How could you benefit by taking the time to ask and answer this simple question:

Is it worth it?

I’ll leave the consideration to you. In the meantime, I encourage you to have an intentional day!

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While I might like to think so, the answer is “no.” As I work on this blog, I sit at a computer and type out my thoughts, essentially putting words in a row. Then I post them into my blog and hit the “Publish” button. My words fly out into cyberspace and while I hope they have some meaning for whomever reads them—that they will spark some new thoughts for you or allow you to realize some new insight into something you’ve been pondering—I may never know.

Communication is very simple. It requires at least two people and some form of feedback. One sends a message. The second receives and interprets the message and responds in some way (and yes, “no response” may be the response!). This response is the feedback that allows the sender to determine whether the message was received and interpreted as intended. The process can stop or move forward in a lot of different ways from this point.

I am writing this particular blog because I’ve been thinking a lot about how social media is changing how we communicate, and I’m not convinced it’s necessarily in a good way. This probably sounds counter-intuitive for someone who blogs and hopes to attract a faithful following of readers, but here’s how my thought process has gone:

I published my first post on this site on 14 August 2012. Since then, I’ve had people from Canada, Australia, France, Russia, Nigeria, South Africa, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Singapore, Micronesia, Belgium, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Trinidad and Tobago, and the US, who presumably have viewed various pages of my web site, based on the site stats. So, I could infer that all of those people have read my blogs, but I don’t really know for sure — they may have simply clicked in and clicked back out — unless they leave a comment or contact me directly; this is the feedback that completes the communication loop.

When I publish a new post, it is broadcast on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I admit, these notifications are my only tweets (well, 99.9999% of the time!). Last week, I received a couple of emails stating I had new followers on Twitter. That’s a good thing, right? But I looked more closely at the notifications and these two folks – now following me – are also following 49,284 and 14,918 other tweeters, respectively.

In thinking about a person’s capacity for truly following and taking in new information, and the concept of quality versus quantity, I’m in a quandary over these new followers. I should be pleased; I’m told the goal is to have large numbers of followers. But I have to ask: If someone is “following” 49,248 people, what’s the quality of what they are receiving? What is my actual potential for impact within that enormous cloud of messages flying around?

And what about Facebook? I took the plunge and created a profile and page for my business, and for business I do find it useful. I scroll through the News Feed page and see everyone’s updates and comments, and while it’s nice to “see” what folks are up to, it also leaves me with a sense of longing for what’s not there – true connection with the people in my life.

Updates often appear to be spur-of-the-moment snippets of lives as people are living them or just passing along something someone saw, with no personal comment or update attached. For example, a friend of mine lives in another state. At one time we were very close, but the demands of life and the nearly 3,000 miles that separate us have left us somewhat disconnected. She occasionally posts updates, but they are “shared” information – pictures and whatnot, nothing personal.

It leaves me feeling sad that we have the time to share photos and sayings and post brief snippets, but claim to just be “so busy” that we haven’t had time to really connect with the important people in our lives. I wonder if this is my solitary experience and perception, or if others feel it, too.

It was said that technology would make our lives easier and we wouldn’t have to work as much or as hard; that doesn’t appear to be the case. I see people working longer hours on more projects…not less. I think social media may be having the same effect – we have the illusion of being more connected and there certainly are more messages flying around, but are we really communicating?

I can speak for only myself, and here’s my final thoughts on this topic tonight: Social media offers some useful tools, but for me these tools do not replace true communication, real connection with people. I don’t know about you, but I long for deep connection and meaningful conversations with the people in my life. I much prefer the face-to-face interaction, and consider a phone a reasonable second choice.

What do you think? Please, leave a comment, provide some feedback, and help me turn this blog into actual communication!

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When you  consider your life, what do you see? How do you feel?

Earlier, we discussed how every thing is made of energy, and as such has a vibration, a frequency. When your words, actions, thoughts, and beliefs are in alignment, your vibration is in alignment with the rest of your life. When they are not, your vibration is not on the same frequency. You’ve heard the saying, “I got a bad vibe from that…” Well, the speaker may have thought he or she was speaking figuratively, but in fact, was speaking truth about the true state of the environment.

So, how do you get back in alignment and create harmony in your life when you feel “bad vibes”? The answer is simple but the solution may not necessarily be easy.

Harmony requires alignment with values, beliefs, thoughts, actions, and words. For example, if you say you desire a healthier lifestyle, what will we discover when we examine your life?

What’s in your refrigerator and pantry? Will we find healthy food and beverage choices?

How do you spend your free time? Exercising? Surfing the net? Watching TV?

With whom do you spend your time? People who share your desire for health and demonstrate that belief through activity and eating habits? Or with people who encourage you to eat the kinds of foods and spend time doing the kinds of things that do not result in a healthy lifestyle?

Nearly a year ago, I traveled to Florida for training. I chatted with the car service driver who drove me to the airport to return home. I asked him how he liked his job. He said it was good, offered him some flexibility. I asked him if he carried a book with him, for something to do between runs. He said no, with some enthusiasm; he lived nearby and was able to run home between calls. I asked what he did at home. I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I asked what he was doing on Facebook. He said he was reading about all the drama between his family and friends. I asked if he intended to drive people around indefinitely. Oh no, he said. He went on to explain that he wants to own his own business so he could be the boss and have flexibility to work when he wanted. I asked what kind of business. A car wash or maybe a gas station / convenience store would be nice, he thought. Then I asked the question that killed the conversation.

How will spending all your free time on Facebook, reading about the drama between your family members and friends, help you reach your goal of owning your own business?

The car was silent until we reached the airport, he removed my bags, I gave him a tip, and he said “Thank you” and drove away.

Please don’t read anything into my comment about Facebook. I use it for my business. I believe there are a lot of ways it can be useful. But, if one is spending all his / her time reading and posting family life and activity status updates, it seems unlikely to me that that behavior will help achieve the goal of owning a business.

The point here is this: His behaviors and words were not in alignment with his stated goal. I was disappointed that my simple inquiry killed the conversation. I hope I made him think.

If you think about it, this line of thinking can be applied to any aspect of your life, any goal, stated desire, any thing you want to achieve. Just take the time to reflect on your desires and what’s currently happening in your life. If you are in alignment, I applaud you. If your vibes feel wrong, and the feeling is uncomfortable enough that you are ready to do something about it, you might consider working with a skilled coach who can help you explore the disconnects and put together an achievable plan to reach your goals and change your circumstances.

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I am blessed to be mentored by Paul Martinelli, President of the John Maxwell Team. This last week he offered a lesson on coming to a place of harmony in one’s life.

If we understand that every thing is made from energy and every thing has a vibration, a frequency, this lesson will be easier to grasp.

If you are in a place in your life where all is as it should be, and you are in harmony, your frequency will be in sync with every thing around you. If you are not in harmony, then your vibration will be out of sync with every thing around you and you will begin to experience discomfort. Think of it as static — mixed signals making a lot of annoying, distracting noise — similar to what you might experience with a radio station from time-to-time.

Typically, it’s while you are in this state that you may feel the whisper-light brush of a feather on your cheek…and it may be nudging you in a new direction.

If you are self-aware enough to feel the brush of the feather and recognize it for what it is, you may allow yourself to move in that new direction- recognizing that it is time for you to make a change in some aspect of your life. If you don’t, the feather will continue its efforts to capture your attention and nudge you in the new direction, and it will become stronger, and stronger, and stronger, until it becomes a 2 x 4…and if you ignore the 2 x 4, it will soon feel as if you have been hit with a ton of bricks!

The message: It’s time for a change!

It’s time for a change!

I have experienced this on numerous occasions in my life, and if you look at my work history (or my sister’s address book entries for me!) you will begin to get the picture. I am not a maintainer; I am a concept developer, a starter, a “get it rolling and let someone else take over to handle the details and deal with the closure, while I move on to the next thing…” person. I love the challenge of change and the opportunity it provides for me to learn, grow, stretch, and discover.

As a result, in my professional life, once I feel I have mastered my responsibilities, I seek new ones. If it happened that I could do that with the same employer, life was good. If it happened that the opportunity wasn’t there, it was time to move on. For example, one of my jobs involved handling employee communication, media relations, grower communication (like stock holders), community relations, and managing a company store. As such, I was responsible for monthly and quarterly newsletters, for supporting a variety of community organizations — including attending a series of special events held at the same time each year, and a number of other tasks that quickly became routine. Once I felt I had mastered those routine tasks, and needed something new to keep my interest, I got involved with some HR initiatives to develop a high-performing organization. I took responsibility for leading the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility efforts.

When I discussed my career aspirations with the CEO, he said I could get involved in anything I wanted and take on any new responsibilities I was interested in, but he didn’t foresee the company hiring someone new to take on some of my “routine” duties. So, I could grow my position as much as I wanted, but I would not be able to shed any responsibilities. My response: If this “role/job/title” is all I will ever be here, then I’m in the wrong place, because I know I am destined to do more, to be more…It was time to leave. So, I did. It was a heart-wrenching decision, as this was the healthiest company I had ever worked for (and still holds that distinction), with people I enjoyed working with and learning from.

I have had this experience several times over the course of my career (20+ years). It’s not that the companies I’ve worked for were necessarily bad, or that the jobs I’ve held were bad…I simply outgrew them.

Looking back on that particular experience, I believe I recognized the brush of the feather fairly early. I branched out, took on new things, learned new skills, worked   on key initiatives not in my primary area of responsibility, and still I needed more. I needed to be able to let go of some things, so I could continue to take on the new things, continue to learn, grow, and be challenged. When I discovered it was not to be, at least not there, perhaps that was when the 2 x 4 hit me! It certainly resulted in significant changes in my life: Sold my house, moved to a new area, started a new job with a new challenge…

This message was very timely for me, as I am currently in that place again. I have one foot in one world and one foot in another world, one that I recognize as my true purpose, passion, reason for being here…this world I know is my future. I have some work to do to make the transition complete but I’ve followed the feather and am adjusting my course. I see all new road signs on this path, and they are directing me to my rightful place.

I am thankful for the experiences, the people who have guided me along the way, and the opportunities that are opening up for me.

What about you? Are you uncomfortable? Out-of-sync with people and/or circumstances in your life? Do you feel the static? Do you have one foot in one world and one foot in another? Or have you not taken the step because you are fearful?

Have you felt the feather brush your cheek? Or have you been hit by a 2 x 4?

Try being still…just breathe and listen…

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