Monday, August 25, 2014

I beg your pardon

I love the information age sometimes, and the way that thoughts and ideas seem to show up on my radar from several places at the same time. 

A friend posted a conversation this week on Facebook responding to some accusations that he intentionally set out to offend people. A great conversation ensued around active thought and mindset. 
About the same time, another leader I follow posted a podcast about approval addiction.
Just a couple days prior, I received an email from someone telling me how much they love my organization, but were offended by the subject of my email and just wanted to send me some feedback. 

I really like the things that these 2 conversations got me to thinking, and I am intrigued by the idea that there are people who would really be offended.

Growing up, I was never one to follow the crowd. As I got older, not following the crowd became part of my identity. So much so, that sometimes if a thing got too popular, I stopped liking it. I've always been extremely proud of my individuality and my ability to respect the same in others. Admittedly, I am also very sarcastic, and have a sick sense of humor. 

With the advent of social media, blogs, podcasts, personal websites, and all the avenues to "put yourself out there", people are stating their mind more than ever. I quote a portion of a speech from "An American President" 

America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free". 

We all absolutely have the right to be offended by another's statement or point of view. We have the right to debate, question and educate one another. But we have to be willing to receive the same. 

We do not have the right to silence another person, but we do have the right not to listen to that person if we don't want to hear what they have to say.
Many of us grew up with the adage "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." While I can't say I comply with that entirely, I would say that it saddens me greatly that so many people will give more energy to complaining than to thanking. 

After lunch during a training over the weekend, I made a point to thank the hostess for taking special care of our group. They rearranged tables so that 12 of us could eat together, and gave us each separate checks. When I addressed her, she visibly jumped. She was more than a little surprised to receive positive feedback from a customer leaving the restaurant. People go out of their way to complain, but not to give simple thanks. What a shame.

We are the product of our environments folks. You may have heard it said that you reflect the 5 people you spend the most time with, and many of my personal development friends talk about energy takers and energy builders. You reflect all of the things that you take in. Garbage in, garbage out as they say. 

If you find yourself confronted with someone or something that offends you, make an empowered choice. I don't apologize for offending you, but I welcome your thoughts and opinions.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Are you "really" the boss of you?

Ever have one of those days where you just want to scream? 
Or a day or two where you are in a funk and can't seem to shake it?

Do you feel like that feeling is out of your control?

It isn't, or at least, it doesn't have to be.

Life is full and things are fluid all the time. Things are always going to be coming at you, there will often be more than you can handle. 

You will have not enough business, or too much. 
The kids will have a million activities, or they will be bored and driving you crazy.
The house will be in need of fixing, or in need of remodeling or in need of redecorating, or you will be ready to sell it.

There will always be stuff. It won't all be rosy. But the really cool thing is you are in complete control of your perspective and your reaction.

As kids, when we wanted to stay up late, or eat popcorn, or go outside, we always had to ask our parents. And, when we got an answer we didn't like, they would tell us that when we grew up, we could make our own rules and we could decide when to stay up late, or eat popcorn. 

But we don't do we? We still let everything around us be the "boss of us".

Growing up, we all had rules, right? You had to do the hard or unpleasant stuff to get the good stuff.

Eat your vegetables, then you can have dessert

Do your chores, then you can have your allowance

Finish your homework, then you can go out and play

As an adult, don't you still hear your mom's voice sometimes when you break the rules? When you think of having a nibble of chocolate before dinner? When you think of sitting down to catch your favorite show in the middle of your weekly cleaning? When your girlfriend calls to ask you to lunch but you have a to-do list a mile long? 

Remember when you were a kid and you couldn't wait to grow up so you could make your OWN rules? It happened! You're a grown up. You can make your own rules. You can have dessert first if you like. You can set aside your cleaning and watch your favorite show or go for a walk. You can meet your girlfriend for cocktails, coffee or lunch no matter what's on your list.

When you hear your Mom's voice in your head, gently remind her that in your house, you get to make the rules. If your Mom was anything like mine, she even told you that, remember? 

Make new rules! Treat yourself! Grab a glass of wine, or whatever your favorite beverage is and give yourself 30 minutes tonight even if you don't have all your chores done. Choose to stay up late, or go to bed early. Take a nap, go for a walk, eat ice cream before dinner. 

Pick a thing that makes you feel great, and do that thing just for you and nobody else.

I'd love to hear what your thing is... share in the comments below.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

There will always be "stuff"

As "back to school" season approaches, or in some cases is already here,  (That's a whole weird phenomenon, isn't it?) I had the fleeting thought of how busy parents will be "at this time of year". 

The really funny thing, is that I've had that same thought pretty much every month this year, and I expect I will for the remainder of the year as well.

We go from "just after the holidays" to "spring break" to "Easter and Passover" to "end of school" to "summer starting" to "summer ending" to "back to school" to Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas and Hanukkah.

You're busy with the kids in school, you're busy with the kids out of school. You're travelling for work, you're travelling for rest.

What's my point? 

Very often, both in business and in personal invitations, you'll receive the "I'm too busy" response. This could be in response to a sales presentation, a networking event, a grand opening, or an invitation to gather the girls around a few bottles of wine any given evening. 

Sometimes your on the receiving end of the "I'm too busy" response and you put that person into your mental tickler file to extend the next invitation to. Very often that response will never change, no matter what month, what time of year you extend that invitation unless something changes in that person's circumstances for them to see and appreciate the intrinsic value in your invitation. 

Sometimes you're on the giving end of the "I'm too busy" response. I used the word response, when I really should have used the word excuse. 

It's not that you don't very honestly believe that you are too busy. I believe you. You are busy. 

The point is, you're always going to be busy. Even if you win the lottery tomorrow and can afford to never work again, you're going to be busy.

But here's the real problem... somewhere down the road, you may regret those opportunities you passed by. The girlfriend who invited you to watch her son's first baseball game, the networking event you heard so much buzz about the next day, the evening of joy, laughter and connection with friends, the sales presentation where you would have met the perfect business partner.

There will always be "stuff". While I don't recommend overextending yourself, as we sometimes do, I do recommend taking a beat the next time you receive an invitation before giving the auto response "That sounds so great! I'm too busy this week, maybe next time." If it really sounds so great, will you actually be less busy next time, or is it worth it to see what you can do to fit it into your schedule?

Cause, there will always be "stuff" and we only get 1 go around at this life of ours.