Inspiration · Leadership

We over me

The other day President Trump talked about how “my military” was successful in carrying out a bombing run.

Regardless of how one feels about the merits of taking military action, or which side of the aisle you happen to sit on politically, it’s hard to imagine a leader who deserves less credit for the strength and skills of the US armed forces. It’s also shocking in its failure to recognize who foots the bill. Criticism was deservedly fast and furious.

Contrast that with superstar golfer Jordan Spieth (who, by the way, is nearly 50 years younger than Trump). It’s rare for Spieth to not say “we” when talking about his play. In fact, the times when he tends to use “I” or “me” are when he hasn’t played particularly well. In a sport which is highly individualistic, he is quick to credit his team; to value the we over me.

Of course, we drive every day on roads we didn’t pave.

We sit in offices we didn’t build.

We use an internet we didn’t design and don’t maintain.

Almost of all us eat food we neither planted, nor tended,  nor picked, nor hauled to the store.

It’s easy to be selfish, to value the me over we.

And often harder to give credit where credit is due.

Harder still, it seems, to be grateful for all all we have whether we deserve it or worked for it or had it fall into our laps by luck or some measure of grace.

 

 

Inspiration · Leadership

Holy stuckosity Batman!

“Stuckosity” isn’t a real word. It can’t even be found at Urban Dictionary. Well, at least not yet.

But certainly most of us are familiar with the quality of being stuck. Perhaps you’re feeling it right now.

We get stuck telling the same old stories about ourselves that are familiar, but serve no useful purpose.

We get stuck trying to solve problems with the same level of thinking that got us into trouble in the first place.

We get stuck defending the status quo, even when we know it’s not working.

We get stuck in self-righteousness, which almost never changes the other person’s mind or behavior, but frustrates us to no end.

We get stuck fighting reality, re-litigating the past, trying vainly to predict the future.

We get stuck striving for perfection, when perfect is both impossible and, ultimately, only a recipe for suffering.

We get stuck waiting for precisely the right time and to be fully ready, failing to see that those exact conditions will never ever come.

We get stuck in relationships because we fail to speak our truth and ask for what we want and need.

We get stuck unleashing our full potential because we wonder how other folks will judge us if we were to go out on a limb.

And on and on and on.

The key to getting unstuck is to first see it for what it is. And most of the time our stuckness is merely our habitual reaction to an irrational fear; to a fundamental misunderstanding of risk.

Once we become aware that staying in our fear–and being unwilling to let go of our story, our need for control and our desire to be right–is actually the most risky thing we can do, the door is cracked open to change.

Once we we accept that our behavior is simply habit, the debilitating result of a lifetime of bad conditioning, we can work to establish new, more healthy and useful ones.

Once we are committed to take action, we are finally free. Free to start before we are ready. Free to embrace failure as a natural outcome of growth. Free to be okay with our imperfection.

And that’s good thinking Robin.

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Inspiration · Leadership

Gone fishin’

After 6 years and more than 500 posts I’m taking a break.

It’s time for me to recharge the batteries, repot the plant, hit the reset button or whatever cliche floats your boat.

For the next several months I’m putting the kibosh on taking on new consulting gigs and generally saying “no” to anything that can be deemed “corporate.”

I’ve begun looking at everything I do–and own–and asking whether it truly gives me joy. It’s leading to a lot of decluttering. I feel lighter already.

I’ve also begun tapping into the power of ‘no’ and the power of ‘now.’ I feel more than a wee bit liberated.

On the other hand, I will be saying ‘yes’ to more travel, to expanding my knowledge of the crazy world we live in, to cultivating maitri and to advancing my work in the social impact space.

It’s fun and energizing. It’s also a little bit scary. Of course that is the nature of anything really worth doing.

So fair warning: if you feel like I’m ignoring you it’s pretty likely to be true. But it’s not personal. Trust me, it will be fine.

Some people that I’ve told of my plans have looked at me like a confused german shepherd. To them I say, well, maybe I’m crazy. But after all, it’s not about you.

Others have said “I’m so jealous, I wish I could do that.” To them I say, well, what’s stopping you?

Anyway, thanks for giving me the gift of your attention. It means a lot.

See you in another life brothers and sisters.

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Being Remarkable · Inspiration · Leadership

It’s easy to vote ‘no’

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” ~Pema Chodron

It’s rarely the case that organizations utterly lack new ideas or things to try. They just get voted down most of the time.

Many of us when confronted with change are quick to find fault with moving ahead. It might not work. We could look foolish. It just makes me uncomfortable. Maybe I’ll get fired. Best to just say ‘no.’

Most of us are filled with “should’s.” I should finish that novel or start that business. I should speak up more. I should finally make that trip. I should deal with the unfinished business with my family. And on and on. But our fear keeps us stuck and ‘no’ is all too often the seemingly safe choice.

Voting ‘yes’ more often isn’t the path of least resistance and it is far from a guarantee of success. Not everyone will get it, few may have your back and others might shun you entirely.

Stay the course. Be vulnerable. Chase remarkable.

Going out on a limb is where we’re needed, where we’re called to be, where the magic happens.

And your vote counts.

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Innovation · Inspiration · Leadership

The exits are clearly marked

Maybe we’re in a relationship, romantic or otherwise, that has become highly dysfunctional but we’re too afraid to leave for fear of being alone or hurting the other person’s feelings.

Maybe we’re in a job where personal growth has long since ceased or our contributions are not well appreciated, yet the thought of making a major career shift virtually paralyzes us.

Maybe we’re a long-time member of a group that has drifted from its original purpose or lost its ability to make things happen, but we feel an obligation to try to fix it even when we know it’s neither possible, nor the best use of our scarce time and energy.

Maybe we get behind a leader “for the good of the cause” but come to see that the behaviors that rub us the wrong way–or we feel compelled to disavow completely–are revealed to be his deeply held beliefs and character defects.

Our heart usually tell us it’s time to get out way before our brain does its more careful and deliberate work.

When we let go of the past, the need to be right, the worry about what others might think and the pathological urge to fix everything, our burden is lightened and our path becomes far more clear.

The exits are clearly marked. The challenge is to muster up the courage to walk out the door.

 

 

 

 

Inspiration · Leadership

Gravity always wins

There are few forces more powerful than gravity.

And gravity never takes a day off. Or a minute for that matter. For all practical purposes it’s ever-present, strong and unrelenting. 

Most of us have learned not to fight gravity for just this reason. From time to time we may want it to be different, but it’s not going to be. So there’s absolutely no point in getting upset about it, or worrying about it or strategizing on how to make it different. We accept it, work with it and get on with our lives never giving it much thought.

Of course gravity is hardly the only thing in our lives that’s not going to change despite our hopes, dreams, protestations, fears, manipulations, cogent arguments or ardent scheming.

The hard part is seeing that, accepting it and making a different choice.

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Inspiration · Leadership · Social Media

So we’re all gorilla behaviorists now?

My guess is you’ve heard about Harambe, the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo who was killed in an effort to save a child that had managed to get into his habitat. This tragic story has led to a firestorm of criticism heaped upon the zoo for alleged poor facility design and intense shaming of–and an online petition against–the child’s mother for supposedly being a horrible parent. There has also been great vitriol spewed at the response team for seemingly being too trigger happy and not opting for a tranquilizer instead.

The one thing I would hope we can agree on is that compassion should be extended to all that had to go through this terrible situation.

I would also hope that we would recognize that we aren’t gorilla behaviorists and our opinions about what Harambe was likely to do simply aren’t worth listening to. Few of us have any educated idea on what a 17 year old male Western Lowland Gorilla’s response to being shot with a tranquilizer might be. A similarly miniscule number of those opining vociferously on social media have ever been trained in emergency response, much less found themselves in an adrenaline-fueled, literally life and death, situation where decisions have to be made with limited information, virtually instantaneously.

The internet and social media are wonderful things. They give us unprecedented and nearly unlimited access to information. But so often we confuse data and opinions with insight, knowledge or the truth.

Social media gives us all a platform. It’s a powerful platform that can be used to promote knowledge, love, compassion and many other kinds of positive and useful messages. But we’ve all seen how it can be a veritable cesspool of misinformation, distortions, outright lies and hate.

Social media often serves as a billboard of our personal brand–a mirror to our belief system and a lens into that which we worship.

In my case, I’ve certainly been guilty of using it to deal with what the Buddhists sometime refer to as shempa. When my ego needs a boost in some way–or I go to a place of fear or discomfort–I’m easily triggered and I often allow myself to be hooked into needing to demonstrate how smart, funny or cool I am. This can be by engaging in self-righteous behavior, putting others down, showing off those things or activities that would cast me in a flattering or interesting light (look where I am! look what I ate! look at this picture of me with a celebrity) and on and on.

I know this will come us a shock, but I’m not a better person because of the hotel I just stayed in, the car that I drive, the dinner I cooked last night or a selfie I took with a Kardashian. Nobody needs a running commentary of my life on Facebook. I’m going to be just fine if you don’t like something I posted. And, as it turns out, I can’t prove that I have the world’s best friends, partner or siblings, despite my exhortations. Neither can you. Though, just so you know, hyperbole is fantastic, amazing, incredible, high energy and the best thing ever.

The fact is almost none of us are gorilla behaviorists, tort lawyers, vaccine specialists, economists, climate change scientists or experts in foreign policy. It so happens I have opinions on how to stop ISIS, improve the US’s aging infrastructure, reform healthcare and for how Hillary can stop dressing like a communist dictator. And you’d be wise to ignore them. And I’d be wise to keep them to myself.

My point is this. A megaphone is sometimes a very handy thing to have. But just because you own one doesn’t mean you should use it all the time.

A hammer has great utility. But not everything is a nail.

And if self-righteousness or ego-boosting is fueling anything you are about to say or do, stop.

Please stop.

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