Friday, 20 September 2013

Double, double toil and trouble

It’s been a great few weeks, for discovering some really pithy little sayings, that make me go “whoa, I wish I’d thought of that”.  This week, I’m inspired by something Pastor Joel Osteen said.  He said “you may have a reason to feel sorry for yourself, but you don’t have a right”.  I must admit that when I first read it, I thought “what’s this man on? He’s clearly never been hurt by someone so badly, that you say to yourself, ‘if I didn’t know Jesus, I could go postal here’”.  And then I thought, “the man’s a pastor, he’s probably got people saying hurtful things, every day of the week!”

Anyways, it got me thinking.  When we insist on our right to feel hurt about something done to us, what do we really gain? It’s not like you can head off to the shops and exchange it for something useful right? I ‘stole’ the title of this week’s blog from the three witches in Macbeth, because it just seemed so apt.  When we insist on our right to feel sorry for ourselves, all we really end up with is a nasty tasting stew of resentment, bitterness and self pity.  Which if you eat enough of, just leads to toil and trouble as far as I can see.  So, how do you know when you’ve landed head first in some nasty stew and how do you get out of it?

Firstly, I’d say, when you find yourself wearing your hurt like a badge of honour and you rehearse it every chance you get, then watch out.  I’m guessing we all know someone who can tell us chapter and verse about a hurt they’ve suffered many moons ago.  No matter what conversation you’re having, they always bring it back to that hurt.  I’m going to confess and say, that I’ve been that person at different times in my life (in fact as recently as yesterday).  But I’ve decided to stop wasting my time wallowing and use the hurt as a spur, to move me to the next level in my life.

Secondly, when the pain of the hurt is still as fresh as when it first happened- 5, 10 or even 20 years ago. When they tell you the story, the pain is so palpable, you can almost touch it.  It’s almost like they are re-living the incident all over again.  In fact I read somewhere that the brain can’t tell the difference between the incident and the memory of it, so you do actually experience it all over again.  From personal experience, I can confirm that if you don’t find a way to let go, it hurts just as much as it did the first time.

Finally, when the hurt you’ve suffered is used as an excuse for everything else that’s gone wrong in your life, I think I can say that the stew is cooked and being served up.  There are so many people who are carrying such a heavy burden of pain that they are sitting on the sidelines of their own lives.  Opportunities that should have been taken weren’t.  Lives that should be full and productive are small and confined, because of the hurt that is being carried.

And that really is the worst thing.  When we insist on our right to feel sorry for ourselves, we stay stuck in the pain and the past, never really able to move into our future.  We don’t participate in our own lives or the lives of those around us.  Missing out on the 99 other great things that we could have had.

As to how we get out of the stew.  Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news.  The good news is that all we have to do is decide we don’t like the taste of the stew anymore and get out of the pot.  The bad news is that all we have to do is decide we don’t like the taste of the stew anymore and get out of the pot.  It’s good news, because we all know how to make decisions, we make thousands every day.  It’s bad news because, we have to make that decision and keep making it, until that stew becomes a distant memory.  We can make a decision with our heads, but unless our heart and feelings come along too, we’re not going to succeed.  When people hurt us, they hurt our feelings, not our heads.  Our heads can be as rational and as logical as they like, the heart feels, what the heart feels!

But unless you plan on sitting out the rest of your life, you’re going to have to find a way to make that decision with your head and your heart.  Personally, I find it helps me to think of forgiveness as a ‘one off’ thing, but the rebuilding of trust as a process.  I can forgive you immediately, but you will have to show me that you are trustworthy, over a period of time.  You don’t get to decide how long that period of time will be and you don’t get to bully me into trusting you again. 

That’s my approach.  You’re welcome to try it and see if it works for you.  If not, feel free to keep journeying until you find an approach that works for you.
Need some help getting unstuck? Contact us through the website for your free, 30 minute consultation.

Until next week, go well.




Friday, 13 September 2013

Don't wake me, I'm dreaming...

I have a confession to make: I am a woman of a certain age and I am a Gleek.  For those of you who don’t know what that means (where have you been???), it means I’m a fan of the tv show that follows the ups and downs of a high school show choir. In a recent episode, one of the leading female characters had a very important audition and paid homage to the fact that she wouldn’t have gotten where she was, without the support and belief of her friends and the teacher in charge of the Glee club. In the show, she’s pursuing her dreams and this week’s post is about why it’s important to go hard after our dreams.  I don’t think anyone gets to the end of their life and says “I wish I would have spent more time at work”.  On the other hand, I’ll wager that a fair few people get to the end of their lives and say “I wish I’d followed my dreams”.

So to all you dreamers out there, this one’s for you.  Keep dreaming, keep believing and start living your best life!
Firstly, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve had the dream for.  As long as you’re not dead, you can go after it now.  I’ve had a yen for a little while to write a book.  At first my excuse was “who would read anything I wrote?”  Happily, I know now that people do read what I write, because you give me feedback on the blog.  My other excuse was “how will I get it published?” Even I can answer that one now- go for an e book, it's easier than you think!  I have more but I won’t put them down here.  As a woman I really admire says “excuses are like armpits, we all have them. I’m willing to bet that if you talk to anyone who’s living their dream, they will tell you that they had fears, doubts, setbacks and excuses, but in the end, the fear of not living the dream outweighed all of those things.
Secondly, don’t know where to start? Start where you are right now.  Sometimes the dream seems so huge, that it stops you before you even start.  I’m typing this blog on a laptop that has lost the will to live.  You have to press some keys extra hard to even get them to register and don’t even get me started on the contortions necessary to post it.  I could throw my hands up in despair and wait until I get a new laptop, but I won’t because I know that to be a writer, I need to be disciplined.  I’m going to have to write when I want to and when I don’t want to.  I’m going to have to write through writer’s block and when the words are literally pouring out of me.  To be a writer, means writing- simples!  What do you need to do, to get started? What step, no matter how little, can you take right now, to get your dream started? Whatever it is, just do it, right now, with no more excuses.
Finally, get yourself some cheerleaders, because you’re going to need them.  I’m not going to lie to you and say pursuing your dream is going to be like some happy clappy 90 minute ‘made for tv movie’.  There are going to be some challenging times.  There are going to be some times when only an intravenous cocktail of vodka and chocolate is going to help you make it through.  Those are the times when you need those cheerleaders: (a) so they can administer the cocktail, (b) so they can give you 2 aspirin to recover from the hangover and (c) so they can remind you that no matter how hard this challenge seems, it’s not the end and that if you just keep pressing on, you’ll make it.  I have 3 such cheerleaders and they have kept me going through many a tough time.

So there you have it.  My take on why you should go hard after your dreams.  Forgotten your dream? Feel like it’s too late? Or don’t feel like you ever had a dream? Contact us through the website, for a free 30 minute consultation, that will help wherever you find yourself.

Until next week, go well.


Friday, 6 September 2013

Back seat drivers

Have you ever had an experience where you were asked to support someone else in a task and you’ve had a few “I wouldn’t do it like that moments?” I don’t know if it’s only me, but I’m going to stick my neck out and say I’ve probably got some company there!

My most recent experience of this was last week.  I was supporting a fellow facilitator to deliver some training and I had a few of those moments.  As I was reflecting on how the session went, this question popped into my mind- “can you take a back seat?”  I pondered it for a while and realised that sometimes it’s easier said than done.  Sometimes, we genuinely feel that we have something valuable to add and before we know it, we’re centre stage, usurping someone else’s position- ouch!

This week’s post is about why it’s so important to be able to understudy someone else, while we take a back seat.

The first thing I’d like to say is that if you can’t follow, then you probably can’t lead either. The old style of ‘command and control’ leadership is pretty much obsolete now.  I know that some leaders are still keen on it, but the results of that kind of leadership speak for themselves- and not usually in a good way. People are looking for and are generally more responsive to a leader, who can bring people alongside them.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers and are happy to listen to the best solution on offer- wherever it comes from! The captain of a football team may not necessarily be the best player on the team, but they are the designated leader on the pitch.  It would be quite bizarre, if the captain suddenly decided to play out of position, against advice and ignoring the strengths of their team, simply because they are the captain.  An effective leader is one who knows that sometimes the best thing they can do is get out of the way of the best solution and let someone else’s strengths shine in that particular situation.

Secondly, if you don’t know how to take a back seat, then you are probably missing some valuable learning opportunities.  Once I’d got a hold of myself, I was able to really pay attention to my fellow facilitator and pick up some important tips on how to be more effective in my role.  When we’re always conscious of our position, we’re not really being open to the myriad of learning opportunities that present themselves.  I have a 3 year old and she’s constantly presenting me with opportunities to learn something new.  Fortunately, she doesn’t realise when I’m having to eat massive amounts of humble pie.

Finally, when we’re not prepared to take a back seat, it’s more than likely that we will make some pretty big mistakes, simply by virtue of my first two points.  I remember the first time I was asked a question I didn’t know the answer to and a guess was out of the question.  It still crossed my mind to try and bluff, but the stakes-if I made a mistake, were just too high.  That’s when I discovered how liberating it is to admit the truth and ask for time to find out what I needed to know.  There are a lot of leaders out there, who are scared to admit, that they don’t know something and would rather make a mistake than tell the truth. I’m not advocating poor preparation, but I am saying, don’t let the fear of looking foolish lead you down a worse path!

I’m sure you can tell by now, that this week’s post is as much for me as it is for you.  As you go through the next week and beyond, watch out for those learning experiences that come from unexpected places.  Whether it’s from a junior member of your team, a peer or even a 3 year old, take the learning and let it help you to continue to grow and improve.

Until next week, go well.