The Wednesday Reminder: Value Others More.

I am truly grateful for that Wednesday reminder I get thanks to that now old suggestion by the wonderful Lolly Daskal to start #OtherEsteem Wednesday on Twitter. I recently made an effort to revive it, which I blogged about here. (Thanks again, folks!)

Though it rises and wanes over there, it does serve as a reminder to me to walk my other esteem talk and practice, practice, practice. I find that the mere fact that it is that day of the week, nudges me toward writing about it, exploring it, coming back to it.

Recently, I have been participating in a 12 week program featuring otheresteem to celebrate the upcoming publishing of the much-awaited Spanish version of my book. Being with this bunch for 12 whole weeks on the subject, coming back to it, deepening, exploring has kept me nimble and made the relevance of practice even more evident.

I thought the same when I went to the theater with my son the other day. The show was a monologue about what being human means. The actor has been doing the same monologue for more than 20 years. Talk about practice! I bet he gets something different out of the experience every time, too!

What are the constants in your life that you come back to? Might valuing others become one of them and change the way you interact and view the people around you?

P.S. If you speak Spanish and want to take a peek at the program (first four weeks are free along with 5 other courses on Happiness, Image, Spirituality and Riches) click HERE.

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Allow yourself to be inspired by Others.

Me, Blessed

The intention was to have a word for it. I wanted people to be able to think about valuing others easily and readily. Especially the coaches I was training. We coined that word together to refer to the opposite side of a two way street: valuing others one way and self in return, or the other way around. Many of us have found it creeping into our everyday awareness. We use the word liberally and it helps us remember others on a daily basis.

But the concept also does something else for me. It allows me to be constantly inspired by others and the way they live, learn, work, connect. It lets me see beyond the outer shell and into the best they give out into the world. So, as a byproduct of the four practices I have found myself inspired beyond what I had experienced before. In awe of what people are capable of and thankful for what they open up in me. So today I write this post with great gratitude for what each and every person I encounter teaches me about who I am and who I can become.

So if it is inspiration you are looking for, look no more! It’s all around you if you choose to accept, appreciate, expect the best and feel grateful for your relationship to others. So, what do you say? WIll you allow yourself to be inspired by others? I highly recommend it! It is a simply wonderful feeling and highly productive experience.

 

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On Mediocrity and Conversations with Authors.

This week I have two reflections to share on otheresteem. The first comes from a response I had to a Facebook update by the always inspiring Dave Carpenter. He was talking about “creeping mediocrity” and how some of us come to lower expectations without even noticing. Provocative thought, as I have come to expect of him 😉 My response was:

“Creeping mediocrity, huh? I need only keep having high positive expectations of others and it rubs off on what I want from ME, too!”

 

I find this to be true and, as I explain in the book, it is one of the reasons I love working on the otheresteem practices, especially expectation that it comes full circle and ultimately boosts my self esteem. The truth is, if you can learn to value others, you will end up valuing yourself more. And if you make sure you don’t lower expectations but expect the very best from those around you, then how could you not offer to give the very best yourself?

The second reflection is about an book I just finished. Really good books bring up a bittersweet feeling for me. It’s nice to get something done, but it is also difficult to part with this nighttime companion; to end my imagined conversations with the author.  I feel empty, sad that it’s over. Like an old friend that I will miss. I find myself so attached to the ideas that I wish the book was longer. So, in saddened emptiness, I picked up the nearest book. It was not a new one. It was my own. I figured just a few words before drifting off to sleep. At first, I noticed everything I would now write differently, or correct (yeah, I do that). But upon letting go of the criticism – and remembering I am not so strict with other authors – I started really having that conversation with myself. How much have I been practicing? How can I deepen it? Am I still committed to these musings?

Would you like to know the answers? Not enough….By just doing it more…I am! Nice things to discover before drifting off to sleep. I think I’ll stick with this one, to the end. 😉

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Changing your mind might change the whole story.

We all write a story for ourselves. We put in the characters we meet along the way and we assign them a role to play. The more we treat them like we’ve written them, the more they seem to play their role. Sometimes they behave as expected, sometimes we need to stretch the storyline a bit. But once they are written in, it’s up to the original author to change who they are.  I know you, as I, have changed your mind about people. But, truthfully, not very often.

As you are the main character in the story of your life, you feel the need for antagonists. You want to know you are conquering truth and virtue and all that’s good. So sometimes, you feel you have to go up against someone. And you do. You write in the villians and expect them to behave accordingly. They are wrong, mean, bad, stupid, selfish, dorky, unreliable or all of the above. They make YOU look, by comparison, right, kind, good, smart, selfless, polished and reliable. Isn’t that nice?

Well, sometimes. The thing is, this a LONG story. And having someone be the villain all the time is not only boring, but suddenly not helpful to make you look good and, of course, FEEL good. Deep down you know you aren’t all of those things because of them, but actually, in spite of them or regardless of them. As you become aware of your contribution to the writing of the story, you understand that they can be exactly as you depict them, or someone else entirely.

So consider doing like a long-running soap opera. The characters shift around. Bad guys get knocked on the head and forget to be bad. Cynics fall in love and show good will. Choose a few characters you would like to befriend and rewrite their story. Give them space to move into a different way of being, to redeem themselves. Make that angry, abusive person the one who could use some appreciation. Make that bully the one who feels left out. Switch it around a bit.  Rewrite in a way that allows you to value them more.

I actually took to pen and paper to rewrite a few of my “character” descriptions. Changing theirs changed the relationship of my character to them. It made me act in different ways and expect a wider range of reactions. Try it out! Let’s see what this rethinking can do for you and how you value the people around you. You might discover some unexpected attributes in people you thought you knew. Positive ones that make YOU look and feel pretty good.  You could even write in a happier you! Expectation is a powerful ally for building otheresteem.

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Self-Care as Otheresteem

I know it is kind of a gender thing. But it can happen to anyone. You are so set on helping others, taking care of business, making the world a better place – and all that jazz – that you have little time for yourself. I know I have been there. And many of my friends and associates have too! So how can you take self-care seriously when there is so much to do for everyone else?

One day, I was picking my kids up from school and I was cheerfully singing along with them. One of those precious moments. My youngest boy looked up at me, beaming and said “Mommy, why are you in such a great mood?” I smiled back. I told him I was happy, but not about anything in particular. “Aren’t I always like this?” He rolled his eyes and looked over at his brothers. “No.” It dawned on me that I was always running everywhere and probably not so aware of my reactions. I was tired and stressed being super-mom and super-exec and super-friend and all that. It probably didn’t help them very much.

That night, I was meditating about the episode. Could it be that my kids deserved better? A better me? A calm, relaxed, well-fed, well-excercised mom? Yeah, it’s a self-esteem issue. If you like yourself enough you are supposed to make time for yourself. But in the midst of being there for others, it doesn’t always sink in. I believe I like myself reasonably well. I also like being super-everything. So I am. When I can. And I can, because I am also super-there-for-me.

So if whoever “yourself” is has a soft, soft voice, listen to the voice of others. They deserve the best you there is. And that’s just not possible without consistent self-care.  So now, I can spend time on the treadmill and at the beauty parlor, and reading and meditating. Not a lot of time, mind you, but good quality time. And, lo and behold, I do think I like my self a little more now.

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Finding new things in old friends.

Love is a curious thing. It moves the world. It creates momentum for most everything we do. And, sometimes, it moves us away from truly valuing who a person is. Just because you love someone – even if you tell them every day like Bruno Mars does 😉 – doesn’t mean you are valuing who they are, what they are becoming, how they are evolving. So here’s an otheresteem tip to practice acceptance and appreciation really close to home. Remember we are building a practice so every opportunity helps.

Today, make it a point to LOOK CLOSER. Look into that person’s eyes and see what you routinely miss when you look at that particular person. Really listen. Notice what they say. What they do and how they do it. Allow your awareness to take you where you haven’t been before. To find new things in old friends. Smile as you do this. Make a mental or actual note of what it is you hadn’t noticed before and marvel in it. Deepen your acceptance practice and if you can, even allow yourself to discover what made you miss that before.

Next, move to the second practice: appreciation. Of everything you now noticed, what stands out as something you enjoyed discovering? Make sure you share that tidbit. Just being noticed enough is an exercise in appreciation. Let the sweetness shine through. Stretch. Acknowledge. Smile together.

And give yourself extra credit for practicing otheresteem where it really counts!

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Make room for those who’ve let you down.

Chances are, you have a collection of those! If you’ve lived long enough, some people will have let you down in one way or another. Not that they mean to, but unless you have absolutely NO expectations for the people around you (A rare thing in the people I’ve come across in my lifetime!), you know exactly what I am talking about here.

Take my client this morning. She was complaining that one of the individuals on her team – exactly her nominee for “most likely to succeed” – just acted in a dishonest way that made her question what was going on. She felt hurt and “took it to heart”, she said. Feeling let down, she was considering never trusting this particular colleague again. So much for her hopes for the future of this person’s carreer! It was a dumb move to make and an awkward subject for both of them to discuss.  In a way, it seemed she might be covering up for someone else. It reminded me of the incident in Scent of a Woman (see my post at LeadChange Group later this week for more on that) and how I was unsure if the kid’s sense of loyalty was well placed. Still, he was acting according to what he thought was right, and just. He was simply being the kind of person he wanted to be in the first place. You have to respect that.

Otheresteem is all about acceptance. About moving past incidents where things are not exactly as they should be. How can this be done? For all the heartache and anger and fear that people bring out in each of us when they let us down, we still have a choice. We can accept what is. Protect ourselves only of what we need to and not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Is there no place for appreciation of someone who has proved less than perfect? Someone who did not live up to what we had expected?

Make room for those who have let you down. Be generous, if you may. Be kind, if you need to distance yourself from them. But always learn a lesson. Understand why that particular thing was so important to you. And if you can move beyond the fear, talk about it.

I told my client this morning that if she wanted to move forward and continue to build her collaborator’s potential as she had originally intended, she needed to do a few things.

First, set the record straight. Tell your truth. Listen to hers. Get the facts in line and the feelings on the table. Explain why this is important to you and tell her how you feel.

Then, lay out the groundwork for a different future. It can be something like: “This is NOT the way I want us to relate.” or “I really want this to work.” or “I will do everything I can to get this relationship back on track, and I would like you to do the same.”. There are many creative ways to set great expectations. The fallout is a wonderful time to practice the third aspect of otheresteem.

And last but not least, remember: Trust is yours to give. It is always an act of generosity and a risk to take. There is payoff for giving it as there is for retaining it. Choose wisely, but don’t fool yourself into believing that it is up to them to earn your trust. In the end, it’s about losing your own fear that things will go terribly wrong.

 

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The Joy of Not Having to Be Right

 

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It’s so liberating and empowering! When I feel myself struggling to explain my view and wanting so bad to be right, I remember I still need to practice acceptance. So I switch to understanding mode.

I consider that, as Billy Joel would say: “I may be right.”, but then again, “I may be Crazy.”

Take Twitter for example. Many of you know I am a Twitter (and other Social Media, for that matter) enthusiast. I wasn’t always that way, though. Once I was more of the Mr. Becky opinion, thinking Twitter was a definite waste of precious time. I had tried it briefly and hated it, deciding I had much better things to do with my already scarce time available. But then one day, as I was reading about the millions of people on Twitter and listening to some people on LinkedIN that I had learned to respect, talk of it’s wonders, it dawned on me:

Was I right about this and millions of people, wrong (or just plain stupid)?

I realized that was a pretty smug and righteous position to take.  There was clearly something about the phenomenon that I still didn’t understand. Why were people drawn to it? Was it really important what someone was doing now, or having for breakfast? What was the allure? Just a mind-numbing experience or a breathrough game-changer?

A little fueled by my interest in being included and a little by the curiosity the previous questions brought up for me, I decided to give it one more go with a different perspective. One of the practices I was including in my upcoming book, Otheresteem was acceptance and this seemed like a good chance to walk my talk. In this case, it meant moving to understanding why others enjoy this. Seeking to understand. Supposing that not ALL of the millions were stupid, and some may even be smarter than I! 😀

So I put myself on a Twitter “diet” just as I had previously done on LinkedIN (though, being so very “professional” and “down to business” I admit I loved the ANSWERS section and GROUPs there almost immediately)

The diet consisted of daily doses of 15 minutes every day on Twitter, to experience it. Whether I enjoyed it or not. Thus began my journey every morning. I tweeted interesting links. Followed as many people as I could keep up with (I figured at the time, 10 was about it) and hated most of it. Then, I started asking about all the stuff I didn’t understand (What’s a RT?, Why #FF?, What’s interesting about repeating what someone else says?, Why did you thank me?, What made you want to follow me? and many others that came up each day) So with my newfound knowledge, I created a stricter diet:

  • 5 minutes of looking at the full timeline with more and more interesting people in it (following anyone who’s tweets looked like something I wanted to be reading)
  • 5 minutes of connecting, conversing, addressing others
  • 5 minutes of sharing my message, ideas, information of value.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Now I am a Twitter enthusiast. I currently follow 4114 people and am followed by 5407 if you count both my Twitter accounts (@monedays to tweet in English and @monediaz in Spanish). I love every minute I spend there, though it’s not always 15 a day and I finally understand what I am doing on Twitter and why so many people rave about it.

If you know me at all, you know that I am not always in agreement with the crowd and I am kind of weird that way. So, I may have decided it wasn’t for me once I understood why others enjoy it, like so many other tastes I just don’t share with the mainstream. But, boy, am I glad I tried this one out! I was definitely not right about it. And I now have actual friends to add to my life (contrary to popular belief I already had a rich social life before Social Media 😉 ), business ventures, idea sharing, an upcoming book written with wonderful women and many, many more things to be thankful for.

And one of them is the sheer joy of not having to be right!

If you are on Twitter, remember this and every Wednesday to tweet about valuing others more. You can join the Stream of Otheresteem by using the hashtag #OtherEsteem. Raise awareness. Create Momentum. Build your otheresteem “muscle”!

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Could we start again, please?

This morning that wonderful song rings in my ears. Could we? I am thinking #OtherEsteem Wednesdays on Twitter. 😉 Sure! Why not?  So here’s my Wednesday post and I invite you to join me to tweet about valuing others more today! See the past post on the subject or check in on how it’s going at the Stream of Otheresteem!

Dealing with anger is such a difficult thing! Especially when that anger is directed straight at you. So painful is it, that we immediately want to discredit the person in our minds and distance ourselves emotionally from them, making sure that we do not believe what they say about us. Practicing otheresteem becomes so counter-intuitive then! This morning a good friend wrote me a Facebook message asking for help. She said a subordinate at her office went on an anger spree yesterday, telling her a bunch of things and that she was the worst boss in the world, ever! (Trust me, I have seen worse in my day.) Staying on acceptance, appreciation, moving towards understanding becomes such a challenge in case like this. So – deep breath first – I usually go to the 1% rule my mentor Will Schutz taught me:

What is the 1% where I believe this person to be right?

If I can find that, I will know what is getting me defensive. I can move past that, work on it if I want. I can allow myself to listen past the anger. To understand how this person got to this state and how I am involved both in the road there and in the way out. Deep breath again, and I am ready to accept that this person in angry. I can appreciate her being brave enough to tell me, even in the worst of ways. I can be thankful for the nuggets of understanding about myself in relation to her. I can see possibility beyond my defensiveness. I can be grateful for the opportunity this presents.

Can otheresteem be disarming in this case? Yes. I have seen it happen. Can it help me gain further understanding of myself and the other? That, too.

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Graceful Goodbyes.

Image from Montessori Services

Image from www.montessoriservices.com

I am inspired this week by the flawless application of otheresteem practices by one of my close friends in a difficult situation. No, she did not read my book. Yet she embodies everything I aim to express there. The grace, the care, the power! My friend is at a crossroads in her life. This very week she is ending a marriage of more than 30 years. It was a happy marriage. Except, of course, for the pain, the suffering, the squabbling, the loneliness and dispair of the last few years. Those were hard. Trying times and confusing situations that have brought about her share of anger, tears, frustration.

My friend has been a lifelong learner. Her interests have taken her to therapy, to study the enneagram, to healing with a Brennan technique practitioner, lifecoaching and many other explorations. After some prodding on my part, she also participated in The Human Element basic course with us and went on to become a certified trainer two years ago. That last experience seemed to click with her. It made her explorations of self take on new meaning and her previous experiences seemed to integrate so well that she went on a professional roll! As she worked through relationships in her life and made major changes in every aspect with the help of her coach, she has been blossoming and creating great possibilites for herself and others. But on the home front, things that were already unraveling were doing so at an accelerated pace.

After one particularly hideous fight with him, she wrote a letter to the person she calls her “best friend in life”, her husband of more than 30 years. In that letter, she accepted the end with grace, recognizing that he had changed and now wanted things to be different in a way that she did not. She described how she saw things without judgement, only clarity. She appreciated so many wonderful years together. The longest, most important friendship of her life. The children. The growing up together. The laughs and the support. She set highest expectations for the future: that they could work through this in peace and love. That they could part well and in time, recover the friendship that had started it all. That they would resolve material issues and secure the boys’ future. And she stated all that she was grateful for in the relationship they held together, the one they still have now and the one they will create in the future.

As she was telling me all this, I had the image of Montessori’s long, black strip. Their relationship being long and fruitful. She had laid it out and recognized that the horror of late was only a small part. A tiny white bit of a long, long experience. As a friend, I am so very proud of her. As a woman, I stand in awe and admiration. And as a human being, I am humbled by the beauty of otheresteem expressed. Today, in writing this, I feel blessed to know her and be a part of her life. Graceful goodbyes don’t get any better than this.

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