Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

HoneyIt’s been an interesting week. I had gotten an urgent call last week from a friend looking for a babysitter while she was gone on vacation. The regular sitter had suddenly gone into the hospital and my friend’s flight left in less than 48 hours! Who could she trust with her baby? Gloria to the rescue!

This was the kind of baby I could have fun with – he had blond hair, big brown eyes and four legs – he was an adorable little dog named Honey! As long as I could log on to her internet, I could work! I brought a laundry list of “To-Do’s” and looked forward to working in a fun and different environment. Plus, she had ESPN and I could watch the World Cup games! Gloria the queen of multi-tasking!

Ironically, just the week before I remembered a time a few years ago when I had “dog-sat” for two cocker spaniels at a nice house with a pool. I dubbed the concept “timeshare with dogs!” I had the thought, I miss the “dog timeshare” routine. It was after thinking that, I received the urgent call.

Thoughts become things? Yes! And this manifestation was even better!

That “To-Do” List? It didn’t turn out the way I planned.

I hadn’t had a “real” vacation in a long time, and having a pool, a lake view and an attentive lover in my lap (the dog) I found my spirit telling me to chill out and take a break. Don’t let the opportunity for beautiful relaxation pass by.

I remembered a phrase I had learned from the book and movie “Eat, Pray, Love.”

“Il dolce far niente.”

The Italian translates as “the sweetness of doing nothing.”

The concept is simple, but hard for twenty-first century Americans to fathom, with our continual treadmill of activity. We focus on the must-do, should-do and do for others, but ignore the instinct within that just wants to savor a moment. We worry about checking our email, Facebook and text messages. Have you ever tried seeing how long you can wait to read it after hearing the ping of a text message coming in?

We can learn a lot from dogs. They are “in the moment.” The decision of the moment is: Do I lie on the chair? Do I play with my toys? Do I tell Gloria I want to sit on her lap while she is working on her computer?

Yes, I got several of my “To-Do’s” done, the most important ones. But I didn’t stress that I didn’t have all of them crossed off. I didn’t even stress when my friend’s plane was delayed four hours. I had to get home to prepare for an event the next day, but the sweetness had calmed me. It all got done, even with losing six hours of work time.

I thought of this concept again today when I went to my local Fresh Market store. I love this store because of the cozy ambiance and how that coziness seems to give birth to interesting conversations and interactions. I picture Italian markets being like this. I was intending to hit the counter quickly for some seafood on sale, and get back home. They were out of the fish, but on my way to the register to get my rain check I walked past the wine tasting stands. I stopped to say hello to one of the wine hostesses who I knew and got drawn into a rather funny conversation with one of the patrons. It got very humorous and there was even a little singing involved! I wasn’t looking at my watch. I was enjoying the sweetness of the moment. The Italians would be proud of me.

I’ve also heard the story of a mother who asked her little boy what he was doing while he was sitting in his room looking rather intent. He replied, “I’m busy! I’m busy doing nothing.”

“Il dolce far niente.”

Enjoy some sweetness this week. Take some time to be “busy doing nothing.”
It might be more productive than you think.

Honey il dolce far niente

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What Kind of Leader Are You?

Shepherd And FlockDoes anyone remember Theory X motivational management? In 1960, Douglas McGregor, an American social psychologist, proposed his famous X-Y theory of management. Both theories are still referred to in the studies of management and motivation.

Theory X is the “Authoritarian Management” style based on the premise that the average person dislikes work, so must be faced with the threat of punishment so that he/she will work towards corporate objectives. Theory Y is the “Participative Management” style where work comes naturally and the responsible employees will apply self-control and self-direction in the pursuit of objectives, without external control or threat of punishment.

I met many “Theory X” managers in my early career, and one rather scary story comes immediately to mind. A co-worker told me one day that the department Vice President had become upset after overhearing employees laughing. He said to his secretary, “We can’t have laughing here!” What? Yes, this is a true story! No punishments were dealt out, but the fact that the words were spoken is rather unnerving.

Fast forward several years to when I worked for Marriott, where we operated on the principles of its founder, J. Willard Marriott Sr. who said, “Treat your Associates the way you would like to be treated – provide them every avenue to success. Take care of your people and they will take care of your customers.” Happy employees lead to happy customers and happy profits.

This falls more in line with the philosophy laid out in a wonderful little book I was introduced to a few years ago.

In The Way of the Shepherd: 7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People
by Kevin Leman and William Pentak, an entirely different perspective on management is told in short story format. A young MBA student named Ted is mentored by an eccentric and brilliant professor. Jack Neumann, who just happens to own a flock of sheep.

Over the course of seven weeks, Jack assists Ted in coming to understand seven ancient principles of shepherding a flock of sheep, as well as people: Knowing the Condition of Your Flock, Discovering the Shape of Your Sheep, Helping Your Sheep Identify with You, Making Your Pasture a Safe Place, The Staff of Direction, The Rod of Correction and The Heart of the Shepherd.

Each of the book’s seven chapters focuses on a different principle of effective supervision, offering in simple, everyday terms very powerful lessons in leading others. Principles include:

  • Get to know your flock, one person at a time.
  • Your choice of people can make flock management easier or harder.
  • Build trust with your followers by modeling authenticity, integrity, and compassion.
  • Keep your people well-informed.
  • When directing, use persuasion and not coercion. When your people get in trouble, go and get them out.
  • Regularly ask about your people’s progress.

Most of all, have a heart for your people. Quite a change from the old school, right?

As a result of reading The Way of the Shepherd, the following strategies jump out as immediate steps you can take to improve your leadership style:

  • Get out of the office and interact with the people on your team.
  • Get to know what is important to them as people, not just workers.
  • Remember that it is the people who get all the work done. They are your greatest asset.
  • Treat each person as an individual, not just a member of the team.

What kind of leader are you? Maybe you should take a look at shepherding. You can be a shepherd leader wherever you are, at work, in any civic or volunteer organization, at a parent/teacher association or at your place of worship. The simple lessons taught by Leman and Pentak are things we rarely think about. If you care about the people you lead, this short but insightful book is a must read. Get a copy of The Way of the Shepherd: 7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People
Create a green pasture in your workplace or organization today.

The Power of The Purge

6 14 2014 cleaning-in-progressSpring isn’t the only time of year to clean. The same way that the New Year is not the only time of the year to make a resolution. Carpe diem. Seize the day.

The Hay House Summit is finished and my brain is starting to de-compress. The room purging that I had begun while listening to the speakers is coming along, but maybe not as happily without the spiritual teachers in my ear!

In the seminars about health, there was plenty of talk about ridding the body of toxins. We can greatly improve our health by cleansing and starting better eating habits.

There was one seminar I listened to about feng shui.
I already was aware that visual clutter creates stress within us. I know I love it when my countertops are clear of clutter!
What the eye sees penetrates our spirit. I’m sure you’ve experienced the relaxed state you feel when you go on vacation and the sparkling clean spaces of the hotel room are so visually appealing and calming. Until we mess it up of course!

While sorting through things today, I started thinking about the parallels between physical cleaning and spiritual cleaning. Some of the items and papers I found had been carried with me from apartment to apartment, and then to condo.

I had to chuckle over some things that I found. Wow, I still had that? It’s been a lot easier to throw things away, maybe because my spirit has been revitalized this week.

What do we carry with us wherever we go? I heard a story one time of a man who moved to another city to start over, only to find that he had the same problems. He had brought his “baggage” with him in more ways than one.

The same way that we can clutter our living spaces, or harm our bodies by eating toxic food and drink, we can create blocks in our spirit with harmful thoughts and emotions. To clean these out requires a private, personal time of meditation and introspection.

Is there someone who we need to forgive?

Do we need to forgive ourselves?

Is there someone we hold resentment towards?

What are we ashamed of?

What is holding us back?

Release these feelings and embrace who we are.
Step into the light of a clean spirit.

There’s power in a purge.
Clean your environment, clean your body, clean your mind and spirit.
You’ll be glad you did!

What Do You REALLY Want?

6 7 2014 Squeeze_OrangeLast week I encouraged you to leave a legacy. First, however, we have to make sure that we are whole and filled, before we can give to others. This week I have been “filling up,” listening to the inspirational speakers on the 2014 Hay House World Summit. It’s been a feast for the mind and spirit! If you are not registered it’s not too late; there’s two more days left!
Hay House World Summit  

I feel like a bucket filled to the brim about to overflow! Or like a sponge that has been soaked to capacity. After this is over, there will need to be time for contemplation and “digestion.” It feels like Thanksgiving!

I gleaned nuggets of wisdom from each speaker, but one of my favorites so far has been from Dr. Wayne Dyer. I mentioned above that I felt like a soaked sponge. He introduced a profound metaphor in his Wednesday session. “When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out. What comes out when you are squeezed?” This is a sign of where you are as a person, in terms of how you react under pressure. Interesting, eh?

His session was entitled:
“How to Get What you Really, Really, Really, Really Want.”

Let me summarize briefly.
His says “really” four times because there are four steps:
wishing, desire, intention and passion.

Really #1: I really WISH I could have.this.

Really #2: I really DESIRE to have… this.

Really #3: I really INTEND to create… this in my life.

Really #4: I really am absolutely PASSIONATE about this and intend to make this happen.

Get your attention off of what currently is, and focus on what you want it to be.

And while you’re at it, be kind, to others and to yourself.

What you want will really, really, really, really happen!