Tag Archives: practical tips

The Ruinous Side of Virtues

The Ruinous Side of Virtues

I’ve often felt there exists an invisible boundary that tempers the goodness of virtues, a sort of diminishing returns when relied upon to the extreme.

I term this experience ‘running riot’ with the virtues. It starts out with a good, pure virtuous motive, but then very subtly our experience becomes something else–something not so virtuous.

Let’s take for example, acceptance. Acceptance in its purity is about loving others in spite of their exasperating qualities, while at the same time having and honoring boundaries that prevent us from taking ownership of someone else’s poor behavior (see another blog post I wrote about acceptance here). But acceptance run riot to the nth degree becomes resignation. We resign ourselves that the world, our marriage, our kids, our jobs, (fill in the blank) are doomed, so why bother anymore. That’s just the way things are. So it’s not surprising when we find ourselves abruptly detaching with resentment and putting up a wall to cope. This is not acceptance; this is resignation.

Resignation is acceptance run riot. Acceptance is swathed in love; resignation is seeded with resentment. Let’s look at how this works with other virtues:

Honesty run riot becomes brutality;
Truth run riot becomes self-righteous;
Freedom run riot becomes lazy;
Kindness run riot becomes self-serving;
Ambition run riot becomes domination;
Adventure run riot becomes frivolity;
Strength run riot becomes caustic;
Humility run riot becomes self-sabotage;
Leadership run riot becomes controlling;
Willingness run riot becomes overcommitted;
Diligence run riot becomes dogged;
Assertive run riot becomes aggressive;
Tolerance run riot becomes self-neglect;
Patience run riot becomes procrastination;
Silence run riot becomes withholding;
Solace run riot becomes isolation;
Concern run riot becomes criticism; and
Love run riot becomes suffocation.

And, of course, this is just a sampling. The list could go on and on.

Commanding Power (in the name of love)

Commanding Power (in the name of love)

Commanding power is not the same as demanding it. -Ixchel

Demanding is that childlike tantrum while commanding comes from that place of inner self-sovereignty and is based on the sure and steady knowledge of one’s self.

Commanding comes from a place of love, both for one’s self as well as for others. I once heard that one of the measures of love is the extent to which I am willing to be inconvenienced–both by myself and by others.

Do I love myself enough to walk thru the uncomfortable feelings, tend to my responsibilities even when I don’t feel like it and honor the commitments I’ve made to myself? And do I love others enough to make myself available when they need help, perform acts of unsolicited kindness and be willing to temporarily shoulder a burden that might help them reach a personal triumph?

‘Tis the Season to Guard Your Peace (excerpted with edits from original article published in Midland Reporter-Telegram-Dec 2006)

‘Tis the Season to Guard Your Peace (excerpted with edits from original article published in Midland Reporter-Telegram-Dec 2006)

Whatever your feelings about this time of year, the memories you have that cause you discomfort, the presents you can’t afford to buy, the meringues that fall, the strands of lights that won’t work, the hours you spend in an airport instead of with family, the family members you dread having to tolerate, or the things don’t go according to plan – we and everything around us is EXACTLY as it is supposed to be.

So often, we lose sight of the bigger picture because we get caught in the web of expectations – usually our own expectations and, particularly this time of year, what we perceive others’ expectations to be for us. We expect that things will go according to plan and when they don’t, we become irritable. We obsess about appearances and become restless. We impose our expectations on others and when they don’t comply, we become discontent. All of these things take away our peace – that inner peace of knowing that all is well, even though nothing is the way we would like it. We make the assumption that what goes on around us has the power to alter our peace.

I often like to think of my life as a tapestry that is not yet complete. As I am busy toiling away at the stitches of my tapestry, I can only see the back-side where the threads are messy and knotted and certainly don’t appear to make for the fine tapestry I would like for my life. Yet, when I get a break in life and get a glimpse of the front side of my life’s tapestry, I am always amazed at what I see. Suddenly, I get perspective on why things were the way they were at a time when I thought my life was in complete chaos. Even if just for a fleeting moment, I am often comforted in the peace of realizing that once again everything was exactly as it was supposed to be.

There was a time not too long ago that I was really wrestling with some things in my life that were not as I wanted them to be. Simply put, I was not in acceptance, although I didn’t know that at the time. I was sharing some of my woes with a dear friend of mine and she said to me, “Lisa, if you knew that in the next 30 days, everything would be exactly as you would like, what would you be doing different today?” Without missing a beat, I said “The same thing I am doing right now,” which was worrying about the outcome. And in that very next moment, the insanity of my answer struck me. Why would I continue to worry if I knew everything was going to be all right? And furthermore, why was I giving my peace away for absolutely no reason? It was one of those life-stopping moments where I had once been blind, but now I could see. I got a front side glimpse of my life’s tapestry.

The back-side view of our tapestry represents our feelings about things – messy and not always pretty. But the front-side view represents the reality of our life – the way things really are despite how we feel about them. I once heard that feelings are not facts. Yet how often do we assume they are and react to them with sometimes disastrous results?

So, this season, Guard your Peace! And when you feel it slipping away, remember that everything is exactly as it should be and when you get one of those priceless glimpses of the front side of your life’s tapestry, you will know this is so. Don’t sacrifice the precious moments of the Present because you can’t believe it until you see it. Don’t let the things going on around you interrupt your Peace.

Have Peace because you have Faith.

Who Am I?

Who Am I?

I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half of the things you do you might just as well turn them over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed-you must be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great people; and alas, of all failures as well. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precsion of a machine plus the intelligence of human being. You may run me for a profit or turn me for ruin-it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I?

Habit.

Seeking Fulfillment: Why Excitement Isn’t Worth It! (as published in the Midland Reporter-Telegram-Sept 2006)

Seeking Fulfillment: Why Excitement Isn’t Worth It! (as published in the Midland Reporter-Telegram-Sept 2006)

Among many challenges we face as entrepreneurs, I have noticed that managing emotions is critical, but often dismissed as fluffy or ridiculous. It is so easy to get excited about a deal closing, getting your next client – or first client, meeting a really lofty goal you had set for yourself, or getting a really big check in the mail. These are all milestones that deserve celebration, but there is an easier way to celebrate them than to get excited.

Likewise, when the deal falls apart – you don’t get the client, meet the goal or get the check you were expecting – that can be rather debilitating. But only if you let it. Interestingly enough, getting too excited is just as debilitating. It’s simple physics at work here. What goes up must come down. And it will come down at the same rate it went up.

Sometimes I think we fuel our own insanity as entrepreneurs. And we do this in lots of ways – like doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. But one of the most potent ways we do this is not managing our emotions. A good rule of thumb is don’t get too high and don’t get too low. “But.” you say. But those exciting times are not worth the withdrawal that comes in tandem. You will waste more time recovering from your own excitement than you would to just have been calm. Excitement is a lure. It is pure adrenaline. And the same is true of anger or other highly potent negative emotions. They are short lived and only at the level of the mind. But fulfillment, on the other hand, is satisfying. It is satisfying at a gut level and it is long lasting.

Fulfillment is what we are looking for out of our businesses, not excitement. But it is easy to mistakenly confuse the two. One of the greatest character traits of an entrepreneur is to be the calm in the storm – through the great times but also through the tough times.

There is a natural law of change that occurs all around us that we are powerless to do anything about. But what we do have the power to do is choose our response to this change. Don’t be a slave to this law of change, just because you don’t know how to manage your emotions. For that matter, don’t be a slave to your emotions, always looking for the high – the great times – and avoiding the lows – the bad times.

As a matter of fact, according to Webster’s, the word excited means being stirred emotionally, agitated, stimulated to activity and brisk. Is that really how you want to be in your business? Or would you rather be fulfilled – bringing into actuality, carrying out, measuring up to, satisfying, bringing to an end and completing? Which do you think sounds better? I don’t know about you, but being excited all the time wears me out. I would much rather be fulfilled.

But herein lies the challenge. We all want immediate gratification and we are programmed to get it. It is easy to go for the excitement instead of the fulfillment. When we are always indulging in the excitement, we are probably not planting seeds to be fulfilled in the future. And so, very quickly you begin to see how we get into that insanity trap of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In this case, by thriving on one exciting success to the next.

But there is good news. Here are some practical things you can do to start getting your emotions in check:

First, don’t react to situations; respond to them instead. A reaction is a programmed response that can be no better than your belief systems. That may be a harsh statement, but I cannot tell you the number of times that I have reacted to a situation, and then later when I can see the situation more clearly, realized I would have chose a different response if I had taken the time to think about my actions. I would always rather respond than react because when I respond, I don’t have to go back later and try to make things right or apologize. A response is an action that is thought out and carefully deliberated. A response takes ownership for my part and is an action with which I can live.

And really there is no need to react, because everything is temporary anyway. You might think that great times are going to last forever when you are in them, but I can promise you they will not, despite what you do to try to make them extend their stay. That is a fundamental violation of the natural law of change. And conversely, you might feel like the bad times are going to last forever and, as a result, succumb to your emotions and quit right before you turn a corner. I can promise you they will not last forever. If bad times never passed, we would never have good and if good times never passed, we would never have bad. Whatever is going on right now will pass; I promise.

Second, don’t buy into the excitement that often comes along with setting goals. This is particularly true at the beginning of a year when you are making your projections as to what you think you could do in the coming year. Set the goals and be done with it. Don’t spend any time pondering how wonderful life would be if you could accomplish those goals.

As a matter of fact, I recommend you set the goals and then put them aside for the rest of the year. The process of setting the goals programs your subconscious as to what it needs to do. Any time spent pondering whether you will achieve them is planting a seed of doubt that will surely germinate as the months of the year pass. I am not saying don’t track your activity, I am just saying don’t subject yourself to the insanity of constantly trying to measure up to your goals. Let the course of the year ebb and flow naturally without force-fitting your goals on top of your business. In other words, let your business produce your goals, rather than you trying to squeeze your goals out of your business. Subtle, but powerful.

Third, when you accomplish a goal or have a big success, don’t stand there and admire it. Celebrate it and go on. Your success does not suddenly mean no more effort is required on your part. It just means you had a success. Likewise, when you have a failure, don’t just stand there and stare at it in a stupor. Acknowledge it and go on. At the moment you stand there and admire your work or throw your hands up at the mess you made, you have just become your worst nightmare. Chronically successful people don’t take time to admire their own work or whine about their failures. Whatever happens they keep moving on. They are the calm in the storm.

And last, practice consistency. We can come up with all kinds of excuses to not be consistent, but consistency is the one thing that will save your hide when the tough times hit. Any moron can run a successful business when the getting is good, but it takes some real fortitude and stamina to run a business through the hard times. But most of all it takes consistent, diligent effort. In business, I have found that whatever seeds you plant today will germinate in roughly 60 days from today. So it’s not so bad – really. Be consistent, but not insane.