The Clover Practice™

clover

 

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The Clover Practice™ is described in the book Staying Healthy in Sick Organizations: The Clover Practice™. This practice is a means for achieving less stress and more peace of mind in the workplace. Three principles make up The Clover Practice™: tell the truth; always speak for yourself; and declare your interdependence (read carefully; not independence). The author claims workplaces tend to be fundamentally unhealthy because of obsolete organizing principles of hierarchy and patriarchy and command and control systems, the fact that too many managers and supervisors are not prepared to manage or supervise others, and the willingness to maintain organizational illusions.A practice is something you do every day regardless of the circumstances.

Let’s look at the three principles:

Tell the Truth, Always

If peace of mind and reduced stress is our intention, we have to tell the truth even when it’s  uncomfortable, or inconvenient or we don’t look good. White lies and unethically cutting corners compromise our integrity and the degree to which others trust us. This doesn’t mean we “tell our truth” to everyone who comes along. But it does mean that “my truth” is just that. It’s my opinion, not universal Truth.

Speak for Yourself

Speaking to others about how things look from your perspective, history, memory and experience is a more productive and healthier way to be heard than telling people they are careless, uncooperative, lazy, incompetent, and unprofessional, etc. If you’re clear you’re speaking from your own observations and are open to and are able and willing to hear others’ views, you are more apt to be heard.

Declare your interdependence

No one succeeds alone – no one – even if they think they do. If you truly believed you need others in your organization – regardless of title, position, salary, etc. – to succeed, what would you do differently? You might be more inclined to interact and communicate with, and be openly grateful for, others up and down your organization.

Organizations are living organisms. It’s often a challenge to consciously view, or understand, how what you do (say, feel…) affects others – on many levels. When you understand these connections (and consequences) more clearly, you might choose to “do” and “be” differently – which produces greater harmony and collaboration than dis-harmony, competition and conflict.

9:00 Monday morning

Tell the Truth, Always
As a leader, manager, supervisor or employee, do you create a space or container where others feel safe and secure when speaking openly and honestly to/with you? Do you listen and hear? Do you seek clarification and understanding by probing and always digging deeper for clarity? Do you focus on the information, not the personality?

Speak for Yourself

Speaking for yourself means you discuss your experience – the who, what, where, when, why and how. You stay away from using “you,” “we,” “them,” “they,” “everyone” and the like. Literally, you speak for your self. And no one else. Your perspective. Your observation. Without  judgment. Without criticism.

Declare Your Interdependence

Where, when and how do your see yourself as part of a larger whole? As a cell in the larger body of your organization? With whom do you interact – directly or indirectly – inside and outside the physical (or digital) walls of your organization? How do you support others and how do they support you to create results, reach goals, problem solve, resolve conflict and achieve?

You might work in a “smart” organization. However, this practice can and will support you and your colleagues – from the mail room to the 52nd floor – create a culture of safety and security, honesty and integrity, and inclusion and respect – all qualities of a “healthy” organization.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Of the three clovers, which is the easiest for you? Which is the most challenging? How so?
  • When are you most comfortable telling the truth? Least comfortable? How so?
  • How are you when it comes to speaking for yourself? Do you tend to use “we,” “everyone” and the like (rather than “I”)?
  • Do you experience interconnectedness at work (or elsewhere in your world)? How so?
  • What is your comfort level when working with/on a team? How so?

(c) 2016, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.  Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is …maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Compared to Whom?

apples-and-oranges

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Many folks are “making a living” yet lack a sense of “purpose” or “meaning” in what they do. Rather than explore the nature of their dissatisfaction by reflecting on the deeper reasons for their frustration, they prefer to find fault with externals: the education and training programs, the health and pension programs (albeit, today often quite justifiable), management, workplace environmental conditions, etc. They’re driving themselves to their own spiritual, mental, emotional, psychological and physical poorhouse in new expensive, automobiles, eating at smart restaurants, watching plasma TVs, absorbed in the latest, greatest “gadget” – all the while bemoaning the reality of increased stress, overwork, overwhelm, and an environment polluted by industry. They allow themselves to be devoured by the corporation and spend relentless amounts of energy and time scratching and clawing their way up the corporate ladder to achieve corporate success, to be “somebody.”

Unhealthy sacrifice
On the way, they set aside their dreams (once, real dreams) and tailor their lives and personalities to what the market demands. They practice the arts of “power dressing,” power lunching, having or creating “winning personalities,” all the while steeped in a state of emptiness, leading to unhappiness and dissatisfaction. In order to be “somebody,” they burn out without ever having been on fire.

The nature of dissatisfaction
What is it about work that leads so many to be dissatisfied?

A special issue of Time Magazine (1/17/2005) featured an article about what is known as “reference anxiety” ­ “keeping up with the Joneses” ­ constantly comparing one’s self and one’s “stuff” with someone else’s. Much of this takes place in (but is not restricted to) work environments and is characteristic of many of today’s workplace cultures.

This “reference anxiety” syndrome even accounts for the gap in income distribution. The Time article states:

“Paradoxically, it is the very increase in money . . . that triggers dissatisfaction [. . .] clinical depression is 3 to 10 times as common today than two generations ago . . . money jangles in our wallets and purses, but we are no happier for it, and for many, more money leads to depression. [. . .] millions of us spend more time and energy pursuing the things money can buy than engaging in activities that create real fulfillment in life . . . ”

Perhaps the dissatisfaction element lies on a much deeper level of the psyche: it’s about the inner person, not about the externals.

In other words, it’s not the work that’s at cause when it comes to worker dissatisfaction.

Connection
It’s curious that of the thousands of business books that are published each year, there’s hardly one chapter devoted to friendship in the workplace (real and true friendship, not the “good-old-boys, back-slapping stuff,” that is a faux substitute. (And a bit of information: did you know that when two folks come together and pat each other on the back, it’s because they cannot connect emotionally? When two folks honestly and sincerely connect, from their deeper self, from their heart, from a place of true love and connection, they hug and hold one another…they don’t pat one another’s back. Patting is a “faux” form of connection.).

Relationships rule the world, even the world of work. Finding meaning rules one’s deeper sense of happiness, fulfillment, and well-being, even in the world of work. It’s relationships, first with yourself, then with others, that must be examined to explore the true and real root causes of employee dissatisfaction.

The spirit of an organization begins and ends with the spirit of each individual. When we come to life with the right values, we are grounded on a foundation of truth, honesty, sincerity, and self-responsibility, and from this place, dissatisfaction can more easily morph into satisfaction.

So, really, really, why is worker satisfaction falling?

Perhaps it starts with “me,” not with “it,” “him/her” or “them.”

Some questions for self-reflection:
Am I constantly comparing myself to others and feeling I’m coming up short? How so?
Do I feel like a victim of life/work much of the time? Why?
Do I have true and real friendships at work?
Could I be contributing to my own dissatisfaction at work? If so, how? Honestly.
Do I have an expectation that my company or manager is responsible for my happiness at work?
What is it about work that excites me? If nothing or, “not much,” then why do I choose to remain there? How might I proactively turn this around?
What personal and professional goals have I set for myself at work If I don’t have any, could that contribute to my unhappiness?
Do I find meaning in my work? If not, why not?
Do I shop incessantly, max out my credit cards on stuff, and still feel empty and unhappy? Why?
What lessons did I learn about myself at work last year? I did learn some lessons, didn’t I? How can I leverage these lessons to increase my satisfaction at work this year?
What mutually-supportive relationships and true friendships do I want to cultivate at work?
What self-defeating habits do I want to eliminate?
Are there toxic people in my life at work (or at home) who contribute to my unhappiness?
Who can I serve, support, coach or mentor that will bring me satisfaction or increase my happiness at work?
How have I grown at work during the past year? I have grown in some positive way, haven’t I? If not, why not?
What one or two baby steps can I take this week or this month that can increase my satisfaction at work?
What did I learn about satisfaction and the world of work when I was growing up? How so?
—————————————————–
(c) 2016, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.  Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, http://www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

So You Think You Can…Lead?

connecting

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“Life is like dancing. If we have a big floor, many people will dance. Some will get angry when the rhythm changes. But life is changing all the time.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

Not too long ago I was watching the TV show, “So you think you can dance,” a show where contestants vie to become the winner in what is a weekly “dance-off” competition. The contestants dance solo and in pairs depending on the night’s agenda. They’re very good.

The Emotional Connection
So, on that night, one of the judges was discussing one contestant’s relationship to his partner in a hip-hop routine where an “emotional, contentious dynamic” between the pair was built into the storyline of their dance.

When the couple completed their routine, the male of the pair maintained a scowl, a macho “I-have-control-over-you!” non-verbal persona as he and his partner walked forward to center stage to receive the judges’ feedback. As he approached, his scowl melted. He and his partner embraced and one could feel the energy of their connecting.

When it was time to respond to the male, one of the judges remarked, and I’m paraphrasing, “You have all the technical skills that make you an excellent dancer in just about any type of dance genre you engage. What you need to do is not lose sight of the emotional connection to your partner. And it’s your emotional connection, not your technical expertise, that determines the energy of your relationship, the deeper connection between you and your partner and provides the chemistry that makes the dance ‘work.’ And you have that emotional connection in spades; it’s very apparent, and that’s why you’re sensational.”

Hmmm, I thought, can’t that same description apply to what makes for a successful, even sensational leader?

“The journey between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place.” – Barbara De Angelis

Dancing With Your Employees
In today’s face-paced, challenging, often-ambiguous and uncertain economic climate, where stress is rampant and anxiety and fear seem to be the emotions of choice driving many leaders’ behaviors, more and more leaders seem to be losing touch with their employees, fostering a climate where poor morale, dis-engagement, absenteeism, presenteeism, stress, overt or silent anger and resentment abound. Why? Many leaders (and managers!) are severing their emotional ties to their workforce, assuming they had any emotional ties to begin with. They’re leading their employees and if they are “dancing” with their employees, it’s all technical and tactical there’s no emotional connection.

Competencies, skills, talent, intellect, technical knowledge, expertise and drive define many of today’s leaders. But, that’s not enough.

Technology is not Sufficient
What’s happening in the face of challenging times is a rush to put into place the technically efficient leader, the “numbers guy,” the “turnaround artist,” the “visionary,” etc., and in the process many organizations are experiencing the fallout from leaders who are technically savvy but who are clueless when it comes to “people” skills, who lack the emotional maturity and competence to truly lead.

These leaders, many of who are young and ambitious, lack a “whole-life” experience and are stunted in their adult, emotional development. These leaders are “leading,” perhaps, but they are at risk, as are their organizations, their departments and their teams. As technicians, these leaders are more focused on their own self in the dance, their part, their personal achievement and recognition. In essence, the dance, for them, is a “solo.”

The downside of the emotional disconnection is: unconsciously or consciously, they tend to push their “partner” away -generating internal conflict and competition when there could (should?) be compromise, collaboration and cooperation. They reject and repel their colleagues, their peers, their direct reports, even those who are as, or more, skilled and whose partnership they need in order to succeed.

With a focus on the technical – e.g., the bottom line, the strategic plan and the like – they effort and struggle, lacking greater self-awareness and emotional maturity. Eventually, when they come center stage for feedback, they are asked to leave the stage. They thought they could lead; technically they could, but it wasn’t enough.

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”  Muhammad Ali

The Antidote to “Technology-Only”
For those leaders who are in the spotlight, or wish to be, here are some suggestions that can enhance your dance and have your judges asking for an encore:

Take the time to learn to lead “people.” Technical skills are not enough. Use the support of a qualified coach or mentor who can support you to understand the tasks AND the personal aspects of workplace relationships.

Learn to take risks, and experience failure as an opportunity through which self-reflection becomes a stepping stone to emotional learning and self-development.

Consciously and self-responsibly explore any tenuous relationships you have with others and search for root-cause issues that foster such relationships. Ask for a qualified coach to support you in your exploration.

Check your ego at the door and work to eliminate behaviors that are characterized as arrogant, bullying, aloof, or emotionally or verbally abusive. Again, seek the support of a coach or trusted friend or colleague who can help you in this endeavor.

Learn how to connect emotionally, authentically, as a human being, not just “officially” in a business context. To be professional and effective in these changing times requires a “greater humanity” – that is the capacity to conduct business with an open, compassionate and intelligent heart.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • When it comes to “dancing” at work, do you always feel the need to lead? What would it be like to follow?
  • Do you always need to be center stage, in the limelight? If so, why?
  • Would you describe yourself as emotionally mature? How do you know? What would your colleagues, friends, or family say? Would you ask them?
  • Do you tend to be “officious,” “all-business” or aloof in your relationships at work? What about at home or with others?
  • Do you have a need to be “right?” Would you generally prefer to be right than be happy? Do you ever gang up on or bully others? If so, why?
  • Would you consider yourself “well-rounded?” Would others agree with you?
  • Do you consider your boss(es) to be emotionally mature? Why, or why not?
  • Did you learn about emotional maturity as you were growing up? How so? Was it a pleasant or painful experience?
  • Can you envision a world where emotional maturity is a common attribute for most people?

(c) 2016, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.  Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Spirituality and Work

stones

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Robert Greenleaf’s “Servant Leadership” was one of the first business books I read (back in the ’70s). Many refer to him as a “revolutionary.” I do. What attracted me to him was how deeply his work, i.e., his theory and practice, bordered on what I knew at the time to be “spirituality” (i.e., not religion, not theology). What attracted/attracts me to him is Mr. Greenleaf is talking about the workplace. Imagine!

Interconnectivity

One of the foundations of his theory and approach is the notion of interconnectivity – that we are all interconnected, and it’s this interconnectedness that augurs for acknowledgement and conduct that furthers the creation of living organizations.

I vs. We

Supporting others in the workplace community to grow as persons, to become wiser, healthier, freer, more accepting and tolerant, and more autonomous may come only we shift our consciousness and belief systems. Many work environments are largely defined by selfishness, greed, ego and competition, where we largely define folks by “have” and “have not” (on many levels-mentally, emotional, physically, and creatively).

I think we have both the challenge and opportunity to ask some fundamental questions about our sometimes negative and limiting belief structures and be reflective about what we can do to effectively transform both individual and collective consciousness so that our behaviors produce results that are mutually supportive – on every level.  Is this an “illicit” effort as Mr. Greenleaf might refer to it? Maybe yes; maybe no. I think it depends how we approach the exploration. I think it’s anything but illicit if such an exploration comes from a place of love, compassion and curiosity.

Daily behavior

One place to start is by asking some fundamental, personal workplace questions: Do I gossip about others? Do I commonly experience conflict with people who have a different value system than mine? Do I incite reactionary behaviors from others? Do I waste materials and resources? Do I constantly behave in a way to prove I am superior to others (command, control, and power stuff)? Do I use profanity, rudeness, or insensitivity as a regular part of my interactive or communication style? Do I use the “put-down” or sarcasm as a common behavior trait? Am I tolerant and open to other cultures ideologically different from mine?  Am I honest and above board in my financial dealings with others?  Etc.

Dysfunction

I think it’s important to understand that, consciously or unconsciously, like it or not, each individual is important to the functioning of the group or the organization in some way, shape or form. When an individual is out of balance, that out-of-balance dynamic impacts the organization (not unlike an unhealthy cancerous cell in our physical body). And, when greater numbers of people are out of balance, then we all have some semblance of knowing where that can lead – issues related to performance, production, morale, absenteeism, presenteeism and the like – an undermining of the overall health and well-being of the organization. Dysfunction.

“Business as usual”

Unfortunately, this dysfunction does not always appear as a “red flag.” There are lots of folks who experience dysfunction – their own and/or others’ – as “business as usual.” For some, functioning poorly is a simple reality of the workplace. For me, dysfunction is a sign that all is not well.  Dysfunction is a tug on our collective sleeve that asks, “How can I contribute to the restructuring of the workplace (or, my part of the workplace) to preserve the positive humanity and ensure quality of life for “everyone”?”

Answering this question means providing an environment where reflection, self-discovery, interpersonal growth, wellness and well-being, and continuous learning, for example, are as much a part of the workplace as are the coffee, cubicles and computers.

No one is an island

There are those who believe that each of us is an island, a “free agent,” whose sole purpose is to maintain our individuality, our place in the sun, our “space.” And, perhaps there’s some truth to this. But, my take is that when we choose to navigate life from a place where we choose to feel separate and independent from one another, we end up looking for excuses (certainly not “reasons”) to support our choices, our wanting, or needing to operate counter to the notion of interconnectedness, and community.

Spirituality has its place in the workplace. Try as we might, I don’t think there’s room for compartmentalization – checking our authentic self, our true self, our “spiritual” self, and care, compassion and love for others at the door when we walk into the workplace.

New paradigms

Interconnectedness and community are as important in the workplace as they are anywhere else on the planet, perhaps even more so, given the state of fear, anxiety, stress, ambiguity, inhumanity, addiction, depression and chaos that characterize many of our workplaces. Perhaps a renewed focus on how we conduct ourselves at work may even enhance the quality, the energy, the climate and the culture of our workplaces. And for many, this will entail changing belief structures. Is this illicit? I don’t think so. Tough, hard, challenging, and threatening to the ego? Yes, very.

Perhaps with a conscious renewed focus on the workplace as one of community and interconnectedness, understanding, empathy and compassion for the human experience – yours and mine – may transform many of our dysfunctional workplaces into centers where humanity rules the day.

Finally, I think there’s a conscious or unconscious tendency for so many to discount the “whole” of people’s humanity because “they are at work,” where folks support a system and mind-set where people are asked to be less than human and function in a disconnected, robotic way because they are “at work.” This is dehumanizing and compartmentalizing, and will never lead to the wholeness and well-being of either the individual or the organization.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Are any of the following topics found in your management training manuals: loving people, being compassionate, spirituality, tolerance, selfless giving, forgiving, self-nurturing, contributing to the community, giving meaning to people’s lives and purpose?
  • Do fear, scarcity, suspicion and survival overtly or covertly drive many of the relationships and interactions in your workplace?
  • Do you experience any of these soul qualities in yourself or others as you move through your workday: passion, understanding, honesty, integrity, sincerity, kindness, compassion, empathy, humility, dignity, respect, love? If so, when, with whom?
  • Do leaders or managers (and you) ever ask these (and some of Greenleaf’s) questions: Who are we? Why do we exist? What is our defining character? What is our vision? How do we express our vision in products or service? Who is our customer? How do we market and sell our products and services most effectively? How do we exceed our customer’s expectations? What supports our most productive system of operation? How do we care for our people? How do we integrate humanistic principles and practices with sound business functioning? How do we treat others with respect, dignity and love? How can we preserve the dignity, health and well-being of all employees? How can we demonstrate we believe everything that exists is interdependent and interconnected – nature, animals and humans? How do we adapt to new workplace demands? How do we manifest institutional moral responsibility? How can we shift from competition to cooperation? How can our values reflect responsibility for society and the environment?

—————————————————–
(c) 2016, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Fear of Closing Doors

doors

 

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In a time when stress is adversely coursing through, and ruining the quality of, so many people’s lives, why are folks reluctant to slow down and stop living life at 90 miles an hour, or unwilling to make healthy choices for the sake of their own mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological well-be-ing?  Why is lifestyle change such a threat, such an overwhelming and fearful challenge?

Rather than cutting back, or narrowing down choices in the face of overwhelming stress, juggling options seems to be the day-to-day self-management tactic that has so many feeling trapped, exhausted, overwhelmed, depleted, fearful, and over-medicated (chemical and non-chemical) at work, at home and at play. Yet, they trudge on.

Options
Why do such folks always need to keep their “options open” and consider everything and everyone – as one client said to me recently about an event he was considering –  “a definite possibility?” A definite possibility!? Hmmm. What’s that!

Why are life and lifestyle choices so painful? Why does every door have to remain open? Why does one need to consider every option?

Whether it’s an attachment or add-on (they’ll never use) for a new digital camera, or a continued relationship with an individual with whom they have nothing in common, or staying connected to FaceBook or other social media outlet or online group to which they haven’t contributed in years, or an event to which they have season tickets and never attend, there’s a story that keeps them feeling attached, belonging – not allowing themselves to disconnect or detach. Loss feels overwhelming to these folks. Their move into a story to justify their feeling of loss.

It’s exhausting
Exhausted and overwhelmed by daily decisions about where to go out to eat every night, who to socialize with, exhausted by the myriad activities that are depleting one’s own, or one’s family’s, physical and emotional energy, for example, folks cannot or will not choose to step back and see the self-destructive results that come from their obsessive need to “keep on keeping on,” or from “keeping all the doors open.”

So, what is this attachment folks have to keeping all the doors open? What’s really, really underneath needing to have every option a possibility?

Missing out
For many, when options go away, when doors close, they experience a certain sense of loss, of “missing out.” This experience is deep, visceral (they feel it in their gut), and frightening. So, in order to feel they “belong,” to feel connected, to feel they’re not missing out on life, and to maintain a much-needed sense of security and control, they make up stories about why they need to “keep all my options open,” and refuse to let go.

Underneath? The fear
For many folks, their attachment to unlimited options, to unlimited choices, unlimited activities – even when they are overwhelmed and exhausted by the limitlessness of it all – they are driven by the fear of what might happen if they eliminate just one option or close just one door. For them, this fear is infinitely greater than the distress, anxiety, overwhelm and exhaustion they experience from keeping all the doors open.

Emotionally and psychologically, many folks would prefer to die slowly from their stressors than face the emotional loss of opting out or closing a door. It’s the devil they know vs. the devil they don’t. Fear of the unknown is too painful.

The downside
So, folks work more hours, longer days, take on more and more tasks and responsibilities, spend an inordinate amount of time in constant contact, or texting, or on the Internet, or on their electronic leashes. They drain their time and energy in social networking and in communities of practice, and on blogs, and go out eight nights a week, and spend inordinately on “stuff” – just to have all the options, bells and whistles. They stay connected with toxic people who deplete their energy, and agonize obsessively over career and work changes and opportunities (the “everything is possible” self-destructive syndrome), so they can “keep all my options open.” They “narrow down” choices of places to eat, or move, or visit to twenty-five!, and on and on. Why? So they can keep all the doors open, feel engaged and feel they are in control.

So, there it is – overworking, overbooking, over-engaging, over-spending, over-socializing, over-exercising, over-committing, over-doing, in a word – over-obsessing – for fear of giving up an option, or closing a door.  Stressful and debilitating.  It doesn’t have to be. And, that’s worth thinking about.

Some questions for self-refection: 

  • Is it painful for me to give up options? If so, why is it so painful?
  • Do I take  an “everything is possible” approach to life to the extent that I am mentally, emotionally and physically or spiritually exhausted with choosing among possibilities?
  • What would happen if I (my spouse/partner, child) closed one door, or eliminated one option to a life or work choice I am considering today, this week, this month or this year? How does that thought make me feel in my gut?
  • When considering options, do I take an “everything is a definite possibility” approach? What does that approach get me?
  • Am I in relationships that are draining or toxic? Why do I choose to stay?
  • At work, do I take on more and more tasks and responsibilities to the extent they are affecting my health?
    Do I (honestly) engage in blogging and social networking to stay connected and feel I “belong?” How would I feel if I stopped, or cut back?
  • Is social networking or blogging detracting me from other work, life and family responsibilities? What does social networking get me?
  • How do I feel about being alone? Do I feel comfortable and secure in my own skin? Am I OK being in silence?
  • Growing up, was I surrounded by a sense of abundance or lack?
  • Do I need to have “all the information” before making important life or work choices? How do I feel when I don’t have all the information?
  • Is decision making at work, at home or at play generally an “OK” or stressful experience for me?
  • Is my outlook on life generally happy, pleasant, or anxious or fearful?
  • Do I always need to be “doing something?”

    —————————————————–
    (c) 2016, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

    I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.  Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

    What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

    I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

    I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

    You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Are “difficult people” really difficult?

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Google “working with difficult people,” and you’ll get about 563,000 results; “difficult coworkers,” a whopping 9,980,000 results.

They’re everywhere
In most every organization – i.e., work, home, play, etc. – we come face to face with folks who push our buttons, antagonize, frustrate, annoy or otherwise trigger us. They make us want to scream, or worse. Usually, we refer to such folks as “difficult people.” Some we label simply irritating; others we label rude and there are those we label impossible to work/be with.

“Difficult,” of course, is in the eye of the beholder

In the eye of the beholder
The question is not what makes them difficult, but what we tell ourselves about them that makes them difficult. What we tell ourselves that supports our being triggered, reactive. We concoct stories about such folks (“S/he is (fill in the blank with your negative judgment, criticism, or descriptor.”) that characterizes them as difficult.

The truth about difficulty
When we drill down to the truth of the difficulty characterization, experience suggests that it’s not so much that another’s behavior is all that egregious, outlandish or aberrant. The truth of the difficulty matter is that often the difficulty is not so much the other individual as it is the stories we tell ourselves about that person. What happens is we have created a story about that person – a story we assume to be real and true.

How do we know our story is true?
So, when we feel the urge to label another as difficult, a first step is to check out the reality of our story, the facts. Here are three self-reflective questions to support your inquiry:

1. What is that person doing/being, that is problematical for me?

What are the observable and measurable behaviors that point to “difficulty?” Often, when caught up in reactivity, or flooded by emotions, we lose sight of the observable facts and simply respond with a knee-jerk judgment, such as “Well, it’s nothing specific; he’s just being a jerk (or worse).”

Because we’re so attached to our story, we often fail to specify the details that indicate the person is, in fact, difficult. So, ask yourself, “If someone gave me the same feedback I’m directing to another person, would I know exactly how to do/be differently?” If not, you’re telling yourself a story, so it would serve you to deal with specifics.

2. Do you allow your story to cloud your view of that person?

When we create stories, we create a subjective, judgmental way we choose to view that person. For example, if I choose to believe another is lazy, then I turn the radio dial in my head to the station that features only “lazy” tunes and, as such, I’m always on the lookout for, and listening for, ways that person is behaving lazy in order to prove the truth of my story.

If I choose to believe my boss is friendlier with a colleague and is ignoring, or rejecting me and my work, then I turn the radio dial to pick up rejection tunes and look and listen for incidents which allow me to say, “See, there she goes again; she likes that other person and is not concerned with me or my work.”

We create distortions that support us to prove we are right, that our story is true. We look to gather lots of evidence to prove our story. We don’t stand back and ask ourselves, “Is this the whole story?” “Is my story really the truth?” “Is it possible I’m distorting things a bit?” “In fact, is this person perhaps, just perhaps, not the (idiot, jerk, bad person…) I make him or her out to be?” “Could I be mistaken?”

3. Do you behave a certain way toward that person based on your story?

The bottom line is our stories influence our behavior. Our stories (and their attendant beliefs, thoughts, assumptions, preconceptions, misperceptions, etc.) trigger our emotions and feelings and it is our emotions and feelings that drive our behavior (often unconsciously) towards the other.

So, it’s important to take steps to become conscious of our stories. Two questions that can help in this vein are: How do I behave toward another based on my story? And, am I building a case against another, or attempting to solidify a case against another, based on my story?

The antidote – curiosity, not judgment
A next step is to become curious as to whether I’m perpetuating another’s behavior as a result of my story. Am I contributing to that other person’s being difficult through my story and reactivity?

Yes, there are difficult people in the world. The question is whether some of these folks are really difficult, or whether I’m a major contributing factor to their being difficult through my story. And how do I know the difference.

Reflect first
 Finally, I invite you to reflect on the following thoughts that could inform your inquiry into difficult people and your stories about them:

(1) Everyone is in chapter three of their life. We often base our criticisms and judgments of another on the assumption we know what went on in chapters one and two. Truth is, we don’t know.

(2) Ask yourself: “Why would a rational, decent, fair-minded and well-meaning individual behave like a jerk (or fill in the blank with another difficult descriptor)?” And then, compassionately, give them the benefit of the doubt before you make up your story or justify your story as the truth.

(3) No one (read: no one) ever gets up in the morning and says, “I’m going to be a jerk today.”

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • How do you generally react when you come across a difficult person? How so?
  • Do you ever give a difficult person the benefit of the doubt? Why, or why not?
  • What does labeling someone as “difficult” get you?
  • Do you ever make judgments about folks assuming you know all about them (chapters one and two)?
  • Have you ever asked colleagues, bosses, friends, spouse/partner or child(ren) if you’re a difficult person? If not, would you? If not, why not?
  • Have you even been judged as difficult or been judged harshly or unfairly? How did you feel?
  • Have you ever been told you were quick to judge?
  • Do you ever make up stories about people? How do your stories make you feel?
  • Do you ever feel compassionate towards difficult people? Do you ever defend “difficult” people?
  • Do you ever justify your own being difficult while admonishing others for their being difficult? What’s the difference?
  • When the choice is between seeing another as a human being or a villain (difficult), which do you normally choose? Why?
  • What one or two baby steps might you take this week and next to discern the facts about someone you might have labeled as difficult to see if your story is, really, really true?

—————————————————–
(c) 2016. Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.  Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Cultural conditioning: giving up your truth

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There are always cracks – or ways out- in the cosmic egg of our culture. A crack might take the form of an uncanny event, something for which you have no conditioned categories for explanation. When you experience such an event, however, the cultural pressures, both from others and from the internalized structures (beliefs, stories and the like) built up within you, will probably force you to forget it, or to explain it away. If you experience something everybody knows cannot happen, well, you must be crazy. But if you do not tell anyone and forget about it yourself, you will be just fine. Here’s one of my favorite Sufi stories that explains this dynamic.

When the Waters Were Changed

Once upon a time Khidr, the teacher of Moses, called upon mankind with a warning. At a certain date, he said, all the water in the world which had not been specially hoarded, would disappear. It would then be renewed, with different water, which would drive men mad.

Only one man listened to the meaning of this advice. He collected water and went to a secure place where he stored it, and waited for the water to change its character.

On the appointed date the streams stopped running, the wells went dry, and the man who had listened, seeing this happening, went to his retreat and drank his preserved water.

When he saw, from his security, the waterfalls again beginning to flow, this man descended among the other sons of men. He found that they were thinking and talking in an entirely different way from before; yet they had no memory of what had happened, nor of having been warned. When he tried to talk to them, he realized that they thought that he was mad, and they showed hostility or compassion, not understanding.

At first, he drank none of the new water, but went back to his concealment, to draw on his supplies, every day. Finally, however, he took the decision to drink the new water because he could not bear the loneliness of living, behaving and thinking in a different way from everyone else. He drank the new water, and became like the rest.

Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had miraculously been restored to sanity.
 Some questions for self-reflection

  • Has anyone ever said your thoughts, beliefs or ideas were “crazy” or “insane?” Have you ever said as much about another’s thoughts, beliefs or ideas?
  • Do you ever sacrifice or deny values or your principles in order to “fit in”.If so, why?
  • Have you experienced “changed waters” in your life at work, at home or ay play?
  • Do you find it hard to see your own deficiencies while finding it easy to point out those of others?
  • What’s it like living among the “crazy” or “insane” without becoming “crazy” yourself?
  • How do you deal with peer pressure?
  • Do you ever question consensus reality?
  • Do you generally go about your days drinking your own water? What’s that like?
  • Are you dependent on others for your self-worth, self-esteem or identity?

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(c) 2016, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, or in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Violence – When We Lose Touch with Our Soul

 

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Violence-When We Lose Touch with Our Soul
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“Speak when you are angry and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” – Ambrose Bierce

All violence – overt, subtle, verbal, physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, etc. – is about one issue, and one issue only – power. Generally, violence manifests in three ways: our actions, our words and our thoughts.

At work, at home, at play and in relationship, people tend towards violence when they feel threatened and powerless. A threat can be real or perceived. Folks resort to violence as an inappropriate way to re-establish their own sense of power over someone or something they perceive as a threat.

There are three kinds of violence: one, through our deeds; two, through our words; and three, through our thoughts.

At the very heart of violence is a disconnect – from one’s soul. When we disconnect with our soul, it’s due to an emotional disturbance. How so?

There are two parts of our brain that do not operate together: the prefrontal cortex and the limbic brain. The prefrontal cortex of our brain is the “executive” functioning part, where we engage in rational thought, decision-making and logical thinking. When we’re connected to our soul, we are orienting to, and focusing on, our experience through this part of our brain. To maintain this connection and focus, we need to be in a place of peace – where we’re not being combative or defensive – in thought, word or deed.

Our limbic brain engages when we sense a real or perceived threat and we experience fear. In a state of fear we move into a fight, flight or freeze reaction. Fear causes us to disconnect from our prefrontal cortex. When we’re afraid, we cannot think logically, rationally, or compassionately. Being fearful blocks most people from contacting the prefrontal cortex. When people are afraid, they do not think creatively, compassionately or independently. This kind of thought requires the use of the higher brain.

Those who have a well-developed prefrontal cortex can most often cope with real or perceived threats. Those with a less developed prefrontal cortex (and note that incessant engaging in electronic interactions – Twitter, Facebook, toting,, video-games, etc., – prevents us from developing our prefrontal cortex) react rather than respond.

Those who have developed their prefrontal cortex are often able to cope with threatening situations – can be “cool under fire.” These days, it seems that these folks are few and far between

When we encounter a threat, when our higher brain wants to engage and our primitive, limbic, defensive brain is activated through fear, we have a conflict which usually results in our experiencing a heightened state of stress, anxiety, chaos, confusion and depression. In this mental-emotional state, our natural tendency is to seek “relief.” Violence is one way we attempt to seek relief. Violence helps us act on, and discharge, the tension.

The good news-bad news dynamic of violence is that violence can give us an immediate release of the tension but the underlying cause, the fear, remains. Until and unless we confront our fear, and deal with it consciously and directly, we will not experience inner peace or well-be-ing. We’ll remain disconnected from our soul, from our True and Authentic Self.

“The root of all violence is in the world of thoughts, and that is why training the mind is so important.” Eknath Easwaran

To deal with the root cause of our anger, the fear, there are two actions we can take:

First, we can look at the truth of what is causing us to feel afraid. We can explore why we feel threatened, and if the threat is real or perceived. Here, we need to engage our prefrontal cortex and intelligently and rationally examine the validity of the threat. Is it real or am I creating a “story” to make it real? What are the facts and what is the truth?

Second, we need to access our own inner authority, our Higher Self, to ascertain right knowing, right understanding and right action vis-à-vis next steps, choices and decisions. This step requires a great deal of honesty, sincerity and trust that we have the inner strength, courage, intelligence and ability to be at peace while we assess our immediate experience. We CANNOT take this step while being driven by our limbic, emotional brain.

What makes these two steps possible and builds our capacity to be “cool under fire” requires a “spiritual” practice. By consistently taking time for meditation, quietude, silence and self-reflection we condition our brain to reduce the frequency and intensity of beta brainwaves that are heightened when we experience fear and stress, while building the capacity to produce an abundance of alpha brainwaves that supports us to feel peaceful and facilitate soul connection.

It’s impossible to experience fear while we are producing strong alpha waves. In a relaxed and meditative state our mind can be receptive to our soul’s impulse – the source of inner strength, love and intelligence. By regularly practicing of this inner state of connection, we are more able to disconnect from both “internal” and “external” real or perceived threats and gradually learn to trust the inner, higher authority of our soul.

In this place, we are able to make more creative, compassionate and life enhancing choices and decisions for ourselves and others. In this place of empowerment (and not reactivity), we are often able to extricate ourselves from a place of “victimization” and feel less need to be “violent” in thought, word and deed. We can feel secure within ourselves. Violent thoughts, words and actions are replaced by loving and healing thoughts, words and actions.

Some questions for self-reflection are:

  • Who or what threatens you? Are these threats real or perceived? What is the truth of these threats?
  • Do you create stories about others causing you problems and then acting as if these stories are true when they may be false?
  • Are you too quick to anger? If so, why?
  • How do you maintain balance and freedom from irrational fears?
  • When do you most often lose connection with your soul? Do you see any habits or patterns here?
  • How often do you think vicious thoughts?
  • Do you tend to be silently violent?
  • Are you guilty of abusing others verbally or emotionally (e.g., sarcasm, gossiping, bullying, demeaning one-liners and put-downs, etc.)?
  • Do you believe you’re being rationale and logical when operating from a place of fear or threat?
  • What was your experience around trust and betrayal like when you were growing up?
  • Can you envision a world where you consistently feel focused, “cool under fire” and empowered?

“Never use violence of any kind. Never threaten violence in any way. Never even think violent thoughts. Never argue because it attacks another’s opinion. Never criticize because it attacks another’s ego. And your success is guaranteed.” – Mohandas Gandhi

 

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(c) 2016, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

When I Wake Up…

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When we wake up in the morning, there is a nano-second between the moment we regain consciousness and the moment “thinking” kicks in. In that place of spaciousness, we might hear the birds communicating with one another, or smell the aroma of brewing coffee, or notice the light of the rising sun, or sense the warm body of someone a few millimeters away or just be in touch with our own body. There’s no thinking, just sensing, being aware, noticing.

For those who are familiar with practices such as focusing, contemplation, mindfulness or meditation, this nano-second can be turned into seconds, minutes and longer. No thinking. Just sensing, being awash in awareness. No thinking. Just being present.

Your day

Then our thinking kicks in. The day begins. But how it begins can be a curiosity. For some, the day begins with a knee-jerk jump into an electronic world. For others, it’s a meditation, or exercise, a prayer, or planning for and setting intentions for the coming day. How about you?

Here are some common or not-so-common ways to begin your day. They may resonate; they may not.

  1. When you wake up, stay in bed. Breathe deeply. Sense your body, and notice (just notice; don’t judge) what you’re feeling. Are you happy, sad, angry, hurt, fearful, resentful, confused guilty, jealous? How do these feelings show up in your physical body?Don’t do anything. Just breathe and allow the energy of the feelings to run their  course. Track the energy as it moves through your body. Don’t attach stories to the energy. Just follow the energy. Generally, the feelings/energy will melt away. Often your body’s inner wisdom will arise. Be curious. Listen. Sense. What’s the message?
  2. Notice the first thought/issue that comes to you upon awakening. Is it work-related? Family related? Self- related? Track this first thought for a few days. Do you see any pattern? Be curious about the pattern. What does the pattern tell you? Again, with curiosity, not judgment.
  3. Do you usually wake up feeling alive, refreshed, and renewed? Or are you sad, unhappy, upset or drained? Peaceful, calm and relaxed? Or angry, guilty or ashamed? Why? What needs to happen (or not happen) for you to wake up feeling positive, relaxed and in a state of equanimity?

Some questions for self-reflection:

      • On a scale of 1(low) to 10 (high), how much do you like yourself? Do you practice loving self-care? How so, or, why not?
      • Do you wake up feeling you deserve to have a pleasant or good day, a productive day, a peace-filled day?
      • Do you commit to taking care of yourself during your day? How so?
      • Do you feel you’re deserving of love?
      • Do you surround yourself with toxic people? Why? What do they “get” you?
      • Do you spend more time and energy caring for others than you do caring for yourself? Why?
      • Are you living your life from a place of honesty, sincerity and self-responsibility?

———————————————-

(c) 2016. Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one “thing” that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

So you’re taking a summer vacation. Really?

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“What do I want to take home from my summer vacation? Time. The wonderful luxury of being at rest. The days when you shut down the mental machinery that keeps life on track and let life simply wander. The days when you stop planning, analyzing, thinking and just are. Summer is my period of grace.”
Ellen Goodman

New York University sociologist, Dalton Conley, recently coined the term: “weisure” – the result of blurring the line dividing work and leisure. More and more, work is carrying over into folks’ leisure time. It appears that places and activities usually regarded as “fun only” are now work-play ambiguous. No surprise here!

Folks are using their smartphones to connect with their business colleagues while at home or hanging out with their families in the evening. Folks are chatting with Facebook colleagues on weekends and holidays. And, of course, all their other electronic leashes are keeping them connected so they can take care of business while “on vacation.”

What’s happening!

Some, including Conley, say the work-leisure phenomena is happening because more folks are finding work to be fun and want to stay connected during leisure periods. Really! Fun! Who’s kidding whom!?

For couples and families that have an honest, true, sincere and intimate connection with one another, I wonder how they view the “fun of weisure” as a reason for disconnecting with one other at home, at play, or on vacation. Perhaps you can ask ten of your closest friends how their spouses, partners or children feel about the separation caused by one of them experiencing all the “fun” while conducting business at home, or on vacation.

Rather than enjoying the “fun” of doing business and choosing to stay connected 24/7, 365, my anecdotal research says folks are (1) inundated with more and more work they cannot handle in a “normal” workday work and/or (2) fearful, guilty or anxious that if they don’t stay connected 24/7, 365, they may find themselves out of a job, and/or (3) they are addicted to their computers and/or (4) they have become emotionally disconnected from their families in favor of social networking and connecting outside their relationship – their “lover” or mistress is now the Internet. My take is that “weisure” is NOT ubiquitous because work now has more “meaning” or provides “fun.” The test – “If you won the lottery today would you continue to work as long and as hard in a 24/7, 365 “weisure” world? Be honest.

The downside of “weisure”

“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one”. – Elbert Hubbard

The really upsetting fallout of living in a “weisure” world is sacrificing one’s privacy and the abdication of precious relaxation time. With the increasing blurring of work and leisure, research shows fewer and fewer folks are actually taking vacations. Many feel not only that they have to stay connected on holidays and weekends but that they actually fear they might lose their jobs if they went on vacation. And for those who actually do take a vacation, how many need to “unwind” after they come back from a “weisure-driven” vacation – as stressed when they return as they were before they left? The number of these folks increases yearly.

Stressed out, overworked and overwhelmed, many folks need time off but are worried and fearful that a short vacation could lead to a permanent one. They feel dammed if they do; damned if they don’t. Not a very psychologically healthy place to be.

The psycho-emotional-mental-physical effects of a “weisure” lifestyle are quite disturbing. More and more folks are experiencing stress-related dis-eases and illness, family dysfunction and disruption, and really rough times holding it together at work. The workplace is being populated by ever-growing numbers of disengaged, unproductive, underperforming and exhausted employees – not to mention those experiencing serious states of depression, addiction, self-neglect and serious overt or silent anger.

At home, these folks now have no idea how to “take it easy” or relax without working.

The parking areas of many of the office parks I run through, and drive around, are often one quarter or more full on weekends, evenings and holidays. “Weisure?”

Why vacations and honest leisure time are important

Using a camera appeases the anxiety which the work-driven feel about not working when they are on vacation and supposed to be having fun. They have something to do that is like a friendly imitation of work: they can take pictures.” – Susan Sontag

Simple, taking time for one’s self is a non-negotiable “must” to maintain a healthy mind, body and soul. It’s impossible to run a car engine on all cylinders 24/7, 365. The human body, mind and psyche are no different – dependency on energy drinks notwithstanding.

Leisure time and vacations, spent consciously, serve as preventative medicine. They allow time for de-stressing, decompressing, rejuvenating, replenishing and re-connecting with one’s self. It is when we consciously allow a real genuine opportunity of space for relaxation and novelty that we can discover the unconscious level of tension and stress we’ve been carrying day-to-day. In fact, the first few days of vacation usually begin the process of unwinding, which is followed by the recognition of a need for rest, relaxation and a deeper settling of our body, mind and spirit. And, if you’re fortunate, your vacation is long enough to allow you to enter into the phase of real rejuvenation.

Now the greater question is “What type of vacation do you take?” For some people vacation is wall-to-wall sight seeing, visiting family, exercise boot camp, or staying “connected” i.e., doing, doing, doing which is inevitably followed by that odd aftermath of “I need a vacation from my vacation.”

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • When was your last “real” vacation?
  • What does “vacation” mean for you?
  • What are the elements of a favorite vacation for you?
  • Do you take the type of vacation that really nurtures and nourishes you? Be honest.
  • How do you prepare for your vacation?
  • How do you transition from vacation to home to work?
  • How is the first week back after your return?
  • How are you at the end of the second week back after your return?
  • What did you discover about yourself on recent vacations? Did you have time for any discovery?
  • Is there something you learned about yourself on vacation that influences a change you want to implement into your everyday life?
  • How do you experience your self on vacation? Do you enjoy your “self” away from the everyday routine?
  • Was your work life and home life supported in your absence? Were the bases covered?
  • Were you able to really disengage or were your Blackberry and laptop traveling companions?
  • What was vacation like before you had a SmartPhone, IPhone, Blackberry, laptop or other digital gadget?
  • How much vacation time do you have and take each year? How much do you need?
  • Has your relationship suffered because of your “weisure” activities. Be honest. What would you spouse, partner or children say?
  • What were vacations like when you were growing up?
  • Can you visualize a world where you can take a vacation and truly leave work behind? Would you want to?

“And so we take a holiday, a vacation, to gain release from this bondage for a space, to stand back from the rush of things and breathe again. But a holiday is a respite, not a cure. The more we need holidays, the more certain it is that the disease has conquered us and not we it. More and more holidays just to get away from it all is a sure sign of a decaying civilization; it was one of the most obvious marks of the breakdown of the Roman empire. It is a symptom that we haven’t learned how to live so as to re-create ourselves in our work instead of being sapped by it.”Evelyn Underhill

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(c) 2016, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.  Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is – maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

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