Keeping it up: The Stream of Otheresteem

Since publishing the OTHERESTEEM book in 2009, I have been blessed to watch the concept take on a life of it’s own. I love it how ideas can do that! So now, some of my colleagues deliver otheresteem keynotes and people react to them by starting their very own practices of acceptance, appreciation, positive expectations and gratitude. It’s an ongoing adventure.

The Stream of Otheresteem is alive in more ways than one!

You, too, will discover valuing others systematically as a constructive practice that enriches your life each time you come back to it. You are invited to the party! It’s EASY  to participate. Take a day, any day, of the week (I’m kinda partial to that Otheresteem Wednesday) and remind yourself to PRACTICE valuing others more. You do not have to be perfect at it, but take it as honing your own skills to feel others and enjoy them. It will make a world of a difference!

For inspiration today, I’ll tell you a little story:

This month, one of my close friends and collaborators became a Mom for the first time. Her beautiful baby boy came to her through adoption and was much-awaited for years! As a welcome for Carlitos, we had a get-together at the new home of one of our mutual friends. Through the gathering so much LOVE poured out all over the place. You could FEEL it. The gathering included people who had never met, others who hadn’t seen each other for years. And every single one of them was open to the other. This tiny baby, born in unknown circumstance, who could have had any kind of a life, begins this one surrounded with otheresteem. Not only that, but creating a powerful environment for reunion, re-acquaintance, connection. A happy couple, filled with love. A tiny boy, receiving and amplifying that. A group of diverse, wonderful, true friends that find each other in the midst of this all-encompassing feeling. Otheresteem came easily that day. It inspired us all. It is contagious.

Happy Wednesday, readers. I celebrate you! Whoever you are, wherever you are. May otheresteem practices enrich your life. You know you want them to!

 

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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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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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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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Its about Faith!

Last week I invited you to explore what happened when you chose to really believe in someone consistently and see what happens! So, How did it go? It really boils down to faith, right?  Having faith is life-changing. Whether it be religious faith that guides your everyday actions, faith in yourself to get you through tough times or faith in the “kindness of strangers” like Blanche DuBois would say.

I have even been exploring lately the link between that powerful concept, faith, and the practice of expectation I suggest in the book. To quote Chapter 1:

I will treat you very differently if I see you not only as who you are, but as whom you can become. Even more, if I believe you can become whoever you desire.

Is this not putting my faith in that person’s capability for change? In what that person could do if she allowed herself to. Remember, it comes after acceptance and appreciation. So, no, I do not NEED them to change before I love them. I have faith that they will! That they will get in touch with their higher selves when they are no longer afraid of what I will think of them. They know. I HAVE FAITH IN THEM. Doesn’t that say it all?

Otheresteem is definitely a leap of faith! A very rewarding one. A tough one sometimes. A leap you get better and better at as you take it more and more. As you choose to value others and act like you do. So if the time comes when your faith seems to be misplaced, when people make it hard for you to value them, you still have your faith! And it carries you through as you learn patience. As you understand what part is up to you and what part is not. And trust that doing your part will have an impact in what others choose. And THAT is an act of faith!

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Being Together

Last Saturday I had the opportunity of attending Randall Krause‘s great TWO WINGS retreat! It was an expansive experience that centered on learning how to balance the Human with the Being aspects of living. I especially appreciated the theme of how simple practices can make a big difference if done consistently. That has been, as you might know from reading this blog, my point exactly with otheresteem. But the dimension of being that we worked on in the seminar comes even more to life in the presence of the others there. Getting to know eachother’s struggles to grasp our humanness and our being created the space for shared otheresteem. Beyond judgement and criticism, when we are together, yet each doing work on themselves we feel inspired and in awe of others.

So, do you have a hard time suspending judgement long enough to work on otheresteem? Shift the focus and work on yourself in the presence of others. Tell them what comes up for you when you are with them. Make your struggles to understand and include them open and straightforward. Enlist their help in understanding them better. You might just find a new way of being…together!

Read more about how Randall experienced the weekend here.

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It’s Not Denial

Uh-huh! That’s what deniers will always say, right? It is meant as a pun of course, but seriously, when we talk about otheresteem building and the practices, some people interpret that you can never have any bad feelings about someone or decide you would rather not be in a relationship with another person. Nothing further from the truth!

Otheresteem as a practice is meant to build YOU up, to bring perspective to relationships that are important to you but currently difficult.

The practice of otheresteem will allow you to explore possibilities that are otherwise not apparent, it will open up space for people to change and react differently to you and more importantly, it will help you experience deeper feelings than the hurt and anger that have been holding you back. Otheresteem practice does of course require that you suspend judgement for a time, that you leave resentment behind and that you learn to seek out the positive in relation to others. The idea is to build the foundation first and create strong enough relationships with yourself and others so that they can later withstand any test. Consider how you deal with hurt, anger or disagreement when you do it well. Its not about denial. It’s about reclaiming your responsibility and power. It’s about choosing your reactions, building relationships and getting to a point where you can be totally open and honest with eachother about the good, the bad and the ugly. How do you feel about that?

P.S. Becky Robinson of LeaderTalk has featured me and Otheresteem on her amazing blog today! Thanks, Becky! I had a great time getting to know her more in the interview and am very honored by her interest in this work.

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