Build Your Leaders

Archive for June, 2009

Roles and Relationships in Our Lives

June 24th, 2009

Most of you know that I paint. In addition to being a leadership and communications trainer, coach and writer, I am a painter. All of us play a variety of roles in our lives, and two that are particularly prominent in mine at this time are the artist and the businessman.

I recently hired a coach, Alfred DuPew. Alfred is a big fan of journaling. In fact, he wrote a wonderful book on the subject, Wild and Woolly: A Journal Keeper’s Handbook. Like me, Alfred is an artist as well as a coach, trainer, and writer.

Alfred suggested that I journal about my inner businessman and artist. As I have, images have begun to emerge.

The artist and the businessman are in the car together. They are partners. I am not sure whether they are partners in business, life, or both. Regardless, the artist is driving; the businessman sits in the passenger seat.

I recently asked the businessman if he was okay being a passenger. He surprised me by saying he was delighted. It was nice to sit back and let someone else drive for a change. He is tired.

I asked them both where they were going. All they would say is that they had a common destination.

As I look out on the road, I see my life has shifted over the past months. Nothing dramatic, a subtle shift.

I am more comfortable with less activity and fewer accomplishments. I am spending more time painting. Just yesterday, I sat by the river outside my studio and watched the river flow by.

I am not sure where this shift is leading, but I am sure of this: life seems a little gentler than it did months before.

Questions to ask yourself:

What roles are most active in my life today?

What is the relationship between those roles?

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What’s Your Stack? The Three Centers of Intelligence

June 20th, 2009

At any given moment, you are fluctuating between the head, heart, and gut. Stop a minute and ask yourself where your focus is right now. Is it on your thoughts (your head)? Or are you focused on the people around you (your heart)? Maybe you are experiencing strong physical, emotional, or cognitive sensations. If so, you are focused on your gut.

You have an order of preference that is your preferred mode of operating in the world. One of these–head, heart, or gut –dominates; you use it most of the time. It’s followed by a second, and then a third; the third is the least used function. Think of this order as “your stack.” It’s important to note that no one stack is better than another.

To become the full expression of all you are requires two steps. The first is to identify your stack, and the second is to energize each of the three centers in your stack.

My stack is head, gut, and heart, and like many of us I lived my life from my primary instinct. After all, smart people are rational; they are thinking people, I thought. “If you want to succeed in the world, you have to allow the mind to lead.”

Then a wise friend suggested an exercise: “Find a quiet place, sit down, and write down every thought that jumps in your head.” I did, and I couldn’t believe the amount of rubbish that flitted through my mind.

Today, I am less reliant on the head. I am mining the other two centers, heart and gut, and in these I am discovering gold.

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I Do It , Too

June 19th, 2009

Extraordinary moments pop up at ordinary times when we pay attention. My friend David was standing in line at the supermarket when an impatient woman broke in line and demanded the cashier check her out. “I only have one item,” she barked. The young cashier politely explained she was serving another customer. Exasperated, the woman broke into another line.

David looked at the cashier, rolled his eyes, and said, “She must have been in some hurry.” The cashier opened her mouth to reply, then paused and thought better of it. She took a deep breath and said, “I do it, too.”

I do it, too, thought David. What a wonderful response. Instead of judging the impatient woman, the cashier found empathy.

“All through the day, whenever I got put out with someone, I thought, ‘I do it, too,’” David told me. “Whether I was in line, in traffic, or dealing with a rude coworker, I remembered, ‘I do it, too.’ What a gift that cashier gave me,” David said. “And I would have missed it, if I wasn’t paying attention.” (Insight/Gut Center)

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Overwhelming Beauty

June 7th, 2009

It was so beautiful that if it was a painting it would have been on velvet. My friend David and I were watching the sunset over Washington,D.C., from a stone-clad tower at the National Cathedral. The bright tangerine rays backlit the clouds in such a way that the entire scene looked surreal, much like a painting on velvet. In silence we watched as the bright orange ball descended into the horizon, cloaking Washington in darkness.

When I am around such beauty it almost seems more than I can handle. I find myself wanting to fast forward through the experience. Weeks later, I mentioned this to another friend, who quoted a line from the award-winning film American Beauty. Kevin Spacey’s character, Lester Burnham, delivers it:

“But it’s hard to stay mad when there is so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once and it’s too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that is about to burst and then I remember to relax and stop trying to hold on to it and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I am talking about. I am sure. But don’t you worry, you will some day.” (Inspiration/Heart Center)

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