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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The Grateful Living

Gratitude is such an all-encompassing experience!

I know when I allow myself to fully acknowledge my own, it has a calming and focusing effect. Moreso when it is about the relationships I have with others. As one of the otheresteem practices, it is truly powerful. It can be done on your own and allowed to seep through your interaction with that person you are working on valuing more.

So, take a minute to center yourself. Breathe. Be. And now, direct your attention and energies to feeling grateful for having that person in your life. Like a meditation, if you find yourself focusing on the difficult aspects of your relationship, don’t fight it. Just move right back to gratitude. It helps for me to write a list on a piece of paper of all the things I am grateful for about this particular person and me interacting. You can do the same, or otherwise record the general feeling associated with this excercise. Draw, sculpt, sing. Art might be the only way to grasp the feeling. The point is, turn it into some token reminder. When I write the list, I make sure I carry it with me that day to revisit a few times more as the hours progress.

There is nothing you need to do at this point. Just be grateful for the relationship you hold together and see how this affects you and your view of the situation. Do you notice anything? Have you acted in consequence, by being kinder, perhaps or more understanding? Was the experience hard to hold on to, or pervasive as time went on?  The point is: be mindful of the effects.

Remember that, as the others, this form of gratitude is a practice. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t find it easy or effective at first. Keep at it and it will become effortless and natural in time.

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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Great Expectations mean Business

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So here we are in the middle of January and this is my first post here for 2011. (I better get my act together!) It’s been a great holiday and a bustling beginning of the year. I hope it has been good to all of you as well. As promised in my last post, here’s the story on how practicing expectations with a client resulted in a turnaround of events that will greatly benefit us both.

This is a long-time client of ours that has been on and off doing work with us for 20 years. We appreciate and value each other and have seen many a crisis go by. So, this year, they asked for help in a tough time and needed their culture up-to-speed with the challenges of a tight budget paired with exciting, risky, big, lofty new business coming their way. So, we were there working the magic hand in hand. The trouble was, that flow was only going one way. After a series of workshops, coaching clients and other work this year, my assistant came to me with a big problem. Most of their payments to us were overdue! Some of them terribly so.

She had tried all the usual. Made the calls, done the cajoling, been nice, tough, clear…all sorts of ways. She was now very frustrated with the whole deal. Since I have a close relationship with the Chairman of the board, she was asking me to pull some strings.  Yet, I felt it was a good time to empower her. So, instead, I helped her craft an email that went straight to great expectations practice!

In the email she explored why our relationship was important (long time, great history together), what the relationship is now (we have the intention of helping that shows up as this discount, that time-sensitive issue taken care of; you have not answered my emails, we have overdue payments), what she would like (more communication, a relationship of equal partners, to continue valuing each other clearly in what we do, to preserve a valuable relationship), and how it can be done (several options for response, all expecting them to be the very best they can). The email answer was almost immediate.

It had worked like a charm! All payments were made before the end of the year and right before Christmas, I got a call from the Chairman himself, apologizing for their inattention this year to our relationship and proposing some new, more productive ways to collaborate for the future.

How do you think YOU might change things if you expressed great expectations for your work associates? Who might you start with? Make it a relationship where there is not much to lose and see where it takes you.

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A fortunate accident

Yesterday my husband’s cell phone dialed on its own. A bit annoyed, he picked it up to see who it was dialing. An old friend and doctor we know. He smiled and figured he would like to say hello, after all. So he let it ring and when he answered told him he just wanted to say hi, know how he was doing and wish him the best for the holiday season. The reaction was overwhelming. Accustomed to being called on only in the event of a medical emergency or consult (our last call was how to stop a persistent cough while at the beach)  he was touched by the fact that my husband would think to call him. The fact is, we do love and appreciate him very much. Apparently, much more than my husband had let on. After the call, both men were left, no doubt, smiling and content.

Which got me thinking:

How about going for these random calls of otheresteem?

Yeah! Let’s pick a random number off the list and call to share some otheresteem. It’s a great way to practice and  a wonderful way to go beyond your personal picks. If you are anything like me, you try to stay straightforward and appreciative to the people nearest to you. But what about the ones spread further out? Like our doctor friend? Like so many others that haven’t made it to my to-do lists? So I am starting a random calls of otheresteem to-do as of this week. At least once a week for each of the four practices. We’ll see how it goes.

So, this is how I see it working:  I will write it in my schedule to make four “random”, “accidental” calls:

An acceptance call: “Just calling to let you know that I understand your point of view. That I can see that you… ” Just anything that this person might not be aware that I see, recognize and accept in them. Especially where they are different from me.

An appreciation call: “Just calling to say hello and tell you how much I appreciate your…” You know, that’s the easy one for me. 😉

An expectation call: “I am hoping we can create a better relationship in the future. The kind where we can…”  Well, talk without getting into a fight, express ourselves openly, trust eachother to do this or that… whatever positive expectation we are opening up for that person and ourselves.

(More on that in the next post! I just had a great expectation experience with an old client :) )

A gratitude call: “I am lucky to have you in my life. And grateful for our relationship. It means a lot to me that…” Simple enough, right? Well, it depends on who that random call recipient might be.

Still working out how to choose the random call recipients. Let me know if you try this out and I will keep you posted here in the comments how it’s going.

Oh, and one more thing… I DO appreciate your reading this post and leaving your reflections below. 2010 has been a great year to spread the Otheresteem ideas and I am thankful for the readers of this blog everywhere. Happy holidays and a great 2011 to you!

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Appreciation in the Midst of Year-End Madness.

Since the video post last week didn’t get much of a reaction, here I am back to writing. 😀

The end of the year approaches and I find myself, like many others, scrambling to finish everything I need to do before 2011. And as I do, I realize how many people have become important to me in the last 12 months. Some to my work, some to my family life, some with their friendship, their writing, their inspiration. So I have started a going checklist to which I add every day those people who come to my awareness. I write down a name and why they have been important this year.

Then, when I have a moment, I jot a quick note to let them know or make that phone call (“I just called to say…”). It is a joy and an energizing activity for me. It keeps me on my toes, fills me with warm feelings and doesn’t really interrupt my workflow. Rather, it’s a great breather before changing activities.

How about you?  Are you practicing appreciation? Add a bit to your list. You are sure to enjoy it.

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Graceful Goodbyes.

Image from Montessori Services

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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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