Spirituality and Work

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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?

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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

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?

dificult

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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?

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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

Cultural conditioning: giving up your truth

egg

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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

 

violence

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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…

bed2

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

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?

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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

So you’re taking a summer vacation. Really?

pics

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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

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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

 

Wisdom vs. Intelligence

yoda

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The renowned 19th century preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, observed: “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”

Businesses continue to face challenging times. In this uncertainty, some leaders have lost their way due to egregious moral and ethical missteps. Others have reached career dead ends due to their inability to see the big picture from a higher not-so-common perspective. Many of these leaders are undoubtedly intelligent. But they’re not wise.

Being of “two minds”
Our minds work on a lower and higher level. The lower level deals with the concrete – our immediate physical environment, information, facts and logic. Our lower mind supports us to be aware, conceptual and reflective.

Our lower mind is rational, analytical, opinionated, busy and often skeptical. It is bound by time and space. We use our lower mind to make sense of our complicated and emotional world. The lower mind is the stuff of business schools, “operations-focused” education and experiential learning.

“Wisdom is what’s left after we’ve run out of personal opinions.” – Cullen Hightower

The lower mind delivers reductionist thinking and mechanistic, conventional approaches to life. The main drawback of living in the lower mind is that it only reflects your internal map of reality. It is like being stuck in your own intellectual zip code, never moving beyond your nine-digit thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, expectations and world views. It is like living in one town, knowing it completely, and never venturing outside the borders of that town.

Intelligent people are generally engaged with their lower mind and left-brain thinking. The lower mind focuses on one corner of the painting. Wisdom does not arise from this place.

The higher mind considers the abstract. It involves intuition, aspiration, heart, soul and spirit and connects with the Universal mind, with Universal truth, with beauty and with goodness. Our higher mind speaks in the language of ideas, ideals, symbols, principles and impulses. It is loving. It guides us to the truth.

The higher mind sees the threads woven between the mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological and social aspects of our life. The higher mind sees the entire painting – the place from which wisdom arises.

“Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack.” – Henry Miller

The qualities of a wisdom mind
Wise leaders access both their lower and higher minds. Wise leaders understand they are spiritual beings living in a human form. They allow their lower minds to access their higher, helping them to access intuition and impressions that provide insights into the bigger picture of life.

Wise leaders understand the importance of focus, presence, self-discipline, meditation, study, loving service and creative expression. They seek to grasp the next higher level of awareness. They venture outside their historical map of reality – willing to jettison their old, “safe” beliefs, assumptions, expectations,. “stories,” and worldviews – to explore the possible and the unknown. They’re open to knowing what they don’t know.

Wise leaders understand that spiritual and personal growth means connecting with higher concepts and energies, be they values, ideas, ideals, potentials, archetypes, higher guidance or intuition. The wise leader develops the capacity to not only connect with these higher concepts, but also to seek to ground them into forms, tasks, projects, relationships and details that inform the way they lead – at ground level, at 9:00 Monday morning.

Wise leaders don’t stop with experience, but transcend experience – both their own and others’ – in a way that they spend an appreciative amount of time and energy in deep self-reflection and thoughtful consideration around their experience, leading to higher insights, enhanced value and a deeper sense of self-awareness.

“We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.” – Marcel Proust

Wise leadership is not about having experiences but consciously learning from those experiences. The process of learning from experience leads to a process of inquiry – looking with curiosity, not judgment, into the who, what, when, where, how and – most importantly – the why of their experiences. Inquiry is a matter of punctuation; it’s about question marks, not full stops. It is about curiosity.

Wise leaders understand how connections between diverse elements can create something new. They are adept at using analogy and metaphor and seek to recognize patterns, spot trends, draw connections and discern the big picture even when there seem to be nothing there.

A wise leader interacts with her world in terms of a richer and more varied array of possibilities and opportunities. A wise leader understands the importance of relationships – human and otherwise. A wise leader is a systems thinker, a gestalt thinker, a holistic thinker. Wise leaders are comfortable being oriented to their right brain, as well as to their heart and soul.

Inquiry, for the wise leader, is not about “futurizing the past” – using their past experiences, history and memory, the known, the tried and true – to explain present experiences that are un-common, un-usual, un-familiar. They understand that inquiry involves delving deeply into the self, even parts of the self that, heretofore, might have been unknown, in order to search for new insights, perspectives and understanding – seeking familiarity with the unknown.

“To make no mistakes is not in the power of man; but from their errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future.” – Plutarch

For wise leaders, inquiry means creating an internal space unencumbered by old thoughts, beliefs and premises – a new, clear, inviting and open space – entering into a fresh realm without preconception or expectation and being informed with new learning, new sense, new meaning, new WHYs and new HOWs. In other words, new wisdom.

Many intelligent leaders aren’t even aware that they lack wisdom. Here are some indications to help them see where there’s room for wisdom-making:

  • They are task-oriented and focused on short-term gains. They see the corner of the painting but often fail to step back and view the painting from 50,000 feet out – the painting being their respective business and their respective profession/industry.
  • They choose to limit alternatives when engaged in analysis.
  • They fear ambiguity or other’s opinions and are closed to myriad possibilities and perspectives; they fear the unknown and taking risks.
  • They buckle under stress and tend to back away from challenges.
  • They are linear thinkers and feel they must be rational and logical. They are unable or unwilling to allow their “gut” or intuition to inform their decision-making process.
  • They can’t or won’t act “for the common good” when they are faced with conflict between multiple parties or priorities. They refuse to consider “right action” or the well-being of the group, team or community in favor of relying on the conventional perspective or their own personal goals.
  • They have no deep sense of self-awareness, and lack spiritual and emotional intelligence.
  • They focus on their strengths, deny their weaknesses and never allow their emotions to surface.
  • They lack a people-orientation.
  • They can’t be bothered making an effort to see others from a personal (as opposed to a functional) perspective.
  • They don’t know how to, or are unwilling to, deal with others’ emotions, or emotional well-being.
  • Relationship building is not their forte, by choice.
  • They lack harmony – there is no alignment or congruence between what they think, feel, say and do.

When we reflect and contemplate from a deeper level, when we choose to “go inside” and honestly, sincerely and self-responsibly ask ourselves if our stories are true, we are using our higher mind and engaging the wisdom of our heart and soul. Relying on our heart and soul’s inner wisdom and intelligence open us up to new ways of seeing, do-ing and be-ing – discovering and exploring new territory and new maps of reality, new zip codes – supporting us to understand and deal with today’s uncommon challenges in new ways.

Using one’s higher mind is what will support today’s intelligent leaders to become tomorrow’s wise leaders.

Some questions for self-reflection:

Would you characterize yourself as largely “left-brained?” What would others say about you?
Do you consider yourself “emotionally intelligent?” What would your close friends or co-workers say?
Is your organization using its “higher mind” as it considers strategies to deal with future challenges?
Do you consider your leaders to be “wise?” How about you?
How often do you take time to seriously reflect on your life’s experiences?
Would you say you are a “task-oriented” or “people-oriented” person? Would others agree?
Would you generally rather be right or happy? Why?
How do you deal with the unknown?
Can you envision a world at work where people are regularly encouraged to take time out for meditation and self-reflection?

“Not by age but by capacity is wisdom acquired. Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” – T. S. Eliot

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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

The Cold Within

camp-fire

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While I was out running this morning, I was thinking about the cloud of sadness that envelops the planet- the sadness that lies underneath the anger, vitriol, disrespect, resentment, jealousy, rage, hate, fear, and terror that inform and drive so many folks in their day-to-day dealings with others.

Then, coming in, I happened on this poem and thought, “Hmmm, synchronicity.” So, I thought I’d share it with you this week.

The poem, written in the 1970s by James Patrick Kinney called “The Cold Within” reminds me what may be at stake as we collectively (like it or not) move forward.

“Six humans trapped by happenstance,
In black and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood,
Or so the story�s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs,
The first woman held hers back.
For on the faces around the fire,
She noticed one was black.

The next man looking ‘cross the way,
Saw one not of his church,
And couldn’t bring himself to give,
The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes;
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use,
To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought,
Of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned,
From the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge,
As the fire passed from his sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood,
Was a chance to spite the white.

And the last man of this forlorn group,
Did naught, except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave,
Was how he played the game.

The logs held tight in death’s still hands
Was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without
They died from the cold within.”

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • What do you sense in your body as you read this? What emotions or feelings do these sensations communicate?
  • Do you see any part of you reflected in one or more of these individuals? How so?
  • Did/do you ever live life from a “zero-sum” game perspective – “if they get theirs then I don’t get mine?”
  • Do you ever experience (in yourself) jealousy, resentment, “righteous indignation,” arrogance, “giving to get” behaviors, revenge, spite, guilt, shame…? How so? Under what circumstances? Do you try to justify these feelings or behaviors? How so? What are the stories you use?
  • What are you doing with your stick of wood these days?

(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

Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Maturity?

children

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

It’s now widely acknowledged that Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a key skill for managers and business leaders and that getting in touch with your emotions and managing them when interacting with others plays a major part in managerial effectiveness

Old habits die hard
But despite this awareness, old habits still die hard. Even when an individual has worked to improve their emotional intelligence, they often experience a type of disconnect in real-life situations. They may have learned the concepts of EI at an intellectual level, but they still find it hard to manage their emotions or emotional reactivity and quickly revert to old, self-destructive emotional habits and patterns when certain triggers are pulled.

So why is EI so hard to embrace in our day-to-day lives?

Root cause stuff
One reason is that many people who worked on their EI have (consciously or unconsciously) failed to deal with the root causes of their emotional reactivity. They haven’t explored the deeper nature of their emotional history. This history of their emotional evolution is a prerequisite to understanding how they “futurize their past” – how they interpret the present based on their history, experiences and memories.

Without this understanding, it’s very hard to separate our present from our past – i.e., “that was then; this is now.” So we’re not able to see the present – people, places, events, circumstance and objects – as “fresh” and unencumbered by our past emotional history. We’re unable to experience the present in a positive, neutral and fresh way and so we experience many of life’s events shrouded in a mist of negativity, judgment and fear.

In other words, very few of us actually “process” our emotions. Few of us allow our emotions to just be – watching, witnessing and observing them and asking, “What are you teaching me, about me?”

Finally, many of us choose to bury our emotions. And we ought to know that when we bury our emotions, we bury them alive. They will return to rear their ugly heads, sooner or later.

Emotional maturity
So instead of focusing on emotional intelligence, perhaps we would be better served by focusing on emotional maturity.

The difference between the two is important. Emotional maturity is not “intellectual” but refers to a higher state of self-awareness – something that lies beyond “knowing” and “intelligence” – where we are guided by our senses, intuition and heart.

Emotional maturity is characterized by five principles:

  1. 99.9% of every negative emotion we experience is a childhood emotion overlaid on a current person, circumstance, place, event or object.
  2. Emotionally, many adults are 4-5-6-year-old children in adult bodies.
  3. No one can make you feel a way you don’t want to feel.
  4. An adult can be emotionally mature and child-like or immature and child-ish.
  5. Mindfulness, focus and presence are the keys to emotional maturity

Emotional maturity focuses on our emotional history, beginning with our interactions with our primary caregivers, extended family, teachers, friends, etc. We learn that around the age of seven, our psychological and emotional “programming” is set. Our emotional reactivity (anger, sadness, fear, shame, hurt, guilt, loneliness, etc.) that was triggered early on in life becomes stored in our cells and arises when “related” triggers pop up later in life.

Emotionally intelligent, but emotionally immature
Being emotionally mature means we seldom act out on, or suppress our emotions.

Emotionally intelligent, but “immature” adults are often unable to identify or manage their emotions. They usually avoid their emotions by intellectualizing, explaining, analyzing, disagreeing, attacking, flattering, joking, apologizing, evading, going silent, becoming aloof or suspicious, rejecting, criticizing or judging. They often come across as superior, arrogant, stubborn, defiant, hostile, people-pleasing, wishy-washy, phony, resentful, intolerant, self-pitying or victimized.

Because they haven’t explored their emotional development, many of them aren’t aware that they superimpose their childhood emotions on to their adult life. Their past is leaking out in the present.

In contrast, the emotionally mature adult understands that “my emotions are not me, but mine,” – i.e., “I’m in control, not my emotions”. So they are more objective and less judgmental. They are better able to detach themselves from triggers that would normally provoke an emotional reaction. They experience states of equanimity, serenity and inner peace. Blaming others is no longer a strategy they use to make themselves feel safe.

That’s not to say that an emotionally mature individual isn’t child-like. In fact they are often lively, excited, adventurous, joyful, happy and open. But they are also nurturing, supportive, firm, fair, helpful, respectful, self-responsible, non-judgmental, honest, sincere and focused on the well-being of themselves and of others.

The emotionally immature adult, however, is often child-ish, rather than child-like. They are reactive and throw tantrums. They are fearful, scared, needy, angry, resentful, pushy, bullying, jealous or envious. They can be quiet, withdrawn, defensive, argumentative or grandiose. They can come across as overbearing, micromanaging, controlling, disrespectful, fearful, angry, negative, judgmental, critical, abusive (mentally, emotionally, psychologically, physically), dishonest, insincere, narcissistic and focused on the self and the ego.

The most visible quality of emotional maturity is the capacity to be in the moment, to be present while being non-reactive or non-judgmental.
This “being present” supports our true and authentic self to guide us. We intuit “right knowing.” “right understanding” and “right action.” We feel our emotions without “becoming” our emotions. We grasp that the “trigger” for our reactivity may be “outside me.” but the “cause” of my emotions is within me.

So when we’re triggered, we watch, witness and observe but don’t succumb to a childish reaction. We accept our experience as it is. Practicing mindfulness, presence, focus, trust and surrender, we allow our heart and soul to push aside negativity or reactivity and bring what is needed, a considered, emotionally mature response.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you ever feel you need to change the way you respond emotionally to others? How so?
  • How do you feel when others challenge or disagree with you, or give you feedback?
  • Do you ever find yourself feeling fearful, angry or anxious? Do you know why?
  • Are you ever surprised by the way you react to others?
  • Do you ever feel afraid about exploring your emotions? Why?
  • Do you consider yourself to be emotionally mature? What would others say?
  • How did you learn about emotions when you were growing up?

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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.

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