There is a time

There is a time.
There is a season.
There is a rhythm.

Every rhythm is a repetition of patterns. (While we often think these are cyclical, in fact, the cyclical repetitions evolve along spirals.)

The simplest one involves two extremes, say “in” and “out”, action and rest or “up” and “down”, and the middle point or the center.  

You take the breath in. You pause. You breath out.
You plant the seeds. You wait. You reap out.
You learn. You practise. You apply.
You work. You flow. You rest.

It is the space, the break, the moment when you pause, when things begin to happen. It is of crucial importance. Sometimes, the crossing of this middle point is barely noticeable, while other times it lasts infinitely long. As it seems.

The “in” is the active receiving or taking in. It is often the most difficult, time consuming stage, because it involves intent, gathering of the data, hard work and conscious effort.

The middle point is a spark that ignites the necessary processes of assimilation and transformation. The progress is hardly observable at this stage.

The “out” is the generous giving away or giving back. It is only a release, after the things have been assimilated, digested, understood or worked out.

When you have a time (a week, a month, a year or a decade) that feels unproductive, with lack of progress and motivation, filled with missed opportunities, rejected projects or failed accomplishments, remember that there are also times when things happen with grace. There are times you fly and there are times you walk.

It is pointless to keep forcing a day to arrive when the night is long and deep.
It is ineffective to take action for the sake of doing something when the right solution is being worked out.
It is immature to leave for a journey when you are not packed yet.

You can’t make an adult from a small child, neither collect the fruits from the seeds. The forced solution will not hold.  Instead, you need to understand the stage you are in, appreciate it and blend in.

Relax.

It is okey to wait for the right time.

Because …

There is a season.
There is a rhythm.
There is a tide.

Wait for your tide. It is coming soon.

 ***

The image above shows a beautiful quilt by Inge Duin. See more of her works on  www.ingeduin.nl.

 

 Obviously, we all need love. This post, however, is not about love, but about compassion and its complementary.

Compassion is when you see a person in misery and you begin to feel with her.

Compassion is when you pour your heart out, feel her pain and cry with her.

Compassion is when you you take the time to listen to, console and comfort her.

When does it happen?

It happens when you shift your focus from yourself to the others, when you make the time to stop, pay attention and take care.

Compassion is your empathic ability to respond to the needs of others and join them on their level to help them grow. Yet, compassion, is perhaps a moment too late. It is inspired by an outside event or a call.

What comes before that?

It is the very act of noticing the other person as she is, perhaps even at the peak of her strength.

Acknowledgement is about showing gratitude for her beaming attitude, praising her for diligent work, efforts or smiles.

Acknowledgement is about encouragement when the attitude, energy, mood or performance are still high (or at least not lacking).

Acknowledgement is about approval when things go well, when her will is strong so that she can go bravely through difficulties.

It is very important. 
Why?
Because we all have a basic need to be heard, seen, acknowledged and understood.

A smile or a sign of appreciation can go a long way, much longer than you can imagine. Their actings have a cumulative effect. Gratitude and appreciation leverage support a person receives for her job, learning new skills or going through hardships. It is much easier to fuel the fire of motivation and keep her going than to overcome the inertia when she fails and stops.

Open your eyes and begin to notice.
Express what you value in the efforts of others.
Show appreciation.
Spread kindness.
Not this day only, but every day.
It’s never too much.

In compassion you recognize the sameness, the other person becomes a part of you.
In appreciation you recognize the difference, the individual power and uniqueness of the other.

Compassion is reactive.
Appreciation is proactive.
They make a lovely pair together. A dance between similarity and difference will help you to flourish and grow.

***

Kindness and appreciation. A great book on kindness is Why kindness is good for you, by David Hamilton. Highly recommended.

Compassion. You may listen to a short talk on compassion by Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional intelligence:

***

change_is_difficult

Most people are afraid of conscious change. They would rather stay in their comfort zone than take steps into the unknown. As a result, life controls them.

Things happen to them and they respond to the circumstances. They become reactive instead of proactive and they become victims of the circumstances instead of their co-creators.

Yet the world keeps changing all the time. Both the employment of ideas and development of technology have been very fast nowadays. And we, as individuals, change every day.

We are bombarded with new information, new knowledge, new structures, new technology as well as the new challenges they pose. We collect new experiences, we learn new things and we change our minds. We evolve and change in response to the changing world.

Conscious change is often difficult. It may also be easy, if we encourage the right circumstances and apply the right strategy. An effective change can be implemented by simple and manageable steps. Change does not need to be a painful process, either. On the contrary, it can be pleasurable when we are enjoying the process.

Most people fear change and consider the fear of unknown as the major obstacle. I don’t think it makes change that difficult though.

Why is change difficult?

In my opinion there are two reasons:

  1. we don’t want it badly enough (motivation) or
  2. we don’t know how to make it happen  (techniques).

We don’t want to change

How many times did I want to become an early riser? Countless, I have to say. Have I been successful? No.

There were many times I committed to getting up at 4:30am or 5am and although I succeeded in a short term, I’ve never made it a habit. Why? I can give you various more or less valid explanations, but the truth is simple. I didn’t really want to.

I thought I wanted it because there was a logical explanation, a social pressure and a strong evidence of an organized and successful life from the early risers I knew. I understood all the benefits of becoming an early riser, too. But such a change required a major shift to happen – going to bed early to get enough sleep.

I simply loved the quiet atmosphere of the night and the focus I could get in the evening hours. The morning hours were unattractive to me because they kept introducing the pressure of the tasks to be handled in the day. I failed because I couldn’t sustain both processes: working late at night and starting fresh and energized early morning. I simply did not want to become an early riser if I had to give up my quiet evening hours (this is my secondary gain). So, I ultimately chose not to become one.

How many times did you want to loose weight, stop smoking, get fit, become debt-free or earn extra money aside? Even if you initially succeeded, have you been back to the old patterns?

It is quite common to be excited for a change, seemingly commit to it to get the short term result, only to find yourself back where you started some time ago. At the moment we take conscious action we are likely to stick to the process for a while. The moment we stop paying attention we are back on the old tracks.

Going against homeostasis and a staying both feet in the stretch zone requires much more than the initial intention and enthusiasm. It requires a conscious shift to happen.

Coaching

I love coaching because we get to know ourselves and we grow enormously through asking the right questions, committing to right action and evolving through experimentation. Through self-coaching and coaching others it has become crystal clear that most people don’t really want to change. They want a magic button instead so that the change will miraculously manifest at the door. But there is no one like that, I’m afraid.

We say we want to change and we may even think or believe so with our hearts. In reality, however, this is often untrue. When you dig deep enough, you will often want the result but not the cost to be paid, learning to go through nor the shifts required for this change to happen. We want the result, the magic pill, but not the process. As if being fit or wealthy, having an interesting job or great family was a one-time event that could have been extrapolated to a lifetime.

Change is about learning new skills or forming new habits that have to be managed and maintained.

There are three main reasons why we don’t welcome change:

  1. We lack understanding.
  2. We are not ready.
  3. We want the result but not the process.

We lack understanding

Forced change or lack of communication. This usually happens when a change is forced upon us, in a company, between peers or friends, or by some forms of social pressure.

For instance, the company has to go through a process of structural changes that will affect employers on all levels. Perhaps some positions will be threatened, new tasks introduced and new teams created. Everything is uncertain.

The lack of honest and effective communication from the CEO to the leaders, from the leaders to the managers and later co-workers will provide a fertile ground for false ideas, assumptions and speculations. This leads to the lack of trust, and ultimately creates resistance.

In addition, we also lack understanding when we have an inaccurate perception of who we are, what we want and what is our reality. This actually challenges us to dig deep to know ourselves.

Secondary gain. When we have a negative habit or a habit we would like to change, there is usually something beneath the habit that serves us well. It is called the secondary gain. We may perfectly understand the reasons and circumstances for a change to occur. We may clearly see the benefits, yet resist change from our heart.

Why?

Because deep beneath there is an additional gain for this habit to function. It may even be completely illogical.

For instance, a child may start wetting in bed simply because his secondary gain is to attract attention from the busy parents who (by default) dedicate majority of their attention to the younger siblings. Stopping this habit will withdraw the attention back to the sibling, something a child doesn’t want. And in some cases, any dedicated attention is better than no attention.

You may choose to smoke because you seek acceptance from the peers and you get it by joining the smoking circles at school or work. There are usually some interesting conversations going on. Quitting smoking would mean staying outside these circles and becoming “less cool”. You don’t want that, hence you will sabotage your approach to stopping smoking.

You may choose to over-eat because you don’t feel lonely during eating. With cooking, cleaning and eating there is always an activity to be done, so your mind (or stomach) is occupied.

We are not ready yet

Any change to happen needs to be accepted on the emotional level. In order to change we need to leave the comfort zone and taking steps into the unknown. And this bring forward our basic fear – the fear of the unknown. We are born to maintain the homeostasis, the status quo, and resist those things that we cannot easily predict the outcome. Change is uncertain and will lead us through new avenues and new learning. It invites tension and requires extra attention and focus for the new learning to occur.  It also requires new energy levels for maintaining the process.

For a change to happen we need to accept it. Not only by logical reasons, but also through the act of facing our fears that will surface on the way. We also need to give ourselves permission to make errors, choose suboptimal strategies and solve problems inefficiently. This means we grant ourselves permission to learn even if these are baby steps. Such an emotional preparation will allow us to embrace the change together with the underlying process.

We want the result but not the process

We want a quick fix without hard work. We want to become fit, healthy or wealthy overnight or in to weeks, (let it be a month but no more, ok?) without taking the necessary actions or establishing long term habits. This is again related to our inborn difficulty to think and predict trends long term. We are good at short term perspectives choosing an immediate gain (oversleeping, eating cakes, drinking coffee, buying stuff, etc) over the delayed gratification. And for these reasons, we will succumb to marketers who offer us shortcuts: one click to become a millionaire, a pill to a perfect body or a car for a perfect self-esteem.

Yet, change is a process. And we need to understand this fact.

We don’t know how to change

Change is difficult because we focus on the negative aspects of the change. We follow a wrong strategy. We want to stop habits or patterns and focus on what we don’t want. Effectively, we want to uncreate the very thing we have, but instead we usually add more features.

As we know from experience, when we have a poor product or a computer program then adding more features or creating fixes will usually not lead to a better product as a result.We will only get a complex solution, overcomplicated for the tasks to be done, counterintuitive, having too many preferences and unclear choices to be made. And perhaps even conflicts between the existing features.

It is much easier to create a new product from the scratch with the essential features only. It is then well-thought and optimized for the task, hence simple, fast and working like a charm.

The same applies to a change. If you focus on uncreating your unwanted habits by introducing fixes, you are likely opening yourself to pain and frustration.You need to replace one habit with another. But this is often difficult too. The right approach is to focus on creating a new product – the New You.

It is much easier to imagine the person you want to become and set up the conscious habits from the scratch that correspond to the You 2.0 :). This requires a cultivation of an ideal self-image, setting up right values and right beliefs, and starting small with right actions in order to built habits that serve us.

Finally

The truth is this:

If we don’t manage change, change will mismanage us.

If we don’t take the responsibility for change to happen we will become shaped by the external circumstances. Not to our liking :(.

Obviously, we can’t manage every change possible, but the essential ones. It is our task to choose the changes that matter and make a difference.

Make a choice to change. Understand the why’s and the circumstances. Get ready. Implement!

***

Photo credit Fe Langdon, available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

***

event_process

Go x 3

We live in the times of Events.

Things happen. Meetings take place. Decisions are made.
There is rush, rush, rush. There is an endless to-do list.

Does it sound familiar? I bet, it does.

We want to communicate. Fast.
We want to get the results. Fast.
We want to get rich. Fast.

We want the easy, pain-free, quick fixes. And fast solutions.

Even better, we want it instant.

Instant messaging.
Instant coffee.
Instant food.
Instant education.
Instant cure.
Instant banking.

Instant life?

This has something to do with:

  1. the perception that the quality of life depends on the amounts of things, people and events we squeeze in,
  2. our weird impulse for an instant gratification.

The latter is an emotional pleasure related to getting what we want or reaching a goal. We want the very thing and we want it now. Short-term pleasure is just before our eyes, while long-term effects are hidden behind the clouds.

You want coffee. You get it.
You want the newest ipad. You buy it.
You want a fast laptop. You make it happen now.
You want these fancy trainers. Sure, you deserve them.

Following such impulses leads to overindulgence of all kinds and overspending.  It requires a conscious thought to overcome this.

Events are cool

Events are cool. They are shining spikes in our life experience. Glitter and glamor. Sweetness and refreshment. Fun and excitement. Thrill and pleasure. You name it! And while Events and Results are important, they are just single occurrences.

  • Why it is easy to eat one perfectly healthy meal, but it is difficult to eat them every day?
  • Why it is easy to go to a course, but it is difficult to practice what you learn?
  • Why is it easy to buy a guitar, but difficult to play?
  • Why is it easy to text or tweet, but difficult to write an article?

The difficulty arises from the gap between an Event and a Process.
It is easy to get excited and fire up your motivation for a one-time effort: the Event.
It is difficult to maintain the same fire for a repeated application: the Process.

Processes are maintenance

Processes are often boring. They are about systems, maintenance and practice. There is hardly any extra thrill or excitement, yet it is the processes that are key to the mastery of your life. They are about a long-term focus.

They are about 3P: Patience, Persistence and Perseverance.

What Events begin, Processes master

An Event is to get your attention.

To kick your butt. To make you think. To inspire you. To challenge you. To ask for an action.

Yes, the Events are necessary.

Some are entertainment. Some are interesting. Some are O.K.
And some are life-changing.
They shock. They shake. They shift.
Your view. Your beliefs. Your balance.

But yet, they only make sense if, after a genius spark, a suitable Process follows.

  • A headache is an Event, but being healthy is a Process.
  • A party is an Event, but a workday is a Process.
  • A diploma/license is an Event, but learning is a Process.
  • A car accident is an Event, but applying the conclusions is a Process.

Birth is an Event, but life is a Process.

Event vs Process

The difference between an Event and a Process can be summarized below:

EVENT PROCESS
Is a calendar issue Is a habit/culture issue
About decisions About development
Motivates / Inspires people Matures people
Challenges people Changes people (permanently)

 

To better understand the differences, watch this hilarious explanation:

You choose

You can pretend to be ignorant about it. To slide vigorously over the Events, and live from party to party, from paycheque to paycheque, from a small talk to a small talk. You can pretend you are above all this boring stuff that others are after. You can believe that life holds a different glamorous scenario for you. In the end you are a unique and talented being, aren’t you? You can apply the routine but why bother if you can choose the easy way.

Yet, the easy way will leave you lonely, empty and insecure. Don’t be surprised to find yourself in derail, without meaning and with little accomplishment. There are other guys, as gifted and genius as you are, waiting for you in this Pit.

The way out of the Pit is by taking the bull by its horns. Responsibility. Response-ability.

Event is to Process as Childhood is to Maturity

As you embrace childhood into your maturity, use the spark from an Event to continue with the Process. And any process is about habits or a routine. Perhaps dull, boring and repetitive actions. The same time of the day, week and month. For years to come.

Consciously chosen.

And it is the joy of the action itself, of the training, of the work, of the habit that keeps you moving. Towards a more conscious you.

It is the habit of exercising and eating whole foods that will keep you well.
It is the habit of active listening to make your relation blossom.
It is the habit of relaxing to keep you stress free.
It is the habit of honesty to let you become a content adult.
It is the habit of doing the first things first before allowing for any other disturbance.

You choose.

Decision.
Focus.
System.
Implementation.

Every day in order to keep your Processes running well.

***

Look at your life from the perspective of a Process. It will make a difference.

***

The image above shows a beautiful work by Inge Duin. See more of her works on  www.ingeduin.nl.

***