This past week, I’ve been reflecting upon purpose, which I’ll write more about in a moment, and planning in the unknown, which will be the topic of a post, well, I’m not sure when, yet will get to it eventually.
Before we get to my reflection on purpose, let’s take a look at a couple writing reflections.
Writing and Reflecting
The poem Mind was, as you may have already surmised, a reflection on my meditation practice. A large part of my life today. It is a beautiful experience, to sit and watch as the mind does it’s thing, and to become detached from it’s activity. It is also a wonder to sit and watch as your mind, over time, begins to slow and become more quiet. Magical.
The Mind poem was also my first foray into the Hexastich poetry style. I learned about this poem style, like many others, from a lovely blogger friend of mine. I’ve written another poem in this style already, and will have more to share in the coming weeks and months.
The poem Gift was a reflection of the many things I’ve learned in the past 4 years, as I’ve learned to go within from my life coach and teacher. It’s been difficult and one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.
And, like I write often, this nexus of the difficult and wonderful, a paradox (and not), is where the jewels of life live. When we slow down, go within, really get to know ourselves, we get back so much more. Beautiful.
As you may know, yesterday I posted The Dance Dances A Life of Its Own, which was a collaboration with Amber of DiosRaw. As a relatively new blogger, I’ve only done one other collaboration, which was the post, Vulnerability: A Paradox, with Maja of Lampelina.
Amber and I created the poem this past week, with the former, sending emails back and forth throughout the creative process. Was superb. A wonderful experience.
With the latter, I submitted a request to do a guest post on Lampelina, and Maja reached out to me to do so. Was also a great experience.
A lot of fun all-around.
There is another collaboration, of a different kind, coming soon, with another inspiring blogger. I’ll have more on that in the future.
I love the concept of, and practice of, collaboration. You learn so much more when you work with other people. It is by far one of my favorite things to do in this life, collaborate with inspirational people. I’ve been very lucky to have had these opportunities and many others in various areas of my life; and, I look forward to future ones.
While I’ve written on purpose before, it is a concept and practice that I reflect upon, well, not quite often, yet it does come up now and then. This week, purpose has come up in regard to planning inside of the unknown.
There was a time in my life where I continually questioned my purpose. Was in fact, confounded by the idea of purpose. Maybe even a little afraid of the concept.
However, today, I accept my truth in regard to purpose. That, in fact, each moment we are alive, we can find our purpose in, well, exactly what it is that we are doing. Right now, typing this end of the week diary entry. In the next moment? Don’t know, it doesn’t exist yet.
What I am pointing to, is that purpose lives inside of us. Purpose is a concept that we attach meaning to, just like every other concept. If you believe that purpose needs to look and feel a certain way, and you don’t see or feel what you are looking for, well, then you’ll have a hard time finding your purpose.
However, if you believe that purpose lives within, and lives in each moment every day, doing exactly as you are already doing, well, there’s nothing to find. Your purpose is readily apparent in each moment everyday.
We can all develop an awareness of purpose that is different from the current one we hold. It just takes practice. Practice letting go of the concept of purpose as we understand it today, and learning a new way to think about and feel purpose.
Remember, purpose is first and foremost a concept. It is not a living breathing thing. We breathe life into the concept of purpose, as we do all concepts, when we give life to it by attaching meaning, which we create, to the concept.
And, just as we breathe life into the concept of purpose as we do today, we can learn a new way to breathe a different life into a new concept of purpose.
It is up to you, me, and everyone else; and, well, that’s quite empowering.
This past week, I’ve been reflecting upon the power of silence; and, maybe more importantly how in that absence of sound and other stimuli there lives a very powerful reservoir. One that, as many of you know, I was not in touch with for many years.
In my reflection this past week, I’ve also been pondering how in today’s fast-paced, go, go, go, culture, I do have the United States in mind here, accessing silence is even more important. The paradox? It’s harder to access. Though not for the reason you may be thinking.
It’s harder to access, not because there is less silence available in the US. In fact, accessing silence has nothing to do with spaces and places. The reason that it is harder in the US to access silence is actually rather simple. It’s not valued, nor taught. In fact, one could argue that the opposite is valued.
Fast-paced, loud, go, go, go. Right? These may be horrible generalizations, yet take a look around any metropolitan city in this country, and what do you see? People moving fast, cars driving fast, animals moving fast. Habituation to a lifestyle that proceeds all of us, yet we also help to continue to perpetuate this lifestyle. Interesting.
In this post, I want to create a space to discuss some practices that anyone, no matter where you live, can take up to secure themselves a little silence each day. These practices are common sense. No great mysteries here. Yet, it’s the planning and doing and repeating that matter most in this conversation. (Re)habituation.
Well, I’ve not defined a word in a while in a post, so let’s do that, shall we? Good. Here we go.
habituation (of somebody/something) (to something) the action or condition of becoming used to something
There we go.
So, what then is (re)habituation? It simply means the process of habituating ourselves to a different set of stimuli, actions or conditions, while letting go of the ones we are currently habituated to. Simple. Yet, when we are habituated to an action or a particular set of conditions, it can be difficult to (re)habituate ourselves to something new.
I’ve written on this topic before, and think, especially right now, it is important for everyone to consider how they can get at least a few moments of silence in their lives each day.
Just a short 4 years ago, I never created silence for myself. In fact, I thought reading and watching television was, in their own way, silent time. And, when you don’t know how to access silence, and, in fact, are quite afraid of it, then watching TV or reading a book can seem like silent time.
Yet, accessing real silence takes practice. And, guess what? Once you’ve created a new habit to access silence, and you’ve done so for some time, you begin to realize that silence is always available. Even when you are busy. A paradox? Yes, and no.
Here are a couple things you can do on a regular basis to begin to access silence.
Stop – when you are super busy. Stop. Stop, and set an alarm on your phone for 2 minutes and just sit there and focus on your breath. The way the air is inhaled into your lungs and the way it is exhaled out. Just 2 minutes. Do that periodically throughout your day. You will find that in just 2 minutes of silence, you can quiet your mind a little, and gain more focus. As you practice this 2-minute silence break, increase it after a couple of weeks to 3 minutes, then 5 minutes. It is amazing how much focus and mental equilibrium can be created out of just a few minutes of real silence.
Walk – calendar yourself for regular walks. You can start with a 5-minute walk. If you’re at work, maybe it’s just around the area you work, inside or out, it matters not. What matters is to focus on your breath as you walk. As you take a step, inhale in, and as you take another step, exhale out. You can even count the steps as you take them. I still do this today without even thinking about it. Habituation.
Listen – when you are super busy, stop what you are doing, and listen to your mind and body. How do they feel? Are you tense? Is your mind super active? If so, stop and breathe for a few minutes, or take a walk, as described above.
Repeat – the most important thing about creating a new habit, or (re)habituating ourselves out of our current habits and into new ones is repetition. Daily is best. Yet, it is also important to set a schedule you can work with and that will feel good. So, if that’s every other day, so be it. Getting started is key, and then continuing as you are able will create more workability for you inside of creating a new habit.
Alright, there are a couple of things you can do to habituate yourself into a new habit, which will help you gain access to silent time everyday. Remember, if you forget, which will happen, or feel you don’t have time so choose not to access silent time one day, it’s okay.
There are no demerits here. It’s about creating more workability by increasing your focus, attention, and mental wellness, something everyone needs, and leaders must have.
Leadership and Silence
I’ve found accessing silence one of the most powerful concepts and practices of my entire life; and, remember, the person writing this post did know how to access even one minute of real silence until about 4 years ago. True.
Yet, when we create the time to be silent, to quiet our minds, to listen to our bodies, and to just be, what we get back is so much more. We get more focus, attention, and mental wellness, and we also get more insights. Insights into our own humanity. A sacred and beautiful experience.
Here are five few ways that silence has impacted my life and leadership.
Mental Flexibility – when we are mentally flexible, we are open and willing to listen and learn.
Calmness – remaining calm under great pressure and stress is key to keeping yourself and your team on track and in alignment.
Clarity – developing clarity means that your communications will be more clear and understandable. Communication is one of the most important functions in leadership, so being clear, concise, and understandable is key.
Patience – the ability to demonstrate patience shows your team that even under extreme pressure, you will remain open and flexible. Demonstrating patience will give your team more confidence in you as a leader.
Deeper Understanding – to lead, you must understand yourself well; and, you must be able to relate to all people, staff, peers, customers, clients, everyone. Developing a deeper understanding of your own humanity, means that you develop a deeper understanding of all humanity, which makes you more relatable, empathetic, and compassionate.
There are many more ways that silence has impacted my life and leadership, yet these are important for all of us, and for leaders they are critical. The ability to be mentally flexible, remain calm, have clarity, demonstrate patience, and create a deeper understanding of yourself are skills that every leader needs.
Remember, then, the next time you feel overwhelmed at work or in life, create silent time for yourself. It can even be 1 minute to start. What matters most is getting started.
It’s about accessing the silence that is always within you; and, watching that grow over time, as you continue to practice the act of creating silent time for yourself.
At times I am filled with such deep Emotion, it’s like my body has stopped Working and the commotion running through Me isn’t being sifted, instead I’m being through the Heavens lifted.
An entirely different plane fills me, and I wonder What it all means. Just for a second though, as the tide turns, and the emotion that’s run through me Is turning the corner, looking for more stormy weather Out at sea.
The clouds open up, the lightning flashes, and The thunder rumbles, and the depths pull at me With such vigor, I become perplexed, and do not Dither.
Instead I move with the dance, allowing it to cast Me as is willed. Knowing that the play’s still playing, And the last act’s not retiring, nay, still moving onto Another scene, and I start praying.
Softly, silently, asking for guidance, knowing that It’s always been there, and will forevermore be clear. Even on stormy days, when the weather continues On it’s own way, and we continue to play, and, to not Be led astray.
Be all that you may, my dear, and let life fill you As needed. It’s all we can do at times, just be, and let Your soul heed it.
The piano plays, just like a display, And, yes, sometimes, I do feel flayed, And swayed by my emotional state.
Coming in waves at times, overwhelmed And feeling lost in translation, or, rather, Maybe it’s best in preparation for the next Round, say, did you call?
Or, was that just a whisper of something I thought I caught on a second chance, No need for romance, it’s all as it should be In this dance. We’ve moved on from the choreography, And are now simply living in full blown practicality.
Just as it is. See. Simple. And, not. Oh, what A paradox, and yet, it’s not even that, my friend. It’s simply This, this moment here with you, typing what comes, and becoming What’s, from the start, always been the end plot.
I could be remiss, second-guessing all that I’ve missed, and guess what, that’s also been done and sealed with a kiss.
Of love forevermore, for the losses and also For the light that blossoms in my heart, as time Passes, and aging happens.
Be still when you have a moment, reflect And heal those wounds deep in your soul, For the love you feel will bloom even more.
This past week I’ve been reflecting upon time management. Well, to be more specific, time management in relation to projects, tasks, and, then, after a conversation with a colleague of mine, energy.
Have you ever thought about scheduling your day by the energy you exert in relation to the projects or tasks you work on? Well, I had never really thought about my time this way either.
Or rather, I think a lot about how much energy a project or task takes, yet I have never created a system for analyzing my energy output.
Well, it’s about time, I think. Pun intended.
Before we go on further in the discussion, however, let’s first take a look at my projects and tasks in a linear format, which is the picture below.
I find it helpful to write out the projects and tasks I am responsible for.
Yet, in the linear version to the left, I am missing several pieces needed to get a grasp on the whole picture.
Meaning, how do the projects and tasks relate to the department priorities? Good question.
Let’s take a look.
Below is a mind map to assist in answering this question.
Completing the whiteboard mind map helped me see a couple of things that are not apparent when data or information is presented linearly.
Here are some of the things I learned from mapping the projects and tasks nonlinearly.
Most of my time is currently spent in meeting the department’s sustainability priority.
There are at least three commitments that aren’t connected to a department priority. They are the bubbles, or circles, that are off to the side, disconnected from the rest of the mind map.
We are working on systems in each program, yet they are different systems.
And here is a question that arose after reflecting upon this mind map overnight.
How does my time on these various projects and tasks vary as a function of energy output?
It is very common to measure out time in, well, units of time. For instance, project A takes X amount of time, whereas project B takes Y amount of time. Helpful.
Yet, what we also know about time is that, for instance, you can work on a project or task for an hour, let’s say, without exerting that much energy. While, conversely, you can spend 30-minutes on a project or task that requires much more mental, or physical, output. How do you then manage your time?
If you simply gauge or measure all projects the same way, you may, for instance, have a work day that is full of high energy outputs, and a day that has very little, which may cause a balance issue.
My suggestion? Good question.
Well, I plan to remap my projects and tasks by energy output. It might look something like this.
A rough sketch this is, however, even in this rough sketch, you can get the idea.
What this sketch does not take into account, or, rather, does not, at this time, have space for, are those projects that fall outside the department priorities.
More reflection for me.
Alright, that wraps up this entry in the reflection series on thinking about time differently.
Remember, if we simply use time as the only way we measure our output, without considering energy, for instance, we may be missing a big piece of the overall framework of how we schedule ourselves and our work.