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. ūüėÄ

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

Image from

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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Just How Much Inspiration?

I am sitting here asking myself that. Just how much inspiration can I get from sharing this idea with others? It seems to be limitless! I am inspired by people making the four practices their own and finding ways of engaging others in what they are doing. I am inspired by Susan Mazza who has my book on her night table and opens it up serendipitously every day to explore a different aspect to apply. I am inspired by the responses to the tip of the day and to #OtherEsteem Wednesday on Twitter. I am inspired by Mary Jo Asmus‘ blog post today and by Becky Robinson‘s heart! ¬†By the sweet, loving presence of Randall Krause. ¬†By Mark Hundley and his appreciation jars! By my friend, Socorro Mu√Īoz and the women of the Junior League Mexico. By Lolly Daskal who first called it a movement. By Mike Henry Sr. and all the fellow instigators at LeadChange Group and by Jack King of Northfork Center for Servant Leadership who are bringing otheresteem into the lives of so many present and emerging leaders. By so many of my Twitter tribe, LinkedIN contacts, Facebook friends! ¬†By my fellow Human Element practitioners. By each and every one of my clients and associates that so openly share their experiences with me. By my loving friends and family.

I could go on and on. The great thing is, I am also allowing myself to be inspired by people that I had not been able to understand before. By the very people whom I found difficult to appreciate in the past. Now that I am making a conscious effort to appreciate the good them I can see beyond what I used to criticize, into inspiring ways of thinking, of coping with hard choices, into creative solutions for their lives and mine.

Maybe its just that I am feeling so GOOD about yesterday’s airing of my interview with Roy Saunders and S. Max Brown of Real Recognition Radio! (You can catch it HERE). I am inspired to go on. To keep exploring ways to value others more and means to get other on board practicing the very same thing.

If we can touch each other this way, there is hope for the future. There is so much to look forward to. Can you feel it? Value others more and you will surely be inspired, too!

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Value What Others can Do For You.

This morning I had started off writing a bit about how accepting help from others is a way of valuing what they can contribute to our lives. Then, I popped into Twitter to spin off the #OtherEsteem Wednesday tweets and asked my friends there:

I don’t think I can say it any better than the great Mary Jo Asmus and Becky Robinson did. Both are women I have come to appreciate over the past months as the bright, warm and smart leadership experts they are. Their help in thinking things out for me has been invaluable. So here are their tweets as food for thought:

I know for me it has been a challenge to do what Mary Jo said here. I still have to remind myself and bite my tongue before saying “It’s nothing.” or “It’s not really like that…” ¬†It helps me to remember that when I downplay praise, I am not valuing the other person’s perception and willingness to share the positive with me. As for help, I often found myself being too self reliant and wearing myself thin. Yet, when someone offered to help, I said no. Even to things I would gladly do for them. ¬†So now, I simply say thank you and “I accept”. ¬†Great advice, Mary Jo and Becky!

Anything else you readers might want to help me with in expressing this idea?

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‘Tis the Season

December brings up so many things for all of us. Regardless of you beliefs, religious background or traditions, you can feel the year coming to an end and new beginnings in the making. Many people find a time to review what the year has meant to them, to figure out where they want to go, to express gratitude towards those who made their path easier. You might also find that forgiveness-that uglier cousin to gratitude-will help you in turning a new page, leaving 2009 in the past.

You may be finding it easier, or more difficult to practice otheresteem during the holidays. So much is stirred up, so many energies collide, and to-do lists grow longer than ever. Consider this: you can take otheresteem to the next step and really make a difference. You can build on what you have learned about yourself and connect the dots. ¬†It can start small or with a huge vision, but it will change you and the way you contribute to the world. You may recall we explored the issue here in the November post IT’S ABOUT US ALL. Expansive otheresteem feels like, well, nothing else!

What I want to stress here is that you seize the opportunity NOW, whatever your case may be for this season, to explore how you have built or not built otheresteem this year and how you want to move forward with that. ¬†Make your own list of who you want to value more, how you might go about it and what practices you want to embrace from now to years’ end. ¬†Change your view of the people that have been in your way in 2009. ¬†Open up the possibility for them to fit into a new category in 2010: people you learned from. ¬†I hope that earlier posts in this blog can inspire you as well as the practices I have included in the book. ¬†But if you would like to explore the issue further, leave your comments here and I will be more than happy to continue the conversation. ¬†Or follow me on Twitter (@monedays) and we can engage from there!

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Don’t Be an Ingrate

If you read my book, or even if you have been visiting this blog for a while, you might know that I consider appreciation separate from gratitude.  Both practices are of course related, but as far as building otheresteem goes, you will do well to distinguish them and act on both! You see, appreciation is about the other.  It is about what you can see and value when you allow yourself to take a closer look, to move beyond what bothers you in others into what you can appreciate about who they are, what they do, how they relate, what they bring out in you and others. As expressed in Chapter 1, we can find meaning to appreciation by practicing it with anyone.

It means I can see things I value in you.  I can look into who you are and like what I see, even though I may not share that view or that way of living with you.  I move past my generalization of you into the realm of what is your highest self.  Even if you are my enemy, there are always things in you that I recognize, even admire.

But gratitude is a more all-encompassing practice.  It is about how you feel in the presence of others.  If you can step into gratitude, you can feel yourself being in a different state.  To build otheresteem from inside yourself, it helps to feel grateful for the relationship you hold with other people.  It doesn’t really matter if those relationships are wonderful at the time, or if they are challenging, not turning out the way you would like.  It is still your choice to experience gratitude in their presence.  Because, of course, it can change what you bring into the relationship. But also because of gratitude’s depth and power to transform what is. I invite you to find ways to be grateful for the people around you.  The ones near and far.  The ones you enjoy and the ones you have done battle with.

Gratitude begets gratitude.  Time and time again.  It brings it all full circle.  If I am thankful for being in your presence, for learning from you, for walking our shared path, it is no small feat to tell you so.  Gratitude expressed becomes a bond that holds me accountable to that person.

So, don’t be an ingrate! Learn to feel gratitude, to experience it and to share it with the people around you.  It will enhance your ability for otheresteem and bring you closer to touching who you can truly become.

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Your daily Challenge

Otheresteem building does not have to be difficult! You don’t need to start with that person who you have such an awful time with.¬† You can work your way there by creating opportunities where you experience otheresteem building and the power you hold to feel differently about the people in your life.¬† It does help, though, to look for a small, daily challenge every day.¬† Create otheresteem where it has been lacking.¬† Follow at least one of the practices (accept, appreciate, be grateful, expect the best) with a person or group of people you do not naturally treat that way.¬† See where it takes you.¬† Challenge yourself to awareness about your reactions.

Two weeks ago, in the post about blaming we talked about other roadblocks to otheresteem.  One of them is just plain fear of getting hurt.  To practice, be mindful of your initial fears and what you anticipate will happen if you accept that person, or if you express appreciation or gratitude, or if you expect the best and look like a fool.  We all fear rejection, humiliation, being ignored.  Remember you are out to learn the practices and see where they take you.  Focus on creating a different way of valuing others.  This work is within you and not in them.  Yes, you might get hurt and yes, you have control over how you feel.  Allow yourself to experience it first and THEN deal with your reactions.  Recognize your fear and realize that you can still move forward in building otheresteem in spite of it!

What’s your otheresteem challenge for today?

How will you stretch your abilities?

What fear will you overcome?

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