Monthly Archives: July 2008

Take away

“Life is its own journey, presupposes its own change and movement, and one tries to arrest them, at one’s eternal peril.” Vaclav Havel from “Venture to the Interior”

We live in a space, a space that is filled with great hope and in some cases great despair. Despair is an anchor that prevents change. In some places in our lives we need an anchor; in turbulent waters we need an anchor until the rush of water subsides. In this case, the case where the anchor is despair we want to pick it up so that it doesn’t hold us back.

Let’s call the anchor a “take away”. The anchor takes away from our ability to be agile and to react to situations quickly and adroitly. We all have things that hold us back, little anchors, and little pockets of despair. Identify those things that are holding you back today. What are they?

As we pick up each anchor we can start to sense movement, positive movement along a corridor of our choosing. We can walk down a path towards greater hope, greater freedom and greater happiness.

What anchors are holding you back? Are you aware of those anchors? Are you willing to pick them up or let them go?

Lets shine up the soul – soul polish

Polish your soul

Polish your soul

When our shoes get dull and dingy we might get a can of shoe polish and update the finish on the exterior of our shoes.

Before we go off to work we put on our shoes. Shoes protect us from the elements and they also reflect part of our values as individuals. We might have fancy shoes, shiny shoes, colorful shoes, or some other kind of footwear and that sends a message. If we are trying to impress people we might find our best shoes, our shiniest shoes and put those on. If we are hiking in the mountains we will put on shoes that are best suited for that task. If we want our shoes to last and make a lasting impression we have to take care of our shoes.

The same is true for our souls. We have to a take care of our souls as well. Our souls reflect who we are. Often we try to hide our true selves from others. We don’t want them to see the dull, scuffed, damaged, dirty or dingy souls. We want them to see the shiny, bright, and polished souls. We may want them to believe in an illusion – that our souls are polished when they aren’t.

How much time out of each day do you take to polish your soul? How do you make sure you are taking care of one of the most important assets you have – your soul?

What is soul polish? Soul polish is time, it is reading, it is meditating, it is reflecting, it is relaxing, it is observing beauty around you, it is acknowledging others, it is strengthening a relationship, it is building character, it is ensuring your integrity is intact, it is being honest with yourself and others, it is helping others, it is serving, it is being kind, it is find joy and beauty in your work and life – and that is just the start of the list. What do you do to polish your soul? Would others say you are polishing your soul? Is your soul worn, scuffed, dingy or in need of some serious repair?

Start thinking about your soul polish today – what can you do?

Seek beauty

“Imagine living your life without being afraid to take a risk and to explore life. You are not afraid to lose anything. You are not afraid to be alive in the world, and you are not afraid to die.” Don Miguel Ruiz

Road to happiness isn’t paved with perception

“Our image of perfection is the reason we reject ourselves; it is why we don’t accept ourselves the way we are, and why we don’t accept others the way they are.” Don Miguel Ruiz

The road to happiness isn’t paved with our own rejection of self. Don Miguel Ruiz points out that our ability to set a standard of self that is one of perfection a perfection that is not realistic. We need to get to the point of accepting ourselves and qualities as who we are. We can certainly improve our image of self and our image of others. Finding peace with ourselves is an important step to realizing happiness.

Living in a society that continually raises the bar of expectation means that we are under constant pressure to match those around us. Perfection in our mind becomes the standard that we must obtain. Obtaining any level of perfection comes with a price. For many that price is a loss of joy and happiness.

Comparing ourselves with others is a common activity and that can be a catalyst for creating a perception gap in terms of being what we were meant to be. It is easy to find yourself trying to be what others are. Others become the standard especially if there is a belief that they are better from your perspective than you are. To remove that, compare yourself to who you are and what you are capable of doing. Are you doing what you can with what you have to the best of your ability? This is the yardstick that you should be using, one that measures your capabilities against what you are doing.

Ruiz writes, “All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.” One way to make sure we are living in reality is to stop and take an assessment of our own lives. Assess the values, the desires, and strengths. Are you using your gifts to your advantage?

Change your questions

Have you ever thought about the questions you ask yourself? What is that little voice in your head saying? Is it asking questions for growth and learning or are the questions about judging?

Here are some examples of questions that are designed to help you grow.

What do I want?

What are the facts?

What assumptions am I making?

What can I learn?

What are my choices?

What is best to do know?

Or there are questions that cause you to sink back and wonder.

Why can’t I ever win?

Why do things seem dumb and irritating?

Whose fault is it?

What is wrong with me?

Notice the power of the forward looking questions vs. the questions that pull you down.

The choices we make can be for the good. Good questions help us arrive at good destinations. Look for win-win situations, make connections with others, and look for the facts in every situation.

Good questions can help result in good outcomes. What are those questions?

Building a trust framework

The Pygmalion principle: “While we do well not to trust too little and not to trust too much, it seems better to trust a little too much than a little too little.” From King Arthur’s Round Table by David Perkins

How do we ever get to a point where we trust anything? Don’t we start off with the premise that things in this world deserve some amount of trust? We trust others as we walk by them not to invade our so called space. We trust people to drive on the right side of the road. We trust systems, governments, buildings, and others even if we have no reason to do so.

We begin to lose trust when something in a system violates the principles we believe the system was based on. Trust can be broken/reduced because of the “fundamental attribution error”, unreasonable expectations, unexpected expectations, overgeneralizations or selective processing of information.

The fundamental attribution error comes from the idea that others have character flaws while our own view of the world is based on the situation.

Unreasonable expectations about others can lead to a feeling that others are less trustworthy. Let’s say that we hold that someone else will do something and that thing doesn’t happen. Our disappointment with our expectation will erode the trust even though there is no real basis for it.

Unexpected expectations occur when we think don’t establish real commitments in dealing with other people. We think they might do something with urgency (the urgency exists in our mind) and they don’t. Unclear expectations can lead to trust erosion.

Overgeneralizing trust happens when we trust people in some areas and not in others.

Finally, the selective processing of information is when there is a view that as an individual you can do no wrong or you can do no right. If an instance proves that you are trustworthy you may be trusted in all situations or if one instance proves that you are less trustworthy in the eyes of some you will always be untrustworthy.

Trust is an important element in a relationship. Both sides should work to establish honest expectations at the beginning of the relationship building process. Being authentic and genuine admitting flaws as well as strengths will help establish a framework of honesty on which trust can be built.

What areas of trust are problematic for you? Why?

Only the rich have views

Let me excerpt a couple of paragraphs from the book “Mountains beyond mountains” by Tracy Kidder about a doctor whose mission is to relieve suffering in Haiti and other parts of the world.

pg 32.

In a bed by the door of the hospital lies a moaning thirteen-year-old girl, just arrived by donkey ambulance. Two young Haitian doctors- one is just an intern -stand beside her bed, eyes half-lowered lips pursed, as Farmer makes the Haitian hand slap, saying, “Dokte-m yo, dotke-m yo, sa k’ap pase-n?” – “Doctors, doctors, what’s going on with you?” His voice sounds plaintive, not angry, as he lectures: You do not administer an antibiotic to a person with meningitis until you have done a spinal tap and know the variety of meningitis and thus which drug will work.

Then he does the job himself, the young doctors looking, holding the girl down.

“I’m very good at spinal taps, ” he’s told me. He seems to be, and besides, he’s left handed, and to my eyes left-handers at work have always looked adroit. The veins stand out on Farmer’s thin neck as he eases the needle in. Wild cries erupt from the child. “Li fe-m mal, mwen grangou!” Farmer looks up, and for a moment he’s narrating Haiti again. “She’s crying, ‘It hurts, I’m hungry.’ Can you believe it? Only in Haiti would a child cry out that she is hungry during a spinal tap.”

Partners in health

That isn’t the world of the rich – that is the world of poverty speaking. It is far messier than just a doctor trying to put together broken lives. Large corporations have a lot to say about whether or not a child lives of or dies. In this case if this child lives it is because Dr. Farmer can get the drugs to treat the child. So many people die of treatable disease – so many children die of treatable diseases – they die of things that weren’t their making. They wake up in streets besides gutters filled with sewage – they didn’t make those rules but those are the rules they live by. So many children could be saved by a mosquito net but they aren’t. So many lives could be saved – so many. These children don’t have voices, not voices that can be heard beyond the slums they live in.

These children don’t have a view, they probably will never be able to afford a view beyond the rickety shacks they inhabit.

Whose fault is it? Some say it is corrupt governments – some say it is their own fault – some say they did it – some say nothing at all – some say its not my problem –

Maybe it isn’t about who or what is at fault (fault deals with the past, not the present or the future)?

There is a voice crying out right now that will stop in three seconds never to be heard again – only the rich can save that life.

In America we will demand justice for the unborn that die needlessly but we won’t lift a finger for the born who will die needlessly. In God’s world, our world, is there a difference between a child who could be saved and dies and a child that dies that could be saved?

Three seconds — tick – tick – tick – another child dies of a preventable cause in this world and no one hears their cry. If only they had a view.

Take a look – Partners in Health