May 28, 2010

a work in progress

Do you wait until you are ready before you launch into something new or big?
It's in our nature to wait until we are fully prepared.  Until we have it figured out, until we know what we are doing, until we are sure.  We worry that others will be able to tell we aren't 100 percent confident.  Or we worry about failing.  I don't think there's a person walking among us who doesn't, at least sometimes, have a little voice that tells them they don't know what they are doing.
Self doubt is big inhibitor.  It gets in the way of us offering up the best of ourselves, of contributing what we have to push projects along.  And, the self doubt isn't going to go away.  We all have it, and resisting it or trying to overcome it gets us nowhere.  Instead, try a different approach.  Just acknowledge it's there, and then proceed anyhow.  Because life is short and that self-doubt can have us be paralyzed in inaction, while the days and weeks and months tick away.
What's one thing you say you want to do?  What's holding you back?  Can you just be with whatever holds you back, and then move forward on it anyhow?

May 18, 2010

the stories of others

In any one day, each of us has multiple interactions with other human beings. Unless we live alone, stay in the house and don't answer the phone, email or use any technology, it is inevitable.
Some of these interactions are neutral and quickly forgotten. Some are nasty and leave us with an unpleasant aftertaste that, if bad enough, can linger for days, weeks, months, forever.  
Some of the interactions are positive and warm, and affect us as much as the nasty ones, the only difference being the flavour of the aftertaste.
Both nasty and positive interactions can be transforming. Who we were before the interaction, and who we are afterwards, is altered. The connection with the other person has changed who we are in some way: our perspective, attitude, direction.
We know this is true because of the stories we tell others about the experience. The stories can last for decades.
If we look at it from the other side - our own impact -  there is a huge opportunity. Each of us is powerful in the interactions we are a part of. Each day, every day. What is it that you want to contribute to the people you see or talk to today? Your interaction could become part of their life story. How do you want that to go?

May 11, 2010

be grateful for the seers

Another's perspective often holds a key to break through things that are holding us back.  Someone who is willing to offer up something that we can't (or won't) see for ourselves.
Each of us has someone in our life who 'sees' more than the average person.  Far more.  They make us uncomfortable at times.  We can't hide in their presence.  They know, better than we know ourselves, what stops us. And they notice when what we say we want and what we do aren't in line.  Or when we dance away from something we don't want to look at or think about by changing the topic.
I am not talking about the Dreamcrushers.  The people who tell you you can't do something, or that you don't have the skills for something, or that you ARE a certain way.  We can sometimes mistake Dreamcrushers for these other people.
I am going to call them Seers.  They are wise.  They have the interest to really listen to us.  The insight to clearly see something, perhaps in our attitude, that is holding us back.  They have the willingness and the courage to share that.  To hold us accountable.  So that our lives can rock. They believe in us.  And it takes courage, a lot of courage, because many of us shrink from that kind of feedback, instead of seeing it as the opportunity that it represents.  So we don't exactly express gratitude to them when they share.
Sometimes, we find what they have to say painful to hear. Yet something fundamentally shifts for us as a result of them sharing with us.
Seers give us gifts.
Are you willing to accept the gift?  Do you give these people the permission to be direct with you?

May 6, 2010

supporting local to thrive

These days, more of us are becoming aware of the importance of supporting local business.  Maybe you have been paying attention to this where you can.  You choose the hardware store a few blocks from your house over the big box store.  You buy your groceries from the local market, or the store that buys local first.  You get your coffee from the locally owned coffee shop.  You choose the local service provider when it makes sense.
So what else can you do?  What else does support include?
Supporting is also about giving feedback.  Both positive, which is often easy to deliver, and negative, which is not.
Feedback helps businesses (and people) to thrive.  Yet many of us find it difficult to give feedback.  Particularly negative feedback.  It is more comfortable to walk away and not say anything.  Studies show 96 percent of unhappy customers don't complain.  They just don't go back.  That's the default.
The problem is that if no one gives feedback, the business owner might not know.  The coffee shop owner might not be aware that the new barista makes weak americanos.  Or that the cashier doesn't smile, nor appear to care.  Meanwhile, a few dozen customers choose not to return.
No local business can afford to have anything going on for any length of time that turns off customers.  Every person matters.  Loyalty matters.  Over time, one lost customer can mean the loss of thousands in revenue.  A few of those can make or break a small company.
So if you want your local businesses to thrive, help them out.  Give them the feedback about that disengaged cashier or weak americano.  Give them the chance to make things right.  And thrive.

May 2, 2010

how good a judge of you are you?

Do you think you have a good sense of what you are capable of, and what you are not?
I'm not talking about the things you already are good at.  Each of us has skills we have achieved a level of mastery at.  Most of us stay there, in that zone.  The comfortable zone, where we continue to do the things we already know we are good at.
I am talking about capability.  What are you capable of?  Do you know?
Mostly our tendency is to not be a good judge of our own capabilities.  It has something to do with survival; our natural wiring is to keep ourselves safe.  The impact of this is that we hold ourselves back.  From opportunities to take on something new.  To contribute to something different, and possibly, in a way that is critically important to that project or initiative.  And what if your contribution is the one thing that transforms everything?
All there is to do is to notice situations and circumstances where you are inclined to hold yourself back.  And then choose to act anyhow.  Because the world needs more of us to have that attitude.