November 15th, 2010
Courage, what exactly is it? How do we know when we have it?
- Is it trusting in your own strength, physical or emotional?
- Is it to act in accordance with one’s beliefs and values especially in spite of criticism?
- Is it something a person must be able to sustain it in the face of difficulty?
I suggest it is all of these. Courage can be big and bold like taking a stand in the face of great danger. Or it can be subtle perseverance towards an enterprising goal. Fundamentally I believe courage demands integrity, personal agency and honesty. Honesty may not be the first associated made with the word courage, but to act authentically and aligned with core values demands a substantial amount of strength in the face of the unknown.
“Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.” ~ Raymond Lindquist
My clients are some of the most courageous people I know. Each and everyone without fail have reached that goal or a better outcome when they coupled their perseverance with personal agency. In some cases they have made long strides to overcome low self-esteem, self-efficacy as well as the discouraging pessimistic messages from others.
Their personal visions for a more compelling future laid the foundation, their will to let go of the familiar and to try again tomorrow supplied the tools and their innate abilities and creativity provided the materials to make real their aspirations. To be a part of such a journey is an honor for which I am deeply grateful.
The zest for life they bring is sustaining and infectious. One has ventured out to make a part-time ballroom dress design business, a big beautiful business. Erin has rekindled the creative fires at home by literally and figuratively clearing away the clutter. An other client has pressed forward to complete her second children’s book. Emily has embraced a new sense of physically and took part in this year’s RAGBRI biking through Iowa. Dana created the sacred space in her home that nurtures her family. David made a bold decision to move back to the unexpected city with his wife and child because it was the right fit for them, even though it is far from “home.”
So how will you be courageous in service of your best life?
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” ~Mary Anne Radmacher
October 11th, 2010
“Saying no so I can say yes… that is what I am going to start doing”, said, Gloria. She’s an elementary school teacher who enjoys her work and the kids she teaches but by the end of each day feels crispy around the edges and ill-tempered, exactly the opposite of how she feels at the start of each school day. In her words “Its like I am being nibbled to death by ducklings.”
While reflecting on the death by ducklings last week, she discovered that has difficult saying no. Gloria is always trying to be nice to other people, at the expense of herself. In the classroom this translates in to always stopping what she doing to attend to the hundreds of questions and stories not related to what is going on in the lesson that crop up from her kids. Gloria ends up not getting through some tasks like grading quizzes in as timely a manner is she would like, the kids are not learning how to discern what is appropriate to ask and when and she ends up feeling irritated and on the verge of resentment by the end of the day. On the other hand Gloria has “a very maternal-nurturing streak” and knows that in the classroom is where a number of her kids get time and attention they don’t get else where and wants to help the kids learn to cultivate good thinking and relationship skills. She does not want to end up being resentful, or for the kids to feel unwelcome.
Gloria weighed the competing needs described above and we brainstormed some ideas. In the end she decided that some increased boundaries around the hundreds of questions and stories that crop up from her kids. Setting a said a special time for stories and bringing back a traveling journal (where the kids write their stories and questions and she responds in writing) are two of the things she is going to start doing again. When the duckling come up to ask something she’ll help them weigh the importance and appropriate question/story by asking them, ‘Is this something we need to talk about now or can you spend 5 minutes with me at the start of recesses/lunch?’
Gloria is pretty darn certain than in a few weeks time she’ll be leading a happy line of ducklings across their learning lake with a happy quack.
August 18th, 2010
What you risk reveals what you value. ~Jeanette Winterson
To me is this an interesting almost counter intuitive statement. Normally we thinking about protecting what we value, so that is not harmed. But to risk it, that put’s an interesting twist on things. How much are you willing to say to the world, here is what is important to me, and here is what I am willing to try to increase it, to share it... I think this quote speaks to the important of our individual personal agency, values and what ground we are willing to stand. Do we have the courage of our convictions and to live those publicly?
July 7th, 2010
“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” – Winston Churchill
This is so true! When we look back on life, we remember and feel better about what we gave more so than what we got. So get out and give yourself, your family, friends,and community your best. You are much more likely to get the best in life, just maybe on your preferred time line or in the way you think it might arrive.
March 16th, 2010
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.- William Arthur Ward
Gratitude is a powerful part of being happy, deeply, profoundly happy, even… well especially when… there are few things to be “happy” about. I keep a gratitude journal and know a number of my clients, friends and colleagues who do to. But really I don’t know anyone who does this with as much wit, humor and genuineness as Leah Dieterich on her blog Thx Thx Thx: A thank you note a day. To paraphrase, there is always something to be thankful for, in my case from important things like glueing thousand of rhinestones on dance dresses, to bird songs, family, friends and sunlight pushing through thunderclouds or my husband picking up dinner on Monday.
November 19th, 2009
Value statements are grounded in values and define how people want to behave in a family, a community, an organization or institution. In an organization or business they are statements about how the organization will value customers, partners, suppliers etc., and the internal community. Personal value statements articulate how you want to be in your life. Value statements describe actions that are the living enactment of the fundamental values held you. They are the foundation of your personal brand, what makes you uniquely you. Creating a value statement helps to an answer the questions: “Why am I here?” and “What I am bringing to the proverbial table?”.
To create your personal value statement, use the following template and complete it with your most sacred values.
I bring value to_______________________________(my family, my community, and/or my business) by placing a high value on _______________________________,________________________________ and ____________________________________.
Some of my clients carry their value statements with them, literally, on a slip of paper in their wallets. Others post their value statements in a place where they will see it daily, say on their bathroom mirror, or in the office. When it comes time to make decisions, especially the difficult ones, they turn to these statements to help keep grounded in what is best and true for them. They live and act to as their fully authentic selves. They prioritize tasks, make choices and take action inline with their personal brass tack. They get more of what they want, because that is where they focus their efforts and attention.
Interestingly, because of all the time and attention they have paid to clarifying and acting through their values my clients are often say they feel less stressed, even in the midst of chaos. They respect their own values are able to hold enough perspective to respect the varying values of others. You may also find that you are more easily able to manage stress by:
- Hold realistic expectations and be gentle with yourself and others. Things often push our buttons or upset use not because they are inherently stressful, but because its not what we expected or wanted.
- To employ the “Power of A Positive No”. That is “Yes without No is appeasement, whereas No without Yes is war (The Power of a Positive No, William Ury)”. A positive no, marries the two, so that you stand up for yourself and what you need without destroying important relationships and valuable agreements. Respectfully expresses your interests + Respectfully asserts your power and Extend a respectful invitation to come to an agreement that is a win-win.
- Reframe. Get a different perspective or change the way you are looking at something, in order to feel better about a situation. There are many ways to interpret a situation.
November 16th, 2009
“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” – Japanese proverb
By now, if you have done the values clarification exercise, you are crystal clear about your most sacredly held values. Those three values without which you can’t live well; your personal brass tacks. You are more self-aware, are better positioned to prioritize tasks, make choices inline with your ethics and live as your fully authentic self. The deep self-awareness that comes from values clarification, provides an opportunity to step back and see what story you are telling through your life. That is, to understand how people perceive you, how you perceive yourself and how you would like to be perceived. You have the opportunity to identify the personal qualities that you would like to enhance and which you would like to change.
I bet you are already more mindful of your decisions and actions. Now let’s keep your momentum going so you get results from your efforts. There is an adage “You get more of what you look for…” You start thinking about red cars and suddenly there are red cars all over the road, or if you live in a place like I do, you start thinking about deer and suddenly they are left and right on the road. So how to you get the “red car” you want?
Here’s an exercise for you to make decisions about exactly what actions you can and are willing to take to put your values to work for you. Print out the table below as model and create a blank three column for you to use.
- Go back to your list of three most important Values. Write these in the left hand column of the table.
- Then take a few minutes to reflect on the following questions to fill in the middle column: Where are these values showing up in your life? How are they showing up? Are you finding them frequently enough? Are you satisfied with how frequently these are showing up in your life? What do you want more of?
- Finally, how will you increase the ways in which and/or strength with which your most important values are expressed in your life? Write your response in the right hand column.
|Example: Making a difference
||Creating an environment where all are welcomeGet more corporate clients so that I can offer more pro-bono services
||Community Garden committee Create a low risk corporate program
On a scale of 1 (lowest) – 10 (highest) how committed are you to taking the actions you have listed?
On a scale of 1 (lowest) – 10 (highest) how confident are you to taking the actions you have listed?
If you answered less than a 7 to either of these questions, take a bit more time to consider what revisions you can make to move up the scale to at least a 7, and then get out there and put your values in action and make them work for you.