Saturday, August 16, 2008

Is It Work Or Play?

One of the perspectives in life that I hold is that if you consider everything you do to be PLAY, then life will be fun most of the time. It is so easy to slip into martyrdom or victim hood (depending on how bad you feel) when you have lots of work to do. With simply shifting your approach to one of playfulness, any job or task can actually be fun.

Here's an example....My business partner and I have had many days that required our focused time and attention to prepare for a workshop the next day. We always have a long To-Do list and only a limited number of hours. We set our intention that we will move through the list with ease and fun. If one of us forgets and starts getting hooked by the clock or some event that didn't go quite right, the other gives the reminder that it is all a "GAME". Remembering not to take it all so seriously creates an opportunity to enjoy everything you "do". Laughing over the the misses takes the edge off the importance. Remembering who we really are is key.

Nothing changes in the "doing" part of the duties at hand, but there needs to be a significant change in the "being" part. I know I am naturally playful and fun is David. Tedious work or jobs that seem overwhelming can drag us both down if we are only thinking about what needs to be done. Where our power lies is in seeing the jobs in a different light. Rather than just hoping for it all to end, we enjoy the process being who we really are.

Recommendation for the day: Find the JOY in everything you do by being who you really are.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sweet and simple inspiration

Early this morning when I was out for my daily walk I encountered a group of young entrepreneurs from about age 4 to 10. They were setting up shop in front of their home a short distance from where I live. In spite of their age and gender differences, they were working together with complete joy and cooperation. I imagine some of them were siblings, yet peace and joy was the feel I got. There was no question they were delighted to be doing what they were doing.

There wares, hand painted stones and beaded jewelry were being set out for the passer-bys to see. I was their first customer. I had no money....just dog biscuits in my pocket, but they took my order on good faith and told me I could make a custom order. As I was describing what I wanted.....three stones with their creative color background and the words, peace, love and joy over the background, the youngest girl (about 4) twirled in circles with complete JOY and asked me if I liked her dress. Of course, I loved it and showered her with my sincere compliments. She then without any embarrassment or hesitation asked if I would like a bracelet too. Of course, I could not resist. I let the design up to her.

The older boys were sure they had my order correct and showed me by spelling out loud the words, Peace, Love and Joy.

What inspired me in this little scenario was the authenticity of their (whether they knew it or not) leadership. They were naturally kind, joyful, helpful and resourceful. They compelled me to make a purchase.....not because they tried really hard, but because they showed me who they really were and that they loved what they were doing. It could not be missed. I could not resist.

My Peace, Love and Joy stones are in a spot in my backyard that will inspire me every time I walk out the door. My bracelet (with the same words...which the darling 4 year old came up with on her own) hangs over the gear shift of my car.

Sweet and simple inspiration of leadership.....yes, that is what it I learned from them.

Response vs. Reaction

One of the basic and most valuable tools we all have in being an effective leader in our lives, or in our work, is to fine tune our ability to respond rather than react.

Responding comes from a place of calm awareness. You feel grounded and are able to think clearly. You can see the whole picture with much greater clarity. You are literally at your best when you respond.

Reacting comes from fear. You get hooked...something someone else just did or said, triggered something in you that feels vital to protect and you react on impulse. Whether you feel anger, disappointment or resentment, the underlying emotion is always fear.

So how do you strengthen the muscle of response? First of all, you practice being aware of when you are falling into either category. How does it feel when you respond? How does it feel when you react?

When I respond, I feel peaceful. I don't take what I just heard personally. I can be more curious about the other person's opinion or the situation, rather than cut them off. My mind and heart are clear.

When I react, I stand in a place of defending my point. I may feel angry. My motive is to cut down the other person speaking. It can sometimes be a "kill" or "die" type of situation. I'm in to fight it out. It doesn't feel good.

So, how do you want to be in those potentially uncomfortable situations? In peaceful interaction or fearful reaction? Once you are clear on which feels best for you, then practice. The awareness that you have a choice in the moment is key. Once you are aware of the choice, breathe and remember who you really are. You are a compassionate, loving person who wants to have peaceful interactions. It doesn't mean you sell out on your stand, but you do present it in a different way.

Meeting potentially aggressive situations with calm will often diffuse the situation. The other person may even relax a bit to match your energy and then you can discuss the situation so that you are both at your best. If the energy of the other person in the moment is so volatile, calmly suggesting you meet at another time can create another opportunity to resolve the issue.

An ongoing way of strengthening your muscle of response is to practice feeling peaceful. Meditation, prayer, reading inspirational materials, yoga and practicing breathing can all contribute to you feeling more peace more of the time.

At the core of this issue is simply knowing that we react from ego and respond from spirit. Which do you choose? How do you want to lead?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Good Enough is NOT Enough

At the beginning of every year I create a motto that inspires me to stay on the track I choose for my life. A few years ago my motto was "Good Enough is NOT Enough". What this statement means to me is to not ever believe I am done....that I will always have room to grow. There will always be more to learn. I can always improve. This doesn't mean that I don't experience a feeling of contentment or serenity....I do feel peace most of the time. What it means is there's a force within that keeps me excited to be alive and desiring more experiences of JOYFUL adventures, relationships and learning.

I've been watching the Olympics each evening this week and have noticed this quality in the athletes. Even though they may win their current match or game, they are still striving to improve. Being good enough to win a gold medal is not enough......they continue to train to improve their time or their score.

Something to be aware of when living in the space of stretching into a bigger game is if you shift into a zone of never being happy with yourself. If this is true, you are missing the mark. If you believe that you must do "great" things to prove your value in this world, or if you are always looking ahead to the next accomplishment in hopes that this new thing will be "it", you may feel empty and frustrated most of the time. This is an indicator that your ego, not your inner spirit, is running the show.

Enjoy where you are now. Loving yourself unconditionally, knowing you are not what you "do" creates a foundation for all of your experiences to be joy-filled. The events of your life are merely the expressions you are making of "you". They are meant to be enjoyed.

A few guideposts for me to be sure I am staying on a joyful life path is to check in with how I feel in any moment and ask myself a few questions. Am I enjoying myself in the process as I am training, learning, etc.? Is this what I really want, or am I doing it to please someone else? Am I attached to having a specific outcome?

In the end it is not the achievement, it is the JOY along the way that rings my bell. Knowing I can always grow, even when taking baby steps, is the thrill. So, I will never be done. A good enough life is not enough for me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Doing the Right Thing

I appreciate creative use of various mediums. One medium that can be very well used is commercials. Last evening I saw a Liberty Mutual Commercial about doing the "right thing". I then did a little research and found there is more than one ad such as this with the same theme. Example:

What these commercials demonstrate is how one person's "right" actions influence others that are witnesses to this simple act. It is kind of a Pay it Forward type of thing where one person helps a stranger in some way, someone else sees it and then they are inspired to help someone else, and so on and so on.

This is the type of leadership that comes from a very authentic place of heart. How powerful. We are always having an impact. We never know when someone is observing our actions or listening to our words. Although not showy or dramatic, the result can be long lasting, touching someones life in a very powerful way.

There are opportunities every day to be a leader in this way. I encourage you to be aware for those times that you can do "the right thing".

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Blank Page Results

Yesterday was the day of openness (at least in my schedule). I got to design it as I moved through it. At first, it appeared that I let much of it dwindle away as I used the first few hours rather liesurely (not that there is anything wrong with that). By 10:30 a.m. I was ready to get to work....or rather play. After making a quick list in categories of my life/work that need attention, I rather quickly took care of many things that can collectively seem overwhelming. Could it be that because I was not in a stressed and frantic mood, moving down this list seemed easy?

I jumped about the list, always choosing what I wanted to do in that moment. I was in choice all day. There was a balance of creativity, number crunching, phone calls, physical tasks and errands. By the end of the day, almost all of the items were crossed off. I felt complete and grateful for all that I had accomplished. The really good news is there was not an ounce of stress in it all.

Looks like a stretching place for me is bringing that same balance and ease even when the page of my appointment book is filled in completely.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Blank Page

It is Monday morning and I see there is not a single thing scheduled in my book. It is wide open and that is rare. Now, I know I always get to choose what goes into my day and yes, I know, I am the one that fills the time slots in my schedule, yet seeing a page that is blank gives me a feeling of even greater freedom.

I get to create what happens from here. The only thing I know for sure about this day is that I will begin it as I always do. I will read one of my spiritual texts and then close my eyes and slip into a space of "no thought". This space of connection and well-being will fill my tank to move into the next choice and the next and the next.

Whatever activities I choose, I am certain they will be entertaining and joy-filled.

What will you fill in on your page today?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

And so it begins....

After a year or more of resisting and procrastinating about starting a blog, believing it was too much for my non-techno talented self to handle, I just got this up in about three minutes.

So what does Joyful Leadership mean? It means leading with JOY. To me Leadership is not just about leading a company or a team or a country, but about being a leader in your own life. What kind of leader am I? I'm a joyful leader. One who looks for the elements of play and fun in all I do. My goal is to feel good. If I don't feel good then I look at what beliefs I am holding in that moment....what thoughts am I thinking? The more I train myself to notice, the better I am at feeling joyful, even when doing the simplist tasks. As a leader (both of the formal and generic varieties), I have gotten pretty good at managing to show up and lead at my best. What I have found, it is not as hard as it may seem.

The wonderful discovery is that this way of living inspires others to do the same....and that is the kind of leadership I love to create.

More on this later....

With Joy,