Life Isn’t About Being Measured

Woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I wanted to since it’s Sunday morning and a good day for sleeping in.  However, my mind was racing and I could stop the mental chatter.  I’ m hoping channeling some of the racing thoughts into writing will help settle me down.

I have been replaying some comments made by a friend about success.  He was referring to who was ‘most’ successful amongst our colleagues.  The two people he name were for sure the guys who sold the most work and made the most money.  In many ways that may seem like the obvious measure of success.  Those seem like common success measures.  I think about clients who put together performance measures and often sales and revenue are fairly high on the list if not the list.

I get that for a company to stay in business sales and revenue are important but I don’t think they are a very useful measure of success.  We talk about vision meaning something noble or a reason to rally and stay together through highs and lows.  I do think that selling for someone who is passionate about connecting to people and understanding their needs and wants can be noble.  I can also believe that making significant revenue can pull people together.  Still I am not sure sales and revenue measure success.

I guess I believe success is much more personal.  I have gotten to know people who by the above standard of success should see themselves as very successful but don’t.  We’ve all heard the statement – “money can’t buy success” and I imagine some of us have wished we could test that statement ourselves.  Having had times of pretty good revenue and times of none, I do get it’s not about the cash flow.  Sure having some does help my ego but money isn’t sustaining or for that matter meaningful. Also selling has only been noble for me when I truly believed in the product and of course then never really felt like I was selling at all.

You may be wondering why is this keeping me up?  I think because there have been too many times in my life when success was measured generally and I watched or worse found myself trying to measure up only to discover later I had lost my ‘real’ direction.

Take tennis – I was very good.  For a long time I never lost and soon I thought winning was the measure of success.  However, winning soon became something that kept me in a very tight box.  I wasn’t willing to try new shots or a different serve.  I became fearful of losing and soon tennis was not the game I loved.

Take cancer – I am considered to have been successful at cancer.  Sure I am alive so that is a definite success.  But am I more successful then someone who died? No  Cancer more then anything else taught me that it’s not about how anyone including me measures a life tomorrow.    It’s only about how I choice to live today.

We are too easily convinced that there is some way to measure if we are doing well or succeeding in life.  May be it is sells and revenue, may be it’s how long we live, may be it’s if we’re married or how well our children do, may be it’s the number of times we win or the kind things we do.

Then again may be we are not here to meet performance measures.

My Purpose: To Connect

I have signed up for a six week class on Powering Up My Life.  I did this because I am in a transition and I thought the class might be helpful in creating more focus and direction during this period.  The first assignment was relatively easy for me.  This week’s question seems much harder.  The first part of the assignment is to define my life purpose.  I am a big believer in having a vision, dream or beacon, so you might think the question would be easy for me.  But no, quite the opposite.  I find myself struggling.  The simple answer to the question is:  to connect.  Though I ask myself is that a purpose?  Is it noble? Is it directional?  Is it too simple?

When I was dying the thing that stirred up the desire in me to stay engaged was witnessing and watching people connect.  I had the opportunity to be a part of a group at The Haven, a personal & professional development center.  We started a group of strangers but after five days I’d say the 23 other participants in the group knew me better then anyone else ever had in my life.  We had each in our own way opened up to each other through sharing emotions, stories, judgments and intentions.  The leaders were the models and I must say I was so amazed I found myself wanting to do whatever it took to be able to make contact and connect to the world around me in the authentic, real way they did.  Twenty-five years later that still motivates me, finding ways to connect to the people around me.  Creating bridges between differences and expanding my own experience through being open and curious about someone else.

Some people want to travel the globe and see the physical world.  I don’t mind traveling and do enjoy seeing foreign lands yet that is not nearly as exciting to be as being in a room full of strangers and traveling together through people’s hopes, fears, joys, tears and stories.  Being in a circle of people as they revel themselves and engage in an open, direct way with each other transforms me.  My world grows exponentially and I believe I travel further then I could ever travel via train, plane or automobile.

I think it was Jesus who said “whenever two or more are gathered in my name – God is present”.  I think that means whenever two or more are gathered and are open and curious about each other they tap into source, God, chi, universal energy, whatever you might call it.

My purpose is creating and experiencing that connection.

What Am I Really Crying About?

I have been traveling.  Taking a road trip from Seattle to Montana.  It seems when I am driving I am less inclined to pull out my computer at night or for that matter anytime.  Anyway I am behind on blog posting.  The trip was excellent.  I was able to ride with the top down most of the way and the temperature was a mild with blue skies overhead.

Basically, I moved to Montana over a year ago; however  kept a place in Seattle where our company is headquartered.  Slowly, I have scaled down the office in Seattle and finally made the call to bring both vehicles to Montana.  I find myself dealing with more transition and loss with this trip than I did after selling the house and moving most of my personal life.  This might reflect the fact that I never enjoyed living in Seattle.  Wasn’t able to find and maintain the right level of connection for me.  I had lots of friends and yet it never seemed easy to connect and do things together.  Now my work  – that was different.  Thrive! was started in Seattle and thrived there – as did I.  So maybe the process of scaling down the office is a bit more of a loss for me than the personal move.

It is not like I won’t be back.  We have a number of clients there which we will continue to work with, and as a result, will be traveling out that way quite regularly. So what makes this so hard?  Office space is rented, the VW Bug was the last real asset to be moved. Plus, we are shifting our business focus – instead of an independent consulting firm we are aligning ourselves as Table Group Consulting Partners.

I would have thought driving a huge moving truck would have been the catalyst for dealing with any loss or dislocation issues.  Instead, it seems driving the convertible VW Bug brought up much more grief, as did letting go of our business independence.  Seattle was never my home personally, but it was where I found my passion in terms of work and career.

I remember when I left Gabriola Island – the last place I called home.  What was calling me was creating a business, a partnership and work that I found fulfilling.  Stepping back out in the world as the person I had become after cancer and close to ten years of reinventing myself.  Our decision to start Thrive! did not come at the best of times for starting a business, post 9/11, but wet we did great.  We have never had to market and have always found work we needed and wanted over the last seven or eight years.  Sure, there were times when we were slow but we’d connect with clients and generate new leads and we found our own voice and way of working.

When the move to Montana came, we were starting the shift to align ourselves with The Table Group more.  Now, we are not creating ourselves the way we were when we started Thrive!.  Instead, we are using material created for the most part by The Table Group.  As a result get more visibility and larger pool of potential clients, but we aren’t quite like we were.

I know this is good move. Just like I know bringing the Bug over the mountains is also good. What I didn’t count on was feeling this sense of loss.  I do know now that there is something going on as we scale down Thrive! and align ourselves with The Table Group that involves letting go.  We can’t really be something new until we let go of the old.  I think the drive was part of that process.

Transitions are never predictable.  We all do the psychological adjustment to a change in our own time.  I teach this, but living it is something else all together.  Good thing I had the chance to take the drive.  Now I know I need to do the rest of the work.  I hadn’t realized what I was letting go of.  I get why I might feel like crying now.  It also makes this blogging even more important.  It seems to be the path I am using to reinvent myself.  The same way I did when we started Thrive!  I can only hope it leads to the same fulfillment and success!

Forgiveness: The Heart in the Matter

I have wrestled with this word and my own relationship to including ‘forgiveness’ in my vocabulary over the years.  This mainly stems from the too often religious use of the word and in my opinion people’s quick desire to ask for or give ‘forgiveness’ without any deeper reflection.  It may also stem from years of being told I needed to ‘forgive’ some things that frankly I was not yet able to deal with on that level.  Eventually I got I was causing my own pain with my walled position on the matter.

These day I am more curious and less ‘righteous’ about the word.  First when I play with forgive or forgiving,  I break it down to for and giveFor meaning in support of or affecting – I think of ‘in support of giving’ – makes the word much more interesting.  Even more so with affecting; affecting giving.  Suddenly I can see that that forgiveness might just be speaking to what separates me from ‘giving’ freely.  Now that makes a significant difference in how I can relate to this word.

I have always liked Covey’s habit – ‘Seek first to understand’.  However I believe that to really do that I need to be in the space to give the other person room to be different from me, to give them the benefit of doubt, in other words to be ‘giving’ not just neutral or worse reactive but to be willing ‘ to hand over’.  This is a very vulnerable and open position to take – yet lies at the root of what to give means. This is what I have started to think of in relationship to what forgiveness means to me.

Of course this totally applies to my own life events.  I think I believed forgiveness was something I was doing for someone else but really it was all about doing something for me.  When I am ‘forgiving’ I am being in support of my ‘giving’ or ‘handing over’;  opening a door or path that without ‘forgiveness’ remains blocked, closed or worse unaffected by what is happening around me.

I was told the opposite of forgiveness energetically is estrangement.  Now this is a word filled with separation, distance, even hostility –  just to mention a few associated words.  That makes it even more important in my world to stay open to the energetic definition of ‘forgiveness’.  I have spent too much of my life ‘estranged’ – treating others as strangers – instead of ‘as family’.

May be I am way off and some book like the dictionary or the bible or a frantic fundamentalist will send me right back to my self-righteous or estranged stance to the word forgiveness.  I can only hope instead I will stay in a state of for giving.

I am a Great Writer When I am Running

Often when I am out running I come up with amazing material for blogs, articles and even books.  As I run the words flow freely and stories seem to effortlessly emerge with a beginning, middle and end.  You may be thinking I run for miles and miles.  However, my morning run is usually about thirty to forty minutes.  I get back to the house and I try to capture the same flow at my computer.  What seemed brilliant out in the woods does not often translate onto the page.

I am curious about this.  I honestly believe I am a good writer while running.  In my mind I have no problem developing new material or wrestling with spelling and word placement.  Instead the story or subject simply unfolds.  Then reality kicks in once I am back home.  Suddenly I am stopped at the first big word that appears misspelled on the screen, marked by the red under line.  Instead of allowing the error to wait for later correction.  I stop and wrestle with the keyboard trying to sound out the word or use spell check.  The story fades background and stalls.

Of course it is not always spelling that stops the flow.  Sometimes the story in my mind is not nearly as interesting once written on the page.  May be I have missed some of the rich content that seemed so entertaining while running or may be the idea was not as grand as in seemed out there in the woods.

I do want to write the book that has so gracefully been written over the years out on trails.  The pieces have been captured in kilobytes of data storage on the various hard drives I have used trying to save and store what flowed in my mind but stalled once I sat down to share with the world.

Blogging seems a smaller bite to take along the path to a larger dream.  Still even the blog seems more powerful while running.  On the trail I bypass the mental chatter that censors and stalls me once back at my desk.  Out there I am confident about my own creative potential.

I know I have heard this all before and I am not alone.  The great singer in the shower.  The screen play that came through while driving .  The Oscar performance that took place in front of the mirror.   Yes we all have our talents that can too often remain enjoyed and safely performed while alone.

I am indeed a great author while running.  It’s time to bring the words back out of the forest and onto the page.

May be the greatness won’t be quite the same but at least I can say I am more than just a great writer while running!

Thriving, Be it Me or My Organization, = Valuing Differences!

I realize there are not many consistent themes to my blogging to date.  However, I believe what has come up the most is how much I value differences.  I mentioned the diversity in opinions that show up in Montana,  I wrote about collective consciousness being more about acceptance of differences than similarities and balance being about flow (movement between polarities) and alignment.

The subject is up for me again.  I just got back from a great two days with the other members of The Table Group Consulting Partners.  We are a hand selected group of consultants who are work along side business author, Patrick Lencioni.  Pat started his company, The Table Group over 10 years ago and really launched his career as an author and speaker with the Book, Five Dysfunctions of a Team. The book has been on the NYTimes bestseller list – as a business book.  It continues to stay in the top twenty and higher many years later.  The book is awesome.  It’s a fable with a very simple yet profound message about what is the essence of a high performing team.

We loved the book and the others he has written.  What was even better was that we have discovered that Pat and his small company (7 folks) live what what all the books preach.  Since the first book, Pat has written a series of books all with simple wisdom for leaders in business.

I could write on and on about my respect for The Table Group but really that was not the point of this Blog.  The Consulting Partners was my topic.  We started all as independent consultants – some already having a practice others encouraged to start a consulting practice.  The common thread was a relationship with Pat or one of the Table Group folks.  We were about t 10 in the beginning five years ago and now there are about 20 of us.  We are an interesting collection of talent.  Each year when we gather we have grown, and as we grow, like any group, we face the challenges of bringing in new folks, dealing with changes in direction, structure or expectations.

This was no different.  Only now we have some significant decisions to make about who we want to be because we have grown up and have a great opportunity to really take this awesome simple wisdom into organizations in a way that can make a difference.

I don’t agree with everyone’s view in the room.  But that’s just what makes it all so special.  I don’t have to.  I can be a part of a group that is becoming a team that has diverse lifestyles, beliefs, desires for growth and a broad range of skills and talents.  The sum of our differences gives us the potential to reach such a broader audience and really make a difference in the health of organizations.

Organizational health is all about finding ways to make the workplace a place for everyone.  If I want to call myself an organizational health expert then I better be making sure my ‘organization’ is healthy.  That’s is what is so cool about being a part of The Table Group and The Table Group Consulting Partners we continue to make sure we are healthy and smart.  We practice the simple wisdom we offer and that is what I think makes all the difference and keeps me committed to being a part of something worthwhile.

Cycling Through 50 & Beyond

I will be turning 50 in 2010.  As a way of marking the significance of the year I am planning a bike touring trip with friends in Croatia.  I have entertained the idea of a fancy bike tour in Europe for years.  Many things have stopped me from making the trip happen.  I did not want to ride alone and the last time I did any touring in Germany that was the case.  Now I have a partner and some friends who are game for riding as long as we have a sag wagon and comfy places to rest at night.  Since I am turning 50 I too think comfort and ease is a good idea.

Biking has been a part of my life since I was five and was able to take my first breakfast ride with my father and older sisters to Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House.  I was proud and thrilled to pedal my way to food and have memories of this being part of our family route throughout the first decade or so of my life.

I was not always so joyful about biking with my Dad.  Sometimes he would get us lost or take the longest route between two points possible, and as a young kid, I thought that was unnecessary.  However, my dad is turning 90 and still bikes, actual these days he rides a fancy recumbent trike.  So I am thinking something must right about his biking style.  I can only hope at 90 I am still riding.

Over the years between five and forty-five I have had a variety of biking moments.  I became a bit of a biking snob for a while, priding myself in having the best gear and using my bike as a primary means of transportation.  I had a brief desire to bike across the country, but after a few treks down the east coast, found biking on America highways not so great.  I stayed off the road on trails for awhile after that.

Throughout my biking life I have continued to take a few rides each year with my dad.  He has gotten out on his bike most every day since retirement.  On his 80th, the whole family gathered to take the big bike ride to the local ice cream parlor, instead of Aunt Sarah’s.  Following my dad’s path, the ride took considerably longer than the five mile distance between where they live and parlor – but it was his day and it was neat to have three generations of family riding along with my dad leading the way.

A few years ago I invested in a nice road bike.  In many ways I feel like I did when I was five.  I love riding these days.  May be it is the bike – it is light, sleek and fast.  Or may be it is that I am approaching 50 and no longer feel like I need to compete or ride hard.  I simply ride to enjoy the scenery, the freedom.

I sometimes get lost and often take the longest path between two points.  I am guessing I am more like my dad than I ever wanted to admit growing up.

I am about to turn 50 and can’t think of a better way to celebrate than taking a bike ride.  Of course, the tour needs to provide great food and hopefully an ice cream parlor on the big day.  My dad won’t be in Croatia, but I am fairly certain on his 90th this year we’ll be taking a ride somewhere.

Collective Consciousness: Montana Style

A few years back I had a chance to listen to Bruce Lipton speak.  Bruce is a macro-biologist who thinks quite differently then the rest of his peers about what is really going on inside cells.  At that time he was focused on our beliefs and how our beliefs impact the cells in our body.  The idea that  basically cells are either defending or growing and that our beliefs are what give the signal to the cell.  Most macro-biologist believe genetics has more weight in the growth/defend life cycle of cells but Lipton has been challenging that idea for quite a while.

Now he has gotten interested in humankind as a whole.  His latest book is looking at humanity as a living being.  I quite enjoyed some of his ideas.  As someone who ‘miraculously’ healed from cancer, I could easily relate to his idea that healing comes through a paradigm shift in thinking.  I also loved the idea of applying what we are learning about a single cell and an individual to the broader human kind system.  The idea that our world is in a crisis is easy to accept.  It is also pretty clear that trying to ‘fix’ the crisis or attack the problem by cutting out the ‘bad’ parts is not effective.  His answer is simply that we must shift our thinking from that of being individually conscious to becoming collectively conscious.

Now this is not really a new way of thinking. New age folks and various other indegenious people have been thinking this way a long time.  However, it is pretty new and unique in the world of science.

I am also thinking this idea of collective consciousness is not quite what most of us are thinking it is.  I hear a lot of people talk about oneness and collective consciousness and often interpret what I hear as a need for us to all harmonize and come together in some unified concrete way.  However,  if Lipton’s idea has any validity and we look at how our cells work together in the body,  I would say it’s not about being more alike and unifying in that way.  It is more about being okay being different and unifying through our differences.

Montana is an example of what I mean.  Montana is a state that has more variety of beliefs and opinions then many large cities.  In any little town like Whitefish or Butte you can find diversity in thought and opinion in any cafe or bar and instead of fighting and separation there seems to be a Montana code:  you accept me and I’ll accept you and let’s live in this great space together. Now I think that is movement towards collective consciousness and is something worth considering on a broader level.

I have my thoughts about how people need to change; however, I am pretty clear that would be the hardest and least effective path to creating a global shift. That was Lipton’s point.  Cells either grow or defend – it’s the same with people.  Try to force someone to change and all they’ll do is defend; accept them and who knows.  May be it is okay that we are all different.  Maybe that’s the way it was designed.  Once we are okay with that,  well, then we could live in this great space together!

My Cardinal Rule: Own My Gossip!!

Couldn’t sleep. Lots of thoughts running through my mind and it is a full moon. I have also heard that Mercury goes to retrograde sometime very soon and even though I do not live my life dictated by star charts I do respect the fact that anything as vast and uncharted as our universe can indeed impact and breakdown communication channels. I do not know know enough about astrology to make that a subject of this post, however, I do have some thoughts about communication.

What’s foreground for me today is some crucial conversations I need to have. I like to think of myself as a fairly good communicator willing to engage in tough conversations as needed and equally willing to be vulnerable and own my part in communication breakdowns. People often tell me this is a strength of mine. However, my sleepless night tells me that I am resting on my laurels so to speak.

I know this because I am breaking one of my cardinal rules for keeping my energy clear.   The rule:   Own my gossip.  Meaning if I am saying something about someone else I want to know inside myself that I have, would or will say that same thing to them in person directly when I get the chance.

Living by this rule as been instrumental in keeping me healthy and in building better relationships.  But like anything good for me it is not always easy to live by.  I have many ways of rationalizing my need to gossip.

  • I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings
  • I need to clear this up myself first and really it is no big deal
  • I’m not gossiping I am just venting
  • Mercury is in retrograde so it’s not a good time to have this conversation

There are more I could add to this list and each of us has our own spin on the reasons we don’t clean up our gossip.  The point is, I know that when I start drawing on this list I’m walking the slippery slope down a path that leads to broken down communication, dishonest relationships and unhealthy, sleepless nights for me.

I know people have all sorts of reactions to the word gossip.  Personally I think we all do it and that gossiping isn’t the problem.  Gossiping can actually be a very good thing.  I often talk about folks who are far away with friends that are present and we laugh and get in touch with our warmth and feelings for the person we both know.  That’s one form of gossip.  In other words, of course I talk about my friends, colleagues and family ‘behind their backs’ (when they are not around)   I would hope so,  they are the most important people in my life!  The real issue is have I had the conversation I need to have directly with them.  Shared directly the good stuff andthe not so good stuff.  When I have,  gossiping is a great way to keep my heart open to those I love who I don’t always get to speak too directly.

Back to today and me:  I am not owning my  gossip.  I am saying things about someone I care about that I know I have not said and don’t really want to say directly to them.

Yes having the conversation now will be harder because I broke my rule so the job just got tougher.  Still the sooner I have the crucial conversation the better.

I am hoping by tomorrow’s post I will have cleaned up my communication channels and if not I sure hope I am not blaming Mercury.  This is my own doing.

Blogging Blues

I have been offline now for two days. It all started when I tried to put video into one of my post. Seems there was a problem with the image files, they looked uploaded but never made it to the screen. I probably could have lived without the images, however, I soon discovered there were a few other little issues happening somewhere inside the code or in the interface between WP and my hosting company. End result – Blog down.

Fortunately my friend who got me up and running took charge and managed the effort going on behind the scenes. She worked with my hosting site and someone and India to eventually resolve the issues. I do not quite know how it got so bad or what is really fixed now but I am back online.

What I learned from this brief shutdown is that I have grown attached to the blogging process. I don’t have a huge following but the folks who are reading have become important to me. I enjoy tossing out my ideas and hearing back your comments. I never would have thought I would be someone who would suffer from Blogging Blues; however it seems even with only a few weeks under my belt I have become a Blogger!! And when I’m offline I miss the connection.

Thanks for hanging in even when the page was shutdown. I will do my best to get back up to speed!!