Archive | October, 2010

Intuition… my Everyday GPS

25 Oct
Navstar-2F satellite of the Global Positioning...

Image via Wikipedia

I have a portable Global Positioning System (GPS) that is a godsend when I’m driving in an area I don’t know well. It comes in especially handy when I’m in a new city with a rental car.  How I ever got anywhere without one I’ll never know! My “Tom-Tom” device takes the stress out of driving – even when it occasionally has a glitch and gets itself (and me) lost.

Magic 8 BallIn everyday life, I used to yearn for a GPS type of guidance from an early age.  As a teen, I remember the low techMagic 8 Ball“.  It was a bowling ball type of toy that had a geometric dice-like piece in its water-filled base that contained answers on each side like “Absolutely”, “It depends” or some other random response.  I remember asking my Magic 8 Ball questions about how to dress, who to be friends with, and which decision to make.  Somehow, asking the Magic 8 Ball for answers to childhood problems gave us solace.  Today, as a divorced, mother of two adult children, I’d like to have a Magic 8 Ball!

In the past, I’ve wished that I had a GPS to give me answers about reaching my goals, expanding my client base, improving my finances, supporting my kids, and figuring out who to trust.  In my former married life, answers invariably came by way of a husband who knew best, overzealous friends, well-meaning parents, and others, always professing that they knew better than I what I was best for me. I naively allowed their zeal and expert opinions to override my intuition and wisdom. After years of being beaten down, I silenced my inner voice in lieu of this external GPS guidance.  I ended up doubting what my intuition and feelings told me in favor of pleasing others and lost the wisdom of my intuition.

Today, I know that I have my own GPS that intelligently guides me through the pathways of life.  It’s a GPS made up of my intuition, my feelings, and my wisdom gained from experience.  And I’ve always had it within reach!  Incredibly, I gave up my power to others who told me that my GPS was flawed, and through the passage of time, I actually gave up on it.

It is an awesome thing to realize that my GPS is and always was in top working condition!  My perception of life and those around me is as valid as the next guy’s – and it always was!  All I need to do is to silence the voices outside, and listen through the calm to my intuition and wisdom, and the answers come!

If you haven’t yet discovered your internal GPS or if you’ve allowed someone else to tell you “what is” or how you should feel, let me tell you how exhilarating it is when you rediscover your internal GPS!  When you again listen to your inner voice and allow your intuition to guide your decisions, it is an amazing feeling of freedom and clarity. Once free, you’ll never give up your power to anyone else again.

I still don’t have all the answers, but now that I rely on my inner GPS, I no longer feel lost.

Wishing you a happy and well-directed week!

Carol

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The Power of Y.O.U…

21 Oct

John Chappelear produces a weekly Positive Thoughts of the Week newsletter/blog that often has insightful wisdom.  The October 18, 2010 issue was no exception, and here is an excerpt:

Last week I was in a round table discussion focused on personal and professional growth. One of the points raised was the powerful acronym H.O.W., which is designed to help people remember to be: Honest, Open-minded and Willing.

H.O.W. is a good reminder that being open, honest, and willing are prerequisites for affecting any sort of change in our life.

I have coined an acronym for Y.O.U. because I believe that to be the person we are intended to be, we need to realize that the person we are does not need to change – in fact, we are whole, complete and perfect just as we are.  The power in life comes from creating a powerful, positive image of who you are and embracing the personal importance of that realization.

The Acronym Y.O.U.

  • Y is for Yes. Yes to accepting yourself as you are in all your wonderful being. This means saying yes to all of you including your strengths, weaknesses, beauty, warts, perfections and imperfections.  The whole, perfect you!
  • O is for Opportunity. This means that you have the Opportunity to be your authentic self – who you really are. There is nothing you need to do to become the authentic you aside from being.  You are already all you need to be if you simply open yourself up to that opportunity.
  • U is for Unconditional Love. The greatest love is the unconditional love of self.  We grow up conditioned to believe that we ought to be one way or another – anything but the way we were born, and out of such beliefs grows discontent with you.  However – there is no other person on this planet of over 6 billion people who is exactly the same as you, and no one will ever be able to know you or love you as you can love yourself.    While you may share a name, characteristics or physical appearance that is similar to others, there is no one else who is exactly you. (That is pretty impressive when you think about it!) In addition, this person – you – is absolutely deserving of pure, unadulterated love.  When you love yourself unconditionally, it is not at all selfish to take care of yourself and to put yourself first. When you feel loved and accepted by you, it becomes far less effort to help and give aid to others.

The Power of your life really lies with Y.O.U. and you – saying Yes to who you are, taking the Opportunity to be who you really are, and celebrating Unconditional love.

What does this mean to you today?  When you meet someone who does not appreciate you for who you are, realize that their power is in their celebration of what Y.O.U. means in their own life. As others focus on themselves (as the main character in their own life), and their own best interests, we can begin to appreciate what don Miguel Ruiz talks about as the Second Agreement – nothing others do is ever personally about us, no matter how real it feels. Do not take anything personally.

When we can get over whether others accept us (whose opinion really matters except our own?) and realize that we are whole, complete and perfect just as we are, we can begin to concentrate on things outside of us. (In other words, once we realize that we are okay, we do not need to worry how we fit in the world) .  No more egocentric thinking because we are already okay as we are.

Once we understand and embrace the power of Y.O.U., what might you going to do differently with your days?

Have a productive and happy week!

Carol

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Volunteering… if it’s okay with you

19 Oct

Do you ever find yourself asking something simple of someone and the response is a sigh and a reluctant agreement – even if it’s their job to do what you just asked? And what happens if instead of asking the person for something, you are volunteering to do something to further their cause, and they feel the need to qualify you?

I do a ton of volunteer work in and around Tampa Bay for various charities and events. I find it interesting to see how differently the various groups treat their volunteers.  Some groups are fantastic – they value and appreciate volunteer efforts no matter how many hours you choose to give.  Some events welcome their volunteers with thanks and humility – and leave volunteers wanting to donate even more hours because they feel valued.

Others take volunteers for granted or even worse, some volunteer groups feel that it is your privilege to serve them and that thanks is overrated.  Just as some causes are better than others, so too are some “leaders” of the volunteer groups.  While thanks is never an expectation when donating your time, it is a nice touch to have someone at least recognize that you gifted their charity (through time).

In my humble opinion, every minute that is volunteered is a gift of the “present” – a gift of time that the giver freely donates (and time is the most valuable commodity).  I will absolutely volunteer again and again with the firms and organizations that I know appreciate me.

Then there’s the rare ones that make you feel as if you have to get their permission to volunteer. They screen and qualify and want to turn volunteerism into a full-time job for you.  You might be surprised at this, but unfortunately it’s not as remote an issue as one would think.  I don’t know about you, but if it takes a lot of administrative effort to volunteer, and if the structure is such that you have to volunteer according to very rigid strict rules, I’m not going to give my precious heartbeats to the organization.  Just as purchases are made on emotion, so too are where we choose to spend our time – and volunteerism should be a noble cause – with noble people…  it’s the few rotten apples who need control and who treat volunteers as fodder who create a problem.

Fortunately these are few and far between!  I love to volunteer and further a cause with my talents and energy.  And the return on investment is the joy in assisting others who are less fortunate, camaraderie among volunteers, and new friendships.  I guess maybe it IS a privilege to volunteer after all!

Wishing you a happy week.

Regards,
Carol

Reliance is unreliable…

15 Oct

Do you know that the only person you can ever rely on 100% is you?

This obvious realization came crystal clear to me this week as multiple situations (that relied on the response of others) came to a head and had a variety of outcomes. At the end of the week, I find myself seeking to reduce my reliance on others – it’s just too unreliable!

I must be an eternal optimist because even though the situation keeps repeating itself (people promise and then don’t deliver)… and still I trust the next person who promises to do something.  I’m finding the situation getting worse as the recession continues!

Don’t you wonder sometimes what happened to the work ethic of yesterday where people DID what they said they’d do?  More and more often the Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz emerge – especially agreement #2 – Don’t take ANYTHING personally.  It is a difficult challenge (for me at least) to realize that some people simply disappoint by not following through on what they promise – and they do so with everyone, everywhere.  It is not a personal affront – but it does feel personal when it happens repeatedly to you.

Here’s rundown of my week (and this is NOT atypical):

  • Three weeks ago I won tickets to a local concert from a radio station, and for three weeks I’ve tried to coordinate to pick up the tickets.  Twenty-one days later and exactly 24 hours before the event, I finally received the tickets despite multiple promises to mail them, deliver them, leave them at a predetermined place and tens of phone calls, voice mails, emails, and insisting that I would have the tickets imminently.
  • A client I’ve worked with for two years gave me specific instructions for submitting course evaluations to them which they in turn would deliver to the end-user.  I did my part immediately and they promised to send the papers to the user within a day. A week and a half later the end-user issues a statement blaming me for not sending the papers – and my client contact confesses that they sent an email to the end-user but neglected to attach the needed documents over a week ago.
  • I made arrangements with a hotel to ship leftover documentation from a class back to a client.  The hotel promised to do so but said client never receives it.  Multiple phone calls and emails to the hotel and then back and forth with the client finally got the hotel to deliver on their original promise to ship the materials – almost two weeks later.
  • An international conference where I am presenting a keynote speech in two weeks promises to put up the program on their website for months now.  After multiple emails asking for an update, the conference finally confesses that it wasn’t a big priority to them, and finally their travel agent contacts me to make travel arrangements (only 2 weeks out from the conference).

The amount of rework, babysitting to make sure promises are kept, follow-up with emails, voice mails, phone calls and meetings is absolutely out of control these days.  Actions speak louder than words – and it seems more and more today that words are just wishful thinking of actions that may or may not ever occur.

What’s your experience?  Do you find yourself having to followup an email 5 or 6 times (at least) before you receive an answer?  And leaving multiple voice mails before you ever (if ever) receive a response?

Have you discovered any great remedial actions that increase responsiveness or do you just “suck it up” and don’t hold your breath when someone promises to do something and then routinely neglects to follow through?

Wishing you a successful and streamlined end of your work week!

Regards,
Carol

A new look…

13 Oct

Have you ever noticed how a change of scenery changes your outlook sometimes?

I’ve changed the look of the blog – what do you think?  I wanted to add a bit of my personality and the background reflects my sunny, positive disposition AND the Florida scenery.

Do you like the new look?  Do you have any suggestions for the blog?  (Good, bad or downright ugly comments are welcome.)

A real blog posting again on Friday… watch this space.

Carol

Real Life versus Second Life…

13 Oct

Is it just me or is the world going mad one person at a time (reminding me of the old movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”)?

I’m not talking about the insanity of a gubernatorial candidate in Florida buying the election (with $100 million in trash-talk and ads featuring his 90-year-old mother touting that “Ricky is a good boy”) after his company defrauded medicare of millions.  Nor am I referring to the endless chatter from the far right or left “righteous souls” who preach they know best for all of us sheep from their gold-tinged pulpits on cable TV…  (Can you tell that I’ve had enough of the pontificating and lies associated with the upcoming election?)

No, I’m talking about a much more mundane societal symptom…  Second Life and other fantasy worlds.  There are more and more people who have problems in their real life (1st life) who live most of the time in cyberspace.  Retailers and software vendors love this as people cocoon in their “caves” and escape to fantasy lives in cyberspace (no, I’m not talking about porn.)

Second Life, and even Facebook give people a pseudo-life where they can create a persona and  pretend to be someone else.  I’ve had experience with both sites and I’m sure there’s good value in active playtime for adults, but it’s like everything else – if you take it overboard “without protection” you can end up deep in another world.  In my estimation, there’s enough chaos in real life without creating more in a second or third virtual life.  What do you think?  Read on…

SecondLife.com

A few months ago, I participated in a real life “game” (research experiment) conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) who wanted to learn how well “virtual teams” (team members living geographically apart who had never met) can work together.  From the beginning the research was set up for failure: it was all volunteer, there were too many teams, communication was forced, and the directions changed weekly. Whatever… but the pivotal reason I mention it was because we had to meet at an office in “Second Life”.  If you’ve never heard of Second Life, it’s a fantasy/simulation world where adults pretend to be someone else (an avatar) and can “fly” between lands and do things that they can’t do in their first life.  I couldn’t believe it!  Here I was, a Project Management Professional volunteering to be part of a serious research project, having to make 200 body part selections for my “Avatar” (don’t even get me started on the naming conventions that go with that!) – choices included such things as flat ears/pointy ears/big ears, perky/huge/small boobs, curly/straight/bouncy/who knows what else hair, etc. etc. etc.  Amazing!  AND, I was going to have to meet with other avatars (with equally cryptic names) in the Second Life office created by the German organizers.

I confess that I’m a bona-fide failure (and I don’t care) in Second Life – my avatar fell out of the orientation room and on to a helipad, and I was lost until I found the coordinates of the meeting. (I did witness several clandestine type meetings of couples and threesomes on the helipad that I didn’t want to know about – even in first life!)

That being said, the German team running the experiment insisted that Second Life is a serious meeting protocol, and I know of several IT professionals using it for “business” in the US.  I’ll admit that I just don’t get the allure!  After this one meeting where half of my team couldn’t connect in Second Life and met on another website – with one guy running back and forth translating between the two – I’ve never gone back to second life and I don’t miss it.  However, millions of adults essentially live exciting lives on Second Life – so much so that the number one profession in Second Life is divorce lawyers for players whose first life marriage is in shambles due to their Second Life addiction. (This is real!)

I know of one hugely overweight man in real life whose Second Life avatar is a seductive female nymph who sells so many designer sunglasses in his Second Life store that he pays his first life mortgage on the proceeds!  It’s quite amazing that even major corporations like Target and Sears have joined in the fray and own real estate and meeting space in Second Life (paid for with real dollars and maintained by real people).

Facebook.com

You may wonder why I’d list Facebook as a fantasy site… I do so because I discovered that some people believe that the “Friends” they make and acquire on Facebook are all personal assets – even when they may never meet the majority of their 5000 “Friends”.  It has become a predator-type situation whereby some people “Friend” you just to gain access to the pretty people you have on your friend list. They then approach your friends using you as a mutual friend.  When someone brags about having maxed out with 5000 personal Facebook friends (acquired by mining other people’s friend lists),  don’t you wonder what their real life is like?  I know a guy who makes it his business to become friends with everyone’s “exes” – ex-husbands, ex-girlfriends, ex-employees, you name it – he has to put himself into the mix to feed some narcissistic tendency.  In fact, a friend asked me not to tell him that she is getting divorced because of he’ll friend her ex immediately.

I had someone recently ask to be my “Friend” on Facebook based on mutual friends and I prematurely and ignorantly accepted him as a “Friend”.  Subsequently he contacted me using the Chat facility and purported that we met at a local networking event (which I later found out was an embellishment to gain my trust).  He then started to mine my friend list and contacted some of my foreign-residing real friends from college and invite them to be his friend (using me as the foray).  I DO understand business contacts and potential business uses of friends, but it’s a bit creepy when someone uses their connections to “meet” people in a virtual world and expect to become fast friends. When I asked the guy what he hopes to gain by “Friending” people I’ve gone to school with, his response was to say that “this is how I make a lot of my friends. And you don’t know what my passport looks like – I might go to visit them.”  All I can say is that it’s a bit creepy.

I’ve since defriended this guy and won’t accept future invitation from anyone I haven’t met or who a friend introduces.   In real life, we want to protect our friends and colleagues from harm – yet in cyberspace, those defenses go down. On Facebook and in other cybersites, this presents an open opportunity for those with less than noble motives to move in and potentially behave in ways that they simply could not do (and get away with) in real life.

I can understand with all the craziness in our real world (politics, religion, war) that people want to escape to a fantasy world – but really, what would the world be like in 20 years if the virtual life overtakes real life?

Just a bit of food for thought, enjoy your week!

Regards,
Carol


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Semblance of nice…it doesn’t fool kids

11 Oct

I spent this past Saturday as a volunteer for the American Heart Association’s annual Florida family conference  as a day counselor for the children of families with a “Heart Hero” (a family member who has heart problems).  2010 marked the first year that the event has been in Tampa and the venue was the newly opened Glazer Children’s Museum downtown.  The day consists of a series of lectures for parents, while the kids have supervised fun.  I had a great time getting to know many of the kids in my group and escorting children who arrived later in the day to their families.  It was good to be among other volunteers who were giving and upbeat, and to see so many kids and parents working together on health issues.

Just before lunch, my fellow counselors and I were escorting our charges – a group of thirty 7-10 year olds – up one floor to lunch.  Everyone crowded into the main elevator, and just before the doors closed, a couple carrying a massive birthday cake with a Barbie doll in the center clamored into the elevator with their costumed daughter (who was obviously having her birthday party at the museum).  I was a late arrival at the elevator having accompanied one little girl to the restroom; the two of us got on the elevator before the doors closed after the “cake couple” had jumped on board.  When the doors started to close, there was a booming yell from the man holding one end of the cake – “Don’t push her!” he screamed as he glared at me. I had not touched anyone as I got into the crowded elevator, and I was taken aback.  I simply remarked back “I didn’t push anyone”, and added “could you not yell any louder?” to the man. His terse response was “I just did!” and the woman holding the other side of the cake started to moan that she was going to drop her end of the heavy cake.  “Close those doors!” barked the woman as close to forty children watched in horror.  When the rear doors opened, she yelled again, and the man shouted at me “Don’t look at me like that” — it was like something straight out of a movie!

Finally when the doors wouldn’t cooperate fast enough for them, the woman finally made a sane decision and said “let’s get off this elevator and wait for the next one,” and the couple and their daughter left the elevator. Once the doors closed behind the obnoxious couple, everyone in the elevator: parents, volunteers and children. stood stunned at the selfishness and idiocy of the situation.

At lunch, several children remarked at how the couple were “losers” and “selfish” by expecting that they could crowd into an already jammed elevator and boss everyone around at will.  I still shook my head hours later at the poor example the parents set for the birthday girl.  What a “semblance of niceness” they set up and then tore down in front of an audience of children today!

Later I saw the couple and their daughter leaving the museum with the cake on a trolley (which they should have used in the first place) and perhaps 4 pieces removed from it.  I shook my head when I realized that the birthday child obviously didn’t have many friends who joined her party, likely in no small part due to the shameless behavior of her family — it couldn’t have been the first time the father had exploded on bystanders.

It seemed awfully close to the overall theme of bullying that I posted about in the last week.  These parents tried to bully “me” and didn’t care who saw it all. For my part, my mind raced to find a respectful way of shutting them down without creating an equal scene. It was bullying in raw form and I wonder what the couple’s life looks like – I can’t imagine that adults who are bullies have many friends.

Fortunately, the day ended without incident and the AHA families enjoyed a wonderful day of bonding and fun.  The episode in the elevator was an unjustified rant on the part of disgruntled parents and unfortunately, an entire group of 7-10 year olds saw it.  The day ended on a high note… true niceness prevailed with the energy and smiles and love of all the volunteers who interacted with all the kids and their families.  The “semblance of nice” that the couple tried to represent with their extravagant, too heavy cake was overridden by their rudeness, and kids know the difference.

Wishing you a genuine week!

Carol

About Bullies… Thoughts and Ramblings and Realizations

6 Oct

First off, I apologize for the length of this posting (it’s my longest post ever at 2000 words!) … I just started writing and could not stop.  Bullying is not a pleasant, feel-good topic and many people would prefer to change the subject (or quit reading this post) – but it needs to be addressed with vigor (in my humble opinion!)

The sad story of a freshman at Rutgers last week who took his own life after his roommate posted privacy-breaching and explicit videos from a webcam, symptomizes the insidious “bully” disease and it’s not new – it’s been around as long as humanity.  It takes a death to propel the topic to the front pages of our consciousness, yet everyday millions of people deal with bullies at home and at work.

The internet is newly ablaze with opinions about proposed legislation to thwart cyber-bullying (just the latest flavor), and sadly, if history is any predictor, the tide will ebb and the bullying will go on.

Mean People are Real

DragonLet’s face it, mean people are all around us, and bullies are mean people.  They’ve always been a part of society, and regardless of the psychology behind their need to dominate or ridicule (their abusive childhood, poor role models, or whatever else), mean people are toxic and should be held accountable. They start out in our schoolyard, pervade our colleges and end up as mean bosses and co-workers. And the underlying character flaw doesn’t go away!  They are like the mythical fire-breathing dragons that burn up our towns and leave a trail of scared (and burned) victims in their wake.  And we give them power by doing nothing until they are legends in their own minds!

One of the new movie releases – You Again – chronicles a tormented teenager and her nemesis years later when the victim’s brother is engaged to the bully. (Naturally the bully has covered up her sordid past and has become sugary-sweet).  The movie rings true as the bully again meets up with her victim and relishes in reminding her victim of the glory days (torture to the victim) and even plays a “We are the Champions” cd as a serenade (which was a part of an original high school bullying episodes).  The snide comments and ongoing reminders tell us that the bully is really still inside the fiancée who will marry the brother.  It was a crowning moment in the film when the bully’s true colors were brought to light (the bully videotaped herself years before bragging about being the “warden” of the high school and asserting her duty to bully others) at the engagement party.  But, instead of punishment, the bully prevailed by repenting her “wayward ways” after the audience turned against her.  In true Hollywood style, everyone made nice and they all lived happily ever after – and the meanness gene was exorcised on the spot.  Does that happen in real life?  Hollywood can magically turn vile characters into cupcakes and hope we’ll buy it.  Not this time.

Head in the Sand Thinking…

Unfortunately, as supported by various philosophies spouted by self-appointed experts on the subject (ranging from ‘victims need to stand up for themselves’ to ‘victims often become bullies themselves’) – there’s a segment of society that simply cannot understand the situation.  These well-meaning adults often cite that bullying is just a childhood ‘rite of passage’ (for who, the victim?), ‘bullying has been around since the dawn of time’ (so has murder and prostitution but we jail those involved), or ‘there’s not much that can be done about bullies’ (so isn’t it about time we do something to change this?)

Perhaps if bullying was properly classified as a mental illness (mean doesn’t go away), abuse (which it is), or torture (often insidious in nature – especially when it is verbal escalation over a period) – society would take a stronger look at its toll.

It is not only the victim who suffers from the abuse, but also family members (who withstand the worst of the victim’s depression or anger), friends (who don’t know what to do), bystanders (who don’t want to intervene for fear of becoming the next victim), and innocent third parties (who may be unwitting witnesses to cyber-bullying).

For some reason, the adult populations today, excluding former victims, seem to “forget” about bullying when they are no longer directly involved: child and teen bullies grow up; bystanders forget the incidents; and family members cope by redefining memories.  That is, until they are affected directly at work or in life! Victims certainly don’t forget the toxic effects or the memories of bullying incidents.  Moreover, while it would be “nice” to believe that bullies reform when they emerge from puberty, research shows that mean doesn’t go away once adulthood sets in.

Workplace Bullying

When I first drafted this post a couple of days ago, I posted a link on Facebook to an article about dealing with meanness: HUMAN MATTERS: It takes commitment to put Mean People in their place. Today, a friend in Finland sent me the following email:

Subject: About Bullies
“I just have to comment about the link you shared. (Forgive me my grammar. I hope you’ll get the point…)

I used to work in one association before my current job. And believe me, I had no idea back then how really lucky I was to get out of my former job just in time! After I had left the association, a new managing director took over and very soon all hell broke loose. This man was not just a Bully or Mean, he was a Monster. Mean, unreasonable, unfair, aggressive, paranoid, and god knows what else.

Naturally, my former co-workers tried to get rid of him. They reported about the Monster to the executive board, but the board didn’t react for a long time. At last, a consultant was hired to assess the working atmosphere. Her report was anything else but flattering, so the Monster had to do something before presenting it to the board. Obviously, he had no other choice but to censor and edit it himself. And the board believed him.

At some point, employees contacted the Counsellor of Occupational Safety (or whatever it is in English), and – if I remember correctly – an expert diagnosed the Monster was a sociopath. In the mean time, the Monster continued behaving as usual. He sacked at least one person without a justified reason. Many others suffered from stress and depression. I believe this sacking finally even brought him to court. At least he had to resign immediately.

This impossible situation lasted almost ten years! I just have to admire the persistence and determination of my ex-colleagues. Of course, many of the employees left and others came over the years, but a small group of people decided that they wouldn’t give in to the Monster, and it paid off. But if they had known beforehand what agony lies ahead, would they have stood their grounds?  Probably not.

I just can’t stop wondering how the board could be so blind! I don’t know, if they heard the employees at all, or didn’t they just care? On the other hand, a sociopath is very skilled in manipulating others… And naturally, the board didn’t want to face the fact that they had made a Major Mistake when appointing the Monster.”

The situation of bullies and sociopaths is a worldwide phenomenon – an aberration of human nature running wild and — too often, unabated.  Just like the fire-breathing dragon, the bully scares people into submission.  No one wants to be his/her next victim!

Mean PeopleI volunteer with a not-for-profit organization where there’s been a bully for years.  He brags to everyone about his Harvard MBA, purports to be the expert on everything, yet he has the behavior of a spoiled 8-year old. When he doesn’t get his way with an idea or when his opinion is challenged, he will literally huff and puff and turn red – and people are afraid he will explode. And when he does get angry, he spews verbal diarrhea on anyone within hearing distance.  As an adult, he gets his own way 99.9% of the time, and I will have nothing to do with him.  It is a blessing NOT to work with him!

In the 15 years I’ve known this person, he hasn’t changed – the only difference is that now he breathes fire less often, but more deliberately because of his age.  Unfortunately, most people handle him by simply getting out of his way and allow him to misbehave. He should have been stopped years ago, and I, for one, take pride that I’ve stood up against him publicly (but not without fallout!)

Today he is a 65-year-old, arrogant and self-indulgent “industry expert”, who should have been terminated long ago.  I still get emails from new organization volunteers who report that the bully remains condescending and raging, and he still snorts and puffs to get his own way.  Meanwhile, the damage left in his wake is significant as there are standards in place (which are prescriptive and downright wrong) simply because the bully wouldn’t back down during the authoring process he was a part of – and no one wanted to take him on.

What is meanness? What is bullying? What constitutes abuse?

It all comes down to inconsiderate behavior and a lack of (in my opinion) the Golden Rule.  Bullies do NOT do unto others as they’d like to have done unto them.  They make and live by their own rules, and challenge us to defy them.

If you’ve ever experienced a bully first-hand, you may be as dumbfounded as I am to understand the perspective of people who do nothing when they witness bullying.  I certainly do not advocate direct confrontation, but why not simply anonymously report an event underway to an authority?

I read a few news reports this week (about the Rutgers suicide) suggesting that the parties who posted the videos aren’t actually bullies, but rather teens who didn’t realize the harm they were causing (even though they boasted about a second video stream they would post). Others suggested that the teens were simply misguided (how can you attribute “meanness in character” to a misguided decision?)  When people purposefully and repeatedly (more than once) denigrate the dignity of another human being, it is bullying no matter how you try to sugar coat it.

Victims can be your Brother, Sister, Mother or … even you!

At a recent charity event benefiting a battered women’s shelter, a celebrity guest spoke about her experience with bullying and abuse.  She was a former high school track star, valedictorian, all-star academic achiever, who had a stable, two-parent upbringing.  She told how she became an unwilling victim when she married someone who she didn’t know was a bully (aka an abuser).  She showed  how easily men and women, no matter how strong is their character, could end up being bullied when “love” or friendship is involved.  The perpetrators turn to apologies to mask and even set the stage for future transgressions.  She emphasized how bullying and abuse is never acceptable – no matter how insidious.

What can we do as a society to stop bullying and abuse?

We can continue to stand up and defend the rights of victims; enact anti-bullying laws; create a safe and easy way witnesses to report abusive behavior to authorities.  May I suggest that we all err on the side of the victim when you come upon a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable and raises your intuitive red flags? Don’t let logic override your gut feel when you witness abuse.

A seemingly intelligent person I once knew told me that “bullies wouldn’t exist without willing victims” – and now that I know better, I emphatically disagree!

Bullies exist, meanness exists, and abuse exists – regardless of an available victim.  Meanness is not contingent on a scapegoat – it exists in the heart of the perpetrator.  Let’s stand up to toxic people and let them know that their behavior and thought patterns are unacceptable in modern civilization.

While tolerance and love are the keys to a positive future, I believe that our present must stand steadfast and intolerant of bullies and their behavior.  We need to stand up to the dragons among us for the last time or live in fear and anarchy.  Stand up for a victim today – just like bullies, they are all around us and could be ones you love.

Wishing you a civilized and stress free day!

Regards,
Carol

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Forget Eat, Pray, Love… for me it’s Speak, Earn, Travel!

4 Oct

While I understand the allure of the newly released movie Eat, Pray, Love and the author’s quest  to find herself after a painful divorce, I just do not identify with it.

Personally, I have never been enamored by food (I would rather shop than eat), praying is simply a spiritual way of being (which I already feel good about), and love – well, I am a believer that happiness comes not from external love, but from within via the “Royal We” (me, myself and I).

JapanIf I were to write a book about my happiness journey – I’d call it:  Speak, Earn, Travel.  This sums up my vision of a perfect life.

SPEAK: Delivering keynote speeches that Demystify Technology for non-technical audiences is what I do best.

EARN: I want to earn a lot of money to enable me to share it with others to make their lives better. 

TRAVEL: Travel to spread the word that life is good, visit countries I haven’t yet seen and visit my friends who live all over the world.

This is MY dream, and I’m living it today!

To some, this may seem lofty and independent — especially since it doesn’t involve anyone else to do these things. And, that’s the key! Happiness in life does NOT depend on anyone else.  Happiness comes from being happy with yourself and being able to choose whether and with whom you share your time, energy, talents, money and person.  It is a joyous thing to discover this – and to let go of the “need” for other people in our own happiness journey.

I have a Coffee-Mug cup that says (in a nutshell) –

“Happiness is the journey – not the destination”

And, for many years I didn’t understand this. It is refreshing to discover that the “Royal We” (me, myself, and I) are the only beings I ever need to please.  What an awesome thing !  After a lifetime of suffering by trying (and predictably failing) to please other people, all I need to do is please myself.

Have you seen the saying?

“Don’t worry about the people in your past. There’s a reason they didn’t make it to your future”

I certainly thank the narcissists in my past (who convinced me that it was their acceptance that was important) – they were instrumental in pushing me to find my way.  The emotional health and happiness I now enjoy is directly related to realizing how important my acceptance always was – not theirs.

Speak, Earn, Travel – these are my goals and my mantras!

What are the three words that spell out happiness in your life?

Wishing you a happy, healthy week!

Carol

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If you appreciate someone, tell them so…

1 Oct

There are times when I am moved to tears by reading a forwarded email, and today was no exception.  Before I share the email with you, let me ask you a question – do you have any idea whether (and when) you cause positive ripples in the life stream of others?

In these tough economic times, I’ve noticed that people have become more rude and more unappreciative… and that unfortunately includes clients.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve been besieged with an unprecedented stream of emails and been treated with the most disrespect I think I’ve ever had.  Just a week ago, I taught a full-day workshop as a favor to a friend (where they registered over 100 professionals in the course) and despite their per-person charge that netted them at least $10K USD, they paid me less than 10% of the take.  When I questioned the arrangement (I had agreed to teach 30 people maximum), I was greeted with a response akin to “you should be grateful we got you the audience!”  It was disappointing to receive little respect for the energy and expertise I provided… live and learn.

Consulting jobs today routinely offer less than half of the rate I received in 1994 (15 years ago) and then purport that consultants like me should be lucky to get such offers at all. This is despite having published two mainstream books and having 15 years more experience than I’ve had before. Of course, it’s a choice – take the work at the less than 1/2 price or hold out for higher quality, better positioned clients – the problem is that those clients may or may not come before the mortgage is due.  At the same time, the project management training I’m delivering is the best work I’ve ever done – and my evaluations from students show this!  Yet, the clients who hire me to do such training are cold, unresponsive and tell me (in not so many words) that I’m simply a piece of meat who doesn’t deserve the courtesy of a return phone call or email when I ask about confirming dates they’ve reserved (and often cancel on a moment’s notice).  I do realize that it’s a buyer’s market for consultants and training professionals today, but it gets tiring to be treated poorly by those I serve so diligently (and who make a ton of money off of me!)  What happened to common courtesy and professional respect?

The golden rule (treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself) certainly seems to be on long term hiatus today!

Perhaps that’s why it’s so refreshing to receive the email today (it’s coming I promise!) – and I realized that there are many people who do great work and never get the appreciation they deserve.  That’s not right and not fair, but it’s life.

Thank you!Nonetheless, I’d like to say thank you to a few people in my life today:

– My mom and dad who love me tirelessly regardless of whether they agree with what I’m doing with my life;

– My friends: Pat, Jennifer, Janet, Mary, Linda, Nayla, Darja, Carolyn, Kathy, Nicole, and many others (you know who you are) who are there for me and probably have no idea how important you are to my sanity and well-being!

– My kids: Corinne and Alex, who are adults and still find time to call and let me know that they are okay and that I’m still important even though they live on their own;

– My siblings and their partners who take the time to connect with me on Facebook or just to drop a line despite that they live more than 3000 miles away from me;

– Colleagues and acquaintances who remind me that business is not always fair and that they experience the same ups and downs with today’s business climate as I do;

– Supporters who I may not know personally (or may have met once) who drop me an email or leave a comment when they hear that I received an award or published a new post or article;

– Students and conference participants who come to my presentations and lectures and who care enough to stay to hear what I have to say;

– The “Wayne” in the story below who remains anonymous but whose words are inspirational.

I appreciate you more than you know!

p.s., Now here is the email that spurred me to post this today – maybe you’ll also be moved to email or call someone in YOUR life and let them know that YOU appreciate them in some small or large way.  It will make their day or week or month!

PhonePHONE ON THE WALL.  HELLO (author unknown)

When I was a young boy, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood.. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was “Information Please” and there was nothing she did not know. Information Please could supply anyone’s number and the correct time.

My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy.

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear.

“Information, please” I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.
Information.”

“I hurt my finger…” I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.
“Isn’t your mother home?” came the question.
“Nobody’s home but me,” I blubbered.

“Are you bleeding?” the voice asked.

“No,” I replied. “I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.”

“Can you open the icebox?” she asked.

I said I could.

“Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger,” said the voice..

After that, I called “Information Please” for everything.. I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.

Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I called, Information Please,” and told her the sad story.. She listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her, “Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?”

She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, ” Wayne , always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.”  Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone, “Information Please.”
“Information,” said in the now familiar voice. “How do I spell fix?” I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest . When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston . I missed my friend very much. “Information Please” belonged in that old wooden box back home and I
somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me..

Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle . I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, “Information Please.”

Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well.
“Information.”

I hadn’t planned this, but I heard myself saying,

“Could you please tell me how to spell fix?”

There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, “I guess your finger must have healed by now.”
I laughed, “So it’s really you,” I said. “I wonder if you have any

idea how much you meant to me during that time?”

I wonder,” she said, “if you know how much your call meant to me.
I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls.”

I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.
“Please do”, she said. “Just ask for Sally.”

Three months later I was back in Seattle .  A different voice answered, “Information.” I asked for Sally.“Are you a friend?” she said.
“Yes, a very old friend,” I answered.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this,”She said. “Sally had been working part time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago.”

Before I could hang up, she said, “Wait a minute, did you say your name was Wayne ?”
“Yes.” I answered.

“Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called.Let me read it to you.”

The note said, “Tell him there are other worlds to sing in.
He’ll know what I mean.”

I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Never underestimate the impression you may make on others..
Whose life have you touched today?
Why not pass this on? I just did…. Lifting you on eagle’s wings.
May you find the joy and peace you long for.
Life is a journey… NOT a guided tour.

Wishing you a joyful week!
Carol

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