I’ve had some time to think this past week and have a lot swirling in my head. I’m not feeling particularly inspired to write however, perhaps because a head cold is clouding my brain.
So for today, I’ll just post this reminder to turn off that internal (or external) voice of judgment that might be telling you who or what you should be or do or say, and instead to just be true to yourself — and ever grateful for those who matter in your life.
Today’s blog is borrowed from John Bingham’s No Need for Speed which I read recently. If you’re a beginning runner, especially if you worry about being slow, I definitely recommend Bingham’s books. I especially like this quote:
“As I set new goals, conquered new fears, and overcame new doubts, I became a new person. I was no longer the person who sat inside on cold mornings. I was not the person for whom comfort was the sole objective. I wasn’t the person who was controlled by the circumstances of my life…. What happens when we untie the ‘nots’ in our lives is that we can see beyond today and begin to imagine a different tomorrow. As you see the obvious changes in your body, you also begin to see the less obvious changes in your soul. When you untie the ‘nots,’ when you become fully engaged in the process of becoming a better athlete, you can’t help becoming a better person. You find, without realizing it, that you’re NOT afraid to change, learn and grow. You learn to look past all the things that you can’t be to those few that you can. As you learn to accept your limitations as an athlete, you’re less afraid to accept other limitations in your life. Your unique combination of talent and motivations, discipline and dedication, become the tools with which you build the person you most want to be.”
In my experience, new runners go through stages of evolution — that affect both the body and the mind. Pushing through old limitations, testing boundaries, and taking on new challenges. Standing shivering and expectant at the starting line waiting to find out what is possible on the journey to the finish. And knowing that the person who finishes the race, may not be the same person who started it.
What else has changed in your life since you started running?
I’ve just finished reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s a simple little book that makes for quick reading and a lot of pondering and I’ll be discussing it with the members of my leadership tribe over the next few weeks.
Most interesting to me was the first chapter on how we humans are “domesticated” and taught stories, beliefs and values that become our unconscious reality as we grow into adults. Ruiz calls these the “agreements” that rule our lives. We learn to be the people that others want us to be and “live our lives trying to satisfy other people’s demands.” We judge ourselves and others against these expectations — often harshly — and we try to change ourselves and others to fit these expectations. Ruiz argues for rejecting those agreements that don’t serve us and replacing them with new agreements so that we can be more free, starting with the four in the book.
The Four Agreements as summarized on the book jacket are:
- Be Impeccable with Your Word – Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
- Don’t Take Things Personally – Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. Ruiz argues that “there is a huge amount of freedom when you take nothing personally.”
- Don’t Make Assumptions – Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid, misunderstanding, sadness and drama.
- Always Do Your Best – Your best is going to change moment to moment, it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.
I have work to do on each of these. For the short term, I’m trying to be aware of my tendency to “go into my head” and judge myself and others. I’ve been telling that voice to stop, just stop, and instead focus on being present and letting of assumptions and judgments. I’m consciously trying to write a different story in my mind when I start to take things personally or make an assumption about why someone has behaved in a certain way. And when I’m not sure, I’m asking rather than guessing or assuming. I’m hoping that with enough practice these will become new habits and new agreements for me. And maybe I’ll be a little less domesticated!
Posted in Growing, Thinking
Tagged acceptance, change, curiosity, Four Agreements, growth, leadership, Miguel Ángel Ruiz, relationships, thinking, vulnerability
This feels like an appropriate Seth Godin quote to share as I head off to my first of four leadership retreats and literally and metaphorically “throw myself” out into the open with a group of 25 strangers, facing some very real fears:
“Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead.
The scarcity makes leadership valuable. If everyone tries to lead all the time, not much happens. It’s discomfort that creates the leverage that makes leadership worthwhile.
In other words, if everyone could do it, they would, and it wouldn’t be worth much.
It’s uncomfortable to stand up in front of strangers.
It’s uncomfortable to propose an idea that might fail.
It’s uncomfortable to challenge the status quo.
It’s uncomfortable to resist the urge to settle.
When you identify the discomfort, you’ve found the place where a leader is needed.
If you’re not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, it’s almost certain you’re not reaching your potential as a leader.
-Seth Godin, Tribes
And special thanks to the friend who sent me this photo and inspiration the other day:
“The little guy is coming out of his shell to conquer the world armed with all the instincts he was born with. He’ll (she’ll?) finish crawling out of the egg, scurry around a little, get oriented, then head out to the ocean to start an amazing journey. Just made me think of you as you embark on the first retreat.”
One of the things that’s been incredibly useful about coach training is understanding the power of choosing the perspective that you will take regarding a specific situation or set of facts. We really can choose to see the glass half full or half empty… or we can banish the glass entirely and replace it with an overflowing bucket. The choice is ours.
I’ve had a couple of hard weeks at work and have been in a bit of a funk post toe surgery. I’ve decided to call that place “Wallow.” Wallow was a cold and dark place full of self-pity and self-inflicted misery. There was no exercise, no progress on important goals, and everything just felt more difficult than it needed to be. It wasn’t depression, I just felt mired in mud.
Yesterday I decided that Wallow wasn’t serving me very well. So I waged an eviction and decided to shift to the perspective of “Half Full.” Nothing actually changed in my life. The facts were still the same. But Half Full looked at the same set of facts and chose to see them differently – my toe was starting to heal, I really hadn’t gained any weight from not exercising, a huge project at work was behind me, the weather was improving, and my schedule in the next two weeks would give the freedom to begin making progress again.
That was a helpful change of perspective which put me in a better frame of mind, but it still wasn’t moving me forward. So with the help of friend from my coaching class, I moved to a new perspective we called “Running Free.” And I came up with 30 specific things that I’m going to do in the next 2 weeks to begin reclaiming my time, making progress again on the things that matter to me, and asking for support along the way–which I often don’t like to do. Some of these are small and some are pretty big. But I’m excited to be moving in a positive direction again. Also helpful is the fact that I’m accountable. The list is written down and it has been shared. I’ve got eight of them done and my list next to my computer as a reminder. I’ve promised to update her next weekend — and then the weekend after that. Gotta get busy — time’s a-wastin’!
Running Free is lighter, brighter and full of possibility. I’m not actually running again and won’t be for a while, but I’m not going to sit around and feel sorry for myself because of it. I’ve chosen a different path.
Is there a place in your life where you’re stuck or wallowing? What new perspective might you find?
Posted in Growing, Running, Thinking
Tagged acceptance, coaching, commitment, goals, growth, inspiration, life, mindset, perspective, possibility, running injury, thinking
This week I thought I’d take a break from writing and just offer up a few quotes and snips that I’ve gathered in the past few weeks that have gotten me thinking:
“At times you have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” -Alan Alda
“To be sincerely loyal to yourself is to allow yourself the freedom to grow, change and challenge who you are and what you think at any given moment in time. The only thing you ever are for sure is unsure, and this means you’re growing, and not stagnant or imprisoned by old ways of thinking.” – Marc and Angel Hack Life
“As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. And as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Nelson Mandela
“I doesn’t take as much as we think to step outside our comfort zone, it only takes a willingness.” – Mike Robbins
“Perfection, as it’s revered and pursued in our culture, is an unhealthy lie. A myth. A human construct. A marketing concept. In many cases, it’s a story told by people who want to manipulate your mindset and behavior to buy what they’re selling. And while it means different things to different people, the pursuit of it rarely leads to anything more positive than anxiety, insecurity, self-doubt and misery.” – Craig Harper
Do any of these resonate with you? How so?
Posted in Growing, Thinking
Tagged Alan Alda, beginnings, change, Comfort zone, commitment, courage, curiosity, growth, inspiration, leadership, life, Nelson Mandela, perfection, possibility, thinking, Thought
Worrying. Ruminating. Cogitating. Analyzing. Considering. Mulling. Noodling. Pondering. Reflecting. Scrutinizing. Contemplating. Deliberating. Speculating. Wow… we’ve thought up a lot of words for thinking!
Those of who are thinkers tend to pride ourselves on that trait. We look at things from all sides before acting. We’re careful and thoughtful. Our thinking serves us well… we think. But thinking can easily cross the line into overthinking, especially when it comes to relationships with family, friends and colleagues.
I’m aware of my tendency toward overthinking and my ability to create problems that weren’t there in the first place. I can fill in the white space of silence with a complex story of my own imagining, when the reality is often far more simple or just plain different from what my brain invented. That’s because my story comes from my own perspective on how the facts of a given situation fit together.
I can see this so clearly with people who I am coaching. They invent explanations for behavior that fit their perception of reality. They believe that others have intentionally disrespected them, undermined them, or are purposefully testing boundaries. And they have completely and utterly persuaded themselves of the certainty of their rightness through a series of conversations that have occurred completely in their heads.
Sometimes insight can be found by stepping into a different perspective on a given situation. Simply asking “could there be another explanation that is consistent with the facts that might be true here?” or “why would a reasonable and rational person do what this person is doing?” can bring about a change in our conclusions and can begin to transform a challenging relationship. Even better is when we can have the courage to get out of our own all-knowing heads and have an honest conversation about the situation with the person that is driving us crazy. By inviting them to tell their story from their perspective, we may discover new truths about ourselves.
Next time you find yourself overthinking and lost in wondering about the past or the future — “why did that happen?” or “what does it mean?” — try to let go of speculation and pull yourself into the present. What will you do today to let go of your stinkin’ thinkin’ and have the courage to step into a different perspective?