With the weather we have been having on the east coast over the last few weeks, it is easy to define almost everyone’s comfort zone- being in air conditioning with a cold beverage close at hand. When we leave the easy chair behind and get to work, be it from a virtual location such as […]
One of the greatest tests that I learn came from the wise philosopher Socrates – It’s called the Triple Filter Test. Socrates used 3 filters before he engaged in a conversation. This way he ensured that the conversation was meaningful. Now I’d like to review them with you. It’s also a great way to start a meeting or a conversation with yourself.
Filter number one – Truth
Is what you are about to say totally truthful?
If it is not – don’t say it!
Filter number two – Goodness
Is what you are about to say good, kind and positive?
If it is not – don’t say it!
Filter number three – Useful
Is what you are about to say necessary?
If it is not – don’t say it!
These filters from Socrates have saved me countless hours of grief and misunderstanding. We are not only in constant conversation with others but with ourselves as well. Reflecting on this Triple Filter Test even in our internal communication can save countless hours of internal grief and misunderstanding.
Was this Truthful, Good and Useful?
Already thinking a typical day is starting. Too little time, money, resources and/or the wrong resources become more and more the prevalent thought with each passing day. Energies and spirits sometimes feel like an all time low. And, often times, the “What I do doesn’t matter” attitude prevails. Turning around circumstances, situations and cultures can seem and often is a daunting task.
So what the heck we might as well go back to bed or worse yet, go into the day with little or no motivation. Off to work we go.
A memo shows up on our desks…
Looking for Volunteers –
Individuals that Will Charge Challenges and Change
Need to Bring: Mind, Heart and Soul
Already feeling different – excited, scared, overwhelmed, intimidated or perhaps a little interested? Guess what? No matter what role we play changing and charging challenges is pretty much what is required of us in work and life everyday.
The choice we have today is to be the one who changes and charges those challenges as they show up. Go for it – Charge challenges and change!
“Live your beliefs and
you can turn the world around.”
Henry David Thoreau
There is a parable that tells of a farmer who decided to plant a Chinese Bamboo tree, one of the most difficult trees in the world to grow. He planted the seed. For days, weeks and months, he gently and faithfully tended the seed.
At the end of year one, no tree had grown. People in his community thought he was crazy. He was tending a mound of dirt. Didn’t he know that the seed was dead. Another year passed and still he tended that mound of dirt. Another year passed and still he tended the spot where he had planted the seed. This continued for two more years, no sprouts, nothing. By the fifth year, people really believed he had lost his mind and ridiculed him.
Suddenly, three months into the fifth year the trunk of a tree shot out of the soil stretching high into the air. Five years and three months later a seemingly dormant seed grows 90 feet!
Often times, we make the choice to start taking action on a dream and plant a seed. At first, we receive a great deal of support. People are excited for and with us. Cheering us on, they want to share in our idea, our dream our passion. Time passes and nothing has sprouted. No tree has broken the ground; people stop asking us how our idea is going. We still want and need to talk about it but we are alone.
Rain or shine, our dream still needs to nurtured and tended. Economics cause us to tighten our belt as money, resources and support become even more scarce. Once in a while there are a few believers but for the most part we are on our own. Seasons pass and still we trudge on investing time, blood, sweat and tears.
To keep our dream alive we find new ways to nurture the soil. We repair strained relationships, cultivate new ones. We seek advice. Learn more lessons. Network more. Play and work differently. Adding different perspectives, we travel out of our comfort zone because although we are tired and bloodied, our head is unbowed.
Just planting the seed would not have been enough. Day-in, day-out, investing talent, courage, determination and passion has to continue. Then the day comes when we can see, feel, taste and touch that 90 foot tree in front of us.
Are you willing to not just plant that seed, but to cultivate and nurture it so that it will generate significant growth, so that one day you too can embrace significant growth in your business, your community, your life?
What happens with all this accumulation and there is no room left – fatigue, dissatisfaction, and disillusionment? Life keeps getting more and more cluttered; more stuff, more information, more competition, more challenges, more, more, more…
How can we make more room in our lives for increased health, family, productivity, contributions? We can make SPACE.
Select what is important. In Wayne Dyer’s The Awakened Life, he mentioned that when we identify that we as human beings really have one business – the people business. Now I realize that that is my business, all the other clutter that shows up really moves lower on the responsibility ladder.
Clearly identifying a purpose filled with passion can lead to great discoveries and adventures. This already takes some pressure off and to quote Thoreau – we don’t need to “live lives of quiet desperation,” as we try to own more, do more and be more.
Prioritize our goals. It’s great to have goals. It’s not so great to have copious, competing objectives goals. Come on, you know exactly what I mean. The job, the family, the interests, the wants and needs certainly can stack up and become almost too distracting. Collect all the goals in one area, make a list and establish what is really important. The rest, cross off the list or move to a “someday” list for future reference.
This is where the “selections” need to narrowed down and re-ordered so that the “NEEDS verses the WANTS list. All too often, we overlook what we need to do and put our wants first to be done comes up to the top.
Assess the choices that affect the quality of character, relationship, work and ultimately life building Reviewing choices is for quality not quantity. Buying more stuff may feel great at the time. However, accumulation of stuff leads to more clutter, more stuff to move, clear and clean.
Shakespeare once wrote, “The choices we make dictate the life that we lead.” Assessing what is controlling our lives, our wallets, our relationships, our work becomes a fabulous space saving exercise. It’s really liberating to evaluate and eliminate all that excess waste.
Collaborate with others. Connecting and building the best relationships is a life giving enterprise. Collaboration involves being authentic with others and allowing them to be authentic with you. These relationships are build on mutual respect and appreciation.
Collaborative relationships are “win-win” for all. No one is doing more than is required or sacrificing time and talent. Cooperation is encouraged. Conflicts are resolved in a healthy manner and mutually agreed upon goals and objectives are met.
Enjoy life. When we know what is important because we have selected our purpose, , prioritize our goals, assess our choices and collaborate with others, we can really enjoy work and life.
Today – choose to make SPACE and see if you don’t have a more positive, enjoyable day.
When embarking on a new endeavor or relationship, we often fail to appreciate what it will take to ensure success. In fact, quite honestly, I had not nearly often enough considered the long term effects of those quick, easy and sometimes even thoughtless decisions I have made in jobs, relationships, and life in general. Then it struck me that there are three essentials that can and will ensure the degree of our success. Focus – Faith – Fervor
“What you choose to focus your mind on is critical because you will become what you think about most of the time…”
Finding the focus, that central theme or purpose for our actions and existence, sets the stage for a healthier, more productive and definitely more satisfied existence.
Some Focus Finding Questions:
What motivates me?
What interests me?
What inspires me?
“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”
Finding our faith, that unshakable belief that we have the strength, resourcefulness and talent to live and work in a manner that always, always contributes. This is the midpoint for fulfillment and satisfaction.
Some Faith Finding Questions:
How do I totally support myself in my focus?
How do I tap into that universal source of strength that holds me unshakable to my focus?
Who can help to restore my faith in my focus?
Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.
Vincent van Gogh
Some Fervor Finding Questions:
How do I get motivated?
How do I get back on track once derailed from my focus?
What would ignite that candle of passion when there is no fuel left?
It’s within our power to change lives, companies, communities and the world with focus, faith and fervor.
One would think that when a person is asked what they really, really want in work, in life, in a relationship, that the response would be immediate. Surprisingly, or perhaps, not so surprising, the responses are: silence… or “Let me think for a minute,” or more sadly, “I really don’t take time to think about what I really want, I’m too busy doing.”
Silence or “Let me think for a minute”…
These two are interesting responses. to me, they indicate that the person is stopped short for several reasons.
- Genuinely,they need time to give a thoughtful response because it is important to them.
- Actually, they am afraid to express what they really want
- They need to think about a response that will sound interesting and important enough to share and impress others.
- They don’t trust me and so are not willing to share.
This third response, “I really don’t take time to think about what I really want, I’m too busy doing,” can mean many things, but my mind jumps to the following:
- They are not willing or able to invest thinking time in themselves to fully appreciate what they really want.
- They are not used to stopping all the crazy busyness to think
- They don’t fully understand how import knowing what they really want is to themselves and to others involved with them.
Whatever the reasons or stories we have for not clarifying what we really want, it has become profoundly clearly to me, that this is one of our greatest limiting factors in success in business and joy in life. The more we are clear about what we want, the more likely we are to attract that which we want, whether it be positive or negative, into our life and work.
Please consider finishing this sentence, it might just change your life. What I want out of life is…
Or in the words of Henry David Thoreau….will you “live your life in quiet desperation?”
The interviewer questioned if he had read a significant reform document that would have massive impacts on his business and the industry at large.
The exec’s responded, “I didn’t have time to read the document.”
He, the interviewee, then asked the interviewer what were the three or four major issues that reform was addressing. Fortunately, she knew the answers. (She had read the reform in preparation for the meeting.) It was clearly apparent that she was much more prepared as an outsider to deal with his industry change than he was as the so-called expert.
The interview continue along the same vein, for each question, he didn’t know and then he would asked her a question. Great technique if you hold to the philosophy that you only asked questions if you already know the answer. Clearly, he didn’t have a clue regarding what his responsibilities were as the leader.
Close to the end of the interview, you could actually see the light bulb come on in this guy’s brain. “I know. I’ll tell the board that I am forming a committee to address these issues and that the committee will be meeting weekly to discuss. What do you think?” he asked of the interviewer.
She looked totally astonished and quickly ended the interview.
Great lesson from this interview, be aware of owning the role, being able to respond with ability and come across as the leader who is truly in command.
By defining our success, we at least have a fighting chance of achieving what we really want. Success is unique and special for each of us. Some of us choose tangible success – a gold medal, a degree, a prize, a certain life style and income. Others seek achievement in spite of physical, mental or developmental limitations. Still others seek leaving a legacy such as a breakthrough cure, exploring new horizons, or creating an innovative product or service.
This is not about judging our motivators, Rather, defining success is about clarifying what is really important to each of us. By asking ourselves questions such as…
What lights me up in the morning, or causes me to lose sleep at night?
What provokes me to take outrageous risks and throw in all the chips?
When we start asking ourselves these motivating questions, we become inspired to live a life that is extraordinarily fulfilling. To define success we must discover what “trips our trigger.” Not just forces us, but compels us to take life changing actions.
Henry David Thoreau once wrote
“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favour in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
When we define success, we can move confidently in the direction of our dreams and live each day putting foundations under those castles we build in the air.
James Allen once wrote
“…He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace.”
There is power in finding tools that can advance your career, simplify your life, enhance your health and improve your financial outlook. Tools will make you life easier. They help you leverage time, talent and resources.
Three easily accessible tools:
A goal, for example can be viewed as a tool to help us achieve our vision. Writing a goal that meets the “WHYSMART” standard initiates steps towards accomplishment. YSMART—Written, Habit-forming, Yours, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timed Follow-up— allows you to see short term results, especially if you look at the results consistently to determine if you are achieving desired results. As with any tool, it is better to create frequently review of the progress you are making to determine its effectiveness. Rather than making a long range goal and falling short or worse continuing to do something that really wastes your time. It’s like trying to use a steak knife rather than a chainsaw to cut down a tree—you might get the tree down, but in whose lifetime.
Another tool is planning, is the ever popular “to-do list.” This plan for the day can lead to the plan for the week, the month, the year and then a lifetime. Starting out simple and appreciating that each action on your to-do list is a short term goals helps you see how you already have a degree of mastery in the goal setting department.
Another tool is post-it notes. Keeping a pack of post-it notes handy helps me to capture ides wherever I am. Later, rather than recopy the idea, I pop it into my idea book (another too BTW) to reference. Saves me recopying time. I can’t tell you how much this saves me in trying to remember an idea that inspired me at the time but was lost because I failed to write it down.
This is only a short list of tools. Whatever the tool you choose, give it the proper time and support before abandoning it. Have fun explore and share your tools.