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Archive for March, 2017

Abundance = an extremely plentiful supply; overflowing fullness

Scarcity = an inadequate supply; not enough

Gift = something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance.

Consider, gentler reader, that for thousands of years the concept of ‘gift’ was wedded to the concept of ‘reciprocity.’  There was always payment ‘in return.’  A gift without reciprocity was considered to be a ‘commercial exchange.’  Commercial exchanges are partly rooted in the concept of ‘scarcity’ (think: this sale will only last for three days).  A gift, on the other hand, was partly rooted in the concept of ‘abundance’ (think: there will be more for all after the cycle is completed).

People who write and publish blogs are excellent examples of ‘gift-givers’ as defined for thousands of years.  We give a ‘free’ gift of our good thinking.  Those who ‘receive’ our ‘free’ gift will, at times benefit from our gift (think: they will be positively affected).  Some of our ‘readers’ will not only be positively influenced they will also pass on one or more of our blog postings to others – the gift will continue to be given.  Once in a while, a reader will write a comment to the writer of the blog posting.  Whether the comment is affirming or critical, the comment is a gift to the writer.

Blog writers who give the ‘free’ gifts of their good thinking are rooted in an abundance mentality.  We believe that we will always have more to give; the ‘well of thought’ is always full.  In fact, the very act of writing and then of freely giving the ‘gift’ also fills the ‘well of thought’ (an interesting paradox).  This type of ‘giving’ involves a ‘letting go of…’ and an acceptance and, at times, a ‘passing on to others’ and the cycle is complete when the author receives the gift of ‘feedback.’

I am now thinking of Walt Disney.  He would ‘freely’ give his ideas to his ‘competitors’ for he believed that if he did so he would continue to generate more and more ideas (by giving his ideas away he actually created spaced for more ideas to emerge).  In addition, he believed that if his ‘competitors’ were high achievers that he and his organization would be able to even achieve more (think: the more families who went to his competitors theme parks the more families would want to come to his theme parks – Disney World continues to be rooted in this concept).

A simple commercial-monetary exchange is rooted in ‘if’ – I will give you this ‘if’ you give me money.  In a gift-exchange we move from ‘if’ to ‘and.’ I will give you this (think: my blog post) ‘and’ at times you will be impacted, positively or negatively.  Given your experience you then might well pass a ‘gift’ to another (the potential form of your ‘gift’ is beyond legion).  In passing on your ‘gift’ you help keep the cycle of ‘giving-receiving-giving’ continue.

Gentle reader, what are the ‘gifts’ that you freely give – ‘gifts’ that are then received and passed on (in some form) to another; the ‘other’ receives the ‘gift’ and then freely passes it (in some form) on to another?  AND the cycle continues.  Not only does the gift-cycle continue; the gift-cycle promotes ‘abundance’ rather than ‘scarcity.’

 

 

 

 

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Gentle reader, I refer you to my post of 23 October, 2013 where I addressed the question: ‘What is a Cynic’?  Recently I had a conversation with a leader who is seeking to gather together a ‘good thinking team.’  As we were discussing the folks he might invite to become members of this team I suggested that he invite a ‘cynic.’

I can still see his facial response.  His eyes widened, his pupils dilated, his eye brows raised to new heights, and his mouth, literally, opened wide; his face embodied, at minimum, disbelief.  He uttered one word: ‘What?’

I encountered my first ‘modern cynic’ in 1967.  I was a first-year high school teacher (my undergraduate degree is in English Literature) and he was a ‘veteran’ high school teacher.  I remember asking another veteran teacher about this fellow.  This veteran teacher told me that ‘Fred’ (not his real name) ‘was not always a cynic; at one time he was an idealist.’

Today, fifty years later, I continue to hold this idea.  In fact, this idea continues to be affirmed and confirmed by those folks we label as ‘cynics.’  I believe that a ‘cynic’ (as we define the term today) is a ‘wounded idealist.’  I also believe that within each cynic resides a skeptic waiting to be called forth.  The ‘wounded idealist’ needs to be ‘healed’ (to heal = to be made whole) and the skeptic needs to be called forth and honored.

Because my belief and attitude is rooted in this assumption I find that I am able to embrace the cynic, honor him or her and call forth the skeptic that lies dormant within.  More importantly, I continue to experience that if I can call forth the skeptic then over time the skeptic will trust me with his or her ‘wounded idealist.’  I also continue to experience that once the ‘wound’ has been revealed that ‘healing’ can take place; the person can become ‘whole’ (think: healed) again.  ‘Being whole’ means that the person, at his or her healthiest, is a living paradox.

Here’s one story.  Seventeen years ago I was invited to spend two days with the top forty administrators at a university.  On the first morning we gathered together for food and fellowship.  As folks were connecting (a number of these folks did not know others; few knew one another well) I wandered about listening.  I simply introduced myself as ‘Richard’ – no one asked if I was the facilitator.  I sat down and joined three others.  One of them was holding court as to how terrible the next two days were going to be.  I asked him why he thought this.  He was clear…he held the clarity of the cynic.

When we adjourned to our meeting room ‘Fred’ (not his real name) took a seat at a table that was located farthest from the front of the room (there were 7 tables of 6 folks per table – because there were 40 participants two tables had 5 folks).  The table closest to me had five folks.  After I had been introduced I paused and told the group that each group needed a skeptic.  They needed a person who would have the courage and insight to ‘call out’ the facilitator and challenge him or her.  I then told them that during our breakfast time I had met a skeptic and that I would like him to help the group.

I then invited ‘Fred’ to come to the table closest to me and I invited him to be the ‘conscience’ of the group.  If he accepted my invitation he would be charged with ‘calling me out.’  If I was not clear or if I was ‘just offering up b-s’ or if I was ‘unrealistic’ then he would raise his hand, name what I was doing or not doing and I would then adjust.

During the two days Fred shifted, changed and began to transform.  He started as a cynic and by the end of the two days he was being honored as a skeptic.  I had the opportunity of spending the next year working with these forty folks and by the end of the year ‘Fred’ had shared his ‘wounding’ with me and with a few others.  He began a healing process.  He was honored as a skeptic; he let go of his cynicism.  He transformed three key relationships from ‘distrust’ to ‘deeply trusting.’

‘Fred’s’ journey is one example of a cynic shifting, changing and transforming into a ‘skeptic.’  A few of the cynics I have known have chosen to embrace their idealism (in a guarded manner) and take the risks associated with embracing idealism.

I invite you, gentle reader, to choose to view and embrace the ‘modern cynic’ as a ‘wounded idealist’ and as a ‘skeptic’ waiting to be called forth and honored.

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A POEM. . .

Yesterday I was sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops and the following poem emerged into my consciousness.

HOLONS

I am a whole-part. . .
I am comprised of whole-parts. . .

Dissect me and you will discover
many whole-parts. . .

My heart is whole AND it is part of. . .
Each of my bones is a whole AND each is part of. . .

Physically I am composed of whole-parts. . .
All the way up AND out. . .
All of the way down AND in. . .

As if this idea is not mind-expanding enough. . .Then. . .

Consider. . .

My spirit is also a whole-part. . .

All of the way up AND out. . .
All of the way down AND in. . .

Everything is a whole-part. . .
All the way up AND out. . .
All the way down AND in. . .

Whole-Parts. . . HOLONS!

I am not able to hold for long either image. . .
Up AND out. . . or. . .Down AND in. . .

Either image is truly awe-some, awe-full, AND awe-inducing. . .

The most power-full telescopes or microscopes cannot begin
to capture the immensity of whole-parts. . .

All the way up AND out. . .
All the way down AND in. . .

If the physical Holons are so awe-full AND awe-inducing. . .Then. . .

Consider. . .

The impact spiritual Holons would have if we could clearly discern them. . .

life_in_spaceillustration-of-a-molecule

Macro Holons-Up & Out                             Micro Holons-Down & In

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I concluded PART I  with a question: What does this ‘being welcomed’ as a ‘guest’ look like, sound like, and feel like? 

Consider that ‘being welcomed’ consists of a number of dimensions; here are a few of them.

Connection/Interaction.  If I am going to be a good host I must connect with you and I must interact with you.  Each connection and each interaction is ‘new and different.’  Why?  Simply because each person/guest is different. This also means that as host I must be fully present to my ‘guest’ right now, in this moment.  During the time of our connecting/interacting there will be at least one moment that will make all of the difference [Jan Carlzon called these moments of truth – if attended to they will impact an entire organization in a positive or negative manner].  A crucial aspect of connecting/interacting concerns the host’s ability to discern and effectively engage the moment of truth.

Listen/Respond.  As a host it is crucial that I listen, first.  I will listen in order to understand.  I will listen in order to honor the guest.  I will listen with what I call ‘undefended receptivity.’  After I listen in this way I will then respond.  My attitude is that I am unconditionally response-able.  In choosing to respond I also seek to minimize my being reactive (there are, of course, times when it is appropriate and necessary for me to be reactive).  As a host I am also called to develop the capacity to listen to what is not being said and to listen with my ‘eyes’ (at times to listen more with my ‘eyes’ than with my ‘ears’).  Listening, first, in these ways is a gift – to my guest and to myself.

Address Needs.  Guests show up with a number of ‘wants,’ ‘desires,’ and ‘wishes.’  More importantly they show up with a number of ‘needs’ (some of these are ‘high priority needs’).  ‘Needs’ – especially, ‘High Priority Needs’ – take precedence over ‘wants,’ ‘desires’ and ‘wishes.’  As a host I am charged with helping my guest to discern and name his or her ‘needs’ – especially to discern and name his or her ‘high priority needs.’  As a host I then strive to ‘address’ them.  I cannot commit to ‘meeting them’ for I probably won’t be able to meet them (this is especially true for ‘high priority needs’).  Once the guest’s ‘needs’ are being addressed I, as host, can move to addressing my guest’s ‘wants,’ ‘desires,’ and ‘wishes.’

Keep Agreements/Promises.  Making and keep ‘agreements’ is crucial.  How many times does a ‘host’ put one or more agreements in writing and then chooses to not live into and out of them?  How often does a host make a ‘promise’ (a verbal or written promise) and how often does the host then live into and out of the ‘promise’?  What happens when a ‘guest’ challenges the ‘host’ regarding an agreement or a promise that is not kept?  What is a ‘promise’ exactly?  When, exactly, is a ‘promise’ broken?   One of the great challenges for a host is to actually find out from the guest the guest’s ‘truth’ regarding their experience.  Forgiveness matters.  I have returned to a company because forgiveness and reconciliation occurred AND some form of restitution was offered and accepted.

When the host and the guest experience these dimensions then it is more likely than not that the guest will feel welcomed, understood, valued, and attended to.  Although there are other dimensions, these will have to suffice for today.  Gentle reader, given your experience as ‘host’ and as ‘guest,’ I invite you to add to this list.

 

 

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The number of books focusing on ‘Customer Service’ is legion times 2 or 3.  My first foray into helping folks improve their customer service occurred in 1975.  Even though thousands of books have been dedicated to helping folks improve their customer service the lack of distinctive customer service continues to be alive and well.

In fact, the number of stories of poor customer service continues to exceed by a multiple of 2-3 the number of stories about distinctive customer service.  People interested in ‘Customer Service’ know that if one has a poor customer service experience that the recipient will tell, on average, ten folks about the poor experience.  On the other hand, a person who has a good customer service experience will only tell three others.

I decided to write about this topic as a result of a poor customer service experience.  I will not relate the experience (I have already shared my story with more than ten folks).  In fact, I won’t be writing much about ‘Customer Service’ either.  Enough has been written about this topic – and some of it is quite helpful (I refer you, gentle reader, to Jan Carlzon’s ‘Moments of Truth’).

‘Customer Service’ focuses on the ‘Doing’ part of the ‘Customer Experience.’  I want to focus more on the ‘Being’ part – on the ‘Attitude’ that forms and informs how we choose to relate to those we are called to serve.  Simply stated, this ‘Attitude’ involves ‘seeing’ and ‘relating’ to ourselves as ‘Hosts’ and to those we are called to serve as ‘Guests.’  Words matter.  The metaphors we use will determine the paths we choose.  There is a difference between a ‘Customer’ and a ‘Guest.’

At this point, a philosopher might be helpful to us.  WHAT?!  The great Danish philosopher, Sǿren Kierkeggard offers us these guiding words:

If we wish to succeed in helping someone reach a particular goal we must first find out where he is now and start from there.

 If we cannot do this, we merely delude ourselves into believing that we can help others.

 Before we can help someone, we must know more than he does, but most of all, we must understand what he understands.  If we cannot do that, knowing more will not help.

 If we nonetheless wish to show how much we know, it is only because we are vain and arrogant, and our true goal is to be admired, not to help others.

 All genuine helpfulness starts with humility before we wish to help, so we must understand that helping is not a wish to dominate but a wish to serve.

 If we cannot do this, neither can we help anyone. 

‘Hosting’ our ‘Guest’ is rooted in an attitude that enables and supports ‘the’ relationship between the host and the guest.  As a host, my goal is to ‘welcome’ you in a way that results in your feeling welcomed.  What does this ‘being welcomed’ as a ‘guest’ look like, sound like, and feel like?

 

 

 

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In 2005-2006 I facilitated what I called ‘The Philosopher’s Café.’  Every two weeks 10-20 folks gathered together at a Starbucks coffee shop where we engaged in searching conversations.  After a brief ‘getting to know you’ I would offer up our ‘topic’ and provide two or three questions that would help us begin our searching together (there were regulars and there were customers who happened to be there – some of them would join us; this ‘getting to know you’ also provided me an opportunity to state the ground rules and guidelines for our time together).

As we searched together additional questions would emerge from the good thinking of those gathered; we would also address a number of those questions.  Depending upon the energy of the group we would spend 2-3 hours together.

Last week I was looking through some of my folders and found a number of outlines for the ‘Philosopher’s Café.’  Given all that continues to unfold in our country at this time one of the topics caused me to pause and reflect.  The topic for 13 July, 2006 was: ‘FREEDOM.’

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was an advocate and champion of ‘four freedoms’: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, From from Want, and Freedom from Fear.

This morning gentle reader I invite you to reflect upon the concept of ‘Freedom.’  I will provide a few questions that might help guide your reflection.  I also invite you to note and perhaps reflect upon the questions that will emerge into your consciousness as you reflect upon this concept.

Gentle reader: What questions come to your mind as you reflect upon this concept, ‘Freedom’?  What questions come to your mind as you reflect upon each of Roosevelt’s ‘Four Freedoms’? 

 As a citizen of the United States – a Democratic Republic – what does ‘Freedom’ mean to you?  As a citizen of a Democratic Republic, what are the ‘obligations’ that are inherent within the concept of ‘Freedom’ – Obligations that each of us is called to embrace? 

Ideas matter.  In our country’s history few ideas have been as powerful as the idea of ‘FREEDOM.’  In order for each of us to embrace and live into and out of Roosevelt’s ‘Four Freedoms’ each of us must become unconditionally response-able, responsible and accountable.  Too often we choose to escape from one or more of these ‘Four Freedoms’ – or from ‘Freedom’ itself (I refer you to Eric Fromm’s powerful book: ‘Escape from Freedom’).

Definitions matter.  The person, persons, or group that defines a concept and then has the definition accepted has been granted power.  As a citizen of a Democratic Republic I (and all other citizens) have an obligation to be aware of how ‘Freedom’ is being defined today (and by whom).  I (and all other citizens) have an obligation to bring ‘my voice’ to the framing of this definition/concept ‘Freedom.’

History reminds us, again and again, what emerges if citizens choose to ignore this obligation, if they (we) allow others to define ‘Freedom’ for us.  This morning I leave us with the words of Eric Fromm (‘Escape from Freedom’):

 “Escape from Freedom attempts to show, modern man still is anxious and tempted to surrender his freedom to dictators of all kinds, or to lose it by transforming himself into a small cog in the machine, well fed, and well clothed, yet not a free man but an automaton.”  

 

 

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Recently a good friend of mine was sharing his frustration (Frustration = not getting what we want or getting something we don’t want).  As we spoke I heard embedded in his words the question he was holding: ‘Given the circumstances, how can I ever expect to be effective?’

As human beings we begin to hold this question when we are quite young; I have heard four year olds actually frame this question (using their own words to communicate their frustration).  By the by, if we up the ante we move from ‘I want’ to ‘I must’ (‘I must become effective!’); the feeling that emerges when my ‘I must’ is denied is anger.

If I then choose to up the ante again and I move from ‘I must’ to ‘I demand’ (‘I demand that I become effective!’) and then I don’t get what ‘I demand’ the feeling that emerges is rage.  This is an internal ‘upping the ante’ that each of us can choose to control – we are responsible and accountable for upping the ante.

‘Being Effective’ is important.  AND (there is almost always an ‘and’) there is a crucial balance to ‘Being Effective’.  At times, this sibling tap root is more crucial than ‘Being Effective.’

In 1995 I was in London and one night I had the opportunity of watching an interview between a young BBC reporter and Mother Theresa.  They were standing in the street.  The young reporter was asking the stock questions and as Mother Theresa was responding he was looking around.  After a few questions he paused and then asked the question that he really wanted to ask.

‘You told me that you have been doing this work for more than 60 years.  I am looking around and I see the homeless, the sick, the poor and the deprived.  They are everywhere.  Given all of this how do you ever expect to BE EFFECTIVE?

Mother Theresa looked up at the young reporter.  She smiled the smile of the wise.  She gently touched his arm.  She spoke: ‘Young man, I am not called to be effective, I am called to be faithful!’

I told my friend this story and then I asked him: ‘What do you need to be faithful to even though you might not be effective – in fact, you cannot see yourself as being effective?’

This is a question I hold for myself.  I consider that ‘Being Faithful’ to my core values, to my core guiding life principles, and to my core beliefs is more important than my ‘Being Effective.’

I am also thinking of a powerful story. ‘The Man Who Planted Trees.’  This story can be found in book and film (via DVD) form.  It is a story of ‘Being Faithful’ – ‘Being Effective’ is not primary.

For Mother Theresa and Elzéard Bouffier (the man who planted trees) their commitment to ‘Being Faithful’ trumped the temptation to focus on ‘Being Effective.’  Paradoxically, or is it ‘ironically,’ the ‘fruits’ of their labor continue to be immeasurable and have a positive reach far beyond what either of them could have imagined.

I believe each of us is called to ‘Be Faithful’ even though we might not ‘Be Effective.’  Am I willing to discern this ‘call’ and am I then willing to unconditionally respond to the ‘call’?  And then, like Mother Theresa and Elzéard Bouffier am I willing to spend, literally, a life-time to ‘Being Faithful to. . .’?

 

 

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