1. Everything is changing, always (which is why you must look at every day with fresh eyes)
2. Reality always intrudes
3. Every person can have a profound effect on his/her own destiny.
It’s a belief in what poets call the symmetry of our actions, that the chickens do come home to roost, that what goes around does come around, that Karma is real, that there is always a day of reckoning. Or as the great retired preacher R. Maurice Boyd of The City Church of New York puts it, “Life is moral!” It’s exciting that tomorrow will be different from today. It’s comforting that the mean and vicious often get their comeuppance and the loving get their reward.
It’s also sobering to know that each of us is not only the protagonist but to a large extent, the author of our own stories. You have much more control than you may believe, though only if you start by being alert and responsive to reality and if you recognize how brutal life can be. Wild animals are aware of this.
Wisdom of the Wild
Abraham Maslow also writes that the healthiest people “live more in the real world of nature.” As someone who profoundly respects all living creatures, particularly free ones, I have found that the ablest among us are as alert and aware as wild animals. Self-sustaining creatures are acutely aware because for them, awareness is survival. To be alive is to be alert.
I live next to a wildlife preserve in the mountains of Sonoma California. Even my little tabby cat is always alert. My frequent absences as well as the presence of rattle snakes, a food-stealing fox, raccoons, coyotes and even the odd cougar, means that her life depends on instantaneously registering and calibrating every noise and scent.
Most of us in industrialized societies are only lulled into semi-consciousness by our climate controlled interiors, daily routines and lazy, categorized thinking. I submit to you that to thrive in our hyper-competitive yet sensory-deprived world, you need to be as freshly and as acutely aware as a wild animal.
A last thought regarding reality recognition – one way to judge how well you see reality is how well you are living. Proof is not in the pudding, it’s usually in the outcome of your choices. It is a trait that virtually all high-achievers develop. Once developed, it can help you be strong and true. But recognize this reality -- it can also make you strong and cruel. It’s your choice. In the wilds of the city as well as the forest there are both prey and predators.
Series on the 19 Personality Traits of the Best Human Beings:
Donald Van de Mark has interviewed hundreds of leaders in business and politics including: Andrew Weil, MD, former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, Jack Welch, Starbucks' Howard Schultz and Intel's Andy Grove, in his nearly 3 decades as a correspondent and anchor at CNN, CNBC and public television. He integrates practical tips from these great leaders to provide a riveting motivational speech on the personality traits of successful people. Donald is also the host of the leadership training video/DVD, The Wisdom of Caring Leaders.
Listen to Donald's upcoming webcast on Profiles of Successful Leadership with the American Management Association on September 2nd at Noon EST.
Those who are interested in an evolution of the self understand that oftentimes pain is essential to waking us up and living life more fully. Pain invites us to ask really important questions and to spiritually grow up. Pain invites us to evaluate what we believe to be true, important, and hard. Pain invites us to check our boundaries, our wounds and to change something. These situations have us mute the outside world for a bit, so that we can go inward and wake up to a reality that goes beyond our physical world. This is a truer reality than anything you can access with your five senses.
Pain, whether physical or emotional, is an invitation.
“You are cordially invited to experience __________.”
You can see that that there are countless ways to fill in the blank above. Of course, each of these is an “invitation” that none of us would seek out or accept willingly. Yet, most of us, after some sort of adversity such as those listed above, can find the blessing that sprang from the experience–and it is usually one we wouldn’t trade. Even in the most severe health crisis–the gifts are immeasurable. So, our tendancy to want to turn and run from pain really won’t serve us. My advice, run into it, head on.
No one ever “gets over” pain. Well, not if “Getting over” something is defined as erasing it from your experience. “Getting over” something painful would be better described as “getting through.” This is what happens when wisdom replaces angst, fear, hurt or anger.
Wisdom bring peace and a recalibration of our lives. The loss of a loved on that illuminates a new and unexpected life purpose or a betrayal that has you set new, healthy boundaries going forward, are both by-products of WISDOM.
Rather than run, dive into your pain. This journey will have you more awake, engaged and alive than before the pain found you.
Rena M. Reese is the founder of Soul Salon International, an inspirational multimedia company, which also offers coaching and consulting to help people find their “happy place”. She is the author of several inspirational titles, a professional speaker and coach as well as the host of a weekly radio program, The Soul Salon. Please visitwww.SoulSalonInternational.com on the web, on Facebook and on Twitter @TheSoulSalon.
Blind spots are ways that our mind becomes blocked from seeing reality as it is - blinding us from seeing the real truth about ourselves in relation to others. Once we form a conclusion, we become blind to alternatives, even if they are right in front of their eyes.
Emily Pronin, a social psychologist, along with colleagues Daniel Lin and Lee Ross, at Princeton University's Department of Psychology, created the term "blind spots." The bias blind spot is named after the visual blind spot.
There is a classic experiment that demonstrates one level of blind spots that can be attributed to awareness and focused-attention. When people are instructed to count how many passes the people in white shirts make on the basketball court, they often get the number of passes correct, but fail to see the person in the black bear suit walking right in front of their eyes. Hard to believe but true!
However, the story of blind spots gets more interesting when we factor in our cognitive biases that come from our social needs to look good in the eyes of others.
When people operate with blind spots, coupled with a strong ego, they often refuse to adjust their course even in the face of opposition from trusted advisors, or incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.
Two well-known examples of blind spots are Henry Ford and A&P:
The good news is that companies can recover from denial; even when they seem permanently wedded to their histories, their philosophies, or their belief systems. IBM, which had been caught up in its own "bureau-pathology," learned to conquer arrogance and overcome its history and culture, under the leadership of Louis Gerstner.
Intel, DuPont, and Coca-Cola, are more examples of corporations caught in denial traps when launching new products. They demonstrated that when corporate management has strong convictions, or worse yet, hubris about their points of view, they can become blind to their customer's needs - needs that are right in front of their very eyes.
Seeing the real truth is an art and a science. When we get the balance right between what we think is true and what is really true - we are managing our blind spots with integrity, and wisdom.
Fortunately, these well-known brands did not live in denial very long. It was only a passing phase, and they recovered from it by revisiting reality with an open mind. Blind spots explain why the "smartest people in the room" (as Enron's top executives were famously called) can sometimes be very dumb. They do not see the light - they are not open to changing their minds.
Denial and Blind spots are one of the primary reasons why Executive Coaching is so vital for leaders, and why peer coaching is equally important for employees to practice. Coaching can effectively uncover and deal with blind spots and denial and give the decision-makers a fresh perspective on how to handle executive challenges.
Coaching can also help individuals gain a broader and more 'realistic perspective' about situations and themselves. Executive, Team and Organizational Coaching can help leaders calibrate with the world around them, giving them reality checkpoints that position them to navigate the real world with wisdom and insight.
From time to time, we all need a wake-up call to be sure that we do not allow ourselves to confuse our denial maps with the actual territory.
Tip #1 - It Takes Thought to Learn
The brain does not always allow us to hear all the facts if they do not fit our prior understanding of a concept. To learn new facts, you must be actively open to accepting opposition.
Tip #2 - Effectively Working Together
Partners who were considered controlling were perceived as critical and rude, and their advice was generally rejected and not trusted. When the same partners showed appreciation, a feeling of rapport and trust developed, creating a deep 'WE-centric' bond.
Judith E. Glaser is the Author of two best selling business books: Creating WE: Change I-Thinking to We-Thinking & Build a Healthy Thriving Organization - winner of the Bronze Award in the Leadership Category of the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards, and The DNA of Leadership.
WE ALL SEEM to feel the shifts of uncertainty that are occurring at multiple levels in our lives, including our spirit. Acknowledging these feelings about how we approach our daily our lives will hopefully open up an opportunity to stop and reflect about our behavior patterns, prompting us to ask questions.
Ask yourself: Are you stuck in denial, apathy, self-doubt or blame? If these few samples of obstacles to everyday courage resonate with you, then you're stuck in the past unable to embrace the major transitions going on in our culture for the past several years. Please know that it has not been easy for me either nor did I heed the advice when I heard the prediction that major changes were coming along with human suffering at all levels.
In October 2006 at my Newfield Network coaching conference in Colorado, I heard scholar and author Richard Tarnas speak. He shared his research and predictions about the human suffering that was coming in 2008 and lasting through 2011. While my work focuses on understanding how StuckThinking keeps us from utilizing our courage, Richard writes in Cosmos and Psyche about living in delusion. "A state of delusion about one's actual condition in the world is carefully maintained by filtering out and denying all information that might cast questions on the validity of one's rigidly protected belief system, thereby creating a closed feedback loop."
If you sense you are stuck in delusion about the changes going on then this is an opportunity to claim and apply your everyday courage. It is a time to start new beginnings (and for women to collectively come together). Richard continues with his predictions "...it seems altogether likely that another feminist propulsion will infuse itself into the culture and that women will emerge from the next decade and a half with considerable more political and economic power than now."
Are you stuck in sorrow or blame or are you inviting new beginnings? Simply put: It takes everyday courage to come from your heart to face hardships without delusion.
Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking?. She is an organizational effectiveness consultant, speaker, trainer and courage coach. She is the internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman (2001), the follow-up book STUCK 12 Steps Up the Leadership Ladder (2010) and the recently released FACE IT! 12 Obstacles that Hold You Back on the Job (2011). She is certified in the Enneagram and MBTI®. Please visit www.sandrawalston.com.
Follow me on Twitter @courageexpert and Facebook
© Sandra Walston
All Rights Reserved
A key component to moving into a strength focus begins with the first of 4 UNFEAR practices that I share in my book.
Accept what is real.
Unless and until we accept the circumstances of a given situation, we are reacting from fear and through fear based behaviors. Forward movement is limited or impossible without first giving acceptance.
To operate from a place of strength, it is necessary to first accept our talents, our desires, our natural propensities, our weaknesses, our deficiencies, our circumstances, as well as the demands being placed on us. If we dwell on what's not working, we waste energy and time that could be better spent finding solutions or being productive. As long as we are stuck in resistance patterns we are creating pain.
Many people have a hard time accepting their own talents and gifts. It is easier to play a victim role and reap the benefits of being a victim. How often have you given a compliment to someone only to have that compliment rejected? How many times have you been guilty of the same?
In order to move from a place of strength, we have to give up the rewards of being a victim and embrace those aspects and characteristics of ourselves and our jobs in which we excel. Once we have done this it is easier to recognize and address areas where we experience lack and to find ways of mitigating the impact of weaknesses by getting help. Admitting to weakness and asking for assistance is a strength behavior. It opens the door for others to contribute and assist, adding their strengths to the equation. It also allows management teams to find alternate solutions and to work around or to reassign tasks in a timely manner.
By accepting what is real, we are freed to move forward in strength.
Karlin Sloan is the founder and CEO of Karlin Sloan & Company, Ms. Sloan provides organization development consulting, training and executive coaching to clients the U.S., Europe, South America and Asia. She is the author of Smarter, Faster, Better; Strategies for Effective, Enduring, and Fulfilled Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 2006) and Unfear (January 2011).