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Month: October 2019

FORGET “BALANCE” (MOVE THE WHOLE THING)

FORGET “BALANCE” (MOVE THE WHOLE THING)

Here’s another Un-Seeing Exercise.

It’s a well-worn cliché.  We have all been told (and told ourselves and told each other) that we need to find our balance between life and work.

[Cue the chorus of moans and groans, guys.]

Comes now this YouTube video of a 2017 TEDxGustavusAdolphusCollege talk featuring studio503 founder and CEO Michael Walters, “The Fallacy of Work/Life Balance.”

Michael Walters is the head guy of a company that helps other businesses — big and small — all over the world do their business better.

His company’s Team Studio503 helps these businesses develop systems that help the corporations and smaller companies manage the processes that take them from the production of a product to its point of sale.

This is called “Strategic Account Management” (SAM) and studio503 is really good at it.

The TEDxTalk video of Walters’ presentation is a mind-boggle.  Walters takes the analogy about life and work being a balance and he breaks it down.

In order to make a balance, you need a scale – a beam and a fulcrum.  When you’re measuring heavy things, the scale has to be a pretty sturdy thing.

weigh-scale
“Weigh Scale” by haven’t the slightest via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

THE PROBLEM WITH BALANCING IT ALL

In another post, I’ve explored the difficulties of finding your own balance while trying to stand like that.

Click here for that:

click-here

However, in this video, Walters does a better job.  He points out the fatal flaw in putting your focus on work/life balance:  Balance scales have to stand in one place.  They do not move; they are not supposed to.

In Walters’ analogy, YOU are the balance scale.

balance
“Balance” by Hans Splinter via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
What that tells me is that when you try to solve your problem of major Life Overwhelm by focusing on balance, the first requirement is to just stand (or hang) there fixedly.

And where are you standing?  You are standing in Suck.

Ummm…

You are standing very firmly in Suck and while you fool around with the balance mind-games, you have to STAY stuck in Suck.

Do you see where this is taking us?

[Try “Nowhere.”]

THE TROUBLE WITH “SEPARATE”

The other interesting thing about the balance mindset is that you absolutely need to have two things to balance.  There can be no “balance” if there is only one thing.

A focus on the work-life balance means that you have to separate work from all the rest of your life and turn them into unconnected, separated things.

The key thing here is the word “separate.”  In Real Life, there is no “separate.”  Your work and all the rest of your life are all interconnected.

You’ve got just as many interconnected parts as a tree.  Chopping limbs off a tree willy-nilly can make for really ugly trees.  Chopping parts off YOU mostly leads to a lot of pain and suffering.

 

 

 

 

tree-butcher-at-work
“Tree butcher at work” by Stuart Grot via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Not good.

WORKING WITH THE INTERCONNECTEDNESS OF YOU

So, what happens if you accept that your whole life – work included – is one whole thing?

What happens if you choose to see and own all of the parts of your life, knowing that how you choose to move through one part of your life just naturally affects all of your life?

balance
“Balance” via Flickr by Scott Robinson [CC BY 2.0]
Well, Walters points out four benefits that accrue to you if you dump the balance mindset.

  • You get Grace. Instead of moving all hurky-jerky awkward or turning robotic, you flow through life like a dancer or gymnast.

Your move facilitates your next move and then the next more easily and it all becomes a grand choreography as you realize your own purposes and help others towards their own.

There’s less stressing over the all of everything.  You’re too busy immersed in the living of your life to spend much time analyzing it all into the ground and exhausting yourself tweaking every little part of it, trying to get it “right.”

Other people are likely to find it beneficial being around you.  (Have you ever noticed how soothing it is to be around someone who’s calm and together?)

The bonus to that last is that because they’re relaxed around you, you won’t have to keep watching these other people to make sure the parts that keep flying off them don’t whack you upside the head and make you dizzy.

  • You get Awareness. Just accepting and knowing that everything is interconnected, you can see how any choice you might make will affect the other parts of life and the world around you.

Your awareness of the different choices you can make and how each option might affect the rest of your life has got to be a most valuable asset.  With that awareness and knowing what your purposes are, you get to be in control.  You can actually choose how you are going to move next.

  • You get Momentum. If everything in your life is interconnected, then making a move in one part of your life that pushes that part forward can help or hinder how everything else in your life rolls along as well.

Choosing and then making whatever move works for you starts the ball rolling – and it goes.  Once it’s going, it keeps on going (and so do you) in the direction in which you push the durned thing and, of course, always factoring in stuff like roadblocks, potholes and detours.

Walters explains the momentum thing very well using a giant ball filled with smaller ones.  You can imagine how pushing the big ball around means that it takes all the littler ones inside it in the same direction.

If you’re no longer focused on standing still and achieving balance, then you get to “play ball.”

All you have to do is take one step.  Then you take another step, and so on.

  • You get Empowerment. All the other stuff – grace, awareness, and momentum – builds up to giving you the space and the time you need to make the moves you want to make.

 That’s called “empowerment.”

How cool is that?

HOW TO LEARN TO DANCE

One idea and one TEDTalk video is not going to help you figure out how to get from stuck to dancing in the flow.  Fortunately, a whole bunch of wise guys down through the ages have worked on this concept of the interconnectedness of life.

balance
“Balance” by Dave Soldano via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
One book you might want to tap into is Laurence G. Boldt’s THE TAO OF ABUNDANCE:  Eight Ancient Principles for Abundant Living.   My own copy of the book is a lot shopworn.  I’ve had it since it was published in 1999.

It includes all kinds of information about ancient wisdoms as well as exercises to stretch your mind and to help you understand how to see the world and yourself as one whole thing that’s “more than the sum of its parts” (as that old Greek wise-guy Aristotle famously said).

Boldt is a career consultant and lifetime student of Eastern philosophies.  He’s written a bunch of books that help people apply the insights he’s gained from his studies to the everyday world and to the building of dreams.

His other offerings are ZEN AND THE ART OF MAKING A LIVING:  A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design (1993), HOW TO FIND THE WORK YOU LOVE (1996), ZEN SOUP (1997) and HOW TO BE, DO AND HAVE ANYTHING:  A Practical Guide to Creative Empowerment (2001).

inevitable-egg-balance
“Inevitable Egg Balance” by Clint Budd via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Boldt even has a website, “EmpowerYOU.com” that you might want to check out.

Here’s a poem:


DIALOGUE BETWEEN INNER SELVES

I am longing to soar

To fly away from all

The endless to-ing and fro-ing,

The ebb and flow of

Tic-toc-tic-toc-ticking ordinary.

I am yearning for open sky

Over beauteous dreamscapes of glories.

But, here I am instead,

Trudge-trudge-trudging

Through the mud and the blood and the beer.

 

Oh…right!

Didja forget?

You gave UP beer!

Dummy!

 

AHEM….

I am wanting to escape

From toiling after spoils,

All the posturing and posing,

All the climbing,

All the striving….

 

Ya know, I have to wonder:

Why do they call what you win “spoils”?

That doesn’t sound too enticing!

 

HARRUMPH!

I am dreaming of a reprieve

From all the slings and arrows

Of the world,

The endless wants and needs

That push at me are….

 

This is kinda dumb.

It really seems to me

That if you’re gonna walk

Then you should just get on with it.

What the heck is with all this talk-talk-talking?

Moaning and groaning ‘bout

How it is REALLY ha-a-ard

And how it just ain’t any kind of fair

Don’t get you there.

 

OOGH!

(Sigh!)

I am needing….

 

What you really need, babe,

Is to quit’cher whining….

 

Can we go now?

By Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Balancing” by Ikhlasul Amal via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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DO WHAT COMES NATURALLY (CREATIVITY = ANTICIPATION + CHOICE)

DO WHAT COMES NATURALLY (CREATIVITY = ANTICIPATION + CHOICE)

All the wise guys say it:  Creativity is a human birthright.

As long as you’re human, they say, you have the capacity to “consciously relate and participate in the world” and, out of that, you make stuff that affects the world and everything and everyone around you.

Even the guys in lab coats agree.  The main thing that distinguishes us humans from the other critters wandering around on the planet is our jones for seeing and solving problems.

We stumble upon a problem and we fiddle with it.

We connect ideas, or we disconnect and rearrange them.  We pile these ideas all up.  We let them moosh together, marinate and interact with each other and…and…

And voilà:  A new possibility or even a solution glimmers out at us.

If we scope it out and scoop it up, we might even come up with a new something that actually works to mitigate or to resolve the problem we started with.

That’s “creativity” in a nutshell.

A YouTube video, ”Everybody Is Creative – How to use your natural creativity,” touches on this concept and explains the difference between basic “creativity” and “being artistic.”  It was published in 2015 by Aussie life coach Blair Robinson.

It’s as natural for humans to create objects and mind-constructs, situations and solutions as it is for birds to fly or fish to swim.  We all do it.  Every day.

Many native peoples don’t even have a word in their own language for the act of creating.  At least, they don’t have one that is as loaded with the kind of baggage we post-modern sorts have piled on our C-word.

For many indigenous peoples, creativity is just one more part of being alive and one more way of getting to gracefulness.

Hawaiians, for example, call creative endeavors “hana” which means “work”.  To create is to “ho’okumu”, “to begin.”

Behind that bit of naming is an understanding that if you know where you are right now and you can clearly see your anticipated destination, then you will have a better idea of what you need to do to get there.

builder
“Builder” by Kandukuru Nagarjun via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]
By tapping into your natural inherent creative abilities, the ubiquitous “They” will tell you, you will be able to figure out the moves you need to make in order to get to where you want to be.

SO, IF CREATIVITY IS A NATURAL HUMAN TRAIT, WHY DOESN’T IT COME EASY?

Many folks who study and think on these things have figured out that we humans are all hardwired more or less the same. We come into the world carrying a toolbox with the same basic tools – a body, a mind, and a spirit.

The quality of the tools in each of our toolboxes may differ, of course.  Many of the tools in our individual toolboxes were inherited from the long, long lines of different ancestors we each have.

tools
“Tools” by John Griffith via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
The thing about those tools is that each of us also has the innate ability to upgrade the tools we start with and to develop more effective ways to use them.

Some of us become particularly successful at solving the problems we encounter.  Others of us have a tendency to get all tangled up in them.

For those of us who belong in the latter group, it does not help us to be told that we are the “creators of our own lives.”  (Instead of being an uplifting sort of mantra, this universal wisdom could become a mantle of defeat instead.)

Take, for example, this truly lovely “Motivational Minute,” a YouTube video published in 2018 by Your World Within that reminds you that “you are not your past.”

The truth encapsulated in this YouTube video is the very real effect that brooding on your past mistakes and missteps can have on you when you’re trying to transform your way of walking through the world.

depleted-prayer-teleportation-devices
“Depleted Prayer Teleportation Devices” by Wayne S. Grazio [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Creativity (as well as the failure to tap into it), when you come right down to it, actually grows out of our very human tendency to anticipate and to think on all of the possible outcomes in any situation we happen to be facing.

And, very often, if we’ve been less than successful at solving the problems we’ve faced in the past, then we may also develop a tendency to expect that we will not be quite as successful as we would like at solving the problems we now face.

GETTING PAST YOUR PAST

Psychologist Jennice Vilhauer, is the author of THINK FORWARD TO THRIVE:  How to Use the Mind’s Power of Anticipation to Transcend Your Past and Transform Your Life.

Vilhauer’s career has been spent exploring why some people are able to use the human ability to anticipate outcomes to transcend their current situations and resolve chronic problems in their lives while others are not.

This research resulted in her creating Future Directed Therapy, a psychological intervention technique that has been used successfully to treat depression.

The technique was built on a very simple strategy:  developing an awareness of the effect your past has had on the expectations you currently hold and making appropriate choices now that can lead to a more satisfying future.

Vilhauer’s information-packed book includes step-by-step exercises that can help you apply the results of her years of study and clinical research findings.

The book was first published in 2013.  The exercises address issues that are a part of our pop-psychology lexicon.  They are designed to help you do the following:

  • Overcome negative emotions
  • Identify what you want in life
  • Transform limiting beliefs
  • Take action
  • Live ready for success

It’s that last one — the one that very often gets ignored — that the good doctor addresses in this 2015 TEDxPeachtree Talk, “Why You Don’t Get What You Want; It’s Not What You Expect.”

According to her, the reason why so many of us get tangled up is our automatic tendency to use the past to predict the future.

Very often thinking on the things that happened in the past can cause you to focus too much on what can go wrong instead of considering what could go right.

The irony of this is that, for real, what has happened in the past is just one possible outcome out of all the ones that could have happened.  That is something you tend to forget when you remember and rehash how you messed it up the last time you tried something.

You can, indeed, do things differently – if you are prepared to look at other possible outcomes than the ones that happened before.

Vilhauer points out that if you are aware of your expectations in a situation, then you are better able to use your conscious mind to override this automatic tendency to expect your future to be the same as your past.

You can, instead, make your own plan for creating a different future outcome.  You can live “ready for success” rather than continue to live in anticipation of yet another failure.

builder
“Builder” by Calvin Hsu via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

THREE SIMPLE QUESTIONS

Vilhauer says there are three simple questions you can ask yourself.  (Your answers to these questions will help you figure out what moves you need to take.)

  1. How is what I am expecting making me feel?
  2. What would I like to happen instead?
  3. What do I need to do to make what I want happen?

Then, of course, you have to go do the steps.

Looking at the expectations you hold about any situation you are facing and then figuring out how to create a different outcome for yourself than what has happened in your past seems to me to be a most useful strategy.

It’s such a simple (but not easy) change of perspective:  If you don’t like where the trails and byways and highways you’ve followed before took you, why not try a different one?

future-star
“Future Star” by Wendy via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
Here’s a poem….


YOU CAN ONLY ACCEPT

Surrender, they say,

Is the key to survival.

 

And even though you feel like

You are running through some jungle

Dodging bullets and bombs,

The real is that it probably is not so.

 

Life-It’s-Own-Self does not have to be a war.

It is not this one thing or that.

 

Life is only choices,

And no matter how others jostle

To make room for their own dreams,

Their getting theirs does not mean

You must give up yours.

 

Surrender is the first step to

Making more room.

 

Maybe you don’t know.

Maybe nobody told you:

All dreams and schemes

Can co-exist if the

Space is big enough.

 

Mind can contain mountains.

Heart can embrace the world.

Spirit can encompass it all.

These things are insubstantial

And they are most elastic.

 

It’s you who sets the limits.

It’s you who lets your past

Define your future.

 

Get over it.

By Netta Kanoho

Header Photo credit:  “Future” by Max Boschini via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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