Winning Isn’t Everything

I remember years ago when Nike ran the ad; You don’t win Silver you lose Gold, I lost some respect for the Nike brand that day.  My heart sunk a bit when I realized that the marketing department was simply playing on one of the less than admirable traits we Americans seem to value: winning means everything.

Some might call me crazy or weak, but I just don’t think winning is everything.  Anyone who knows me, ( I think) would say this does not mean I am not competitive.  I love a good competition.  I enjoy winning.  I have also enjoyed losing.  My own way of judging the ‘game’ is not in the final score but in the quality of play.  Did I do my best?  Did I play fair?  Did I give 100% or more?  These all come before, did I win?

I get paid working in corporate America, and sometimes I am saddened by just how much winning trumps integrity, people and a good fight.  The price of this win-at-all-costs position is beginning to show up in sports heroes who are now known for doping, a banking industry that is riddled with fraud and international distrust and distaste for Americans.

I may sound unpatriotic but I don’t think so.  Our country was built not on winning but on freedom, personal responsible and integrity.  The Boston Tea wasn’t about winning.  It was about making a statement to the world that there was another way to rule, do business and make room for differences in religion and beliefs.

I want the best results but sometimes the best results are not the ‘winning’ results not if there are astericks next to the score that make it clear doping was involved or some other questionable means.

CrisMare won Silver at the World Champions.  Yes, the Romanians rowed across the finish line first, but to hear her tell the story it is clear her team won Silver and were thrilled at the results!!

I think I writing this because I just got back from working with another Canadian company in a different business sector and I loved it.  I loved working with a group of people who were competitive but equally humble.  I would hate to think that is just a Canadian quality.

I know folks poke fun at Canada at times.  They are not dominate or a superpower.  However, they are strong, good-willed, competitive and seem to being doing just fine.

I wouldn’t mind if a little of Canada rubbed off on corporate America.  I have worked with enough Americans executives to know some do feel the same way.

Winning isn’t everything and great results can come from playing hard, playing fair and being kind!!

Back Online

I am just returning from a wonderful yoga retreat down in Mexico.  I haven’t been online or in touch with anyone outside of my other yogis for over seven days.  The retreat center does not have electricity in any of the open air living spaces and recommends  ‘disconnecting’ for the time you are there.  Last year I went and packed as many batteries and power packs as possible for fear that I would need to get online, watch a show or call someone.  I didn’t and it was great!  This year my bags were lighter without all the extra power cells and once again I loved being disconnected.

Of course that also meant no blogging.  So now I am back sitting in the airport on my way to an event in Calgary.  I downloaded the mess of email that had collected over the week and I will eventually get back to all of that.  But I wanted to blog before the ‘high’ from a week of healthy eating and lots of yoga wears off.

Some might be thinking that after a week of yoga I most really be loose, flexible and enlightened.  However, that is not yet the case.  I have made progress in my yoga but honestly I am likely never to be someone who looks or acts very ‘yoga’ like.  I am too paranoid, direct and hyperactive for a total transformation.  Still I am discovering some wonderful aspects of breathing and aligning through yoga.

Our group was quite the spectrum of people.  Most of us were coming from Montana and following our yogi master, Jodi Petlin.  We had beginner beginners, various injured folks, some immediate folks and some advanced beginners.  We also had folks who had never gone a day without an expresso or a burger and the food at Harmara is glutten-free, meat free, mostly vegetarian and no sugar. We were not the typical group that came for a yoga week.  Yet I loved the contrast, the ‘realness’ and the opportunity to watch a master (Jodi) deal with such a range and still manage to give each of us a path for advancing our own practice.

Of course I had my moments of trying too hard, forcing my body into poses without breath and forgetting this was suppose to be fun and relaxing.  I also had some wonderful moments of doing something I did not think I could (a headstand and backbend); laughing through a mediation (a full body laugh that felt great!), making new friends with folks who are part of my community back home as well as connecting on a deeper level with friends who had joined us for the week.

The time was rich and yes I would love to linger in the mellowness that was a part of being disconnected and offline.  But just like yoga is a practice that is designed to impact my day not just the one or two hours I am practicing.  This past week shouldn’t really be about staying offline or out of the choas, it should be about being calmer and more relaxed diving right back in.  I will let you know how it goes!!  For now I will breath and go get on a plane!!

Hanging on To The Fire Hose!

I feel like 2010 is starting out a bit like a fire hose and I am trying to keep control without much success.  When I have had a chance to sit down to blog I have found my mind too busy to focus on any one subject long enough to write.  Sure I could tell you about the current Bailey challenges.  However, a dog’s digestive tract just doesn’t seem like a topic worth sharing.  There have been some really positive things happening.  We found an excellent trainer and are regularly going to class as well as puppy and dog social hours.  This has been time well spent because Bailey is enjoying a great variety of dogs of all ages and sizes and we are getting trained along the way.

Then there’s work which is picking up.  We had an excellent session with a team we had not been with for a while.  They have done some great work building cohesion and clarity based on some of the original work we did.  It’s neat to see what folks do with what they have learned!!  Now we are prepping for a much larger group.  Shortly we’ll be presenting in front of a group of 150 financial folks.  This will be bit more challenging because there is more of a speaker element to the day and we will be talking more to leaders then to teams.  I like the challenge and of course with anything new there is some anxiety.

Then there’s the Board that I am on for the school I am a part of here in Whitefish.  Last year was a year of significant transition for the school and though I think we did a good job of shifting from a founder as leader to a broader group of folks leading,  we are still dealing with some transition issues.  The founder hasn’t found the shift easy and there’s tensions that have yet to resolve.  Because the school is a centered around a spiritual community and focus there is a belief that the issues are somehow unique.  I am not so sure about that.  Basically the hardest issues the school faces seem pretty much the same as any business I have worked with – breakdowns in communication and silo’s activity that slows down overall progress.

Of course I also am trying to stay enagged in the various activities happening at The Haven.  As part of the core faculty there I like to stay as informed as possible.  I love the times that I am there leading programs.  Over five years ago The Haven went through it’s on transition as Ben and Jock stepped away from being involved in day to day operations.  That transiton was very difficult for me because The Haven was more family then buisness.  I struggled with the shift and at one point pulled way back. I have reengaged though not quite at the same level.  Some of that is because I moved to Montana and I am not at The Haven as much or in contact with folks who are there as frequently.  Some of it is because I have become more enagged in the community out here and don’t have the band width to stay fully present in both worlds.

So my life is busy.  I have no doubt everyone goes through their own version of juggling what’s most important in their lives.  It’s not easy to keep a healthy balance.

I do have a image in my mind of trying to control a fire hose with the water turned on full force.  Right now I feel like the hose is whipping around in too mnay directions.  I either need to get a firmer grip on the hose to control the flow or I need to expand the hose so the water has more room to flow.

Next week I’ll be offline at a yoga retreat. Lots of time to figure out which way I want to go!

Invictus – My Holiday Best Film Award!!

I am thinking I saved the best for last in terms of new holiday movies.  Though it appears from crowds and revenue that Avatar is the big hit, personally I think the best film is Invictus.  I have been a fan of Nelson Mandala for a long time primarily because of his book, A Long Road to Freedom and his beliefs about freedom. Mainly that freedom involves tremendous responsibility and that the oppressed is only as free as  his oppressor is allowed to be.  His views are a paradigm shift and the movie Invictus in my opinion demonstrated the shift I was looking for in Avatar.

May be it takes 27 years of imprisonment to get to that point.  However, I don’t think so.  Yes it takes that in the beginning.  Much like it takes monks years and years of mediatating to get their brains waves to a certain state.  However, those monks did the hardest work and now those of us that follow can reach that same state much easier.  Mandela changed his heart and mind through years of imprisonment.  He then came back into his world and through living and being in the world gave many a chance to experience that same shift simply by being in his presence and rediscovering/remembering their own heart connection.

Mandela’s courage and commitment to model and live what he believed was amazing.  There are so many parts of this film that are worth remembering.  But I don’t want to give away the movie I trully believe it is worthwhile for everyone to see.

I think why it worked was resonance and a collective emotional rallying cry.  Mandela was like a tuning fork walking through the world.  No matter what people thought or how many people doubted him he stayed consistent and spoke his truth.  I think people felt it and like with tuning forks began to resonant and remember the same frequency inside themselves.  The second gift he offered was the foresight to see an amazing opportunity to rally people around a common goal.  He saw his people’s love of rugby/sport and rallied the country around a team.  (I will not say more & that much is in the trailer!).

This is something we encourage leaders in companies to use instead of revenue and profit.  A rallying cry is emotional and touches the hearts of many.  It is short term (6months, nine months a year) and allows for collective focus, forward movement and relatively quick success.  This type of collective goal pulls people beyond their differences and allows them to forget or be distracted from their own pain long enough to connect and potentially jump to a new place – a paradigm.

I hope anyone reading this blog goes to see Invictus.  We are not all Nelson Mandela and likely most of us will not change the world as he did.  But resonance is not about being the loudest tone it is simply about being consistent and strong.  Resonance is the embodiment of : be the change you are wishing for.  If we can each do that we can and will impact the world – and the world can change!