Tag Archives: success

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

 

 

Growth, Growing, and Community

10 Sep

Color photo of horizon landscape after the rain

 

Today was one of those days that inspired me to “travel back in time”.  Not literally of course, but mentally.  I had a chance to catch-up with a close friend that I don’t get the opportunity to spend much time with anymore since we live almost 1,000 miles away.   There is something very special about friends who knew you “back then”, who know about the skeletons in your closet, who love you unconditionally, and when you talk its like hardly any time has passed – even if its been a few years or more.  That was today.  And while the conversation and news we shared was not all roses, it reminded me of how grateful I am to have such amazing friends.  We grow apart to grow together in some mysterious way.

It also made me slip back in time and think about the challenges I have faced in my life’s “chapters” thus far – and what growing means to me.   The life I live today is one that I am responsible for, it is the product of my own decision making (good & bad), relentless determination, and hard work.  And I can tell you that I am truly happy with where my life has taken me… though the road has not easy in the least.  I think back to the “chapter of life” called high school and I can’t even begin to express how I never want to go back to those days at any level.  Many people yearn to “go back to the good ol days of high school when they had no worries” – that is not me! For me high school was largely characterized by family conflicts, chronic health issues, and major  financial insecurity.  I recall very clearly just how painful growing was during that time.  The challenges seemed impossible to overcome, and at the time they were.   Those issues aside, you can always find kindred spirits anywhere in the world, and those years also brought some incredible lifelong friendships that I’ll cherish forever.

College on the other hand was a wonderful chapter in my book of life.  I continued to deal with all of the same issues as I had in high school, though they were less pervasive since I was a “few states away” from some of them.  And with each passing year of College I became a little bit more in control of my destiny.  It was empowering.  And in the process I uncovered many of my passions in life.  It wasn’t the physical place of going to college – it was the people, community, and learning (and growing) environment that was such a positive experience for me.  It was exactly what my soul needed to get beyond the dark years of my childhood and learn to follow my heart.  I can’t say enough good things about my experience at Colby-Sawyer College.  It was really the beginning of my life.  The day I graduated, I knew at that moment that I now own this life – and it was up to me what I made of it.  I now had the power to experience both personal failures and successes. It wasn’t that I had “grown-up” – I don’t believe we ever “grow-up” because we should never stop growing.

Then there were all the years, places, communities, and friends in between those great College days and the current chapter in my life.  They too were wonderful, not without their challenges of course.  I spent several years living and working in Costa Rica.  What an incredible experience.  The community I was a part of was so inspiring at many levels.  I also met the wonderful person who is my forever partner in this life.  Then there was grad school at UPEACE – another amazing part of my life.  And another community I am forever grateful for. I have to add here, the “Costa Rica” chapter in my book of life is not finished yet, I’m convinced that we’ll move back there someday in the foreseeable future.

After a few years of living in the land of pura vida, I felt ready & charged to take on the world’s biggest problems – pervasive poverty, injustice, deadly conflicts, environmental degradation, oppressive regimes, domestic apathy & greed.  My mind was spinning and I was determined to solve all of the issues plaguing the world.  Lets stop here for a moment… how the hell did I go from battling a chronic disease in high school to attempt to take on the world?  It’s all a part of the journey through life I suppose.  Then I made the move to Washington DC, and it was a reality check of sorts – I was suddenly a tiny fish in a very big pond.  I had to create a community where there was none.  And I had to find a place to harness my passions, put them to use, and make a living in the process.  All this in a city where success is predicated on “family” connections, which I didn’t have any of.  Now this is when I learned that changing the world begins with bite sized pieces.  I resisted these facts of life.  I was frustrated by how difficult it was to “make change” vis-a-vis public policy.  I came to Washington DC – with utopian ideals for how democracy works.  Oh I had so much to learn yet…

What is the point of this glazed-over monologue of a few years of my life?  There are a bazillion incredible little stories in there that really reveal the essence of life.  This “big picture” gives a reminder of just how valuable growth is.  It may mean something slightly different to each of us and that is a-okay… that is a goal of this blog “vive y deja vivir“.  Life – and growth – is both happy go-lucky and painfully challenging at the same time.  We are constantly growing and changing and should continue to do so as long as we still wake up each day.  I don’t know what life has in store for me, but I do have some good ideas of what I’d like to make of what I see coming along in the journey.  For now I’ll continue to productively harness my passions towards changemaking and allow the universe to work its magic.

There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.  – Ronald Reagan

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