Archive | July, 2016

Event + Response = Outcomes

27 Jul

This whole formula of event + response = outcomes is so not a novel concept, and until recently I didn’t fully realize the secrets it holds. It’s one I have understood for a while now in my professional work, but I’ve not been fully conscientious of its meaning on a personal level. I’ve been doing some soul-searching recently, and it mostly centers around expectations. Why? This is something that we all deal with in different situations or circumstances throughout our lives, and are often challenged by. I also believe there are ways that I, and you, can better manage our expectations of ourselves and of others. I certainly have not cracked the code on this, but it is something I am trying to better understand and improve in my life.

I don’t deal with disappointment well. I am fairly certain that I share this sentiment with many others. And well, my time has come again to be up at the batting cages of life. When life throws us a curve ball the only control we have is on our reaction and ourselves. This is something I’ve had to face in a few back-to-back innings recently, and it has not been easy. It’s also forced me to ask some tough questions, how can I influence the outcomes in my life for today and the future? How can I improve myself and how I respond to events? So that I am a better role model to my son, but also so that I can enjoy healthier and more fulfilling relationships with myself and others? Unfortunately for me there has been too much cacophony recently that I’ve not been able to clearly and conscientiously consider my reactions to recent events, or curve balls, and react gently and deliberately. At some point the thunderstorms pass and we are left with fresh air to breath that guide us to clarity, thank goodness.

So its brought me to think more about expectations, and the great expectations I have had for life. As I turn another page in my book of life, I am actually seeking not to have so many great expectations but rather to have realistic expectations and less of them.

I dream big. I’ve always believed that if a dream is not bigger than one’s lifetime then it is not big enough. The challenge lies in that I am extremely practical, and have a knack for turning ideas into reality, except for when my mind runs away from me and I wind up with unrealistic, and frankly unfair, expectations. Lets start with a simple case that many of us can share… We plan a summer vacation to the beach, rent a house, invite our friends. For months we daydream about how wonderful and fun this vacation will be, and we even dream about how relaxing it will be. We create this expectation in our mind for the picture perfect beach vacation. Reality sets in, we arrive and one of the kids has gotten car sick and the other is way over tired. We clean the mess only to find more mess. Meanwhile our spouse is complaining that they are hungry but don’t do anything to start preparing dinner. Next thing you know the kids are fighting over who threw sand first. By bedtime you go to the kitchen to pour a glass of wine and are reminded that there is a sink full of dishes to do. So much for that blissful, fun, and relaxing family vacation! We come home tired and disappointed in ourself, our spouse, possibly our kids, and the overall outcome. It’s a tough spot to be.

It can also take the form of smaller more day-to-day trials and tribulations in life. Perhaps you plan a special home cooked dinner that you went out to get special ingredients for. You confirm with your significant other what time they will be home and dinner will be on. Dinner is on the table, and there you find yourself eating alone. Your significant other got caught-up with work and couldn’t make it.

Unrealistic expectations also permeate our professional lives. You may have a business idea or an invention that can help change the world. You dream-up how this business will run, you see an intrinsic need for it and expect that everyone else will too, and you have set a high expecation for immediate success and prosperity. Only to find yourself disappointed when you can’t raise the captial to get it off the ground or to find there isn’t much of a demand for your invention or idea. This can quickly lead to frustration, disappointment in yourself, and at times financial hardships.

Unrealistic and unfair expectations always lead to disappointment, and most often outcomes that are characterized by some level of hurt. Our expectations of others also greatly impacts the way we perceive them and hence the way they behave, their reactions. Well how about if we instead watch our minds more cautiously, and deliberately set realistic expectations. We can still dream, but we don’t let our minds run away with the daydreams that lead to unrealistic and unfair expecations. We would still come back from vacation tired but we’d probably at least have a smile on our face, and be at a happy place with others. This is precisely what I am working on.

The whole notion of big houses, keeping up with the Jones, dreamy picture perfect families, successful and easy small businesses – breeds a culture that normalizes false expectations that lead to disappointment, and often times destruction. For me, I am committed to changing that in my life and the first step is to watch my mind. By watching my mind, I can ensure that my reactions are more gentle and peaceful. That my dreams and expectations don’t run away from me. I will watch my mind throughout the daily rhythms of life, so that it becomes ingrained in me, and not only when my time comes to be up at the batting cages of life. I will deliberately seek to react more gently with myself and with others.

Expectation is the root of all heartache.
– William Shakespeare

 

 

The Taboo of Nakedness

1 Jul

I really want to write about something happy, you know, one of those happy-go-lucky kind of reads that gets you laughing out loud to yourself. Reality is that is just not where I am at right now. I know I will be there again one day.

Instead I am going to share with you my recent experience with vulnerability. Vulnerability is one of those words that sends a shock down our spine when we hear the word, it shakes our soul to the core. I am going to knock down taboos and come face-to-face with vulnerability. Why, because I am actually okay with it now.

I’ve always been a “tough girl”, the type that doesn’t cry when I fall, a tom-boy of sorts, and the type that just gets back-up and keeps going. I developed that persona growing-up through both good and bad circumstances. In other words I have very tough skin, skin of metal armor. I have finally come to the point that I know it and I’m okay with it.

Recently¬† I’ve experienced some of the hardest, and most difficult situations in my life. Ever. I’ve been through a lot of sh*t before but nothing comes close to this. I am not going to get into all of the gory details, because it’s just not necessary and through it all I sincerely believe that every cloud has a silver lining. I don’t know all that I have to learn, and grow, from these life changing events but day-by-day I will uncover the secrets they hold that will help me become a better person. The one thing I’ve learned about more than ever before is vulnerability.

Because I have a natural suit of metal armor, I rarely felt and internalized vulnerability. I am that girl who hitchhiked solo in southern Turkey, who took a shipping boat for over 24 hours to cross Lake Nicaragua, and gallivanted through remote jungles all over the World. There were moments in those experiences that I did feel vulnerable, and they were also trust building exercises with myself. Opportunities to build confidence, self-worth, and trust in myself, but also in other people – complete strangers. Not everything about those experiences was perfect and pretty. I ended up with Montezuma’s Revenge countless times. I stumbled across a 3-meter long snake that was as big around as my thigh in the middle of the jungle. I got lost in a remote rainforest and spent the night huddled under some fallen palm leaves with no flashlight or food. I also remember those professional experiences in my 20s when I sat before sat before conservative State law makers in Capital buildings feeling like a complete fraud – what the hell did I know at 25 years old? Those are light experience with vulnerability I will never forget. They were moments that I was having a wrestling match with vulnerability.

I recently came face-to-face with vulnerability again, not by choice, and in a very different context. Instead of snakes, hitch hiking, and conservative law makers, I confronted vulnerability in one of the most intimate aspects of my life – my home. I felt so physically and emotionally vulnerable and scared, I didn’t sleep for days. Yes, days and days. It doesn’t matter what led to this confrontation with vulnerability, its just that circumstances were what they were. I suddenly felt powerless, unprotected, and downright vulnerable. I lost all that I knew and defined as my safe place in the world. That suit of metal armor had suddenly vanished before my eyes. I did what I needed to do. Redefine a safe place in the world for me and my son. It doesn’t make our suits of metal armor magically reappear. Instead it taught me to be okay with a certain level of vulnerability, and that I must define what that means for me and what my boundaries are.

Instead of fearing vulnerability I’ve come to understand vulnerability in ways I never thought of before. Its risk, uncertainty, and emotional exposure. Coming face-to-face with vulnerability is to find ourselves naked and unintentionally exposed, and neck deep in our misery. To be vulnerable is to be human. It is a deep part of the human experience. Things happen in our lives that force us to look within in ways we never have considered before. What we might experience, feel, and see are not always roses – and often times its quite the contrary. However, if we embrace those moments of introspection, in the darkest and toughest of times, we can see the beauty and innocence that lies in our individual vulnerability. Embrace it. And learn from it.

I am not 100% there, and I don’t think I ever will be. The destination is not the goal. What I have learned is that I must commit myself to living my most genuine and authentic life. Living my most genuine and authentic life is not something I can compromise. I also don’t know exactly what that looks like and in time it will take shape if I continue to ensure that I check-in with authenticity in making decisions along the way. I don’t know what life has in-store but the new found acceptance with vulnerability has led me to go further in my commitment to living my most genuine and authentic life.

Here I end with a photo I took high-up in the mountains of Ecuador. It represents a moment that natural beauty took my breath away, but a moment that I found myself physically face-to-face with vulnerability. There I was perched high on a mountain, on a narrow wobbly trail with steep cliffs on both sides of me, where layers upon layers of the Earth took form. The kind of place where the Earth is so deep, that if you fall you don’t know how far you will go, nor where you will end-up.

SAM_2515 (2)

 

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