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Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. No man has learned anything rightly, until he knows that every day is Doomsday.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

 

Who knew my choice in television shows for my 4 year old would lead me to one of the deepest philosophical answers to life. 

 

Being somewhat selective on what the kid watches on TV, led to discovering SUPER WHY© on PBS.  The premise of each show is: a character has a problem, so they literally say we have a problem so lets look — in a BOOK!!!.  They go into a story (jack in the beanstalk, princess and the pea etc.) with a similar conundrum (wanted to use that word thank you very much), and they look for answers in the story that can help solve their problem, while also helping the characters in the book all based around letters and spelling. 

 

Basically in every story one of the characters is having a huge struggle and can’t get over it.  The Super Readers can see how obvious the behavior is that’s creating this problem and say “hey cut the shit” (I may be paraphrasing here).  Every time the struggling character replies; “I have to keep doing this, this is my story, this is how it’s written, see” while pointing to the actual words that do indeed describe this very behavior and response. 

 

Being on a path of enlightenment that has a few bumps and detours, it took me into my thousandth or so viewing of these shows before I had my life altering epiphany (it’s obviously improved my vocabulary as you can see) “this is no kids show dam it,  this is our LIFE!”

 

These characters don’t even consider there are options or possible variations to their story, so wouldn’t even consider looking for other options they know this is their story they know what the words are in their story and that’s that.  They state it that simply “I have to keep doing this see, its how it’s written”.  And don’t for a minute doubt that, while it may be a bitter pill to swallow, and we may not be as obvious about it, each and every one of us does this same thing every day. 

 

I think every single one of us often unknowingly lives like this.  We do the same things, think the same thoughts, and follow the same patterns because “it’s our story, that’s how it has to be its how it’s written”.  We fancy ourselves so creative, revolutionary, modern, liberated, self aware, ssooo DIFFERENT.  And dam if we aren’t any different than freakin’ JACK AND THE BEAN STALK!!!!  We tell ourselves every day in our own creative ways!!! “This is how it has to be this is how my story is written”. 

 

“Something we were withholding made us weak, until we found out it was

ourselves.”

 – Robert Frost, American poet

 

We have this set of beliefs (I wont get into from where they come, that’s a wholleee other article) the thing is they are there,,, it really becomes irrelevant who wrote the story or what pen was used.  That no longer matters.  It’s our story name it what you will.  Our past story impacts us of COURSE, but does it dictate the words moving forward?  The real thing that matters is recognizing this is our core belief, following our storyline that largely impacts our lives.  The other amazing thing is when we recognize how much can change when WE realize we impact the words!  And it can change.  Doesn’t matter where it came from what matters is from today on we’re always rewriting the story and don’t have to use the same lines. 

 

 

I often wonder what’s scarier or more intimidating to us; the belief that we can’t change the words, or we can?  Is the possibility that we can write our own story more daunting than acting our our story even if we don’t like it?  Is it somehow easier to blame the author, to think as a mere character in the tale, we just have no choice, we have no creative license, it’s just the story man (hands up in the air in surrender).  We literally don’t consider the option many times, that we have creative license.  Its in ink man, it’s my karma, it’s my story.  I’d love to but I can’t.  But look how good I am at making the best of it.

 

Perhaps a first step is to quiet down a bit.  To stop acting out our stories or at least observe for a bit and become aware of it, see what the plot is, decide if we like our story.  Trust our gut, our reactions and core feelings.  Is there something in the storyline that isn’t quite working for us anymore? Just begin to consider that we can change the words, that it’s not true that it’s in ink and nothing we can do.  Become aware of how much our storyline and perceived inability to alter it effects our decisions, actions feelings.  It can allow you to view things with a different lens which alone changes our story.    

 

We begin to pick up our own pen just by becoming observers and aware of our storyline.  Flipping the page, what’s more liberating then a blank page, or to some terrifying!!  But just start to consider that you have your own pen, your own page and can create your own story.  Every day you can.  Every day it’s said you can die a new death and begin a new life.  And this is the most liberating, exciting thing we can be faced with. 

 

“Conditions for creativity are to be puzzled; to concentrate; to accept conflict and tension; to be born everyday; to feel a sense of self.”

 – Erich Fromm, psychologist

 

 

In light of full disclosure, it can also honestly be one of the most daunting, paralyzing, depressing things to be faced with.  Those are normal feelings as well.  When we lose the premise of someone else being the author that comes with a lot of mixed emotions.  We can feel there are so many options it’s overwhelming.  It can feel lonely and too heavy.  It can stop you in your tracks.  It’s enough to want to hand the pen back.  The realization there may have been different choices all along, makes us want to use the pen to beat ourselves over the head because we followed this storyline so long.  It can also leave us with “writers block” sometimes abdicating the responsibility to another seems easier, maybe they know more about how the story should go, or at a minimum they’re willing to write it, I just cant handle the responsibility.  So we do the thing where we hold our personal book up over our eyes and just dive into the story.

 

It’s normal and natural to feel these things.  It seems a core requirement for writing our own true story is to be gentle with yourself.  When we aren’t gentle and forgiving to ourselves we slip back into using old stories, words that no longer enhance or are true to our current story.  Then we become like one of “those” writing the unauthorized biography, just isn’t accurate.    Realize that as there are books, there are endless versions of our personal stories.  There isn’t one best or right or one book fits all.  There are many chapters to our stories.  Feel these feelings, they are normal.  Feel them and let them flow through you and go on.  Envision your story, go, and pick up your pen, your magic wand, your pencil with the big ole eraser on it!  Start writing and if you don’t like what you read you can change the words.  And at the risk of sounding like a big HUGE ole’ cliché/hallmark card, every moment is a new chapter.  Don’t stop using yourself to write your own story.  You have the best version of your story to be told, and the world needs to hear it.  I, for one, can’t wait to read it!

 

 

“When we don’t prune in the garden, Nature does it for us through wind, ice, hail, fire, and flood. One way or another, the boughs will be shaped or strengthened. If we don’t prune away the stress and plow under the useless in our lives, pain will do it for us. Make no mistake; I think pain is a wretched gardener. Her cuts stun and sting. But after pruning, and preferably voluntary, we’re able to discern what’s real, what’s important, and what’s essential for our happiness.”
– Sarah Ban Breathnach

We’ve established that Martha Stewart I’m not, but I do admit I love wild, beautiful flowers and would love a bunch of wild things all over the back yard. I had gone out once to find these horrible, prickly weeds had grown up and taken over the garden. While I hadn’t spent any time there weeding, or taking care of it, I was “dismayed” that I didn’t have a prize-winning garden with wonderful flowers and no weeds.

While weeding this mess, few things about this struck me.

  1. It’s amazing how fast things can get out of control and nasty when you don’t pay attention to them.
  2. Funny how I really value and enjoy something, but haven’t spent any time on it, and am upset (almost surprised) when it doesn’t flourish.
  3. Once out there and weeding, I enjoyed it thoroughly, it didn’t take much time at all and it was well worth the effort, it was less effort than looking at the weeds every day.
  4. My actions would say I seem to want to plant a few seeds and have this big, wild, weed-less beauty of a garden pop up on its own.

So what’s going on? (Yes, I actually can take a day in the garden and turn it into an article)

“Who you are speaks so loudly,
that I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
– Unknown

I’m not necessarily saying we’re liars, but I do want to say we’re full of bull a lot of the time. Maliciously? Intentionally? Not necessarily, (in some cases yes) but it’s there. Sound a bit strong? Let’s tawlk, because this phenomenon isn’t contained to our gardens, it’s also prevalent in our lives and businesses, and has a big effect on the success of both. We talk a lot about what our priorities are, what we’re about (our gardens). We even sometimes make plaques proclaiming our priorities, put them into writing or even take vows or make declarations. Then our actions don’t support these declarations, in fact the only evidence that these things are priorities are in these plaques or declarations.

“True religion is the life we lead,
not the creed we profess.”

– Louis Nizer

Although we logically know it’s not true, our actions say we believe things will take care of themselves and flourish with no attention or work from us. This is where the disparity comes in. That’s where the trouble starts. That’s when we’re dismayed to see weeds, clutter and ugliness where our “priorities” are supposed to be. We declare what’s most important but do not spend the time, effort and energy on those things. When this gap exists continuously, our declarations eventually become untrue to our actions. They’re each telling different stories.

“When someone shows you who they are,
believe them.”

– Maya Angelou

Examples of and reasons for the gap:
We don’t have time for our gardens. If you needed to have life saving surgery tomorrow, I’d bet a lot of money you’d find time to have it OR If someone offered you $10,000 to complete a task that had been on your to do list for months, I bet you could have it done very quickly. “We all find the time to do what we really want to do.” My point? We make time for things that are a priority. More time would not solve our lack of attention to our gardens; we would then fill that time up as well.

Our customers or employees are number one to our business if our actions reflect just the opposite and neither could tell you they were your priorities.

Our families/marriages/children are the most important things in our lives if they get the least time, worst of our attitudes, and less respect than we give a barely respected coworker.

Our health, weight and feeling good is very important if we won’t get off the couch, stop eating bad food and take action to feel better.

We want a big beautiful garden if we’ve spent no time effort or energy on making that happen.

“Knowing and not doing are equal to not knowing at all.”
– Unknown

We’re programmed to say these (and others) are our priorities in our businesses/lives. We’re also programmed to busy ourselves and make decisions on the fly, reacting and making short-term decisions that we fill our time with activities that are contrary to supporting these things. As I said we don’t do these things on purpose (most of the time), we don’t do it because we particularly like the results. We’re not happy with the results and can’t possibly be at our true potential when operating like this.

There are many reasons this happens:

  • It’s a difficult process, almost impossible for many people and businesses, to get crystal clear on where you want to go and why.
  • Utilizing exactly what (actions, processes, resources) will get you there is another difficult step in the process. You have to know what will get you there then implement.
  • We often do what has been done in the past, what we’ve always done, what others are doing or what we’re told to do without really knowing or checking if that is, in fact, that best way to support our objectives. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” – Ancient Chinese Proverb
  • Once we do know the direction, tools, resources, systems that will truly serve our vision; keeping that clear and in the forefront for all involved is yet another big challenge.
  • Our priorities often come from other places then us. “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.” – Bill Cosby
  • If a goal is not something we truly have ownership for or oomph for, it will be hard to keep up activities on a regular basis that support it.
  • We sometimes have our priorities and actions very clear and straight, but others have their own that supersede ours. We have bosses to answer to, mortgages to pay, projects to complete, competitors to outperform, kids to take care of. It’s so easy to get sidetracked or to even know what will get us there.

So what do we do? “Learn to say ‘No.’. It will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

  1. Reevaluate your priorities (with the help of a great coach).
  2. Notice where you’re spending your time and why.
  3. Confirm what your true priorities are and compare to where your time is actually spent (tips for how in the e-course).
  4. Weed your garden. Pick top priorities and weed out others. I was afraid to cut back the flowers thinking nothing would grow in its place. We do that with our time as well. What I found was weeding and cutting back was the way to truly get the best and most beautiful growth possible. I couldn’t have made a better metaphor if I tried.
  5. Make sure you have the right habits, processes and tools in place.
  6. Take Mr. Cosby’s and Mr. Purgeon’s advice. It’s valuable to learn that time is precious, and we are accountable and responsible for our time only and we’d better be pleased with the results. No one else can change it for us and no one else knows what’s right for you.

We’re human. These things don’t come automatically or easy. But most of the time the steps above are much easier than letting our priorities to go the weeds. Get support to go through this process. I’m biased, yes, but a coach as a resource is an invaluable tool in growing your garden, or find whatever works for you but do something.  Close the gap between what your garden is and the reality of its condition. But start now even in little ways. 

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
– George Eliot, 1819-1880
(pseudonym of Marian Evans Cross)

“Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let me tell you a little story (as those that know me know I like to do) about bloodhounds and how they’re related to jagged edges and Stunning Prisms. I watched a show once on Bloodhounds. Besides being incredibly cute, they have an amazing and valuable talent that we’re smart enough to recognize and utilize. They are great smellers – great trackers. One factoid that amazed me, in yet another example of perfect engineering, was about their ears. Besides making them cute as can be, their ears are masterfully designed to help them be the best smellers they can be, and provide us with a great service. How is this you ask? Good question, glad you’re here, ’cause that’s just what I wanted to talk about.

Their ears are really long and floppy. When they are tracking, they lower their head to the ground and move it back and forth (which I logically thought was to smell on both sides). Actually, when they sway their head, their ears flop back and forth and catch the smells and scoop them up to the dog’s nose. AMAZING really, but not surprising; we’re each equipped with such traits, designed perfectly for unique and great contributions.

The whole process works to make that bloodhound great. The nose, the ears, and the way they wave their head from side to side, the fact that they’re tall enough to walk over brush and other obstacles. They’re geared towards sniffing, and they love it when they’re doing it. You can see it; they’re in the “zone”.

Let’s pretend for a sec that you’ve just been promoted to the sniffer department, which oversees all the dogs that sniff for many important reasons (finding bombs, drugs, people etc.). You’ve been watching the bloodhounds in their work and have made the following few key observations to incorporate into your process improvements:

  1. For one, they aren’t at all like the greyhounds you’ve worked with before. I don’t think they care as much about their task, they’re much slower. They move around a lot, get distracted and bored, I think. They’re always looking back and forth in an inefficient manner with wasteful movements. To increase speed of tracking, enhance effectiveness, reduce variation and just plain make us more comfortable by dealing with what we know, they can’t be swaying their heads back and forth anymore either, that slows things down, less movement the better.
  2. I don’t even think they look where they’re going, their ears are in their eyes ½ of the time. Changes are in order!
  3. We know from experience (our experience) what makes a successful dog, what attributes are necessary and long floppy ears isn’t one of them, we need to pin ’em back.

Now consider the following…

  • How successful do you think we’d be in this situation given our ultimate goal of great tracking?
  • What are some of the drawbacks of this scenario?
  • How do you think the bloodhounds would react?
  • Why does it seem silly for us to consider this approach given what we know about the bloodhounds?

It does seem silly, but we do this to ourselves and to each other every day. And there are many reasons why it behooves us to cut the crap (yeah you heard me, time for tough love). We all have our floppy ears and swaying heads. Everyone, has their unique pure GOLD to contribute and are perfectly designed to do so. (See more in “Don’t quack if you’re a cow… the August 2002 Issue of TAP Into It.)Unfortunately we often pin back the ears and stop the swaying of the heads and the contribution is lost.

“Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.”
– Albert Camus

I have this vision of each of us as a unique, beautiful cut of glass with different shapes and projected prisms (just work with me, it’s a vision). We take these varied and beautiful cuts of glass, and we push and prod and shove them into these same round holes we’ve conjured up. In the process, and in our quest for results, many of the unique attributes (floppy ears), the very stuff that could have gotten us far greater results, get broken off. We’ve created jagged edges that cut where there were Stunning Prisms.

Some of us are sniffers, some of us racers, some are creative, some good negotiators, some work best in suits, some sweat suits, some of us are parents, some of us aren’t, some get married, some don’t, some work best from home, some the home is their work, some shine in the board room, some are humorous, others direct, some make great contributions with tattoos on their arms, others in ties and kakis. Some are great, creative thinkers, some are fantastic at the details and planning and bringing things to closure. Some of us want to climb the ladder some of us want to work on the ladder.

When we don’t recognize the wonderful role and necessity of the differences we bring to the table (floppy ears, cuts of glass) we tend to push and prod and change until we’ve taken that away. There is such power and strength in being able to see the relationships between the ultimate objective, what really will get you there, and discovering and cultivating that in people. If we reinforce the same thing and same attributes only, we’ll get sameness. We’ll get bloodhounds with their ears pinned back, we’ll get jagged edges. Get clear on our real goals, recognize the unique greatness in others by listening and appreciating what they have to offer, and we’ll get stunning prisms. We’ll get true control and results, not the illusion of that through our comfort and familiarity.

We’re jagged edges when we’re forced into something that doesn’t fit, that doesn’t honor our greatness. It doesn’t work and by not working I mean it’s simply a “getting by”, it’s not an optimization of who we can be, of the potential we’re capable of. When we honor the individual, the special attributes, knowledge, thoughts and paths we all have, we’re Stunning Prisms just begging to dazzle.

  “Everybody shake it,
Time to be free amongst yourselves
Your mama told you to be discreet,
and keep your freak to yourself
But your mama lied to you all this time,
She knows as well as you and I
You’ve got to express what is taboo in you
and share your freak with the rest of us
Cause itsa beautiful thang!”

– Macy Gray, 2001 zomba songs

What does this title mean, you ask (besides me cracking myself up?)? Basically, and quite frankly, it’s that we need to stop underestimating the power and importance of discovering, defining and cultivating our greatness. And stop underestimating how incredibly costly it is to quack when we’re not meant to quack and not just on a personal level (although I wonder why personal sacrifices are more acceptable than “corporate” sacrifices)

Sound corny? Sound touchy feely? Sound like something more suitable for a mid-life crisis when we have the time, money and inclination? Well it’s more of a present-day crisis, I believe. I chuckle to myself (and often out loud at inappropriate times but that’s another discussion) when people say “what do you work on, the personal or the business/corporate?” …I’ll give you a second to stop and look around our corporations, go ahead I’ll wait… (to the left, to the right)…What are they filled with? Yeah, that’s right! They are filled with PERSONS! The personal IS the business/corporate. Get it??

When we try to quack (do things that don’t feel right, don’t support what we’re best at, things we feel no passion or commitment to, that aren’t us, are contrary to our integrity, we don’t have the skills for, etc.)…when we should be mooing (if we’re a cow, of course), we cannot possibly, I’ll say it again, CAN’T reach our potential and can’t serve our clients or people in our lives (friends, spouse, children, community) to the best of our ability.

We tend to measure what and how we should be doing things by an external yardstick. An external yardstick will get us what everyone else gets and do what everyone else does, and in some cases that may be driving right off the bridge with the likes of Enron. We know we’re all unique, varied, bring different experiences, education, and talent to the table. With this knowledge we often attempt to beat those things out of us for conformity and ease of measuring sake, and in the process pour the pure gold out with the bath water. (And that ain’t good.)

Greatness is not the same for everyone, yet we attempt to measure with the same tools and criteria. We are all different and all lend something different to the process. If we measure the by the same standards, we are limiting ourselves to what others are doing. If we don’t know what is great about how we do our job, how we interact with others, how we make others feel, the work we do and simply do what others are doing or think we should be doing, how can we possibly make the greatest impact possible? Ok Cyn…get to the nitty gritty…

I recently presented an “uncommon area of responsibility” to a great group at a conference in Tennessee (you know who you are, go on…wave to the people), and now I’ll present it to you. You have the responsibility to know what your greatness is, how it’s best used, and to cultivate greatness in others as well. (Email me NOW and let me know how that sits with you, what is your first reaction to that statement?)

As I said, these concepts will be explored more in future material, but what we’re talking about here is:

Excavating: Discovering the passions you have, what you do best who you work best with, when you’re performing best, when you get the best results. What environments you work best in. The brushing off, the discovery, the clarity and overall vision of what your greatness is.

Articulating: Clarifying the specifics and measurables on what the results define your greatness. What does it look like? How will you know when your greatness is showing up? How will you recognize, find and speak to those you work best with the tasks you do best? Clearly knowing and speaking to the specific things that support our greatness. Knowing how to communicate this to others, specifically how will you know and how will they know.

Cultivating: What steps can you take to attract these things that best support and utilize your greatness? What boundaries do you need to help this happen effortlessly? What habits need to change to help this happen? What changes, enhancements, tools, and resources do you need to seek out to help this happen effortlessly? Why do I feel this is so important?

 “The musician must make music, and artist must paint,
a poet must write, if he is to ultimately be
at peace with himself.
What a man can be, he must be.”

– Abraham Maslow

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