Getting To Clarity & Connection

I am spending the day in the house. I woke up this morning running a fever. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am not one that likes to rest and recover, I tend to overdo.  But I really want to kick this cold/flu, or whatever it is, out of my system. So I am willing to spend a day inside. I hope CrisMarie will be willing to pick up some Rice Dream for me when she heads out. I don’t have much of an appetite but Ice (Rice) Dream sounds wonderful!

I have a book to read, papers to work on, my computer and a variety of beverages sitting on my bedside table. I am working on a newsletter article about Pat Lencioni’s book, Naked Consulting. Basically the book is all about being real and authentic—and that is why I love it. I don’t want to give away the newsletter by writing too much about the book, but I think it’s a great read. Of course the title is a bit provocative. We sent a copy to an HR friend and she said this book would be an HR nightmare. There’s no doubt Pat probably was hoping for that type of reaction. 

While the title may be potentially an HR nightmare, the subject matter really isn’t an HR issue.  HR departments have simply become the enforcers of programs, guidelines, and policies, set up to overcome longstanding prejudices and ignorance about the differences between people and power. I’ve never thought that laws and policy were a very effective solution for relational dynamics. Sometimes laws give a certain amount of comfort, defining for someone the parameters of certain types of behavior that are either bad or wrong. This can confirm a person’s opinion, but it doesn’t necessarily create a significant change in attitude. People might learn to say the right words but it is unlikely to really change their views and may even create more distance.

So what is the solution? I think the best way to create a shift in attitude and behavior is by learning to understand the impact certain behaviors have on others. Instead of counting on a policy to ensure that inappropriate language is not used in the workplace, I have to speak up whenever I see it happening.  Not just when it happens to me but, even more importantly, as an accountability measure when I see someone I work with saying or doing something to someone else that I find offensive. Not to make them wrong, but to be real and authentic and in the moment is when I believe real change can happen.

When I have done this—I have been surprised by the results. Often I have either learned something very valuable about the person I was speaking to, which in turn influenced my position. Or they were curious about my reaction and we had an dialogue that I would later discover had a positive impact on them.  Of course this does not ensure change or agreement, but when it comes to relationships, that is not really the most important outcome. The most important outcome is clarity and connection by way of authentic and real conversation.

A Boardroom Blog: Visiting Family

Another day in the Alaska Boardroom. I am traveling home after a day of coaching and visiting family. I must admit that one of our best investments has been this Alaska Boardroom pass. Who would have thought?  I almost enjoy getting to the airport for the required two hour wait because I can sit and get fast internet, not to mention free beverages, chips and fruit. So here I am again.

Yesterday I flew into town for some coaching and visits with clients. We had also intended to be here for a one day off-site that was postponed. With the extra time I decided to visit my folks, John and Bernie, who live about an hour from Seattle in Lacey, WA. I have been waiting for a chance to visit. My dad will soon turn 90 and even though I have no doubt he intends to live beyond that memorable number, I knew he had been dealing with a bad, unrelenting cold. I am not sure if I was worried more about him, or my mother, who often not only cares for him, but also helps with other elderly friends who are in various stages of moving on.

For many years I was quite distant from my family as I worked through some resolved childhood issues. During that time, my parents seemed to find their own creative ways of filling the gap. While I was doing tons of personal growth work, they were exploring Edgar Cayce’s, A Course in Miracles, and various other new age/energy type work.  When we finally reconnected, I discovered there were similarities between us that I otherwise would have never known. Like my mother’s interest and skills in working with energy, for instance, and my father’s desire to be known as the Cosmic Man.  Now, when we get together, I often am intrigued by their outside-the-norm lifestyle. Their current reading material is almost always interesting and includes some titles I make sure to write down. I can also count hearing some interesting stories about my mother’s Healing Touch work and my Dad’s latest athletic pursuit. At 90, he has just decided that he will shift from Ping Pong (which he’s done on a large scale in their community), to the Wii machine. I suggested he might like revisiting his tennis days without the need for an overhead serve. I can imagine on my next visit he will have created some type of round robin interactive Wii event for the Panarama folks.

I am quite amazed at the life my parents live. They are very engaged.  Next week they are heading up to Canada and will be visiting one of my favorite locations—the Wikkinnish Inn.

It is an amazing gift to me to be able to discover who my parents are as people. Not in the roles as Mom and Dad, but what makes them tick as individuals and what they choose to value and believe in. Sure, it has taken a lot of work on my part to get out of the old family patterns. Sometimes I can still get drawn in. But with this visit I just enjoyed connecting with them, listening to John convince me to read his latest book club book, The Elegance of the Hedge Hogs, and helping Bernie with a computer project.  As I worked my way through the cluttered harddrives my mother has created, which contain everything from pictures to poetry, finances to educational materials, I could tell I was indeed her daughter. My computer is just as crazy and I could hear myself saying the same things she does, “One of these days I will get this all in order”.  Sure she might, but what I liked was that she didn’t let keeping things organized and within control get in the way of compiling an awesome lifetime of experiences. Even John’s desk, which he too has been organizing, reveals the many layers of his life, kind of like a tree trunk.  Tidy but tons of rings.

I enjoyed walking through their world.  Knowing some bits and pieces of who they are as people and also confirming that, indeed, we are a family.

Well it’s about time for my flight.  So I’ll be on my way.

Simple Moments Of Joy

It’s a gorgeous day here in Montana: blue skies, sunny, and the mountains snowcapped and magical. I know we need more snow and I know all of the reasons this spring-like weather might mean a very difficult summer. However, I can not help but enjoy the moment! It is days like today that make it clear why I love living here!

So the Olympic Games are over and what a wonderful ending. The hockey game was perfect—played hard right to the final second and beyond, with Canada celebrating and laughing at themselves. In the end, the own the podiumseemed to have worked; at least in terms of gold medals and specially in terms of the hockey gold!

What’s next? As I mentioned before, Montana is sunny and warm. Bailey seems to have gotten kennel cough, so I am keeping him away from other dogs. CrisMarie is under the weather as well. I have a bunch of projects that should draw my attention. But for now I am happily sitting in The Green Tea House, blogging.

There are many things I could be worried about. I realize the future can hold some scarey prospects. I am not really one to focus on the negative; I am also not one that lives by affirmations or always looking on the bright side. However, when I consider the future, and have to decide if I want to believe in, a doomsday scenario or something else, well—I pick something else.

I have no idea what will happen in 2012, or any year for that matter, other than this one. The best I can do is fully commit to this moment and make the best choices I can for myself, others, and the planet.

I feel fortunate to have learned somewhere along my path how to fully embody joy. I have these moments when I just vibrate with life. Today, the Montana magic inspires that joyful resonance in me; Sometimes it a simple moment with CrisMarie. My heart is open and I am deeply in touch with loving my life. It is really the simple things that provide the greatest joy: a song, a touch, a taste, a smell or a gorgeous day. Indeed, the senses do heighten my joy meter.

I watch folks struggle with the state of their lives: not having the job they need, the partner they want, the health they have thought would be a given or the opportunities they see others getting. It’s easy to get caught up in any one of those situations at some point in the day or week or month. I can spend many hours, days or weeks trying to change the bigger picture, totally forgetting the simple little moments.

Yet I have learned to tap into some little sensory moment that will wake me back up. It starts by taking a deep breath and becoming aware; aware of what I am doing and aware of how I am separating. Suddenly that choice is highlighted and I usually get it. Take the moment, feel the joy, and let that simple little reflection of all that is possible help me re-member; meaning becoming a member of the whole. When I touch that whole-ness, either inside me or all around me, I do, for a moment, resonate with oneness, the source—whatever you want to call that which is so much more then me.  That nano second of contact is enough juice to alter my cells.

That simple little moment is magical. Today I am very in-touch with the joy. Maybe later I’ll lose it, but for now I am soaking it in.  Tomorrow just seems okay from here and now! Maybe that is just as it should be.