Archive for March, 2010

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“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”Dorothy Thompson

What are you afraid of? It’s a question that invites a lot of answers on many different levels. One person may be afraid of heights; another of spiders or snakes. Some people are nervous in crowds or close spaces.

Go deeper: what are you really afraid of in your life? Is it failure? Are you afraid of making a mistake or appearing foolish to others? Are you afraid of rejection? Are you afraid that you will let others down?

These inner fears link us to our survival strategies. We equate these fears with death, and so we do anything to combat them. For example, how many times have you heard someone say: “Oh, I could never take that risk. I’d die!” Or, “If I don’t get this new client to sign the contract, my boss will kill me!” You may think that these are only common, everyday expressions, but your subconscious takes them literally.

And so the person who is afraid of taking a risk is convinced that she’ll die (figuratively) and adrenaline pumps through her body (literally) so she can fight or flee. Or, because he thinks his life depends on the client contract, he’ll do anything (and possibly something unethical) in order to get it signed.

What if you could face your fears for what they are: self-sabotaging beliefs that cause you to adopt limiting survival behaviors? Instead of taking the fear as fact, you become more discerning. You tell yourself: taking risks is not a natural skill for me. I could benefit from some coaching in this area. Or, I am concerned about the new client contract and could use some feedback and advice from my boss or a senior colleague.

When we keep fears from running our lives, we have access to more of ourselves. We can think more clearly because our brain isn’t on the autopilot of fight-or-flight. We are able to drop our defenses and reach out for help. We become empowered and our actions reflect greater confidence.

The irony is by not giving into our fears we become more of who we really are: capable, intelligent, and resourceful. And what we feared-the risk that produces failure and embarrassment, the loss of the client project, and so forth-is far less likely to materialize.

Note to Leaders: My colleague, Dr. Keith Merron has written a remarkable new book, entitled The Golden Flame: The Heart and Soul of Remarkable Leadership. As you know, we are living in a time of great change and transition- one that requires a new era of leadership and organizational life. Keith’s book not only outlines the behaviors, attitudes, and approaches that give rise to remarkable leadership, but is a transformative work that will allow you to further develop and refine the remarkable leader within you. It is now available for purchase on his website, http://www.remarkableleaders.com. I highly recommend it !

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“You can stand tall without standing on someone. 
You can be a victor without having victims.”

 – Harriet Woods 

Everybody likes to win. After all, most people strive for some kind of reward for their efforts, whether on the playing field or in business. But in order to win, does someone else have to lose? Sadly, all too often people believe that the answer is “yes.” 
The win/lose attitude, however, limits everyone. It kills cooperation and stifles creativity. Instead of looking at the bigger picture and the broader solution of what’s possible, win/lose thinking narrows the focus down to “what’s in it for me?” 
There is another way-in life and in business. In seeking the win for everyone, we must drop our negative behaviors (making someone else look bad, being right at any cost) and pursue positive ones. We emphasize collaboration and cooperative solutions and recognize there is more than one way to look at any situation. 
In business, there are many examples of suppliers working together to build their individual businesses to the benefit of a mutual customer, instead of trying to undercut each other. In life, dealing fairly with others creates a “win” for everyone, rather than pursuing lopsided outcomes in favor of one person, while creating upset and dissension for others. 
Within a company or department, when individuals are only “out for themselves” it’s the same as adopting a win/lose attitude. The sales person focused only on making her numbers won’t pass on a lead or a piece of vital information to a colleague. The manager vying for a promotion won’t compliment a colleague for good work in a meeting for fear of making that person look too good. 
“Win/lose attitudes poison the proverbial well for everyone.”
Knowing that everyone can win-that there is enough business, money, success, resources, and opportunity to go around-each individual can strive to be his or her personal best, while also encouraging and inspiring others to achieve their goals as well. 
Even in situations in which one person or party achieves something and another does not-such as in a competitive bidding scenario or a sports competition-winning does not mean making another party into “the loser.” Honest, healthy competition brings out the best in everyone. The bar is raised and everyone benefits by showcasing what they can do, fair and square, no matter the outcome.  
It takes more from an individual to play win/win – self awareness, self control, mutual respect, letting go of a self-centered ego and supporting the highest good for the company, project or relationship. Win/win players stand out from the rest of the crowd and can always stand tall because they are operating from a higher level of social consciousness by choosing to play a big game. Anyone can play win/lose.


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“Someone to tell it to is one of the fundamental needs of human beings.” 
~Miles Franklin

If you sit next to me in an airplane, get ready, because due to my arthritic hands, you will likely be asked to open my peanut bags. And if I’m hungry and haven’t had a chance to buy a salad before boarding, I may be requesting you to open that disgusting plastic sausage wrapped in disgusting hard-to-open plastic – as well as the puny little cracker and cheese hors d’oeuvre. I used to avoid making these requests, thinking it an imposition, but I have found that people love to help and are happy to do so. Besides, it frequently opens up a conversation that leads to a deeper connection than just sitting there sharing the same stale air.
“Do you have arthritis? My sister has it. . . ” and the conversation continues, often ending up with the person telling me their personal history and deepest problems. Of course, I always test to see if they are interested in talking and can tell instantly by the tone of their voice when I ask where they are from, and of course there are times when I also don’t want to talk to anyone and so we just snore together. But most of the time, if there is a mutual opening, I find these exchanges to be very sweet and enriching. I don’t know what it is, perhaps it’s because I’m safe, a complete stranger they’ll never see again, or maybe it’s because I’ve heard so many, many life stories over the years and nothing shocks me, or maybe it’s because I’m not afraid to go deeper or to share openly about the highs and lows of my own life as well, that soon has us engaged in a deep sharing, but I know that when the plane lands, I am a better person for it and I hope they are, too.
I so fervently believe in the principles I have been sharing for 30 years that to keep them to myself is like withholding a precious gift. I have watched thousands of lives change before my eyes, so how can I keep from asking a question that might help someone see something that could transform their life?   How can I keep from suggesting to a CEO that maybe he’s been focusing on the wrong thing, that maybe he’s the problem and not his people? How can I not ask the husband what role he has played in the demise of his marriage?  How can I avoid sharing with a mother that maybe her children need boundaries and ask her if being overly permissive is generated by her need to be loved and liked which is why she doesn’t discipline? How can I not encourage a young man to face his fears of failure and shoot for his dreams no matter what?  Or ask a woman why she isn’t taking time for herself and why she thinks everyone else is so much more important than she? 

It has been my experience that most people are truly ready to hear these things. Maybe it’s an “energy” thing that we sat together, I don’t know, but if I can offer one moment of compassion, caring or praise and acknowledgment to another I feel complete.
Likewise, their sharing enriches me and fills me with the warmth of human connection as my understanding of the universal human condition deepens. I can see myself in each and every person and I know I have lived through or can see something of myself in each and every story. When I am talking, I may as well be sitting in front of a mirror, for there is not one thing that I say, that I haven’t said to myself or don’t also need to hear. It is always an opportunity for me to recognize and admit to my own shortcomings, fears doubts and errors, successes, hopes and dreams. 
“Are we not like two volumes of one book?”
~Marceline Desbordes-Valmore
So there we are, two humans flying through the air sharing a piece of our lives. When we touch down on the tarmac, I would hope that we have both grown a little, that we have at least given each other an opportunity to think a little differently and to question our next step. Personally, I am grateful for the moment in time I have shared with a perfect stranger, for we have just experienced what it means to really relate.
And, if we were simply sharing a space together in silence, I at least got my peanuts opened  –  and a smile.



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Are you laughing yet…

“I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.”

                                                     ~Woody Allen
Things to do on an elevator that will make you and others laugh (or at least get attention from Security!)

They say laughter is the best medicine and sometimes it’s very healthy to simply lighten up. Those who can see the rediculous in all of us and can laugh at themselves are perhaps the best equipped among us to live a happy life.
“When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing each other.”
~Alan Alda


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1) CRACK open your briefcase or handbag, peer inside and ask “Got enough air in there?”
2) STAND silent and motionless in the corner facing the wall without getting off.
3) WHEN arriving at your floor, grunt and strain to yank the doors open, then act as if you’re embarrassed when they open themselves.
4) GREET everyone with a warm handshake and ask him or her to call you Admiral.
5) MEOW occasionally.
6) STARE At another passenger for a while. Then announce in horror: “You’re one of THEM” – and back away slowly
7) SAY -DING at each floor.
8) SAY “I wonder what all these do?” And push all the red buttons.
9) MAKE explosion noises when anyone presses a button.
10) STARE, grinning at another passenger for a while, then announce: “I have new socks on.”
11) WHEN the elevator is silent, look around and ask: “Is that your beeper?”
12) TRY to make personal calls on the emergency phone.
13) DRAW a little square on the floor with chalk and announce to the other passengers: “This is my personal space.”
14) WHEN there’s only one other person in the elevator, tap them on the shoulder, then pretend it wasn’t you.
15) PUSH the buttons and pretend they give you a shock. Smile, and go back for more.
16) ASK if you can push the button for other people but push the wrong ones.
17) HOLD the doors open and say you’re waiting for your friend. After a while, let the doors close and say “Hi Greg, How’s your day been?”
18) DROP a pen and wail until someone reaches to help pick it up, then scream: “That’s mine!”
19) BRING a camera and take pictures of everyone in the lift.
20) PRETEND you’re a flight attendant and review emergency procedures and exits with the Passengers.
21) SWAT at flies that don’t exist.
22) CALL out “Group hug” then enforce it.
Are you laughing yet? If not then perhaps you should check your pulse!

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The Mousetrap

“Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.”
~William James

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. “What food might this contain?” The mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed this warning:

“There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”
The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The pig sympathized, but said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. . . be assured you are in my prayers.”

The mouse turned to the cow and said, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.” So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap . . . alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house — the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it. It was a venomous snake whose tail was caught in the trap. The snake bit the farmer’s wife.

The farmer rushed her to the hospital.
When she returned home she still had a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup. So the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient. But his wife’s sickness continued. Friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

But, alas, the farmer’s wife did not get well. She died. So many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them for the funeral luncheon. And the mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness. So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and you think it doesn’t concern you, remember —

When one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”
~Edmund Burke

Thank you to my cousin, Dianne for this article

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