August 5, 2011

There is just no way I can impress upon my kids enough how much I love my primary language. I try so hard not to be embarrassed that while I took some Latin in high school and how wonderfully that has contributed to my spelling capacity, it is only “pig Latin” that I can actually claim as a second one. With that, I’ve decided to do what I can with this complex yet intriguing language of English. Over the years I have stopped fighting what doesn’t make sense about it, whether it is spelling or vocabulary or grammatical structure and instead I do one of two things: play games with it and try to “out smart” it, or, indulge in creative writing where I take major liberties in my English “Driver’s Ed” class, I mean, poetic license. Both amuse me and sustain me. For certain in a future blog I am going to share my fascination with what I deem “powerful verbs”. You will never be the same, for example: FATHOM.

For today, I have four words that have to do with doing something over again, as in the title of this piece, re-do. I want to use my carefully selected “re” words to take a look at the situation of our country right now and consider a vantage point that is perhaps akin to the view you’d have from a hot air balloon. From up here, I see people running around down there with less freneticism but more angst, more droopy shoulders, more of a place of being “sapped,” kind of worn and weary from an unexpectedly long journey with an unknown destination. I’d feel that way too if I actually read all the news or even half of it. Facts is facts (see, you can use really BAD English for the cause of getting your point across!!!), and we all know the “numbers” ranging from the GNP to the COL , to the DOW to unemployment figures and dare I say the average price of a house in your area. Those are real and I’m not touching any of those facts. I AM, however, going to ask us to reflect on our response to this new reality from this somewhat comfortable place up in the air balloon. My final request for our journey is that you suspend thoughts about the past (i.e. “last time this happened,” or, “it always goes like this and heads toward that…”, etc.) and the future, which by the way is not here yet (“This is going to get worse…” “The only way this can go is down!” “I’m afraid we’re running out of options,” etc.). I know, that’s a ton to ask. Bear with me.

How we respond to things determines much about our level of sanity in any given day or moment. There are books all over the place and speakers as well touting some version of “…between stimulus and response there is a space….this is where choice is,” which is to say that when something happens, there is a time frame in which we can actually pause (or not) and then respond. Miraculously, in my experience, any microcosmic to great pause in that space more often than not adds to the integrity and joy in my life. As an executive and life coach, I get the pleasure of working with people on creating new perspectives, very much like us being up here in the hot air balloon. What I would like to have you consider from up here are your values. What is it that is really important to you? What are things in your life that are as I like to say “non-negotiables” that no matter what, don’t fall below the line? I believe that times like the ones we are in can offer us an opportunity to look at these questions, so I invite you to do that (unless, of course, this is in your electronic Covey Day-Timer list under “sharpen the saw” today!!!). Not for me but for you. Jot them down and give them a look; sit with them for a few minutes. Stick them on a post it for a few days and look at who you are in relation to these values that you identified.

So here’s the rub. I think that right now the times are calling us to re-examine our values. That is the first “re”word. Take a look at how you spend your time and energy. What really matters when you spend that time and energy? What contributes to your well being and honors who you are? What betrays who you are? Jot them down for reference. When I do this with people there is another guiding premise I highly recommend inviting into the space: NOBODY GETS TO BE WRONG. This is a delightful default that has an amazing capacity to make life much, much safer and even more fun if you allow yourself to get into it. Make this something to play with, not work with, play with. If it’s hard, well, you know the rest.

Now, consider those values in terms of re-alignment, our second “re” word. You have a list and it is full of things like (my examples follow): connection (friends, family), being creative (hobbies, reading, art), engaging in the outdoors (recreation), self care (nutrition, exercise), care of others (family, pets), exploration (travel, spirituality) etc. Take a look at these values and see where they shake out in terms of what I referred to earlier, that is, the importance of these in your life. A picture is going to emerge about what it is that you desire to have in your life. In a sense, these can start to create a stake that you have for yourself in the world. So let’s say that my stake is to inspire others to be their most powerful self, to care and love my friends and family and to nurture myself so that I may serve the world. This offers me a place to launch from when I step into the world that is around me. It can inform me when I think about what vocation I want to pursue, how I want to spend the waking hours of my day, where and whom I want to invest in (yes, I’m ending with a preposition). Another related word here would be re-calibrate. If the picture you draw from here is inconsistent with your current picture, you are at that choice point between stimulus and response. You can stay with status quo or you can choose this new referent point of articulated, important values. The BIG STAKE in the ground is your fulfilled life! That is what is at stake above, below and all around our hot air balloon, is it not?

Should you choose to accept this mission (yes, it’s from the 60s T.V. show “Mission: Impossible”), you can then re-set, or perhaps re-constitute, your life from this new place!!! It’s like Florida orange juice, from the 70s, “reconstituted” for your tasting pleasure!!!!! So play with this re-do place for a little while. The great news is that you can now more easily drop into that place of re-laxing after the stimulus, before the response and check in with your values to keep you on track. Of course!!!!


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