Posts Tagged ‘Time for a change’

Growing into Interdependence

In the Flexible Focus Series we looked at the first principle of the Mandala Chart, Interdependence. That article looked at the 3 stages of growth, from dependence, to independence, to interdependence, and six steps to continuous improvement which can facilitate this growth process.

Once you begin to grow through Interdependence, a whole new set of factors come into play which enable you to cultivate and strengthen your relationships with other people, and with the universe itself.

To a small child the world revives around the self in a state of dependence. The baby cries when unhappy, and like magic mother takes care of all needs. This is a natural and healthy way for a baby to grow. However, in some people although the physical growth process continues, psychologically they remain needy and dependent, creating all kinds of problems for themselves and others.

At some stage before or after the age of 20, we come to seek independence. This is an important stage of growth, and essential to survival. However, it is also possible to become stuck in the appealing misconception that everything that happens depends on you. This is the world of the lone wolf entrepreneur, the rebel, the self-made man, and the independent woman. It can wear you down and end in a state of total exhaustion. Like Atlas trying to carry the entire world on his shoulders, in the end the burden is to great to bear.

Ultimately, and according to Carl Jung usually before or after the age of 50, you grow to seek interdependence. This is a more mature state, but unlike the two previous stages, there is no limit or limitation to the degree of connectivity you can have to the universe you live in. It is as limitless and inexhaustible as the universe itself.

That being said, the challenge is how you go about proactively and creatively cultivating this connectivity.

The Interface Connection

The character for 縁 (en) means interface, connection, and karma. It is often used to express a lucky meeting of people, an auspicious mingling of minds that produces blessings and benefits for those who become connected. It is often considered to be serendipitous, unsought but extremely lucky, and somehow meant to happen. You can have this connection with people, ideas, and places. It is a wonderful thing to experience, and one of the great mysteries of life.

While it happens through seemingly coincidental events, in fact synchronicity is deeply connected below the surface of awareness, and is not as accidental as it appears. It is possible to facilitate this process of positive change through mindful living, and paying attention to eight important factors in the interface connection.

  • Attitude. Our experience and even what we see or do not see is conditioned to a large degree by what how we look at things. This has been proved in psychology experiments such as the Invisible Gorilla Experiment, which shows how people not only overlook the obvious, but even completely miss the totally outrageous when it stares them in the face. It is also well known that a positive disposition will make you happy, whereas a gloomy outlook casts a pall over everything and everyone. You find what you look for, so it only makes sense to cultivate a positive attitude.
  • Gratitude.  When you become aware of interdependence there is a dawning awareness that all of the things that you have, all the things that you have become, depend in some important way on the help you received from other people. You didn’t do it all by yourself, and therefore it is only natural to appreciate and show your gratitude, not only in your heart by in your words and deeds. Find deeper ways to show your appreciation, and you will deepen your connection to other people.
  • Association.  Of all of the people who can help you grow and increase your connectivity, it is the great teachers in your life who can create the most change. You most likely will not find them in school, though there are lucky exceptions. One reason why you are more likely to find a great teacher outside of school is that you have to seek them out, and the awareness and desire to fill the gap in your knowledge and skills is also an important part of interdependence. Choose carefully the people that you spend your time with, as they can either buoy you up or drag you down. Energy is what guides the relationship, so keep your energy positive and alive.
  • Communication.  Many self-proclaimed great communicators are in fact poor listeners. So anxious to convey their own message, they forget to find out whether or in what way the other person might care. It is important to catch the atmosphere and mood of the people you are with, whether it is a small group or a large audience. A good way to gauge this is to ask great questions. Not only will you learn more, but good questions will open up hearts and minds. Once the flow of communication is there, you can enhance it wonderfully with the art of telling a story. This is what keeps people there, and makes them want to come back for more.
  • Collaboration.  The notion of accumulating resources is based on the independent mentality, storing up for the future so that you will have enough for yourself. The interdependent mentality thinks differently. Rather than adding resources, it jumps to a new level by multiplying resources, matching your own resources with those of another through collaboration. However, it is vitally important to choose the right collaboration partner. If you have something good, many people will be attracted to it, but not all of them have the best intentions. If you have money, beware the gold diggers. If you have talent, beware the agents and producers. Work with people whose resources complement but do not compete with yours. The real test of a good collaboration is that all parties are essential to the partnership. Otherwise they will suck out of you what they can, and then leave the relationship which never existed in the first place, no matter how friendly the early approach may have been.
  • Spaces.  Pay attention to ambience, the power of the place and the way it influences the people in it. Of course the place itself can be transformed by the energy of the people present. Ambience is enhanced through the five senses, plus the sixth sense of intuition. A space is like a stage, which can be set with lighting, color, and furniture, and enhanced through music, food, plants, even pets. It is a small universe that responds and creates response. A highly enjoyable way to increase your connectivity. Develop your own sense of presence so that you can be the master of the space wherever you travel.
  • Words.  The power of words is magic. Words can captivate, entrance, enrage, or engage. The power of the Word is recognized in all religions, and is the driving force of culture. Choose your words and phrases in such a way to enhance and reinforce your relationships, as well as remember your experiences. Words can be expressed in multiple dimensions. The tone and quality of the voice carries words when spoken or sung. There is the power of the written word in literature, and the transformational effect of brush calligraphy in art. Words are a wonderful bridge to the world.
  • Anchors.  We anchor our experiences in various ways, through imagery, metaphors, anecdotes, emotions. Those which are well anchored can be triggered through the smallest of reminders, a scent, a melody, a phrase. When you are centered you have more impact in your communication. It is as if you words have more weight, more substance, greater power to spread and take root. Anchors can be reinforced by going back to relive, revive, and remember your experiences. This is the power of a diary, and one of the driving forces behind social media.

You can download a CONNECTION MANDALA which summarizes these ideas as a reminder and a gauge of your level of connectivity through Interdependence.

Editor’s Note: The image (provided by www.toyouke.co.jp) depicts character for 縁 (en, connection), painted by William Reed on a charcoal egg.

Time For a Change #8: Health For Life

by William Reed on March 29, 2012

As long as you shall live

Isn’t this as long as you would like to have health? As long as you deserve health? Is it possible at least to have better control and more choice in experiencing ongoing health?

Look at the list of theoretically preventable diseases induced by chronic stress, ailments and illnesses which are cardiovascular, immune related, respiratory, digestive, headaches, backaches, and even cancer. Given the commonality of these ailments, and the huge medical and pharmaceutical industry that has sprung up around them, it would seem that it is difficult to navigate the labyrinth of life without falling prey to one or another of these. And that is if you can also avoid accidents, natural or unnatural disasters. Moreover, in the conventional “wisdom” there is always a second opinion, and a third…

Rather than succumbing to statistics, or conditioning ourselves to attract the things we most fear, perhaps we can forget all of that and take a fresh new perspective. What if we saw health not as something defined by the doctor, but as the feeling of being alive? What if we could develop the ability to partake of the life force just as we breathe air and drink water?

We can free ourselves from the conventional customs that have created so many of these ailments, including our own bad habits and behaviors. It is possible to experience health as never before, if you approach it in a new way.

Eight degrees of freedom

I suggest 8 categories you can use for Health: Food, Movement, Breathing, Sleep, Skinship, Resilience, Humor, and Love. Download a HEALTH MANDALA featuring each of these categories, so that you can begin to create your own customized approach to a healthy lifestyle. I selected these categories because they are broad enough to contain both traditional and alternative approaches to health. They have all been demonstrated to have an impact on our health and well-being. Each category covers an area over which you have some control, and in which you can make improvements. Follow these eight degrees of freedom and it will release you from the path of the beaten.

Remember that no one pattern fits all. The results you get depend on the actions you take. Health is ultimately a combination of your genetic predisposition, the cumulative effects of your lifestyle and discipline, and your mental attitude. All of these combine to make the difference, so it makes sense to take a comprehensive approach.

Without recommending any particular health method or system, here are some of the factors to consider when you incorporate these elements in your lifestyle.

  1. Food: The quality and quantity of what you eat, food combinations, preparation, diet, cuisine, as well as your enjoyment and beliefs about food.
  2. Movement: How you use and treat your body, the quality and frequency of your movement, how you practice, enjoy, and improve, as well as the mind-body connection.
  3. Breathing: The quality and depth of your breathing, how you use your breath in movement and speaking, as well as the connection between breathing and awareness.
  4. Sleep: Your sleep patterns and comfort, regularity, depth, and quality of your sleep, short naps, dreams, as well as relaxation and recovery.
  5. Skinship: Connection to your environment and to other people, hygiene, sensory experience, sexuality, as well as your aura and radiant energy.
  6. Resilience: Your ability to survive experiences unscathed, to make a comeback physically and mentally, as well as your spirit of continuous engagement.
  7. Humor: Laughter as a sign of a relaxed attitude, an open heart and a positive spirit, as well as the ability to enjoy life and make others feel good.
  8. Love: Taking good care of yourself and the ones you love, the spirit of giving and protection, as well as the power of healing.

Beating the odds

Here is a way of beating the odds presented in conventional “wisdom” which dictate the way most people think about health. Don’t build the platform for your health on a single idea. Diet will not save you, nor exercise, nor supplements, nor clean air. The strength of a chain is measured by its weakest link. Even if you manage to follow a nearly ideal regimen in one area, there is no guarantee that it will be strong enough to support your overall health. Let the elements you assemble in the eight areas of health form a far stronger safety net.

Assess your health by looking at the areas in which you hold the trump cards. Use them to help you overcome stress and even illness when you need to. Look also at the areas in which you can improve through training, changes in behavior, or specific action steps. Get coaching in the areas where you want to learn and when you need help. A positive attitude toward health over time can come to your rescue by tapping into deeper sources of energy. These are the resources that help in overcoming environmental influences and genetic predispositions, and help turn the odds in your favor.

Science is not as certain as it seems, as good scientists readily admit. There are many factors at work which we cannot see, for we do not live in a laboratory. We can encourage a healthy mix of elements that make us feel alive.

Health is life energy

Strive to increase it and share your energy of health with others. The goal is not to pretend that you can live forever, but rather to be full of energy and life as long as you live.

Time For a Change #6: Meeting Your Agenda

by William Reed on March 15, 2012

Raising the energy level of your meetings

We usually assume that an agenda is something prepared for a meeting, but unless the goals of the meeting are quite clear, it is likely that we will not meet our agenda.

A meeting can be a form of successful collaboration, or it can be a mindless ritual that saps your energy and time. What makes the difference is clarity of purpose, and a commitment to work as effectively as possible within the time available.

To truly meet your agenda you need to understand your circumstances and your objectives, and not simply pile on a list of things to do. The essential ingredient which determines the success or failure of any meeting is communication.

A highly practical model to understand communication was developed by Roger J. Hamilton, the founder of Wealth Dynamics, and Asia’s leading Wealth Consultant. Roger makes the distinction that communication contains a spectrum of four energy levels: Exchange, Connect, Motivate, and Inspire. While meetings are organized with best intentions, ask yourself at what level are most corporate meetings conducted? How often have you attended a meeting at which information is exchanged in a strange volley of suggesting and then shooting down each new idea that is presented?

The idea generators focus on possibilities, and suggest new things to do, or new ways of doing things. The idea critics focus on reasons why those ideas would not work, and therefore should be abandoned. This is demotivating for both sides. Mere idea exchange is a form of corporate wheel spinning, because without achieving any traction, there can be no effective action.

People connect when they get the goals at a gut level. Something clicks when the ideas and actions presented make sense not only at a logical level, but also at an emotional and intuitive level. Still nothing changes until people take this connection and do something with it.

Although the energy improves when people at the meeting become motivated, problems occur when the motivation is not shared by other members of the team, or when it lasts only as long as the meeting, and is soon forgotten on returning to the daily grind.

The reason we aspire to inspire is that inspiration lights the fire of internal motivation, and leads to action that does not need to be driven from the outside. Inspiration is self-sustaining.

Improving your LUCK

O, Fortuna! Since Ancient Greece and before humankind have been interested in improving its fortune. And yet the Wheel of Fortune is often portrayed as something whimsical, to which you need a magical connection for it to shine on you. Las Vegas thrives on the theme of Luck be a Lady Tonight! And yet when you look closely at those who are considered lucky in love, in business, and in life, you see that there are elements at work over which we all have some control.

One of the tenets of Wealth Dynamics is that LUCK is no accident. It is constructed of four elements that are easy to remember, yet not so easy to practice.

LOCATION

Location is the mantra in retail sales as the secret to success, but location is extremely important to success in any endeavor in life. The mood of a place can kindle or kill your enthusiasm. The decor of a room can affect how well you learn and what you remember. Environment is very important, and fortunately we can often do something about it, even if it means changing your physical location. In Japanese it is called 場 (ba) and is the primary focus when people set about trying to make improvements.

UNDERSTANDING

Understanding starts with seeing, not just on the surface, but deep behind the obvious. The character for 観 (kan) depicts a stork silent but fully aware of any movement. We need awareness, and an openness to see with the eyes of understanding, rather than judging the situation with blind eyes.

CONNECTIONS

Rather than starting a meeting with what you want to say, find out what information, experience, and emotions you have in common that are connected to the meeting agenda. Make sure that everyone feels connected and involved at some level. The character for 縁 (en) means edge, interface, connection, or relationship. It is frequently used to highlight how you are connected to another person, often in a surprising or synchronistic way.

KNOWLEDGE

The lowest component in communication is data, which can be assembled to create knowledge. However, knowledge only becomes useful when it is transformed into experience and wisdom. People easily assume that they know something just having heard about it. Socrates said that the beginning of wisdom was the realization that you know next to nothing. There is always more to learn, if you have the qualities of humility and curiosity in the right blend. The character for 知 (chi) means knowledge, but knowing at a deeper level. When you have this kind of knowledge you earn peoples’ trust through your natural authority and authenticity. Knowledge must then transform into action.

Download a Mandala Chart which summarizes these ideas with questions that will help you in Improving Your LUCK.

These words go deeper than their superficial meanings, and when you can combine them you get the magic winning hand! Your LUCK will naturally improve, and your meetings will meet the agenda with action and results.

Time For a Change #5: The Power of One Page

by William Reed on March 8, 2012

The benefits of brevity

Considering the value of your time, would you rather receive a one page summary, or a 50 page report? People don’t want to go deeper unless they have first been convinced of the value by a short summary, a great title, or a brief introduction. Books are sold by browsing the cover and table of contents. Samples always lead sales.

If you want to earn the attention of your listener a one page summary is not only a courtesy, it is a requirement. If the short version is good, the long version is bound to be even better.

What makes your one page powerful?

Here are the essential ingredients which make your message powerful, especially when you nest it on a single page.

  • Understandable. Expressing your message in compact form creates a key for understanding. The message is only complete when this key unlocks the same understanding in others. Do not assume that because an idea makes sense to you, that others will understand it just by explanation. Communication is a bridge that helps ideas to pass back and forth between people. That bridge must be easy to cross.
  • Memorable. Once the bridge is crossed, you must ensure that the other person can remember your message. Understanding does not guarantee recall. Unless you provide memory hooks with visual anchors, metaphors, and emotional impact, chances are that your message will be forgotten by nightfall. Make your message stick.
  • Remarkable. If your message is interesting enough, people want to talk or remark about it to others. The easiest way to make your message remarkable is to convey it through a story. Information is ordinary, but knowledge and wisdom makes it extraordinary.
  • Motivating. The real measure of your message is in how it inspires people to take action or change their behavior. Motivation is putting people into motion. If you want a response to your call to action, your message should be enticing, help solve a problem, or promise to make things better.

How to present your message

Whether your message is printed on paper or displayed on a screen, it is more powerful when it appears on a single page. Avoid the temptation to cram as much information as possible in the space available. For effective communication less is more. Select photos or illustrations which reinforce and resonate with your message. Useless or decorative clip art will only dilute your message. It is more effective to integrate a powerful phrase with good graphic design. A good source of information on how to do this is Garr Reynold’s blog Presentation Zen.

The need for attractive and informative display of visual information has created a new media form known as infographics. To see the variety of creative ways in which information can be graphically displayed, look at examples of social media infographics. News and business magazines are another excellent source of ideas and infographics.

The Mandala Chart is a 3×3 matrix which structures a group of eight ideas around a central theme on a single page. Each idea on the chart is indexed by a letter or number, so it is easy to navigate and present to others. The art and applications of creating Mandala Charts is covered in depth in my Flexible Focus column on activegarage.com

One Sheets are a compact way of displaying information such as a speaker’s bio, a seminar, or product description. Roger C. Parker has written a number of excellent articles on how to create One Sheets as a personal branding tool, including Best Practices and 6 Questions your One Sheet must answer. This tool serves as a promotional poster, and is often better than a brochure.

You can download a Mandala chart here, summarizing these ideas with questions to help you express your ideas with ONE PAGE POWER.

You are the message

The messenger is always more important than the message. No matter how good your graphics, your message will fall flat if you lack confidence or authenticity in how you present it.

Examples of professional slides and graphics can make you feel like you cannot do this without hiring a graphic artist. However, there are many ways to create quality one page presentations on your own. You can model the professional graphic designers without directly copying them by using ideas and elements that you like. You will be far more effective at presenting something you have created yourself, than by showing something you simply found on the Internet, and people will instantly know the difference.

The discipline of expressing your ideas on a single page helps you find the essential elements of your message. Remove anything that you might be tempted to include, if it is not directly related to your central theme.

The most effective way to present your slide, proposal, or one sheet is to read it aloud. Leave it with the other person as a summary of what you present, as a supplement not a substitute for your presentation. If you cannot convey your message clearly in conversation, chances are that it will not be much clearer on paper.

NoteCalligraphy by William Reed. 書面 (shomen) means document. The message is that what goes on paper should be full of life energy

Time For a Change #2: Lighting Your Fire

by William Reed on February 17, 2012

Make no mistake about it. Goals start and end with Passion, the essential ingredient in motivation. Passion is the energy that feeds the flame, without which your project is doomed to falter.

The quintessential question is how can you light this fire in yourself brightly enough to inspire others to help you achieve your goals? You cannot do it alone, and people need more than just a reason to help you, they need to share your passion.

The quintessential challenge is finding intrinsic motivation, love of the thing itself, which is the only kind of motivation strong enough to overcome obstacles and sustain your energy to achieve your goal. Many people get trapped in the pursuit of a goal which may not even be their own, agreeing to exchange their time and life energy for money or rewards of convenience.

As Daniel Pink points out in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, motivation is an evolutionary process. It started out with what he calls Motivation 1.0, the survival instinct which drives us to escape danger and protect ourselves. It evolved into Motivation 2.0, the carrot and the stick, the elaborate system of reward and punishment by which most people live and most companies manage. However, there is a far more powerful and sustainable force which he calls Motivation 3.0, that of intrinsic motivation, the passion that drives you regardless of rewards or restrictions.

RSA Animate created a remarkable 10-minute animated video presentation of Daniel Pink’s Drive, which he calls whiteboard magic, illustrating part of a talk he did for TED.com. This is the science and persuasion behind Motivation 3.0. That is fine for those lucky enough to have figured out and committed themselves to their true passion in life.

What is needed is something to help light the fire for those who haven’t. Some suggest starting with a blank sheet of paper to write out your ideas, but when your mind is blank, then blank paper looks…blank! It is easier by far to start with a template to assist and seed your thoughts. To help you find and focus your passion you can start with a Mandala Chart that you can download here: Lighting Your Fire.

This Mandala Chart contains questions that will help you frame the East, West, South, and North of your Passion, the WHAT, WHY, WHO, and HOW that help you position where you are and where you want to be. It doesn’t matter if you are not able to answer the questions in detail. At the beginning, asking the question is more important than answering it.

You may find yourself in a job or career that doesn’t feel right for you, even though it is how you earn your living. Don’t simply quit or change jobs without deeply considering where you are and what you want. You may find in your new job that some things are better, some things are worse, but overall you are worse off than before due to acting without clarity.

Once you find your Passion, even if only in a hobby or volunteer project, then you naturally gain more energy to pursue it, more solutions to implement, and meet more like-minded people who can help you. The ring of fire is a virtuous circle of success. It is only when that flame dies that you find yourself in a vicious circle of defeat.

4 Rs to reach your goals

As important as Passion is, it requires focus to get results. You can be long on enthusiasm and short on results. There are many factors that come into play in making things happen, but if you take care of four fundamentals, then you will have a start. These are also included in the Lighting Your Fire Mandala Chart.

  1. Rewards. The key thing to determine here is whether you are motivated by passion, or by promises and threats. It may take you ten years to figure out how to live by passion rather than compromise. However long it takes, it must be better than wondering at the end why you wasted the years of your life. At the same time, there is no need to be a perfectionist in your pursuit of your passion. Enjoy the journey as much as the destination, the process as much as the product.
  2. Restrictions. Most people can come up with more reasons why they cannot pursue their passion than why they should. They have got it backwards, because the largest obstacles are those which you cannot see, those formed by your own assumptions and lack of knowledge. One reason why education leads to achievement is that it broadens horizons and opens up opportunities for new ways of looking at and doing things. Even if the obstacles seem obvious, write them down and take a closer look. You may find with Pogo that, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
  3. Rituals. Repetition is the key to reinforcement, and ritual is the means to repetition. Your rituals are your habits, the things that you perform regularly without effort, and that you return to, to remember and reinforce your passion. Rituals may be formal or informal, but should not be an empty routine. When you train in a martial arts dojo, you are performing a ritual to take you deeper on the Path. Top athletes have rituals that they create and perform to get into their zone of top performance. All cultures create rituals for the survival and continuity of the culture. Be flexible in how you think about and perform rituals, but include them to keep your Passion burning strong.
  4. Resources. Assuming that there is a gap between your present state and where you want to be, you will need resources to help you realize your Passion. It is worthwhile to take an inventory of what you may already have, and ask yourself if you are putting it to the most effective use. As you meet people with like-minded passions, you will be able to share and contribute resources. One plus one in the right combination equals far more than two. If you want to achieve something great, then you will need a great strategy and superior tools to match.

Before you get too deep into planning and implementation, make sure that you are working in the service of your Passion. Trade your time for money if you must, but reinvest your time and money in the things that will make your life worth living, and your legacy worth loving. All of the efficiency in the world will not light your fire if you are missing the quintessential flame of Passion.

When Bob Dylan released his third studio album in 1964, The Times They Are a Changin’, the powerful message spoke to the times. But this message was hardly anything new. The ancient Greek Philosopher Heraclitus (535~475 BC) was a philosopher of change, famous for the saying that, “You never step into the same river twice.” And well before that the ancient Chinese compiled the I Ching, or Book of Changes, dating back to the 2nd and 3rd Millennium BC.

It is almost redundant to say that it is Time for a Change, except that this is a universal and timeless theme, always true, and always relevant to you. Nevertheless, the tools and means of change vary with the times. It is never too late to review who and where you are as the world changes.

Even change itself is changing, through the process of Accelerating Change. Futurologists from Buckminster Fuller (Geodesic Dome) to Alvin Tofler (Future Shock) and John Naisbitt (Megatrends) have delineated the process and the paradigm shifts in technology, social, and cultural change. Change is no longer in the domain of specialists, because we all experience it deeply in our own lives.

Ask yourself what you were doing 5 years ago, or 10 years ago, and chances are you have experienced major changes in your career or personal life, many of which you had no idea were coming. It is fair to predict that the same thing will be true 5 to 10 years hence. The purpose of this new column is to provide perspective on change, and introduce innovative ways in which we can navigate and benefit from it.

Following the structure of my previous column Flexible Focus, this weekly column will also cover topics in 8 major categories:

  • Goals and Flexible Focus
  • Problems in Goal Pursuit
  • Creative Ideas and Focussed Action
  • Presenting Goals to Others
  • Secrets of Collaboration Success
  • Templates for Problem Solving
  • Goals in the 8 Fields of Life
  • 8 Principles of Mandala Thinking

Many people think that they need to get ready for change, or even try to prevent it. Yet once you recognize that change is inevitable it makes sense to shift your thinking and find ways to be ready, to welcome and initiate change.

Think of it as a paradigm shift from being passive to staying proactive.

Our constant companion in this process is Time. We will look at ways in which to measure, manage, and manipulate time through your attitude and the use of powerful tools for Goal planning and implementation.

We do not travel alone. We will look at the importance of communication and partnership in achieving great things that you could not on your own.

Learning from experience is not always the best way to leverage your success. We will look at guiding principles, tools, and templates that can reduce the long journey of our predecessors to a shorter path for our ourselves that those who follow us.

While change can be wrenching and hard, it can also be invigorating and inspiring. So much depends on how we view and engage with it. Join us in this journey, and let us join you in yours.