Thursday, December 11, 2008

An Act of Surrender

“Places in the wild draw many of us to experience a vitality greater than our own, but it may take an act of surrender to let the gates give way between ourselves and nature.”

-Rosamund and Benjamin Zander, The Art of Possibility

Experiencing something greater than ourselves: are we up for it? What would it be if we could do this and be okay? Be open for a better world, for stewardship, for voices to be heard, for peace, for that which moves us … and be okay? Crazy some might say. Isn’t possible, others counter. No money, no time, just a pipe dream, how am I going to live on that… But again, suspend all of that just for a moment: what if we could experience that which we all may have experienced at one time? What if we dared to look at it? What would we see?

I ask these questions because I believe too often we shut ourselves down before letting ourselves really entertain possibility. What happens to us as we grow older? We encourage our kids to go for their dreams, no matter how big. In fact, we don’t ask them to think about it, but to dream what’s possible and to go for it. Why?! Because it’s our fervent hope that they’ll do it.

So what does it take to move from the place of fear to the place of possibility? It’s first and foremost a willingness. A willingness to look there and suspend your reality for a moment. Then it’s simply a choice - an act of surrender. A letting go of the outcome to let come.

Easier said than done? Nah. Just practice.

Try it with the smallest thing. Your husband’s way he folds the laundry. Your child’s way of making the bed. Practice letting go little by little, so that when you’re ready, experiencing a vitality greater than our own is a simply a matter of being open to the possibility.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Electing Community

Whatever way you swung in the elections, what’s clear is this: No one person can do it alone. Community – a support network – is essential. Any mom would vouch.

It’s so easy to operate in our own little worlds, going about out days, doing our things, interacting with people for brief social moments. But when something BIG happens, usually a calamity, that’s when we peek outside of our little boxes and really take a look around.

So what the heck does being part of a community mean? What does it mean to have community?

It strikes me that community brings our hearts together. Just take a look at the elections and see how people were moved to do something in their hometowns, stretched themselves because they believe something better was possible. I know I canvassed for the first time in my life! When we know we share a common purpose with our neighbor, our spirits lift and we creatively discover what might actually be possible.

This is true for us everywhere: personally, in our businesses and places of work, in our schools, in our public places and forums.

It’s in times like these, for better or worse, that we feel part of something much larger. Consider that having community doesn’t hinge on what our bottom line is, but what we contribute to the larger whole.

So peek out. Become aware. What’s fires you up? Where do you fit in? Who might you talk to? And dare I say it, how can you shape your future?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Learning Good Judgment

“How does one learn good judgment? Experience. And how does one gain experience? Bad judgment.”

-Adam Kahane; Solving Tough Problems

As painful as it is true, I can’t help but smile at this statement. It’s no wonder most of us would rather not relive our teenage years.

Too often I find my clients beating themselves up. Too often I find that we link our mistakes too easily with being “a failure,” and all of the negative pictures that our minds draw for us. We don’t forgive ourselves. We become stuck, down, and unable to move in any meaningful way. Man! What a drag.

This thought is especially important for those who are trying something different, or new in their businesses, careers, or responsibilities. A reframe around gaining experience – as painful as it may be – is crucial.

Here are three questions I use with my clients to help with the reframing process:

1.What is the ultimate take away here? How did this experience serve me?
2.What would your wisest, inner-knowing self say about what happened? What guidance would you ask him or her for?
3.Reread acknowledgments you have received from your clients, co-workers, and mentors. What is it specifically that they see? Remind yourself of your greatest, natural talents.

Then take another step. It is only by learning – and making HUGE mistakes! – that we can really know what it is we need to know. And the more we do it, the more we’ve learned to love ourselves in the process.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


“I don’t want to talk about dying. I want to talk about living.”
-Madeline R. , 5 years old

I just received this message from Madeline’s parents in their Caring Bridge journal. Last year, Madeline was diagnosed with pleural pulmonary blastoma, a rare childhood cancer. It has now invaded her brain in the form of a growing tumor.

How is it that children, like Madeline, get it? We read her statement and say “Yes! That’s the spirit!” And secretly: “Man, is she brave!” “Would I do that?” “Could I do that?”

Because let’s face it, friends. We all talk about dying. Dying not just physically, but in our careers, our relationships, our businesses and our busy-ness, our financial pictures of late. It’s dreary business.

What is particularly interesting is that Madeline makes a conscious choice. She would rather focus on living while she is alive. Madeline loves swimming and baking cookies with her friend, Marcus. Can you imagine if we would greet our days with: “How do I want to live today?” “What is important to me?” “What would make me feel alive?” Imagine creating from a place of “what brings me joy.”

I know it’s a choice, and some days are so much better than others. So here’s how I choose today. Catching up with an old friend, especially ones I haven’t talked to in a long time, brings me immense joy. Going for a run because it’s a beautiful fall day. Writing an email to an old colleague of mine. And hugging my kids a little closer.

Pray for our friend, Madeline. She is wise beyond her years.