Tag Archives: Role models

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

2 May

I don’t know if it’s the email spam lists I’m on or where I hang out (the beach) or what’s on TV (I seldom watch) – if you’re not coupled up, you just don’t count.  In the news, the debate about gay versus straight marriage has become tantamount as if marriage and coupledom is the only way of life.

But consider that with over 1/2 of marriages ending in divorce, and an equal split between singles and married adults in the US and one has to wonder why the 50% of singles are nonplussed.  When I survey most of my single friends, many would prefer to be in a committed loving relationship to being alone and would love to find love (wouldn’t we all!)  One friend of mine is miserable because she loves many male friends but professes that she really needs to be “in love.”

The pursuit of love (in my estimation) is a red herring – looking to “find love” should be a misnomer because love is all around us (and in us).  Romantic love (the kind in the movies and fairy tales) is fun, often fleeting, but it is only one kind of love – one that depends on another to fulfill us.  That’s where the problem lies – reliance on anyone other than ourselves to feel love!

Having been married half my life to someone who truly loved himself (and I him), I am discovering that the key to true love can only be found through “selfless self-love” – truly accepting oneself for the combination of beauty, faults, strengths and weaknesses we see in the mirror.  Many grow up without the self-esteem to know that we need to be attracted and attractive to ourself first and foremost before we can truly share love with anyone else.  Yet this is the ultimate truth – self-love is the root of happiness!

I frequently quote don Miguel Ruiz’ The Four Agreements because I truly admire and embrace the essence of his work.  The First Agreement “Always live with integrity” truly expresses the core concepts behind self-love.  I used to think that this agreement simply meant one should be honest and ethical – but that is so far off!

“Always live with integrity” means never, ever say anything to yourself that you would not say in love to a best friend.  So, the “I’m too sensitive, too xxx, whatever” needs to be banned forever from one’s vocabulary (both to yourself or to others!) and replaced with “I am who I am and I love me.”  Taking care of oneself first is like putting on your own oxygen mask first on an airplane – it allows you to function AND be able to share with others!  For me, this was an incredible concept as I was always told (and taught) and experienced that I had to give before I received.  Yet, by not giving myself the love I truly deserved, I gave away my sustenance and what I needed to truly survive.  Self-love is not selfish, it is selfless and necessary!

If you’ve read this far (and I’m almost done my rant for the day!) – you might be thinking that I am professing to become as narcissistic as the person I am no longer with, but this is wrong. Or you might be saying “how could you grow up without knowing self-love and putting yourself first?” (It happens to more than me, I guarantee it!)

I’m not saying one should become obsessed solely with oneself, but rather that finding love in the world means starting with truly accepting and loving ourselves.   We truly deserve our own true love.

So, what’s love go to do with it?  Loving yourself in all your splendor is the right thing to do – and once you’ve mastered that – love has found YOU!

Have a great week!

Carol

Is anything “real” these days?

6 Sep

 

 

The internet has spawned an “International Attention Crisis” where people worldwide are addicted to constant (24×7) updates and instant gratification by social media, email, voice mail, and other “indirect” (i.e., non-face-to-face) contact with others.

 

Walk into any restaurant, bar, coffee shop, or even car, these days and you’ll seldom find anyone to talk to – in person that is – and you’ll find the same with everyone else.  It’s as if we’ve all become zombie slaves to our electronic connection tools.

 

Sometimes I wonder if there is really any communication happening in person today… except on reality TV shows where fantasy and reality blend seamlessly to convince us that non-communication in our homes and personal lives is okay.

 

Tell me what is real and what is fantasy in these situations:

 

– People sitting at the same table in a restaurant or bar (who are in-person friends) all texting others who are not there;

 

– Drivers in cars watching their smart phone screens instead of traffic all around them;

 

– Children who text their parents from their rooms instead of walking into the same room to talk;

 

– Facebook members who brag about having 5000+ “friends” when research proves that the human mind can accommodate a mere 150-or so friend relationships;

 

– People who call out or disrespect others using Facebook because they lack the guts to communicate directly;

 

– Unlimited texting is more popular than unlimited talk on cell phones;

 

– Twitter is replacing email systems as the preferred method for some corporate communications;

 

– When you meet someone they ask you if you are on Facebook or Twitter before they ask for your phone number or other contact information;

 

– People know you by your photo on social media and don’t recognize you in person;

 

– Interactive voice recognition (IVR) computer systems block access to real people when you need help desk support – sometimes there is no possible way to reach a live human being who can solve your problem;

 

– The only way to bypass circular menu systems and reach a live person at banks or cell phone providers is to say “Cancel service”;

 

– When people say “I’ll call you right back” it usually means they are bored of talking to you and will often text instead of calling back;

 

– “Events” from Facebook or social media fill out your social calendar where you mingle with mostly people you don’t care to meet again;

 

– Life becomes more isolated, more self-reliant, more independent, and less connected (even though it seems you are ultra-connected!)

 

Perhaps it is a sign that I am getting old, but I long for the days gone by when people went to restaurants and bars to meet and mingle rather than post photos and check-in on Facebook.  I’d like to go out “with” people who are not tethered, have a real date with a guy who isn’t constantly checking his email, and have good conversation with friends who are truly interested in my life and vice versa.

 

While it does happen from time to time, the reality is that nothing that was real yesterday (true communication, compassion, connection, and genuine interest) is real today.  Technology is supposed to be a communication “enabler” but I’m wondering just what kind of “enabling” it is really doing to our life today.

 

Is anything (or anyone) real these days or are we all living in the fantasy of virtual communication?

 

Wishing you genuine connections with real-life people!

 

Carol

 

 

Getting rid of clutter? Start inside your head…

10 Jan

Are you surprised at the title of this post?

I was when a friend of mine suggested it to me one day this week when I mentioned how I want to simplify my life.  We were talking about how I felt disillusioned by someone I knew when she remarked “there’s so much clutter inside your head that I don’t know how you can see anything objectively.”  At first, I didn’t know how to respond but then I realized that there was probably truth in her statement.  When I asked her to explain, she responded by saying that my mind was filled with so many contradictory beliefs that she said it must be oppressively crowded inside my head!

That’s when reality hit… I realized that I am a hoarder of beliefs – what I mean is that new ideas and opinions enter my mind (like buying new clothing for my closet) and none ever leave.  As such, I carry around a motley mismatched collection of childhood learnings, adult beliefs, truisms from experience, and “truths” imposed on me by others.  Maybe you are like me – you take in new ideas but don’t make room for them by discarding beliefs that no longer serve you well.  By now, there is so much clutter that it is difficult to distill things objectively into knowledge and truth.  It is time to take inventory of what I keep in my head!

I know today that there are NO RULES OF LIFE (outside of legal or societal norms) – except inside my head which means that anything can be removed from my belief inventory without consequence.  To de-clutter my life, I realize that I must first discard flawed beliefs and childhood “rules” that no longer apply.  To do this I compiled two lists: the first is the list of “momilies” (things a mom tells you) that I ingested growing up (that now contradict what I know t0 be true) and other beliefs I can abandon; the second is the list of beliefs I choose to embrace.  This inventory exercise helped me to separate what I can discard (the first list) from my reality and experience beliefs.

List #1:  Momilies…

  • The Golden Rule – “do unto others as you’d like them to do unto you”  – a motherhood and apple pie servitude that is a good idea, but it can imprison those who are “givers” in life. I have held on to this belief for far too long and it has bitten me many times. Most of our society does not adhere to this “rule”  and instead opt to walk all over those who upheld it.  It is an altruistic but unrealistic rule intended for an ideal world.  I let it go.
  • Think of others before yourself (Girl Scouts remnant) also called “The more you give, the more you receive adage” – This is one of the cornerstones of organized religion and enlists people to servitude (which works for some people).  After years of giving unconditionally and getting doormat treatment in return, I’m ready to let this belief go.  In reality, we must give first to ourselves, and if there is anything left over, then give to society and others.  Certainly giving can be virtuous and good for society – but should never at the cost of one’s best interests or self-preservation.   The truth is that we should remember the airline practice:  Put on your own mask first before assisting others!
  • Share and share alike. Another motherhood and apple pie teaching that works to discourage narcissistic children, but it doesn’t apply in adult life.  Not every child in a playground will share and this makes the idea of sharing inequitable.  The takers of the world quickly learn how to take advantage of those who do share.  In our capitalistic society of “grab as much as you can while you can”, anyone who follows the share and share alike will be quickly left behind.
  • Life is fair. I have no idea why this misguided idea was still stuck in my head.  I can only surmise that it resembled truth while growing up in a family where everything had to be absolutely equal (even to the extent of cutting up two fruit cocktail cherries to be equally divided among 5 siblings).  Life is not fair or equal – and it never was.  I banish this one from my head!
  • What goes around comes around (or the rule of Karma). Okay, I cannot completely let go of this one – even though it is unproven and may be “new age”.   If you are like me, you have seen many people cheat, lie, steal and otherwise mistreat others to get ahead in life with few negative consequences.  However, I still believe that one cannot cheat and pillage others indefinitely – without Karma “what goes around comes around” catching up.  Call me naive.
  • Money can’t buy happiness. What a bunch of bs it was to believe this one!  Money buys comfort, relief from stress, financial freedom and independence.  While this may be a good adage to guide kids careers towards service, it simply is untrue.  Just look at the family struggling month-to-month to pay a mortgage or feed their loved ones – and then suggest that money doesn’t buy happiness.  Quite the contrary – a lack of money can definitely result in stress and unhappiness.

Since childhood, I’ve also amassed a surprising amount of new (and often conflicting) beliefs that took up battle with the misguided beliefs above.  In light of the realities of life, I am willing to discard the unrealistic beliefs above.  In so doing, the mind battles will diminish so that peace and kindness can prevail inside my head!

Sunset

List #2: Truisms that I will keep

  • Don’t give away anything that you might need someday (especially money!)  When I had employees, I paid them the highest and most generous salary I could afford (far above the industry average) because I believed this was fair and the right way to run a business with high ethics (they were doing the work after all).  This was an altruistic and misguided choice as my employees abandoned me when the workload lessened, joined my competition, and I was left with a business without financial reserves.
  • Trust, but verify. This Ronald Reagan adage is a prudent way to protect your own interests from pillage.  I discovered the truth of this following a financially damaging divorce where I trusted the wrong people (without verifying) and I will pay for the oversight for years to come.
  • The best investment is you. This truism delivers a guaranteed high ROI.  School children should be taught self-preservation and self-love first. With so much negative thinking in our society today, a healthy self-image can be difficult to keep up yet it is a pre-requisite for success in life.
  • You are the best you’ll ever have – and that more than enough. You are whole, complete, and perfect just as you are – and deserve to be accepted and loved unconditionally just as you are.  In life, the only love you that you can be assured of reciprocity is from yourself. Everyone else is a risk.
  • A mother’s love is unrivaled. I would never have believed how much love I could have for my children and no matter their behavior, I will always love them unconditionally.  I would never change the experiences of the past because they are the rock of my life.
  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. I know that this defies the Disney or “Dream the Impossible Dream” wishful thinking, but if it is too good to be true, it usually is 99.9% of the time.  Sure it can be fun to dream big, but believing people or promises that contradicts our intuition usually bites us. Everywhere we read about ripoffs, opportunists, cheats, and yet we so often hope that we cad defy the odds in spite of our intuition telling us otherwise.  We need to trust our intuition to tell us the truth and listen — instead of listening to people who make promises to which they cannot deliver.
  • If you love something set it free, if it comes back to you it is yours, if it doesn’t it never was.  This is so true in life.  While  typically applied to unrequited love, it also applies to friends, jobs, opportunities.  When WE love someone or something, it can be difficult to let go of the wish to keep them in our life. The only person or situation where we can be assured that will come back to us in love is oneself.

Clearing out the clutter between my ears is my first step to simplifying my life.  It is a journey I am ready to take this year, what about you?

p.s., My bookshelf find:  See you at the Top by Zig Ziglar is going to be a keeper!  Zig opens the book with several chapters exploring the 15 steps to a healthy self-image.  He asserts that success in life starts a healthy self-image but due to an overwhelming abundance of negative beliefs we hold about oneself (imposed by others over many years), we have a lot to overcome.  See You at the Top is definitely a book that I will keep in my collection – one can never have too many positive reinforcement books on a bookshelf!

Wishing you a clutter-free week!

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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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

Women in Technology – Novelty or Mainstay?

19 Apr

I attended a unique conference on the weekend for techies (our name badges had the slogan “You might be a techie if…”) called Barcamp – and sessions were ad hoc for the most part and arranged depending on who attended. The concept of creating a conference on the fly might sound disorganized or unplanned, but it was one of the most innovative and educational days I’ve spent in a long time.

One of the reasons I attended was that I was invited by the Barcamp Sarasota lead organizer, Sara Hand, to be on a panel of Women in Technology.  It was a great discussion involving both men and women that spanned generations (all five generations now in the workplace were represented) and included multiple ethnicities.  Students from the Sarasota high school where it was held joined in to talk about their experiences in technology and seasoned veteran business owners in their 60’s (and younger) were also involved.

We talked about the challenges, opportunities, strides, and experiences that face us all today regardless of race, gender, creed or culture with the ongoing “flattening” of the technology world.

It was interesting to find the following NY Times article link in my inbox this morning on the very topic of Women in Technology — describing how a seasoned and highly qualified female technology company owner in Silicon Valley faced serious and biased discrimination when she sought financing for a start-up business.

Titled Out of the Loop in Silicon Valley – the article provides an up-to-date and somewhat disappointing report on how gender inequality still resides in technology.

What’s your opinion?  Have you seen, been a part of, or experienced such a situation?  I know that the percentage of women entering engineering and computer science is as low as its been for decades, but somehow I “assumed” that things were changing.  Do you think that women in technology are still a novelty or are we a mainstay today?

Let me know what you’ve seen!

Wishing you a successful unbiased week.

Regards,
Carol

Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

Truly Effective Workplaces…

31 Mar

Author Laura Liswood has just published a book titled The Loudest Duck: Moving Beyond Diversity while Embracing Differences to Achieve Success at Work where she outlines what diversity means against the landscape of American corporations today.

While her posting today (Mar 31 2010) is found at the Women’s Leadership Exchange site: How to Create Truly Effective Workplaces for All, it quickly becomes obvious that her book covers a range of diversity issues including gender, ethnicity, belief systems, age, traditions, etc.

The Loudest Duck” looks like an insightful read on a topic that continues to gain importance as globalization increases.  I enjoy how Laura expresses herself in the posting above:  “What makes it hard for diverse companies to become, well, diverse? I saw a slogan that read “We hire for difference and fire because they are not the same.”

There are also references to related works:  “As Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book, Blink 16% of men in the United States are 6′ 2″ or taller but 57% of Fortune 500 male leaders are 6’2″ or taller.” Ms. Liswood’s book explores the rationale behind diversity initiatives juxtapositioned with the belief systems prevalent in American society and her views are likely to be featured in articles for months to come.  Should be interesting!

Have a good week!

Regards,
Carol
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