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Surrounded by complaints? You are not alone!
Simply because research shows that an average person complains between 15-30 times a day. Now that’s average! Not counting people working during recession on furloughs or while going through major political and social transformation. That is not bringing into account personal life changes and careers choices that affect our language. What?! Would you say those 50% of couples who go through divorce in US* can get away holding their tongues? Or do you think the roughly 400,000 civil and criminal court cases** leaves all parties satisfied happily ever after without complaining? How about those 3.5 million underpaid teachers helping us educate our next generation? Have you heard them complain?
You will be my hero if you can claim there are no complaints in your organization. If you can hold the banner of a complaint-free culture, I would be super curious as to how. If you have eliminated the language of complaint in your world, hats off to you.
I haven’t! I have a 13 year old in middle school. Venting to me after school is a chore of his. I am a coach! A big part of my job is LISTENING. I hear complaints even when I cover my ears! That one is in my own head, however. But really, if there’s not a nagging complaining voice, why would you want to grow, improve, develop and become a better version of yourself? or improve your processes at your organization?
Well, I can go on and on. But I guess the point is rather clear. People complain. We all do.It’s part of our daily language and communication. However, the way complaint is received and processed makes a huge difference, in relationships, organizations and communities. Complaint can stir curiosity for seeing differently, acting differently and being differently. Or can create a toxic environment that would make the strongest of us wither.
Do you see the power of complaint?
I don’t want to get into the recently fashionable “ 4 ways” and “ 5 rules” and “ 6 reasons”. I generally don't believe in one size fits all for anything that relates to human behavior and culture. And I truly don't believe even if I do offer “ 4 ways” it will be implemented just by reading a blog. But I do believe, proper handling of complaints can improve organization culture. I do believe that listening to complaints the right way AND complaining the right way can save organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars not just by improving processes but also by reducing employee turn over and client loyalty. I do believe that directed complaint opens the room for feedback.
So, let’s get curious! Let’s get to work!
First step of any development, of any growth, personally and in an organization is : (Self) Observation.
When was the last time you caught yourself complaining?
When was the last time you heard and listened to passionate complaints of your employees?
When was the last time you did something about them?
If not now, then when?
I am here to listen!
* The number is actually declining http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/02/divorce-rate-declining-_n_6256956.html
No, I am not behind. And no, this not a post forgotten from December.
Beginning of Spring is the year end for many Persian countries, not just Iranians. People in many countries such as Uzbakistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq( Kurds), etc celebrate Novrouz. There are Spring Solstice celebrations even in Thailand and Bulgaria.
And no, Nowrouz is not a muslim celebration. In fact, after the attack of Osman’s and Islam to Persia, many religious governments put a lot of effort in banning Norooz celebrations and naming it a sign of atheism.
But no, Norouz is not a sign of any religion. Nor does it represent atheism. Despite the fact that many relate it to Zoroastrian faith it was indeed initiated before that time, some 3000 years ago. Amazing, right?!
Spring Equinox, the revival of nature, the victory of light over dark, the blossoming of life has been celebrated for thousands of years by may cultures. Even though, like many other traditions, it has become modernized and commercialized, the spirit of this moment in the year, the essence of this new rotation of the Earth around the Sun makes Spring Equinox sacred and very important to me. After all, It’s the initiation of a whole brand new 365 days. An event that happens all over the world, no matter what time zone you are in, at the very same second. This year it happens at 6:28:40 EST, Monday March 20th.
And therefore, the Year End note.
Ending this year, I want to send gratitude first and foremost to my soul mates. No, not solely those people I am committed to or love dearly. I believe soulmates come to our lives with variety of missions. I send gratitude to those soulmates who helped me grow and become a better person by pushing my buttons. Those who taught me how to hang on and those who helped me practice letting go. Those who moved me up by believing in my and those who made me stronger by trying to hold me back. I send gratitude, for every role they played, and every bit of contribution they made to make me who I am.
Ending this year, I am setting intention in following my heart even more. In living even more authentically. In standing up and for the gifts I was born with; the many blessings I need to share with my community and with the world.
Ending this year, I am a commitment to; initiating wiser, listening deeper, inquiring more, following up even more zealously and finishing stronger. I am a commitment to supporting growth and change. I am a commitment to developing resilience.
With the new rotation of the Earth, my hope is to give more than I receive, to plant more than I harvest and to bring more compassion and empathy to every life I touch. My hope is to be a source of growth, more than ever before.
May this Nurouz be a new beginning for all especially for those who are curious and live with the passion to make this world a better place.
Sam loves what he does but always complains that he's overwhelmed with too much work. His employers believe he deserves a raise but needs to find balance at work.
Sydney is an amazing leader but hardly asks for help or delegates the tasks at hand. Often times this attitude is mistakenly seen by others as being a micro manager.
Jake has been with the same company for a decade now. His not-so-well communication skills prevent him from the well deserved new role in the company as a team leader.
Have you ever pondered on how " the way we talk" affects " the way we work"?
Have you noticed how our company culture and our relationships are affected directly by the way we communicate our inner and outer world?
Are you ready to step up in your organization and stressed about new ways you would have to connect?
You are not alone, simply because:
• If you are leading, inevitably, you are constantly dealing with and creating change.
• Every significant or even small change you intend to create in a group of humans can not be possible without change in individual behavior.
• Even if the change happens, making it sustainable without attending to the way people make meaning of things, is improbable.
• Without considering that we ourselves must change, it is impossible to lead a group, expecting them to grow, be resilient, and change the way they make meaning.
One may ask: Why so much emphasis on change?
Why should I be changing my language?
Why building resilience?
Why do I bother?
Kinda simple answer;
As leaders, we are constantly being challenged to change whether we like it or not, whether we admit it or not! How much did you have to change your ways during the recession? How about during the past two years with the shortage of subs and technical staff( in construction market)? With the way procurement and business have evolved? With the political ups & downs?
At the same token, as leaders, we always have to support others in their growth and change. Can you point out a flourishing company that hasn't had to deal with diversity issues? New hires & fires? Promotions? Complaints? Team building efforts? Don't all of these events have something in common? CHANGE!
Every time this change is forced upon us, we have to re-evaluate the way we make meaning.
In every instance that we have to find new ways of making meaning we have to find new ways of communicating. New ways of using our words and our language. Because we make meaning through LANGUAGE!
The way we talk reveals, defines and can re-construct:
Perhaps if Sam looks deeper into his complaint pattern he would find the real commitment, the passion that leads him to take up too much work. With a change in the language Sam can benefit from this complaint instead of feeling burdened by it.
How about if Sydney manages to share her need for help. Wouldn't she be more capable of building better relationships as a leader and lightening up her workload?
What if Jake looks deeper into the hidden messages his way of communication is giving to the team and reconstructs his way of talking to simply lead a better team? Wouldn't that well deserved raise manifest?
After all it’s all about the language! What do you think?
Introduction: Why Water Cooler Conversation Matters
In the beginning was the Word.
Considering an average person speaks 13000-16000 words a day( No, women don't talk more than men), using any of the roughly 6500 languages in the world do I still need to emphasize on the importance of language in human society and development? Even though I certainly don't want to tip my toes in the history of language, I am however fascinated with the power of this undeniable gift bestowed on us. I am flabbergasted at how much effort we put into modifying appearances, personal and public, and how negligible is the attention we pay to the theme dominating our conversations; how deeply we undermine the patterns that control our responses to the world or interpretations of incoming data.
It is rather disheartening to notice how little is being done in organizations to address this topic. An abundance of meetings and a lack of action to change the language that would keep the team growing together and doing better together. Time consuming leadership seminars and public speaking courses on how to use our hands and facial expression and we hardly listen to the effect of our own language or to the heart of the language really spoken in our organization.
Therefore, I am curious about and delving into whether we are taking advantage of this phenomenal gift, language, or turning it into a weapon.I am building my case based on a common agreement, not a rule, that language shapes our cultures, communities, relationships and workplaces, hence affecting our society and the next generations in unmeasurable ways. I am simplifying my case as “ the case of the water cooler conversation”. As a clarification, by water cooler conversation, I do not mean gossip or negative talk. For the sake of these series, this term refers to general office talk, office language, the collective language we use in daily life which we naturally take to work with us. Just trying to make it sound a bit more fun!
Robert Kegan phrases the importance of language beautifully when he writes,” The forms of speaking we have available to us regulate the forms of thinking, feeling, and meaning making to which we have access, which in turn constrain how we see the world and act in it.”
Let’s break it down!
Imagine your world being a stage. A stage from which you play; your actions, your relationships, your responses, your choices are all formed on this stage. On this stage you are constantly acting the act of your life. The script? The script is continuously being written, changed, modified and re-written by your thoughts, your feelings and the way you interpret your inner and outer world. And what shapes these thoughts, feelings and interpretations is the way you speak, the choice of words, the kind of phrases you choose to express yourself about anything in life. Your language.
Does it look like Alice in the rabbit hole? Perhaps it does. Perhaps not.
Let’s break it down even more with an example.
I have a wonderful friend. We try to talk once or twice a week via phone calls. Not because we are old fashioned( which we are) but because we feel more connected. I have noticed that during our conversations there’s an undeniable undertone of complaint and the theme of the conversation usually leads to getting upset at so and so since they did so and so. Can you imagine this way of talking? What kind of feelings and emotions would you say are present with it? Body language? How would you describe the stage she is acting her life from? How does she see the world from this stage? How does she act in it?
Yet another case;
I am interviewing employees and attending staff meetings for Organization XX to assist them in putting employee development plans in place. In most interviews there’s a common theme of complaint for not having enough time, being loaded with responsibility, working over time, taking up more work than one can handle. Sounds familiar? What kind of company culture does this theme create? What is the story that can be told about this culture? What kind of shift can happen in the way people in this company talk that would create more effective, efficient and productive work environment? What is the script written by this company culture?
Reflecting? What are some of the ways people speak at your organization? What are some underlying messages this language conveys? How are these messages bringing benefit to the organization? How are they affecting the employee turn over? All valid questions!
I leave you with this quote from Robert Kegan hoping that you come back for the next blog where I introduce some diagnostic of the way we talk and discover ways of shifting this spoken language into meanings that will enhance the work place and leave it more efficient and productive.
“ All leaders are leading language communities. Though every person, in any setting, has some opportunity to influence the nature of the language, leaders have potentially greater access and opportunity to shape, alter, or ratify the existing language rules. In our view, leaders have no choice in this matter of being language leaders; it just goes with the territory.” ~ Robert Kegan
“ But I am an introvert!”
“ I hate introducing myself to strangers.”
“ What about my projects? I don't have time.”
“ Networking is not my strong suit.”
“I was not hired to sell!”
“Sorry, but if you want to grow and move up in this company, you have to bring in business. “
Can you relate?
Almost two decades of experience as an introvert who was dropped into the business development position in corporate America( and had to perform at the speed of light) has made me quite familiar with both sides of this conversation; the complaints & excuses along with the expectations & threats. I have witnessed many different strategies enticing and encouraging the technical staff to become more involved in business development and have observed various ways the technical staff has tried to avoid it.
Where do you fit into in this uprising battle?
Additionally, if you are a business owner, an entrepreneur or a recently promoted principal you actually fight the battle on both sides, at all times! An internal language of musts and shoulds and a body, a being that is not prepared for the undertaking.
In best cases with a few webinars and bootcamps we expect the shift to happen:
these are the events you are required to attend,
here’s how you shake hands,
you should collect this many business cards,
you are required this many number of cold calls,
this is what you say on the phone when you cold call…
Often, the new rules and agreements don't go beyond a “ new year resolution” though. They fade with time and everyone gets back to their busy schedule. Until the next times sales or billing is low or pipeline is not promising and the cycle goes on and on….
We expect ourselves or others to jump into a new skin and feel comfortable in it without taking time fitting the skin.
How reasonable is this expectation from technical people or ourselves? How realistic is pushing someone into a new role without certain shifts in their way of being? Who would expect a writer, for instance, to fill in for an RN with a few webinars? What makes us assume that business development and sales should come to everyone naturally? How can we avoid this cycle without losing good people, without conflict in the organization and without seeming unrealistic? What’s the best way to make this shift managed, productive and sustainable?
It would be easy to leave you here with all the questions! Most easy!
Claiming to have all the answers, a magic wand that would break old patterns and create a sustainable change, is deceitful. Besides, I truly believe doing business development goes beyond learning a few techniques, hand shake lessons or networking tips. Like any other role we take up in life it requires a shift towards a new narrative. Playing on a new stage in the act of life would require blending with the new personality as it is being born.
Stepping into a doer-seller role, perhaps even working on expanding one’s own business, would require one to develop passion, authenticity, whole hearted presence, engagement, follow up plans, communication, connection, education and certainly listening skills.
Authenticity and passion can not be replaced with any closing techniques. Whole hearted presence can not be substituted with the most exotic lunch meeting. The most modern exhibit booth will only be seen through the engagement of the people running it. Most expensive conferences are only as valuable as the follow up plans & actions. Connecting and networking goes way beyond the number of business cards exchanged. Genuine involvement in educating the clients can not even be compared to sending a marketing brochure. And listening, yes, listening without judgement or greed, without having one’s own agenda & response in mind would transform an interview process to infinity and beyond!
True or False. Either way. How about taking a step towards asking ourselves some difficult questions. Whether stepping into the role or leading our employees into taking the step, let’s pause and ask ourselves:
Answering these questions once is certainly not effective enough but can shed light onto what our main resistance is and what can be done to handle this resistance with a gentle and sustainable approach. Going back to them regularly can have tremendous insight on what needs and can be done. After all, change can be messy and usually it’s not welcome! A mindful approach with the right questions and observations can make the milestones and the progress much more tangible and appreciated.
Every time you answer the questions, contemplate on your answers. How much complaining language is there? How much blame? How many short lived promises?
How ready are you? What is the one thing you can work on to develop this narrative? What happens if you don’t?
After all, aren't we, every one of us, always involved in business development? Whether it’s the business of making friends and companions or the business of serving more clients. Whether it’s the journey of living a joyful and alive life or the art of leading a successful career, how would it all look without development?
A simple friends’s gathering for dinner. Casual greetings. Connecting.
And she gets right to the point. I admire how she takes charge and leads the conversation right away. Not in an offensive or authoritarian manner. In a gentle way. Like a loving mother supporting her baby’s first steps.
“So, what are the three identities you are living these days?”, She inquires.
We are all kind of taken aback. Of course our conversations are always meaningful. They certainly are not limited to the latest TV show, last night’s ball game or how frustrated we are that our favorite sweater is out of stock. We discuss choices we have made recently. We show up and check in about what’s really happening with our inner world. We share our fears, our joy and our sadness. We are not afraid of being vulnerable. We connect and support. We are present with each other
The identities I am living… I am a mother, before anything. Every beat of my heart, every inhale and exhale contains this identity.
I drift. How are the identities I am living in alignment with my vocation? What am I doing to move in the direction of aligning them? How am I creating an impact in my family, my community, and the world with the identities I am living? How authentically am I showing up in each of these identities? How present am I?
I am a coach. I wake up in the morning believing that I can make a difference. Believing that I I am supporting someone with their growth, and development. Believing that I am making a positive impact in the generations after me.
Questions take over the conversation. How are you embodying this identity? How is your life, integrally affecting and being affected by it? How are these identities supporting each other?What is the legacy you are leaving, showing up with this identity in the world? On your deathbed, will this identity bring you a glimmer of a smile?
I am a gardener. I love connecting to the earth. I love watching a seed germinate. I love caring for growth. I am passionate for spreading life, joy and beauty.
The warmth of the evening, the deliciousness of our mutuality, the cradle of support we provide for each other, once again reminds me that we are not alone. It affirms that our relationships have an immense affect on the identity we live and can either support it’s blossoming or suffocate it from existence.
I ask you, what are the three identities that keep you moving forward? How are your relationships supporting your identities?What comes up for you?
With Loving Care
I always envy those who start a career at an early age, stick with it and grown as a result. Almost like walking a path knowing where it would lead you. For me, career was never a natural progression. It was never a straight line. And I wish I could say I had one first job. But when you migrate across this fascinating sphere of diversity, it feels like you have a second birth, a second life and a second chance to have a first job. At least I did.
Entering college in Iran was - and still is- very competitive. Mid 80s were probably the worst. It was when the universities and colleges had re-opened after 7 years of shut down due to revolution. So not only did I have to compete with my generation, I had to knock out those passionate smart adolescents who had been waiting to go to college for Seven years. I managed to get accepted to study Anesthesiology, Midwifery( my first passion) and Chemistry. I was obliged by my family to stay in town and study Chemistry. Meanwhile, I attended the recently reopened English Institute in Tehran to complete my English studies.
Lesson One: What kind of environment do you enjoy working in?
I loved what I studied. Chemistry taught me a lot about life. But working in a lab was a different story. All day long testing metals and putting them through the same processes with the same chemicals in a quality control lab taught me that I couldn't stand enclosed spaces and…
Lesson Two: How much creativity would you like your job to demand from you?
I learned That I need nurturing my right brain.
As I was dragging myself to the metallurgy lab every day, I was finishing my certificate in English. Towards the end of the semester my teacher approached me and asked me to apply for TTC ( Teachers Training Course) and become a teacher. “ But I hate teaching!” I said. “It was never my dream to become a teacher", I told here. I had much bigger visions for my life. “ Just do it one term and if you didn't like it, quit. No one can make you continue.”
Lesson Three & Four: Do you trust your mentor? If you don't have one, find one!
10 years later, I was the most sought after teacher in Tehran, making great money and truly enjoying my career. Teaching helped me recognize and develop my leadership skills. Teaching connected me to young curious minds that opened the space for my free spirit and accepted me wholeheartedly. Teaching taught me how one leader, one influence, can change the course of a life and subsequently touch the lives of generations. Teaching spread the seeds of coaching in the garden of my soul.
Lesson Five: When you do what you love you are in “ flow” and it shows!
Then came the second chapter of my life. Moving to United States and starting from below zero in 2001. I say below zero not only in the financial aspect but holistically. Unless you have migrated to a place with a complete different culture and language all by yourself, it would be very difficult to even grasp the idea of starting below zero.
The second week of my job I was given car keys, a computer, a flip phone and a phone. The training I received was:” Call these numbers and ask them ‘What’s the status of your project?’”. “Ok, but what do I do with the answer?!”. Apparently my people personality had persuaded my boss that my first ever business card should read “ VP of Business Development”. Good bye Chemistry degree! Good bye teaching! Greetings Emotional Intelligence! Greetings communication skills!
Make a long story short, learning the construction industry, design phases, financing routes, government vs private jobs, under & over ground inspections, environmental rules & regulations, technology and above all building relationships in a town I didn't know anyone was not an over night task. Unlike many of my associates I didn't have the advantage of growing up and going to school or church with the decision makers, knowing all the college and national sports teams and following politics. Not to neglect the fact that I was a woman in a male driven industry. I had to work not just on my job but more importantly on proving myself during the time that none of the global events were in my favor; during 9.11, while Iran was in the axis of evil and during one of the toughest depressions in the history of US.
I was put at the edge of a cliff and given a swift push. I had to either fall and break into pieces or grow wings to fly.
I flew, alright. And I didn't even give my wings time to dry. February of 2013 I started my business after putting myself through school again and getting certified as a coach. What's alive for me these days is to shift my narrative and the way I am perceived in my community; from a business developer to a coach. A full circle to where I started as a teacher, almost.
The lessons from this chapter don't fit in a line or a question. It took tremendous resilience to get up every time I fall, find my feet on the ground and make it through. It took a lot of faith to never undermine the power of “ choice”. It took steadfast mindfulness to always believe in the big picture and always, always, move forward with passion! It took mentors who believed in me more than I believed in myself at times. It took a community that cheered me along and stood by me during mishaps. It took guts, listening to my heart and developing my presence. It took wholeheartedness!
I leave you with a poem from Margot Bickel. One of the poets who touched me deeply from young ages alongside Rumi & Hafiz. May you live wholeheartedly! and follow your passion to unfold a career path where you'd never want to retire!
Before my last exhale,
Before the curtain falls,
Before the last flower wilts,
I intend to live fully,
I intend to love without inhibition,
I intend to be.
In this cruel world,
In this era steeped in hatred and grudge,
In this age filled with disasters,
I want to be in the presence of those who need me,
Whom I need,
Who are worthy of reverence.
So that I can discover,
And understand anew,
All that I am,
All that I can be,
All that I want to be.
So that the days don’t pass me by in meaningless void,
The hours become alive,
And the moments gain significance.
When I laugh,
When I cry,
When I am silent,
I am journeying towards you,
Towards the divine.
For it is an unknown path,
Full of thorns,
And ebbs and flows.
A path that upon taking,
Upon which I have already stepped foot,
There is no return,
Until I have seen the blossoming of the flowers,
Until I have heard the rivers roar,
Until I have been awed by the beauty of life.
Now death can find me,
Now I can carry on with the journey,
Now I can say that I have lived.
(Farsi to English translation by NikNaz K. Original Poem by Margot Bickel in German, translated to Farsi by Ahmad Shamlou)
As the waiter peeped her nose into the frozen world of our weary adventure from the tiny crack in the door, teasing us with the warm smell of coffee, the last words we remotely anticipated were " We are closed! Starbucks closed at 3 pm ."
January 29th, 2014 was not an ordinary day in Atlanta. It was as if on this day mother nature dropped hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of invisible question marks and planted them around 159 counties that accommodate almost 10 million folks in the state of Georgia. A population that has travelled far and wide settling in this southern not-so-warm-anymore climate. Optimists who sought shelter in South way before Canadian geese thought migration was too much of a hassle. Question marks were enveloped neatly in snow flakes delivered by a polar vortex.
I, personally, had to fill in many blanks and sit for trials numerous times during those surprisingly frozen days. For me the ordeal started with trusting my intuition and setting off to pick up my son from school right when the first flakes kissed my beloved sleepy garden. The twenty minute drive to school turned into a two and a half hour journey of suspense. It was hard to comprehend why we were as stuck as we were. It was hard to believe how suddenly the roads had become an endless chain of vehicles locked in awe.
The joy and surprise of the principal on seeing the first and only parent finally arriving 10 minutes after the usual closing time was heartwarming. A fuzzy feeling of unity bonded us. A feeling of overcoming a common enemy, the polar vortex. “I am proud of you.” His weary eyes declared in gratitude. Parents were trickling in to pick up their kids. Not many of them. Bus riders showed off as they rolled their eyes to car-riders abandoned in the school at the mercy of the weather and staff. They secretly smiled in revenge of all those “ poor you, I’m getting in my mom’s car” looks they got everyday. Their excitement of traveling the un-passable snow covered roads burned wishful flames in their hearts. Alas, flames that never melted the ice. The bus looked like a popcorn machine in one of those animation movies, bouncing in place with the energy of it’s contents. They knew this ride would be different but they never guessed how. Even the steam covered windows of the school bus couldn't hide their vim.
My son and I rode, well, were parked in the road next to the school bus for a very long one and a half hour that delivered us 500 yards further. We had the choice; to start an adventure and leave 5.5 miles of footsteps on the snow tracing us home or sit in our torture chamber of uncertainty and hope for Moses to open this locked chain of vehicles miraculously. None of us being good prisoners of idleness, the latter didn’t seem like an option. Farewell car, farewell school bus carrying jumping beans, greetings jammed roads of Roswell, Georgia. Lead us!
Snowflakes falling still, steady and fast.
Resilience has always been my best friend. It granted me the power of quick decision making where fight, flight or freeze would have been the common response. My friend really came in handy on this very unique day. I knew setting off on an unknown journey -where getting cold and wet was mandatory- with a full bladder was not a wise choice. The people in the office building hosting our abandoned car embraced us and cheered us on. They were blissfully ,and a bit concerned, watching the show outside. Wiser or more sensible ones had already set their hearts on spending the night in the office.
Speeding through ice covered roads and taking over every single vehicle for about a mile was quite encouraging and rather exciting. Our feet danced joyously as the envious tires slid uncontrollably on ice. There was a sense of power and independence moving us forward.
They say there’s a first time for everything. This snowy day marked many of them for my son: first hitchhiking, first 5.5 mile walk home from school , first feeling of walking in wet shoes not for fun but to survive, first real helplessness in an uneven battle with nature. Perhaps the closest he had ever got to discomfort and insecurity. But the truth was being as resilient and fun natured as we are, the walk turned into a real adventure. Joyful. Playful. Meaningful. And a great lesson in compassion and simple acts of kindness for sure.
Snowflakes falling still, steady and fast.
“ Corporate office has ordered all the stores to close. I can’t offer you any specialty drinks but we have free coffee and free hot coco.” The Starbucks manager declared shyly from the crack in the door.
“ Gee! Of course! You are amazing!” I really thought he was!
We were led inside, offered hot coco and coffee. As cold and wet as we were the drinks felt like the streams of honey flowing in heaven promised to believers in Quran. The shop was surprisingly crowded. People were simply checked out for the day or like us, they were taking a break before continuing their frozen journey home. The atmosphere was friendly and warm. As if steams of kindness and camaraderie rising from each cup of free hot drink silently bonded all the stranded crowd in that not-so-spacious shop. How one choice, one decision, one random act of kindness, one simple straying from the rules, one gentle push of musts and shoulds affected so many hearts in a way it will be forever remembered.
“ You are truly appreciated.” We warmly expressed as we were leaving the store hoping to arrive home before dark. “ What you did, and how you comforted us will be forever a very sweet memory. Thank you!”
Home, before dark. Before the school bus even reached the main road.
Snowflakes that questioned everyone… What are your priorities? How developed is your power of decision making? How playful are you? How seriously do you take hardships? What are you taking for granted? How well planned are you? Whats the role of kindness and compassion in your life? Is it worth it?!…..still falling, steady and fast.
We were no exception. The whole five days we got stuck in the house were challenged with a lot of self observation. We never learned the name of the driver who good-naturedly transported us about a mile. We never asked for the numbers of the couple who miraculously appeared on our way and led us through a shortcut in a greenway. We didn't find out if our big-hearted coffee-man ever got home before dark. We hoped the firemen who offered us a roof for a few minutes got home safe. We didn't stop and whine, not even once! But we did reclaim our faith in love and compassion. We waved at the people we didn't know wishing a smile would bring them a little warmth. We did experience a bond that only develops when you go through hardship together. We did send gratitude for the blessings we so often take for granted. We became even more resilient.
Times of hardship, trauma, misfortunes and financial turmoils are all undoubtedly an inseparable part of life. Whether it’s a flat tire or losing our jobs, whether it’s a divorce or not getting our favorite seat in the theatre. What shapes us, our lives, our relationships, our present experience and our future is the response we give to every situation, to every action. Resilience, mindfulness and compassion can always turn the page in our favor. It’s worth to stop and reconsider: “How did I do the last time I had an opportunity to practice?”
Snowflakes keep falling steady, fast, resilient….
Jump and the cushion will appear
"Brian, I'm quitting."
Two years ago when I walked into my Boss' office requesting an urgent 30 minute meeting I had no idea what I was stepping into. I knew some force is pulling me in but I didn't know what. There was this incredible sense or urgency calling me, asking me to pack up my belongings and start a new chapter in my life. This familiar itch! Nothing could stop the butterfly of my curiosity leaving the cocoon of the familiar. My heart could hear the calling singing so loudly that my brain's ears were deaf.
" I'm quitting and I have no idea who's going to pay the mortgage next month!"
Cornerstone Strategies turned 2 this month; a dream that was initiated by intuition, led by trust and faith and manifested like the most fascinating work of art. A journey traversed despite the road blocks. A garden blooming with fruits of passion. A cushion that appeared as soon as I jumped!
" How did you know? How could you trust? Weren't you afraid?", I'm often being questioned. I was! I was indeed scared of the hight. Uncertainty was paralyzingly but trust was ten times more energizing. I trusted my heart. I trusted the knowledge stored in my body. I trusted my dream. And I trusted my capabilities. But let’s be honest, how often do we listen to unspoken messages? How often do we take time to quiet the demand of the obligations, the avalanche of information, the never-ending buzz of technology? How often do we listen to life humming in our ears? How often do we wake up to our bodies screaming ideas? Not so much, I'm afraid. Not often enough, I believe.
My body and my heart have always been great sources of information and clues for me. Since 2010 learning about conscious embodiment and somatic awareness strengthened this connection and created the possibility to sail many uncharted waters and push the boundaries to a life of resilience even more. Now, it’s payback time! As a gratitude to this awareness and blessing, on the 2nd anniversary of stepping in the path of my vocation, I am offering 2 free coaching/business consulting sessions to 2 individuals. If there is something you have always wanted to move towards, if there’s a stuckness in any area of your life/business, If you are going through a major change, if you just need to rehash and organize your marketing efforts or re-focus your target, if you are simply curious about Integral Coaching or Business Development feel free to throw your name in the hat! The raffle results will be announced by the end of the month. Let the fun begin!