Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Roots

Ultimately, it's the health and wellbeing of the roots of a tree that determine whether it lives or dies.  Sure, the above-ground stuff is critical to its being able to forge ahead, to live on - stuff like leaves, bark, branches.  

We now have evidence of tree roots that have been alive for thousands (yes, THOUSANDS) of years, despite their above-ground growth being repeatedly harvested by generation after generation of humans.

The health of the roots determines the prospects for life in the future.

Same goes for us.  Attending to our "roots" - values, faith, health, family, relationships - ultimately determines the length and quality of our lives, and of our legacies.

We each have "our own roots to water..." (Hope you enjoy the song.)


Saturday, May 27, 2017

FizzleFighting

The job of firefighters is to put fires out.  The role of leaders is the opposite.  They understand that their job is to stoke the fire (aka, organizational energy), knowing full well that untended fires fizzle out.  

Wise leaders foster sustained and healthy energy flow (i.e., "fire") in these ways:

  • Relentless focus on the MAIN THING (and purposeful de-emphasis of the non-).
  • Communicating clearly, simply, and often - openness and full disclosure are a way of life.
  • Creating a sense of community and care - untended fires fizzle out.
  • Consistent adding of more fuel - steady flow of new learning, safety for risk-taking, support when a pilot project crashes, etc.
  • Habitizing rituals - celebrations, recognitions, affirmations - always taking time to recognize and honor the good stuff and right-minded people.
  • An unwavering messaging of getting better and doing better, for the good of all (not just the bottom line).  

Strong leaders are both ignition catalyst for great organizational energy and fizzle-fighter-in-residence.

Light the fire, keep it burning.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Adrenaline

We're all familiar with the impact of adrenaline.  It's the stuff (hormone) of Intelligent Design that kicks our bodies/mind/senses into high gear when we're under conditions of threat or stress.  

Our bodies have that built-in mechanism to enhance our performance (and chances of survival) when faced with the "fight or flight" scenario.  We were NOT designed to be in a perpetual mode of heightened adrenaline status.  In fact, interesting research has been done indicating the deleterious effects of persistent presence of high levels of adrenaline - the stuff designed to save us can actually have the opposite effect.  

(Where's nc going with this?)  Peak performance, whether as individuals OR as organizations, often occurs during those periods of enhanced infusion of adrenaline.  However, building into our lives (as individuals AND organizations) the habits of restoration - rest, prayer, renewal, new learning, exercise, peace, detoxification - are absolutely necessary, not only for our survival, but for our continued effectiveness.

We are wise to understand that the adrenaline rush ALWAYS subsides.  It's how we prepare our minds/bodies/spirits in the interim moments that matters the most.  It's our nutritional habits (in both the literal and figurative forms).  

How we feed ourselves truly matters, A LOT.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Erosion&Balance

Looked up from my work on the ranch the other day and saw Moe (my lovely bride of 40 years) using an A-frame leveling tool in her garden (see pic below).  She uses that tool to lay out her garden beds on contour, in order to reduce erosion and slow-spread-sink (I've written about that here) the life-giving medium of rainwater. 


Certain things cause erosion, both in nature and in us humans.  In nature, it's too much wind, too much rain, too much heat (and combinations thereof) that cause erosion.  In humans, it's too much busyness, too much stress, too much "stuff."  At the end of the day, too much speed and too much intensity wears us (and nature) down, cutting deep ruts, fragmenting our foundations, compromising our integrity (whether cognitive or physical or emotional/spiritual).

In nature, slowing-spreading-sinking the life-giving medium of rainwater provides the best chance of achieving symbiotic harmony and abundance - call it "balance."  The same holds true for us (as individuals and as organizations):  Symbiotic harmony, abundance, peace are the result of our deliberate slowing-spreading-sinking of the "life-giving medium."  

But first, we've gotta know what that "life-giving medium" is...  Balance depends on.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Experience

Experience happens to all of us.  It's a function of continued breathing.

Experience can make us smarter; but doesn't always.
Experience can increase our skills; but doesn't always.
Experience can heighten our senses; but doesn't always.
Experience can cause us to be wiser; but doesn't always.
Experience can nurture and enrich our relationships; but doesn't always.

To glean the "good" from experience a few conditions must exist:

  1. We must be fully present to the experience.
  2. We must reflect on what the experience means, or can mean, for us.
  3. We must consciously choose to learn from that experience.
Experience, without the learning, is just breathing, barely.

Monday, May 8, 2017

7KWays2Listen

I recently read Seven Thousand Ways to Listen:  Staying Close to What is Sacred by Mark Nepo (2012).  

MN is a poet by trade, though this thoughtful book is done in prose.  Quite lovely prose, I might add.  No, MN did not itemize 7,000 ways to listen;  rather, he takes the reader through a wide range of possibilities that increase/enhance our ability to listen deeply.  

My biggest takeaways:

  • Asking rich questions primes us for deep listening.
  • Richer relationships are the result of our being/becoming deep listeners.
  • Slowing ourselves down is a prerequisite to powerful listening.
  • Listening is often the best medicine for strained relationships. 
  • Story is the connective tissue of humanity.
  • Listening is an act of reverence.

My favorite quote (two, actually):
"The aim of spiritual practice, no matter its form, is to untangle the nets that living snares us in. But though we can learn to untangle specific situations, even get good at it, life on earth is a never-ending weave of becoming tangled and working to get untangled."  (p. 161)

"Life is both storm and calm, and the challenge of living is how to use the calm to endure the storm, not bypass it."  (p. 244)

One of my mentors (an angel flying too close to the ground) recommended this one.  Thanks, RP.  A lovely read.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Balm

You know how some people can just make you feel better for being in their presence?  What a gift!  I'm been watching folks like that for awhile, in effort to glean their secret(s).  

What they DON'T do is ridicule, diminish, critique, manipulate, evade, engage in bogus flattery, or appear secretive.

On the contrary, they...

  • Speak clearly and precisely, avoiding a bunch of gobblydygook.
  • Engage others fully, even when the interaction must be brief.
  • Express genuine interest in others (and remember quite a bit about the other from engagement to engagement).
  • Practice transparency and openness in the extreme.
I repeatedly walk away from engagements with these kinds of folks feeling better, affirmed, appreciated, calmed, blessed - as if the beneficiary of a having had a healing balm applied.  Nice skills set, huh?  

Think I'll try to add more folks like that to my tribe...

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Gaps

We all have gaps.  Sometimes we're very aware of the gaps.  Sometimes we're completely blinded to them.  Sometimes those gaps are as tiny as the snyaptic sliver between the neurons in our brains.  Other times the gaps are as humongous as the Grand Canyon.

Whatever the nature or size of our gaps, they're still gaps.  They separate us from our complete fulfillment.  Awareness of our gaps is only the first step toward realizing our best selves.  Being all we can be requires a bit more.

Many of the folks I admire most model gap diminishment by:

  1. Assessing their gaps in relation to the Eternal Wisdoms, those foundational principles that are at once so common between individuals and civilizations, yet unique to each in language and/or expression.
  2. Determining which of those gaps are most impeding their own personal completeness.
  3. Developing a plan to purposefully close said gaps in a disciplined way - via meditation or new learning or prayer or research or acts of service or increased reading or new career path...  or some combination thereof.    

Yes, we all have gaps.  We'll likely still have some gaps even as our pallbearers carry us to our graves.  

Yet, some folks seem to move steadily from their current to fullest selves by closing gaps, effectively and relentlessly.  LEARNING required.  Sign me up.