Archive | August, 2010

Summer storms are never predictable…

30 Aug

Living on Florida’s Gulf Coast in the summertime provides for veritable thunder and lightning shows on many evenings – most of which are unpredictable.

Last night provided one such evening and as I watched the shards of light dancing across the sky, it struck me (figuratively) that thunderstorms have parallels with life:

  • No two lightning strikes are ever the same just as no two experiences are ever the same…

There is only one first kiss, one first love, one first anything and the second time is always a different experience – and this is a good thing!  While we might want more of the good experiences, it is good to know that when we have bad experiences the first time, it will be different the next time.  Many things in life come around a second time and it’s good to know that there’s a second chance to improve on the experience.

  • Lightning is unpredictable where it strikes just as life is unpredictable…

Just when we think we have life under control something changes and can throw us off-balance.  We become accustomed to good things (even taking them for granted sometimes) and then as quickly as they came, they change or morph into something a bit different. When things are going badly, the same adage holds true – life is constantly changing and can become better.

  • The force of lightning does not always match the thunder, in life the response we get doesn’t always match what we intended…

When we communicate with others, we need to remember that the light we intend to shine into another’s life might not be the way it is received. As a result, some of our best intentions (the lightning) can elicit a seemingly unrelated response (the thunder).  When we get a surprising response (usually when we get a negative reaction to something we said) – it makes sense to sit back and realize that the response reflects the state of mind of the receiver – not you!  While a negative reaction can sting – especially when your intentions were pure – remember that the reaction is not about you but about your listener.  And just as thunder passes, so to will the immediacy of such reactions.

  • You can never predict when the storm will pass, but it will pass…

In life, stormy situations come and go, and when we are in a period when we encounter storms often (we may even feel that we are in a “storm season”), it is easy to forget that storms always ebb and tide and eventually pass over.  I know that it can be difficult to realize this in the midst of a storm’s fury, but just as all summer storms in Florida subside when cooler weather prevails, so too do the storms in our life.

  • There is never a guarantee that there will be more lightning strikes… or more heartbeats

None of us has a guarantee for a certain number of heartbeats in life and hopefully we have many more to come.  Many scholars and authors have written that we ought to spend our lives as if each day was our last – and if we did so, there would be more kindness, tenderness, respect and consideration in the world.

  • Lightning is stunningly beautiful both in form and power just as life experiences can be surprisingly beautiful…

I’ve learned that just as lightning is a thing of beauty and power, so too are the people we meet everyday.  While some are more beautiful and impart more positive influences in our life, each one is as unique as a stroke of lightning – and has beauty within.  I know that the jerk who cuts us off in traffic or the people who disrespect us in everyday life can seem ugly in form – I’m learning that somewhere behind the behavior is a person of some beauty – albeit it may be hidden beneath layers of ignorance or fear.

I enjoy summer electrical storms – especially when they offer dancing light shows over the Gulf of Mexico without a lot of thunderous applause from the skies.  So too do I enjoy meeting more and more people in my work and personal life.  It helps me to realize that storms and lightning have pluses and minuses and like the summer storms in Florida, experiences come and go and are a mix of good and bad.

Have a good week!

Carol

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=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======

Whose Opinion Matters Anyways?

25 Aug

Last evening was the Florida primary election and as I was watching the election results pour in, I realized just how much a politician’s future depends on what the electorate thinks of him or her.  It is said that you must have a “tough skin” to survive in politics and it certainly was true as I saw how Rick Scott, the millionaire at the center of a healthcare scandal, bought his way into the Florida Republican choice. Scott spent an unprecedented $30+ million dollars of his own (healthcare business) money to throw dirty advertising at his opponent – and the money paid off as he defeated the incumbent “career politician” he faced off with.

opinionIt didn’t matter during the primary ad campaign whether the accusations and mud-slinging between the opponents was based on fact or fiction – the only thing that mattered in the end was the opinion of the Florida electorate and what we voters believed about the candidates.  Our opinion of the candidates and their truthfulness about themselves and their opposition was the only thing that mattered in this and many elections.  But is this true only of politics – or does this same premise hold true for the majority of us in many aspects of our own lives?

Self-help books proclaim that the only opinion that should matter to us is our own – yet unless we live on an island apart from society, this is more idealistic than realistic.  Even the most hardened and tough skinned among us can be influenced by the opinions (especially negative) of others about us. As you read this you might say that you are immune to the opinions of others, yet I challenge you to consider:

  • The opinions of our bosses, clients, customers and peers translates into money and contracts. Can you truly say that you don’t care about these opinions when your livelihood and income depends on such opinions?
  • The opinions of our family members (sons, daughters, parents, siblings) comes out when we share our ideas with them.  If you’ve ever gone in to work and second guessed your decision about child rearing based on someone else’s opinion – you know how these can affect your judgment and your own intuition.
  • The opinions of a spouse, partner or significant other can be dished out often without due consideration of their effect. When we’ve been with someone for a significant time and consider them important to our life, sometimes both we and they can take each other for granted and as such, opinions can be thrown out without considering their full effect.  Do you give added weight (or less) to your significant other’s opinion (especially if it is negative towards you or your views)?
  • The opinions of friends can affect your choices – especially when such friends are judgmental or intolerant.  If you’ve ever reconsidered a restaurant choice or what you wear to an event based on a friend’s less than complimentary comment about your choice, you know exactly what I mean.

It should be true that it is only our opinion – especially of ourself – that matters, but unfortunately we sometimes let the opinions of others overrule and override our own.  Remember that you are the only one, when push comes to shove, who will stand up for you, so it becomes survival and essential to nurture and  honor your opinion above all others.

Aside from politicians, I hope you learn to trust and realize that the answer to “Whose opinion matters anyways?” is more and more often just YOURS!

Have a great week!

Regards,
Carol

Blogs, blogs and more blogs…

18 Aug

I read somewhere on the internet (so it must be true right?) that there are now MILLIONS of blogs on the internet and the number grows every day.

What’s interesting beyond the sheer numbers is that most blogs are mundane, obscure and invisible.  Blogs are today’s generation’s version of technology “landfills”.  I wonder what earth dwellers in 500 years will think of the internet clutter and garbage that it out in cyberspace: will they see us as neanderthals with technology or will there be a glimmer of hope that today’s humanity had good things to share and a positive spin on life?

I read today that one high school locally (Florida) will give their students with Kindle readers pre-loaded with a number of textbooks (at the school’s expense) to save on back strain (from backpacks filled with books) and on paper printing (by having virtual books). A novel idea (pardon the pun) that shows just how much of today’s student population is attuned to technology solutions.  In many ways I feel like I’ve turned into my mother with so many young people entering the workforce today (I’m feeling old) – yet I cannot imagine ever making enough money to recoup financial missteps of the past and be able to retire before 80.

blogGiven technology, social media, endless supply of money and prosperity (along the lines of “Think and Grow Rich”, and “The Secret” concepts), there must be a way to parlay existing blogs into some form of financial income (or at least find a way to do so in the future with published works on blogs).  But, I’m just not sure – it just seems like we have more and more people out of work and hoping to make a quick buck off of you, me and the internet – and blogs and blog superheroes seem to be emerging everywhere.

The question for me is with blogs, blogs and more blogs – does it really make a difference in the world? (Now I REALLY sound like my mother).  Will life tomorrow be in any little way better than life today because of my blog (or anyone else’s for that matter)?

Instead of creating more blogs, perhaps we should create more human connections, spend more time talking to one another in person, and celebrating the fact that we all share the same wonderful planet.  Just a thought for a forlorn Wednesday on a hot Florida summer afternoon.

Have a great week!

Carol

For more information on Carol and upcoming speaking engagements, visit www.qualityplustech.com and http://www.caroldekkers.com.

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=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======

A Bungee week… challenges the psyche

15 Aug

As Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling book: Eat, Pray, Love opens in theatres this week, I realize that I, too, am on a journey of self-discovery.  One of my favorite books on philosophy is don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: A practical guide to personal freedom.

The Four Agreements can be summarized as: (my own comments are in italics)

1. Be impeccable with your word (Always treat yourself with at least the same respect as you treat others. Never say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a friend!)

2. Don’t take anything personally (What people say to you is a reflection of themselves not of you. As such, both positive and negative feedback reflects on the other person not you.  Therefore, don’t take anything people say to you personally.)

3. Don’t make assumptions (Everyone has their own background on which they base how they treat and interact with you. Always ask questions to find out what people are thinking instead of assuming you know.)

4. Always do your best (Then you’ll have no regrets!)

As much as possible, I live by these four agreements, yet there are weeks that are challenging beyond most. Last week was one of those weeks and I’ve labeled it a  “Bungee week” because of the utter collision of low points (maybe “Perfect Storm” would be a better name?)

bungee

Here’s where I found the challenges:

  • Point #1: One client ignored several voice mail messages and email messages (asking about a course I was teaching for them last week) – and they are still unanswered a week later. I did receive a short email in response to the first voicemail to let me know that they were busy at the time but they didn’t answer my questions.  This is a regular client –  I’ve taught many workshops for them (with outstanding evaluations) and brought them work in the past, but this lapse has been frustrating.  (It challenges both the “Take nothing personally” and the “Don’t make assumptions” because questions remain…)
  • Point #2: Another client scolded me for not achieving high scores for their workshop content (my teaching scores were high) and intimated that it is up to me to convince attendees that the course is stellar despite the content. (Again challenged the “Take nothing personally” agreement.)
  • Point #3: Another potential client who asked me to commit hours for the coming months (up to 1/2 time) asked me to take part in a corporate conference call only (the 8th to date which they say is “the last step”).  On the call, client reps disclosed that the work in question was not yet in place. (This also challenged the “Take nothing personally” agreement. I’d asked repeatedly about the work to reduce my assumptions.)
  • Point #4: Attendees in my PM classes responded positively to my instruction. (I had to remind myself that positive comments are not personal either!)
  • Point #5: At the end of the week, client #2 asks me to audit another course offering in the hopes that I will teach it in the future. (Seems to contradict the challenging point #2 – but I have to remind myself that it also isn’t personal.)
  • Point #6: A “friend” who is lately way too busy for make time for me asks me for a big favor that will take up 8 hours of my time. (I remind myself that her lack of time and the request are both not personal.)
  • Point #7: Calls placed to several potential clients (who left voice mails on my office phone) remain unanswered despite multiple attempts to contact them. (These are easier to realize that they are not personal because the original callers called the company and not me personally.)
  • Point #8: Had dinner one evening with friends who live in the city where I was teaching and enjoyed the evening of good company and good food. (A positive outcome, but to be fair to the agreement, it was equally “not personal”.)

I know that I deserve respectful treatment from clients and friends (agreement #1) and that I did put 150% passion and effort into my client work and these particular friendship (agreement #4).

Yet it is hard at times not to take things personally — especially when they are expressed as negatives.  Positive feedback from people elicits a “feel good” response and negative feedback elicits a “what did I do wrong?” (especially when I know I’ve done my best work.)  Agreement #2 can pose the biggest challenge when everything seems to pile up on the negative side…

What do YOU do when you have a Bungee week like I did?

I hope that you have a great week!

Regards,
Carol

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