Shocking Headlines Take a Back Seat to One Uexpectingly Powerful Trait

In a time where headlines point unflinchingly to the shocking, there is a quiet voice emerging in research that confirms what has been known but rarely spoken of through the ages. It is the power of humility.

What is humility? Humility is a state of respect where you allow others to shine as well or better than you do. It is where you give praise where it is due, where you can trust others because there is nothing to hide or protect.

I recently came across a study that was published in the Organizational Dynamics Journal that found humility to be a critical strength for leaders. It gives a leader the ability to reflect with empathy. In other words, a humble leader can look at situations and see how their actions affect others and allow for the other’s perspective as well when determining outcomes. This is huge and this is not easy.

As an example of the power of humility I want to introduce you to Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic, the largest Japanese consumer electronics company and known as the ’god of management.’

Panasonic opened its doors in 1918 and with hope, exuberance, fear and excitement. Matsushita asked his employees to adopt and apply the value of humility as they conducted their business with and on behalf of Panasonic. With the spirit of humility, he did what most companies don’t do. He shared the company’s “secrets” with all his employees. He wanted Panasonic, even as it grew to thousands of employees, to be focused on being an inclusive team and he knew that the best way to form this type of team was through humility rather than through coercion or elitist ideology. He traded the air of superiority he easily could have perpetuated through the company with humility because he wanted his employees to feel part of his success rather than laborers of it. As a result he was revered by his employees, by the Japanese government who awarded him with many great honors and by other business owners who hired him to help them become more humble business people.

Humility, as in the case of Mr. Matsushita, included having a moderate self- regard, with a strong vision and voice so that his struggling company could become a giant both in the tech world and in the world of business management.

How do you foster humility in yourself? Do you notice a difference in your communications and connections with others when you use humility? Write a comment, I’d like to hear your thoughts.

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What Are You Leaving Behind?

Imagine this scenario:

You are about to leave on a vacation. You’re running a little late. Your bags are packed…almost; your passport and id are nearby…you think.

You’ve left a note with the housekeeper, a quick and cryptic message with your cell # in the event of an emergency. You forgot to tell her about the furniture company exchanging your newly purchased bedroom set for one you like even better.

You’ve checked your international coverage on your phone. Scratch that, you didn’t quite have time for that. You’ve got all your camera gear, your IPad is in the briefcase, your…no, it’s too late, the cab is here; you’re running late, you’ve got to get to the airport NOW!!!!

So, what did you leave behind? Oops, you forgot an extra battery for the camera, you forgot your MP3 player, again… You forgot to let someone know where your HIPAA papers are and where to locate key passwords should you meet a medical emergency. You forgot to tell your family when you’ll be back. It’s too late. You’ll text them later.

As you’ve done before, you hope everything will be okay; that an emergency won’t come up, that you’ll be able to clean up your unfinished items later.  I hope so too.

Why do I bring this up? It’s not merely to illustrate a scenario you may have experienced or heard someone you know recount their vexing story to you.  I bring this up to highlight something more.

If something tragic were to happen to you and you didn’t come back from your vacation, what would you be leaving behind that others would have an uncomfortable time sorting out? Who has your most current and signed HIPAA form? Who has access to your key accounts and key advisors? Who knows what you want done with your most personal items?

Have you prepared your loved ones or have you left your stuff here and there for them to stumble over, or race to find before other beneficiaries demand information or the federal government reminds them of its fixed deadlines for estate information?

As a vacation is more relaxing and open to more serendipity when we have completed our preparations for it, so is our life.  When you have prepared your loved ones for your eventual demise, you are leaving them with one of the greatest gifts you can possibly give them. This gift of organization and clear instructions, not found in your will, makes their duties much easier to undertake. A booklet we use is called “Making It Easier for My Loved Ones.” Email irina@focusansustain.com or call us at 425-823-0984 to learn more about this valuable tool.

Do you know of an estate that was a mess because of the lack of instructions to the executor? What were the consequences to the family relationships, as a result?

Do you know or have you heard of someone who prepared their beneficiaries by letting them know where their key information is located and clearly identifying who gets what? Leave me a comment. I would love to hear about your experiences.  There are some outrageous stories out there.

Next Time You Want to Find the Gold, Dig for the Buried Treasure; it’s closer than You Think

If you read the last post you may remember that I talked about the value of the center. Today I am going to take that conversation one step further. We will look at the center. What is it?

In all my digging, testing, tossing, retesting and confirming, I have found that people’s center is comprised of core motivators. I am not talking about the base reptilian reactors we have: the freeze, fright, flight, or flock components. I am not talking about the mammalian forces, emotions that cause us to react to stimuli, wants and desires. I am not even talking about the rationale mind that analyzes everything for us with as much conviction as our emotions have in convincing us to do something. No, the center I am referring to lives in the calm space inside us. It is the small quiet voice within that leads us to being the truest person, making the best choices for ourselves.

Beyond the lure and familiarity of the reptilian, mammalian or rationale brain functions lies yet another universe. Science has not given this modality great attention yet. Religions and spiritual practices have focused their attention here with great appetite and insight. Recently psychology, especially in the merging cognitive and positive disciplines, has delved into this area of human expression.

Co-authors Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman wrote in their book: Character, Strengths, and Values that China with Confucianism and Taoism, South Asia with Buddhism and Hinduism and The West with Judeo-Christianity and Islam, have all concentrated great attention in researching the strengths, virtues and principles.

After you have found and described your core principles, then you can move to creating action to support the meaning to and in your life. Viktor Frankl, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning said that purpose is where man seeks meaning. He goes on to describe how man finds this meaning for themselves: “Well, if we investigate how the man in the street goes about finding meaning it turns out that there are three avenues that lead up to meaning: First, doing a deed or creating a work; second, experiencing something or encountering someone. Most important, however, is the third avenue: Facing a fate (purpose) we cannot change, we are called upon to make the best of it by rising above ourselves and growing beyond ourselves, in a word, by changing ourselves.”

To find your center you have to take the time to look inside yourself, discover and articulate what is really important to you, not as actions,(not yet,) but as principles. Once these are clearly determined they must be defined, defined as to how they matter to you. What about them is so important to you? That importance becomes the manner in which they act as that small quiet voice in the inner calm space that override the reptilian, mammalian and rationale minds.

Once you have articulated your guiding principles you know your why to your life. Taking the time to find and articulate them is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. You will have given yourself the clarity of knowing your center, yourself.

A few weeks ago I was talking to a client who couldn’t wait to tell me how excited to they were to have everything “click into place for them.” As he said to me: “I finally understand how important knowing your values is. It makes everything else make sense. Now I know why I am so passionate about my giving.” Responsibility is his highest value and for him, responsibility means acting for the good of the global betterment with his money. He continued to say: “I don’t have to feel ashamed about my passion towards the planet. I feel a responsibility towards it. That’s who I am. Now I can be that, not fight it. I can be me, not fight me. Knowing my why makes me feel so relaxed.”

According to a 1999 survey by Public Agenda, adults in the United States cited ‘not learning values’ as the most important problem facing today’s youth.”

I encourage you to go on a dig to your center. Dig in, see what you find. There is buried treasure in there just for you.

Leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you on your views and experiences with your center.

Turning Moments of Conversation into Imprints that Last a Lifetime

The end of year gatherings are filled with jubilant moments: parties where you find people you haven’t seen all year, new faces that grab your attention, and of course, family celebrations that bring your family together to share in holiday traditions and fill in the time with comfortable subjects.

This time of year is a tremendous opportunity to get together. And this is great but what if you could add another dimension that could not only bring your family closer together but have this closeness resonate for years to come, becoming part of the family legacy and rich heritage? What would it mean for your family to create a new rich and vibrant fabric to the tapestry of your family’s legacy?

It’s odd to me how we are so able to have conversations that skim the surface of our lives: quickly laughing off a dramatic event, avoiding the one who rarely speaks up, hearing about someone’s achievement with hearty congratulating quickly followed by a joke or two about it as we silently comparing it to what we have accomplished, and moving on. But it’s often uneasy to have deeper conversations, afraid of what might unintentionally come up.

I encourage you to add another dimension to your gathering: the dimension of connection via listening and understanding
Here are three options for you to consider to add deeper richness to your get-togethers:

Option 1: Ask attendees to your gathering to bring a picture, a song, a movie title or a book title and share, one at time, what was important about that picture, song, movie or book to them. Listen to each person talk about how that is significant in their lives. When they are done talking about what was important to them, follow it up with this question: “How does that which you just described strengthen your life?” You will feel a sense of deeper understanding as each person shares what is important to them and how that can strengthen their life.

Option 2: Let those who are joining you for your gathering know that they will be asked what one thing has been challenging for them this year and how meeting that challenge strengthened them as a person. Complete each person’s share by asking them how, this strength makes them feel? You will feel a deeper connection to that person as they share something personally gratifying.

Option 3: Ask someone: “Who is one person who comes to mind in your life has helped to shape you in a positive way to become the person you are?” Once they have replied ask them: “What did that person give you to help shape you?” Once they have completed that, ask them: “What you they say to that person for if they came into the room right now?” And just listen. You will feel the root of connection and understanding we crave.

After all this discovery and understanding you will have a bonus: you will have turned moments of conversation into imprints that last a lifetime time…and maybe even longer.

Leave a comment and let me know how you are going to use this at your family gathering.
Then come back and let me know what you experienced that will benefit both your life and the connection you have with one of the people who shared their heart with you.