Category Archives: Productivity

…resourcefulness and ego…

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.”  – Max DePree

To have a truly secure long-term future means that you must have a secure long-term belief in yourself.  And most people don’t want to believe in themselves … well … not really.  They undermine their intentions and their strengths by speculating about how they can choose comfort over challenge, or how they can avoid a necessary and growthful change… and not notice any loss in their experience. 

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…resourcefulness and choice…

“True contentment comes with empathy.” — Tim Finn

No one said any of this would be easy.  And we all have ample opportunity to gripe about the ambiguity of discernment. 

On the one hand, integrity is unavoidable – even if you give it no attention, your actions and choices show it all the time.  On the other hand, by giving integrity attention we gain a credibility with ourselves demonstrating a willingness to discern.  But, as it often turns out, our actions and choices do not always conform with our discernment – despite our best intentions.  We are often put in the ironic situation of deciding what our “future self” might like, and then, upon arriving at that future time, we discover that NOW we don’t  like what we decided.  Kinda strange, right?!

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…mindfulness and simplicity…

“Structural tension is formed by two major components:  1.  A vision of the result you want to create, and 2. A clear view of the reality you now have.” – Robert Fritz

The mindfulness commands to Choose, Respond, and Change can simplify your actions, enabling you to be more fully present.  Whatever you want to create with your energies – from a mindful place – it will be a more complete representation of what you intend. 

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…a question of priority…

“Getting in touch with your true self must be your first priority.” — Tom Hopkins

There are a lot of gags that start with “your money or your life…”  And what’s true about all of them is that our priorities quite often becomes convoluted and even reversed.  “The good I would do , but I do not”  becomes the common refrain when we undermine our most heartfelt intentions by needlessly misunderstanding “the-game-we-are-in.” 

This phenomena goes by “mighta,” “woulda,” “coulda.”   Second guessing what might have happened if  only we had done whatever it was we didn’t.  That’s not the only way.  We could exercise mindful discernment using “choose, respond, and change.” 

Let’s look at a few examples:

Elizabeth – A woman seeking her fortune in a male-dominated profession.  She feels compelled to out do her peers.  She works long hours, sits on many boards, speaks at conferences when she can.  She’s also a mom to two children.  Supermom and super manager.  She puts in well over 80-hours per week.  Not much time for any extras.  Maxed out and running on fumes.

Steve –  Eight years out of college he served as a community organizer with an inner-city minority.  He had no income.  His organization took care of him.  All of his associates were like family.  Their mission was his mission.  But he became disillusioned by what he saw.  People did not live up to the ideal.  So he left.  Now he works with a multi-national organization and making over $150,000 per year.  But the disparity within his community still eats at him and he sometimes longs for what he had.

Lois – Ten years on the job and she just plain hates her work.  She does the absolute minimum to get by but does that so well that she really could never be fired.  She has accepted the perks and the benefits, but it all still translates into boredom.  After-hours variety just doesn’t seem to take away dullness that has creeped into her life.  She wants to get out of the “rut” but feels trapped the gilded cage of the job.  Too much to lose, she fears.

This list could go on.  We’ve all experienced some version of these stories.  Like Goldilocks,  our work lives are just never quite right AND unlike Goldilocks, we never feel compelled to actually make a change.  If we only accommodate enough well then everything works out.  Or so we hope.

So what does this have to do with “choose, respond, and change” or with “mindful discernment”?  What are these people failing to tap into?

If we go back to clarification dilemmas, everyone is failing to pay attention to the waking reveries they have.  Those daydreams that push them beyond the here and now.  Discernment in large measure is about those reveries.  Discernment is one of our natural endowments, but only when we listen using all four of primary endowments.

Self-awareness presents itself in the reverie, in how we choose and respond in the moment.  Creative Imagination and Conscience are present in our mindfulness; we become open to seeing more than just the obvious and the routine. And finally, Independent Will  is our willingness to act and put ourselves into the environment, just to test things out. 

Of course, habit and stubbornness are the culprits.  We fail to break free because we walk away from the challenge mindful change and discernment.  We do not pass the test of open-ended engagement.

Thanks for listening!

…stubbornness and habit…

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” –Samuel Johnson

Remember the three commands: choose, respond, and change?  (If you don’t, see …choose, respond, change…)  Well, one of the impediments to mastering mindful change is our tendency to act out of  stubbornness or habit.

Let me give you two stories.

This is a story about a man and a horse. The horse is galloping quickly, and it seems that the man on the horse is going somewhere really important.  Another man, standing along the road, shouts, ”Where are you going?” and the man on the horse replies, “I don’t know! Ask the horse!”

Needless to say there is a lack of awareness here.  Sometimes our energy runs away with us without really telling us where we are going.

Here is another story:

One day, a rat faces four tunnels.  He smells cheese.  Down tunnel #1 – Nothing.  Same with #2 and #3 – Nothing.  Finally, he goes down through tunnel #4.  Eureka! Cheese!  Next day, he smells cheese again.  Smarter now from his experience, he heads down #4 right away. Eureka! Cheese!   This happened 5 days in a row.  But on the sixth day,  he ran down through tunnel #4 – five times – No Cheese.  He was depressed.  But he could still smell the cheese.  Then he decided to go down the other tunnels.

Down tunnel #3 – Nothing.  Down tunnel #2 – Nothing.   Finally, he goes down through tunnel #1.  Eureka! Cheese! 

Habit make it difficult to consider all of our options.  We can easily become convinced that only one alternative exists even when we are explicitly facing a variety of alternatives.

So … what does this have to do with “choose, respond, and change?” 

The command, “choose” is about memory and imagination.  Memory engages us in “Call-up and Select” while imagination engages us with “Hold and Contain.”  Both stubbornness and habit put a lot of emphasis on “choosing” without ever realizing that there is more to the story.  The commands to “respond and change” get the short-shrift.   Very little attention is given to the present moment of the story.

The command, “respond,” is about self-awareness.  Self-awareness insures that our uniqueness is included in the world around us.  When we respond, we fit the awareness we have brought up from “choosing”  into what we make of the world by identifying “the-game we are in.”  If we name that “game” by default, we are never open to learning anything new.  So “respond” asks for us to appreciate the immediate moment.  This is how we become mindful and present. 

Lastly, the command, “change,” is a measure of how comfortably we can stand within the unknown.  With a mindful response, we do not rush to change the unknown into a pre-conception.  We stay curious and open, we engage ourselves in the whole situation before pigeonholing our trust. 

Samuel Johnson is right,  “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”  A mindful change asks that we remember our endowments:  Self-awareness (choose and respond) ,  Creative Imagination and Conscience (be open to seeing more than the obvious) and finally Independent Will (action puts us into the environment).

Thanks for listening!

…the inner game and its challenge…

“The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. … at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.” – W. Timothy Gallwey, author of The Inner Game of Tennis

The Inner Game of Tennis changed a lot of people’s conception of trust and engagement.  The inner game’s environment is the inner game of focus.  Putting 100% of yourself out there because you keep up a concentrated focus and because you get caught up, involuntarily, in the goal you seek.  Wait!  Did I say “involuntarily”?  That must have been a mistake.  Concentrated focus takes work and effort; it requires commitment and dedication; it is just about as far away from involuntary as you can imagine.  Or is it?

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…addressed or avoided…

“If you want to get something done, do it yourself.” — Anonymous 
In the realm of life lessons, I have avoided plenty of things that were asked of me.  It’s not always pretty.  And as tempting as it might be to “take-on-the-world,” we all have our limits. 
So before you commit, ask yourself:  “Is this something you want to fix (and address) or avoid (and leave alone)?”  Just taking that one step goes a long way.