Week 23: Law of Least Effort

This has been a great week for the law of least effort.  My company consolidated our offices, continued the process of taking on new responsibilities and developing new ways of working, and continued the general business of moving forward.  In the rest of my life I had ongoing choices about the future.  It would have been pretty easy to make the universe wrong for having things go the way they are going, rather than having life continue down the easy path that I was on before, but using the law of least effort has given me the ability to move gracefully and confidently down this new path.  Given I really had no choice about the path abruptly changing direction, this ability has been useful, to say the least.

I find that the three tenets, Acceptance, Responsibility, and Defenselessness, go hand in hand.  It all involves realizing that life isn’t personal, that is, bad stuff that happens isn’t personally directed at you by God, and taking it at face value.

Acceptance is just realizing that things are the way they are and are not the way they are not, no matter what my (automatically generated) opinion is about it.

Responsibility is the tricky one, because it’s easy to have it wrapped up with good & bad, right & wrong.  To be responsible doesn’t mean that I screwed up, that I did something wrong, or, conversely, that I’m superior to others because I did something special.  It means simply that I say that, because I am the one having the experience of my life, that all the stuff that happens in my life happens.  It is not good or bad, it just is.  This is tough to get our arms around most of the time.  If I’m stuck in traffic I’m responsible.  No psychological “I must have caused this traffic, why did I cause this traffic”, etc.  Just, “I’m in traffic.  I am responsible for everything in my universe, hence I am responsible for being stuck in traffic”.  No blame. No judgement, just a profound relationship to the physical universe.

Defenselessness is a great practice.  I watch my ego, that automatic self preservation of my identity, pop into play regularly.  When I remind myself that this is simply an automatic, preprogrammed reaction to stiimulus, I can step back and let go.  Then I don’t have the need to defend my position.  When this happens, I have access to Acceptance and Responsibility.

Great tools for this past week, and for powerfully living the life to come!

Rock on!

Week 23a: One step at a time

When I first read Emerson’s essay on Self Reliance in high school, I found it thick reading, and I think I missed the point.  I’ve not read it since, until now, and I still find it thick reading, but this time I saw something different.  Maybe it’s the passing of 40 years, and the change in perspective on life that has come with that, but I certainly heard the essay differently this time through.  The twin messages of this week, Emerson’s self reliance and Mandino’s observation that emotions are in a constant state of flux have been powerful. I’ve had a lot of conflicting input this week.  What seems like a good idea at one moment may seem totally wrong headed the next.  Lots of pull to let go of myself and do what others see as right.  The twin guideposts of the week have taught me to slow down, relax, and see how things flow.  Like waves on a stormy ocean, I may be knocked one way by an overwhelming flood, but in the next moment I’m standing on dry sand.  Waiting, watching, and trusting my own compass allows me to take it all in and use all of it for direction rather than blowing this way and that as the wind, and my emotions, blow.  Mandino is right on target when he points out that, upon waking tomorrow, I may be in a totally different space than when I go to bed tonight.  How often I’ve seen that to be true, that I wake up in the morning fresh and clear, with new vision, when I was stuck in my morass the night before.   Occasionally it works in the reverse, too.  I go to bed with big plans for the morrow, only to wake up with no drive, no direction.  Remembering that it’s not permanent, that this, too shall pass, is so freeing.  No longer  a slave to the moment, I can watch events unfolding without having to jump to conclusions, without having to take a position that I must later defend. Freedom & power come from this.

Rock on!

Week 22: Bitter Fruit?

Haanel starts off part 22 of The Master Key as follows: “…thoughts are spiritual seeds, which, when planted in the subconscious mind, have a tendency to sprout and grow, but unfortunately the fruit is frequently not to our liking”.  As I’ve been not feeling myself recently, and have been turning and churning over a lot of things in the past week, it got me thinking…  

I’ve done a lot of work over the years looking at how our physical being is a reflection of our thoughts. A month and a half ago my company went through a major upheaval. The same day my digestive system went haywire.  A new company contacted me about joining them.  My innards got worse.  Last week I found out that these new folks are serious, that I have a very good chance of being offered a major position in the company.  I’ve been sick to my stomach all day!  Do I want to make such a change?  I have a lot invested in my current company, and we’re making progress.  We’re not perfect by any means, but I’ve reached the point of having credibility in my industry.  If I leave now, to rejoin a previous industry with a company in need of rebuilding, can I succeed?  The people at company B seem pretty driven. Am I up to the task?  My current company sometimes shoots before aiming.  What’s our long term prognosis?  I’m wrestling with fears and hopes for the future; things that have not yet happened, things I cannot know.

What I do know is that the fruit is not to my liking.  Feeding off of fear and worry, deeply embedded subconscious conversations about loyalty, making others happy, doing what I’m told.  Deeply embedded conversations about my personal limitations, conversations that are running the show that I haven’t yet seen.  The trouble with the subconscious, the ringmaster, is that is IS subconscious, that I cannot see it except when little bits pop to the surface.  When I start talking, when I share the actual thoughts percolating rather than my thoughts about the thoughts, things start to move.

What’s the right thing to do?  I don’t know.  I feel like I owe it to my family to explore new opportunities to increase our financial security, yet I also love the comfort and camaraderie of my current company. I’m clear that there’s not a “right answer”, but that hasn’t stopped me from grasping for one.  I’m waiting for a light from on high, a choir of angels to alight and show me “the way”.  It ain’t happening.  This is the path to walk, in partnership with those in my life, to keep putting one foot in front of the other until the way becomes clear.  I also realize that I’m fortunate.  Getting to choose between two excellent choices is a rare opportunity, and getting to do it in partnership with people I love is even rarer.

I realize I’m rambling, and probably whining, as I’m wont to do while I’m working through something.  This week you, dear reader, get to slog along with me through the swamp.  I’m noticing that my compass is swinging wildly at the moment, and I’m not sure which direction is actually north, as there’s so much interference from my mind’s chatter.  I have faith, however, that, as I keep heading down the path, that the chatter will die down, the compass direction will become true once again, and the choice will become clear.

To quote Robert Frost:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I’m leaving out the last verse, as I’m still approaching the fork, and it’s not yet time to choose.  I wonder which is the right path?  Which is the best path? Which one I will follow?

Rock on!

Week 21: The Phantom Post

Ok, I’ve been pretty distracted over the past couple of weeks; tons of great stuff happening in business, being under the weather, and traveling.  So, this is last week’s post.  It’s gonna be short.  Week 22 will be more about sorting through the detritus of week 21.

See, I told you it was gonna be short.

Week 20: The power of a strong foundation

Ok, for record keeping purposes, the post titled “week 18” was actually week 19. There.  Now I can go on without being distracted by that…

One of the most powerful things I’ve learned in my 30 years of transformational work is that I have to start by excavating the cellar, that is, if I am going to build new patterns that will stick, that will become embedded and stay with me for the rest of your life, then I have to really get friendly with the junk that’s already running the show.  Where I have found that most programs fail and become ineffective “happy talk” is when it leaves me with a world of affirmations built on sand, and doesn’t excavate the cellar.  If you build a house on top of a cesspool, you could build the most magnificent house in the world, but it will still stink.  If I build new patterns on top of old patterns, the old patterns are still what’s in control.  They are the invisible drivers, leaving me to wonder why my life isn’t responding when I turn the steering wheel, while not noticing that my steering wheel isn’t actually connected to anything.

Digging out the cellar is imperative. I have to become comfortable with all the fear, anger, jealousy,critical self talk, shame, etc. that’s been stuffed down there.  It’s funny, because the lack of digging out the cellar has been my biggest gripe about the MKMMA program.  Just this week I sort of chewed Mark out about this very thing, only afterwards really understanding what this week’s work was about.  Oops! Item in the cellar: I tend to jump the gun…I’ve been finding that the program has been driving up the negative stuff, bringing it into the light, for quite a while, now.  I’ve actually found affirmations to be a very powerful tool for driving up that which needs to be brought into the light in order to move on.  Not that the affirmations work, rather, quite the opposite.  When I say “I am the most powerful man in the world” I immediately get to hear Subby’s current programming: “No you’re not. That’s garbage.  WTF are you talking about?  You’re so stupid to even think that!” and on and on it goes.  This is the key, not to validate this conversation, but to hear that it is there, to get that it’s running the show.  The really important thing to get is that it doesn’t mean anything.  It is not real.  It is no more real than my affirmation.  When I can let it lie in the sun for a while, it starts to whither and die.  Only when it dies can  new conversations take root.

Week 18

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post, and what a couple of weeks it’s been!  I posted about how my PPN for recognition in business was fulfilled in a rather dramatic way, and has left me feeling like the couple in W.W. Jacobs’ story “The Monkey’s Paw” (http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/mnkyspaw.htm) that I read as a kid. In short, as part of a refocusing of resources at my employer, I have doubled my sales territory and responsibility. What’s great about it is that it challenges my inherent sense of myself and is causing me to grow my abilities.  The downside is that I lost a friend and coworker in the process.  I guess that this is, in a way, the hero’s journey.  The road isn’t always smooth or easy, and sometimes the journey is unsettling.  In “The Lord of the Rings”, Frodo and his companions wouldn’t have chosen the path through the mines of Moria,  nor would they have chosen the events that happened, but that path and those events toughened them.  So do I find myself toughened.  I find myself rising to the occasion, taking on the responsibility, and along with it, a leader’s role in my company.

It’s interesting.  New customers have been clambering for my attention since the middle of December, and now they continue to come out of the woodwork and ask for our products. My management has demonstrated confidence in me.  All this since I took on Og Mandino’s charge, in last month’s scroll, to emphasize my uniqueness, instead of trying to hide it.  Hey, maybe we’re on to something, here!

Week 17a – The Hero’s Journey

Within me burns a flame which has been passed from generations uncounted and its heat is a constant irritation to my spirit to become better than I am…” wrote Og Mandino in “The Greatest Salesman in the World”  I started a bit when I first read these words.  I stopped and reread them, and then reread them again. These words sparked the flame, made me sit up and notice that this ongoing, low level dissatisfaction with the status quo wasn’t a bad thing, in fact it was a good thing.  Instead of trying to calm that irritation, I can now use it to my advantage to become more effective with that which is important to me.  I read on, “I fan this flame of dissatisfaction and proclaim my uniqueness to the world”.  Wow!  Proclaim my uniqueness.  Just the opposite of my usual M.O. of trying to fit in.  What a great challenge, to FOCUS on my uniqueness, to amplify that what I can do that sets me apart from others.  Listening to Aimee Mullens I realized that she loves that which makes her unique.  It’s not something to hide, it has become something that she showcases. 

So, what is it that sets me apart?  It’s that I am deeply interested in people.  I want to know what’s important to them, what makes them tick.  It’s that I care that the people in my life have great lives.  I am interested in my customers, in what’s important to them, in what they like about their work and their lives.  It’s that I respect them, and myself, enough to care that they come away from working with me a better person, that their life is better from our having worked together, and that they want to come back in the future because they know they can trust me.

Something is happening “out there”.  This week, I got a huge, and unexpected, vote of confidence from my company’s top management.  Hmmm, Business recognition is one of my PPNs.  Potential customers are coming out of the woodwork, and the products I am selling are suddenly in great demand.  I get to travel to the west coast with my wife to one of her favorite conferences, just part of a jam packed week coming up where I have potential customers clamoring for my time & attention, my European management visiting for a lot of forward planning, and customer visits while on the west coast, as well.  I found myself complaining a bit to myself that so much is packing in to so little time.  Then, I caught myself and reminded myself that it’s a privilege to be so in demand, to have so many people asking me to play with them..  It’s exactly what I need to succeed, it’s exactly what I’ve shied away from in the past. 

So, today is the first day of the rest of my life. I’m looking forward to the next!


Week 17: Taking Initiative

I love it when I can start out my block with “What an amazing week!”.  This week I’m focusing on Taking Initiate with the Franklin Makeover.  Combining this with Kindness and my first week’s task, Self-Control, has been great.  There have been challenges, of course, but still a great week. 

I’ve been traveling to see customers and potential customers all week.  Aside from not being home to take care of my family during Tuesday’s snowstorm (many thanks to my son for coming home from school for the night to support his mom) it was a great opportunity to forge new relationships and deepen others in a way that is moving the way my prospective customers see our company from an alternative to a preferred choice.  Traveling between several cities gave me the opportunity to notice the acts of kindness that people sent my way (recommendations for good, local restaurants, acknowledgement for the efforts my company has made in supporting customers), and also to do things for others (picking up my hotel room before leaving so that the housekeeper wouldn’t have a pile of debris to deal with, leaving the gas tank in the rental car VERY full instead of “sort of” full).

Taking Initiative caused me to jump on getting answers to questions for customers in a far more proactive way than I would have usually done.  It also enabled me to commit to things that I know will help us get their business, and that I know we can carry out, even though they are beyond the scope of what we normally do.  Taking Initiative caused me to find out that one prospective customer who was nervous about trying an unknown (to them) brand already owns four of our machines in their European facilities, building an instant path for them to get the information they need, from a trusted source, about my company’s products.  It enabled me to introduce another prospect to a current customer in a way that will help all three of our companies.

I’m writing this on the flight back to Boston, where my wife offered to meet me at the airport (double kindness; I didn’t need to drive myself, and I was able to leave my car for my son).  Without ongoing self-development, like the MKMMA program, my reaction would have been that I can handle it myself, thank you very much. Instead, she gets to contribute to me in a way that she wants to, and we get to spend more time together.  After five days apart, I’m really looking forward to seeing her!  Hmm, I wonder what initiative I can take to make her life better while I’m home…

Week 16: Kindness & Self Control

What I’ve learned about life is that, when I focus on one thing, I get a lot of the opposite.  It’s really valuable because it makes it easier to spot what I’m looking for.  This week, in looking for kindness, I found myself being, as a general matter of course, less kind than usual.  Since I was looking for kindness, it sort of ticked me off at first.  Here I was, in a week when I was trying to be kind and looking for the kindness in others, and all I could see was the opposite.  It figures, I thought, but then I began to look, and noticed that the dark background made the light spots of kindness show up even brighter.  I noticed the little things that people did for each other, whether it was my boss holding the door for me when I was headed back to my office, my wife joining me to cook dinner together, or my son remembering to turn the water off to the washer when he was done.  Looking back, it was a great week.  At work, I am so moved by the great people I work with.  I’m blessed to have plenty of work to do that, at least in my mind, makes a difference for people.  My wife & I each got lots done during the week and are planning some alone time, just the two of us, over the weekend.  Self control came into play in keeping myself focused, making sure I am prepared for next week’s meetings.

Next week is all about Taking Initiative.  I can’t wait!

Week 15: Acceleration & Reflection

In that order….

I’m amazed by how often I get inspired in life, by an event, course, people I’m with, etc., make plans to do something, and then look back at the end of the week and see how quickly I forgot about my plans as the week unfolded.  This week is a perfect example.  I was truly inspired by last week’s webinar, took copious notes, planned to do all the homework.  Monday came. A great day with lots of action and forward progress at work.  A meeting with my Wisdom coursework group in the evening.  Lots of great conversation, relationship, action.  Tuesday, the same, amazing progress at work, conference calls in the evening, lots completed, forward motion.  It was a wonderful week.  I had the experience of accomplishing things, of moving forward, of deepening relationships in my life and in my family.  

Then, this morning (yes, it’s Saturday, and it’s after midnight Friday, even in Hawaii…) I stopped to write my blog.  I remembered to look at the MKMMA website.  I saw how much I’d missed, how much I’d forgotten.  It was a great week; I wonder what it would have been like if I had stayed present to EVERYTHING?  

In my notes from Sunday I listed “Organization Skills” as my number 1 weakest quality in the Franklin makeover.  Setting up a spreadsheet to track my progress I realized that this is NOT my weakest point.  New #1 is Self Control.  Great insight, and today is a step in the new beginning with Self Control.  

Until next time…