A Developmental Moment #7: A Conversation About Connection and Compassion

How Deep Connections Increase Our Compassion

A couple of weeks ago I gave a talk about connection. More specifically, it was titled, the Year of Continued Connection. The talk was delivered at our Community Education Instructor Forum. An event we’ve been planning and delivering for, well, almost three years now.

After the talk, I continued to reflect upon the conversation with the instructors, and the concepts they brought up, and just how important connection is in our lives. In many ways, it is the bedrock of many concepts we cherish, such as relationships, engagement, an open heart, kindness, care, and yes, compassion.

When we are deeply connected to our own humanity, we get a larger picture of our shared humanity, which increases the humility and compassion we have for ourselves, and everyone else.

In this post, I would like to elaborate on a few of the concepts outlined above as I understand them in their relation to connection. Ready? Good. Here we go.

Connection

Photo by Uriel SC on Unsplash
  • Relationships – as I’ve written about many times, all of our relationships start with the relationship we have with ourselves. The connection we have with ourselves is the same connection we will have with the people in our lives. It just works that way. There was a time when I wondered why it was that my relationships weren’t as strong as I would have liked them to be; bottom line? The relationship I had with myself was not strong. Simple.
  • Engagement – when we are in relationship with ourselves, and then the people we surround ourselves with, it means that we are engaged. Engagement in this context means we have easy and difficult conversations. Both. When we hold ourselves accountable, we will do the same for everyone else, which makes navigating our relationships harder. Though harder, when we hold ourselves accountable, we get back relationships that have a deeper connection. Why? Because we are real, we are speaking our truth. That’s it.
  • Open Heartedness – when we are in engaged relationships there will be difficult times. For us, and for the people we love. However, when we are engaged, we won’t run, we will stand by their side, and stand for those we love, just as we stand for ourselves. And, when we are standing, we are being open to all that life gives us. We don’t pick and choose the times we are engaged and willing to stand for ourselves and the people we love. We do it all the time. Without thinking. It just happens. We create more openness within ourselves because we are living through experiences that we may have run from before; and, when we stand through all of the stormy times, our connection to ourselves and the people we love deepens even further.
  • Kindness – with our hearts more open in these engaged relationships, we develop more kindness for ourselves and everyone else. It happens as a result of continuing to navigate all of life’s triumphs and challenges. In essence, we become a kinder human being, because we’ve been through more challenges. We’ve become more vulnerable; and, when we become more vulnerable, yes, we get stronger, and we get kinder. All of which also creates a more intense connection with ourselves and the people we love.
  • Care – when we are kind, engaged, and open-hearted in our relationships, we develop more care. We have a better understanding of the human condition, and what it takes to stand for ourselves and the people we love. Every day. And, as we do this work, a deeper awareness develops within ourselves, which includes a deeper connection of care to everyone and everything.

The 3 S’s of Connection

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

I also like to think about connection in regard to three other concepts. Here they are.

  • Safety – when we stand for ourselves and other human beings, we stay engaged, regardless of the situation. A result of increased engagement is safety. When we know we won’t run at the first sight of trouble, people feel safe. And, when people feel safe with you, they will be much more connected.
  • Security – as a sense of safety develops in your relationships, a sense of security also develops. It has to. When we feel safe, we also feel secure. Secure in the knowledge that our relationships are a place where we don’t have to worry or create anxiety over people leaving us, or being upset with us. Now, that doesn’t mean there will never be disagreements, or even arguments; what it does mean is that people will respect each other, and speak their truth, without fear of reprisal. That’s security.
  • Stability – and, when we feel safe and secure, we also feel stable. The relationship we have with ourselves is more stable, which means all of our relationships are more stable.

When we have safety, security, and stability in our relationships, we have a deeper connection to those we love. It also means that we know when a relationship is not going to work. Whereas this is difficult, we stay true to our truth. The knowing we have of the kind of relationship we are creating, and want to have. Therefore, we are much more clear on the people we allow into our lives. In fact, we have much more clarity about humanity in general. Beautiful.

Connection and Compassion

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

With more clarity about our own humanity, we are much more clear on all humanity. I’ve written this sentence differently many times. Yet, it is such an important part of deepening our connection with ourselves and the people we love.

When we have authentic relationships, we are working hard on them all the time. And, as we do the hard work, we go through many challenges. These challenging times show us more about our own humanity, and then our collective humanity.

For instance, we can read every book ever written on being vulnerable, yet the only way to really know about vulnerability is to practice being vulnerable. It is the only way. Without the practical experience of being vulnerable, vulnerability is just information in our heads; we leave our hearts behind.

Yet, when we are open to all of the experiences life gives us, we get to learn so much more. And, it is inside of these learnings where we further deepen our connection with ourselves and everyone else.

As we deepen our connections, we also develop more compassion. We develop more compassion, because as we go through more challenges, we develop a new understanding of how hard life can be; and with this new experiential knowledge, the compassion we have for ourselves and everyone else deepens.

When we are more compassionate, we are also more patient, and have more love for people when they are struggling, because we can see ourselves in them. And, for me, one of the most magical experiences of my practice of self-inquiry over the past four years has been seeing myself in other people. It is a beautiful experience.

Remember, every connection we have in life starts with the one we have with ourselves. When we have a deep connection with ourselves, we will have a deeper connection with the people we love, and we will also become a more compassionate human being. And, guess what?

We need more compassionate people on this planet.

#care, #compassion, #engagement, #human-connection, #humandevelopment, #leadership, #minfulness, #openheart, #relationships, #safety, #security, #selfdevelopment, #stability

Friends (Repost)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is torsten-dederichs-xrcesqktwgk-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Torsten Dederichs on Unsplash

I am reposting this poem, as it was just accepted into Spillwords!

I saw you
That first time
From across
The playground,

Though there were
So many people around,

You
Sure did stand out

They called me shy
Back then,
So as our eyes met,
I turned on my heel

In fret

Of the unknown, which
You conjured
In, my, then
Burgeoning

Imagination

And, the anticipation
Of our first real
Meeting, which
Filled me

With so many
Strange
And never
Felt before feelings

Of mystery

Inside my own
Young history

And, when you did
Approach?

I started for the door,
And you captured
My hand, and
Said, don’t

Be afraid, your
Safe with me
In the shade, of

Our first encounter
And, oh, what a joy
I did feel,
As my heart sped,

And then so did
My head

With thoughts of fancy,
And love
At first sight,
You were such a delight-

-ful being, grace and
Composure, a rock on
My shoulder, countenance
And magic

All rolled into one

For I did shelter in your
Embrace,
For many a year,
Through storms and triumphs,

All given with such grace
And composure
Even through
The most

Difficult

Exposure
To pain,

You were always
At my side, rain or
Shine,

I never did fear
You would slide away
Or hide come what may

Why?

Because you were
The first,
For all the rest
Were measured against,

My true love,
And first real friend

#poetry, #firstfriendship, #firstlove, #friends, #life, #love, #poem, #poems, #relationships, #repost, #spillwords

A Blogger’s Diary 4/4/21: On Writing, Reflecting, Travel, and Connection

This past week, I’ve been reflecting upon connection. How we are all connected to each other, yes, and to everything else we see. All of it. Quite beautiful. 

Before I write more about connection, let’s take a look at a couple reflections from this past week, and a few ideas I have for next week. Sound good? Okay, here we go.

Writing

This past week, I’ve continued to write quite a bit of poetry. It just happens like that sometimes; and, of late, there’s been much more poetry within me. Fun.

Tanka #9

The Tanka #9 poem, occurred to me one day after meditation. Well, in fact, the concepts found in the poem occur to me all the time these days. That is, existence, and the connection we all have to each other and all that surrounds us. 

We have the idea that we are separate, due to socialization and the creation of the ego-self. The separateness we feel, however, is illusory. Not real. Reality lives behind and beyond the concepts we hold of ourselves and all that we see. Beautiful.

Heed

The poem Heed, is a reflection, in part, on my sensitivity; which I’ve written about before, in the post, The Paradox and Gift of Being A Highly Sensitive Person: Clear and Strong, Not Hurt and Damaged.

I didn’t understand my own sensitivity for most of my life. In fact, my sensitivity was something I ran from in many ways. When you are a highly sensitive person and unaware, the world feels more frightening and incomprehensible. The paradox?

When you are a highly sensitive person and aware, the world feels more, well, like you, beautiful, strong, and very comprehensible. Being a highly sensitive person is a true gift.

Travel

Well, in my diary entry last week, I wrote about being on the waitlist for the vaccine; and, I now have an appointment next Friday, which means I will be fully vaccinated by early May.

Now, as many of you know, my whole family lives in Los Angeles, California, where I lived the majority of my life; and, I have a niece graduating from high school this year. The question? Yep, you guessed it; do I travel? Not sure? Me either.

Instead of thinking about the choice, I looked at flights, and found that the quarantine policy for traveling into LA County is still in place, which means that when you are traveling into the County from out of state you must quarantine for 10 days. 

I could not find a single resource on the flight booking site, nor on the CDC website about traveling once fully vaccinated. So? I called the LA County Public Health Department. The person that answered the phone was super nice, and, to my question, replied, that’s a good question. They didn’t know the answer either. 

The LA County employee that helped me is going to do some research and call me back. Thus, my choice on traveling to LA remains, for now, on hold.

Connection

This past week, we had our remote Spring Instructor Forum. These forum’s are a chance for our Community Education Instructors to get to see each other, and to interact with us. In the Community Education program we have over 200 instructors, and they live all over the area, so this is one way we stay connected.

As I prepared my small talk with the Instructors, I pondered this past year, the current year, and the upcoming year. And? What occurred to me was that, yes, so much has changed this past year, and more changes will come.

Yet, one thing that will not change is the connection we have with each other, which is why I am calling next fiscal year (2021/22), The Year of Continued Connection.

There will always be change, and, in many ways, change is wonderful. Terribly hard at times, yes, and also beautiful. 


Though we have no idea what the rest of this year will bring, we know that our relationships are strong, and that they will endure through whatever change comes our way. We have proven this this past year.

I’ve written many posts about relationships and connection. I always say, there’s nothing more important than the relationship we have with ourselves, and with those people we surround ourselves with. 

Everything starts with us. And, when you have a quality connection with yourself, you will have quality connections with others. 

I’ll leave you this week, with two quotes I shared with the Community Education Instructors this past week, as I think they speak very well to the value of connection.

“I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be… This is the interrelated structure of reality.” Martin Luther King Jr

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” Brené Brown

habits for well being

Alright, that’s all for now.

Have a beautiful coming week.

#poetry, #blogger, #bloggers-diary, #blogging, #brene-brown, #connection, #covid-19, #diary, #life, #martin-luther-king-jr, #pandemic, #poem, #poems, #reality, #reflecting, #relationships, #self-awareness, #travel, #vaccination, #writing

A Developmental Moment #6: Why Learning to Ask for Help is Necessary and Needed

Why Asking for Help is a Strength not a Weakness

The past two weeks I’ve been reflecting more upon patience and asking for help. The more people I meet, the more I realize just how important developing patience is, as is the ability to recognize when we need help.

Often people mistakenly believe that asking for help is, in some way, a demerit, or means they are in some way deficient. I would like to dispel this notion now.

When we ask for help, we are recognizing a limit, for the moment, to either what we know, or are capable of doing. It does not mean that we are deficient. In fact, it means the opposite.

Meaning that when we recognize a limit within ourselves, we immediately get to grow that limit to a new level. And, in that moment we are courageous. Many of the greatest leaders of all time recognize and celebrate this fact.

Here is a great quote from Barack Obama about asking for help.

Asking for Help 101

As I reflect upon times when asking for help was more difficult for me, I considered a few strategies that may be helpful for those that, like me, continue to see the action of asking for help as a developmental opportunity.

  • Start small – when asking for help, you can start small. Start by thinking about the areas in your work or life that you would either like to learn more about, or could use assistance with. For instance, when I first started to open up to the idea of asking for help, I would ask people to assist me with pieces of projects that fit their skill set. When you can ask someone for help, and give them a piece of work that excites or inspires them, it makes the process of asking for help a little easier.
  • Begin with people you already trust – one of the reasons I shied away from asking for help was because I was concerned about looking incompetent, which is a simple thinking error. When we don’t ask for help, and we try to do everything on our own is, in fact, when incompetence will be seen and felt. However, one way to allay the fear of looking incompetent by asking for help, is to ask someone you already know and trust.
  • Make it a healthy habit – the only way to really make asking for help stick in your life, is to do it regularly. Simply meaning, that creating a healthy habit of asking for help when needed, will continue to push you outside of your comfort zone. However, the more you ask for help, the less uncomfortable it will feel.

There are three simple strategies you can use to begin to ask people for help. Remember, we are always getting help from people around us, always. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all connected and interdependent. Yep, true.

As we have discussed, asking for help is a courageous act. Yet, people continue to see asking for help as something that is a weakness. Let’s continue to bust this myth, shall we? Good. Here we go.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

A Strength Not A Weakness

Here are a few more reasons why asking for help is needed and necessary, and should be considered a strength not a weakness.

  • Relationships – when we ask someone for help, we are acknowledging that relationships matter to us. That, in fact, we are vulnerable enough to say, “you know, I don’t know.” Important. When we are vulnerable in our relationships, and that vulnerability is reciprocated, our relationships become deeper and more meaningful.
  • Connection – when we learn to ask for help, we become more open. More open to asking people we don’t know for help. As we pursue asking people we don’t know for help, we create the opportunity to meet new people; and, to deepen our connection with our own humanity, and the humanity of others.
  • Collaboration – as we practice asking for help, we learn that this practice becomes a strength. We learn that asking for help is essential in order to really collaborate with other people. No true collaboration exists without asking for help. Simple.
  • Synergy – as we begin to collaborate more, we realize that inside of true collaboration exists a very powerful concept, called synergy. Synergy occurs when people are aligned, work together, and help each other. When you work on a team that has synergy, you are able to innovate and execute inside of any situation. Why? Because you’ve learned to ask for help. You’ve learned that asking questions, and asking for help is an essential part of being a human being.

Alright, there are a few more reasons why asking for help is needed and necessary, and why asking for help is a real strength.

If you’re not used to asking for help. Don’t worry. Try some of the strategies listed above in asking for help 101; and remember, when we ask for help, we are admitting, yes, we don’t know something, or need assistance in completing something. And, guess what?

We all don’t know many things; and, we all need assistance getting things done. We do. It’s not a demerit. It’s the opposite.

Asking for help is a sign of courage and a sign of your inner strength.

#asking-for-help, #collaboration, #connection, #courageous, #humandevelopment, #leadershipdevelopment, #organizationalculture, #relationships, #self-development, #strategy, #strength, #synergy, #teamdevelopment

The Reflection Series #8: Causal Loop 101

People, Performance, and Progress

Have you ever heard of the concept, the causal loop? Well, though I am familiar with the concepts that make up the causal loop, in regard to people and performance, I had never really conceptualized them like I am about to present them here.

It is important in any leadership, nay, any team environment to understand a very basic principle. Ready? Good. Here it is.

People and performance both matter. Seems like common sense, yes? Well, often only one side of the causal loop is focused on, which creates an imbalance in a very functional system. How does it work? Good question. Let’s take a look, shall we.

The Causal Loop Albany, Oregon 2021 Photo taken by Author

The Causal Loop

People

In any system, symmetry, or balance, is created when all the system pieces work together. With both symmetry and balance, you can move forward, or produce an output, if you like. And, like any system, when one part is dysfunctional, or is not being paid attention to, the whole system suffers. It may, for instance, still produce an output, yet there will be long-term sacrifices.

It is common for leaders to get caught up in metrics. Meaning, at some point in their tenure, and sometimes this can last the entirety of their tenure, they become obsessed with “the numbers.” It matters less what those numbers, or metrics are, what matters, is that when, as a leader, we become obsessed with results, we forget about the people that make the results happen.

Without people, results are an impossibility. Therefore, if you find yourself stuck on metrics, remember, that focusing solely on outcomes may work for a time. Really, it may. Yet, a performance only approach is not sustainable. Period.

In time, what will occur is that people will burn out, quit, and overall morale will decline. Why? Because their needs are not being prioritized. Simple.

And, like any system, if the parts of the system are not being prioritized and taken care of, the system will, in time, fail. It will always occur this way. Always.

Performance

Now, conversely if as a leader you are always focused on the people, and never focus on the performance, the system will also become dysfunctional, yet will do so in a completely different way.

When the culture of a workplace is the single focus on a team, or in a department, or in an organization or business, then leadership is missing a very important part of the balance of creating and maintaining an effective system. Performance.

Simply, there must be a focus on both people and performance for movement, and eventual traction to occur. A balance, if you like.

Maintaining Balance

It is very normal on a team, any team, for the focus to shift back and forth between the workplace culture and the people, to performance. Shifting of this kind is especially normal on new teams.

I’ve written extensively about the team I work on, and have more forthcoming, and about how the entire first year was spent developing relationships. That was necessary. As it was necessary in year 2 to develop metrics, and in year 2.5 and 3 to focus on performance and people. Both.

There is a balance that can be found, and I imagine it is different on each team, and within each organizational or business culture. Yet, a leader can find it by paying attention. Paying attention to the people and the performance.

Movement and Traction

When you have achieved balance, know that the balance will never really truly be 50% people, 50% performance. Meaning, that sometimes there will be more of a focus on people, and at times on performance. It’s really most important to develop an awareness about how the causal loop functions as a system.

If you sway one way too far, you can move back to center, and vice versa.

Now, when you’ve increased your awareness about the causal loop, and pay attention to both people and performance, guess what?

Things will begin to move, and in some cases, like ours, move so quickly and beautifully, it is quite magical. And, once things start to move, traction will occur.

With traction, you are more than moving as a team. You are moving as a team while being pointed in the exact same direction all focused on the exact same goals and outcomes. Therefore, your performance and results show this truth.

Remember, it takes time to get to a balance between a focus on people and performance; and, that it is the awareness about the importance of both that matters. And, that? Well, that’s progress. Beautiful.

#people, #balance, #causal-loop, #leadershipdevelopment, #movement, #performance, #progress, #relationships, #selfdevelopment, #teamdevelopment, #traction

Leading From Within

An Exploration of 4 Years Inside A Non Credit Department at the Local Community College

Linn-Benton Community College - Home | Facebook
Linn-Benton Community College, Albany, Oregon

As I continue to reflect upon the last 4 years in the position I hold at the College, I learn more about myself, and about being a human being on this planet.

It is funny to think that leading a team at a small community college in Albany, Oregon, would provide insights of this kind, and yet, they do. Why?

Because no matter where you lead, it’s you doing the leading, for one, and two, all contexts to some extent are the same. Yes, the challenges, people, systems, and structures, are different, yet you are there, and you are always getting to know, and developing yourself and other people. Same.

After spending time in leadership in the private sector, and now having done so in the public sector, there are several things that we will discuss in this new series that are similar; and, in some ways, mirror each other.

In this first installment in this new series, I will lay out a brief outline, if you will, of the posts to come. It will be a way to set the stage for the concepts we will discuss, unpack, and walk through together.

I’m going to frame this first entry, and the following entries, by year, which will provide us a base from which to work through the narrative to follow. Ready? Alright, here we go.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

2016-17

I remember well when the job description for the position I currently hold, Director of Extended Learning at Linn-Benton Community College, landed on my desk. I was working in a program at the college, which was struggling, and in threat of being eliminated. In fact, the program has been eliminated.

I looked over the position description, talked to my wife, friends, and family, and took a walk with a colleague, who asked me this question. Are you an operations man, Jeff? Whoa. Was I?

I was very unsure, and needed to think about it. Here are some of the considerations I made previous to applying to the position, which, I think, are quite generalizable.

  • Reflecting upon my work and academic career.
  • Reflecting upon what I would bring to the position.
  • Doing research about the position.
  • Having conversations with the hiring supervisor.
  • Having conversations with staff in the department.

There were more, bet you get the idea. It is important when making a life change to make all of the considerations and reflections we feel necessary. What happened? Well, I ended up saying this to my then wife.

If it was meant to be, we will know by getting the offer; and, if not, then not.

Of course, you know that I got the offer, and have been in the position for almost 4 years. And, what was the first year like? Hell and heaven all rolled into one. Kinda like life.

2017-18

The first year, especially the first six months, was extremely painful. One of the most painful experiences of my life. Why? Because all day every day, I was outside of my comfort zone. I was also, at this time, not treating my mind and body very kindly.

Here is what the first year looked like.

  • Breakdown central.
  • Remembering who I am.
  • Development outside of the college.
  • Life coach.
  • Breakdown to breakthrough becomes a reality.
  • Relationship development, with myself, and the team.

I say often when talking about that first year, that that was the year of relationships. Yes, we did other things, which I’ve written about in other posts, yet the basis for almost every action that year was developing deeper relationships with ourselves and each other. Painful in many ways, yes, and beautiful in many more.

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

2018-19

In the second year, things started to move. Meaning, we began to move, well, almost like a team. We were getting closer, and yet, had a lot more work to do.

Here is what the second year looked like.

  • Process and system improvement.
  • People in the right positions.
  • Vision, mission, goals.
  • Developing priorities.
  • Metrics and measurement.
  • Internal advocacy.
  • External relationships.

As we then moved into year 3, the team became more aligned, and we began to get traction in all areas of our business. As a matter of fact, in the fall of 2019 we were on pace to grow our service to the local communities by another 10%. Amazingly fun.

2019-20

Then, as we moved from fall to winter, we continued our alignment trajectory, and, of course, you all know what happened in early 2020. Yep. A pandemic.

Here is what that looked like.

  • Team alignment.
  • Gaining traction.
  • Filled classes, growth, sustainability.
  • Pandemic?
  • Reprioritizing.
  • Creating 5 new business models.
  • Community response.

Initially, we were wrestling with questions, such as could we deliver completely remote classes. At that time, we did not have remote offerings, so there were no processes or systems to draw upon. Yet, we ended up taking all 5 business models completely remote, and the community response was stellar.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

2020-21

As we entered year 4, all 5 programs were either creating and delivering remote classes and training, or would be by the fall of 2020. And, there was a lot of work to do to continue the momentum we created earlier that year.

Here is what that looked, and well, is like.

  • Creating all new processes and systems.
  • From disruption to sustainability.
  • Filled classes, growth, sustainability.
  • Engagement, relationships, conversion, process and priorities.
  • Planning for the future.
  • 10 business models?

And for next year? Well, I’ve actually been reflecting upon this question quite a bit. Someone asked me recently, what do you see for our work as we, at some point, begin to offer in-person classes again. First, I think offering in-person classes again is still in the distant future, yet I do have some thoughts.

What’s Next?

As we move into the second-half of the 2020-21 school year, we are offering new classes and training, and filling them up with local community members.

I see a 2 to 3 year slow progression from completely remote classes and training, to what I think will be a hybrid-model of both remote and in-person classes and training in the future.

What will the percent mix be of remote and in-person classes in the future? I don’t know. I do think, however, that, unlike when the pandemic started here locally, it will not be sudden. It will take time.

And, that’s okay. There is no rush. We will meet the community needs as they change. That’s part of what we do, and what we do well.

Alright, that completes the overview of the Leading From Within series. I look forward to future posts, where I can share, in more detail, how each of these years has impacted me as a leader, and, even more importantly, as a human being.

#alignment, #business, #coaching, #development, #engagement, #grwoth, #humandevelopment, #leadership, #leadingfromwithin, #ledaershipdevelopment, #metrics, #pandemic, #relationships, #strategicthinking, #systems, #teamdevelopment

A Letter

Image credit; Simona Sergi @ Unsplash

You’ve written
Before, and yet
No more,

Now,
I dangle a letter
To lure you back,

Though,
Unsure I am,
About the portended
Future

Will our existence
Be reminiscent
Of the letter
In hand?

Now a grandstand

An audience to
Itself, suspended
Mid air

A trifle, and flare,
Of opportunity
Encased in
Red

Just like the roses,
I gave you
When
We

Wed,
And you shook your
Head, in favour of a

Nod instead

And, though
I bled with anticipation

There really is
No mysterious
Cause
For my withdrawal

Only the wonder
Which I see
While in
Bed

As thoughts of
You
Give way to dreams,
Which are sometimes

Pleasant, and
At other times not
So, so,
Dear, give way to

My hearts present

Which is adorned, and
Ready to give way
While you stay
Away,

Only know I’m here

Which is where
I’ll remain
Until that day,

When you return,

And walk through that door,
Taking the note, now
Dangling no more,

And read about
The love that’s flourished
While you were gone,

Now holding hands, like
Time never elapsed,
As we await the dawn.

In response to the WDYS #65 prompt from Keep it Alive, by Sadje.

#poetry, #letter, #life, #love, #poem, #poems, #relationships, #wdys65, #wonder, #writing

A Developmental Moment #4: What Does Influence Mean and Why Does it Matter?

The Differences Between Internal and External Influence and Their Relationship to Service

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

As I was pondering the next developmental moment, and was considering influence as a topic, I had to stop, and reflect upon the past three years. What to say about influence?

Well, as with most things in my life today, an insight did occur, which will now come out through me and to you. Fun.

Alright, so influence is an important topic when you are leading teams; and, well, I do believe it is an important topic in everyone’s development, regardless of their iteration of self-development, or their interest in leadership. Why?

Because, we all will, at some point, apply for a job, need to grow our network, and, or, seek new areas of self-expression. And, to be fully self-expressed, or, rather, to self-express yourself fully, it is nice to understand the concept of influence. Let’s do just that then. Take a look at how I interpret the concept of influence.

Ready? Good. Here we go.

influence

verb /ˈɪnfluəns/ 

to have an effect on the way that someone behaves or thinks, especially by giving them an example to follow.

influence something, influence how, where, etc. to have an effect on a particular situation and the way that it develops.

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

There we go.

Alright, so here’s what we have for influence; to have an effect on a particular situation and the way it develops, or the way that someone behaves or thinks, especially in regard to providing them an example to follow.

Now let’s discuss influence in two different ways. Let’s take a look at internal influence, and external influence. Both are important, and both are needed. Here we go.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Internal Influence

When I write the phrase internal influence, I am referring to your influence within the business, organization, or institution in which you work.

Understanding influence as an opportunity to build cultural capital inside of the business, organization, or institution in which you work is important for a leader to consider. If your influence wanes, it may be hard, for example, to garner political support on a project your team is working on.

However, if your influence is strong, or even adequate, garnering support will be easier. Pretty simple.

What I’ve found to be most true about internal influence is that being who you really are is of utmost importance. Meaning, to be the authentic leader you know yourself to be.

Yes, we all have to make concessions at times, and, yet, we all have the creative power to effect change. And, this is true, even when our influence is bourgeoning.

A quick aside. Influence, like most things in life, lives along a spectrum. Meaning, that influence is not binary. You gain influence over time; and, it takes time.

Maybe you’re asking yourself, okay, well, how do we create influence, and effect change. Here are a few important considerations for those interested in increasing their internal influence.

  1. Relationships – as I’ve written many times, everything starts with relationships. The one we have with ourselves, yes, and then with everyone else. Being in a relationship means having easy and difficult conversations. Remembering this truth is important in leadership.
  2. Questions – asking questions is always an important step in creating influence. Often, people shy away from asking the tough questions. Ask them. It is important to your own development, and that of your teams.
  3. Creativity – being open, flexible, and innovative, is an important aspect of influencing the future. Without creativity, the past is the future, a stamped reproduction. Thus, being open to new ideas, those from your peers, and your team is essential.
  4. Integrity – doing what we say we are going to do is important to all aspects of our lives, and there is no exception in creating influence. If we are unable to make it to a meeting, or are going to be late, communicate. Open communication ensures that we are always keeping everyone in the conversation, and keeping our integrity intact.
  5. Authenticity – be who you are. You are just as you are supposed to be, so embrace your unique-self, and let that shine. There is only one you, which means there’s not another person on the planet that can create influence, or anything else for that matter, just like you. When we are authentic, people know, and respect our truth. And, if they don’t? Remember, that’s their issue. Not yours. Be who you are.

Alright, there are five examples, and considerations for you, on how to create influence within a business, organization, or institution. Remember, influence takes time to cultivate. It’s kind of like gardening. You must water your relationships, questions, creativity, integrity, and authenticity, and, when you do, you will see your influence grow.

Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

External Influence

External influence is similar to internal influence, and yet, also different. You can use the five considerations aforementioned with those clients, students, or customers, that are external to your business, organization, or institution. And?

There are a couple more strategies for you to consider. Here we go.

  1. Engagement – being fully engaged at all times with those you serve is important. Meaning, that it is important to create an engagement system that you can rely upon, which will ensure your engagement is, well, like a drum beat. Your clients, students, or customers need to rely upon your engagement pattern. I write about developing my LinkedIn engagement system in the post, A Blogger’s Diary 12/27/20: On Writing, Goal-Setting, Systems, and the Holidays, which can serve as one of many examples to draw upon.
  2. Consistency – a drum beat, or pattern, on which your clients, students, or customers can rely. Important. There are lots of ways to ensure you stay on track with your engagement. You can calendar your engagements, enter them into a project management software system, or keep them in a planner. The tool matters far less, than the output of making sure to engage regularly and consistently.
  3. Reciprocity – relationships are built upon many things, and reciprocity is one. Being in relationships means sharing yourself with your clients, students, or customers. And doing so in a genuine way. Remember, people know when we are inauthentic. They can see, hear, and feel it. Just be who you are, and reciprocate.
  4. Value – our clients, students, or customers want to know they are valued. They would like value, and to know they are valued. Both. Providing value comes in many forms, and it’s not always, actually rarely, monetary. It’s about being there for your clients, students, or customers. Taking care of them, treating them with kindness, and valuing their needs.
  5. Service – in the end, it’s all about service. All of it. The service we give ourselves, and the service we give out to our clients, students, or customers. When we value our service, we are always looking for, and creating, new ways to serve. Whether that is through a new business model, a new product, or a new service. Really. Ultimately, it’s about understanding the need, reflecting on that need, and creating a bridge for that need.

Internal and external influence matter. It’s not about ego. We are leaving ego at the door. It’s about service. About taking care of people. Finding out what they need, and working with them to fill that need.

When we are in relationship with people, we are in a unique position to serve.

And, as we continue to serve, our influence grows. Influence grows as we grow and deepen our relationships. The relationships we have with those we serve. Ultimately, it’s our peers, teams, clients, students, and customers that let us know about our influence.

When we have movement in our relationships, we can see it and feel it; and, when we have traction, we know, because reciprocity flourishes as we enter into new relationships each day. And, as we enter into more relationships, our service grows; and, yes, we also grow. Fun.

#authenticity, #consistency, #creativity, #development, #developmentalmoment, #engagement, #externalinfluence, #influence, #integrity, #internalinfluence, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #questions, #reciprocity, #relationships, #self-development, #service, #value

The Sunshine Blogger Award

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img-3640.jpg
Corvallis, Oregon Summer 2020

Well, I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a recent nomination for the Sunshine Blogger Award, and, well, I’m quite honored. I would like to thank Krishna, of LIGHT+LOVE 🙂, for the lovely nomination. If you’ve not done so, please visit Krishna’s sight. It is truly of light and love. Thank you again, dear, Krishna.

Alright, so how about some questions. Ready? Good. Here we go.

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

1. What are your thoughts about Christmas?

As many of you know, I grew up in Los Angeles, and am from a family that did celebrate Christmas every year. It was quite a magical time, the fall season as it moved into Autumn, and then into winter. Which, of course, is always mild in LA. As a matter of fact, last year on Christmas day it was supposed to be over 90 degrees. Very warm indeed for December.

Not so in the Pacific Northwestern part of the United States where I currently live. Nope. Rainy, cold, and, yep, sometimes snow. Like when I was a child, I still do love the holiday season, of which Christmas is one.

2. What are your stress busters?

I have three.

  • Meditation
  • Walking
  • Cardio

As I’ve written about before, meditation is, well, has been for me, transformational in my life. I started three years ago, which at that time was simply called breathing, because I could not sit still long enough to meditate proper. And, you know, like everything, it’s about the practice. Setting your intention to do something, and sticking with it. 5 minutes became 10, and so on to today.

I don’t walk as much in the winter as it is so cold and rainy, yet do try and get out as often as possible. Cardio as often as needed. Simply meaning maybe once or twice a week.

Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash

3. How is your relationship with God?

It is excellent. The Divine shows up everywhere today. As I wrote about in one of my recent poems, it is really about connection.

4. How many languages do you understand, and which are they?

English, and I can understand and speak some Spanish. Alas, I have much work to do in this area, and am actually continuing my study of Spanish now.

Photo by Rampal Singh on Unsplash

5. Name your 3 favorite films.

Hm. This one is harder. Alright, I’m going to name three films I enjoy, though I cannot really say if they are my favorites, per say.

  1. On the Basis of Sex
  2. Toy Story
  3. Dangal

6. How have you spent your leisure time?

Most of my leisure time is spent writing. I also work a lot, so with work and writing, there is not a lot of time leftover. However when time is created, I do enjoy walking, playing golf, seeing my two boys, talking with my friends and family, reading, of course, and watching television a little each day.

Photo by Ravi Pinisetti on Unsplash

7. Do you enjoy solitude or do you always need someone to be with you?

I once always needed someone to be with me. Went hand-in-hand with not being able to sit still for more than a few minutes. Not so today. Though on the bell curve, I would place myself on the downslope towards extroversion, I love my introverted self, and have a large inner-life.

8. What do you hold most important in life?

My connection with the Divine and with my community, colleagues, coworkers, family, and friends. Yes, including all of you!

Photo by Chandan Chaurasia on Unsplash

9. What will you do when you feel sad or clueless in life?

I spent a lot of years, most of my adulthood, really, running from my feelings. Not so today. When I am sad, I let the sadness come. If I’m not in a location where that is appropriate, I take the time needed to be with that sadness, or hold it only until I am in a space where I can cry as needed. Feels so much better to cry as needed, than to hold all of that sadness inside.

When I am clueless? Hm. I don’t ever really feel clueless. I am often unsure. I think feeling unsure is very normal. When we are comfortable being unsure, which can be uncomfortable, we are more open to all that life can bring our way. I work on a highly innovative team, and in highly creative spaces, there is a lot of unknown. I find the unknown, yes, at times, uncomfortable, and also quite exquisite

10. Do you believe in miracles? Briefly explain one please.

Oh, yes, for sure. I believe everything I see and feel is a miracle. The world is quite wondrous, beautiful, and amazing. I love all of it. It is a miracle to me as I sit here typing responses to these lovely questions, listening to some wonderful classical music, and the sun, just a moment ago, was shining right on my keyboard and monitor as I continue to write about the Sunshine Blogger Award. Pretty miraculous.

Photo by Rampal Singh on Unsplash

11. Do you love cartoons? Which is your favorite?

I once loved cartoons. I don’t know that I love them today. Not sure I’ve given it much thought. What I can say is that I’m old enough to remember very old cartoons, like the Flintstones and the Jetsons, and when Pixar started making the most amazing 3D cartoons ever. Was astonishing to me at the time. I still find the technology involved in cartoon-making extraordinary.

Alright, there we go. 11 questions, 11 answers. That was fun. Thanks again, Krishna for the lovely nomination.

Now for my nominations. Instead of 11 more, well, I’m going to nominate all of you. Why? Because I truly find you all inspiring. Seriously. As I’ve mentioned many times, I have as much fun reading your blog’s as I do writing mine.

And now? How about a sunshine poem to end this post? Okay, good. Here we go.

Sunshine

Does envelop me
In a cloud of heavenly
Delight, growing up in your
Embrace

Was, and still is,
One of my favorite sights

Dawn breaking with
Such anticipation, of
Your reception to my
Hallowed participation

In your majestic creation,

And, each day
You come again,
Showing me the resilience
Of your aurora

Which casts life-giving
Sustenance
To all of the fauna,
And flora

I greet thee with my thanks,
And welcome you back
Again and again, friend,

For you’re the sun,
Shining bright, and are
Absolutely one of the best
Parts of my life

Have a very sunshiny holiday, everyone.

#cartoons, #christmas, #emotionalintelligence, #films, #languages, #leisuretime, #relationships, #solitude, #stress-busters, #sunshinebloggeraward, #thedivine

A Blogger’s Diary 12/5/20: On Writing, Books, 300 Followers, and Connection and Communication

Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

Well, like many places around the globe, cases in Oregon are approaching an all-time high. Difficult. Yet, it is the current reality. For now.

And, as I wrote about in a previous entry, the time I have to write is less today than it once was. Partly due to work, which continues to expand as we serve more and more people with remote education. Lovely.

Though there was less time, I did write quite a bit of poetry this past week. Even submitted a couple to two other national publications, just for fun! Right, so here’s what that looked like.

Writing

  1. Hand-in-Hand
  2. A Dream
  3. Sorrow
  4. Becoming
  5. Sensitive
  6. A Developmental Moment #1: Inspiration
  7. Run

Wow, that was fun. Fun to think about, reflect upon, and write. So much Fun. And this coming week?

Well, I am currently working on three more poems, a new entry for the reflection series, the second installment in the leadership series, and a new developmental moment article. And, you all know that as new insights occur, well, those will also be considered and written about. Happens every week.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

Books

Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, by Sri Ramana Maharshi

What a powerful book. In fact, it is so powerful, I’ve purchased my own copy, which has arrived, so I can read it again. I also watched a great documentary about Ramana last week, called Arunachala Shiva, The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, which I highly recommend. And, along the way?

Well, I fell in love with a mountain. Arunachala. My life coach spent 5 years at the Ashram at Arunachala, which I had no idea about until yesterday; and when we talked, we talked about how drawn I am to that mountain. I will find myself there in the future. That is known. The book?

I may have more on that in the future. Now? I am taking it all in, reflecting, and meditating upon it. That’s about it for now.

Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman

An excellent read. About? Yep. I believe the book is about compassion, and humanity’s resiliency. Meaning, whether we are aware of it or not, we know far less than is knowable, and, well, quite frankly, that can be painful.

Yet, inside an awareness that there is much more to know about, than we know, there is also beauty, and a joy that comes from this gift. Both pain and joy are possible. It really depends on which one we choose.

Photo by Howie R on Unsplash

300 Followers

Wait, what?! Yep! WOW. I would just like to say two things. Ready? Good. Here we go.

I appreciate you. I appreciate you liking my work, commenting on posts, and supporting me on a regular basis. We’ve had some excellent engagements and conversations. Know that you are always appreciated. Always.

I also want to thank each of you for the lovely community that has developed, and that I have so graciously been welcomed into. Absolutely wonderful. I am so grateful for all of you. I love reading your work. You are all so inspirational and talented.

Photo by K8 on Unsplash

Connection and Communication

This past week, I’ve been very present to connection and communication. Yep, first with the connection and communication I have with myself, and then with everyone else. and then? Yep. The connection and communication I see that everyone else has with everyone else. Does that make sense? Good.

We can in fact call this the connection and communication system, which I’ve also called the relationship system. They are one and the same. It looks like this.

Why am I present to connection and communication this week? Good question.

Mainly because connecting and communicating is harder today. Yet, it is a paradox though. Watch.

Though you may be thinking, well, that doesn’t make sense because technology bridges connection and communication. Yes, this is true. However, what’s often missing is the feeling part.

Let us say that we are also a system made up of the following. Thinking, feeling, speaking, and acting. Well, when you are connecting and communicating almost exclusively through technology, not in-person, the feeling part of connecting and communicating is much harder to manage. It just is. And?

Well, if we are unaware, the connection you have with that person, or people, may become disconnected. Or, rather, less connected. Meaning that connection and communication live along a spectrum, so it’s not connected or disconnected, there are subtle variations.

And, knowing about these variations is important. Sensing them, knowing about them, and then creating contexts to talk about them. Important for our friendships, familial relationships, work relationships, and, well, all relationships. Important.

Alright, before I go, one question.

  • What are some things you’ve done to remain connected and communicative with those you are in relationship with?

I wish you a lovely coming week. Please stay healthy and well.

#300followers, #bloggersdiary, #communication, #connection, #onblogging, #onwriting, #pandemic, #poems, #relationships