Forgiveness is such a strong word!

Have you ever had a hard time forgiving someone? I don’t believe anyone on the planet can answer no to that. Forgiveness. It’s such a strong word. Mainly because it takes us back to a time of pain when we felt hurt or we saw the worst of ourselves show its face, or we were just so unforgiving.

So let me show you the back door to forgiveness. If you’ve read this blog before, you can guess where I am going. No need to focus on the past. Stay present, in the here and now. Even if the person is gone from your life, search your memories only for instances of the four practices of otheresteem:

Accept who that person is. Suspend judgement for a while and just be open to discovering the person before you. What do they believe? How do they see the world?

Valuing another, stems from a deep respect of who that person is now.  I call this acceptance.  When we accept somebody, we are not trying to change them, but rather, understand who they are.  We feel in awe of their differentness from us and we strive to get to know them, to distinguish them from ourselves and from others

- From Chapter 1, Otheresteem

Appreciate the positive. What do you enjoy about them? How are they fun, strong, unique? What would you be able to see about them if you weren’t angry, hurt or frustrated with them?

Expect the best! Write a new story together, in which you leave space for them to show the best version of themselves. Be patient and behave as you do when you expect the very best from someone. Start small. A kind gesture, a smile. Make sure you notice.

When my otheresteem is positive for someone, I see them for what they are as well as for what they might become.  I can see beyond present shortcomings, into their ability to rise above them.

- from Chapter 1, Otheresteem

Be grateful for the relationship you hold together. Reflect on what you learn about yourself when you are in their company.

So , what do you think? Once you truly and deeply value that person, forgiveness frequently becomes a non-issue. Or you may find the right moment to express your feelings in a loving way. You are free from the past and ready for the future.

Of course, if you have been practicing otheresteem before, it will still be a challenge to practice with someone you feel you need to forgive. So walk the otheresteem path right to where it intersects with forgiveness. You might even enjoy the scenery!

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The Kindness of Strangers

Opportunities to practice otheresteem abound! It’s not just your immediate circle that benefits from your acceptance, appreciation, positive expectations or gratitude, even people you encounter casually can help you practice and give immediate feedback with their reactions to you.

In the book I mention looking into people’s eyes (the waitress serving you, the valet parking guy, the teller at the bank, fellow shoppers…) and asking their names as ways of accepting, considering and paying more attention to people. Some folks do this consistently and create an environment where people tend to feel comfortable. Be liberal with the smile, curious in conversation and open to input from people that seem interesting to you.

Actively appreciating the kindness behind services rendered to you is a wonderful way to make someone’s day AND energize yours! Make it a point to express appreciation at least once every given ammount of time. At first you can set a timer to remind you (a nudge that says “Quick! Appreciate someone!” on your phone or laptop will do. It’s fun to “have to” do it and always find someone worthy.

We all rely on the “kindness of strangers” much more than we care to admit. It won’t hurt to make sure we tell them and it will work wonders for your otheresteem practices. So thanks for reading this and pondering it’s impact in your life. Let me know if you make the effort and change something, as well as how it is working out for you.

I always rely on the comments of readers… just know that you really do make my day when you add your perspective to this blog :)

 

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Someone is driving you crazy? Look through.

Do you have an ongoing relationship in your life that just drives you up the wall?

It’s funny how we relate in a challenging and energy-sucking way with so many people. I know you have experienced this. After all, who hasn’t? I am talking about that person you feel you can’t cut out of your life, yet you suffer immensely in their presence. Every single time. It’s a test to your patience just to hang around this individual.  The worst you that you can be is just fighting to come out. You tell yourself she won’t get to you, but a few minutes into the conversation every cell in your body is vibrating, and not in a good way!

Well, let me just say: this is probably a GREAT opportunity for you to practice otheresteem. Nothing much to be lost and you can’t possibly feel much worse, so why not, I say.

So, I want to share with you a little game I play. It’s called looking through. Simple concept, actually. As I have a conversation with this person (and feel the exasperation coming on), I focus on looking through what he is saying, and into the good part of who that person is, what she is experiencing or aiming for, at the core. (Hint: it’s the POSITIVE part of them I am looking for and, yes, it’s hidden somewhere.)

Yesterday I was listening to an acquaintance go on and on bragging about how well he handled people being aggressive with him. He boasted that people tended to do that and went on to enlist his long list and ongoing collection of quarrels with people, known to me or not. Ugh! Not my favorite take on life. I found myself thinking: this is so stupid? Who in the world brags about fighting with others, antagonizing, being punched in the face and such? And then, I decided to play the look through.

As I continued to listen I looked intently. My head tilts a bit to the side when I do that. I realized he was saying how competent he was and how he usually came on top. He’s a survivor. He has turned this difficulty in relating into his way of life. It’s a hard life. And he feels strong for it. I breathed. I said, “You take pride in being strong. Surviving and winning.” He stopped the rambling description he was into. Sighed a bit and said “I’ve become quite good at that. The surviving mode.” and, finally, he laughed and went on to more amicable subject. What a rush! I understood him a bit more.

Wanna play? Try it out and tell me where it takes you.

….

P.S. Today is #Otheresteem Wednesday on Twitter, so if you are there, hop right in to the STREAM OF OTHERESTEEM!

 

 

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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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The distance between you and me

Distance is such a relative concept! I can feel close to people halfway around the world or distant to the person right next to me. So what is it that draws you closer to others and what drives you away? We each have our preferences, but as my mentor, Will Schutz would say,

“It is NOT the differences between us that get us in trouble, but the rigidity with which we adhere to those differences.”

So how can we purposefully bridge those imaginary distances? How can we choose to come closer?

One way it the 4 practices of otheresteem, of course. Yet, to keep it even simpler, we can ask ourselves that very question in every action we take. Does this bring me closer to that person or does it- in my own mind – widen the distance?

Let’s explore three ways:

Being OPEN and HONEST brings you closer. Contrary to what you might think, if you allow yourself to be true and vulnerable you will create the possibility for closeness. It is about accepting yourself and understanding that your truth might not be theirs, yet you am acting from what you see. Authenticity is a great ally of closeness.

Accptance goes a long way. Stop yourself from playing the critic! Do it NOW. If you want to come closer to someone, make sure you suspend judgement. It’s not that you agree with them in everything. It’s the fact that you shift from judging to understanding that creates a possibility for more proximity. Being accepted, paradoxically, leads to less defensiveness and more willingness to change.

Recognition is a straightforward way to lessen the gap. Substitute the criticism you left behind, for open recognition of what you appreciate in the other. When you recognize openly and truthfully you make them want to come to you.

What OTHER ways do you use of coming closer to the people you want to be tighter with?

 

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Valuing Others: It’s an everyday thing!

I remember more than a year and a half ago when Lolly Daskal suggested #OtherEsteem Wednesdays on Twitter! (Thanks, Lolly!) She is a persuasive, vibrant, enthusiastic woman and she knew her Twitter much better than I. So, off I went and I created this blog, the Stream of Otheresteem tweets and the possibility for people to appreciate others more on that specific day each week. Yet, the most important thing it did was to keep me on the right track for otheresteem. To have me thinking every day of it. To sustain the effort for each of the 4 practices.

So let me share with you how I bring otheresteem into my daily routine and remain able to come back to it every Wednesday. I focus each day of the week on just ONE of the practices and cycle through them. So, on Mondays I make sure I accept people as they are. I observe how it plays out in my day. I write about it in my diary. I talk about it, explore, share. On Tuesdays I go into deep appreciation mode. For me, that means making some calls, writing some notes, finding some people that might not know I appreciate them. But also, making sure I appreciate even the people I find difficult to relate to. On Wednesdays I either write this post or wish I had. So I take Wednesdays to remember why I wrote that book in the first place! The sheer power of valuing others is reinforced by remembering to share it once a week. On Thurdays, I expect the best from the people around me and act accordingly. I start my day by setting intentions. This client will take my call. That associate will listen better. That friend will understand. And I go about my day making sure I act consistently with those beliefs I am creating about others. And on Friday, I am grateful for the relationships in my life. All of them. I meditate about gratitude. I go through an exercise my good friend Randall Krause taught me, imagining my inner circle and blessing them, then expanding bit by bit until I am grateful for my relationship to all mankind. It clears the slate. It gives me hope. It makes my interactions different that day.

So on the weekend, I get the opportunity to just be in the presence of those I love most. I rest from the awareness. Secure in the understanding that what I have practiced during the week is slowly but surely improving my already deep commitment to value those around me.

In my life, it has sometimes been hard to stick to some of my purposes. To sustain my efforts in time. I realize now that Lolly’s Wednesday suggestion, whether I have done it impeccably or not has become a great anchor for a lifelong learning adventure. And for that, I am ever grateful!

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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! :D

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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