Darkness Worn like a cloak On a brocade Of silence
Memories are translucent, and
Fibers of my being Are hard, at times,
To piece together.
They fit in a splash Of overlap, one Scene runs Into the Next,
And, I’m often quite Transfixed,
By the pictures I see, So much so, I wonder If they Are
Even really me.
Lightness And, as the shadow Lifts, light begins To creep in,
Not all at once, no Slowly, one measure At a time.
The light must be Careful, not to Scare too Much
Fright Into the unsuspected.
Those who are not Used to its fullness, Stillness, and yes also Goodness.
Yet, it does invade, And pervade the senses, Bringing with it, a new dawn, With all of its new drawn-
Out histories, yet to be Lived, and then, yes, eventually, Told.
The question, so bold?
Why the darkness and The lightness? What’s the Story of this symbiotic Relationship,
Which manifests in So many different ways When at play, during the Day, and, yes, even when We are hiding in the shadows Of its fullest measure.
Our pleasure unrecognized, not Fully brought to its light.
Symbiosis In the end, dark and light Are a pair of opposites, Just like the rest of The world.
While we get carried Away in a whirl-winded Exploration of why;
Why not try to simply Accept the reality that is.
Lightness exists, As does darkness, and, Paradoxically,
And, oh so commonly,
You can be in the light, While in the dark, just As you can be in the dark, While in the light.
It works that way, all Throughout our days Until we are finally carried away.
Instead of a diary entry this week, I am choosing to share this three-part poem with you. I wrote this a few weeks ago just before traveling to the coast. At that time, it occurred to me to write a poem about three concepts, darkness, lightness, and symbiosis. Yet as I wrote the poem, they felt like three distinct parts of an overall unified whole, so I structured them and am sharing them just as they occurred to me. Fun.
Expanding our Patience While Limiting our Reactivity By Understanding and Practicing Our Emotional Intelligence
The past few weeks, I’ve been thinking more about patience, and just how important being patient is in all aspects of life. For sure, patience was, and is, something that I continue to be present to, as patience was, and still is in some ways, something that is a developmental opportunity for me.
How do you feel about the concept and practice of patience? Do you think it affects how we interpret the world, and how we, for instance, function at home and work?
I think it does affect all aspects of our lives, whether we are aware or not.
In this post, we’ll explore a couple of ways to expand the concept of patience by unpacking the stimulus response system, and by exploring ways we can increase our patience, or, conversely, decrease our reactivity. Ready? Good. Here we go.
The Stimulus Response System
In some ways we are programmed to respond to our environments. As we navigate our environments, our brain takes in data and information, let’s call them inputs, processes them, and then runs through a selection of outputs, or responses. Pretty simple, yes?
Yep, pretty straightforward. The issue? Good question. Well, if we never question our responses, and simply react, we can become reactive, which means that an event occurs and we react without pause. Super helpful in an emergency situation.
In a non-emergency situation, however, it is not always as helpful. There are ways, however, that we can slow down the stimulus response system, which creates a space for more choice.
Emotional intelligence has been written about for a long time. Very simply, having emotional intelligence means that you understand that there is a space between a stimulus and response, and you can access this space. Accessing the space between a stimulus and response, also means that you are able to make more choices and handle emotions that arise more readily. Important.
Learning about and practicing emotional intelligence is important for all aspects of life, and is particularly effective in our relationships. When we can slow down and increase our choices, we, at the same time, increase the outcomes that are possible in each situation.
Home and Work
As we learn more about our emotional selves we create the opportunity to reduce reactivity, and understand our own humanity. For instance, anger was something that was present for me a lot of my adult life. There are many reasons this is so, knowing today, I was only ever upset with myself for not living the fullest life possible. Knowing this is helpful.
Additionally, understanding that anger can arise, and not mean that I am an angry person is also helpful. We must be careful with the concepts we internalize. If we internalize concepts, such as anger, as part of who we are as a human being, we then become an angry person. It’s just how it works. If, however, we understand that anger is an emotion that, like our thoughts, will arise, yet is not indicative of who we are as a human being, we are immediately freed from the concept. Super helpful and liberating.
Further, it is important to understand that our emotions not only affect us, they affect everyone around us, even if we are unaware. It’s not possible, for example, to carry anger, and to not give it out. We will. And, when we do, then all we see is anger, because, in fact, that’s what we are creating.
However, when we learn about and practice strategies that can increase our emotional intelligence, and at the same time, slow down our reactivity, we have new choices. New ways of being, and of releasing old concepts that we once believed in.
Emotional intelligence has a direct impact on our patience. When we slow down our impulse to react to external stimuli, such as other people and events, and internal stimuli, such as thoughts and emotions, we create a space to choose being patient over being reactive. Important.
And, in the space we create to be more patient, we get to choose from a plethora of ways to respond (not react) to a person or event. Powerful.
There is one practice that has been instrumental in my practice of my own emotional intelligence, and that is meditation. I’ve written about meditation lots of times, and, in fact, it has been scientifically documented that meditation decreases reactivity.
As our reactivity decreases, we see and experience the world more slowly, our patience increases, and we are able to understand our thoughts and emotions on a deeper level. Which also means that we will understand everyone in our lives that much better as well.
And, when we understand ourselves and those we love and care about better, our relationships begin to blossom. Our relationship with ourselves, yes, and with everyone else. A beautiful cycle.
Current Reality, Future Reality, and Gaining Traction
Alright, it’s been a while since I’ve created a My One Thing post. As I considered this this past week, it occurred to me to write a post about creating a Vision Traction Organizer (VTO). The VTO is taken from the book Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business, by Gino Wickman.
I’ve written about the book Traction before, and highly recommend it for anyone working in the business world, both private and public, no matter the size of your business. It is a very practical and implemtable book.
Alright, so here is what the VTO for the Extended Learning Department at Linn-Benton Community College looked like in year 2.
As you can see, it begins on the left side with the department values and vision and then works all the way to the right displaying the department goals, and issues the department is facing. Hence, traction. Why?
Well, as I’ve written about before, the only way to make a vision a reality, personal or professional, is to actually tie that vision to day-to-day life in the form of smaller goals. When you have your day-to-day activities tied to the vision of who you want to be, or where you want your organization or business to be in, say, 3 years, you will develop traction.
Meaning, you will move toward and likely manifest that reality for yourself, or your team.
Now, since the department’s second year together, well, we’ve had some, let’s say, unexpected things occur, such as the pandemic. Yep, so now that we’ve been living inside of this pandemic for a full year, it was time to start to sketch out the next 3 years.
Here is what it looks like on my white board wall.
If you compare the two, you will see that the revenue goals are much lower than they were expected to be when the original VTO was created in our second year together. That, however, is the reality. And, as I’ve written about before, being clear on the current reality is necessary and needed in leadership.
We may not want to look at the current reality, we may want to instead run and hide from it, yet, it will only follow us if we do. And, in refusing to acknowledge the current reality, just as it is, the people that work in your organization or business, will be confused. Confused because they are not getting honest communication from leadership. Not helpful.
Further, when we don’t stand in and accept our current reality, we cannot create new realities. The only way to create a vision for the future, is to accept reality as it is. Just as it is now. Then work from there. Simple. Yet, this can be hard for people in new leadership roles. Trust me, I know how that feels.
However, you will find that your team, organization, or business, will be grateful when leadership stands in and actively communicates the current reality. For it gives everyone a real starting point.
Alright, that’s My One Thing for this week. The next step will be to take the “whiteboard wall VTO” and put it into a graphics design software package. Once I’ve done that, I will create another post and walk you through some of my thinking about Extended Learning’s next three years. That will be fun.
Do you ever feel like you have so much to say, and there’s just not quite enough time to say it all? Well, I’ve felt like that some this week, so have some new posts coming in the next few weeks, which I’m pretty excited about. Before we get to that, let’s take a look at 2 reflections from writing that occured this week. Alright, here we go.
On Writing and Reflecting
I had a great time reflecting upon and writing the poem forgiven. It was prompted by the Saturday RagTag Daily prompt, by Punam. The prompt was hugs.
As I reflected upon the concept and actual practice of hugging someone, it occured to me to write about a warm embrace in two ways, which are paradoxically, and not, one way. There is something very special about the contact between two people that occurs in a hug. Magical in fact.
The concept of falling into someone’s arms is about sharing something so special with someone else that in a way in that moment the two become one, and all of life’s complexities, challenges, and even disappointments disappear and are forgiven. Lovely.
I miss hugging people. I look forward to a day when hugging people is something we all do again as a normal everyday practice.
I had an equally fun time reflecting upon and writing the poem Imagine, which was a WDYS prompt from Keep it Alive, by Sadje. As I considered that beautiful tower, I wondered what the tower would think about the state of the world today. I imagined, pun intended, that the tower would long for a day when people would be bustling up and down it’s steel reinforcements, and walking, laughing, and playing at its base.
Of course, as with all things we write about, imagine is also a poem about my reflections about the state of the world. The hope and knowing I hold deep inside that in due time, we will all be in-person together again, walking hand-in-hand, and laughing and playing again like we did not so long ago.
I look forward to that time.
I have several new posts I’ve been working on. Here is a preview.
My One Thing This Week: Creating a Vision Traction Organizer
The Reflection Series #8: Causal Loop 101
A Developmental Moment #5: Patience as a Concept and Practice
A Developmental Moment #6: Why Learning to Ask for Help is Necessary and Needed
Of course, I have some new poetry, which I am also excited about. More to come!
Well, last year at this time, we were just about to embark on pivoting 5 educational programs to fully remote. Something we’d never done before, pandemic or not.
And, as we prepare for this Spring Term classes, registration for which begins on Monday, I am filled with such gratitude and appreciation for each person I work with. Their persistence in the face of adversity, determination to never give up, and to always acknowledge our current reality, while creating new ways forward within that reality, is such a treat and joy.
The department has over 120 remote classes, workshops, and training on offer for Spring term, and each term, as I’ve written before, we reach more and more people with opportunities for them to be with other people. This last term, we had students from Europe and all across the US. Super fun.
Asking For Help
For a very long time, I did not like asking for help. In fact, I would say that I avoided it at all costs. It was a part of how I was raised. Part of that individualistic mentality that is so pervasive in the US.
However, it is mere confusion at best. Why? Because, as I’ve written about before, the idea that we are independent of other people is an illusion. Simple. We are interdependent, nay, really One.
Therefore, living in an illusion that you are an individual separate from the rest of humanity and the world is a space full of pain and suffering. Seriously, I know. I lived that way for a long time.
When we are aware and realize that we are all interconnected, and that, in fact, all things on this planet are interconnected, the idea of asking for help is much more palatable. In fact, when you take that idea further, and realize that you ask for help everyday without saying the words, the concept of asking for help sort of becomes a part of who you are.
That does not mean, however, that it is easy for everyone. And, in fact, when I am super busy at work, my old pattern will reappear at times, and I have to always keep asking for help present for me. Important.
When we need help, we need to ask for it. Simple. You are not deficient or in any way less efficient or effective when you ask for help. In fact, the paradox is that you are way more effective and efficient when you ask for help. Yep. True.
I have an upcoming article on asking for help, which will come out in a few weeks.
Alright, that’s all for this week.
Stay healthy and well, and have a tremendous week.