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Archive for July, 2014

Being Human pic for WoW

“Dear Human,

You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love, infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of…messing up. Often.

You didn’t come here to be perfect.  You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous, and then to rise again to remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story. Love in truth doesn’t need ANY other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks that you show up and do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU. It’s enough. It’s plenty.”

 
 
Author: Courtney A. Walsh

 

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“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”

Jim Rohn

 As a Leader, Will You Thrive or Just Survive?

All Great Leaders 7-16-14

“I feel like I’m swimming upstream. I’m working hard, but I’m overwhelmed and frankly, I’m making very little progress.”

Like most leaders, this Director of Marketing is highly skilled at keeping his head above water. He is surviving, but he is not thriving.

Survival is the most fundamental drive we know. Over the two-million-year history of humankind, instinct for individual survival developed into a hierarchical food chain. Acts of physical survival were translated into two types of power. Whoever was stronger, faster and more intelligent would survive through dominance. Those who were the most skilled at hiding and evading their predators would survive through clever passivity.

Over time, the drive for survival power turned into strategies that are familiar to us today: controlling, resisting, blaming, conniving, denying, withholding and succumbing. These days, many leaders accept these strategies as if they were requirements for winning the game – just part of what it means to win in business.

In reality, these strategies don’t help our bodies or our businesses stay alive – only our egos. Many leaders react to their fears of losing and their egos’ need to have their beliefs and opinions survive by resorting to “fight or flight” behaviors. In order to look good and be RIGHT about what they believe to be true, they argue, manipulate, and overpower or sometimes they avoid, procrastinate and lie.

Our survival strategies are overkill. Unlike the caveman, in today’s world we’re not afraid the saber-toothed tiger will tear us apart when we step out of our homes and into our workplaces. Yet, we put into motion the same primal stress response every time we feel our egos threatened. The fear of bodily harm has been replaced by emotional and intellectual fears. We are afraid our beliefs and decisions will be attacked, that we’ll be made wrong, look foolish, be rejected or be emotionally hurt. Ultimately, we’re afraid we’ll lose something and these fears run us because we desperately want to win.

Just as an animal will revert to “fight or flight” when it perceives a threat, many leaders frequently resort to survival tactics when they feel stressed, cornered, inadequate or confused. They won’t admit to their mistakes, they pretend they know when they don’t, they shade the truth for the approval of others, they won’t let go of control and delegate, they micro-manage, fight to win at any cost, withhold information and manipulate facts and figures to look good. They may have a strong drive to succeed, but their results and internal well-being is undermined by their self-sabotaging survival strategies.

On the other hand, leaders who are thriving approach life and their work with the same drive and desire to succeed, but they bring with it an inner calm, intellectual awareness and emotional maturity. Frequently described as “wise,” these leaders do more than just survive. They know stress, anger, anxiety, overwhelm and fear are not caused by the customer, their boss, direct reports, or their peers. They realize their survival instinct is the root of all these reactions, but they also know they are not going to die when confronted with a difficult person, situation or circumstance.

They stop fighting the river’s current, release their need to protect themselves with passive or aggressive power and maintain a personal detachment. They remove their personal fears and ego needs, keep their eyes on the goal and focus on producing remarkable results in a way that allows them to be centered and completely in control. They are compelling, effective, productive leaders and bring stability to a company.

1) They are able to see the big picture. They can step back from all the confusion and make sense of everything before them. They don’t get caught up in the minutiae. They respond with conscious awareness and don’t react emotionally.

2) They are self-sufficient and complete within themselves. They project a sense of self-control and inner confidence and can be relied upon to act appropriately in any given situation.

3) They are firmly grounded in strong ethical standards. They don’t sell their souls to get ahead or try to undermine others. They can be trusted. They give their word and they keep it.

4) They are profoundly aware of the world around them. Ever alert and conscious, they don’t ignore facts or hide from reality. They are aware of how their actions affect others.

5) They generously contribute to others, but never at their own personal cost. They empower others yet they maintain personal boundaries.

6) They feel complete. They have found meaning, purpose and significance within themselves. They don’t seek approval from others. They are at peace with who they are with all their faults and shortcomings.

7) They make sound decisions and good choices. They are more interested in finding a solution than in being right.

8) They inspire others. They speak to what is possible, and they trust and believe in the people who work with them.

9) They are in the driver’s seat and trust where they are going. They are self-reliant and take full accountability for their choices, actions, reactions and results.

10) They trust the process. They interpret “failures” and “mistakes” as opportunities to grow and choose to see them as a form of support that will help them reach their goals. They believe if you can’t fix it – feature it. They turn lemons into lemonade.

Letting go of engrained survival strategies is not easy; it takes practice and it’s an ongoing process of growth and learning. The first step is to become aware of one’s actions, reactions and results. Just as a leader tracks the performance of his/her team or benchmarks best practices of an admired company, leaders who know how to thrive are aware of the signals of survival and are willing to change them. They are committed to win the game while at the same time, supporting themselves and everyone around them to thrive. They lead with both their head and their heart.

All Great Leaders (2) 7-16-14Chart is from www.greatleadershipbydan.com


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Maya Angelou on Identity and the Meaning of Life 

 by Maria Popova

 www.brainpickings.org

 “Life loves the liver of it. You must live and life will be good to you.”

Maya Angelou  The light of the world has grown a little     dimmer with the loss of the phenomenal Maya Angelou, but her legacy endures as a luminous beacon of strength, courage, and spiritual beauty. Angelou’s timeless wisdom shines with unparalleled light in a 1977 interview by journalist Judith Rich, found in  Conversations with Maya Angelou  – the same magnificent tome that gave us the beloved author’s  conversation with Bill Moyers on freedom – in which Angelou explores issues of identity and the meaning of life.

Reflecting on her life, Angelou – who rose to cultural prominence through the sheer tenacity of her character and talent despite being born into a tumultuous working-class family, abandoned by her father at the age of three, and raped at the age of eight – tells Rich:

“I’ve been very fortunate… I seem to have a kind of blinkers. I just do not allow too many negatives to soil me. I’m very blessed. I have looked quite strange in most of the places I have lived in my life, the stages, spaces I’ve moved through. I of course grew up with my grandmother. My grandmother’s people and my brother are very very black, very lovely. And my mother’s people were very very fair. I was always sort of in between. I was too tall. My voice was too heavy. My attitude was too arrogant – or tenderhearted. So if I had accepted what people told me I looked like as a negative, yes, then I would be dead. But I accepted it and I thought, well, aren’t I the lucky one.”

Maya Angelou 2 living life

She later revisits the question of identity, echoing Leo Buscaglia’s beautiful meditation on labels, as she reflects on the visibility her success granted her and the responsibility that comes with it:

“What I represent in fact, what I’m trying like hell to represent every time I go into that hotel room, is myself. That’s what I’m trying to do. And I miss most of the time on that: I do not represent blacks or tall women, or women or Sonomans or Californians or Americans. Or rather I hope I do, because I am all those things. But that is not all that I am. I am all of that and more and less. People often put labels on people so they don’t have to deal with the physical fact of those people. It’s easy to say, ‘oh, that’s a honkie, that’s a Jew, that’s a junkie, or that’s a broad, or that’s a stud, or that’s a dude,’ so you don’t have to think: ‘Does this person long for Christmas? Is he afraid the Easter bunny will become polluted?’ … I refuse that… I simply refuse to have my life narrowed and proscribed.”

To be sure, beneath Angelou’s remarkable optimism and dignity lies the strenuous reality she had to overcome. Reflecting on her youth, she channels an experience all too familiar to those who enter life from a foundation the opposite of privilege:

“It’s very hard to be young and curious and almost egomaniacally concerned with one’s intelligence and to have no education at all and no direction and no doors to be opened… To go figuratively to a door and find there’s no doorknob.”

And yet, Angelou acknowledges with great gratitude the kindness of those who opened doors for her in her spiritual and creative journey. Remembering the Jewish rabbi who offered her guidance in faith and philosophy and who showed up at her hospital bedside many years later after a serious operation, Angelou tells Rich:

“The kindnesses … I never forget them. And so they keep one from becoming bitter. They encourage you to be as strong, as volatile as necessary to make a well world. Those people who gave me so much, and still give me so much, have a passion about them. And they encourage the passion in me. I’m very blessed I have a healthy temper. I can become quite angry and burning in anger, but I have never been bitter. Bitterness is a corrosive, terrible acid. It just eats you and makes you sick.”

maya Angelou 3

Painting by Basquiat from Angelou’s “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me.”

 

Thank you to my good friend, Molly Gamble for offering this piece for us all to enjoy.

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