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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Loving Your Frenemies, Finding the Gold Within… Or Something Like That

Keep exploring, searching, and mining for that gold within you. Just when you never thought you’d find it or find more, a glimmer of yellow will show. Sometimes it takes weeks, months, or years; but with the work it takes to learn to mine also comes the need to learn to cultivate faith and hope that you’ll find gold in moments of hardship and (metaphorical) poverty.
To speak in another metaphor, cultivating faith and hope is like a squirrel foraging for extra nuts and berries so she’ll have enough when the cold of winter depletes her normal food supply. 
My faith and hope is somewhat a combo of coping skills, leaning into my support system (sometimes I suck at that because I can be stubborn and have a habit of wanting to do things on my own), and continuous positive self-talk. For others, it’s going to be different (duh. :) ). But I need this faith and hope because my head can get dark at times, seemingly for no reason, and I have to live with this and my frenemy depression forever—and it is what it is 
So… you’ve found that nugget of gold before. You are capable of success.
What were the circumstances that led to your discovery in prior instances? Is there a pattern? Can anyone in your world help you connect those dots (the answer is “yes,” even if you haven’t found that person yet)? 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

No Pain, No Gain… Or Something Like That


This week I read an article about Tim Ferriss, author of 4-Hour Work Week among other best sellers. Ferriss can be a polarizing figure but one thing I took away was a statement he made, that in essence, from a young age he has associated pain with an opportunity for growth and to get better in whatever area he’s seeking to improve in his life. 
It reminded me that through the most difficult and painful moments of my life, after a period of time of reflection, stops and starts, bitching and moaning, and trying to figure out my next moves; I’ve grown leaps and bounds—much faster than when I’m super comfortable. 
No, I’m not saying that I’m going to go intentionally seek out pain; but it wouldn’t be a bad idea if I sought out activities and endeavors that caused me to stretch myself—much like a muscle will tear little by little after a series of intense workouts. 
Yes, it’s easier in hindsight to say, “I associated my pain with growth,” even though I know I didn’t do that at the time. But I can use the idea that pain can lead to growth to help ease my mental or physical anguish in the future when going through another inevitable difficult period of life.
Any opportunity to get better is a gift and one we have to cherish—even if that gift comes in a prickly package.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

If You Can’t Run, Walk. If You Can’t Walk, Crawl.


Striving for something, no matter the level of your actual capability (or what you think you’re capable of), is better than complaining about what you don’t have and not trying at all. 
I want something. I’m not happy with how the way things are. I bitch and moan for a period of time (sometimes longer than others). But I still want that thing—a job, a certain feeling, a client, respect, a new car—that seems elusive. How am I going to get there?
The longer I stay in “bitch and moan” phase, the longer it will take me to get what I want.
And let’s not forget obstacles—they’ll always be in the way. Planning for obstacles is always good, but there’s bound to be one or more that we couldn’t have planned for. I can go back to “bitch and moan” phase or I can move forward the best I can based on the new obstacle and the information I have.
What will more than likely happen whether or not I find my way through, around, above one or more obstacles is: I’ll learn a great deal about myself and the world around me; I’ll have grown as a person; I’ll have found a greater capacity to ask for help and to be a helper; I’ll hopefully have improved the world a bit; and my skill set as a friend, lover, partner, businessperson, son, and human being will be upgraded. 
Sometimes it’s not important whether or not you can actually do something; but that you have the desire to evolve and begin taking steps to do so. Move forward, then rest. Rinse and repeat. Some of us are more capable at certain things than others, but we’re all capable of something, we’re all able to evolve, and we all have an important role to play in our families, communities, and even in the grand scheme of this spinning globe called Earth.  

Thursday, February 2, 2017

How my Terrible French and Vulnerability Saved the Day


Last week I went to Quebec to do a speaking engagement, driving east from Ottawa (yes, Ontario), through Montréal to a town called Sherbrooke. The further east I went, the fewer English speakers I encountered and all road signs, menus, and thought bubbles (okay, maybe just the first two) were all in French. 
When I got home to Los Angeles, I had several friends from the US and Canada ask, “Did you get the third degree from those snooty French Canadians who think they’re better than everyone else, and who look down on English speakers?”
My response: “No, they were actually pretty cool. I entered and exited every conversation with ‘Bonjour’ and ‘Au revoir’ or “Bonne journée’ and fumbled through a few restaurant orders in French until I admitted my French sucked.” 
The French Canadians I encountered were happy I tried and both surprised and pleased with my vulnerability (their English wasn’t much better than my French). 
Even in a ten second encounter with a relative stranger, I always try to develop some kind of rapport. And that is something that broadens to many parts of life. 
You want to elicit a response or reaction from someone to whom you want something from—be it a confirmation of remorse, a business deal, a sign that they took your concern to heart—speak to them the way the prefer, their own language. Not your usual drawn-out examples, or cutting remarks, or flowery language. If they prefer cut and dry, then that’s how you make your statement or request. If they prefer a sweeter tone and a gentle disposition, then work on that and use it to give the person the space to process your words and find greater capacity to acquiesce or compromise to your needs. 
Even if your French sucks, your empathy is lacking, or your rapport is weak—vulnerability, admitting your shortcomings, almost always saves the day.