Category Archives: Effective Communication

Hearing the Path to the Experiences We Desire

In mystical traditions, it is one’s own readiness that makes experiences exoteric or esoteric. The secret isn’t that you’re not being told. The secret is that you’re not able to hear.

These are the words of Ram Dass. My translation:

When it seems impossible to get what you want, it is not because you are not ready, nor is it because you are not given the information you need. It’s because you are not able to hear the thoughts that tells the path to all that you desire.

I used to think ‘I cannot write as good as the many good writers out there.’ I thought this over and over again, to the extent that I could not hear the buried voice of truth inside me.

“Write,” it said! “Your words convey emotion and touch people’s hearts.”

These thoughts penetrated my ear drums. But would soon be killed by a bombardment of worrisome, insecure thinking.

Today, I spend much time alone and in silence. As a result, I can often hear the gentle whispers of encouragement, pushing me towards writing and other success tools, things which ignite excitement in my gut.

I can finally hear the words “you are love. The pen belongs in your hand.” These words have long been pounding on my deafened ears. I am finally hearing and listening.

Are you hearing and listening to the way to the experiences you desire?

Living Well

If I work hard, so that I may live well, when do I stop working hard and start living well?

The answer is never! To live well, I do not have to work hard! Instead, I must live a life filled with love, healing and prosperity. And that is a function of the mind and the spirit.

As a result of my brain injury, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the key to living well is thinking well or thinking good thoughts; even when I am faced with the most seemingly dismal situation! For example, I get terrible headaches and very uncomfortable, needle like sensations in my right leg, whenever I think too much or I think negative thoughts.

Therefore whenever I want to get mad at my daughter for something she did, I am reminded to find a positive way to teach her, or get ready for pain. Whenever I start thinking too hard, trying to find a solution, I am reminded to “let go let God,” or feel the pain, pain, pain.

Since much of my day is spent thinking, or unknowingly saying things in uninspiring ways, you can imagine the impact of shutting down this negativity. This unexplainable happiness truly is what it is to live well!

Why Are Able-bodied People So Mean?

Each week I  volunteer to serve stroke patients at Mackenzie Hospital. Though I truly appreciate this work, I get a little dis-heartened the mornings I walk into a room of physiotherapist and occupational therapists. In this room filled with 6 or 7 people, I can find but one pair of eyes to genuinely acknowledge my smile or my presence. I can find but another one or two faces to share a glance or a word that welcomes me into the room.

I walk out, a little less bubbly than I walked in. I then walk into a room with one or a group of elderly patients. I expect to be greeted with smiles and love, and I am rarely disappointed.

What Does it Mean When the Strong and Able-Bodied Lack Friendliness

Does this mean that many, who are so strong and able-bodied, are so preoccupied with themselves that they appear inconsiderate and mean! Maybe; or maybe it means something else. Perhaps it means that more often than I would like to admit, my expectations for the seemingly strong and able-bodied are too low, my compassion invisible, my smile barely noticeable.

Expect Good and You Will Create Good – Expect Bad and You Will Create Bad

With my expectations, I create my reality. Have I been helping to create a disadvantaged character of meanness for those who appear to be stronger, more able bodied than me? Can I not see that in many ways they are like me?

Though I flash a quick smile, I quickly hold my head down in worry about my disadvantages, leaving little time for them to see my disappearing smile. With my thoughts caught up in my must-do’s or challenges, I cannot notice their own preoccupations and needs. I do not let them know that I care a little about them. No wonder they live up to my low expectations. I am likely living up to theirs.

Change Your Perception – Change Your Relationships

I must change my stereotypes of those who are different from me. When I see others as mean, I limit the possibility of us uplifting, working or doing business together. When I see others as kind, I wait for and encourage their positive response to my greetings, to my presence. I open the door to impact, and be impacted by, their achievements.

Try This

I now ask you to reflect on another more pertinent question. What good do you see in those who are different from you, how can you help to bring it out, and how can this impact your achievements? I too will reflect on this, and share what I see.

Get Connected, Get productive – Mobility Not Required

Yesterday I had a wonderful meeting in my home office, with my Pajama-pants on, and no make-up. In this disorderly state, I was hesitant to poke my head outside, for fear that someone I know would see me. Fortunately, the members of my Church’s Communication Commission, with whom I was meeting virtually on WebEx, couldn’t see much below my shoulders; and if they could, I believe they wouldn’t care.

You see, we were connecting and getting some serious work done. Best of all, we did not have to take one step out of the convenience of our homes.

Below is shown the meeting window, with our agenda on PowerPoint, list of participants and a picture of me on Webcam (whenever someone speaks, he or she is shown on the screen).

webex-eg3

Meeting for approximately one hour, we accomplished various tasks. This included decided on a name for a newsletter and completely planning the first issue. Plus we had ample time to check-in with each other.

Just about everyone seems limited by time, money, transportation or mobility. That is certainly one reason why virtual collaboration is slowly taking over the world.

A stoke has limited my mobility somewhat, but not my ability to connect face to face with the world, and give my all for the good of the people and organizations I serve. I am committed to using and teaching others to use virtual technology (WebEx for the time being) to connect, accomplish the results they want in their lives, and to become a more productive contribution to themselves and the world.

How can virtual collaboration help you get more connected and productive?

Are you living your life your way?

It was not until my brain attach that I understood the meaning of Frank Sinatra song, “My Way.”  The first stanza of the song follows.

And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

This a song not for when we are old or dying, but for that point of our life when we begin to lose ourselves to people, things or the status-quo. No one wants to find out when it is too late, the importance of living life “their way.”

Thank God for my stroke, for without it I would not have realized that I was not living life my way. For example, I need to dress colorfully, find “out of the box” ways of doing things, and relate to people in an honest way. I need these things to bring out the fire in me. Sometimes I feel I need them, just to breathe.

When I wear funky red clothes, I feel filled with as much light as the very material I am wearing. My attire does not always fit with the unspoken dress code of most workplaces or churches, but it sure fits with me. When I develop a virtual training session for soft skills development, this may be out of the box for many people, yet it bountifully boosts my ability to break down barrier to learning and sharing. When I share my honest thoughts, this may be uplifting or terribly disappointing to someone, yet it is my commitment to inserting true love that will heal us all, certainly me.

Up until my 20’s and early 30’s, my way of being seemed to push me to full expression of self, like the vibrancy of youth. At that time, my appearance and my spirit was colourful, out of the box and honest in my life and work. One example of this was when I worked for the Canadian International Development Agency. I came up with and created the Agency’s Self-Directed Learning Centre, which was one of the first such centre’s created in the Canadian Government. It became a model for other departments, and was hailed as one of the best accomplishments that came out of CIDA’s Human Resources Department.

As the years went on, my way of doing things became lost in my inner-fight to fit in, to be like others, to have what others had. I wore darker clothes, conformed to the status quo, and kept my mouth shut, leaving people to believe whatever they wanted.

With my stroke began the re-emergence of my individual and colourful being, my out-of-the-box thinking, and my desire to courageously share the truth instead of hiding under the falseness of saying nothing. As a result, though I am getting older, the youth in me is re-emerging.

I just bought pairs of red, orange and yellow pants – and if I may so myself, they are rocking! I am loving introducing more and more previously intimated people to doing meetings and training via Webex. Finally, I now have the voice to share my faith and tell people if I believe what they are doing or saying is hurtful to themselves or others.

So what do you think? Are you able to do things your way in all aspect of your life? What is the impact?

Here is Sinatra singing “My Way.” Reflect on the words, again or for the first time.

Finding Advantage Through Disadvantage

There was a time, not too many years ago, when I was a high and mighty senior consultant in Corporate Canada. I had not broken into the realm of management, and I seemed to be always focusing my attention on getting the role as manager, which would put me where I thought I belonged.

One problem – I was lost in the complaints of a victim who perceived herself to be kept out of management by biased, jealous, and unfair superiors. I was guided by the hypocritical smiles of my victimhood, the perception that I was a better team leader, a better presenter, a better designer, and better motivator than managers ahead of me.

My focus rarely rested on, my greatest vision, helping staff become the very best of themselves. I gave words, not action, towards my vision of superior development for professionals, support staff and the like. I was lost in my complaint. I was lost in my victimhood. I was lost!

Fast forward to today. On the other side of a long and difficult journey through severe stress, stroke and healing, I no longer live in the shadows of victimhood. I no longer hang out at the doorway of position and status. I finally understand, that to truly serve others, and help them get what they need to be successful, they have to be my focus.

One of my greatest loves lately has been the volunteer work I have been doing for a few hours in the Stroke Unit at McKenzie Health Hospital. Posting notices, pushing wheelchairs, conducting surveys, organizing information and doing friendly visits certainly do not lead to the grand position I once craved. Yet this has given me much more.

Nothing can replace the appreciation I have seen on patients faces, when I tell them that I was where they are.  Nothing can replace the hope that I see when I share genuine pleasure for the progress that I see in just a week or two. Nothing can replace the warmth that I feel when I sit for a friendly visit, listening to the experiences of stroke which confuse them, and consoling them with my experience of the gradual healing which comes with effort, time and a positive attitude.

What is seen as my disadvantage became my greatest advantage. Helping people become the best of themselves was not a part of my craving and fighting for even more status. For me, it was in diminishing my ego, and dropping myself to the level of the people I serve; in so doing, I was able to reap the advantage of truly being with them face to face, truly impacting their lives and my own. In my disadvantage, I found the advantage of seeing my vision as it is fulfilled.

Obama and Social Media: The Key to Our Success

This picture tweeted by Barack Obama’s campaign, shortly after he was declared winner of the 2012 elections, broke the record for the most re-tweeted tweet of all time, surpassing Justin Bieber!

The tweet shows a main reason for Obama’s and our own victory, if we are really ready to take social media seriously. He shows the world how to attract the attention of the social media crowd and engage them with the attention, hope, visual activity and romance they both love and need.

Obama’s team is a master of social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Reddit. I use all but Reddit. I had heard about Reddit, but my interest never piqued, until I read how Obama used it as a way to put out a message, engage voters, and answer their questions. This lead me to look up Reddit discussion topics in my area of interest, and saw that it is a promising place to get involved in discussions, look up information and write articles focused on some of my messages and initiatives.

If I wasn’t before, I am now clear that it is not enough to dabble in these powerful social media tools. Real success, real application of the power of social media takes strategic planning around a message, conscious effort to gain followers and hard work to produce results.

For me, this means a renewed and more powerful effort around social media, starting with my strategic plan. In my next post I will provide information around developing an effective social media plan. If you have a plan, feel free to share your strategies.

Do You Know What You Are Teaching Others?

My 4-year-old grand-nephew came over to my house for Canadian Thanksgiving. Knowing that his mother and grandmother are smokers, I decided to do a little teaching. I said to him, “It’s not right to smoke, is it?”

In a rather loud, passionate and sure manner, he answered “noooo.” But it didn’t end there. In an equally convinced manner, he continued “Unless it’s in the bathroom or you go outside!” Woooah, I didn’t see that coming but I wasn’t surprised.The little boy was definitely told that smoking was bad, but his mother and his grandmother demonstrated there are times and places when it is the right thing to do!

What do we say is wrong, yet through our actions, demonstrate it can be in fact right? I tell my daughter it is wrong to scream, yet I scream at her whenever she drives me crazy. I have said to staff it is wrong to disrespect others, yet I have at times spoken very poorly of managers. What do you think they remembered, what I said or what I did?

So what do I do? What do we do? Right now, I can but really listen to myself, reflect on my words, and be conscious of where my words are not aligning with my actions. As a result, I very often catch myself when I want to scream at my daughter; for I do not want my screaming to be what I teach her, I want my actions to reflect the reserve, calm and love, I often speak to her and the world about.

What about you? Do you know what you actions are teaching others? Do your actions reinforce your words or make  them seem worthless? What does that say to you?

Getting Buy-In for your Passion

I am as passionate about people using technology to serve others and access services remotely, as I am about the beauty and healing of yellow roses. I can get people to buy into the awesomeness of yellow roses, but getting people excited about my other passions is another story.

I was at a leadership meeting for an organization recently, and was all prepared to demonstrate and show the awesome value of remote participation. I mentioned my passion to three colleagues sitting near me, with emphasis on how this would benefit the organization’s need for volunteers.

One lady responded in a seemingly assertive voice and negative manner, saying that a lot of individuals do not have computers, and would not value remote participation. Those few words squashed any further desire for me to share my passion.

Was this woman the ‘awful passion buster’ I described or was the problem me? It was me. My insecurities were triggered, and I could not seize the opportunity to truly get buy-in for my passion.

I saw opposition because deep down, that is what I expected. Once my trigger shows up (in this case loud, aggressive speaking that does not support my idea), I think people are going to oppose me, so no matter what happens, I see opposition.

Consider that all I heard was a perspective, with no definitively declared opposition! What if I had just listened without judgement, acknowledge the truth in what was spoken, then offer some other truth in a complementary way? For example, what if I had said:  ‘good point – do you think it would be better if emphasis is placed on those who have the technology to volunteer remotely?’ If I asked such a question, would the discussion have turned out differently? I think so. Especially because I would be expecting a positive response, and that is what I would work to get.

The point is, people need to tell us how they see the value of our passion; it’s a more difficult road when we try to tell them. To get them to tell us, we must arm ourselves with questions that others are likely to respond to in a positive way. This, of course, does not include situations in which there is complete opposition, i.e. someone who absolutely hates roses. In that case, it’s a good idea to just keep our mouth shut.

Luckily, there are many other chances to get buy-in for our passion. At least this time, I was reminded to watch out for my triggers, oppose no one, and let them tell me the value of what I have to offer.

Now, will you help me learn further about my passion? If you work remotely (i.e. from home) what is the value? If you do not and would like to, why? If you do not and are not interested, why not?

Web-Conferencing Can Give You New Life

When a misfortune in life left me barely mobile and unable to work, I found a way to get back in the game. I attended and lead seminars, participated in meetings, and served on leadership committees – all from the comforts of my home. Web-conferencing brought me back to life.

I know now that team learning, serving, and collaboration are never out of our reach, even when we think we are alone and there is no hope of finding the collaboration we need. No matter where we are, as long as we can touch a keyboard, speak into a computer microphone, or share ourselves through a webcam, the world is our partner.

In the next two months, I will be collaborating with subject matter experts to offer various programs, that can be accessible wherever we are, via web-conferencing. I would love to know some things you would like information about or training in – and you would like to do so from the location of your choice. In addition, these are things which are so important to you that you would pay a reasonable fee for the information or training.

Please share your comments in the section which follows this blog.