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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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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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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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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Imperfect Acceptance

We had been at a two day training session for coaches, but most of the time was spent exploring otheresteem issues that were very impressive to this group in particular. The impact on their coaching practice and personal relationships was evident to them, so they went back and forth exploring the implications of the four practices with eachother and in relation to their current coaching clients. One of the participants was especially curious about what real, honest to goodness acceptance might look like. He felt it was the most important of the four practices and one that presented a big challenge in many instances. We discussed this together and he set goals for working acceptance into his life in the next few weeks before we met again.

But it was another of the participants that went away from the experience fired up and ready to go! On the plane ride home she took a notebook and wrote profusely about things she wanted to accept about her husband, often moving herself to tears. She went on to write about everything she appreciated in him and all that she still held as positive expectation. Then, she got to gratitude and realized that, even through the tough times like the ones that they are facing now, she was deeply grateful for their life together.  She couldn’t wait to get home and tell him all about it! She envisioned how it would change their lives, what it could do for them as a couple, as a family. And as soon as she was home she found the time and told him all about it.

The next day, she was writing to me about the adventure. She was dumbfounded by his response! Instead of playing out as she had imagined, he listened intently, looked moved and touched and finally told her that he was so happy she saw everything that she was ignoring and how she was as much to blame for their problems as he was.  She felt her heart sink and her excitement crash. What had she done wrong, she asked me? How could he not understand? This smart, intensely sensitive, brilliant woman was asking. She was judging the excersise as a failure. And him as insensitive, misunderstanding and just plain awful!

I couldn’t help but smile at the irony and at the very same time, understand her plight. I reminded her: you are practicing this. The more you practice, the better you will get. This is all new to you, and to him. So, let’s begin again.What if you accept his reaction? It quickly dawned on her that she was not doing that. What if he gets to react in any way he does and you get to practice everything even more deeply?

I know I’ve been there! More than once! Imperfect acceptance requires an understanding that what you expect is yours and yours only. You don’t get to accept only what you like, but what the other is, what he does, how she reacts.  True acceptance opens the path for consistent positive expectations that can truly make a difference.  And I have high hopes for her. She is well on the way!

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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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A little bit closer.

Practicing otheresteeem is not only about people different from you or people you have not been able to relate to well.  There are closer, more significant relationships that you can work on.  For instance, reflect:

Who have you drifted apart from?

Who have you allowed to slip away?

As life develops, as time goes by and you go about your daily life, you tend to neglect some relationships that you enjoy and benefit from but that are not in your close circle of influence.  Perhaps an old friend, a relative that you haven’t seen, a colleague you enjoyed working with but no longer have that project going.  A number of things can keep us separate.  Guilt gets in the way sometimes.  If you forgot to call on her birthday, or didn’t find the time to congratulate him on the award, or attend her mother’s funeral, you might block yourself from further contact to avoid facing that you acted in ways you did not intend to in the past.

Otheresteem and the intention of practicing it can lead to  increased awareness about issues such as these.  Whatever the case, just realize the unintended distance between you and some people you have slipped further away from.  Notice if you would like to be closer.  Then, just as practice, take the plunge! Call them up.  Ask them out.  Just slip them a note, email or phone message.  It might make a world of a difference or not at all, but you will be practicing a different approach, based on otheresteem.  Whatever you do, do not make these approaches about the past, or intend to patch things up this time. Use the four practices in your encounter:

  • Accept what is and whatever response they give you.  In any case, take it as an opportunity to understand yourself and how you react to others.
  • Appreciate actively.  Tell the person what you appreciate in him or her.  Be clear and to the point.  What made you think of them?
  • Expect only the best from this encounter.  Beware of unreasonable expectations about the outcome.  Remember you are practicing otheresteem and the focus is on the giving here, not the taking.  Make sure you give freely and not expect a specific reaction from the other.  I often hear in my head the lyrics to that Santana song: “Oh, Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.” Get beyond the fear by expecting a learning experience in whatever form it comes and being open to the other person reacting positively.
  • Be grateful for the relationship you hold together now, for the relationship you held in the past and for the possibilities ahead of you.  Make that as clear as you can, especially to yourself.

Surely, this practice will bring you a little bit closer.  Maybe to the other person, maybe to yourself, maybe to understanding the power of otheresteem.  Lets see where it goes.  Let us know in the comments.  Share your story and we can all learn from eachother.  Hey, it might even bring US a little bit closer!

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