If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

Over the past few weeks, several friends recommended that I watch ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’.  I had honestly never heard of it before, but I’ve learned to listen when something comes across my path over and over.  So, last night I sat down and watched it and I have to say, I loved it!  It’s well done and has lots of great messages to share.  One line was used a number of times throughout the film and it really stuck with me – “Everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end.”

What a great quote!  It speaks to the optimist in me and reminds me of something that has been a driving force in my life – to keep moving forward, no matter what.  It is often difficult for many of us to see or even believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  We get stuck in our current circumstances and spend far too much time and energy trying to figure out what we could have done differently to not end up where we are.

The truth is we all are being our very best in every moment.  Where you are right now is less about one specific event or incident and more about every moment in your life leading you to this one.  It isn’t good or bad, it just is and spending your energy trying to analyze and isolate that one thing that you could have done differently to possibly change your situation isn’t going to help.  It won’t help because it won’t do the one thing that you want it to do – change where you are right now.

That doesn’t mean that it isn’t okay to learn from what we perceive as mistakes we’ve made – that’s how we grow.  But dwelling on them won’t do anything to change the past.  What it will do is steal the joy you could have right now and after all, right now is all we have.  The really good news is that your current circumstances will change, that’s guaranteed.  How things change and where that leads you are really up to you and what you decide to do with this moment, right here, right now.  That’s all you have to figure out and trust that if you aren’t where you want to be, you won’t be here for long.  And remember, everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end.

SoulWork: Give the gift of feedback!

Feedback is one of those words that is often overused, yet seldom practiced.  For many of us, we immediately associate feedback with someone telling us that we’ve done something wrong.  That’s probably because in the rare instances that someone actually makes the effort to give us feedback, it’s often negative or at least something that we perceive as negative.  Unfortunately, what most of us fail to realize is that feedback is always positive if it is delivered with sensitivity and authenticity.

As leaders, feedback is probably one of the most important things that we can do for the people we work with.  I know that for me personally, feedback is an invaluable tool to help me recognize behaviors that hide in my ‘blind spots’.  Some of those behaviors are good things and recognizing them helps me find ways to share them more consciously.  On the other hand, some of them can detract from my contributions and are incredible opportunities for me to grow.  Either way, I look at feedback as a way to see part of myself in a new way.

We all have talents that we bring to the world and to our work.  Finding those and the best way to share them is a lifelong journey and the feedback we receive along the way can help find those course corrections that keep us on our path.  If the feedback you’re receiving isn’t something you want or expect to hear, it probably won’t feel good in that moment.  I’ve found that the key for me to receive feedback is to first listen and then allow any initial reaction to subside.  When I’m in a peaceful place, I’m far more likely to make good choices about what I believe to be true.  It’s important to remember, you always have power to choose how you feel and how you react.  If someone gives you feedback that you don’t feel in your gut to be valid or does it in a mean-spirited way, you can choose to let it go.  The choice is always yours.

The other side of the coin, giving feedback in a way that is open, honest and motivated by positive intention can not only be a gift, but a true act of service.  The key to giving feedback is to deliver it and then let go of the outcome.  You get to make the choices on whether you give the feedback and how you deliver it.  What the receiver does with it is up to them.  Far too many leaders expect and even demand that anything they say will result in some change on the other person’s part.  Your job is to deliver the message and what happens after that is not up to you.

Our SoulWork for the week is to think about the opportunities that we have to share genuine feedback with those around us and then act on those that feel right to you.  Remember that being open and honest with yourself and those around you is the key and that feedback is a gift when that is our intention.

What Success Is.

I’m sure many of you have seen the image below that compares what we think success looks like and what it really is.  I saw this making its rounds the past few weeks on various social media forums and I have to say, I don’t really like it.  The picture tells me that either way you look at it, you have to have upward mobility be considered successful.  Plus, the arrows both point off the chart, implying that success will always be out somewhere ‘out there’ that has to be chased, but never caught.

SuccessSince this didn’t really feel true to me, I thought I’d create my own little graphic.  To me success is about being happy, not just the pursuit of something that will make me happy when I get it.  Too many people I know spend their lives chasing the thing that will ‘finally’ allow them to be happy.  For some it’s losing that last 20 lbs, finding their soulmate, that next higher title or position or a certain amount of financial abundance.  It’s great to have goals and things that you strive for, but don’t give away the happiness you can have right now just because those things haven’t arrived yet.  You can be successful right now, in this moment, if you choose to be.  You decide what success is and if you choose to feel successful, then you are!  Success_True

SoulWork: Say Please, Say Thank You!

As another Monday rolls around, I’m ready to start off the week by adding a touch of authenticity to a few simple words – saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’.  Most of us use these phrases every day, but I wonder how much of that is truly heartfelt.  I was taught as a young child to say ‘Please’ when asking for something, and ‘Thank You’ when someone does something for you.  It was common courtesy and I have to admit, I usually don’t think that much about it.

This week, I’m going to give myself the challenge of actually being present when I use these expressions.  I’ll use them when I really want to express the sentiment, and not just say the words out of a sense of obligation or ‘political correctness’.  Common courtesy is a great idea, but I think it loses something when there isn’t real intention behind it.  We call them expressions because they are intended to express a genuine emotion, but so often at work we use them without thinking, much less feeling.

So think about your intention when writing or saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’.  Very likely we all define these words differently, but the definition is less important that being mindful of that intention.  For me, ‘Please’ implies a feeling of respect toward the person that I’m making a request – and that I’m making a request, not a command.  ‘Thank You’ is most often purely an expression of gratitude and appreciation.  Simple words, but potentially powerful when they are genuine and sincere.

That’s our SoulWork for the week!  Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I really mean it!

Are you owning or just renting your career?

Why do you go to work?  It’s not a question we often ask ourselves, at least I can’t say that I do.  For many of us we do it because that’s what is expected of us or we need that paycheck or any number of very practical reasons.  But I couldn’t help but wonder today, ‘How did I get here?’.

At first I thought the answer was an easy on – I’m here because of all of the many decisions, big or small, that I’ve made throughout my life.  They’ve led me to this moment, working for this company in this particular role.  But that didn’t feel quite right to me.  As I looked back over my professional life, I’m afraid that I’ve often made decisions trying to control or in reaction to someone or something around me.  If I’m really honest with myself, I’m probably where I am by accident rather than intention.  That doesn’t mean that I haven’t worked hard, grown in knowledge and experience and even ‘moved up’.   It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person or a failure.  It does mean that it’s time for a change.

I think I’ve been ‘renting’ my career rather than ‘owning’ it.  What that means to me is that I’ve allowed people or events to fuel my emotions and drive my decisions.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made every decision and own the consequences of each of them, but I haven’t always made choices for the right reasons.

It’s very often too easy to place blame or justification for what do in the words or actions of others.  When we do that, we let go of our power to own our careers, and our lives.  Ask yourself a few questions…

  • Do you worry about who gets promoted around you?
  • Do you get upset when you find out that someone has a higher salary than you do?
  • Do you spend time trying to decipher intent behind a comment or in an email?

These are just a few examples of the behaviors that may indicate that you’re a ‘renter’.  I know I’ve fallen into these traps before and I would suspect that many of you have too.  When we are consumed with what happens with the people around us, how we perceive they think of us and what they have that we may not, we lose focus on what really matters, ourselves.  We give everyone around us control over how we feel and react.

Ultimately, you have control over yourself and nothing else.  Realizing that can make all the difference in your life – I know it has in mine.  When we stop trying to control everything that happens around us and take control of our own words and actions, you send a message to your Soul that says you are really ready to live your own life.  You’re ready to become an ‘owner’, not of anyone or anything around you, but of you.

Bring your Soul to work day!

Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but I’m about to open up a conversation about the Soul in the workplace.  I’m not talking about any particular definition of the Soul.  That definition is something that each of us comes to in our own way, and at least for me, has evolved as I have grown.  But I am talking about that part of each of us that goes beyond where we live, our family, our friends and yes, even our jobs and titles.  For me, it is the part of me that knows right from wrong.  It speaks to me through that little voice of intuition, gently nudging me in one direction or another.  It doesn’t judge me, is always forgiving and is always there when I need it.  It is the core of ‘me’ and I believe, is of you too.

But is that a conversation that is relevant in the professional world?  I know it’s a little scary for me because we’re not supposed to talk about (or even have) feelings at work – much less talk about our Souls.  But, as I approach what will likely be the mid-point of my working life, I’m discovering a whole new way of thinking about who I am professionally.  I am finding that the things that have driven me for the past few decades no long seem like they’re enough or even relevant to who I am becoming.  There is a part of me that is ready to let my soul, that real, authentic part of me shine through.  That little voice is telling me that I’m ready for this journey, and for this conversation.

I hope you are too and that you’ll join me on the way!