Created: Monday, 14 July 2014 15:15
It was the employee's final day. The manager saw it as her last chance to find out how such a good manager/(contract)employee relationship had gone so sour. She approached the young woman as she packed up her things and asked:
- You gave notice two weeks ago. When did you quit de facto?
The employee froze. Her hands, holding pens she was packing, were suspended in mid-air. The manager wondered if her departing employee was searching her mind for some new defense or if she was searching her heart for the truth. The employee took a breath and replied, "I quit de facto the day you questioned my invoice."
"Thank you for telling me," the manager replied. She had suspected as much. The employee had acted like questioning her invoice was a criminal accusation. The manager had seen it as an opportunity to get clear about what was billable and what wasn't. The employee became so defensive that the conversation never reached a satisfying resolution. The questions were over minor amounts so the manager let it go, but communication felt strained and weird after that day.
The manager was sad to see someone who had shown such promise leave, but she was also relieved. If the employee hadn't quit she would have let her go. It wasn't the first time she had questioned someone's accounting and it wouldn't be the last. It could have been an easy conversation. But it wasn't. And this manager knew she needed to work with people who were willing to address issues as they arose and move on. She found another person for the job who was willing to do that.
She also found satisfaction in having her perceptions validated.
Created: Friday, 11 July 2014 12:14
Where's the energy? Sometimes you need to stir the ashes to see where the embers are.
When I was at my lowest point, the only flicker of energy I felt was for something not so noble - shopping for clothes. Well - at least it was energy. I now have clothes that fit and I didn't do too much damage.
My dance gives me energy. It didn't energize Bob. Oh - wait - every now and then a song would inspire some movement in him. We created our own playlist of songs he used to dance to. That playlist stirred the ashes and we found embers. The energy hit a 10.
One night I woke at 2 AM in an indiscriminate rage. The energy was at a 10. The enjoyment level was a different scale, but my mood had energy. I needed all the energy I could get. That didn't mean that I should act on my impulse. It did mean I wasn't completely without energy in that challenging time.
A friend recently visited her very dysfunctional family. She had a lot of energy in reaction to their convoluted behaviors. Probably about an 8. She also put a lot of energy into fighting her own judgment. That cancelled her energy out and she was probably left at about a 4.
Try separating energy from its quality and just observe the energy. You might be investing your energy in destructive ways like fighting your own judgment. But what if you could harness and apply that energy? That's a later step - but today, I invite you to stir the ashes and see where the embers are for you. Where are your 10s?
Please comment here - it might stir some ashes and reveal some embers!
Created: Thursday, 10 July 2014 14:23
After a parade of problematic renters, Beth finally found excellent renters for her furnished home. The neighbors are delighted. The yard is beautiful with lots of new landscaping. There are no (expletives deleted) coming from the windows. The new renters participate in the community.
Many neighbors found Beth difficult to relate to when she was living in her house, and kept their mouths shut when the new renters spoke of how much they like her.
But all that changed. The new renters got permission to get kittens. Their new kittens ended up needing a good bit of medical care, and that taxed their finances. So they asked Beth, "Can we pay $250 of the pet deposit now and the other $250 in two weeks?"
Beth's tone turned to ice. Her wording became impersonal and legalistic. She replied, "I expect you to remit the entire deposit payment immediately in accordance with our agreement."
Her words got the job done; the renters sent payment. The cost of Beth's victory was goodwill. Suddenly Beth's new renters began to question the generous way they tend a home that isn't theirs.
There is so much more to Speaking Strong than getting others to do what you want. Beth might have gotten the same result in a more personal way. But what would she have lost by waiting two weeks for a deposit from people who had already rented from her for a year?
Beth won a victory at a very high price - and she doesn't even know it.
Created: Wednesday, 09 July 2014 13:29
The magic manufacturing circle
Lean Manufacturing guru Taiichi Ohno used to draw a circle on shop floors and instruct managers to stand in it for hours. Ohno would return to check on what the manager had learned through observation. If a manager answered, "No problems here," he was required to spend more hours in that circle until he saw patterns and wastes.
The magic kitchen circle
Recently, Bob and I sat on the kitchen floor playing with our cat (who is flourishing). In the process of cat play, I viewed the kitchen through a unique perspective; I noticed many things that I wanted to change.
The magic communication circle
When I work with people on their communication skills, I give them a unique vantage point to observe their communication habits and intercommunication dynamics. Few have the patience or willingness to simply observe. Most want to take action before they have grasped what scientists call the current condition.
This is one big barrier to effective communication skill. We are so action-oriented that we won't take the time to deeply observe. It's like wanting to pick fruit before it's ripe.
Stand back today and imagine you're "standing in a magic communication circle" observing your communication. If possible, refrain from taking action until you have significant new observations.
Do you dare? Do you have the patience and willingness? If you do, your communication improvement efforts will be far more targeted and effective.
Just like my kitchen improvements are thanks to a simple romp with a sweet, vibrant kitty.
Created: Tuesday, 08 July 2014 13:44
Are you an "older lady?" Will you ever be one? Do you know one? This video is hilarious and well-done - and it breaks the cultural trance around aging. Enjoy it and read on. (Click here if you're reading it on a feed and the video isn't showing up - or visit speakstrong.com/blog.)
Ages and stages
I shared the video on Facebook, and my friend Sherry commented that is sounds like a song I could have written. I replied:
"Thanks! There was a day I would have written and produced that. Now I'm content to let others go to the trouble and to enjoy their creative results."
Once upon a time, I felt a need to follow all my creative impulses. Now, I'm still cleaning up the messes from years of overreach. In the process, I'm enjoying the ability to envision greatness and enjoy creative impulses without having to act on each one.
I love this video. I love the way it declares the perfection of a stage in life that we often disparage. I also love how creatively it is produced. Still, Sherry's comment got me thinking - what's different now? What's different is that I am increasingly choosing to live who I am and what I know more than publicly declaring it through creativity. (I might post about it, however.)
The inner and outer dance
There's nothing wrong and much right with doing what these ladies do here. It's wonderful! Someday I might do something like it again myself. Today I will enjoy my simple life. I received my new Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid Storage Container Set and am inwardly singing and dancing over how they will solve my storage container quagmire and simplify my organizational efforts. Outwardly, I'm snapping all the lids together and clearing out my Tupperware from 30 years ago. That's a dance my hubby relates to. He shares my excitement. Fun!
Created: Monday, 07 July 2014 02:16
Not how I wanted to connect
Bob offered to drive me to dance today and to sit in the car and read while waiting to take me home. It was a sweet offer, but dance enlivens my emotions and spirit, and riding back with someone who has spent the hour reading the latest nutritional research wasn't how I wanted to connect. Nor did I want him to join the dance, because it doesn't do much for him.
I have another idea
"What if we create a dance playlist of our favorite songs and dance alone here?" I asked. He agreed.
I invited him to create a list of songs for each of the Five Rhythm categories: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness. He did. I added a few of my favorite songs, burned a CD and we set aside 50 minutes to move, stretch, wiggle, play, and dance with it.
When Bob dances the 5 Rhythms with the group it does nothing for him. I wondered if he would get into our self-created Bob and Meryl Playlist Wave. He was a bit wooden in the beginning, but after just a few minutes, he was grooving and moving. It was fun, fun, fun.
It was a great way to connect. He enjoyed sharing music he loves with me. It enlivened us both.
When searching the Nirvana song Smells Like Teen Spirit (which I didn't know since I missed the 80's and early 90's) I discovered Weird Al's parody, Smells Like Nirvana. That was the highlight of our adventure.
Next week we will create a playlist of Beatles songs and dance to that.
Had I created a playlist without Bob, I doubt it would have been anywhere close to as powerful as this was. He chose music that brings out his inner dancer. I knew it was in there somewhere!
How can you apply this approach in your shared activities? Where might you include others in the design and creation of your shared worlds?
It was an awesome and satisfying day. What a cool way to connect.
Created: Monday, 23 June 2014 14:21
How was your summer solstice? Ours was dramatic. I sum ours up with the chorus to Better Days. "So take these words and sing out loud. Cause everyone's forgiven now. Cause tonight's the night the world begins again."
Saturday morning - why wasn't Cindi, the cat, howling to get let up and adored as she always does? I went down to invite her up for our morning ritual. Instead of bounding up the stairs, she laid down on the floor and meowed in a voice I have never heard from her. As the morning progressed, she continued to fade.
Bob elected himself to take her to the vet. I would have gone, too, but a dear friend was in town, and she was meeting me at dance with her grand kids. I left, wondering if I would ever see Cindi Cat again.
It was fabulous to see my friend. Dancing with the little ones brought out the full force of my play nature. It was so fun. My heart was filled with love and gratitude for the frolic. It was like the pure experience of life. Instead of concern or sorrow for Cindi, I felt gratitude for the eighteen years of having such a wonderful cat. Of course, I hoped for more, but was prepared for this to be the end of that story.
Saturday afternoon - By the time Bob saw the vet, Cindi's blood sugar was 39. She was hanging on to life. He left her there. She was responsive, and we were able to bring her home Saturday afternoon.
Sunday morning - The sound of Cindi's howl never sounded so sweet. The cat came back. She actually ran up the stairs and pranced around for her morning adoration longer than usual. We called it Bonus Day #1.
Cindi settled on my bed as I cleaned and danced to music on my MP3 player. The song Better Days came on with the chorus. "Tonight's the night the world begins again." My heart swelled with gratitude.
I went in the kitchen and turned on Pandora Radio. Better Days came on there, too. "Tonight's the night the world begins again." It felt auspicious. I bounded in to tell Bob about it. Joyful tears spilled over. I had considered waiting until my emotional flood had subsided, but opted to share it with him. He joined me in celebration. Okay, he didn't leap in the air like I did, but he was moved, too.
Monday morning - the cat bounded up the stairs again. Bonus Day #2. Kudos for the animal clinic for calling to check on Cindi.
The cat came back. We weren't sure she would. We were prepared for her not to. But she did.
That was our summer solstice. How was yours?
Enjoy the video. See if it awakens your sense of renewal, too. And, yes, I watched it through to the end. Unlike a previous video, there are no dark surprises in this one.
Here's the link if the embed doesn't work for you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOp4NAq6EHI
Created: Wednesday, 18 June 2014 16:55
You may have heard the tale of the three bricklayers. I have my own version. In my version, there are four bricklayers.
Four bricklayers were working side by side.
When asked, "What are you doing?" the first bricklayer replied:
"I'm laying bricks."
When asked, "What are you doing?" the second bricklayer replied:
"I'm feeding my family."
When asked, "What are you doing?" the third bricklayer replied:
"I'm building a cathedral."
What a difference the vision of outcome makes. Vision acts like a magnet, drawing us on to the next level. The laying of a brick and building of a wall are much more inspired when they are guided by the vision of the cathedral they are helping to create. Visions act like magnets.
In December of 2013, I created a magnetic vision for my life, my work and my home. I determined to make my life manageable. I committed to Space for Grace. I set out to change habits, overcome obstacles and create a life of flow.
I was the third bricklayer in the story. I had the vision of where I wanted my efforts to take me. My "cathedral" was built in the air. Now I needed to put my boots on the ground and do the hard work of building a new foundation.
For the first year, my heart and feet were aligned with my vision. When I cleaned a drawer, I was creating Space for Grace. When I arranged items based on how I use them, I was Creating Flow. The most mundane activities were sacraments toward a larger purpose.
And then, something shifted. I became the first bricklayer. The laying of a brick was reduced to the laying of a brick. Without the inspiration of the vision, the day-to-day activities became drudgery.
I didn't want to become the third bricklayer again. I didn't want an unrealistic, unlived picture of perfection. Where did that leave me? The bricklayer story was too small for who I needed to be to continue this journey and create the life of my dreams.
If your story is too small, tell a bigger one. Here is my recent addition to this traditional story that I have told hundreds of times.
The Fourth Bricklayer
When asked, "What are you doing?" the fourth bricklayer replied:
Laying bricks. It pays well, and feeds my family. These bricks are part of a wall that will be a part of an amazing cathedral that will inspire the community and foster their aspirations.
The fourth bricklayer was doing the same thing as the others, but he was awake and aware to the three levels of living.
If I had to choose between a bricklayer with skills and a bricklayer with heart and a bricklayer with vision, I'd go for the skills. But I don't have to choose, and neither do you.
We're bigger than that.
What am I doing now? I'm writing a blog post. I'm increasing my clarity and writing skills. I"m building community. I'm taking an action that will help the world tell a bigger story. I am the fourth bricklayer. I invite you to be as well.
What are you doing now?
Created: Monday, 16 June 2014 00:40
He's an architect and he loves cathedrals. Can you imagine how exciting it was to be invited to submit plans and a proposal for the world's largest cathedral?
The drawings filled me with awe. Words can't describe the grandeur his plans invoked: the grandness of God and of man, the depth of skill and brilliance required to even conceive of something so massive, let alone build it. I searched for the most impressive cathedral image I could find, but the one I'm posting doesn't compare to the scale of this project.
His designs are amazing, but the way he designed it is even more amazing. He saw the cathedral in its entirety in a dream. When he woke, he transferred his dream images to paper exactly as he had experienced them.
And I think it's pretty cool that my dreams are giving me PowerPhrases!
His proposal made the short list. He almost got the job. But the project went to another firm which had more experience in this specific kind of project.
I asked him what he thought of the winning design. "It was informed," he replied.
Informed, but not inspired.
I always thought it would be a kick to be an architect and to see your designs turn into buildings. At first I was disappointed that my architect friend's proposal wasn't picked and he won't get to see his design built.
But then I remembered - he saw it completed already.
There are a lot of ways to be inspired. There also are a lot of ways to experience gratification. Right now, I'm feeling very gratified from standing so close to this man's informed and inspired dream.
"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." Thoreaux
Or not. Not every dream castle or cathedral needs to be built to have value.
And, not every dream castle or cathedral needs to be the biggest in the world.
Created: Friday, 13 June 2014 13:35
I shared my astonishment yesterday over my discovery of how much protein I was eating. My discovery thrilled me. When I shared my insight with Bob, his comment was: "Don't be so hard on yourself." Hard on myself? I'm beside myself with joy and you think I'm being hard on myself? I may have discovered a major key to help me be healthier than I've ever been, and you think I'm beating myself up? Huh?
One of my readers made a similar comment about yesterday's post. I read her words and again, thought, huh?
My perception wasn't closely aligned with reality. Acknowledging that isn't being hard on myself. My intuition serves me well in most things, and in this area, it's time to get a better sense of facts.
I bit the bullet yesterday and tracked my meals. My target for protein was 50 grams. I limited my protein consumption considerably, and still ended up at 60 grams. What would it have totaled if I had just eaten what had become a normal amount of protein for me? How much had I been eating?
I don't know, and I don't plan to eat more heavily to see. I feel much lighter today. The noble experiment continues, but early indications are that I really did find a key contributor to a challenge I've been wrestling with for years.
I'm facing facts. I don't intend to track my meals for long. I plan to track long enough to get a clear sense of what balance is for me. I plan to track long enough to establish a new habit - which I suspect will only take a few days, because what I'm learning is shifting everything.
My main style is and will remain intuitive. That trait has served me well in many ways throughout my life. So does coming down from the rafters at times, and taking a clear look at the facts/numbers/data to align my sense of things with reality.
Facing facts can be uncomfortable. Not facing facts can be much worse. I feel great today.
Where could you face facts and deal more closely with reality? Or, if your style isn't intuitive, where could a little swing from the rafters give you perspective and joy? What is balance for you?