Category Archives: COMMUNICATION

Love Lifts You

loveliftsyouI have heard it said that there are only two emotions in our universe, not good and evil, love and hate, but Love and Fear. Fear is the source of hatred and prejudice, as man fears that which is different from him. How do we rise above fear? I’m reminded of the Scripture in 1 John 4:18 which says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives away fear. … The one who fears has not been perfected in love.”

Love lifts us above our fears. Love is like a hot air balloon that lifts us above all our earthly and imperfect fears, doubts, hatreds and prejudices. Love is fueled by our actions.

I had the joy of taking a hot air balloon excursion several years ago, and I can be afraid of heights in some situations! For some reason, I had no fears at all while in the passenger basket, even looking straight down at the treetops thousands of feet below. I think one of the reasons was that the whole experience felt totally surreal and as if I was floating in the heavens with angelic creatures! 2-14-2017-treetops

 

In this case, the most important angel was the pilot who was in charge of controlling the fuel that kept us aloft! The balloon has fuel and the pilot adjusts the fuel according to the situation, the winds, the temperatures and the atmospheric conditions. Likewise we need fuel to keep our emotional hot air balloon aloft as we sail through the clouds of life.

2-14-2017-balloon-fuelWhat is that fuel? Daily acts of love. Humanity tends to sink emotionally with the pull of the gravity of the circumstances that surround us from day to day. (You’ve heard that phrase: “The gravity of the situation.”) When we receive daily acts of love that act puts fuel into our “hot air balloon.” Likewise when we give daily acts of love, we get the fuel as well. Remember how good it feels to give as well as receive?

Today is Valentine’s Day and the media pulls most people into the “buy flowers, candy, jewelry, etc. routine.” But what about the other 364 days in the year? Valentine’s Day is not about making up for what failings you think you may have had the rest of the year. I read a blog today where the author said that her idea of a romantic Valentine’s Day was to clean the garage with her spouse! She wrote: “True love is getting up in the middle of the night to take care of sick kids.” Yes, isn’t it the small things in life that really count? All those little things that you do for your partner, friends or family on a daily basis. Being there 365 days a year is “true love.”

Hey, I’m certainly not against taking a day to orchestrate some romantic evening  (or morning) – but does it necessarily have to be on Valentine’s Day? That’s when it’s expected! Sometimes a surprise on a random Wednesday evening (“Hump Day!”) or any non-holiday can really put a smile on a face. And please, yes, more than once a year!

The love fuel is not necessarily restricted to doing for family and friends. Some of the best fuel can be when we do good deeds for others, especially anonymously. Today I was sitting on my patio drinking my morning tea and writing my blog, completely out of sight behind the wooden slat privacy fence. A sudden breeze gave me a sudden and very loud sneezing fit! Then I heard a voice from a passerby on the sidewalk outside the fence call out: “Bless you!” That put a smile on my face! I have no idea who it was, but she was inspired to call out a sneeze blessing! I smiled thinking, this is exactly what I’m writing about. Anonymous gestures.

So before the day is over, when you are driving on your way home, let that car ahead of you into traffic. Say a prayer for that person driving erratically (they may need it to save their life!). Tomorrow, hold a door for someone who looks different than you, and may not expect it. It may make a big impression. On Saturday, if you see some trash on the ground, pick it up. (I had to do that today, as I have no idea how a candy bag wrapper got in front of my gate – blown by the wind?)

Make it Valentine’s Day every day. Put some fuel into your hot air balloon of love and soar above all the fears that would drag you down. The air is great up here!

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Go for the Gold

Olympic blogNewsflash: All Americans agree on a topic!

What? That’s a big statement, especially during election year!

But it’s true. All Americans root for the USA Olympic teams. (I certainly hope so, I have not Googled “anti-Olympics” and don’t intend to.)

This was an Olympics where the United States achieved the third most medals ever won: 121; and 46 of those Gold. How proud this makes us!

This was 17 days where many of us found ourselves glued to the television, internet or social media cheering on our national teams. I have to say my favorites were “The Final Five,” the US women’s gymnastics team! Special mention to our track and swimming teams!

Through the wonders of technology, I even “virtually watched” some events along with a Bahamian friend of mine as we chatted via Messenger. I laughed at his exuberance as his country’s athletes triumphed! Another friend of mine laughed and told me today that he feels like he hasn’t gotten anything done these past two weeks. Good thing the Olympics happens in 4-year intervals!

Congratulations to my Team USA! Congratulations to all Olympians who competed – whether you went home with a medal or not, you are winners by virtue of being there. And a special shout-out to my Jamaican and Bahamian friends, for the individual and collective achievements of your teams! 🙂

There are three main lessons I believe we can learn from the Olympics: to strive for personal best, to learn to work together as a team and to practice the spirit of the Olympic games.

Watching the Olympics highlights tonight, it was just mind-boggling to see the personal, Olympic and world records that were broken! Phelps, Ledecky and Bolt especially come to mind. Ledecky is at the early stages of her Olympic career, while Phelps and Bolt are ending their careers in blazes of glory.

But it’s not all about winning. Not everyone will go home with a medal. Some came so close but missed by a fraction of a second or were disqualified. It is important to learn how to lose graciously, without enmity and resolve to keep trying and doing one’s best. Focusing on personal best is something we all need to do, whether we are an Olympic athlete or not.

Teamwork is also key in life. The Olympics should teach us something profound right there. Working together for a common goal.

I think of the track and field relay race and how important split-second timing is to this event. There is a science and strategy to how they place the runners, on which leg they place them. They are placed where their strengths can be used to the best. The runners need to be attuned to each other to complete the handoff without error. What better metaphor can we use to compare to how life should be lived?

North SotuhWhich leads me to my third point: practicing the spirit of the Olympics, by going not just for the gold, but for The Golden Rule. “Do to others as you would have done to you.” While in other parts of the planet people are killing each other, in Rio, countries put aside their political ideologies to compete in the purity of sports. They treat each other by The Golden Rule, living and working with one another in harmony. One golden moment reported during TV coverage was when two women athletes, one from North Korea and one from South Korea took a “selfie” together. How poignant! This is what Olympic spirit is all about.

There is so much that we can learn from the Olympics. Why can’t this be practiced 365 days a year? Every year, not just in 4-year intervals. There’s no reason why we can’t. It’s the personal decision of each human being on this planet.

Go for The Golden Rule. Incorporate these three goals into your life: reaching for personal best, practicing teamwork and living The Golden Rule. If we all do this, we all will win far much more than a medal.

Step Outside Your Box

Power2ImprovI’m checking off another Bucket List item! This summer, I’m learning how to do improv theater! Trust me, I don’t aim to be at the level of Wayne Brady and his colleagues, Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Those men are pure genius, but local level improv is something I’ve always wanted to do.

I found an improv theater in town that offers classes, but they were a bit too expensive for my taste. I put that Bucket List item on the back burner for a far off future date. Then by sheer luck, this spring I found a free class! Thumbs up! That’s more like it!

It’s an 8-week class meeting once a week, and at the end of the sessions we will perform a public show! By no means are we practicing routines as hard as what they do on the TV show, but the exercises and games are really forcing us to think outside the box. During some classes I’ve almost felt like my brain was turning inside out, which may have been the sensation of new neural synapses being built. Of course there are the times where a fellow student will do something that makes you laugh so hard that you have an uncontrollable giggle fit that brings tears to your eyes.

Performing in class is one thing, it’s the thought of the public showcase that does give me a little trepidation. I am very familiar with being on-stage and being a public speaker having been in Toastmasters International for so many years, and I have no fear of that, but that’s when I knew what I was going to say. Improv is totally spontaneous. I want a life-changing experience? Wait until that showcase! That will really push me outside my “box.” Of course when the curtain rises, I won’t have time to think about being nervous, I’ll just have to, “Do or do not,” as Yoda would say.

How often do you challenge yourself? How often do you challenge your brain or body to do something it’s never done before? How good at you at improvising when the unexpected happens?

Most of us prefer it when life goes by smoothly without major challenges, such as flat tires, traffic tickets or an unexpected injury. However, we can’t expect life to always be smooth. Even a conversation can have its twists. Imagine your significant other popping the Big Question, or your spouse asking for a divorce, or announcing: “We’re pregnant!” What happens when your boss or a client puts you on the spot?

It’s time to develop some improv style thinking!

The beauty of improv theater is that there is never a wrong answer. As long as you are confident and can sell your answer, you are correct.

That is not going to happen in real life – usually there is a right or wrong answer. How you react could make all the difference. This is why you need to develop your thinking skills.

There are some students in my class that I was puzzled upon meeting. They were so quiet and shy! What were they doing in an improv class? Obviously they desired to push themselves and step outside their comfort zones, and so should you.

Yes, I suggest you to Google if you have any improv classes in your local area, but if there are not, look for some venue where you can stretch your brain and think outside the box. For example, join a Toastmasters club!

I will miss my improv class so much, I may do the class over again! Hmm, maybe I should wait until after the showcase!

What’s on your Bucket List? Be brave, enlarge your comfort zone and step outside your box!

Choose a Seat, Find a Friend

4 30 16 ReservePersonal space – part two! Last month I wrote about the battle between the human need for personal space and privacy versus the human need for connection. I used as an example that people tend to put space between each other when choosing seats at events. Now there is a new technology forcing us to sit close to one another!

There are new types of movie theaters where moviegoers are required to choose their seat at time of purchase. It’s the same principle as assigned seats at performance theaters and sports events. If you really want that third row/center seat for your favorite summer blockbuster you can even reserve it online days ahead of time! Just be prepared to pay a small fee for that!

I really don’t know why this is a trend for the new deluxe movie theaters; I need to ask! Maybe it’s a “luxury theater” sort of thing. My local theater went through a massive renovation recently, including BarcaLounger type seats and instituted the reservation policy at the time.

I like to sit close to the screen and in the center. The first time I visited the theater my ideal spot was open, but next to some seats marked “taken.” It turned out to be an elderly couple seated in the seats to my right. (By the way, I found this fact eye opening and amusing since the movie was the final installment in The Hunger Games series. Never judge a person by their age! They just might appreciate the “Young Adult” genre!)

I was trying to figure out how to raise the BarcaLounger footrest. Observing my quandary, the woman seated next to me showed me where the button was. Already there was a positive to having someone close by for help! We had friendly conversation before the movie started, and that was that.

Since my last blog, I had another encounter at the movies. I was at the concession stand getting my indulgent popcorn bucket when the cashier asked the man in line next to me what his order was. He quickly chuckled and said, “Oh no, we’re not together!” to the cashier. He and I continued to make small talk while the cashier fetched my popcorn.

Before going to the theater section however, I decided to make a stop at the restroom (it was going to be a long movie!). Afterwards, upon entering Theater 20 and looking for my seat, I smiled to myself to see that same man seated two seats over from mine! He looked up and started laughing. “What were the odds on this?” he chuckled. It would have really been funny if he had the seat next to mine! (No, we’re really not together!) We continued our conversation about the new seating process and about the movie we were about to see.

After a while, another man came in, laden with popcorn and soda, and proceeded to sit in the seat in between me and my new friend, Robert. This made it a little difficult to have further conversation! The second man was checking his cellphone and was unconcerned about our conversation. Interestingly, he got up halfway through the movie and never came back.

When the movie was over, I said to Robert, “I wonder what happened with this guy? He even left a nearly full bag of popcorn!” Robert theorized, “Maybe he was called away for an emergency.” We’ll never know. It was interesting that there was a stranger who had intersected our circle of personal space and we had curiosity over his life and fate. We would never wonder about such things if the person had sat elsewhere.

This intersection of lives happened only because of the choices of the individuals involved. We all had wanted to sit third row and center and we did not care if there would be anyone next to us. Prior to this reservation system, we probably would have moved subtly over a seat or two.

We are an obedient species. When told to select a seat, we do so, and sit in that seat, regardless if there might be another human being next to us. Oh my goodness! What if we dared to move into another seat? Would the theater police come and arrest us?

It’s interesting how technology is bringing us closer, and we don’t seem to be minding it. I’ve only had pleasant encounters so far, and I certainly hope all future ones are pleasant! What repercussions could this new system have? Could people make new friends? Could people find their significant other? Could someone make a contact that will give them a lead on a new job? What if you are forced to sit next to someone of a demographic that perhaps you might have bad opinions about? Will you sit there in peace? Will it give you a new perspective? The possibilities are endless.

So to whomever you are who invented this new system – thank you! Thank you for bringing us closer and maybe breaking down some of the barriers between people. We all know for certain that there are plenty of people right now trying to create division and animosity, let’s not stoop to hate and fear.

Maybe the answer to world peace is – go to the movies!

Enjoy the show!

Personal Space: Crash or Connect

3 28 16 chairsHappy Easter! Happy Spring!

I visited a new church this Easter Sunday. Walking down the aisle, I had my eye on a particular seat, but a gentleman got there before me. Impulsively, I did the one thing that most people wouldn’t do – I entered the row and sat down next to him, while at the same time smiling and making the quip, “Oh, I was scoping out that seat! But you beat me to it!”

Why was this unusual? People in our American society like to put at least one space between them and a stranger. When we go to a movie theater we have our row that we like to sit in, but what if someone is in our territory? Do we compromise our desires and sit elsewhere or fight that isolationist instinct and sit next to or close to the stranger? Hey, they’re really not a stranger, they are another Star Wars fan who likes to sit up close to the screen too!

I remember years ago when I rode the bus back and forth to work, each seat would be filled and people even stood, hanging onto poles or straps. Then, the luxury of isolationism fell away. Of course now wherever you go, whether on public transport or in public places, people shut out others by wearing ear pods to listen to music or talk to others on the phone. (As if I really want to hear your private conversation, lady!)

We put up “walls” all the time, while maybe deep inside we wish we could feel free to touch another human in kindness. A very sweet woman who I met at the art museum last month ended our conversation by giving me a little hug, a kiss on the cheek and said: “I’m Latina! I hug!”

Was that an explanation of her actions as way of excuse or a strong statement about her nature? What made her feel the need to say that? I knew she was Latina and knew that was characteristic of the culture. I loved the warmth of her expression. It needed no excuse or reason.

Each culture is different as to their etiquette on personal space. There is no right or wrong, no global standard, so we must be aware to respect those differences. Suffice to say that whatever enables human beings to relate to each other with openness, love and trust – that is the way to act. Be culturally aware of acceptable behavior and how personal space is defined, but don’t feel like we always need to fear interaction.

In the powerful 2006 Best Picture Oscar-winning movie “Crash,” the term “crash” is a metaphor for the collisions between strangers in the course of day-to-day existence; a social commentary on the interconnectedness of life in the big city of Los Angeles.

In the opening line of the movie, a main character reflects: “It’s the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.”

Do we crash into each other? Not in cars, but in outbursts of rage and emotion because we keep so much emotion unexpressed and we feel out of touch? Are we surrounding ourselves with a bubble, not of metal and glass, but of chair spaces and social media obsession?

We can Tweet and Link and Friend, but do we really spend quality time with each other? The human psyche yearns for a true connection. Science is now proving that real human interaction, touch and compassion is nearly as vital to healthy existence as food and water. Human touch is scientifically proven to change physiology.

I cringe every time I see a family or group of friends at a restaurant table and everyone is on their cellphone instead of conversing with each other. Don’t we all need some human touch?

There is so much fear and violence in the world now. Just this weekend with the Easter bombing in Pakistan added to the recent bombings in Europe, I was shaking my head in disbelief.

We need to overcome our fear that masquerades as shyness and reach out to our fellow members of the human race. Show a genuine interest in the book your fellow bus passenger is reading. Surprise someone by buying the coffee for the person behind you in line. Take your nose out of your smart phone and look at the beauty around you and the people around you. You could be in line at Starbucks and catch the eye of a cute guy or gal in line – but only if you: “Put the phone down!”

People are hungry for human contact. I wonder about all the people committing crimes against humanity and wonder when did they last feel love, feel compassion, or receive a hug?

Let’s stop crashing through life and make a real connection with our fellow brothers and sisters on this planet.

As Albert Schweitzer wrote: “Man can no longer live for himself alone. We must realize that all life is valuable and that we are united to all life. From this knowledge comes our spiritual relationship with the universe.”

What’s Your Intention?

1 31 16 Intention ChartOne month of 2016 has gone by. How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming along? I’ve been thinking lately about the use of the word “intention” as I hear so many people proclaim: “I live a life of intention!” What does that really mean?

Maybe intention is not “the big deal.”

Consider this, a New Year’s resolution is something you intend on doing. It’s an intention. Yet how many resolutions fall by the wayside by the first quarter of the year if not sooner?

The definition of the word “intend” is “to have in mind.” Yes, this is where all creation begins. Some even say, “Thoughts become things.” Where I see so many of us fail is when we proclaim intentions both to ourselves and to others and then not follow through.

Let’s begin with ourselves. Have a long-term intention, but break it down into smaller pieces to make it actionable. It can be something as simple as: what do I want to get done this month? This week? Today? You can “intend” all you want, but if you don’t have an action plan … you won’t get anywhere. It’s just like taking a road trip without knowing which roads you need to take to get to your destination.

Action plans allow us a way to measure progress. I have read about the benefits of written “To Do” lists, which allow us to list our tasks and then mark them completed. The visual impact is powerful. Personally, I love writing a list on paper or dry erase board and then and drawing a line through the completed item. Yes, I also put them in my smart phone and then delete them, but then there is no visual reminder of what I have accomplished.

Do you ever feel as if you have not accomplished anything over a certain period of time? I recently sat down and wrote down all the things I needed to get done in the next month. At the end of the month, I looked at it and saw all the checked off items. That felt good!

Now that we have a way to bring our personal intentions to life, what about others? Do you tell people of your intention to do something for them or with them? Do you follow through? Do you tell your friends casually, “Oh, we must get together soon,” but never do?

How good is your word? There is an old saying, “A man is only as good as his word.” I learned a saying from a friend 20 years ago that I have since adopted as my motto: “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.” In Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements, the First Agreement is: “To be impeccable with your word.” Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean.

A failed intention towards others is basically an unkept promise. Consider how you feel when others do not keep promises to you. If you say it, do it. As Yoda would say, “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”

What is your intention? Make a plan. Do it. Keep your word.

Set your goals for February.

Here’s a bonus: this year you get an extra day in February to reach that goal! Happy Leap Year!

True Freedom

7 4 15 FireworksHappy 4th of July to my fellow Americans! As we celebrate the birth of our nation and our nation’s freedoms, after the burgers are eaten and the fireworks have lit up the sky – let’s think about our inner freedom.

How free do you feel? You might not be in a cell behind bars, but what prison bars have you created for your spirit?

Self-doubt
Low self-esteem
Fear
Bad habits
Unforgiveness
Hatred

It’s time to release those things that are not serving us. To choose to love, starting with ourselves.

The Bible says to love our neighbor as ourselves, but if we don’t love ourself how can we then love our neighbor?

It’s that airline “put the oxygen mask on yourself first” principle. I had a hard time understanding that principle at first because I am such a giver! But I understand now.

Do you ever talk to yourself? What do you say?

Do you say, “Oh, I’m stupid! Why did I do that?” If you wouldn’t say something to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself!

What are your inner voices telling you? There is a good movie in theaters now for you to see, and take your children to! “Inside Out” is a story of the voices inside a young girl’s head: Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. Great lessons to learn here!

Make sure you listen to your positive voices!

Be good to yourself. Start by scheduling 5-10 minutes in the day to pause, reflect, meditate, be thankful. Acknowledge a skill that you have and be thankful for it.

Look in the mirror and say, “I love you.” More than once. And mean it. It might be harder than you think!

Self-care is not selfish, it is vital to our physical health and wellbeing. When we love ourselves, work on our personal growth, and free ourselves from the fears and doubts that hold us back, then we will have even more love to give.

So this weekend, make a choice. Start setting yourself free from those things that hold you back. Love yourself enough to move forward.

Louise Hay’s favorite quote is, “Life loves you.”

Feel the love today and every day, and be free.

The Dad Enigma

Dad on BeachWait until your father comes home!
Father knows best.
Daddy’s little girl.
Who’s your daddy?
Luke, I am your father!

We all have heard these phrases.

What is a dad?

A friend of mine pondered this question recently as he gave a speech about his father in honor of Father’s Day, “The Dad enigma.”

Judging by the variety of pop culture quotes, the concept of fatherhood – or “daddy-hood” – has a wide range of connotations.

Fatherhood is defined simply as being a man who has begotten a child. Fatherhood does not mean you are a “Dad” in the casual, more intimate sense. Anyone can become a father simply by the act of procreation. But the sad fact is that while many men create children, they are not there to nurture them. Many of these fathers are almost children themselves. It is a sad state of affairs when so many children go without the guidance of a strong, moral father figure, and undoubtedly it’s the cause of many of our children going astray.

In his speech, my friend spoke about how his dad had caused emotional pain in the family. He was cold and unaware of how his actions hurt those around him. These actions were thought to be attributed to the fact that he grew up without love being shown to him, therefore he was unable to give and show love in a healthy fashion.

Fortunately, over the years because of the steady resolve and love of his son the father eventually came to a point of opening up emotionally. He was finally able to show love. This is indeed a rare case where the child rescues the father. Now every night the father tells his son, “I love you.” A happy ending.

My memories of my father center around outdoor activities. Most every day in the summer we would go for an after-dinner walk through the neighborhood. Other times we would go on longer hikes for further distances and into the woods and marshlands behind our neighborhood. I loved those because I fancied myself an Indian in the woods.

At the lake or beach, he was always the one playing in the water with me. One adventurous day we dared to walk around the entire lake, sometimes not even having a path to follow. I’m sure my mom was mad at us that we were gone for so long and she was worried about us!

I feel sad that my mom did not join into the exercise because it would have kept her healthier and happier and she might still be with us today.

When I was quite young I remember my father singing a “Good night” song as he put me to bed. At the end of the song he would swing me through the air. You know how people misunderstand song lyrics? I remember thinking the chorus was something silly, but later learned otherwise! I can still hear that song in my head until this day.

While my dad was the primary breadwinner, the household was not traditional. My dad was the quiet one! It was my mother who ruled the home (and my dad) with a firm hand. I was never afraid of my dad; it was my mother who dealt out the punishment. I guess that would make me a Daddy’s girl – or maybe in my case a little bit of a tomboy!

My dad was tinkerer. He was always working in his shop in the basement, building something. A manufacturing engineer by trade, he could look at anything and then go home and make it. I loved the smell of his shop: the wood, grease and metal smells. I probably inherited my craftiness from him because I also see things and go home and make them, or invent things entirely on my own. I think he would be proud of my creative home renovations!

What is a dad? No enigma here. To me it meant a companion, someone to have adventures with. Someone to sing me good night. Someone to give me good memories.

I hope that you have a father figure in your life for some fond memories.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! With love always, Daddy’s little girl, Gloria.

I Am Not the Same

5 17 15 Not the SameAre you the same person you were a year ago? Of course, you say! The name on my driver’s license is still the same!

There is a quote attributed to the artist Michelangelo in the 88th year of his life: “I am still learning.”

I’ve always loved this quote, since I have always been an avid learner. If we are the sum of our experiences and we learn on a daily basis, then each year after the earth has gone around the sun one more time we should be a different and hopefully better person.

I’m listening to the Hay House World Summit speakers and videos for the second year. If you are not familiar with this event, you still have 11 days to get on board! It is 100 free lectures/interviews (averaging 60 minutes each) and 12 videos about self-discovery, health and success. You pick who you want to listen to and which videos you want to watch. Check it out at: Hay House World Summit

I looked at my notes from last year because I wanted to choose new speakers to listen to this time around. New speakers, new nuggets of wisdom! As I listened to one speaker, I was profoundly moved by her words. I happened to look back at my old notes and discovered that I had listened to her last year. I had missed her in my list!

Why did she impact me so much more now?

Because I am a different person than I was a year ago. I have grown. Now, I was listening from a different place and a different perspective. I had new “ears.” I did not “hear” what she had to say last year, but this year everything was different.

I encouraged a few friends to take part in this feast for the mind/soul/body. One friend said, “I’m fine. I don’t need to listen to seminars now.”

What? I can’t comprehend thinking one knows all you need to know at any point in life. But, if he had listened, he may not have heard anything anyway because his emotional ears were not open.

On the other hand, I was happy to introduce another close friend to listen to a popular, modern-day philosopher, and he was quite moved by the speaker’s presentation. Later, I was happy to have a deep, philosophical conversation with my friend about some new concepts! (We are prone to deep conversations anyway.)

I did caution him that when he listens, to do so with himself in mind, not me. My lessons will take care of themselves! Let each walk on his or her path of self-discovery.

Today’s learning was exceptionally “mind-blowing” – which is probably a very apt phrase. Last year I remember after ten days of Summit, my brain felt as if it had grown several new neural pathways. This year they have spread out the sessions over twenty days to give us more time to listen to more speakers. After only nine days as of today, I can only imagine how I will feel by the end of the twenty days!

I know I will be a different person than I was three weeks ago.

How wonderful to know that if we want to, our learning, our personal growth can continue our whole lives.

Who will you be a year from now?

It all depends on if you keep learning and growing.

Do You Have Your Keys?

Schl¸ssel zum ErfolgDo you have your keys?

Not to your car or house, but the keys to your professional success. Just as a physical key will gain you access to enter a door, there are “keys” of knowledge that will give you access to opportunities in life.

A friend of mine likes to say, “You don’t know what you don’t know, but others do.” Barbara B. Bergstrom is a nationally syndicated columnist, author and expert on business etiquette and protocol. She is highly valued in our community for her wisdom when it comes to questions of etiquette.

I recently was in a situation where a friend had done something at my residence that I deemed improper from a standpoint of social etiquette, besides just plain presumptuous and thoughtless. We got into a debate about it, but I knew I was right. Later that day I simply emailed Barbara and posed the situation to the expert.

Yes, Barbara confirmed that I was right!

There seems to be a growing decline in knowledge about how to behave in public – whether in the business or social arena. Manners and “common courtesy” are sorely lacking, especially among the younger generation. It’s obvious to many (but apparently not the perpetrators) that showing one’s underwear in public is distasteful, but what about those other things that are not so obvious?

I read online articles and blogs about how to prepare for a job interview and how to behave during the interview. The tips are so common sense that it makes me wonder, has it come to this that we really have to tell people to take a shower, dress professionally, arrive early, sit up straight, don’t chew gum during the interview and don’t bring your mother to the interview? I have been to job fairs where the organizers have published in their advertisements that attendees come professionally dressed. Yet I saw a girl at the job fair dressed as if she had job experience in the oldest profession.

I’m going to grant my esteemed readers the benefit of the doubt that they know how to dress appropriately for business. However, there are many aspects to business etiquette that differ from social etiquette and you may not be aware of them. Don’t you want to be the best version of you?

You don’t know what you don’t know, but others do. You can be assured that the management at your job knows when you are not acting professionally. Your image on the job, your behavior and your manners all add up to how promotable you are, whether you know it or not.

A friend of mine tells a story about an incident when she began working for her employer. She used to come to work very casually dressed, sometimes in sweatpants. I guess they did not enforce any dress code. One day during her quarterly review her manager asked her where she saw herself in five years. She replied confidently that she would be in a management position. His reply was that if so, she had to start dressing and acting the part. She could not be perceived as serious or capable if she slouched into work in sweats. He mentored her and the rest is history.

No matter how technically trained and highly skilled you are, the key to your success is found in your soft skills, or how and what you communicate along with the image you project. These skills, along with your emotional intelligence, or ability to understand people and react appropriately to them, are what truly determine success in today’s world. Emotional intelligence can be the subject of a future blog, so today let’s think about how you are going to develop your best professional image and presence.

The keys that will set you apart from your competition are being trustworthy and honest, and possessing  the quality of civility – having respect for yourself and others. You need to be able to carry yourself with decorum and good manners in all situations, thereby creating a positive professional image.

You can scour the web for tips on etiquette, but in the meantime I’ll recommend you to my friend Barbara Bergstrom’s book, Don’t Forget Your Keys, soon to be re-published on Amazon as hardcover or Kindle version. That is, as fast as the publisher applies my edits! Even authors may not know what they don’t know about grammar and punctuation, but they know to have their key, a copyeditor.

Make sure you have your keys!