Truly Powerful People (50)

50.

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Truly powerful people inspire power in others because they remove failure from the equation.

I heard this on the radio this morning and almost crashed the car clapping my flippers: The path to the right way is through the wrong way. It’s a cliché but, truly, how much time and energy do we throw down the rabbit hole each day trying to be perfect, to hide our mistakes or to “do it right.”

You know this one: Babe Ruth was both the homerun and strikeout king of his time. You have to swing the bat if your are going to hit the ball which means you’ll miss the ball more times than you will connect.

It is easy to say and hard to do especially if you’ve equated failure with shame. Entertaining the failure/shame story breeds temerity. No one will swing the bat if they are fearful of being shamed. The failure/shame story insures that you will hide your gifts, diminish your capacities and stunt your growth.

Consider this:

The discovery of penicillin was an accident. It was a mistake. Name one major invention or paradigm shifting idea and at its roots you’ll find a glorious trail of mistakes.

The great playwright John Guare said that it takes ten pages of writing to arrive at one useful page. Without the ten there is no useful page.

Lewis and Clark did not start their voyage of discovery with a gps and itinerary. It was a messy chaotic exercise in providence and improvisation.

Any musician will tell you that the process of learning to play an instrument necessitates a willingness to play it again and again and again: hitting the wrong key or plucking the wrong string is the only way to put the music into your body.

This is not new news but we forget it or ignore it or resist it. We learn the opposite and embody the lesson. We live in the age of the standardized test.

As Sir Ken Robinson says, “Schools should be built on an agricultural model,” meaning that it is important that we stop thinking that learning needs to happen in a factory where minds are manufactured, where right answers can be measured and failure is shameful.  Instead, schools could be where we prepare the proper soil in which passionate pursuits can grow.

Proper soil knows no failure. Proper soil nourishes strong offers without the threat of shame.

Truly Powerful People (49)

49.
Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.
A most useful reminder on a dark day: Meaning isn’t something that I find it is something that I bring. The meaning isn’t in the experience it is in how I story the experience.

Questions like, “why doesn’t my life have any meaning?” imply that meaning can dribble away like water from a broken cup. It supports the notion that meaning and I are separate. It supports the notion that meaning is a thing that is attained or lost like a coin.

In all great hero/heroine cycles, the seeker has an adventure and discovers a capacity within themselves that they previously did not know existed. It is an inner capacity already in their being; what they find is within and what they gain is a new perspective on themselves and the world: new eyes.

Meaning is the ultimate shape-shifter and will take any form that I choose.

Because meaning is something that I bring to each moment it is something can I tend (yes, like a garden…), something I can in-tend, it is how and why I create the world I inhabit today. It is not fixed. It is fluid and changes as I change, because I change.

Truly Powerful People (48)

48.

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.
Recently I had a conversation with a man who was experiencing what he called gaps or, to use his term, “dead zones” in which his thoughts or language would disappear in mid-conversation. After our chat I wrote some notes for myself and shared them with him and thought they might be useful here, too:

Gaps: don’t resist them; resisting them, fighting them, demonizing them, or ignoring them only makes them worse. Walk into the dead zone and see what is there.

Instead of framing the gap as a deficit, as something to be ashamed of or hide, call attention to it. Share it. Include me in what’s happening for you. The yearning is for honest relationship so rather than hide yourself or exclude me (because of what you assume I might think), let me in.  It is “what is” and will have the meaning that YOU give it; so give it the meaning that most supports you. Allow me the opportunity to support you.

Here’s why: you can never control what others think/see/feel – nor can you know what they think/see/feel. So instead of hiding it or fighting it (actions that are invested in what others might think/see/feel), own it. Play with it. Explore it. Work on what you think/see/feel because that is the only thing you can address.

This is a product/process focus confusion. Placing your focus on process is, I believe, the key to happiness (seriously. process = relationship so create a quality relationship with what’s there, not what you think should be there). An outcome or product focus will block you every time because a product focus requires a measuring stick; measuring yourself and/or others is a losing proposition.

Put down you clever and pick up your ordinary. This means to let go of any need to be right, to be clever, to be smart, to be… and step into this moment as you are. Force nothing to happen. People generally discount their greatest gifts because they think they are ordinary; what you judge as ordinary is what makes you unique and extraordinary (you can’t see it because you think it is ordinary).

All of the above will transform the Dead Zone into an Anticipation Space – an Alive Zone. Anticipation is what makes a story worth engaging.

Truly Powerful People (47)

47.

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Today’s word is from the “language-is-more-powerful-than-you-know” file; it is the word ‘should.’ These six letters are at the center of most of the misery stories and resistance I encounter as a coach.

Should is a river that runs away from the heart.

Should is a foggy-noggin word dedicated to obscuring what you want by convincing yourself that you need to meet the expectations of others. Doing what you assume others want you to do or be (valuing others needs above your own is guaranteed to keep you lost in the fog and inevitably make you a breeder of resentment).

Should is a word guaranteed to split you: one piece of you forcing another piece of you to do something while a third piece of you watches and berates you no matter what you do.

Should absolves you from fulfilling your own dreams by affording you the belief that you are in service to others (note: true service is a choice and you’ll recognize it because it does not deplete you).

Should sometimes comes in disguise and sounds a lot like “can’t” or “because” or “have to” or “we tried that already” or “I really want to but….”

Should delights in sounding like an authority especially in subjects it knows nothing about. For instance, there are lots of people who will tell you what you should do or what you should be and will feign a wound if you do something else (like what you want to do).

To twist a Yoda-ism (There is no try. Do or do not do): Choose or ‘should’ will choose for you.

Truly powerful people are dedicated to inspiring true power in others because they have learned what happens when a person finally releases their “shoulds.”

Truly Powerful People (46)

46.

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Here’s one from Victor Frankl: When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

During my stint in Los Angeles I sat in many traffic jams and watched people in cars around me pound their steering wheels and scream at the cars in front of them, scream at their circumstance, scream at their luck, scream at their kids because they needed someone to receive their frustration, scream at something over which they had no control and no amount of screaming was ever going to change their predicament.

I, too, was a famous screamer at things I could not control and it was in one such traffic jam that I realized that I was in pain. I realized that the traffic was a metaphor for my life. I was in pain because I was invested in trying to control things that I could not control, I was screaming at no one in particular (though some very specific and special people took the brunt of my pain because I needed someone to receive my screaming; screaming reinforces a nice victim story…without a recipient you will sooner or later have to look to yourself).

Once you look to yourself, you have the capacity to look beyond blaming, you are able to see beyond the idea that something needs to be fixed (that something in you is broken), your eyes and mind and heart will alight on the realization that you are in choice; you are making choices every moment of every day. And, with this realization comes the understanding that it is only yourself that you can change. Pounding the steering wheel is a nice momentary pressure release but only serves to reinforce your pain.

The brilliant coach and my dear friend, Alan Seale, developed a model he calls the 4 Levels of Engagement (you can read more about the 4 Levels in his upcoming book Create A World That Works). It is the most elegant and simple articulation of this process of transformation. Moving your eyes from blaming to the choices you are making is how you begin the process of meeting the challenge of changing yourself.

Truly Powerful People (45)

45.

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

The way you ask the question determines the possibilities you see or do not see. Often, the thing you seek remains invisible to you because of the way you’ve asked the question.

Consider this: if you ask the question, “What is missing in my life?” you will begin a search for what you do not have. The underlying assumption is that “it” is out there somewhere and you must find it. Fulfillment is elsewhere sitting on a shelf or in the eyes of another person. The search reinforces the separation. The question reinforces the separation because the question assumes separation.

Ask the question another way: “What do I want to create in my life?” Instead of a treasure hunt you will begin to generate from within. Fulfillment is not something you find, it is something you live. The question reinforces wholeness because the question assumes wholeness.

The feeling of missing something is… a feeling. Feelings are neither good nor bad, right or wrong, they are free data. Yearning is one of the ingredients necessary to begin a story. To be human is to yearn.

What are the questions you ask? What do the questions reveal about your assumptions? What question do you want to ask? What story do you want to tell?

Truly Powerful People (44)

44.

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

When Conor Grennan was 29 years old he quit his job and decided to travel the world for a year. He was restless and looking for…something.

For reasons that he can’t quite explain, he began his trip by going to Nepal to volunteer for a few months in an orphanage. He didn’t really like kids. He’d never volunteered anywhere. Why was he doing this? He couldn’t explain it to his friends because he couldn’t explain it to himself. He decided that he was doing it because it would make a good story, useful for impressing women, if he could say he’d volunteered in a Nepalese orphanage.

His time at the Little Princes Children’s Home changed the arc of his life. What he found there both shocked him to his core and opened his life to depths of meaning and love that he might have never otherwise known. The children in the home were rambunctious and vibrant. And, he discovered, most were not orphans. There was a civil war in Nepal and the children had been taken from their parents, from their remote villages, unwitting victims of child traffickers. For an enormous fee, the traffickers promised to protect and educate the children only to dump them in the city to die.

Conor’s good pick-up line has become a life-long commitment to reunite the children with their parents. In a country blasted by civil war, desperate in its poverty, he is finding a way to reunite the children with their families. It is dangerous work.

Sometimes your purpose finds you.

His story could be one of insurmountable obstacles. He could have left and never returned, pretended not to know what was going on there. His story is messy and gritty and sometimes tragic. It is a story of great love, resilient spirits, perseverance and a testament to what one person can do when their purpose rises to greet them – and they have the will to rise and meet it.

You can read more about Conor Grennan and his work in his book Little Princes.