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.

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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

The Gift of Growth

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“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.” ~ Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Growth happens. Whether we encourage and nurture it or it manifests organically.

It’s an unseasonably warm Sunday. The Christmas tree is still up (shame), I’m listening to soothing Chris Botti music and friends in the blogging community are on my mind. As relaxed as one can be, I realize that even in passive settings, awareness can grow.

Eleven months ago I had short-term clarity about what was next on my personal journey. And I shared some of those images in a post. While there were clearly interests to pursue, what wasn’t factored in was how unanticipated growth would parade her way into my new experiences… and what a lovely complement she became.

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Looking back, some of my growth was simply appreciating the wit, the wisdom and the insights of ordinary people, unplanned destinations and in allowing the intimacy of unfamiliarity to ooze into my being. I became more aware of other people, how they presented, the unique gifts they possess, and their openness to connection.

In a recent interview British actor Tom Hiddleston declared, “I suppose I am fascinated by the private vulnerability and the exterior of people.” “I think that’s an essential truth. I sort of quite like trying to find what makes people tick behind the construction of their identity.”

Similarly, Mr. Hiddleston’s intrigue mirrors what I have been exploring lately, by turning my attention inward as well as outward. For me, both seem meaningful facets of growth… considering personas and influence brought by others.

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Some of you may be interested in knowing how vision, vantage and vigor aligned and gave power to some of my warming experiences, outcomes and chance growth:

  • My speech Compassion as a Verb was well received by audiences throughout the Spring contest season. It earned third place at Toastmasters District finals. More importantly, it touched people, profoundly. That impact alone made the process worthwhile.
  • My book “Awakening to Awareness: Aligning Your Life With What Really Matters” was published in December.
  • I succeeded at regularly scheduling and reveling in solitude and spending more time in/with nature. This has done wonders for growth and grounding.
  • Self-teaching/learning Italian has seen slower than expected progress. Yet it continues, unhurried. La pazienza paga.
  • I have traveled more, both domestically (within the U.S. and overseas). And what a balm each of those trips has been.
  • The goal to find a worthy cause, one that would afford a volunteer opportunity presented. It is a global initiative that couples Professional Coaching (on a pro-bono basis) and not-for-profit organizations with the purpose of making a positive impact and supporting safer, healthier, happier and more productive global citizenry. Put simply, it is work that focuses on the betterment of the human condition and on uplifting the human spirit.

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But back to growth… and not so much mine as yours! If you are interested in heightening your awareness around growth, consider these simple actions:

  1. Have a truly deep conversation with someone. Listen! Appreciate what makes other people tick. And learn from them.
  2. Ask questions that encourage others to reveal who they are and where they want to go. They may inspire new growth in you.
  3. Create space where silence is honored. Be comfortable there, whether alone or together. Appreciate the inner stillness and the possibilities that emanate there.

Adieu

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“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

I thought about titling this post Bigger Fish to Fry but realized the idiom inferred more important matters to address. And in some respects this is true. But I didn’t want readers (you) to think yourselves unimportant in my eyes because you genuinely matter to me.

However, it is time to bid you farewell; to move on. Not long ago I shared a post in which I asked if any of you had been (or perhaps, are) On a Verge. Its premise was simply to honor your intuition when you know there are other opportunities calling. To those possibilities, I have listened and am aware of ‘what’s next’ and why.

Watercolor by Abby Diamond

Watercolor by Abby Diamond

For me, it’s always been about following my heart… helping, healing and sharing. To continue contributing in these and other ways, I am choosing to pair my ‘next set of priorities’ with abundant time, renewed energy and unbridled inspiration.

Many of you know, sustaining a blog and actively interacting with many writers can be time-consuming. And the experience has been thoroughly enjoyable! I’ve acknowledged this once before, but it bears repeating… I have gotten more out of what’s been shared in your posts and comments than with my written offerings.

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I’m excited about this next life chapter. I’ve been looking forward to continuing to realign with what really matters to me. And I suspect some of you are leaning in, whispering, what is it you’re going to be doing, Eric? 🙂 Well, I hope this doesn’t disappoint but there’s little noble on the radar screen. There are some nearer-term and some longer-term activities that will receive due attention. Once they’re completed, time will avail to do more — yet to be determined, good things.

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For those interested, here is what’s on the forward leaning plate:

  • I will be committing a hefty chunk of time to rehearsing for and competing in the (my now, fourth) Toastmasters International Speech Contest. While still untitled, my speech this year is about compassion creating connections.
  • I will finally, finish and publish my first book which will reflect much of what I have shared in this blog.
  • I will be creating more time to be in and with nature. Solitude rejuvenates and is immensely healing for our mind, body and spirit.
  • I am going to learn to speak/read Italian. This ought not surprise many given my professed fondness for nearly all things Italian.
  • I am going to travel. A lot. 🙂 I keep encouraging my Mom to do whatever she wants while she is of sound mind and body. An advocate for ‘walking our talk,’ I will practice what I encourage others to consider doing.
  • I intend to find a cause or organization that will welcome my time and services – in a volunteer capacity. I have mentored and been in service to others for decades, just not at the level I can now. It’s time for me to augment my contributions.
  • And perhaps most important, I will be spending much more time creating and rekindling connections with people. Live, in-person, connections which for me, are the most authentic and fulfilling.

I may someday return to this amazing WordPress Community; time and passion will tell. Know that I will cherish this mutual adventure and you… many of you more than you will know. I am privileged to have shared our connections.

With appreciation, respect and love,

Eric

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Which Are You: 49% or 51%?

Jennifer Marchetti

Jennifer Marchetti

“A lifestyle is what you pay for; a life is what pays you.” ~ Thomas Leonard

In early 2014, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate (BH&GRE) conducted a National Survey of baby boomers to learn their retirement strategies, aspirations, and motivations. 49% of the respondents who felt more confident about achieving an ideal retirement lifestyle, cited their top factor for feeling confident as having a retirement lifestyle plan.

This two-minutes video highlights the survey findings.

As a boomer, the 49% figure does not surprise me. In my work with this generational cohort I have learned that many boomers have not substantively planned for their “retirement.” Thus, the post title. Are you part of the 49%, or one of the 51% who don’t yet have a retirement lifestyle plan? As an extension to this finding I find myself thinking, Why not a lifestyle plan for anyone, at any life stage?

Jennifer Marchetti is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for BH&GRE. She was my guest on this week’s Awakening to Awareness Radio Show. On the program, Jen discussed a wide range of matters significant to boomers including: a new definition for retirement; why boomers are pursuing their passions; two views on empty nesters; how boomers are repurposing their living space and; the amazing optimism of this generation who have served as economic drivers for much of their lives.

Also not surprising, as members of the “sandwich generation,” boomers are strong enablers for following generations. They intend to stay active whether continuing to work, volunteering, returning to school (to learn or teach!), as travelers and/or as emerging Encore Entrepreneurs.

The show podcast is linked here, for those interested in listening.

How Much Giving Is Enough?

“For it is in giving that we receive.” ~St. Francis of Assisi

I recently read some (to me) interesting statistics. For the 12 months ending September 2013, only 25.4% of Americans over age 18 volunteered their time and/or money. That’s one in four adults. Of this population, 40.8% got involved after being asked to volunteer or donate. 43% engaged on their own initiative. If I’ve done my math correctly, less than half of that ‘one in four’ people acted on their own.

I cannot comment on comparable data in other countries but as an American, I find this news bewildering. Individuals aged 65 and over contributed on average 96 hours of their time annually which is understandable given their greater amount of discretionary time. The median adult commitment was 52 hours annually. That averages one hour per week.

Americans, I believe, are a generally generous people. We tend to be a compassionate lot, especially in times of devastation and destruction. Many are moved to local acts of kindness in support of people who have lost their jobs, homes and/or family lives. Our willingness to contribute is most often in the form of charitable giving and volunteering of time. Yet I wonder…

In a country (and world for that matter) where there exists so much pain and suffering, where poverty, hunger, pollution, overpopulation and government corruption are increasingly pressing issues — how much of our time, talents and energy can we give to help those in serious need? What within us drives our desire to give to others, especially when we are abundantly blessed? I recognize personal choice is involved yet is giving a moral responsibility?

Most of us have a passion for our own growth. Yet none of us can succeed alone. We need to be there for others. And we can do this not only by offering time and money but by giving respect. We can become a servant of and to others. We can become friends with people we may be uncomfortable befriending. We can acutely listen to, not just hear their plights and basic needs.

So I wonder… How much giving is enough? Is it ever enough? Who defines what is enough? Is it one-time or is it continually? How much of your giving is coming from your heart and how much of what you give is a personal sacrifice?

We can feel.  We can care.  We can educate.  We can inspire.  We can give.  More.

For those who believe I am on a soapbox, please feel free to share your thoughts. The more I age, the more I become aware, the more I know that it is about giving it away for free. And the beauty in doing that is ever so rewarding.