Three Simple Steps to Change

June 4, 2010

Change always invites a little drama, even when you want the change.  Just a few weeks ago I received my new computer and to go with it, new software, Windows 7.   As excited as I was, and as committed to the change as I was, it was still frustrating. I was slow to find things. I felt impatient and nervous getting used to the new look.  This is an example of a change that I wanted but still I had a lot of resistance around the learning curve.  Another change I created in my life is the commitment to being more “green.” 

I started recycling and made a decision to use those cloth bags at the grocery store.  But what happend the first month?  The intention was there but the action was not. The cloth bags never made it out of the passenger seat of my car for over a month, until I decided to course-correct.

Every time I went to the store, I made a secret vow that even if I was half way through the check out line, I would make myself go back to the car to retrieve the bags.  Yes, it was uncomfortable if not slightly embarassing, but the discomfort helped me create a new habit.  Now I understand that there are three steps to facilitating positive change.

1. Become aware
2. Create a new habit
3. Course-correct

Become aware
You first have to become aware that you need a change. Whether your change is out of a need, such as purchasing a new computer and new software system, or out of a desire to be a better citizen of the earth. The first step is awareness.

Create a habit
Desire and awareness alone does nothing without a plan of action.  To implement change, you must develop a new habit so you start reprogramming your brain until it becomes second nature. Otherwise,  you will have good intentions but no real change.  At first it will be difficult. You will have to think about what you are doing, over and over until one day it comes naturally.  This is the act of going from conscious competence to unconscious competence.

Course-correct
Even though it is now a habit, your old programming will kick in and surprise you.  After a year of using cloth bags, one day you still leave your bags on the passenger seat.  Six months after using Windows 7 you still can’t find the command you have used thousands of times.  After eating all the right foods you go on a binge. That is why you must course-correct. Don’t be hard on yourself and create more drama.  Just make the correction and now you have sort of done what I call a “back-stitch.”  You have sewn in the new habit and now it is stronger.

Yes, change always invites a little discomfort.  The key to getting through change is to develop new habits and this comes through training.

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Need for Perfection Leads to Drama

May 25, 2010

Question: My time management is pathetic. I need some help prioritizing and fitting in important things like exercise and a healthy diet. I expect perfection and have a hard time with expectations.

Answer: I love this question because it truly is an energy issue. All drama has three components in common and one of those components is energetic. I call this energetic charge, RESISTANCE.

One of the ways resistance shows up is in self judgment. Let’s address the self judgment. The need to be perfect is a resistance to our humanity. As a human you will always find imperfections.  When we expect to be perfect we will always fail. Perfection is an empty black hole that is easy to fall in to. So I try to encourage my consulting clients to seek excellence because excellence allows room to grow while perfection is a myth that some day I will have all the answers. This is a big trap that will always have you grasping for something you will never achieve. So there is a bit more flexibility with excellence.

Perfection is all about needing approval and being right. 

There is also some resistance around the issue of time and how we use time, and the myth that technology is going to save you time.  Now let’s look at the myths about technology. One myth is that more advances in technology gives us more time. The reality is it only gives us more choices. Our expectations change to fill up the time. This is very difficult for most of us to accept. We reject the notion that you can never really save time. Time just is. You can be more effective. You can choose differently. You can even master your energy differently but you will never really save time because the expectation changes with the technology. What is called for here is mastering energy.

Energy management is the key issue here. This is a matter of making a decision and sticking to it. Simply spending some quiet time and giving yourself a week to exercise three times for 1 hour would be a nice start. It’s really just a discipline and the willingness to slow down in your thinking just a bit.

Once you follow through your self-esteem and overall sense of well being will increase. This extra energy is what will make you more efficient, not working past your limits, skipping meals and feeling bad about yourself.

In addition, remember that if you don’t give your body what it needs, it will eventually take the down time in the form of an illness or accident. In other words, you can’t fool mother nature.  We always reap the consequences of our choices, even when we fail to choose, it does not keep us from the effect.

Ready to release resistance? Join me  for the upcoming virtual training!


Is it Really a Choice?

April 28, 2010

Ever wonder why you (or someone you know) keeps falling into the same destructive patterns?  Then you hear a well-meaning motivational speaker say, “It’s a choice.” But is it really? Old programming runs most of your life, and until you have an awakening you may not even recognize the choices in front of  you.

Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you may have the power, but since you don’t know how the power works, you keep seeking answers outside of yourself.


People Only Want Two Things

February 27, 2010

In any given situation people really only want two things, and one of those things is be loved.

No matter what you think you want, no matter what the other person says they want,  part of the equation is always love.

If you can remember this, all of your relationships will improve because, while  you may not be able to fulfill any or part of their equation, you can always act from love.

The really cool thing about love is that love  can be offered in so many different ways.  You  get to experiment daily by doing the following…

Listening
Spending quality time
Showing respect
Asking for an opinion
Cleaning up after yourself
Acknowledging
Showing compassion
Setting boundaries
Congratulating
Being considerate
Telling the truth
Apologizing
Authentic communication

So, the next time someone acts rude, plays games, acts arrogant, sulks or creates drama,  remember that this person does not know how to get her needs met.  

She uses manipulation to try to get your attention.

He uses anger to get his way.

She brags on herself to get acknowledged.

No matter what it looks like, it’s always about looking for love in all the wrong places…or trying to get love in ways that keep you from it.

Because we do not know this we make excuses for our behavior.

She will say she’s acting out because it’s your fault.

He will say it’s because life has dealt him a bad hand. 

You will say they deserved it.

No  matter which side you are on, the Universe always offers  a chance to give love or withhold love. 

Instead you may choose to judge, withhold, blame, or scold. Or you may pretend bad behavior is OK or justified.

Nonetheless, every day there is the opportunity to give or receive love.

Of course,  it isn’t  loving to allow disrespectful behavior. You aren’t showing love if you keep honoring a person’s drama story and discounting the truth of who they really are or discounting the possibility of who they can be.

Judgment and criticism are not the answer either.  When you criticize it is because in some way you  need to feel better than someone else, which unfortunately is just another way to try to get love, by  making someone else less than you.

No matter what the situation, it is never as it seems.

It’s never about the other person.

It’s never about who is right and who is wrong.

It’s never about getting the extra money, the more prestigious title, winning the medal, or getting the contract. 

In he end and to the core, it is always about love.

All of life is a lesson in how to give and receive love.


Energy Management: Balancing Choice and Responsibility

January 25, 2010

No matter how technology improves, you just can’t catch up.

Because most of us are handling a schedule humanly impossible to manage, we feel frustrated, angry and overwhelmed instead of enjoying our work and feeling like we are contributing.

We are all addicted to the lie that technology is going to save time. The only thing that happens is a new demand emerges and the expectation changes.

The danger I see with emerging technology and the powerful choices that are offered to all of us, is we are not equipped to handle the power.  Not to knock technology. I love it too, but if you believe in the Chinese symbol of yen and yang you must also believe that with every benefit there is a price to pay, and that price is responsibility.

The more power you have the more responsible you must be.  I call this theory the Teeter Totter Effect. Choice and responsibility must be equally balanced.

The Teeter Totter Effect
A teeter totter rests on a fulcrum point. When the teeter totter is balanced, the teeter totter is completely horizontal and when it is not, one end rests higher than the other.

If the teeter totter is completely level and on the right side you have a 20 pound weight called “Choice” then on the left you must also have a 20 lb weight called “Responsibility.”

At first glance we always want more choices because more choices mean more power. However,  if  choice is not balanced with responsibility  then you are going to have trouble and eventually drama.

For example, look at the young, and I mean very YOUNG children who have been given the power of the cell phone and texting.  The result has been less monitoring by parents, and kids as young as 13 years old sexting, being bullied on social networks and then because they do not have the maturity or the support they commit suicide.

Look at how adults who should know better,  risk their lives and put others at risk by texting while driving. (There’s a lot of denial out there about our ability to multi-task while science and research proves our brains are not built for it.)

We have become unconscious and do not know how to balance choice and responsibility. Balancing choice with responsibility, is what energy management is all about.


Say Yes or Say No, but Quit Dropping the Ball

January 15, 2010

People fall into one of two camps: Those who keep their commitments and those who don’t. Those who keep their commitments, almost always judge those who don’t.  Those of us who are sticklers for keeping our word  label those who don’t  as flighty, undependable or incompetent.

“Why can’t people just do what they say they are going to do? Why do so many people continuously drop the ball?” we ask, using one hand to pat ourselves on the back and the other hand to point a finger.  (Of course judging others is never good either, but that’s another article.)

In judging others, we come up with all kinds of theories about why people are so undependable: The theories range from character defects, to a lack of organizational skills, to intentional cat and mouse game-playing.

Although there may be a kernel of truth to all of these theories, I now have a new theory that is a bit kinder than some of these other theories floating around. The new theory is entitled The Avoidance Trap.

The Avoidance Trap Theory is based on the idea that when people drop the ball or fail to follow through it is because there were certain things that (unbeknownst to them) they were trying to avoid.

For example, some common situations most people want to avoid include admitting that they do not know how to manage time, that they always over commit, appearing to be selfish,  unappealing work, saying “no” to someone they want to please, and letting others down.

The Avoidance Trap manifests itself by not being able to clearly say “yes” or “no” and the intention is often an unconscious need to please momentarily without looking at the long-term effects. The result is lots of loose ends, dropped balls, lost trust and a bad reputation.

The Avoidance Trap shows up in all areas of life, from the person who volunteers to be on the non profit board and doesn’t show up, to the customer who promises to call you back but doesn’t, to the sales rep who guarantees you that your bill will be adjusted then blames the customer service rep.

The Avoidance Trap manifests in three stages:

  • Saying “yes” with no understanding of the requirements
  • Making excuses to cover for their poor performance
  • Blaming others for their inability to follow up

For example the volunteer says, “yes” even though he is overextended. The intention may be good at the time, however the “volunteer” avoids looking at the facts of his over extended schedule.  Or the volunteer avoids asking about what is required.  Or perhaps he says yes to avoid looking selfish, and this pattern ripples into stage two; making excuses.

It’s easier to make excuses rather than to renege on a deal. What is being avoided is performing unappealing work or disappointing others.

The excuses depend on the situation and range from “I had to work overtime,” or “I was out of town.”

The customer who promised to call you  back  uses other excuses: “I lost your number,” or “I’ve been meaning to call,” or “It’s in a stack of to-do items,” and so on.  What is being avoided is saying “no” to a product or service, thereby disappointing the salesperson.

When the excuses no longer work the last resort is to blame.  For example the sales rep that promised to adjust your bill, then blames the customer service rep when your unrevised bill shows up in your mailbox.

A more subtle way of blaming is by passing the buck.  The prospect finally says, “I am not the main decision maker,” or  “the committee said no. ”

A way to eradicate the Avoidance Trap  is to ask yourself this question: “What am I committed to?”

If you are committed to excellence in business and integrity in your relationships, that commitment requires you to become a more conscious and competent communicator.

The commitment to excellence and integrity requires that you stop making excuses, quit blaming others, and say a clear “yes” or a clear “no.”  The commitment to excellence also requires those who do keep their word, to stay focused on what you can control instead of pointing fingers at some one else’s character flaw.

Your reputation is dependent upon the way you represent yourself, and you represent yourself by your integrity or your lack of it.

When you fail to follow through, forget your promise, or say something that you regret, you are representing yourself.  You represent yourself as one who is not aware, as one who cannot follow through, as one who has no focus, or as one who cannot be taken seriously.

When someone tells you that you have poor customer service and you respond by saying, “I couldn’t help it, we were short of help,” you have represented yourself as one who makes excuses instead of one who solves problems.

You represent yourself by the choices you make every single day.  By your choices you reveal your commitments.