29 June 2009

Monday Morning Quote - June 29th

"There are countless ways of attaining greatness, but any road to reaching one's maximum potential must be built on a bedrock of respect for the individual, a commitment to excellence, and a rejection of mediocrity." - Buck Rogers, Major League Baseball player and Manager

28 June 2009

When sorry really isn't

Everyone says it. Most people mean it. But what happens when it's given off-handedly and lacks sincerity? I'm talking about 'I'm Sorry'.

Lately, I been witness to and been on the receiving end of this and it's a bit disconcerting. Something happened, which caused an issue. Nothing big mind you, but it caused something to have to be redone, which was time and effort. The other person's reply was "Oh, I'm sorry." That's it.

Now, here's the issue; this person was the cause of me having to redo the work. There was no sincerity. No real apology. No "I'm sorry that what I did is causing to redo your work. Since, it's my fault, can I help out in any way?"

The second case was when someone accidentally let go of a door they were going through and it hit the person behind them. The person just said, "Sorry" and walked off. That was it, not "Oh, I'm sorry, are you OK?" and grabbing the door to hold it for the person.

It seems that the 'manners' that were drilled into us by our parents have become just a rote action. I'm sure this was not what they intended when we were kids and they made us go back and say we're sorry to someone for something we did. They wanted to instill in us an awareness of our actions on other people and the consequences those actions cause.

We need to go back to this and think about why we said 'I'm Sorry'. If you really aren't sorry about the action you need to think about why you aren't. Are you becoming insensitive to others or uncaring. Or if you really are sorry, address the apology with more sincerity.

27 June 2009

Can you give me some Self-Esteem, please?

Earlier this week, a great question was posed on Twitter by @Lotay. He usually posts great questions that make you think. But, this question was a bit different for me, as I could not answer it in the 140 character limitation on Twitter, so I'll try to answer it here.

The question was "How do you work with people who have low self-esteem. Specifically people who seek constant praise and reassurance." The first thing that came to my mind was, "It's called SELF-esteem, so it should come from within, not have someone give it to you.". Then I pulled back and thought of the times I was down on myself and that some praise or acknowledgment from someone was able to put me back on track. In general, I am more apt to provide my own self-esteem than rely on others to provide it for me,I but see how it can come from outside yourself.

Before I can really answer this question though, I feel that we need to look into why the person has low self-esteem. Treat the cause, not just the symptoms. A person may have low self-esteem because (1) they were repeatedly told by someone that they could not do something, be someone or that they just weren't any good; (2) they had a series of events or failures that shaped their view that they can't do something or (3) they just never learned that they can succeed or that failure is not necessarily a bad thing.

The first one is the most difficult because it's embedded in them and usually requires either formal therapy with a professional therapist or informal therapy with a close trusted friend or significant other. The second is easier because you can analyze the events of failures. Take the personal aspect out of it and look at at objectively: why did it fail, what could have been done differently, what did you learn, have you used what you learned in a later success? The third is the easiest because you have a blank slate to work with. All three require work, so people are more apt to just give praise, boost the persons self esteem and move on. Then have to do it again and again.

Now back to the question. I feel that it is most important to not just give praise or encouragement and leave it at that. That's initially the easy way and will not do anything but make them come back to you for more. Sit them down and ask them how they felt it went (be it a project, task, etc.). Make them tell you. If they drift into negativity, stop them and say "OK, but tell me about what went well". Start with a positive and give praise for that, but make it start with them. Then talk about anything that did not go right. Be objective and do not criticize them personally. Make them tell you why something failed and keep them on track (no blame or negativity). Ask them if they knew then what they know now, how would they have done it differently. What have they learned.

Tell them you are looking forward not backward and that failure is not necessarily a negative. It can be a positive if you take something away from it and can apply to a future success.

I tend look to for the positives in things. My glass isn't half full, it has room for more (I credit my Grandmother for this view). I guess my bottom line is, you can't just 'deal' with people who require others to build up their self esteem, it will only lead to the need to keep doing it. Break that cycle.

I would be really interested to see what others have to say about it.

25 June 2009

Thursday Morning Quote - June 25th

"Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death." - Anais Nin

22 June 2009

Monday Morning Quote - June 22nd

"Problems arise in that one has to find a balance between what people need from you and what you need for yourself." - Jessye Norman

21 June 2009

Happy Father's Day

A big Happy Father's day to all those Dads out there who strive to balance their work and family lives. There maybe those days that seem like it may be too much, but it is definitely worth it.

Don't short change the time you have and do spend with your kids. You won't get it back. Every Father's Day, I listen to Harry Chapin's Cats In The Cradle as a reminder to myself of this.

18 June 2009

Thursday Morning Quote - June 18th

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort." - Herm Albright

16 June 2009

Always look on the bright side of life

I'm naturally a positive person who takes things in stride. I don't look at the situation with a negative view and dwell on the worst case scenario. I'm not going into details, but lately I've had to fight against internal issues because someone close is doing just this very thing and I can't really voice my opinion about it.

My belief is that if you look for the bad, the worst case or the negative aspects of a situation, then you are setting yourself up for ulcers. It's been told to me, "If I think of the worst case scenario and it's better than that I'll feel better." Huh? OK, let me get this straight, so you spend a day or even days fretting and worrying over something that you have no control over, not sleeping, feeling horrible so that you might feel better when it's over? Sounds like a really bad idea to me.

Maybe I'm naive, but why should we worry about something we have absolutely no control over. Now, if it something we need to prepare for (example: a hurricane is coming and you need to board up the house), then I can understand a little worry. But worrying over what will happen the house after you leave is useless in my opinion. Does worrying cause the hurricane to spare your house any damage? No, so stop it and think positively and wait for the outcome.

Life is far too short to spend it worrying about things. This doesn't mean I don't care, I do. It just means that I have made the decision to embrace the good things in life, look at my half full glass and maintain my inner balance.

Am I way off base or do others feel the same way? Also, Kudos to anyone who get's the picture.

15 June 2009

Monday Morning Quote - June 15th

"The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." - Carlos Castaneda

13 June 2009

Failure Is Not An Option

Thursday, I posted a great quote from Tom Hopkins. Tom is a sales coach, so you can image a quote like this coming from him related to sales.

But this quote can apply to life. Life is a series of failures. I fail at something everyday. Anyone who says they don't isn't true to themselves. I define "true" failure as any goal you set for yourself that you give up one. But failure can occur on the path to success. Sometimes, failures are benign. Other times, the consequences have a larger impact.

Let me give you some examples. One of my personal goals is to turn off lights whenever I leave a room, so save energy. Sometimes, I forget. This is a failure and I continue to work on it. A failure with a bigger impact is when I promise something to my daughters and don't follow through on it. Then there are those that have a huge impact. No need to elaborate on those.

I don't judge myself by failures, I judge myself by the way I handle those failures. Do I get down on myself? Do I blame others? Or do I assess the failure, learn from it, dust myself off and try to succeed again?

If I don't achieve my goal, I have not failed, I just haven't succeeded yet. Failure is not an option.

11 June 2009

Thursday Morning Quote - June 11th

"I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed: and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying." - Tom Hopkins

08 June 2009

Monday Morning Quote - June 8th

"People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them." - George Bernard Shaw (from the play 'Mrs Warren's Profession')

04 June 2009

Thursday Morning Quote - June 4th

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned." - Buddha

03 June 2009

The illusion of time

Have you noticed that you can control time? OK, before you write me off as officially losing my mind, hear me out.

Now everyone notices that when they are having a good time, time seems to move much more quickly than when we're not having a good time. Why does a minute with your hand sitting in luke-warm water seem so much faster than when you put your hand in ice cold water?

The reason is that time is concept in our minds. Time has always existed (or at least since the big bang). But how we perceive time is how we control it. Now, we can't bend time like a sci-fi movie. But we can alter our perception of it. We can take a boring meeting and focus our attention on something that holds our interest and make the meeting go by faster. Watch people, their reactions, how they say things. This would make things go faster and might bring you some insight.

The same is true when your having a good time and time seems to go too fast. But this is much harder to do and you may not want to do anything because, hey you're having a good time.

I realize I am jumping around, but my final point is, take a close look at how you perceive time. Once it's gone, you don't get it back. Are you making the most of it, are you using it wisely?

Final note: very interesting list '20 Things You Didn't Know About... Time' from Discover magazine.

02 June 2009

Decluttering Catharsis

There's always something deeply cleansing to my mind and spirit when I declutter something in my life. Today I spent a bit of time clearing out my closet and getting rid of some old clothes and that were worn out, I didn't need, and that I knew I wouldn't wear any more. It was a small job and did not take much time at all. But it made my closet less full and easier to get to my clothes.

Now, I am not a clutterer (is that a word?). I purge stuff quite often and like things neat. I'm not anal-retentive where things have to be perfect, but I do like order. I know people who have accumulated a lot of "stuff" over the years and cannot really tell you why they still have it, but are extremely reluctant to get rid of it.

I'm not like that, but I do have some things that I keep that I don't need to keep, but have a sentimental or emotional connection. Things like the 2006 Sport Illustrated showing the Cardinals winning the World Series, the "picture" my oldest daughters drew for me when she was three, ticket stubs to a Grateful Dead show, etc. I see these things as important. Someone who purges everything risks their life becoming sterile. But more about that in a future post. I have these mementos and things in a plastic drawer in my closet. This is the neat part of me.

Going back to the "stuff". I have known people that reached the point that they need to get rid of it. It's like the show Clean House. When they're done, there is a sense of calm and peacefulness that comes over them. Like the clutter was a weight that was on their shoulders. That is how it feels when I declutter.

If you feel stressed or overwhelmed, part of the cause may be the stuff around you. Clear some space and get rid of things you don't need. You may find the same mental relief that I feel.

01 June 2009

Monday Morning Quote - June 1st

"Hapiness can only be found if you can free yourself of all other distractions." - Saul Bellow