Showing posts from December, 2006

something you cannot out-think or out-run

What will happen when you encounter something in your life that you cannot out-think and you cannot out-run? Many of you are facing something like this now - something that keeps you awake at night, your brain racing like a rat in a maze. Something that scares or discourages you. Something that makes you feel stuck.

It seems a strange thought for a time when we are all supposed to be bravely trumpeting the wonders of the coming year, the triumph of possibility and the return of the light. It is a time of year that is custom-designed for the self-help gurus (for individuals and for businesses) who offer such mesmerizing visions of control that we forget, for a few moments, that life does not permit control. There is always something waiting around a corner - something that we cannot out-think and we cannot out-run.

If you are reading other people this week, ask yourself: How will this be helpful to me when I most need the help? How will this be useful to me when none of my other tools a…

through the surface of time

One of the unique pleasures of the blogosphere is that we get to visit people in the midst of their lives. Tonight, you may be able to smell the shortbread as it bakes in the background. It is too late for baking of course: it is too late every year. As I bake, I am listening to music, sometimes to carols. One of my favourites is "Cry of a Tiny Baby" by Bruce Cockburn.

Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny baby.

It is a strange and difficult Christmas for me, with family issues and business issues looming large. Both my sons are working this Christmas; all four of us are moving in different directions. The tree is in the yard, not the living room. We grab moments here and there. It's a long way from a Christmas with little children.

It is a strange and difficult Christmas. It always is - not always for me, but always for someone. Redemption rips through the surface of time. …

Check your state before you check your book

I am sympathetic to people who believe they can run their lives out of Palm Pilots and other calendars. I love to-do lists and I am a great fan of stationery stores. It pleases me to make lists of outcomes and check them off. I do it when I'm not busy.

Do I walk the talk when the going gets really busy? Not so much. I don't feel bad about it, either.

Stop, I tell myself (and others, if they ask). Remember who you are and who you want to be. Take a deep breath. Notice what you really believe to be both urgent and important.

My house is not yet decorated for Christmas, but dinner was really good. There are sugar cookies in a Christmas tin, and more cookies waiting to be baked and decorated. The gifts and wrapping paper are mostly bought, which is not quite the same as the gifts being wrapped. There are fresh flowers. By Sunday night, there will be people and laughter and too many courses of lovely things to eat.

In the meantime, there are moments when I stop. I breathe. I rem…

make a wish for the world

Thanks to Mike Murray ( for this link. When you visit, you can leave a wish for the world. The site sponsors will donate $1 to charity for every wish. The sponsor page explains how it works, and where the money will go. They were at about 90 comments when I checked: if you leave a wish, they'll be one dollar closer to one million.

When you make your wish, frame it as positive (something that will happen, not something that will no longer happen; something that will be, not something that will cease to be). Make it something you want for the world, a chance to notice something right that could be even better or even bigger, a chance to wish something into being that has not yet been.

As you wish, listen to your heart beat. You'll find you can hear it, steady and strong and true. You'll find you can notice that the rhythm of your heart is a signal you send to connect you to the world for which you are w…

inspiring the people around you

When was the last time you inspired someone? I woke this morning to a very rewarding email from a young man who thought that a conversation with me had filled him with motivation and belief in himself. He even noticed that it happened because I believed in him.

It was not hard. It did not take a lot of time or an outpouring of energy. I was no more clever than usual - usual for me, and usual for many, many others. I did adopt a rock solid presupposition that he was capable of doing what needed to be done. I did take a few minutes to focus entirely on him, to listen to him, to encourage him, and to make a practical plan with him.

If you think you are not capable of being inspiring, take another look at the list above. Can you:
1) act as if you believe that someone has the strengths s/he needs?
2) focus entirely on that person for a few moments?
3) listen attentively?
4) say something positive and encouraging?
5) see practical steps to take?

It doesn't look very hard, does it? You know you…

have you ever been bored?

How often do you find yourself bored? You are in a meeting, or a hallway, or a party. Someone else is talking. You listen and nod. You listen and squirm. You're not really listening, but you are held in place, a butterfly pinned to a board. Minutes pass - very slowly. You squirm and try to focus on thoughts of your own. You check your watch. You sigh.

Give yourself a shake and ask yourself: in a life where time is not a renewable resource, why on earth do you allow yourself to be bored? Although you do not know what the limit will be, you do know that the thoughts you can think are finite: why would you waste something you can neither supplement nor replace?

There are only two ways to be bored: the first is to refuse to enter into someone else's enthusiasm. You have all the abilities (natural and developed) that you need to notice and respond to someone else's excitement or intensity. You can accept their train of thought, match their body language, expression and gestures, …

small talk

Think about some of the people you are really glad you know, people who energize or interest or comfort you. When did you first meet them? Pick one at a time, and let your mind go all the way back to that first encounter. Were there fireworks or parades to let you know that this was the start of something big?

Most of us start small. We meet someone through a shared acquaintance or shared activity. We exchange a few words in a few minutes. We walk away thinking "nice guy" or "bright lady." Sometimes, it barely registers that we have met someone new: the meeting flows quickly away in the data stream.

Except something clicked somewhere. Some small light went up on a dashboard somewhere in our heads, that told us to welcome a second conversation, or to remember this person if we encountered a particular set of circumstances in the future. Somewhere, we knew we had a place for this person in the ongoing story of a project, a career or a life.

This is one of the times of…

baby steps

Often when we enter new territory or begin big changes, we are advised to remember to take baby steps. For the past two days, I have studied the concept of baby steps with an expert: Abby is 14.5 months old. Here's what she has taught me so far:

1. Steps are only one way of getting around; climbing, crawling and holding up your arms for a lift all work fine too.

2. Baby steps are a little wobbly. It helps to cushion your bottom so you can giggle when you fall.

3. It's more fun to take steps with a hand to hold (and you move faster).

4. Jumping up and down doesn't move you very far (except onto your well-padded bottom).

5. Babies take steps with wild eyes and fearless hearts; a giant leap may become possible at any time.