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Remember a time when you walked into a room and you sensed belonged or met a complete stranger and felt that you clicked. You didn't figure out what happened but you knew something happened that made it work.
For some people, they call it a magical moment, a cosmic reaction, or chemistry. But for me, this was a situation of ease where what happened was not a product of your hard work but your non-work.
Lately, these days, they would say, ' trust the process.' You can't trust the process if you don't know what process you're at. So many people are caught up in the hustle of life and business that they forget what actually makes them feel truly alive and well. That goes to show, that much of what we are programmed to do does not mean it's good in the long run.
Today's mantra is 'you can do everything and be somebody' but in reality, we can only do something that we're really good at (to get paid at it) and not more. Based on the latest poll, students these days wanted to be social media influencers and YouTube creators than planning on entering a profession and spending a few years honing their craft. They'd rather be millionaires now (as promised to them by those marketers) than complete degrees, certifications, apprentice work, and more work.
Being at ease is not just being comfortable. It's being comfortable despite the uncertainty and what goes into surrendering with that process. Eventually, it is being yourself and understanding that whatever comes, will come eventually. It is of the belief that your life is full of abundance and not of scarcity and lack. That your life is a not a series of boom and bust but a cycle of renewal and dissolution.
Chance and luck happens to all of us. Adversities happen to everyone. It's up to you to be in the situation of ease even when things are not falling into place.
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With a summer pause on my business and with one part-time on the side, I had a more relaxed pace than ever. One of the best things of doing only one thing is that the mind is emptied out to think in a relax way. There are no distractions, fear, deadlines, and pressures.
The other day I was talking about what you can do that is within your control and what you can't to a group of students worried about their grades and how it will look to their parents, their future plans, etc. Much of their worries are based on fear that everything will go completely wrong. A grade can screw up your life or it may not, actually. The range of your control including how you react to failing to meet your goals or expectations is part of your remit.
Taking control over what goes in to our lives and what we allow versus what we have to rid off to allow for better things to come is our individual exercise. When we refuse to take the drama and politics of others and we ruthlessly carve out our own sense of wellness in our time and activities, we are being on top of our game.
The summer pause is exhilarating and a real time out from the time out. I recommend this to a lot of busy executives who are taking much more than they can possibly digest and enjoy. There are wannabe projects that are failing right before our eyes. It's better to bow out and cut losses because it will not shift in any positive way unless the culture changes.
Turns out, emptying out should be regular.
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When I immigrated to Canada on 13 July 2010, I had two suitcases and a big Balikbayan box (used to send goods home for families who stayed behind). At the immigration desk, I was asked about my show money- a money you guarantee that you have with you at the time of landing that you will survive in the next few days or weeks, or maybe if you have a lot, a few months to stave away destitution.
Where is your show money? To prove you can survive in Canada on a shoe-string budget and still feel happy with your decision to uproot yourself, your career, and your life for no apparent life-threatening reason but to improve your chances of greater success- whatever that is, a house mortgage, better education, fresher air and food, elevated status-The Great Canadian Dream.
Us, immigrants we all had it. The grim determination that we will no matter what it takes, overcome and will get that coveted Canadian passport, identity, language, and social ties under our belts at last. The folks back home will be super proud of what we have done and will say, better in Canada struggling than back home.
As I eased into the new Canadian living, the show money transformed in a different way.
Where is your Canadian experience? It's like saying that you will never make it here as a landed immigrant if you don't have the Canadian experience which is synonymous to "killing the immigrants softly." How exactly will you get the Canadian experience if nobody will take the risk of hiring you? In order to survive, they have to take survival jobs which is like a penance of choosing Canada as their home.
In my last successful job interview, I told them, " I am fresh off the boat and with no Canadian work experience at all yet but I have travelled the world-world-weary and worldly enough to be flexible and adaptable." I got the job! They sure can't believe that I have just arrived and now competing against 500 work applicants in that city. The rest is history.
The next show money question is different. It is all about in their heads, "what are your credentials that will allow us to respect you and believe that you can help?" This one is tough to crack. But, there's always a way around it.
Of all these questions, one thing is for sure, not all will be pleased and will accept who you are and what you're here for in this country, this city, this small town, and neighborhood. There will also be people like that. But as immigrants who discovered a new home, a new identity that could fuse with the old, and new relations on top of the discarded ones, suggest that we can completely write our own stories with ourselves as the main protagonists, despite the odds. I guess, striving to win every time.
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Feeling down, low, sad, distracted, depressed, or anxious.
Feelings are feelings.
You have the power to detract these negative emotions and convert them to powerful feelings of self-esteem and energy.
Everyday if you find yourself with those feelings, quickly cut it down but focusing on positive, empowering, energizing, and renewing thoughts.
Think about last challenge you overcame despite the odds against you.
Think about the last problem you solved in your organization.
Think about a difficult situation when you were able to navigate carefully.
Think about the daily wins you completed as against your goals.
Think about the love, support, and devotion you receive daily from your loved ones.
Take back the mental space out of negativity. Clear this up every time a negative thought peeps out and disrupt your momentum.
Stop consuming content that does not support your mental health. Recognize what is good and what should be abolished in your content diet.
As an experiment, I stop reading my daily news on my phone. After a week, I felt more centered, less distracted, and more energized. I can quickly settle down at night and have a good night sleep.
There is nothing that should permeate in the mind when it's not even worth a thought or two.
Try this and the positive self-talk maintenance and you will know the difference.
The quality of your work and life starts with the quality of your psychological life.
Guard it and defend it ruthlessly.
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Today, I harvested 3 tomatoes from my pots. With lots of sunshine, lots of rain for August, and constant watering in-between, the plants are growing like a weed. Two weeks ago, we raided the Saskatoon berry bush in our yard. We can easily fill 5 gallons of bucket in one go. I have nothing to complain.
Anything that you focus on, magnifies in importance.
If you give attention to items that are irrelevant, your effort and the time you put in diminish in value.
If these are your priorities, the outcomes will be highly satisfying.
If you focus on the negative aspect, you will easily get discouraged and frustrated.
But if you focus on things that are working well, the protective factors, know that it will generate more positive things in return.
In business, in organizations, and in life, this principle holds true. You are perfectly capable of focusing on the good, the virtuous, admirable, in others and thing around you.
Make it habit.
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Last year, I went to our community library and found stacks of books for sale, almost for nothing. I paid $ 50 cents for two books. The first book was a classic and timeless read, The Long Road to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. I thought that I was a few decades late on this and had to quickly brush up on gems found in his life, political career, struggles, and experiences in prison and beyond. What struck me was the clear and unassuming way he wrote down his some of his poignant thoughts.
This is when he enjoyed gardening in prison: “In some ways, I saw the garden as a metaphor for certain aspects of my life. A leader must tend to his garden; he, too, plants seeds, and then watches, cultivates, and harvests the results. Like the gardener, the leader must take responsibility for what he cultivates; he must mind his work; try to repel enemies, preserve what can be preserved, and eliminate what cannot succeed.”
One time, his cell was moved to cell 18, the farthest from the entrance where visitors come. The authorities wanted him not to be able to talk to visitors to voice out their concerns. For the sake of unity, everyone agreed that visitors should talk to cell 18 for their complaints, when asked.
As a leader in your home, workspaces, networks, groups, and communities, tend to your garden and diligently bring it up to the level of competence. Watch it grow and increase. When things fail and you have done everything in your power to grow it, let it go. Take care of what you can preserve and move forward.
The lessons of Mandela are evergreen. Note that Mandela represents the thousands of people who sacrificed and fought apartheid for decades in South Africa and in other places. Mandela is the icon, not the individual. Mandela's win is the win for the 21st century.
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We all know that success doesn't come from improving your weakness but by working on your strengths.
Your organization should know exactly where you're good at, where you're mediocre at, and where you are failing miserably.
As mission-based, mandate-driven organizations, your whole DNA is predisposed towards your mission, supported by your values systems. This should be immune to the latest fads, trends, dogmas, and presentism.
I have known an organization who started working on many areas in their programming apart from their core service: climate mitigation, disaster risks reduction, violence against women, microfinance, sustainable livelihoods, forestry, fair trade ventures, among other things. They found out that none of these make sense if their core service needs are not fully met. In the end, they focused on what they're good at and their main reason for being: poverty reduction and education for women and girls.
Do not allow other people to tell you what to do, simply because the rest of your peers started doing it. Simply put, if knitting is your thing, stay knitting happy!
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Do you always get a notice in the mail for your next car maintenance works? I do. Engine tune-up, wheel adjustment, tire pressure test, change oil, battery check, air filter, to name just a few. Depending on the vehicle, its age, and the uses, other more comprehensive checks are needed every year.
Ordinary people will not complain about this: they want to ensure that the car usage is extended, safety issues are addressed, and of course, avoiding paying for exorbitant repair costs when these issues are ignored.
This is the same as your organization. You might be cruising along fine. You might be focusing on some areas and delaying or ignoring other issues that beset your staff, your stakeholders, your financial health, and overall effectiveness in delivering your services. Most of the time, changes in policies, rules, and regulations, how the 'game is played' change drastically. Newer forms of public engagement, research, evaluation, policy advocacy, cross-sectoral work are now unfolding. Are you leading these change or are you playing a catch-up?
We are leaving the pandemic era in a much slower phase while considering that stronger infrastructures and systems must be put in place in organizations, communities, and systems to benefit from stress, shocks, and pressures. In reality, the on-purpose sector seems to be lagging behind in #beyondresilience.
For those who are hugely successful during the pandemic, one thing stands out. They never let a good crisis cripple them. It made them stronger and more robust. It kept them on their toes. They continue to improve and push the envelope when it comes to impact without ceasing. Regular tuning up is not an obligation but a necessary exercise to achieve excellence without breaking your wallet.
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Our lives turned upside down for the good when a cat came into our family. A stray cat suddenly appeared and made our hearts melt. Of course, my five-year-old is the number one cat lover aside from my husband. We took him in (by subtle force), until we figured out if he's an inside cat or an outside cat.
With previous knowledge on cats, my husband both the whole gadgets in case he decided to be a home cat. A family member said and another friend confirmed, "a cat has a mind of its own."
And so, with a bit of time, we figured out that he is both. He is both an inside cat and an outside cat. When the weather is great, we let him out and when it's time to go home, he's there waiting in the yard. Sometimes, he would wait until our truck was in the other house, and if he sees the truck, he will jump right on to be packed home.
Another family member said, "He's a cat that behaves like a dog." He surely has a mind of his own. Our house is a hotel, an entertainment center, and a respite against the cold, brutal world. We're okay with the arrangements. He's just being who he is. It won't be great for other families for sure.
If you're organization is set up to be something and behaves otherwise, and people get their noses up or insist that you behave like one (because of their own conditioning), it's time to break the stereotype. What people project on your organization, may not really who you are and most of the time, they're dead wrong.
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I asked this question because many organizational executives are comfortably in a fear mode in these difficult times.
What's the next disruption that will derail, disrupt, disembowel your organization's market positioning? or for that matter, your reason for being? what is the most existential threat likely to happen in the next five years?
If it's the fear of the uncertain/unknown that drives your executives to grind down everyday, you better back up and check that the fear is a positive fear that you can control and manage.
If it's the fear of being left out/missing out in the trend-train, check the rational behind the impulse, and fall back to where you are actually generating sustainable outcomes.
If it's survival and modest growth, plan to pivot when you can transition comfortably in the next 3 years, until such a time when you have the golden opportunity to create this new future.
If it's growing and reclaiming lost ground, there is no better time, than now. Get consensus and act on what you have existing at the moment.
"What's driving you forward?" is a better question than "What drives your executives sleepless at night?"
You need to capitalize on the dynamics of forward-motion than the idealized notions of lessons learned. And I hope you're not running around a carousel.