21st Century Life-Are We Focusing on the Right Things?

It’s so easy to focus on politics or the weather, or a myriad of other things, and avoid these three key areas of our lives. When these 3 areas are left unattended, it can lead to division in families, inability to focus on our lives and create great anxiety around money.  

Our Life-we run around doing things, yet many struggle with defining their purpose. We know we have values, yet many can’t clearly describe what those values mean to them or how to incorporate them into their daily lives.

To find purpose for yourself, examine and commit to your values. They represent the core of who you are. They are the cornerstones of your life’s foundation.

Our Legacy-we leave this earth transferring the things we have but have forgotten to leave behind what matters most to us, the why of our beliefs and principles. for the next generations to build upon.

The next time your family gathers, whether it is in person or online, ask those gathering what matters most to them. Then listen. You will learn something unique about each individual and find that your connection strengthens. It will provide you with a firmer base from which to support each other.   

Our Money –we use it every day yet haven’t really identified its purpose.  Spending is an easy release valve when so often we are anxious about our money.

Set aside a time to talk about what money means to your family. Develop strategies, tactics, actions, support and accountability matrices from which to base financial conversations. Doing so will build a foundation of what matters most to you with money.

Wanted: The Fine Line of Respectful Discernment

The mind is a wonderful place…sometimes.  Our behaviors can be triggered by such subtle mind stimulations that, in turn, affect our emotions and even our judgments. 

In the classic Stanley Miglram experiment, conducted in the 1960s, factors affecting obedience to authority were measured. The Stanford Prison 14-day experiment of the early 1970s, set out, in part, to learn what prompted brutality among those in authority, in this case, the guards in the prison system. It was terminated after six days. The lines of authority and compliance were replaced with abuse and immorality,

Both studies revealed behaviors about and towards authority as well as the roles and behaviors around compliance. Some participants were in authoritative roles and some were recipients of authority. In both studies, reactions to situations were observed and cataloged. Watch the Milgram Experiment here as a documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdrKCilEhC0. Here is a link to  documentary of the Stanford Experiment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_LKzEqlPto

Here we are, as a society, in the COVID-19 environment. Authority and compliance have taken their positions. The outliers face a decision be authorities, comply or resist.

I find, that often, with adults, we comply or resist depending on what is in it for us personally. Yet when orders are given, I find they are often given without empathy or explanation that considers the varied perspectives. Instead, directives are given as if there is no other opinion or perspective.  In families, this is observed more intensely. There is often more personal investment in what is being protected or guarded or questioned. 

When you hold a position, think about what beliefs and values you are championing in the stance you take.  How big is the bubble surrounding these values, meaning are they individually or situationally framed or are they universal? Can these values be expressed differently knowing there are others to be considered, knowing we are listening to diverse opinions and experts with their points of view on COVID-19? The question is not; “What do I want to do? Instead, the question is” What serves us all at this time to ensure our common safety, health and peace of mind? The answer may be more complex than responses we are coming to. It may not be a one size fits all. It may be an answer that once tried, needs to be tweaked.

A sense of dehumanization can encompass us when we feel our principles are being weakened, not taken into account or set aside without consideration.

Trust erodes, not because trust is a weak paradigm, but because our sense of authority and compliance comes into question. Discernment is needed to understand the value to authority and to compliance, how and when to respect each, how and when to challenge, defy and redefine either.  This is a major element in family dynamics.

Trust Reminds Me of a Spider Web, Strong and Delicate

In a book I recently read, trust was defined in one word: predictability. That was insightful. But my mind felt unfulfilled. I asked myself: “Is that all?” I started looking at trust more carefully and concurrently, I examined my own use of trust.

As I looked more closely at trust, I understood it to hold more than predictability. After all, I know those who are predictable, but I do not trust them.

What other components define trust to give its almost mercurial characteristic? I soon realized that trust involves a sense of reliance, in someone’s character. Whereas predictability infers forecasting, reliability infers an expectation of working or behaving within an intention. I know this is nuanced but it helps in examining components in trust.  Reliance adds a sense of peace to trust,  

Another component to trust is understanding one’s motivations. Motivations reveal intentions, priorities, goals and needs. When I understand someone’s motivations, I can bestow or withhold trust. Trust is a mighty bridge to building and sustaining empathy and understanding..

Still, another component to trust is the feeling of true authority born by experience and not merely by knowledge. When I sense that someone is a student of what they are talking about, rather than a transmitter of information on a subject, I can grant trust. This is because I recognize them as being involved, investigative, passionate and a lifelong learner in their subject or field. Authority adds a sense of confidence to trust.

What I find interesting about trust is that we can provide trust quickly, slowly, or not at all. There seems to be a continuum for the application of trust. I have found that this continuum revolves around feelings of safety, feelings of reciprocity, and feelings of being understood. 

Like a spider web strand which is ten time stronger than steel at its same weight, trust is a strong bond between people. Like the spider strand which can break and  change the nature of the web, trust can be broken or suddenly withdrawn, and like the spider web, this break of trust changes the nature of the relationship to which it was bound. Trust may be strong, able to withstand much, but it is also delicate and can be broken in an instant.

Let me know your thoughts on trust. How do you experience trust? How do you dole out trust? What causes you to withdraw trust?

While in the Same Storm,

We Are in Different Boats

I was going to blog about the illusion of control, but that will have to wait. You see, an email came to me from an associate that contained a message from an unattributed source. I found the message riveting, as we move through this COVID environment. I share the message with you.

I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial and family crisis.

For some that live alone they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest and time with their mother, father, sons and daughters.

With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment some are bringing in more money to their households than they were working. Others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales.

Some families of 4 just received $3,400 from the stimulus while other families of 4 saw $0.

Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk and eggs for the weekend.

Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.

Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children on top of a 10-12 hour workday.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don’t believe this is a big deal.

Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come.

So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.

Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.

We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey.

–Unknown author

As we navigate our own ships through the storm, may we do so with integrity, understanding, love, tolerance, discernment, and might. 

Mind, Stop Talking to Me, I Can’t Hear the Person I’m Talking To

The mind is a wonderful place…sometimes.  Our behaviors can be triggered by such subtle things that in turn, affect our emotions, judgments and even our reactions. 

I find, that often, as adults, we comply or resist, depending on what is in it for us personally. This assessment is done on such a subtle level and at such warp speed, that it rarely gets questioned or challenged. Yet when definitive statements are made or directives are given, we might suddenly react, rather than respond. We take the statement or directive as a personal affront instead of as a statement to consider.

Our mind is there to protect us. It is built to do so, just ask the paleomammalian or neomammalian brain within. It will tell us when we are being undermined (we don’t want our authority questioned).  It will inform us when we don’t want to engage (this statement I just heard sounds like a challenge). It will tell us when we feel threatened (we don’t want to appear indecisive) etc., etc., etc.

In this COVID-19 abrupt, immediate and for some, extreme changes in day to day life, the need to shelter has led to frustration and aggressive based communication (both verbal and physical, both overt and covert). As you listen to local, state, and federal officials regarding COVID-19 directives, or as you interact with those you are living very closely with right now, use these techniques to become more aware of your response and begin to change how you respond.

Ask yourself if you are reacting to a comment or statement being made. You’ll most likely experience this behavior by having an immediate “reaction” to the comment or statement.  

Next, inquire within, as to what the trigger was that made you react. Then ask yourself, what did this trigger threaten in you in ways that threatened your beliefs, Know your beliefs and values so you can identify what in you can be threatened.  

Of course, it is important to be our best selves. But defending our positions is not what relationship is about. Relationship needs compassion, listening, understanding, and appropriate allowance.

Don’t let your mind overtake your intentions with those you are close to, in this COVID-19 environment. The mind may want you to do what you want, while in society and relationship, the mind has to acquiesce to another presence. This is the environment to understand how to do so (be in relationship) in ways that enhance ourselves and each other. Doing so may be more complex than the effort we had previously been giving it.

So, excuse me mind but I need to say this to you:  Mind, Stop Talking to Me, I Can’t Hear the Person I’m Talking To.

Who is Willing to Step up and Play Big?

I am calling out for a GoFundMe project. But first, let me tell you why I am suggesting this. It seems the government has been doling out a lot of money lately, with more to come. Putting aside politics, it is a phenomenal gesture with, to be expected, guarded questions about the “payback.”  One question I have heard concerns the payback from the businesses agreeing to receive this money. Another question asks how this “bailout” will affect future taxes and inflation. These are relevant questions, for which responses are guarded, whispered, or left for later. That worries me.

I have donated to a few GoFundMe campaigns during this COVID-19 shelter in place and have observed the results and outcomes of these and additional contributions. One was for an alma mater housing its students who couldn’t return home, one was for a restaurant to buy, prepare and deliver food to the stressed and overworked hospital workers, still another for an organization on the frontline of providing shelter to women in transition from homeless to housing. I am delighted to participate but it is not enough. “Who can do enough?” I asked myself.  

There is a giving pledge where billionaires have committed to give away at least 50% of their wealth to philanthropic projects. Now, here is where impactful money resides. Should any of their influencers or they themselves be reading this, I have an idea. Put together a bank for business. Seed it with a portion of your pledge and help those small businesses who need a lifeline. Googling, I discovered that 99 percent of the businesses are considered small businesses-over 30 million; 88 percent of them have 20 employees or less. This “bank” could offer a programs where they become the source that pays back these debts to the government. Have you heard of John Beresford Tipton? He was the fictional gentleman on a TV show, The Millionaire, which you can view on YouTube, who gave away $1,00,000, with no strings attached. We could watch this epic show on our favorite streaming channel. It would eclipse Tiger King.

Business in general, and small business in particular, need to know “someone has their back.” Understandably, they do not trust the government. But they might trust the philanthropist. Who is ready to step up, not by liquidating holdings, but by raising big cash among their peers?

To Keep Trust Thriving, Talk about Trust

Trust, what a loaded word. It carries such weight yet can be broken or withdrawn so quickly. And sometimes, when broken, it cannot be restored.

Trust is a word that I have written about before. Because it is such an important principle, I am looking at it again.

Today, googling trust’s etymology, I see the word strength is added to the word’s origination. Wow, that’s a clue. Strength. For me strength carries an element of integrity to it. When I think of integrity, I am reminded of a taut rope. It has a lot of integrity as it cannot be broken…not easily.

Trust is something felt and perceived so qualities and behaviors that enrich feelings of connection, accountability, reliability, strength, and safety are included in a feeling of trust.

But a disagreement on trust can arise when my definitions of the aforementioned words are different than yours. My sense of reliability may be different than yours and that difference can break trust when I do not meet your definition of what trust means to you. Perhaps, for you, reliability is measured in time: you trust someone who shows up on time, whereas for me, reliability may be built on an attitude of making things comfortable whereas time is not on my radar of what constitutes trust. But your trust of me can fade when I am “late” because, for you, a sense of time is embedded in your framework of trust.

While trust can be so personal while, at the same time, be universal in its application, it is important to ask those with whom you have relationships where trust is an important element, what trust means to them. Doing this can give you the framework of what trust means to them, how it is expressed, and how they see it in others. When you talk about trust, you can build the qualities and behaviors that are necessary to keep trust a pillar in your relationship and you can support each other in keeping trust active and believable.

Trust is important to talk about to keep it thriving.

Wisdom Informs Knowledge

I’ve been thinking about wisdom, knowledge and fact. I wanted to understand and differentiate between the three, for the purpose of clearer contextual engagement.  My thinking has led me to the following about these three concepts.

Wisdom is not knowledge and knowledge is not always fact. And facts are not always fixed, static or absolute.

Okay, so if that is what they are not, what are they? My understanding informs me that wisdom is clear and correct insight, like a revelation Wisdom, in action, applies that which is most suitable, most just, most appropriate at the right times. It is the ability to measure, discard, keep and reveal appropriately. 

Knowledge is derived from the process of experience, learning, and understanding. Knowledge is bestowed upon those who study and who test who distinguish and discern. Knowledge, in action, separates the meaningful, relevant, and important.

Fact is visible as an event, a thing done, an occurrence, achievement or thing evidenced. Facts, in action, are used in data compilation, data research and in providing evidence when appropriate.

Okay, now that we have that taken care of what motivates me to even bring this up? I find, in conversation, it is important to distinguish between the three, so opinions and points of view can be more easily understood. For example, when it is raining outside, I can point to the observation of the action. That is a fact. That the phenomenon is rain is based on knowledge.  Wisdom applies in knowing the purpose of the rain, what it is best suited for and whether or not to act on the knowledge of “rain” and how I share this information and whether I share it.

Wisdom is a behavior I encourage my clients to explore. To do so requires one to reflect, to discern, to examine life from a purposeful and value centric way as wisdom encompasses our values and is feeds purpose. Although wisdom can be confused with knowledge, evidenced by the phrase “I know” so easily spoken, wisdom is not knowledge. Wisdom involves illuminative insight.

That’s what I’ve been thinking.

A Mighty Thank You

When I think of you who have been affected by my blogs

I see shimmering stars light my path

When I think of you who have focused on stewardship

I am touched by a commitment to best practices

You, in your dedication to a richer and more meaningful life

Make me smile from ear to ear with joy

I applaud your commitment to lives and legacies that matter

May your commitment to 2020 give you the capacity to see far!

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged, Is That It?

Judge not lest ye be judged, right? Well, not exactly, but I’ll explain more in a minute.

Twice, recently, I had people cancel appointments with me. I understand that can happen. I have done it occasionally myself. The question I have about it is the firmness in making that appointment to begin with.

It is very important for me to keep my word, as this speaks to a value I hold in high regard. My words carry meaning and intention. This carries through to making appointments. I make them and commit to them. Occasionally, this can create a problem when other possibilities come up that, in my mind, I would rather schedule than that other appointment I already made. But I do not casually reschedule. If I really want to reschedule. I will ask the person with whom I made the initial commitment if we can reschedule. If they cannot or do not want to, I will honor the agreement we made. It was made first.  I do not always see that reciprocated.

Now, back to judge not lest ye be judged. Well that is not always the entire sentence. There are periods, semi colons or commas in various translations of this phrase. The full (or next) sentence reads: Judge not lest ye be judged; for what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measure to you again.” Think about that! I can play by that rule.

So yes, I am affected by rescheduling me. It speaks to me of integrity and commitment. I judge by that.