I recently saw an op/ed titled “My Ethical Footprint” and it caused the wheels to start spinning. I have heard of carbon footprints, technical footprints and even software footprints, but this was a first for me.
As I pondered this new combination of words I thought it best to separate the two and decide upon a definition for both and then see how they act when placed together. Read more »
I am amazed at how fear has become such a powerful part of our lives… and how often we are unaware of the ways it affects us.
There are so many things in life right now that cause us to live in fear. Whether personally, professionally, spiritually, emotionally, or just overall identity, that we often live in fear and aren’t aware of it. We don’t see the many ways that fear pervades how we live, think, and know life.
I have come to believe that fear lives so powerfully in our lives because it has become part of the fabric of our world. We have gotten conditioned, used to it, and it has become far too normal. We are a people who are driven to succeed and achieve. We live in a modern world and reality that is so often about; getting ahead, staying afloat, the next deal, contract, success, or dodged bullet. We are upsizing, downsizing, and moving at warp speed to survive, much less thrive in the current state of things.
In simple terms, I believe that fear has become a veiled and unconscious fuel and a foundation of our faith – our very beliefs and motivations of life. It drives us in far too many ways.
Faith & Fear in the Modern World
Indeed, we live in an unpredictable and shakily changing world. Not only in terms of economics, but even more, I have come to also believe, in the arenas of faith. People in recent decades are leaving their home communities, cultural traditions, religion/spiritual practices, and connection with nature at a rate that we have never seen before. It’s kind of an oxymoron that at the very time we desperately need guidance, connection, and support, we are finding ourselves in an evermore fractured, spiritually devoid reality.
This has had a powerful impact on how we live and the quality of our lives. In fact, in my personal experience, talking publicly about faith and spirituality very often brings raised eyebrows, polite dismissals, demeaning retorts, and reserved, fidgety responses. There are many reasons for this, but the point for now is that we seem to have relegated faith to a place that is separate from our ordinary lives. And a lack of faith leaves us with a limited set of resources that sustain, grow, and help us to thrive.
It’s telling to note that fear, on the other hand, is common in our language and usually elicits responses of understanding, shared experience, and a ready acceptance.
Fear is one of the most basic human feelings we have. It both challenges and protects us. Fear comes as an innate response to real or perceived threats, uncertainty, danger, change, and experiences of all kinds that we feel are beyond our control or will bring harm. And living in a world where things are uncertain, where natural disasters and economic downsides loom, where media feeds us countless stories to fear on a daily basis, we find ourselves perpetually being challenged to manage our fear.
We need fear to keep us safe. It’s the good old human alarm button that gets pressed to alert us, like all animals, that something is happening and we need to pay attention. But the question becomes, how often do we feel and hold onto fear in ways that make life more about survival, pain, dread, apathy, and an array of other emotions and beliefs that affect our freedom and joy of life? And how often do we truly recognize fear for what it most often is, an alert to change, a soulful calling to explore the greater story of what life is bringing?
And how, in all of this, can faith sustain and guide us? Well, faith too is innate to human nature. We need and are wired to have things we believe in so that we can order and make sense of life, especially in times of struggle. So, faith and fear really do go together.
Another Perspective on Fear & Human Nature
In the Indigenous Maya Tz’tujil (pronounced Tzoo-too-hil) Traditions that I live much of my faith through, there are countless stories of how we need fear, but that we must also know fear. In these traditions fear is most often talked about as fright. This is different from fear in some powerfully important ways.
Fright is a temporary state. It is a way of experiencing a situation or event that calls you to pay attention, to look, to seek the truths, to engage the challenge, and realities of why you feel afraid. Fear only comes, then, when one holds onto their fright. And therefore, most often, fear is not necessary as a lasting or defining reality. It is meant to be a temporary state of being. Only when it is left unattended or consumes us does it seed and create fear.
This perspective has been powerful for me in many ways. Most of all I have found it empowering to know fear and fright as being different things. It allows us to see our responses to life’s fright and fear more truly for what they are, and are not. The truths of life that set off those alarm bells cause us fright. This is natural. What we do with that fright greatly determines how fear will or will not impact our lives.
In these same stories there are also countless examples of how our lives as human beings are part of nature. And nature means that change, growing, dying, seasons, hardship, and abundance are all just part of life. Change, in essence, is not relegated to good or bad. It is not defined as being a positive or a negative. It’s just reality. It must happen the same way it does in nature.
There is much less to fear when we remember that things like change, ups, downs, struggles, and successes are equally part of life. The hard parts of this suck to go through and the good parts are really fun! But, I thin, in terms of faith and belief we’ve also gotten a bit spoiled by our eases and successes in previous years and that we are well served to be reminded that life must have balance, that life has its own nature. We have to have both…
As with nature, living in fear will only feed and create more fear. What we seed and live is what we will grow. And if we live in fear it is what we will both know as our personal reality and what we will pass on as our lineage for the future.
Finding Your Fears & Your Faith
Fear is a funny, rather wily little monster that often lurks below the surface, cloaked in other beliefs, perceptions, or emotions. That’s why we often don’t see it for what it is. It becomes so normal and veiled that it can be hard to know it is there. While my faith and practices live largely in the Indigenous Maya traditions, which is foreign to most, I am also a very practical person who hails from the Midwest United States.
So, following are some questions that I have found helpful in bridging what may seem a great divide between the spiritual and the useful. Simply take some time to really ask these questions and answer them from your heart, not your head. Be an observer, if you will, of your self as you pose these:
How often do you feel like you are being unfairly challenged?
Do you question or believe that you are being punished?
Do you feel like life is being done to you?
Do you feel that you have to fight, struggle, or protect your self and your wellbeing?
Do you feel bored or apathetic about life?
Do you avoid conflict, confrontation, or emotional situations?
Do you feel that you are surviving rather than living happily and with freedom?
Are you angry about the state of your life?
Do you feel powerless or persecuted?
Do you see yourself as strong and resilient in ways that keep you from feeling or living fully?
If you can answer yes to any or all of these, you are probably living with more fear than you are aware of. Why? Because if you did not have some emotion or experience of fear – a feeling of threat or harm – you would not answer “yes” to these very questions. Again, remember that fear is normal. It’s a matter of what we do with it.
If you have answered “yes” to these questions the next thing to do is explore. To look further and deeper into your own stories, beliefs and perceptions of your self and life so that you understand, so that you know your fear. In knowing your fear for what it is you begin the process of healing, of transforming it because in that awareness fear is no longer controlling you. In naming and having a conscious relationship with it you take back your power and free will. It can no longer drive you from that unconscious, unseen place that it so often lives.
This is where faith comes back into the picture. Faith is about trust, belief, stories, teachers, wisdom, and traditions that guide us in the spiritual nature of being human. It is what gives us the larger stories and perspectives through which we can know our own stories and selves more fully.
In simple terms, it’s really hard to see your own stuff, your own patterns, because you live them. They are normal to you. Just like fear. Living without faith, without beliefs and wisdoms which help us to navigate our very human nature, means we are left adrift, unaware, and alone in so many ways. It’s like we are orphans, seeking something more and we don’t have the road maps to find the very things we are looking for. And being alone in these simple and sacred ways makes us afraid…
Where the rubber meats the road…
I know that I am putting out some rather deep, heavy, and maybe overwhelming things in a relatively short space. But take what fits and toss the rest. The point is this. The proverbial rubber of life meets the road of our journeys through awareness. Fear and faith are both innate to our human existence. So, it’s good to take a look at them as we navigate our present and our future lives.
This is also where fear, faith, and the future all come together. If we live in fear we are limited. If we do not find faith, in whatever way that lives for each of us, then we are left with only our personal stories and experiences. And in this we are pretty assured that we will repeat our same stories, our same fears, in the future. We cannot change what we do not know is there. And we are hard pressed to do this without a greater spiritual perspective – a road map of a larger faith which helps to guide us.
So, in whatever ways faith can enrich your life and your world seek and find it. Ask and answer questions of your self. Whether through the stories of others, groups, spiritual traditions, religions, nature, books, mythology, elders, and each other, its just good practice. Bringing the spiritual to the every day is about being human and knowing life as something larger than our personal selves. It’s about living well. And it’s about having more joy, less fear, and knowing ever more of who we are.
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This is a story about setting goals; the good and the not so good…
By March of 2010 I had grown to 265 pounds (photo far left). It was gradual, five pounds here, two pounds there, snickers bars, potato chips, heavy cream. Partly disgusted, partly optimistic I set a goal of 199 pounds, the magical number, where normal healthy people live without a reference to 2 as in 200 or 250 or 265. I had a food service deliver healthy, low calorie meals to me and after I lost the first 35 pounds and went on testosterone replacement I then had the energy to start exercising. By August 15th of 2010 I had reached 197 pounds (center photo). Goal attained.
A month or two later I was at a conference telling Kristin Cole how I didn’t need to be fat anymore, that was a part of my life I had left behind. Oprah can you hear me?
Well five pounds here and two pounds there, this time without snickers and chips, I had grown to 237 pounds by June of this year (photo far right). Oy!
So what went wrong? Poor goal setting. My goal was to get to a number and I did just that; time to celebrate and relax. And by celebrating I mean cookies and sangria and mashed potatoes with garlic.
A better goal for me is to maximize my health, energy, sense of well-being, strength and flexibility. The actions I am taking are similar to before, low calorie and tasty foods, exercise, yoga, testosterone replacement, and vitamins like D and Sam-E. I am no longer focused on the result (a number) and am now focused on the process. The process is the result. Consequently the number is mostly irrelevant, except as a progress gauge, and I weigh myself every two weeks instead of every day. When I want a cookie I ask myself will this help me to be healthier or increase my sense of well being? And I am being kinder to myself…this seems to help greatly. My last weigh-in was at 225 pounds and I am not feeling deprived this time around. Time will tell.
Lesson learned: If your goal is to change the way you behave or your team conducts business then the process should be the result not an arbitrary number.
A few weeks ago I read an interview in the New York Times magazine and came across a very thought provoking quote:
“You’ve go to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer. A thermostat shapes the climate of opinion; a thermometer just reflects it.”
The above quote was taken from a political dialogue, but it provoked a question:
“Am I purposefully shaping the culture in my team or simply managing what is existing?”
As I thought about this question I found myself in an interview situation with a potential Buyer Partner, sharing with him the culture I have developed within my team. I gave examples of how we use our team’s core values to guide all of our decisions, and examples of when we veered away from our values and the differences in results.
- By assisting in the development of a new Administrative Assistant and using our core values to help her grow into her role as a leader in the team, we watched her use the core values to help resolve a relationship challenge in her personal life.
- How by working with an aggressive Seller and rather than embracing the relationship and staying true to our values of honesty and transparency we ultimately lost the listing and relationship due to a pricing issue.
So, some simple rules to follow that will help to strengthen the culture you envision for your team:
- – Have a few guiding principals, continually talk about them with your team and show them through your actions that decisions are made with your core values in mind.
- When doing a daily team meeting, spend time discussing your core values with the group and identify when a team member exemplifies a value, acknowledging them for the choice/decision that they made. Encourage conversation.
- Allow your team members to feel comfortable sharing their vision in the team setting, allowing other members to support their goals and dreams.
Ok, “thermostat or thermometer?” Is it more value to the team to stay in the shaping role rather than move between both? As a team leader one of our roles is to set the vision, support and guide it in the attainment of the team/individual goals. However, it intrigues me that at times it might become useful to move back and forth to gauge how the team is feeling.
I have seen many leaders who stand at the dais and have the right vision but did not take the time to test the “temperature” of the people they were leading. I was quite taken back by the 3 questions Patrick Lilly posed to his team. (blog posting May 10 2011) This shows a passion for vision and the fact that not only is he a great leader, but one that is interested in keeping the team working with him in a harmonious way. When a leader truly understands how he or she can support the team to help it grow culturally in my opinion shows a confluence of thermostat and thermometer.
After exploring this question, both intellectually and relationally, I am of the mind that it is best to be fluid rather than rigid. I will continue to set the tone and read the environment in my team.
I recently was selected to serve as a juror on a criminal case in Manhattan. The trial lasted 1.5 weeks and the defendant was found to be guilty on 11 of the 12 charges. What struck me as odd was other’s reactions when they heard of my service; comments like “how dreadful” or “let me tell you what I say to get out of jury duty” or “this is your third time? you must like being a juror” and the ultimate shocker for me “swimming with that scum, at least you could have been on a civil trial”. At first I was surprised by the reactions and as I started hearing them more and more I went into judgment: ‘this is their civic duty…what would happen to society without juror service…I bet they would feel different if they were the defendant’. You get the idea, I was defending my position by making the others wrong. So when I go into judgment (which I know well after making the same mistake for many years; okay a lifetime) I’m not in a good place. I feel judged by them and then do the same back to protect myself (or so I use to believe). Now I know that curiosity disappears when judgment enters. So when I became conscious I was judging others, it allowed me to be in choice and choose curiosity instead. Which is good, since I am more pleasant person in that state and could then easily see that my core values are different from others whose reactions surprised me. I’m not right, they are not wrong, we simply value different things; and their value choices and mine may change over time.
Belief: The opposite of curiosity is judgment.
It is a bit ironic that the topic of my judgment of others arises during a trial.
I groaned when I woke up this morning, remembering the several page “to do list” on my desk. The list contains an accumulation of “finishing” the many tasks, conversations and projects that I’ve been working on for the past few weeks. I’ve been so efficient at focusing on the “highest and best use of my time” that I’ve been noting all the “completion items’ on a list…. and now it’s all caught up with me. It’s time to finish up all these loose ends so I can “release” these items as being complete and start some new things that have been percolating in my brain.
Remembering that I scheduled today as a completion day, I yawned, turned over and went back to sleep. When I awoke two hours later, I justified sleeping in by telling myself that it’s important to trust my body and get enough sleep and that my mind is now fresher as a result of more sleep. I also know that the sleeping late today was an avoidance technique.
It’s now 6 hours later, and I have successfully avoided my desk until now. I scheduled this completion day – nobody else. I worked very effectively over the past few weeks, focusing on those most important items, setting aside the less important tasks on my tablet for a “clean up” day.
A beautiful sunny day is calling me. I want to take a walk. I want to phone a friend. Let’s be honest. I want to do ANYTHING but work on my list.
It would be easy to tell myself that I’m going to work for the next few hours and plow through the list. I’ll set a deadline of three hours and I can either start at the top of the list, or I could quickly review it with a highlighter in hand and highlight the most important tasks and start there. If I work diligently for three or four hours I’m sure I can get most of it completed.
What I’m going to do instead is a bit of soul searching about WHY I am not eager to finish up these projects in order to move forward in other directions. Stand by while I tune in to my own wisdom…
I’ve asked myself what the real issue is, what I am attached to, what is getting in my way and what is really going on. The voice inside who speaks wisdom when I bother to ask and listen has given me some real insight. Here is what I learned:
Many of the things on the list don’t belong there. In many cases I offered to do something that wasn’t necessary. Yes, I’m a helpful person, and why did I offer so much? In offering did I take on someone else’s issue when I could have directed them to a resource or solution more quickly? Or did I offer these things as a way to increase my own self-importance or self-esteem? Some of the items on my list aren’t mine! Some could have been delegated immediately and effectively.
I also learned that by putting some of these items on the list, I was really putting off saying no. My mom used to answer us as children by saying “we’ll see” when she really didn’t want to have to deal with saying no and the resulting whining and arguments. If I had taken the time to tune into my own wisdom at that moment my list would be quite short! Tuning in and listening to myself at the time would have been a better choice.
My wise self also told me that it’s okay to take a break and look at the list with a fresh perspective tomorrow, using what I’ve learned about that list to whittle it down. Work isn’t the main focus of my life. (WOW! I believe that AND am I actually living that way? I am choosing to check in with my wise self more often!) After a period of “burning hard for a few weeks” perhaps it’s time to take a well-deserved break. I’m yearning to spend the day outside, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the beautiful world in which we live. Work funds my life. It isn’t my life. Have I forgotten this?
Lesson Learned: I am the expert on my own life and what is right for me. My body gives me signals all day long such as being excited, disinterested, tired, or energized. All that is necessary is for me to pay attention to ME, and then to tune into my own wisdom. All the answers that I need are inside of me…. not outside. Today I choose to tune into my own wisdom.
I’m eager to see what will really be left on that list when I take a fresh look at it tomorrow!
“You are the first boss that’s ever wanted me to speak honestly about what I feel and think,” she said. “What? Are you serious?” I thought to myself as I accepted the compliment.
“This is the best job I’ve ever had, she confided.” I smiled and mentally gave myself a thumbs up.
“I am thrilled that you would trust me enough to let me work virtually. Thank you!” And that comment gave me pause as I thought, “How could I work with you at all if I didn’t trust you?”
I’ve been mulling over these interesting comments from a conversation I had with a very valued and trusted person who has worked with our team for about eight years. She and her family are moving back to her home state this weekend and her last day “on site” was last week. When she tearfully told me several months ago that she wanted to move and was torn between leaving a job and coworkers she loves, I instantly knew she could continue working with us virtually. She trusted me enough to tell me what was important to her family several months before giving me her “notice.”
As we talked about how to transition to her working virtually over the past several months she confided that she had been advised by friends and family not to give me so much notice, because it might give me reason to terminate her immediately. I have to admit that several years ago the “control freak” in me might have made that choice. That choice would have been based in fear and scarcity, rather than faith and abundance.
Do you trust those with whom you work? If so, congratulations. You’ve created an atmosphere of mutual respect. If not, why not? If we can’t trust those we work with to perform their duties honestly without intense supervision and control from us, it’s time to look in the mirror. Running a company with fear and control as the base creates an atmosphere of mediocrity rather than an atmosphere of collaboration, innovation and excellence.
Abundance and trust, or scarcity and fear. Where do you live? What’s your choice for today?
“Really, all one has to do to transform their life is remind themselves to think and behave a little bit differently, each day.”
This quote is so true! And it relates so well to what we do as business owners and realtors, especially as we work to incorporate new habits to grow our businesses, such as regular touch-base calls to past clients. The key words here that pop out to me are “little bit” and “each day”. It doesn’t take much to make a huge difference!
Think about sailing. If we change our course by one degree for an hour, we won’t notice ourselves in a significantly different place than if we had stayed on our original course. Now imagine if we stayed on that new course for one month, two months, or a year! We would end up in a completely different place than our original course would have taken us to!
How exciting to think that such a “little bit” of a course correction can have such an impact on our destination!
I’ve just started riding my bike to work a couple of times a week. Who knows, maybe one day I will find myself riding across the city and not thinking twice about it, but for now I feel excited just to be starting and I’m curious to see where this new habit will lead me! Whether it is cutting 50 calories a day or making one more client call each day, we are the captains of our own ship!
Lesson learned: We each choose the place we land by the course we set. And every degree, every “little bit” changes our final destination.
What course adjustments are you making? I’d love to hear about the actions you are taking to move you in the direction of your desired destination!
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I “spend my time”, and the more I think about it the more powerful this thought becomes. I “spend” time like I have an endless supply. I am rich in time, as we all are, but it is not infinite. In fact, none of us even know how much we have in our “time bank”. Time can’t be saved. It can only be spent… and we spend it at the exact rate of one minute per minute.
Think of it this way… If whatever store you went into, you knew you would be spending a dollar a minute you’d make certain you were in stores you liked, stores where you find quality products that you need or that will enhance your life, or stores where you enjoy finding gifts for others. You’d also think carefully about spending those dollars in stores you believe in and are happy to support.
This is exactly what we are doing every minute of every day as we “spend” our time. Wherever we are, whoever we are with, whatever we are doing, we are spending our time at a rate of one minute per minute, no more, no less. We can’t spend faster or slower no matter how hard we try. We can’t spend MORE than 5 minutes in five minutes with a friend, and we can’t spend LESS than 5 minutes in five minutes being angry in traffic. Our rate of spending is fixed. All we can control is where we choose to invest…
As I go through my day, I try to imagine leaving loonies (one dollar Canadian coins) behind me everywhere I go. At the end of the day I like to consider where I have left those golden piles. Was it with my husband? My friend? A valued client? Or was it waiting in line to buy something I didn’t really need? Where will you choose to “invest” your precious time today?
PS There is a saying that “where your treasure is, your heart will be also”. Food for thought, isn’t it?