How a Teaspoon can Transform Worry and Fear

We are not living in an easy environment, right now. There are few places to hide, less distractions and more ability to stay tuned to the absurdities, atrocities, and problems around us. So much so, that our emotions have taken us into the realm of fear and unabated worry.

A question, framed in frustration and a yearning for true connection, keeps echoing in my mind: When will we ever learn?  Pete Seeger, a folksinger and leader in the peace and civil right movement of the 1950s until his death in 2014, asked this question in a song he penned in 1955, Where Have All the Flowers Gone with lines that are as relevant today as they were then.

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers everyone
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

He may have written in a different environment, but the relevance of his question resonates today. When will we ever learn? Pete Seeger responded to the essence of that question in this way:

I tell everybody a little parable about the ‘teaspoon brigades.’ Imagine a big seesaw. One end of the seesaw is on the ground because it has a big basket half full of rocks in it. The other end of the seesaw is up in the air because it’s got a basket one-quarter full of sand. Some of us have teaspoons, and we are trying to fill it up. Most people are scoffing at us. They say, ‘People like you have been trying for thousands of years, but it is leaking out of that basket as fast as you are putting it in.’ Our answer is that we are getting more people with teaspoons every day. And we believe that one of these days or years — who knows — that basket of sand is going to be so full that you are going to see that whole seesaw going zoop! in the other direction. Then people are going to say, ‘How did it happen so suddenly?’ And we answer, ‘Us and our little teaspoons over thousands of years.’

Our duty is to grab the teaspoon located in our hearts, fill it with wisdom and then bring the actions that express the illuminating facets of wisdom to the world. 

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.

3 Keys to Keeping Your Life’s Battery Charged

It’s important to keep a car battery in good condition. I know because my car wouldn’t start the other day. My Mazda Miata summer car had been patiently waiting, through the rainy winter, to take me out on a warm sunny day. And of course, with the top down! Well, that didn’t happen.  I went to Ahura (the name of the Miata), to start it up. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Not even the headlights flickered. I didn’t understand, as I had just purchased the battery the summer before. It didn’t have a lot of time on it.

I think you are understanding the problem a lot faster than I figured it out! When I got into the car, and put the key in the ignition, I thought: “This is going to be a fun ride.” Ha! I soon learned that a car battery needs to be “exercised” at least every two weeks to stay viable. I did not know that. Now I do.

How does this relate to living a meaningful life?  You think, because you exist, that “things” will work out in your favor because you want it to.  Life has conditions and like a battery, life has best practices that need ongoing “exercise”, for best results.

When you feel run down, energy wavering, unmotivated, or floundering, it may be that your life’s battery is rundown. What can you do to recharge it?

First, you want to know what is truly important to you: not the things that are important, but rather, the values and principles that you live by and stand for. Are they responsibility, commitment, security, humor, integrity….? Take the time to know yours.

Second you want to know what your purpose (aim, intention) in life is, using your values as the principal components to define your purpose.  Along with defining your purpose, you need to determine your mission (releasing your purpose). Together, these provide the target (purpose) and the springboard (mission) for action.

From here, you determine your goals and objectives, add your timelines to them and set times to review, edit, and tweak.

Just like keeping your car battery in good order, you can keep your life in good order.  It is merely a matter of knowing how and following through on the best practice actions. 

You may not even know there’s a problem until there is a problem with your car or life battery. Now you have tools to help you recharge your battery.

If this sparked a thought or inspiration for you, write a comment. Let me know what you think on recharging your life’s battery. I would love to hear from you.

Wisdom from the Ages Can Be Accessed from this One Tip

I recently read a recommended book. The author, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) wrote an autobiography, which was published posthumously in 1868. I would like to share a point that resonates with me and is as relevant today as it was for him, two hundred plus years ago.

To give you a little background, Franklin believed strongly in the attributes virtues had He went so far as to define the thirteen core virtues which were cornerstones to his life.  He defined what each meant to him, and this is insightful,  because he understood that each person defined virtues, individually. His definition was not necessarily theirs and vice versa.

Rather than focus on all thirteen virtues, he isolated one at a time. He started with temperance which he described as: “eat not to dullness, drink not to elevation” and focused on it for a week. He then moved on to the next, which for him, was silence, defined for him as: “speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation”, the next week he focused on order “let all things have their places; resolution “resolve to perform what you ought, perform without fail what you resolve” and so on.

As he focused on only one virtue per week, he could gain greater understanding of it for himself and its valuable application in his life. As the years went by he became dedicated and pronounced with his virtues, refining them in his daily life.   This contributed to the respect he garnished. He took the time to live from his “virtues”, intimately.

Each day he would begin by asking himself: “What good shall I do this day.” In the evening, he would reflect on his morning question by asking: “What good have I done to-day?” using one of the thirteen virtues he was focusing on.

Now, that is Wisdom from the ages.

Listen for It, Listen to It, It’s There to Help

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have witnessed your own behaviors in action?

Here is an example: You are in your car, driving down the highway, it’s twilight, with the sun just about out of sight. But it’s not quite night. Others in their cars, like you, are heading home, perhaps distracted, already thinking about dinner, to dos, tv shows, and home conversations.

You turn your signal in to indicate your intention to move from the left the middle lane. You look to see if anyone from the far-right lane is indicating they are going to turn to the middle lane. All clear.

Then that voice, one you have heard inside your head before, reaches out and tells you not to go into the middle lane, that far-right lane car is going to move into the middle lane.  You stay where you are and sure enough, THAT car moves into the middle lane about which you had signaled your intention. And they moved over without any signal, nothing. But you knew. Good thing you listened to THAT voice. It may have saved you a trip to the hospital.

How do you recognize THAT voice? It’s a protective, sagacious, and valuable voice. Researchers at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, conducted a study where participants repeated a word over and over as they performed a test: push the button when a certain symbol flashes on the screen. As this symbol flashed on the screen frequently, it could set off and did set off impulsive responses. The researchers found that when participants could not listen to their own inner “talk”, they were more likely to act more impulsively.  The researchers said this about the study: “Without being able to verbalize messages to themselves, they were not able to exercise the same amount of self-control as when they could themselves through the process.”

Listen for it, listen to it…your inner voice. It’s there to help.

I Made a Startling Observation about Leadership

I recently noted something I want to talk about. A little while ago I attended a “town hall” meeting of a group to which I have been a member and one-time leader for well over a decade. At this meeting of about 200 people, I experienced a phenomenon that may have always been there. Let me explain.

There are members who feel comfortable in criticizing the leadership, the direction and other parts of the organization. They are vocal in their criticism, sometimes sparking controversy and sometimes adding fuel to fires already lit. But, often, something changes within them, that they do not see, when they become titled leaders of the overarching organization of the group.

Suddenly, as if a switch has been activated within them, their criticism transforms into a call for peace and understanding, for tolerance and respect. Those who criticized now call for an end to “negativity”, the negativity they had sparked or fueled, themselves, at one time.

Until recently I had not noticed anything askew about this change. But, for some reason, I now focused my attention on a question. I asked myself: “Why, as leaders, do we shut down criticism, when as followers we initiate or support criticism?” As leaders we tend to seek harmony and while as followers we tend to seek a voice. But so often, neither listens to the other. Each merely wants to shut the other down.

I find it interesting that we cannot look at both criticism and the role of “leadership” as being two sides of the same coin. Neither are inherently “better.” Neither are inherently “right.” I believe voices want to convey something even if their expression, or the words themselves, seem divisive. Leaders are not necessarily parents or moral authorities but can think they are, because they have been given implicit responsibilities or titles.

How do you view criticism? Do you try to shut it down? Do you tolerate it? Do you know how to speak to it, so it feels heard, while still maintaining your center? How do you view leadership? Does it have an implicit authority that overrules a “voice?” How do you build a bridge to listening and collaboration when criticism and harmony live together?

 

Trust is like a Spider Web

In a book I recently read, trust was defined in one word: predictability. That was powerful. And I began to inquire: “Is that all? Maybe that’s what trust comes down to.”

So, I started looking at trust more carefully, or more specifically, my use of trust, I understood it to be more than predictability. But what more was it? I looked at trust for me and saw that what was missing in this one-word definition were the additional components that give trust its almost mercurial characteristic. I would like to mention them here.

I have found that trust includes a sense of reliance in someone’s character. Where predictability infers expectation, reliability infers consistency. Whether it is a sense of reliance in their sincerity, their competency, or the way they show up, reliance in someone is a major ingredient to trust.

Another component to trust rests in understanding one’s motivations. Motivations reveal intentions, priorities, goals and needs. When I understand someone’s motivation, I can bestow trust.

Yet 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 or information, I can grant 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. Trust is a mighty bridge to building and sustaining connection. And like a spider web-strand which is ten times stronger than steel at its same weight, trust is a strong bond between people. And again, like the spider strand which can be easily broken and change the nature of the web, trust can be broken or withdrawn suddenly, and like the spider web, changes the nature of the relationship to which it was bound.

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