Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Facing Sacred Moments by Mark Nepo

The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments.

~Abraham Heschel

Maybe it's part of being American, this want to build on things instead of facing them. After all, our ancestors believed it their manifest destiny to keep moving on until they ran out of land. But now that there's nowhere left to go, a different sense of exploration, that has waited centuries, is calling.

Instead of building a road to somewhere other than where we are, the life of the spirit requires us to open doors that wait before us and within us. This is what Abraham Heschel calls "facing sacred moments": the opening of doors into the life we already have.

The effort to build our way elsewhere can be admirable, even heroic, but it often distracts us from inhabiting the life we are given.

Certainly, there is nothing wrong with bettering our outer circumstances, but these constructions mean nothing if we never face the very pulse of life that waits like a kind mother at the edge of our exhaustion. 

~Excerpt taken from Mark Nepo's, "The Book of Awakening."

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tips, Tricks & Tactics: The 'If / Then' Strategy

Sam Jackson as Jules exercising his 'people skills' in 
 Quentin Tarantino's classic 1994 movie Pulp Fiction.

One of my favorite movies is Pulp Fiction. I love the scenes where Samuel Jackson's character, Jules and John Travolta's character, Vincent talk and especially when they 'negotiated.' They had a straight forward, no non-sense approach. Obviously their gangster style left little room for debate as did their pistols, however much can be learned if you know how and when to use those crazy gangsta tactics. Here is one of those tactics. It's as a simple, straight forward way to communicate boundaries. It's called the "If / Then" tactic. This tactic is one method you can use to communicate cause and effect  consequences and strong boundaries. It is a straight forward approach that should be used sparingly and only if you are ready and able to follow through with the 'then' consequence. Don't make idle promises that you can't or won't do what you say you're going to do. The 'If / Then' tactic sounds something like this:

If you do this, then this is what is going to happen (or this is what I’m going to do). 

This tactic can be used by itself or in conjunction with some of the other strategies like the OREO Cookie tactic described here.

Here is an example of the 'If / Then' Tactic:
Let's say that one of the people on your team continues to be late coming in from his break.You've talked to him about it numerous times, but he still does it. You've asked him if there was a reason he was late. You asked him to please be on time. You gave him reasons why he should be on time. You gave him choices. Heck, you even gave him a second chance (again), but he still comes in late. You decide that enough is enough and you're going to put up a strong boundary using the If / Then Tactic.

You: “Bruce, is there a reason that you’re late from your break again?”

Bruce: “Sorry, I lost track of the time.”

You: (Ignoring his B.S. excuse that he has said numerous times) “Listen Bruce, if you can be back at your work station on time, then I won’t have to bother you, you can have an easier day and get more work done. However, this is the third time we’ve talked about this, so if you’re late coming back one more time then I’m going to have to write you up… But I don’t want to do that man, so, if you could make it back to your work station on time I’d really appreciate it. Can I count on you?” (See, I threw in the verbal commitment tactic too!)

Bruce: “Ok, I’ll try.”

You: “Thanks Bruce.”

Now if Bruce is late again, you better write his ass up or he is going to continue to walk all over you and your paper tiger author-i-tay! 

Remember this isn't typically a tactic that you start off with, it's one that you use after you've tried giving him a number of chances and/or even made some compromises or helped to figure out the problem in other ways if necessary. Also, make sure you can follow through with your "then!" If you can't, and he calls you on it, you will lose your credibility and negotiation leverage. Especially with people who you come in contact with on an on-going basis.

Well there you go all you Gansta's out there, have fun giving this one a try!

All the best,

Friday, June 23, 2017

7 Communication Tricks When You Can't Remember Someones Name

Ahh, summertime! A time to get out, mingle, socialize, meet new people, and connect with old friends and acquaintances. While you're out there shaking hands and kissing babies you may run into some people who you've met but just can't remember their name. Well, here's 7 tips from Gretchen Rubin's book "The Happiness Project" and a couple from yours truly. 


1) The "I know your name but I'm blocked" Dodge: "I keep wanting to call you 'Dave,' but I know tha's not right."

2) The "Of course I know you - In fact, I want all your information" Dodge: "Hey, I'd love to get your card."

3) The "Tip of my tongue" Dodge: "I know your name, but I'm blanking right now."

4) The "You're brilliant!" Dodge: "Wow, you have a terrific memory. I can't believe you remember my name from that meeting six months ago."

5) The "Sure I remember you" Dodge: "Remind me - what's your last name?" If you ask a person for his last name, he's likely to repeat both names. "Doe, John Doe."

6) The "One sided introduction" Dodge: "Let me introduce you to Pat," you say to Nameless One. You introduce the two and say Pat's name. Usually Nameless One will volunteer a name.

Remember that people might not remember your name. Err on the side of re-introducing yourself. And don't be offended it someone forgets your name!

BONUS: The "Nonchalantly read their name tag" Dodge:
When talking to them (or preferably before) subtly spy their name tag.

BONUS #2: This one's my favorite: JUST ASK! No dodging at all, approach it head on with grace and confidence.
"I'm sorry, but I forgot your name." or "I'm sorry, but what's your name again?" or "I'm sorry, but I'm bad at names. What is your name?"


There you have it! All of these are tricks I've used before in the many years of sales, meetings, events, mixers, parties, or just simply running into someone when I'm out and about!

The first seven I nicked from Gretchen Rubin's book "The Happiness Project" (not to say that she created them) and the last two bonus tricks I added myself (not to say that I created those!).

Now go out and move more confidently at your next company picnic (or whatever you have going) and not stress about not saying 'hi' to someone because you remember meeting them, but can't recall their name.

All the best,

Monday, June 19, 2017

Her Survival Guide, High Schoolers and a Hit & Run

I've been driving Honda Civics for almost 20 years. My little black 2007 Civic almost has 200k miles on it. It has been a great car.  Very little has gone wrong with it; tires, a brake job and rear shocks are the only things I had to put in it other than regular oil changes and a tune up or two. It's my third Civic since I bought my first one in 2000. Awesome cars!

Anyway, so I drive out of state a fair amount, and although my car is good, it does have a fair amount of miles on it and I can see some repairs coming in the future, so I started to wrap my mind around buying another one. I figure I should start the process early; a dig your well before your thirsty kind of thing.

In 2016 Honda updated the Civic look to an eleven on the awesome scale. After looking at a couple, I was sure that was the way to go. And that's, as they say where the trouble started!

The 2016 Honda Civic got bad reviews from Consumer Reports(CR), so much so it was the first time it slipped off their suggested buying list. Why?! The reason they gave was mainly due to reliability, which is one of my largest concerns I have in vehicles and why I went with the Civic in the first place.

Now, I have to put things in perspective regarding what CR saying. After all it IS a Civic! So, I did more research and finally came to the conclusion that although I'm sure the car would probably work out fine, the key word  here is 'probably.' I just couldn't get over the reviews and didn't want to use my hard earned cash for a ride that would be less than I was hoping for. I mean, hey the last time I got a new car was almost nine years ago and I was hoping to get at least that out of my next one. You know the reason I wanted to buy a new one in the first place is so I know I will have a reliable vehicle if I ended up in some type of financial crunch (you know being self employed and all).

All that said, I started looking at 2014 or newer Honda Accords. A little bigger and the next model up, but they are rated high in every category CR has. The Accords are known for how bullet proof they are regarding reliability. Of course I didn't rule out 2014 or 2015 Civics either, but I was leaning over to the Accord side of the equation if I couldn't get a 2016 or 2017 Civic.

This year I had a couple good sized contracts come through, helping me with a down payment. I figured there was no time like the present to pull the trigger on something, before something derailed my plan.

My schedule has been wrecked lately due to a lot of training contracts, so time has been tight. When Memorial Day weekend rolls around, I go and test drive a half dozen cars or so and find a gray 2014 Certified Accord that really talks to me. The dealership is having a clearance (yea they probably tell everyone that!), so I get it for what I think is a good deal (as a matter of fact the price is lower than I paid for my 2007 Civic when I bought it!). I end up working out the details and am driving it by Wednesday!

Now this is a smooth ride, hands free blue tooth (I made this feature a necessity for any vehicle I was going to get), air (yep, I hadn't had air in my Civic for probably 5 years). I really enjoyed driving this new car! It handled great, was peppy, had a lot more cabin room, smoother ride, looked awesome! I hadn't felt this giddy over a vehicle since I was a teenager!

Me Teaching HSG at Caledonia High School

Now of course, I have to pay for the car too, so that means work. So, I'm teaching a Her Survival Guide  for the 9th, 10th and 11th grade students at Caledonia High School and things are going well. Then, on my second day teaching, I'm walking out to my Cool New Car and I see something... What is that? Is it a reflection making my bumper look like that? Hmmmmm, I think as I get closer. As I approach the driver side the horror sets in. Some little m@#$% ker hit my new car! My car that I haven't even had for a full week has been smashed.

My adolescent inner self is screaming, "Oh My GOOOOOOOOOOOD! This isn't happening! Someone hit my new car!"

Yep, someone clipped the bumper and headlight. *SMACK!* And inside I was mad and wanted to kill the person who did it!

There was no one around, however there was a little yellow note with the persons name and number on it. "Well, at least he left a note." I thought as my adolescent inner-self wiped the tears out of his eyes and unferreled his fists. The note was the right thing for the driver to do, but that didn't stop my mind and emotions from wanting to rise. It was quite an effort to stay Baseline. Before I picked up my phone to call him, I had to regain my composure. I knew it was only an accident and getting mad and taking it out on the driver wasn't going to help anything.

I have written about what and why being Baseline is so important, but here's a review:

Remember, baseline is about being part of the solution, NOT the problem and in order to do this you have to be grounded. There are two kinds of grounding: Tactical Grounding or being grounded in the moment and Foundational Grounding or having healthy habits and living a grounded life.

Both are made up of three components:

1) Attitude
  • See Conflict as an Opportunity
  • Respect Life - Separate actions & beliefs from someone's Life Value.
  • Set the Pace - Lead by Example

2) Awareness
  • Yourself
  • Others
  • The Situational Environment 

3) Appropriate Action 
  • The Right Thing Done at...
  • The Right Time with...
  • The Right Intent (Most Good / Least Harm)

Another component of base line is about what you are FOCUSing on:

Victim's Focus:
  • Problem
  • Helplessness (what you can't do)
  • Blame (anyone or thing other than taking any responsibility yourself!)

PeaceWalker's Focus:
  • Solutions
  • Options (What you CAN do)
  • Action (What's the next step)

The final the facet that I want to share about Baseline is breathing:

Tactical Grounding:

  • Take a Deep Breath and Stand Up Straight
  • Have Positive Self Talk - "I got this. It's going to work out."
  • Put on Your "Game Face" (the right expression to suit the situation)

 Ok, so back to our story...

Before I called the number on that little yellow note, I took a deep breath (ok, a few of 'em) and instinctively went through each of items you just read and then called him. Sure enough, it was one of the students. His voice shook a bit as he talked. I asked him if anyone was hurt and what had happened. He told me the story and I commended him on his honesty and told him he did the right thing leaving his number.

After speaking with his mother we got all of the insurance arrangements taken care of. Both her and her son were very nice. Under the circumstances things could not have worked out any better. My car wasn't badly damaged, it was driveable, the damage was relatively minimal and most importantly no one was hurt.

Now, I have to admit it was difficult keeping my cool and not blowing up at the kid for hitting my new car, but by using some of the tools I described here I was able to keep things in perspective and not lose it. Later, the kids mother thanked me for not getting upset with her son. Both she and I thought he did a stand up job ethical thing by leaving a note and we both told him so.

I collected their insurance info and immediately started that process. (Hey, luckily they had insurance and were very amicable.)

So that part is taken care of, now I have been practicing my Baseline Skills dealing with the insurance company and body shop, but you'll have to wait to hear about that story on my next post!

Same as it ever was...

Keep going,