Keeping Score

When you do things for others, do you keep score? Most people say “no”, yet if you probe a little deeper – that “no” often turns to a reluctant “yes”. Keeping score is a part of human nature, yet it can also steal the joy out of kind things we do for others – at home, work, or in our communities. 

As an experiment, see what happens if you actively choose to give and once you do the score is settled. Please report back. 

Thanks,
Anita

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Are You Missing the Good Stuff?

One day I was walking down the street and started noticing how many people there where going up and down Michigan Avenue in Chicago. I began to really see how different everybody was – from their size and facial features to the clothes they wore and whether they were walking fast, strolling, or rolling in wheelchairs. I also recognized the subtle and maybe not so subtle negative impressions that I recorded in my head.

“Whoa! That’s not like you, Anita,” I thought to myself. 

So I stopped.  “Focusing on these differences is not a good thing,” I thought. “It becomes an excuse to ignore, dismiss, or even reject people – simply because of these differences. What a waste!” 

I made a commitment to challenge myself to find the common thread that I share with others. It makes life – if not easier – much more satisfying. I challenge you to do the same – not out of obligation, guilt, or to look good – but because you know it’s the best thing for your heart, soul, and ultimately for humankind. 

Thanks,
Anita

Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Many say that discovering the right questions is more important than having all the answers. Once every other month, make a special date with yourself. Give yourself half a day of peaceful solitude to think and reflect. Then make a list of the most important questions of your life. Don’t force any answers. Just let them naturally bubble up fully formed over the days and weeks to come.

Have a great week,
Anita

Are You Listening?

Yesterday I received a note from Susan, a good friend and colleague. She shared the concern expressed by her clients. “We’re not being taken seriously,” they said. What are they really saying? 

While it’s impossible to know with complete certainty, they are probably asking for what I believe we all want – to be truly heard and responded to with care, compassion, and a sense that our thoughts, ideas, and requests are important, valued, and respected. 

So if that’s what we all want and need, how do we give this to our family, friends, colleagues, and “customers”? First, instead of thinking about the next clever or persuasive thing you’ll say during a conversation, listen to the other person completely. It’s harder that you might think, but I know you’re up to the task. Second, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself: “What is he or she saying with the words and what’s being ‘said’ if I read between the lines?” 

Many people won’t tell you all that they want or expect. They want you to care enough to “read their minds”. If you really pay attention, you’ll understand what they mean and respond accordingly. As you consistently “Take Me and Everyone Else Seriously” your relationships will flourish and the rewards given and received will be enormous. 

Have a great weekend,
Anita

Are You Expecting Too Much – Or Too Little?

“You’re expecting too much,” I recently overheard one person say to another. “Is that really possible?” I thought to myself. I don’t think so. Expecting too little is really the problem. So today think about what you really want from your life. Begin to pursue it. Just keep a wide-open mind about how you will achieve what you want. Be receptive to a whole host of possibilities and opportunities. When you are, expecting too much is not an option. 

Thanks,
Anita

“Heroically Overworked”

Do you ever work really hard? Do you feel like you’ve done a good job if you end your day feeling stressed out, after accomplishing all the things you think you “should” do? Is spreading yourself thin part of your corporate culture and do you like that? Are you tired of all the demands on you and your time and yet feel strangely gratified when you meet them? 

The diagnosis is clear. You are, as the late Gordon MacKenzie (author of Orbiting the Giant Hairball) would say, “Heroically Overworked”. Now this condition can be found in the workplace, home, neighborhood block committee, or anywhere else a group of people get together to do something. It likely won’t kill you, but it will steal the fun, joy, and vitality right out of your life. 

By the way, I myself have had this “condition” for many years. Through the support of friends, I am “in recovery” and when I see myself working nearly 24 hours in any day, I take an hour or two off to self-reflect, rejuvenate my life, and then get back to work. 

So if you notice that you’re being stretched to discomfort and your friends and family have forgotten what you look like, pause. Then ask yourself the following: “Am I ‘Heroic Overworked?” If the answer is yes, take some time to relax.  When you do, you will be even better ready to positively contribute. 

Thanks,
Anita

Your Advisory Board

President Woodrow Wilson once said, “I not only use the brains I have, but all I can borrow.” 

What about adding to your brain truss, your advisory board?

Do you think you should be able to do everything yourself?  I used to think that. It’s too exhausting to do everything solo.  So make a list of what you need to do and who could help you. Ask sincerely, acknowledge others for their talents, and you might get the assistance you need. Of course, find ways to reciprocate. 

Have a great day,
Anita

No Guts, No Glory

My friend, Rose, died this weekend, decades before anyone expected. While I was reeling from the suddenness of her untimely passing, I was also incredibly encouraged by her life. 

Rose was one of the most determined people I know with a life that many believed would be lived with few, if any victories. Yet Rose’s life was “ever victorious” as her friends and colleagues would say. The mental illness that she didn’t shy away from was supposed to defeat her.  While she did spend time in hospitals for her condition, she was incredibly successful by any definition you could use. 

Rose was a long standing Buddhist and she used her Buddhist practice to win over the challenges she faced. Not only did she fight to graduate from high school and college (when few thought she could,) she went on to become an attorney and advocate for small businesses and for individuals with mental disabilities (just like her.) 

Rose clearly was a courageous and compassionate person. Her glory emerged because she saw the heart and determination in people when others saw only illness and hopelessness. I will miss Rose and I know that her life will continue to inspire many whose lives she made better – including me. 

As a tribute to Rose, I ask you to think about things others have told you were impossible and question whether or not they really are and if you believe they are worth doing in.  Then decide what you what action you will take today to make your world better using your talents, skills, and heart. 

Have a great week,
Anita

The Gift of the Present

Aesop once said, “The desire for imaginary benefits often involves the loss of present blessings.” 

So think about this . . . 

What do you wish you could achieve some time in the future? Have your hopes and dreams, but don’t miss what’s happening right now. Name 3 good things you’re experiencing in your life today.  Caring friends? Volunteer activities? Good weather? Give thanks and give back. 

Have a great weekend,
Anita

Count Every Success

I have the opportunity to work with many people from a variety of walks of life and one thing they each have in common is what I would call “undercounting.” They usually fail to count the small successes that lead to the major ones. While it’s wonderful to celebrate the big accomplishments, acknowledging even tiny progress along the way leads to increased confidence, courage, and commitment to move ahead. So today, write down each of your successes – even the itsy bitsy ones. Then notice how good you feel, the support you gain, and how your forward movement accelerates. 

Thanks,
Anita