An Invitation

Fire Rainbow

“I believe I have a personal responsibility to make a positive impact.” ~ Anthony Fauci

I chose this image (source: Pinterest) of a “fire rainbow” to illustrate a rare and wonderful atmospheric phenomenon. I also wanted to contrast the point that beauty demonstrated, is not always rare.

Some of you know that I have been wanting to give more of my time, talents and energy to a meaningful and significant cause — on a volunteer basis. This Spring a beautiful opportunity presented.

This March, 2016 Press Release announced my election to the Board of The Coach Initiative – a ten years young organization that supports nonprofit initiatives worldwide to make a greater positive impact.

An Invitation

More specifically, The Coach Initiative (TCI) offers, on a pro-bono basis, coaching support to exponentially expand the positive global impact of projects that focus on the betterment of the human condition and on uplifting the human spirit.

TCI looks to a future where every not-for-profit organization with the purpose of making a positive impact in the world has the support of an experienced professional coach to enhance their contribution toward safer, healthier, happier, more productive global citizenry and the protection and care of our planet.

An Invitation2

We are moving quickly! And herein lies the invitation:

If you are aware of an established not-for-profit organization that could benefit from what TCI offers (see above link), I would like to learn about that nonprofit from you. Preferably, it would be an organization that you have personal experience with, one that you can vouch for their efforts and meaningful focus. In turn, I will have TCI contact that organization with information on how to apply to its program.

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In lieu of often shared points for consideration, following are three quotes that, I believe, remind us of what we are capable of doing. Choices that we make can contribute to the betterment of the human condition.  We simply need to act.

  • “A freely given gift can create a ripple of positive change in a person’s life, their family and their community.” ~ Unknown
  • “You have to throw the stone to get the pool to ripple.” ~ Glenn Tilbrook
  • “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Gucci, Pucci, Prada…

Gucci

“Once you label me, you negate me.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

To label or not to label — that is the question.  From a sales and marketing perspective, labels help to distinguish brands. They serve a product differentiation purpose. Labels can also benefit when used to identify or inform, to wit, nutritional labels on food packaging. I read those zealously.

Then there are cases where labels are used to highlight differences in people. We use them often without thinking, even if unuttered. Some examples:

  • right/wrong
  • introvert/extrovert
  • clean/dirty
  • ugly/beautiful
  • Type A/Type B
  • left-wing/right-wing
  • the list is, unfortunately, endless

Label Loser

Increasingly, it seems, we have an unhealthy compulsion to categorize. Between social media, the Internet and other quasi-anonymous platforms, people are becoming more obsessed with telling other people what their label is, supposedly so they’ll better understand and accept them/us.

Or consider stereotyping: how have the labels we placed kept others from truly being who they are meant and blessed to be? How much of life’s joy and goodness have we actually missed because our labels have masked us to what is actually within another person?

I, and likely you, have seen people get carried away with negative labeling. They become their label and the label (sadly, often) becomes their identity. They don’t know where the label ends and where they, the incredible being begins.

Label Toxic

Conversely, it’s rare that people get caught up in positive labeling. Surprisingly, many people are unable to cite a single positive for themselves. Try this: ask a few people, “What are your good qualities or character strengths?” Then notice their immediate reaction(s).

Reinforcing labels need to be nurtured, now more than ever. Why not consider using and promoting labels that describe positive human goals, worthwhile achievements, or an improvement in the human condition? She is healthy. He is educated, They are free!

Labeling Colors

What if each of us abandoned the negativity of personal, social, and political labels? Imagine our interactions and relationships when the differences we highlight and label are an individual’s unique qualities!

For your consideration, here are three exercises that could augment your label assigning awareness:

  1.  When you catch yourself labeling someone, ask yourself, “Why did I do that?” Be mindful that definitions belong to the definer, not the defined.
  2.  Focus on intentionally using labels that positively reflect a person’s attributes.
  3.  When you observe someone doing something positive, label the strengths you observe them demonstrating.

Inconvenienced, So?

2084496457_ae3580dfdd_m“If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you’ve got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience.” ~ Robert Fulghum

A friend shared today that McDonald’s intends to “allure a new generation of teens and 20-somethings currently obsessed with Chipotle burritos and salad bowls with the company’s affordable coffee, new lower-calorie menu, and convenience check-out changes.” And I found myself wondering… they still don’t get it.

Yet convenience sells. People love easy. And comfortable. Can you imagine trying to sell something that inconvenienced people? Even if the benefits of that inconvenience were guaranteed? Why do you think the majority of people don’t follow through with their exercise program? It’s inconvenient.

What effect will all this efficiency, speed, ease, comfort and convenience have on us as a collective people over the long-term? How will it affect our ability to deal with real adversity and problems? How can we become a powerful, adaptable and resilient species when our default setting is locked on easy?

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When we consider convenient versus inconvenient, some minds might conjure:

  • Driving when you could take a bus, train, bicycle or walk
  • Voluntarily recycling
  • Ending difficult relationships
  • Being selfish contrasted with giving freely
  • Rejecting life-giving organs from random/unknown donors
  • Choosing fast food rather than healthy/nutritious choices
  • Coping with last minute venue changes
  • Lying versus telling the truth

Sometimes we make plans and find them thwarted at every turn. We ride against the wind for a while, and then we complain and look around for someone to blame. Being inconvenienced is about how we deal with, embrace, and learn from things we can’t control; those outside forces that often blind side and force us to change. It also factors into how we handle stressful situations.

3125636743_01c7fe348b_mLife happens because it is existing. Just as our cells divide without our influence, so to do circumstances that inconvenience. Inconvenience has no motivation to know you or influence you in any way. It simply is. And when it presents, you can address it in many ways. Here are three for your consideration:

  1. Avoid always doing “me” things. These are activities that people desire to do on their spare time by themselves; sleeping in later, taking a walk by themselves, or reading a book in a quiet place. Instead, agree to an outing with friends even if it inconveniences you. Your time and company might just be what someone needs.
  2. In a similar vein, experience an Inconvenience Yourself Day. If you have to put someone else before you, how did that make you feel? Were you satisfied or unhappy with the result? Try to adapt and practice this often and see if it comes back to you.
  3. When inconvenience strikes, the behavior of others is a tempting target for resentment. One’s annoyance seems justified and self-absolving. Refusing to understand and own your reaction to being inconvenienced is simply shirking a personal responsibility. Why not simply chill and reflect on what just happened?

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It’s About the Smile

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” ~ William Butler Yeats

I got half way through typing a post and thought, nope, not today. It seemed too heavy a message to start or conclude a week, depending on which way you view Sundays.

Instead, I am sharing the above three minutes video. It’s four years young yet today was the first time I’ve viewed it. It easily brought a smile to my face and a lift to my spirit. The clip is a voice only, live orchestra, welcome home greeting. And it obviously accomplished its goal of pleasantly surprising arriving passengers.

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As inspiring moments often do, this got me thinking about the impending, year-end holidays. And what each of us can do to make someone’s day uniquely memorable. Be it Thanksgiving in the U.S., Hanukkah, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa – whatever one celebrates – many people will plow full-steam ahead into the next two months without giving fair thought to how and what they can do for those not anticipating anything.

We don’t need to stage elaborate productions as in this video. We can create and present small acts that may well be emotional and unforgettable for others. Simple things like a pair of gloves or a scarf, a small gift bag, a blanket or (gasp!) an invitation into your home or a restaurant for a meal, can generate an endless smile, even tears of appreciation.

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I’m going to flip my post format today. Rather than offer three ideas for you to consider, I’m inviting you to share one act (in comments) that you intend to perform in the coming weeks to create a special moment for someone, especially a stranger.

Of course, it is my belief that we ought to be doing this continuously. But that’s an opportunity for you to mull. 🙂 Let’s see what we’re capable of doing to pleasantly stun a new, even if momentary, arrival in our life.

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Oops!

“Never neglect the little things. Never skimp on that extra effort, that additional few minutes, that soft word of praise or thanks, that delivery of the very best that you can do. It does not matter what others think, it is of prime importance, however, what you think about you. You can never do your best, which should always be your trademark, if you are cutting corners and shirking responsibility. You are special. Never neglect the little things. ~ Og Mandino

The title was a toss-up: Oops! or Neglect. The former seemed, catchy. The latter, foreboding. Catchy won.

On a piece of paper I started writing things we often neglect. In a couple of minutes I wrote the following:

  • bad habits
  • everyday pleasures
  • our minds
  • continuous learning
  • exercise
  • mental illness
  • common courtesy
  • good nutrition
  • hugs
  • car maintenance
  • connections
  • strangers
  • transitions
  • compassion
  • dental care
  • friends
  • charity
  • the homeless
  • good advice
  • learning disabilities
  • marriage
  • strangers
  • spiritual life
  • child abuse
  • parents
  • humor
  • asking for help
  • our emotions
  • animal cruelty
  • exploration
  • the elderly
  • to smile

Reflecting on this cursory list I wondered, why do people often neglect these? The answers are innumerable and we each have our own reasons (excuses).

I extracted from this list three things that, for me, are very important and I do not neglect. Before sharing them, I’d like to encourage you to come up with your own list. Then, from what you write, consider three that you believe deserve more of your time, energy, and intentional focus. My three:

Sleep. Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being. Getting enough quality sleep can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function (and you thought is was just time for your subconscious to play). 🙂 Damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can contribute to chronic health problems and harm you over time. It also contributes to how well you think, learn, react, work, and get along with others.

Being in the present moment. If you’re living in the present, you’re living in acceptance. You’re accepting life as it is now, not as how you wish it would have been. You realize everything is complete as it is. You can have peace in your heart knowing that everything that should happen will.

   Be more Self-aware. Get to know yourself. A little introspection might yield some discomfort but it’s likely to be revealing and helpful. Consider more deeply understanding your emotions, feelings, and what triggers them so you can effectively work through them and manage your responses. Tune into what’s going on in your body (another area you might be neglecting?) and learn from it. Discover your beliefs, assumptions, and expectations, and (just maybe!) how they affect what and why you neglect.

What Gets Under Your Skin?

There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: Those who are afraid to try themselves, and those who are afraid that you will succeed.” ~ Roy Goforth

Rarely, at least with this blog, do I drift into the personal opinion sphere. It’s simply not the focus for this communication vehicle. Yet, as with many (most?) of us, every now and then something rocks us so significantly that we need to release… to engage ourselves and invite others to do so too.

Sometimes it helps to let things go because we cannot influence a desired outcome. Other times, the itch under our skin (and that may be putting it mildly) warrants more than just scratching. If a cause or opportunity is our number one priority, we’d easily invest more of our valuable time and energy into securing a meaningful solution.

But in some ‘lesser’ cases, calls to action are timely and desperately needed.

Yesterday’s post reminded and encouraged me that we can effect positive change. We can initiate or conjoin a ripple. A ripple of hope! So let us consider taking action, in whatever form you are capable and comfortable… to end the strife, the hate, loss of precious life, and the overt acts against humanity in the Middle East.

I believe most of us subscribe to and embrace the concepts of respect, compassion, and dignity. Do not think or believe that you, individually, cannot effect change. Even small change. It’s too easy to be passive or think negatively. Be a ripple!

Kindness Matters

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the ways its animals are treated.” ~ Gandhi

During a lunch conversation today, I was reminded about the significance of kindness, caring, compassion and giving. It’s good to be regularly reminded about these actions. Returning to my office, I saw an internet feed about an elephant that was freed after being held in captivity for 50+ years. The team that rescued the elephant was stunned when, during its release from restricting chains, it actually had tears streaming from its eyes.

I may be on my periodic soapbox here but the message is fair. Acts of kindness toward animals are prompted by little more than the goodwill of humans who recognize another sentient being in need and step in to help. While there are lots of videos and stories out there about the cruel things humans do to animals, there exists plenty of evidence to show that amazing and compassionate humans are also among us.

The now famous and viral commencement speech delivered by George Saunders in 2013 has been amended and abridged. In the following brief video, Saunders highlights the importance of kindness and failures of kindness.

Just as with humans, the smallest acts of kindness with animals can be incredibly rewarding. There is no kind deed that ought to go unrecognized.

Yes, I am an animal rights advocate. I abhor animal abandonment and abuse. Taking positive action in support and defense of animals is, in my opinion, a right and good thing to do.

There are many ways to be kind to animals. You don’t have to travel to Africa to fight the poachers; you can evidence your compassion locally. Here are three simple ways in which you can act on your desire to care:

  1. Help the strays. Stray animals aren’t any less living beings just because they don’t have a home, the same way people living on the streets aren’t any less human because they too are homeless. Resist the urge to shoo it away and just go about your day. They might be feeling lonely or are just pleased to see you. Remember to approach cautiously so you don’t scare the animal or put yourself in danger.
  2. Check that you aren’t inadvertently supporting animal cruelty. Did you know that circuses are cruel, because they force animals to do unnatural things using painful techniques? Maybe there are other tickets you could purchase. And check that none of your household products (like shampoos, makeup, or medicine) aren’t tested on animals. You can do this here.
  3. Spend even just a few minutes playing with, cuddling or walking a homeless shelter pet who is grieving the loss of her family. When you’re having a particularly stressful day, this is a good way to rebalance and is a beautiful gift to the shelter companion, too.

Masculine Qualities

“There are very few great discoveries in the world. Tantra can claim the greatest discovery. Even after nuclear weapons, Tantra’s discovery has been standing there for ten thousand years unused, an insight of such great value. The insight is that man and woman are not just one – man just man, woman just woman – no. They are both together: man is half man and half woman, and the same is true about women.” ~ Osho, Sermons in Stone

Recently, I was discussing desirable masculine traits with a female colleague. She shared five qualities with me that she heard from Shelly Bullard, a Marriage and Family Therapist. I wasn’t surprised that these five aligned with themes addressed in coaching, as well as qualities frequently highlighted in this blog.

My colleague was explaining reasons we’re attracted to certain people and one of those reasons is whether that person is masculine of feminine. And I suspect some of you reading this post are saying, really?! 🙂 She went on to say that as a man, you must have these qualities to appear attractive to a female. However, not every woman is going to want a man with these distinctly masculine traits. Confused yet?

Presence Presence is the ability to be consciously connected to the here and now. Women can feel a man’s presence when he listens to her. She can feel presence when a man is connected to his core. And presence is a practice at which one can get better. Culturally, we’re in an epidemic of not being present; we find many ways to distract ourselves every day. Thus, being present in interactions is highly desirable and valued.

Purpose According to Bullard, purpose can be many things. It can be to change the world; to push your body to its limits; to build a business or home; to make art; or to be the kindest person you know. It’s not so much about the purpose, rather, it’s that you have a purpose or that you’re in the process of discovering/fulfilling it.

Direction With purpose comes direction. Purpose is knowing what you are here to do and direction is doing it. Women are attracted to men who get things done. A man’s clear direction makes the feminine feel safe. If she knows a man can navigate well on his own, then she has more room to relax in a man’s presence. She doesn’t have to show a man how to do it.

Honesty and Truth Both of these traits are important in all relationships. Trust comes from acting in honest ways. A distinct (though not exclusively) feminine quality is intuition and with intuition comes the ability to sense BS a mile away. (The converse holds true for some men, too.) When a man learns to be completely honest with himself (about struggles, shortcomings, challenges, strengths, etc.) then his integrity can be felt/sensed and he’ll be trusted.

Humor Humor is at the top of most women’s lists because humor has the ability to lighten the mood. The feminine gets bogged down with her emotions, as well as her to-do lists. (Bullard said this, not me.) This is stressful for women. If a man can make her laugh, it’s a getaway to flow. Women are grateful for a man’s ability to add joy and light to everyday life.

Now typed, I’m unsure why I chose to share this. I suppose, in part, it’s because I appreciate and strive to live these qualities – but for my own reasons, not necessarily to satisfy another’s criteria. In my mind, masculine and feminine qualities are gifts. And perhaps it’s the mix that each of us possesses which makes us unique.

So… wise readers, what say ye?

Aging and Giving

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” ~ Betty Friedan

This is a quick post to simply extend the messages shared in two recent posts about: 1) giving and; 2) aging. Let’s hope we can be as spunky and as generous as this woman of 98 years… if/when we are blessed to reach her age (and possess her health). More power to her and those of like mind and spirit!

A Convergence of Qualities

“Your attitude is a multitude of aptitude and rectitude which decides your altitude in plenitude.” ~ Vikrant Parsai

Over the last ten days or so, I observed and/or experienced situations that heightened my awareness and in hindsight, left me wondering. I’m not going to delve into the situations other than to acknowledge that they were leadership opportunities.

In several of these settings I anticipated demonstrations of leadership – you know, clear and bold displays of character, honesty, principle, rectitude and integrity. In my opinion, an admirable convergence.

We (there were others observing) thought we’d see leaders channel their positive powers of persuasion, possess and show spine, and share how course of conduct decisions could (and ought to) be made in accordance with reason. Perhaps my cultivated views of leadership are too lofty. In my mind, leaders develop the capacities of others, are characterized by a deep sense of ethics, are driven by core values, and are motivated by the pursuit of a higher purpose.

So I was dumbfounded when I heard and learned many of these people ‘whispering’ about the end not always justifying the means, and intentionally twisting and distorting facts when required for ulterior outcome(s). These individuals represented a broad range of professional walks – religion, academia, athletics, advertising and one that didn’t surprise me, politics.

In my after-the-fact reflection I reminded myself that when you choose to behave with honor and integrity, particularly when other people aren’t doing so, it’s likely someone is going to notice and will make different and better decisions as a result of what they observe in you. When you genuinely and confidently express your support for respect, honesty and trust, it makes it easier for others around you to pass that attitude along.

We don’t need to be in positions of public power to have a positive impact on others. It is how we act in our day-to-day lives, congruent with who we really are, that matters. If you are interested in influencing people in worthy ways, here are three considerations:

  1. Look for the expectant. Focus on positive direction by scanning the news and events for examples of integrity. Talk about what you see and hear with family, friends and colleagues rather than the latest scandal. Make endorsing integrity a stronger value in your life than criticism.
  2. Remind and reinforce others. Sometimes others will show or tell you what you did (or are about to do), is not right. Thank those people, for they are giving you the potential for personal growth.
  3. Be transparent. Most of us would like to be something we’re not. Admit your shortcomings. Part of being honest with yourself is being honest with others. Living transparently and not pretending to be someone you aren’t actually makes people think more of you. Yes, it’s counter-intuitive. It’s also transformative.