Pressure’s On

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 Northern Illinois University professor Larissa Barber, PhD, coined the term “telepressure” – the urge to respond immediately to work-related messages, no matter when they come.”

A study in Time magazine reports: “The majority of US workers (52 percent) check their e-mail during non-work hours, including on sick days. Depending on your employer, it may be an unspoken requirement to respond immediately, but, more likely, you respond right away not because of actual workplace policy but due to a phenomenon known as “telepressure.”

Meshing work and home

The question I would interject is “To what degree is the meshing of your work life and home life affecting your health – mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological?”

Prof. Barber’s research found: “…those who felt greater telepressure, and therefore a stronger urge to check and respond to e-mails at all hours, faced some serious consequences.”

Knee-jerk reactions

Telepressure is a two edge sword – one edge, necessitating the other. On the one hand, our addiction to our devices creates a neurological dynamic in our brains, not unlike addiction, to seek more and more stimulation – checking my iPhone, checking my smart phone, checking my social media sites-non-stop, always seeking more, more and more. It’s the progressive drug that requires ever greater doses in order to satiate.

The other edge is the immediacy with which we feel compelled to reply or to respond. This immediacy often precludes what’s needed in that very moment – time to reflect, time to think, time to analyze and time to step back. This immediacy often results in less-than-optimal choices and decisions. Lose-lose.

Psycho/emotional health

Prof. Barber reports that those who engage in this constant state of stimulus and response, face some serious health consequences: worse sleep, higher levels of burnout (physical and cognitive), and increased health-related absences from work.

One unfortunate downside of always being “on” and “available” 24/7, 365 is pure and simple: exhaustion, stress, burnout, rust-out, disengagement and presenteeism (your body shows up, but you don’t). And, the fact you’re announcing to folks (i.e., sent from my device at all hours), “I’m always available. Contact me anytime.”

The constant wear and tear and stress that accompanies always being “on” and “available” has serious psychological effects – suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and other stress-related afflictions such as diabetes, heart attacks, depression, alcoholism and drug addiction.

The body and mind cannot race at 100 miles an hour non-stop and not break down in some way, shape or form. No matter how invulnerable or invincible you think you are.

The challenge for folks today is not how to connect but to disconnect. Our devices have become extensions of ourselves. Folks need to learn how to disconnect from their devices in order to connect or reconnect with themselves.

Other research tells us that spending an inordinate amount of time at night in artificial light, interferes with the body’s production of melatonin which helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. People who use their computer or smartphones near bedtime are more likely to report symptoms of insomnia.

Crazy-busy

Many folks these days wear “crazy busy” as a merit badge. Many folks regard busyness and “living in the fast lane” as status symbols. These folks seem to think their status is in direct proportion to the number of emails they receive or number of meetings they attend. Writer Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, explains:

“…overwork has really become pervasive. I’m not talking about hard work. I’m all for hard work that we find meaning in. But overwork leaves us burned out and disengaged butts in chairs at work and fried at home without the energy to do much more than flop down in front of the boob tube.”

Antidotes

There are answers, or antidotes, if you’re able and willing to make some choices. Some suggestions:

Boundaries
Create boundaries between your work life and personal life. Plug-in when you’re at work and unplug when you’re not. Coming home and “plugging in” as a way of winding down and relaxing is powerfully self-destructive. To think of “plugging in” as a form of relaxation at home is a delusion, pure and simple. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unplug!

Exercise
Get your body moving; oxygenate your cells, your brain, your muscles, tendons and ligaments. Exercise reduces and alleviates stress. Exercise is a natural antidepressant.

Spend More Time outside
Being in nature, whether you’re actively running or walking, or gardening or simply sitting is a natural stress reducer. And being outside, unencumbered by your devices, is even more so.

Focus on Your Breath
Research is showing more and more today than mindfulness practice, which includes slow, quiet and deep belly breathing, can support your mind, body and spirit to be in optimal balance, harmony and regulation. Every cell in your body responds positively to mindfulness and breathing practices. Mindfulness and breathing practices help to regulate the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, producing states of inner peace, equanimity, serenity, positivity and the like.

Engage in what you enjoy
Do what you enjoy doing without giving in to yours or others’ critiques or judgments. Have fun.

Watch your diet
First and foremost, do you know the science between diet and health, between diet and energy, between diet and well-being, between gut-health and overall health, between eating early in the evening and eating just before bedtime and how food affects mood, the brain and you nervous system? If not, spend some quality time doing just a bit of research about diet and health. Eat mindfully. That is, dispense with the “mechanical hand” that shoves food in nonstop, unconsciously and focus on the “what” and the “how” when you’re eating. Be as peaceful as you can – in mind, body and spirit – when you eat. Learn how to eat consciously.

Monitor your emotional state
Continually ask yourself with curiosity (and this is extremely important) and not with judgment or criticism, “What am I thinking?” And “What am I feeling?” Asking yourself these questions on a consistent basis can support you to become a witness, watcher and observer of yourself in such a that you become more and more able to move away from dysfunctional emotional states into states of positivity, stability and well-being. This practice can greatly help to reduce stress and short-circuit the beliefs and the thoughts which take you into the dark or gray places.

Connect
Loneliness is a huge stress producer. Set your intention to meet regularly with a good friend (or friends) on a regular basis so you can get “outside yourself.” Explore if there are ways you can serve and support others in some capacity to move out of your mental and emotional ZIP Code. Connection is good for the mind, body and soul.

Take “FSBs” – Frequent Short Breaks.
Get yourself a timer and set it to go off every (30) minutes. When it goes off (be reasonable; don’t plan this exercise if you know you’ll be in a meeting, etc.) and when it goes off stop what you’re doing and take one to two minutes to, for example, just breathe, go for a short walk – inside or out, stare out the window, meditate, walk up and down a flight of stairs, shake your body in place, and the like. Taking frequent short breaks is a powerful way to master your emotions, reduce stress, become more productive and energized, work optimally and otherwise experience a true sense of well-being.

Questions for self-reflection:

  • How often are you “connected” to your devices at home? Are you able to “unplug” at home?
  • Does your spouse/partner ever react that you spend more time with your phone than with him/her?
  • How knowledgeable are you about the relationship between diet and health?
  • Are you in good physical shape – but not in good psychological/emotional/spiritual health?
  • On a scale of 1(low) to 10(high) how would you describe your stress level on an average day at work, and at home?
  • Do you incorporate any of the suggestions above into your life? How so?
  • Do you go through withdrawal when you’re away from your devices for a while? What’s that like for you?
  • What’s your relationship with being alone and with loneliness?
  • Are you comfortable with silence?
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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

Reality and reality

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“I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another.” – William Shakespeare

If you put 200 people – diverse in as many ways as possible – in a theatre and then project the world going by in real time, no doubt these 200 folks will have 200 different opinions, reactions, observations, judgments, or takes on what they’re viewing.

Reality vs. reality

As these folks sit and watch, what’s informing their interpretation, their perception, is their internal map of reality. While “Reality” (capital R) is what’s passing by on the screen, most everyone is seeing that reality from their own “inner” reality – their beliefs, assumptions, perceptions, misperceptions, premises and “stories” they’ve created, paradigms, that is, their history, memory and experience, describe what they’re viewing. No two people are “hardwired” the same; thus, their views about life and living are products of their respective life experiences, beginning at birth.

So, then, what is “real” reality and what is the reality we create in our immediate experience? The answer to this question can help us understand why we experience so much conflict in dealing not only with ourselves but with one another – at work, at home, at play and in relationship.

Koan

In Zen and Buddhism, a “koan” is a challenging question or statement that prompts one to engage in reflection – the intention is to lead one to a higher state of understanding or awareness. There is a Zen koan that says: “Show me your original face before you were born.”

This koan asks us to stretch – in a way that allows us to access our True, Real and Authentic Self – the self we are/were before being born. In this process, we transcend our “database” of thoughts, concepts, beliefs, etc., and move to a place of no-mind – where we experience Reality as it truly is, experience our self as we truly are. Our true face before we were born is actually who we were (and still are!) before we were shaped and crafted by our “life experience.”

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

The koan is not meant to cause a reactive: “How can I have a face, or exist, before I was born?” It is a question of “Who am I without my set of beliefs, or my image of myself or an identity that I’ve adopted for myself?”

Reflecting on the koan can help us see how attached we are to “my reality,” – my beliefs, assumptions, theories, perceptions, and perspectives, etc. Deep reflection can also support us to flow in a space of no-mind, an “original space” of mental quietude, unencumbered by our thoughts and thought patterns – our history, memory or experiences.

Letting go

The point is that when we become more natural and internally quiet, and we are able to let go, we can better interact with others, not as a robotic, human collection of beliefs, opinions, or assumptions, etc., but as one who is open, curious, and accepting in the way we experience our world.

“False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” – William Shakespeare

We sort of “re-birth” ourselves each time we draw a conclusion about “who I am.” Each time we make a decision/judgment about our self – “I’m not good in social situations with others,” I’m a great leader,” “I have problems with difficult people,” I’m not very smart,” – we create our identity, our “subjective” face and move farther away from our “original” face.

But, each of us has an “original face” – the face of who we were before we identified with anything or anyone. And, the good news is we can return to our original face, the place of inner peace and well-be-ing, if we learn to let go of our “false face.”  Our “original face” is not only devoid of the superficial, surface elements of make-up, but the “false face” of beliefs and assumptions about who we think we are, most often, beliefs that really don’t serve us and cause us pain and suffering.

Don’t take it personally

When we don’t take the people, events and circumstances of our world personally, we can move into a place of deep relaxation and peace – our “original face.” Here, we can watch the projection of the world go by right in front of us – at work, at home, at play and in relationship – without the need to become reactive. Rather, our experience is one without tension, pretension, fakeness, or phoniness – none of the “shoulds” telling us how to be or what to do.

“Don’t laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find his own.” – Logan Pearsall Smith

Surviving

So, what takes us away from our “original face?” In a word, survival. First, as young children our survival – physical, emotional, mental, psychological, spiritual – depended on our unconsciously taking on others’ beliefs as to how we should behave. If we behaved accordingly, we “survived.” If not, we lost out on love, recognition, approval and for some, safety and security. As we developed, we took on more and more beliefs, assumptions and ways of do-ing and be-ing that we felt would help us “survive” – at work, at home, at play and in relationship.

Now, as adults, we no longer have access to our “original face.” We wear masks, and have various personas we take off and put on daily so we can “survive.” Having lost our “original face,” we’ve become unconsciously controlled by our ego mind as reflected by our inability to just let the world pass by as we sit in that theatre. Rather, we have an unconscious need to react, judge, compare, contrast, offer opinions, and be “right.”  We put our best face forward, to survive. We hold on to all our faces so we have them just in case.

“Solitude: sweet absence of faces.” – Milan Kundera

When we let go of our false faces, of our need to “survive,” and habitual and patterned ways of thinking, do-ing and be-ing, and allow ourselves to sink into and penetrate deeply into our core Self, we set ourselves free – free to allow our “original face” – free from self-limiting, self-defeating, and self-sabotaging thoughts, beliefs, “stories” and identifications. In this place we can sit in the theatre of life and experience the world – at work, at home, at play and in relationship – without needing to take it “personally.”

Our “original face” is what supports us to see the freshness of life, in every moment, free of conflict and the need to be judgmental, confrontational, combative or controlling.

Some questions for self-reflection are:

  • When was the last time you experienced your “original face?”
  • Aside from physical elements such as make-up, surgery, or hair coloring, etc., what mental, emotional or attitudinal elements obscure your original face?
  • Do you tend to take people, events or circumstances “personally?” If so, how so and why?
  • Do you recall behaving in ways you didn’t want, as a child, to get your parents’ or primary caregiver’s attention, love, acceptance or approval? Do you behave in those ways now to get others’ acceptance and approval?
  •  If you were sitting in that theatre, would you be able to simply watch, witness and observe without feeling the need to judge, critique or inject your $.02? Be honest. How about in your everyday world?
  • In addition to your closet of clothes, do you have a closet of faces and personas you take out and put on for different events, circumstances and people? Why is that?
  • Would folks describe you as authentic? How do you know? Would you ask them? If not, why not?
  • What was being authentic like for you when you were growing up? Were you able to have your “original face?” Were you encouraged to have your “original face?”
  • Can you envision a world where everyone wore their “original face?”

“There are people who think that everything one does with a serious face is sensible.” – Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

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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

Why?

why

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It’s the one question we learned in childhood that often drove our parents or primary caregivers up the wall. Even as adults, our various flavors of “why?” can still drive others nuts – at work, at home, at play and in relationship. And, many of us continue to ask “Why?” consistently – not satisfied with “standard” responses or “conventional” wisdom.

“Because”

Often, when we asked “Why?” as children, the responses we got didn’t satisfy us or make sense. In addition, when we heard something like, “I don’t know,” “That’s a dumb question,” “Because that’s just the way it is,” or “It’s a mystery,” and the like, we learned to stop asking. Unfortunately, many of us lost our curiosity and our inquisitiveness.

In reality, we did not really lose this aspect of ourself, we repressed it, stuffed it down. But, deep down, many of us still have a burning desire to know “why.”  For example, this is why, consciously or unconsciously, so many of us long to know the meaning of life. The ultimate “why?”.

The search for meaning

The search for meaning is basically a search for significance – significance of what is not obvious. When we find answers, sometimes they are objective – questions about day-to-day life, details, facts, and so on. (Think: “Why is the sky blue?”)

On a meta level, however, “Why?” is about life itself and its attendant puzzles, challenges and conundrums – e.g., questions about pain and suffering, striving and struggling, death and separation, etc. In the final analysis, the “Why?” is really about “me” – Who am I? Why am I here? What’s the meaning of my life’s experience? These deeper questions cannot be answered with objective facts or details. When we grow our soul and move to higher or deeper levels of consciousness, we move towards what we know as “enlightenment” – higher or deeper levels of knowing and understanding that really aren’t “knowledge” as we would define it in a Western way.

So, what’s the point?

Finding meaning and gaining “higher” understanding is not about escaping from, detouring around or eliminating life’s challenges. Suffering will still exist, for example, but we don’t have to have “pain” (emotional, psychological and/or spiritual) around it. We can choose to move beyond feeling like a victim, for example. Death will still remain an inevitability, but we can choose to approach it from a place of inner peace and equanimity, not abject fear, denial or resistance. Understanding the deeper meaning of a painful relationship, for example, can move us to a place where we can love once more.

We all have this deep inner longing to know “why.” Sometimes we do repress it, or stay in denial, or resist it (like, metaphorically, when we were children we might place our hands over our ears and shout so we didn’t have to listen to unpleasant “noise,” shouting or to what was being said). However, resisting our deep inner urge to know “why” is a futile attempt to live life from an ego-driven, not heart- or soul-driven, place.

And, for those of you who are still placing your hands over your ears, what would it feel like if you gave yourself permission to ask “Why?”

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • If you played back the tape of your day today, or yesterday, what might you see about your motives, the “why,” for your actions and behaviors?
  • Identify a recent emotional experience and explore the deeper meaning behind it. Why do you think that experience happened FOR (not TO) you?
  • Take some quiet time and ask yourself, “What questions about my self and my life am I avoiding?” Why do you think you’re resisting asking yourself these questions?
  • Why do you think you’re on the planet?
  • How did your parents/primary caregivers, friends, relatives and teachers respond when you asked “Why?” How did that make you feel?
  • Were you curious as a child? Are you now?
  • What are your curious about these days? Why?

(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

Serenity and Chaos

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 “So nothing is ever good or bad unless you think it so, and vice versa. All luck is good luck to the man who bears it with equanimity.” – Boethius (Anicius Manlius Severinus), Consolation of Philosophy

It appears lots of folks are experiencing life these days caught up in some flavor of crisis or conflict  – at work, at home, at play or in relationship. They experience a form of conflict and stress around issues, for example, like leading and managing, or processes, deadlines, budgets and job security, or personal relationships and unresolved conflicts, or how to resolve health or education challenges, or whether what they are doing is what they really want to be doing with their life.

Stress is the container in which they live their lives – consistently experiencing racing heartbeats, shortness of breath, tight jaws, facial frowns, rigid postures, negative emotions and feelings, critical and judgmental inner dialogue, illness and dis-ease. A life defined by automated, robotic reactivity to conflict and crisis. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

What is equanimity?

“Philosophy teaches us to bear with equanimity the misfortunes of others.” – Oscar Wilde

Merriam-Webster defines equanimity as: an evenness of mind under stress – a habit of mind that is rarely disturbed under great strain; a controlling of emotional or mental agitation through will and habit; a steadiness when facing strain.

Equanimity is a practice in Buddhist and Sufi traditions. Equanimity is the foundation for wisdom and freedom, compassion and love. Equanimity is not, as some might believe, a coolness, indifference or aloofness, suppression/repression of feelings, apathy or inexpressiveness. The Buddha described equanimity as a mind that is abundant, immeasurable, and without hostility or ill-will.

“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.” – Albert Einstein

What does equanimity look like?

Equanimity is the capacity to remain neutral, to witness from a distance, and be at peace without getting caught up in what we observe. It’s the capacity to see the big picture with understanding, without reactivity, for example, to another’s words, ideology, perspective, position, premise, or philosophy. In essence, we take nothing personally; refuse to get caught up in the drama, our own or others’.

Equanimity allows us to be in the midst of conflict or crisis in a way where we are balanced, grounded and centered. Equanimity has the qualities of inner peace, harmony, well be-ing, vitality, strength, and steadfastness. Equanimity allows us to remain upright in the face of the strong winds of conflict and crisis, such as: blame, failure, pain, or dispute – winds that set us up for suffering when they begin to blow. Equanimity protects us from being “blown over” and helps us stay on an “even keel.”

How do we develop equanimity?

There are several mind/body qualities that support the development of equanimity. One is integrity. Do-ing and be-ing in integrity supports our feeling confident when we speak and act. Being in integrity fosters an equanimity that results in “blamelessness,” feeling comfortable in any setting or with any group without the need to find fault or blame. Another quality that supports equanimity is faith (not necessarily a religious or theological faith) – a faith based on wisdom, conviction or confidence. This type of faith allows us to meet challenge, crisis or conflict head on with assurance, with equanimity. A third quality is that of a well-developed mind – a mind that reflects stability, balance and strength. We develop such a mind through a conscious and consistent practice of focus, concentration, attention and mindfulness. A well-developed, calm mind keeps us from being blown about by winds of conflict and crisis.

A fourth quality is a heightened, cultivated sense of well-be-ing which we develop by engaging in practices or activities that take us out of our robotic, programmed ego-driven life and focus on a higher or deeper sense of consciousness, such as meditation, martial arts, self-reflection, the arts, and right-brain focused actions and activities. A fifth quality that supports equanimity is understanding or wisdom which allows us to accept, be present and aware to our experience without our mind or heart resisting or contracting. In this place we separate people from their actions; we agree or disagree while being in balance with them. We take nothing personally. Another quality is knowing that others create their own reality so we are able to exhibit equanimity in the face of others’ pain or suffering and not feel we need to take responsibility for their well be-ing in the face of their conflict or crisis. It’s a flavor of compassion

A sixth quality that supports equanimity is seeing reality for what it is, for example, that change and impermanence are a fact of life. We become detached (not unattached) and less clingy to our attachments. This means letting go of negative judgments about our experience and replacing them with an attitude of loving kindness or acceptance and a compassionate matter-of-factness. The more we become detached, the deeper we experience equanimity. The final quality is freedom – letting go of our need to be reactive so we can witness, watch and observe without needing to get caught up in the fray, the winds – maintaining a consistent relaxed state within our body as sensations (e.g., strong, subtle, pleasant, unpleasant, physiological, or emotional) move through.

Equanimity, thus, has two aspects: the power of observation and an inner balance, both of which support one to be mindful, awake, aware and conscious. The greater the degree we are mindful, the greater our capacity for equanimity. The greater our equanimity, the greater our ability to remain steady and balanced as we navigate through the rough waters and gusty winds of change, challenge and conflict.

When we’re out of balance, lacking equanimity

In our everyday physical world, when we lose our balance, we fall. In our emotional world, we stuff our feelings and emotions, deny them or contract around them. Or we identify with a particular thought, feeling or emotion, hold on to it rather than allow it to flow through us or pass like a cloud in the sky. The middle ground is equanimity – the state of non-interference.

Equanimity allows for a deeper, more fulfilling experience.

“When force of circumstance upsets your equanimity, lose no time in recovering your self-control, and do not remain out of tune longer than you can help. Habitual recurrence to the harmony will increase your mastery of it.”Marcus Aurelius

As we develop our capacity for equanimity, we begin to notice when we drop into a “state of equanimity.” Being aware of our experience, we can explore the state; this practice will lead to more frequent and deeper states of equanimity. What we find with such practice is that people, events, objects and circumstances that once caused us to be reactive no longer have any “charge” and we are more and more able to let go and feel less “bothered.” We suffer less.

Equanimity allows for a safe harbor in the center of the storm – when we are caught up in the stresses of life at work, at home, at play and in relationship. In this place, we are more capable of meeting life with inner aplomb, without giving in to the underlying currents of tension and turmoil, and more able to respond effectively instead of reactively. Our responses take place in the conscious context of acceptance and equanimity.

Equanimity allows us to live a life of true and real achievement free from the trap of ego-based likes and dislikes, and emotional reactivity. The beauty of equanimity is that it supports us to live our life in such a way that we can experience a heightened sense of well-be-ing regardless of external events or circumstances, crises or conflicts, in a way that we experience clarity, alertness and ease in the moment.

Equanimity allows us to feel relaxed, make clearer, more honest, sincere and self-responsible choices and decisions, engage in more effective communication with others, speak the truth, be genuinely interested in listening to others, and be more trusting and trustworthy.

Same questions for self-reflection:

  • To what extent do I experience quiet confidence, equanimity and calmness in my life at work, at home, at play and in relationship?
  • Am I generally free from stress, worry, fear, hate, anger, irritation, or confusion?
  • What keeps me from experiencing equanimity? How so?
  • What attachments do I have that cause me constant anxiety, fear, or stress?
  • Would my close friends, family, spouse/partner describe me as calm?
  • Do I feel I’m living a life of real achievement? Why, why not?
  • Do I engage in a practice that brings me inner peace, or a sense of calm, balance, harmony and well-be-ing? If not, what “story” do I tell myself or others to justify or rationalize my not doing so?
  • Who in my life exhibits equanimity on a consistent basis?
  • What was my experience of (my own or others’) equanimity like when I was were growing up?
  • Can I visualize a world where I can experience equanimity on a regular basis. What would be necessary for that to happen?

“For want of self-restraint many men are engaged all their lives in fighting with difficulties of their own making, and rendering success impossible by their own cross-grained ungentleness; whilst others, it may be much less gifted, make their way and achieve success by simple patience, equanimity, and self-control.” – Smiles

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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 Clover Practice™

clover

 

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

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

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

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?
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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, 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

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

“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

 

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page
 
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

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

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