Build Your Leaders

Archive for the ‘work as spiritual practice’ Category

How to Live Life with Purpose

February 3rd, 2013

In my work (and my book Engineer Your Career), I address four “Ps.” One of those “Ps” is Purpose. I’ve been thinking a lot about purpose. Identifying and  sharing my gifts–my special talents, skills, and attributes–is crucial if I want to live life on and with purpose. This summer, I found these two passages in Paul Ferrini’s book “Silence of the Heart.”

“You think the gift is ‘a doing,’ but it’s not. The gift is a ‘way of being’ that is effortless and exultant. It comes naturally to you. It immediately and palpably brings joy to others.”

“Whatever you do, you can express your gift. You don’t need a special role, a special platform.”

Over the past few months, I’ve been pondering how my life’s work can be more “a way of being” instead of “a doing.” I don’t have all the answers, but in Ferrini’s words I’ve got a direction.

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Become a Better Person: The 90/10 Rule

January 2nd, 2013

Nothing spotlights sagging self-esteem stronger than when people judge others. Growing up, I was the supreme judge. A fat kid (I had to wear “Husky” brand pants), I constantly put down others in an attempt to pull myself up.

Looking back, I had good teachers; my family members were masters in the art of judgment. Around the dinner table, we would take turns picking on and judging one another. It got so bad during one Sunday supper that my brother’s new bride fled the dining room; our cruelty had reduced her to tears.

Teachers used to preach, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything.”   Even when I don’t verbalize judgments, I subtly communicate them and damage relationships.

I now know that judging serves me poorly. My judgments separate me from others, and above all I want connection in my life. I also know that self-esteem is an inside job; it must come from within, not by putting people down.

When judgments bubble up, they must be examined. Writers Carol Kurtz Walsh and Tom Walsh recommend applying “The 90/10 Rule.”  When judgment rears its serpent-like head and we experience a strong negative emotional reaction to another, assume that only 10 percent of our reaction is based upon the situation, leaving a whopping 90 percent that belongs to past.

When we consider the psychological principles of projection and transference, the Walshes’ counsel makes sense. A projection is something that we don’t want to accept about ourselves, so we bury it and then observe it someone else. Years ago, I was in a men’s support group in Atlanta. One man in the group drove me crazy. He was so emotional; he cried at the drop of a hat. Several years later when I began to experience my own shut-down emotions, I was able to reclaim my projection.

Transference occurs when we assign traits to someone that really belong to someone else, and nowhere is transference more apparent than in our primary relationships. I used to transfer negative traits belonging to my mother and father onto my romantic partners until I read the eye-opening imago work of Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. Hendrix’s research shows that we seek partners who have the predominant character traits of the people who raised us. He believes that we do this subconsciously in an attempt to heal old childhood wounds.

Old habits are hard to break. Although my self-esteem is much stronger than it once was, I still catch myself becoming judgmental toward a person or situation at times. When I do, I try to remember the 90/10 Rule and these wise words: “When you point your finger at someone else, there are four fingers pointing back at you.”

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Do What You Love to Do

January 6th, 2010

The perfect business model. Her business model is simple, and yet it makes so much sense:

“We only sell products we love to people we like, in places we want to visit.”

My friend Naomi is a born entrepreneur. Her latest venture is selling beautiful imported shoes, boots, and handbags made by Turkish artists from antique and dowry kilims. Each is a one of a kind piece of wearable art. Naomi discovered her source while traveling in the Middle East, and now she and her sister are selling these items like hotcakes.

“We’re having a ball,” Naomi says. “The best part of the job is how thrilled our customers are when they pick up their purchases. They hug and kiss us, and you ought to read the e-mails they send; they’re heart-warming. I love my job.”

Naomi has found the true secret of success: “Do what you love to do.”

P.S. Here’s Naomi’s website:

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Infuse Meaning Into Your Work

October 28th, 2009

What’s your attitude toward work? Jungian analyst and author Robert Johnson shares a memorable story in his book Living Your Unlived Life: Coping with Unrealized Dreams and Fulfilling Your Purpose in the Second Half of Life. The story is set in medieval times.

A man sees a laborer pushing a wheelbarrow and asks him what he is doing. The laborer replies, “Can’t you see, I’m pushing a wheelbarrow.” Later the man sees another laborer pushing a wheelbarrow, and he asks him the same question. “I’m doing the work of God; I’m building Chartres Cathedral,” the second laborer replies.

Same activities, but totally different interpretations. The second laborer infused his work with meaning, connecting to a greater purpose.

I ask myself, “Do I want to give workshops and coach executives, or do I want to help professionals stand in their power by becoming the full expression of all they are?” The answer’s a no-brainer.  The second approach carries much more juice.

So tell me. What do you do?

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