Tag Archives: parenting

Oscars 101

Who will you thank during your 15 mins of fame?

Last week millions of people were glued to the television sets watching the Oscars. Some watched to see whether their favorite film or actor won an award. Others watched to see the hottest fashion designs. My favorite part of the Oscars are the acceptance speeches, the heartfelt words of appreciation that people spontaneously share during their 15 seconds of fame. I often don’t know the people winning the award or the people being thanked, yet I am moved by their sincerity and appreciation. My favorite acceptance speech of all time was when Halle Berry won her Academy Award for Best Actress. Her appreciation for those who had come before her and those who personally invested in her brought me to tears. True gratitude is both uplifting and contagious.

Who would you like to thank in your 15 second acceptance speech? Who has modeled your path and opened doors for you to develop your gifts? Who’s words of appreciation, encouragement, comfort have made a substantial impact on your life? You may never win an Academy award, but you have the opportunity to thank them right now.

The Note Project (www.noteproject.com) is a movement started by Mike O-Meary who wants to encourage us to take the time to express our heartfelt thanks to those who have touched our lives. He reminds us that “A simple note can change a person’s life. Equally important, showing appreciation can change your life“. You can watch his story that inspired the Note Project below and help the Note Project reach the goal of 1 million notes of appreciation by pledging to send your own note of appreciation .

While elaborate gifts and flowers may be nice, NOTHING compares to a sincere word of thanks. My friend Dr. Glenda Clare passes out cards that read: “Thank you for being who you are and doing what you do! Who you are is wonderful! What you do is important! I was blessed to spend time with you today!” What a great idea! What can be more meaningful than communicating to another person that they are special and what they do is important? Acceptance and significance are two fundamental human values and the expression of sincere appreciation fulfills them both.

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

Take time today to express thanks to those who touch your life in big and small ways. As William Arthur Ward has said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” In closing, I would like to thank you for the time you share with me. In many other areas of my life, writing has felt like a lonely process; yet having this space to share my thoughts feels so different and that is because of you. The comments and encouragement you provide are so helpful and nurturing. Thank you for including me in your day and your community!


No More Complaints

The quality of our relationships is determined by the quality of the quality of the conversations we have in them.

How can we improve our lives and our relationships by changing the form of our conversations?

Trust and respect are critical elements of every human encounter, be it friendship, parenting, or business. Yet we often unknowingly undermine the trust and respect in our relationships through our conversations. How good of a communicator are you? How well do you listen for the heart-felt values, beliefs and priorities of others? How well do you authentically share yourself with others? You can take a brief Conversational Assessment to get a move objective look at your strengths and weaknesses in the area of communication. This article presents a useful strategy to eradicate one of the top communication killers: complaining.

Once you are able to realistically observe your current conversational patterns and take the steps necessary to improve the nature of your conversations, you will experience:

* more collaborative and trusting personal and professional relationships
* greater influence in the lives of those around you
* an increase in the respect that others hold for you
* an increase in the amount of people coming to your for guidance and encouragement
* more intimate, open, and authentic relationships

If you desire to attain some or all of the benefits listed above, complaining is an activity that needs to be eradicated from your conversations. I used to think that to stop complaining meant to stop having opinions, stop communicating those opinions, or to stop desiring more out of my life and relationships. All who know me well know that I have LOTS of opinions and that I am very committed to expressing myself, so to stop complaining felt like betraying my nature. I’ve learned a technique that has enabled me to achieve better results than complaining ever got me, without sacrificing my voice. I share this with the hope of helping other “kind-hearted, outspoken, high standards” women like myself find a more productive style of conversation. If this is not a problem you experience yourself, please pass this technique along to the other women in your life who do. It will be a blessing to you both.

The solution to complaining is to actively engage your imagination to move from complaint mode to speculative mode. In complaint mode you focus on what went wrong or did not happen. In speculative mode you focus on your true desires and your ideal outcome. In speculative mode we “play make believe” asking ourselves “If things could be any way I want them to be, how would I LOVE things to be?”

Playing make believe can give you clarity on your goals and help you to improve the quality of your relationships.

Being in speculative mode forces us to focus on the future rather than the past. When we are in speculative mode, we are focused on what we want to create, focused on the possibility of a future that fulfills our desires, and focused on what what we can do to create that desired outcome. Unfortunately we are often much clearer on what we don’t want than what we do, and those who love us navigate a dangerous minefield while learning how to love us better.
Remember that what we focus on grows. As we focus on our true desires, they will become more clear and we will be better able to communicate them clearly to others. Focusing our our desires also provides us with the positive energy and emotional distance needed to engage in the interaction as a sharing and teaching opportunity. For example, when interacting with my children shifting from complaint to speculative mode allows me to identify the specific quality/ character trait I would like to see them exhibit in similar situations in the future. In this frustrating parenting moments I ask myself:

* what is the character trait I am trying to develop in my child?
* do I model this quality?
* have I have explicitly attempted to teach this quality earlier?

Often times this simple shift from complaint mode to speculative mode drains the negativity out of the situation and enables me to respond with the clarity and intentionality needed to achieve a more successful outcome.
Shifting from a complaint mode to a speculative mode, can improve the quality of our relationships in so many ways. I invite you to practice this skill this week. The next time you feel yourself getting frustrated and about to complain, ask yourself “How would I LOVE this be in a future situation?”. Once you are clear on what you want, think about what you can do to help make that situation happen. Help other people practice this skill as well. The next time someone is complaining to you, guide them through these speculative questions and see what happens.

I’d love to hear from you about how you practiced replacing complaints with speculative questions and what you have achieved through this process. Please post your experiences on below or directly email your comments to me.


Take Your Leadership (and Your Life) to the Next Level

Seven years ago, I made my first trip to the beautiful country of Ghana in West Africa. My desire to visit this place was so great that I was willing to separate from my nine month old twins for two weeks. I wanted to bring my babies back something truly special from the trip that would communicate the unique beauty of this country. Kofi, a graduate student from the University of Ghana, was given the unfortunate responsibility of taking me shopping. We went from store to store loking at the beautiful batik  clothing, trying to find the perfect outfit for my babies. I was surprised and confused that none of the outfits had sizes in them. Every five minutes I would hold up a gorgeous children’s outfit to Kofi and ask him if he thought it would fit a nine-month old. Kofi patiently and consistantly gave me the same answer “children grow.” While I was too preoccupied with shopping to understand the wisdom of Kofi’s response at the time, I have since reflected on it many times over.

Too often in our lives we ar so focused on the “right” fit in the present, ignoring the reality that people grow and what fits us today probably will not tomorrow. So we may need to readjust our understanding of the “right” fit to include things that are currently bigger, knowing that we will grow into them. The confidence and commitment to our personal development allows us to maximize our leadership and enjoyment of life.

What kind of a leader are you growing into?

At work maximizing our leadership implies embracing situations where we are given new responsibilities that are beyond our current skill set and experience. Promotions often place people beyond their current ability and skill set. You may be an excellent sales person with with a great sales record but that skill set does not immediately qualify you as a great manager, eventhough it’s your sales record that earned you the promotion.  Some of us may refuse to accept such opportunities for fear of no longer being “successful” while others assume that the promotion infers that no changes are necessary and eventually crash and burn. Yet, we each can successfully grow into our next level of leadership by equipping ourselves with new skills, knowledge, and experiences. To succsessfuly meet the challenges of our new position, we must fully embrace the fact that learning is a life long process.

However, this process of growing into the next level of leadership does not only apply to our careers. Relationships, especially those involving new roles like marriage and parenting, also require us to grow into new levels of leadership. The success of these relationships depends upon our willingness to constistantly retool ourselves to meet the emerging responsibilities and opportunities. Although children are born, great parents are not. People become great parents by opening themselves to learn new skills and developing new qualities that will be more effective in parenting that child. Parenting (marriage, friendship,ect.)  is a relationship between two people in which each person is acting, observing, and remodulating based on the other.

Innovation is a critical skill for your life.

Innovation is not only required for auto-dealers and technology companies, but for each one of us. So if we desire to sucesfully fulfill the new opportunities life presents to us, then reflection and revision become life long practices. When we are open to learn and challenge ourselves to innovate, we will sucessfully grow into ever increasing levels of leadership. Thus, expanding our ability to make a positive difference in the world.

So as you reflect on your current form of leadership in your career, family, organization, and community, consider how well your clothes fit. If there fit perfectly, if you are totally comfortable, I would encourage you to shop for a “bigger size”  because there is room for your to grow and expand your influence in this world.