Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Walk: Part IIC

Poetry & Encounter
A cadence of experience, a rhythm of expression formed by graceful attentiveness.

The Path

“They’re just living their lives.” A wise colleague said this in response to a frustration. Unfortunately, I was the holder of that frustration. Along with the Achilles’ heel of needing to understand things at a too often intense level, there is yet another one; I also hate to be ignored. Let me walk into a restaurant, be ignored, and I’ll walk out never to return. Sorry, it is what it is. During the challenging year in which my colleague spoke this, I was feeling ignored. It was frustration built up from unnecessary expectations I had set for others.

Her comment got my attention, brought me to ground. I was embarrassed by the intensity with which I had succumbed to false expectations; scripts written that had nothing to do with reality. I had strayed from rhythm, the cadence of my own way of being in this work I do. Somehow in my journey, three strengths have evolved and joined together to give me, not only a rhythm in the work, but a model for doing the work: Gather-Give-Grow.

Study has served my life and work. In study, I gather information on the one hand. On the other hand is the need to grow something with what has been gathered. When the hand of gather joins the hand of grow, I then know how to truly give. And giving is done in a steady walk, on the path with purpose.

At the core of life & living is what it means to walk. To participate is to step from life into living. Life is observation. Living is participation. Life is the energy of internal focus. Living is the energy of external focus. Life is the birth of new ideas and creative, intuitive ways of being. Living is the freeing of such energy into a needy world, as we do what is right for us to do along our own path.

The Rhythm of Paradox

There is this,
There is that,
And the two together
I hold.
A tension of life,
A blessing for living.

As I sat in the quiet of an early Wednesday morning, the blessings of life & living were swirling about me. I pray I have had the impact upon others that is spoken in my own statement of Desire & Intent:

That you lovingly lead others to their own authentic confidence; as you embrace the power of who you are, and act on this Trueness.

This is a good and noble thing for me, because the collision of desire and intent were given to me; implanted from the beginning. As such, this is life, given for living. This statement doesn’t define me, it was given for the defining, reality brought to my life & living.

I use the term life & living as a reference to one’s path and to express the flow of internal to external, and open awareness to the path−the middle tension created by the paradox of life and living. For some, energy given to the doing helps develop awareness of being. For some, energy given to being helps develop more conscious application in the doing. It doesn’t matter where one must begin, based on her or his makeup; it only matters when both are held in the blessing of creative tension, rhythm, and flow.

I speak about flow and rhythm as if they are the same thing. They are, and they are not. I speak of flow in the larger sense, that of which we are all a part. I speak of rhythm in a personal manner, that cadence within, given since the beginning, and key to knowing how we join the flow.

Encouraged by the Fitting Together

In my work with individual leaders, I have for years engaged in dialogue about strengths. I include this focus on each person’s strengths because of an external concentration in our work society leveraging varying instruments to show people their strengths. In our corporeal work around leadership development, we assume a focus on strengths is telling the individual something of deep, internal truth about who they are. Rather, we are only pointing to an example of how they show up in the world, not why they show up.

This work in the external can go only so far in being of assistance to true impact. If one only lives actively from external sources, there is no flow, and there is no rhythm. Flow and rhythm are not propositions of either/or, but the holding together of both/and. The fitting together of it all, part of the energy of everything belongs, is part of a reality that is in our midst in this 21st Century.

Personally, if I try to understand this fitting together, I ultimately limit my seeing. But if I simply allow it to encourage me, I stand a much better chance at seeing how it comes together. I must not allow any need to understand, or any other Achilles’ heel, to prevent me from knowing this belonging.

After many years holding the need to understand (a private version of control), I’m learning to release into what it means to contemplate and participate in the unfolding flow; taking a long, loving look at reality. Critical to this learning is remaining connected in the flow with my own rhythm.

The encouragement we need comes from within, as our desire becomes fueled by our voice and joins intention, creating the energy needed for impact.

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Creative Tension – Part 5B of 7

Gifts From Santa Claus

We create ourselves as we go.” ~ Hallmark

‘Tis the season. The season of colder weather and head colds. Of decorating, cooking, and shopping for gifts. Of endless hours of wrapping presents and wrapping up the year. Each year seems to bring on more demands than the previous year and yet we continue to push ourselves through the activities.

And that’s just it. Activities.

As I prepared to finally collect my thoughts for this post, I re-read Jeff’s recent post in this series with a feeling of irony. Jeff asked the question, “What is calling for your attention?” I had to inwardly laugh when I thought of all the things I still needed to do to prepare for the holidays, my family, my home, and myself. All of these activities were calling for my attention to the point it’s been difficult to focus on any of them with any amount of the genuine care they deserved. I was feeling an overwhelming lack of inspiration and just going through the motions of trying to feel the magic of the season.

Then the magic, and the inspiration began to flow.

First, in an exchange of communication, Jeff shared a quote that seemed to wake me and spark my inspiration.

“Outwardly, at this stage of life, going off on new adventures, if those adventures do not build on what has gone before, may be a way of not taking up our destiny, of going to sleep again.” – from The Heart Aroused

Then I read a Facebook post from a long time friend I was blessed to have been stationed with when I was in the U. S. Navy. This story, shared here, was the flame of inspiration I needed. I hope you find inspiration in this story as well.

“I have been sick lately. Sick to the point that I have finally ended up at the VA.

So yesterday I am sitting in the waiting room of my local VA Hospital, someplace no one wants to be. Santa walks into the waiting room in full regalia, polished boots and belt. The beard was very real. Still, I am so lost in my own woes that when Santa offers me a candy cane and asks, “And where were you stationed, young lady?” – being called young lady shook me out of my own head, but my tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth in surprise. 
Santa says “I did 3 tours in Vietnam, ’69 to ’72.” 
I finally end up gurgling out Jennifer 5B-1Diego Garcia and Santa laughed and handed me a candy cane.

Santa stopped at every chair, and asked the same question, and offered a candy cane for every reply. A few chairs down the row, a one-legged young man in a wheel chair sat angrily. When Santa asked where the young man had been stationed, he grumbled and groused and tried to push the candy cane away. Santa lifted his trouser leg and showed the young man in the wheelchair his prosthetic leg. Santa said, “You’re gonna have to get stronger than that if you gonna get your ass out that wheelchair, son.” Santa straightened his pant leg, and re-offered the candy cane, asking the same question with the same tone and smile as if that kid had never been rude.

Thanks, Santa, for a miracle of the season.”

This story is a great reminder that too often we get stuck in our own head and think ourselves into a black hole. This is not to diminish what the veteran in the story has been through and must now live with. (Either one of them! Wink!) This is more about the selfless leadership shown by Santa. He is the perfect example of Authentic Leadership and leading with Trueness. From a traditional perspective, Santa Claus always has an eye on those who need him most. Each year he manages to be fully present in the season. And he knows how and when to leverage the strengths of others. (Thanks, Rudolph!)

As Jeff shared in his previous post, “Trueness [is] a selfless method focusing you fully in the moment and on those who presently need you at your best, as you walk your path of genius.”

I’m sure that Santa in the story had to make some unexpected and unplanned mental sidesteps as he was creating who he is today. And I’m sure it wasn’t always an easy road he walked. But he found a way to pull on his strength and experience to help empower others.

This is true leadership. THIS is Santa Claus!

 So in keeping with the season, I share these gifts from Santa:

  • GATHER your GIFTS – Know that your gifts, your strengths, are always there. Enlist the help of your friends, family, reindeer and elves to make sure your gifts are ready to be shared.
  • GIVE your GIFTS – Give your candy canes freely, without any expectations of reciprocation. Your milk and cookies will come to you in time.
  • GROW your GIFTS – Embrace and share the magic! Like magic, you may not see or even know the impact of your gift. Just know someone is a better person because of it.

As I keep telling my two daughters, Santa IS real. He lives in our head and in our heart. And his Gift to us, through us, is the magic that happens when someone receives our authentic leadership in their time of need.

And so I ask, do you believe in Santa Claus? Because I do!

Jennifer 5B-2

Jennifer Rainey "Strengths Expert"

Jennifer Rainey
“Strengths Expert”

All that Jennifer does is driven by a commitment to help you look inside and identify your passions and strengths. Jennifer is a practitioner and consultant for organizational effectiveness.

Sign up for her curation:
Through the Door of Possibility

 

Creative Tension – Part 5A of 7

What is Calling for Your Attention?

~ Give to Grow ~

The rhythm of your strengths is an operating model for the power of your presence. In such rhythm is how you give your gift in this world.

The gifts of the moment, when consciously received, give far into the future.

Your genius is in how you live the rhythm of your strengths–your guiding spirit. Jennifer and I chose to write this series on Gather-Give-Grow because of how this energy universally represents the resonance of Trueness. We don’t just write to you because you are a leader on paper, a position entitled by a box on an organizational chart. We write to you to encourage the leader within.

As Jennifer tells us, our growth and development may take many experiential forms, but we grow best when we consciously apply our Trueness. Such application is not a selfish preference, forcibly projected at others. Rather, it is a selfless method focusing you fully in the moment and on those who presently need you at your best, as you walk your path of genius.

What is calling for your attention?

This is a question of presence.

In a recent conversation, Jennifer summarized simply what I heard as her passionate commitment to herself and to you: Authentic Leadership. Unquestionable evidence of your authentic growth is how you’ve helped another grow. As our colleague, Ric Gonzalez, says, true giving is done without attachment: “This is true generosity. Practicing it is a skill, and it it takes a whole lot of work.”

Further, Ric says that detaching from outcomes frees our giving for actual impact of the gift given. And the most precious gift, and form of giving, I can receive from you, my leader, is your presence.

Your desire and your intent, when joined in leading from Trueness, induce creative tension. It is this intersection and tense union that Jennifer and I write about in this series, and we do so to encourage you.

The desire that drives you as a leader will join with intent that draws you forward. The spirit of this union encourages your Trueness through creative tension–suffering the attachment to desire and the detachment required by the reality of intent.

In trusting your Trueness, and holding creative tension until it teaches you in the present, you free your strengths into a large territory, calling ever more deeply on your genius.

A Leadership Poem: Present Value

DSCN1049

Creative Tension – Part 4B of 7

The Path of Genius

“Towering genius disdains a beaten path.
It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.

~Abraham Lincoln

As I read through Trustworthy Timbre, Jeff’s latest post in our series, there are several key words, phrases, and themes that keep calling for my attention. Not surprising, calling the loudest is Voice, supported with resonance, flow, and the metaphor of the tree. And while Jeff and I share our thoughts, our words of wisdom for Gather – Give – Grow, it’s important to understand that this is not a linear process.Jennifer 4B-1 Like the roots of the tree, the acts of gathering, giving, and growing are intricately intertwined to touch, nudge, guide, and provide energy to nurture the tree that we are as we grow strong and share our voice.

Even as we journey to explore a previously unexplored area of ourselves and engage in divergent thinking, I’ve noticed a pattern in the messages Jeff and I are sharing. We have shared messages of being intentional, disciplined, and strategic. Our journey becomes even more significant when we “deliberately disengage” and “consciously learn to apply our voice”. In moments like this we encounter resonance – that feeling of being in sync with the universe. This is when we are calling on our Genius.

So what is our Genius?

I’m not talking about the diluted definition that is used to depict intelligence.  If we look at the original Latin meaning of the word, it means “to beget, to create, to bring into being.”  In ancient Rome, the word genius often referred to a person’s “guiding spirit” and over time took on the meaning of a person’s natural, inherited abilities.  So in this sense of the word, we are all genius.  We just need to determine exactly what our specific genius is.  This is when I often wonder what else can I do?  What else can I do for my own development?  And what else can I do to help others?  So I share this last bit of information from Marcus Buckingham.

Though your genius is ingrained, the right way to channel it is not.

Knowing that you have strengths, or as Jeff has shared, a voice, isn’t enough. Even knowing what your strengths are, isn’t enough. You need to OWN them. You need to really understand them. And then you need to consciously decide how best to apply them. As leaders, we do this in support of, and in service of, those we lead.

As an example I’ll share another story of my daughter, Shannon. I clearly remember the day I received a call from her school principle. She had hit a classmate (not very hard) in the face. When I spoke with Shannon that evening about the incident and asked her why she did it. She told me that the teacher was teaching and her classmate would not stop talking. So she hit her!

Shannon was 5 years old and in kindergarten at the time.

She’s 10 now and I’ve seen many times where Shannon has “taken charge” of the situation. She definitely has a talent for being in command. Unchecked, she could grow up to be a bully. But consciously developed, I see the future leader she is.

My point is this, know that your strengths will come out no matter what. You just want to make sure that you are in control of them when they do. To help you with this, remember these three Principles from the book StandOut by Marcus Buckingham.

  1. Your Genius Is Precise – Take the time to identify when you feel resonance. This is when you see, understand, and learn much faster and more efficiently.
  2. You Can’t Respect What You Don’t Remember – Apply your Strengths consciously – every day!  Don’t sit back and wait for the world to hand you opportunities.  Make your own opportunities. 
  3. Reach Beyond Your Role – Push yourself within your strength zone.  Investigate what your strengths may be and how they show up in your role as leader. Then sharpen your edge by honing how you leverage your strengths, your voice, and be more intentional.

GatherGive – Grow

So while I still have regions yet unexplored, my own strengths journey has come a long way (Grow).  I’ve learned to recognize when I’m leveraging my strengths (Gather), and I’ve learned to recognize when I should leverage my strengths (Give).  And I hope that on our journey together, you have too.  Because the path we choose as leaders in the work of trueness will make all the difference.

Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com


I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost (1874-1963

 

 

Jennifer Rainey "Strengths Expert"

Jennifer Rainey
“Strengths Expert”

All that Jennifer does is driven by a commitment to help you look inside and identify your passions and strengths. Jennifer is a practitioner and consultant for organizational effectiveness.

Sign up for her curation:
Through the Door of Possibility

Creative Tension – Part 2B of 7

Listen to the Rhythm

 Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances. –Maya Angelou

As I read the previous post from Jeff, I too was struck by the words he shared from Parker J. Palmer; especially,

“Pay attention to rhythm.”

This simple, yet powerful, statement reminded me of the clear messages shared by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in the book The Power of Full Engagement. Rhythm is all around us.  It’s in nature as we move from day, to night, to day again; as we move through the seasons, and the years. There’s rhythm in the universe around us. And there’s rhythm in the universe within us. Our heartbeat, our breathing, our sleeping, and as we move through our day, there’s a rhythm we “dance” to – sometimes like a puppet on strings.

But our natural rhythms have been overridden.  With the fast pace of life and Jennifer 2B-1advances in technology that is meant to keep us connected, we’re wired up, but we’re melting down.  We have laptops and tablets and smart phones. There’s a wifi hot spot in just about every coffee shop, restaurant, sports center. We get pop-up reminders, and text messages – all designed to help us manage our time, and our connections, better.

Our capacity to be fully engaged, to be our whole selves, our strong selves, depends on our ability to periodically disengage, slow down, and listen.  Listen to what the universe is trying to say to us.

Recently a good friend shared a story that has stayed with me. Maritza exemplifies what it means to truly listen. Like most of us, she was caught up in the hectic pace of the life and work she chose for herself. And like many of us, she was tired, stressed, and not fulfilled. Then she made a change. She quit one career and took a completely different path and found her calling, her purpose, by listening. Some may call it the universe or a guiding spirit. Maritza calls this her angel. Even though she has never seen him, Jennifer 2B-2she’s felt him, and listens to his “guiding voice”. Maritza’s interpretation of what she hears when she listens to her angel is her strength. Through her listening, she gathers what she needs to help others. And by sharing her strength, her calling, she can feel energized as well.

We all have our own “angel” trying to speak to us when we are faced with a problem or puzzle or decision. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of how to listen. We have a way that feels natural for us to renew our energy and maintain a natural rhythm. Whatever your preference, the point is to recognize when your rhythm is off and make the time to set it right. Some ways to do this are:

  • Practice “strategic disengagement”. Consciously and deliberately create new boundaries for yourself.  Disengagement doesn’t have to be long. It just needs to be intentional and conscious.
  • Discipline yourself to see the patterns around you. Then use what you see to help others.
  • Deliberately look for people with opposing viewpoints to engage in conversation. Look for evidence that contradicts what you believe. Doing this will help keep you from becoming complacent and keep your mind energized.

Even as we do this for ourselves, as leaders, we need to remember that others look to us for guidance. It may be our voice that speaks to them as their “angel”. So not only do we need to remember to disengage and renew our own energy, we need to be aware of the rhythm of those we lead and encourage them to do the same. In doing this we open ourselves to the rhythms around us and the creative tension that will help us to gather what we need to lead others.

So as you think about what you do and whom you lead, and I know you will, remember that you have a rhythm and the universe is speaking to you. Sometimes we just need to slow the rhythm, listen to our angel, and then get back in the dance.

Jennifer 2B-3

Photos courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Jennifer Rainey "Natural Information Curator"

Jennifer Rainey
“Natural Information Curator”

All that Jennifer does is driven by a commitment to help you look inside and identify your passions and strengths. Jennifer is a practitioner and consultant for organizational effectiveness.

 

Sign up for her curation:
Through the Door of Possibility

Creative Tension – Part 1B of 7

“The innovation point is the pivotal moment when talented and motivated people seek the opportunity to act on their ideas and dreams.” —W. Arthur Porter

Too often we get wrapped up in the here and now, the day-to-day, and we don’t take the time to take a step back and look at who we are and who we have become. We often overlook the messages that are telling us to get out of our rut and try something different, even uncomfortable. Or maybe we just need to get back to who we really are. Exploring these messages is where we can find inspiration that often leads to the creative tension that becomes our pivot point of innovation. That chance to actively make a change.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

This pivot point is what happened when I was asked by Jeff to collaborate for this series. The discomfort was in the sharp reminder that I had traveled away from my own desire to inspire others to grow through what I have learned and experienced. To leverage my strengths to help others embrace theirs. So here I am at my pivot point.

My inspiration is often what I read. What I’ve discovered about my reading is that there is often a purpose for what I’m drawn to depending on what is happening in my life at that time, personal and professional. And there is almost always a level of learning involved with the purpose of taking that learning and sharing with others. As a friend and colleague told me some time back, I’m a natural information curator. So as I was thinking about creative tension and the connection of this to how we can each embrace this tension for the development of our own unique talents, I was reminded of an article I read several years ago.

This article, Why we need to let kids be creative, encourages letting children “play” and experience their world in their way (with guidance) to creatively solve the problems they encounter. The problem the toddler solves in figuring out how to get to the cookies on the counter, or the coveted toy from a playmate, develops the capability that could lead to the next technology, or social media innovation 20 years later. As the parent, and leader, responsible for that “child”, it’s our responsibility to nurture the creativity that leads to capability – even for ourselves.   What we, as leaders today, should encourage is:

  • Engage in divergent thinking – a key to problem solving and a foundation of creativity – understanding what is, and then imagining the possibilities of what could be.
  • Play with others – this teaches us how to negotiate group dynamics and cultivate creative-thinking skills.
  • Take time for free play – when you take a break from gathering data, you allow your brain to loosely explore and reconfigure information.

Over the course of this series I will engage in some divergent thinking and take time to play with others (Thanks, Jeff!). And I will encourage you to do the same. The beauty of this journey is that even though we may not have a map, our world will be richer and the potential for innovation will be greater because we each bring our own unique strengths and perspective as we explore this together. To help guide us, I’ll be pulling from my learning, and library, of strength-based development, such as Marcus Buckingham’s StandOut books. In these books, we are introduced to an assessment that is an “innovation delivery system” designed to help reveal our edge. While invention is an idea, even a novel idea, innovation is “novelty that can be applied.” Innovation is what keeps us relevant.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

 

And so like the wild flowers I used to pick as a young girl, I’ll pick and share some ideas and practical tips to help us be relevant, even beautiful, as we discover our edge and explore together what it means for us to…


Gather ~ Give ~ Grow.

 

Jennifer Rainey "Natural Information Curator"

Jennifer Rainey

All that Jennifer does is driven by a commitment to help you look inside and identify your passions and strengths. Jennifer is a practitioner and consultant for organizational effectiveness.

Sign up for her curation:
Through the Door of Possibility

Reflections for Your Awareness (A Soul Leader)

What’s hard is true, spiritual leadership.  I’m talking about the kind of leadership that comes from your soul.  It’s the kind of leadership that focuses on the spiritual work that each individual is longing to undertake that is hidden behind the guise of the tasks they have to get done. Manage the tasks; lead the people.
-From post 7/09/2011 by Ric Gonzalez, Woo Woo Leadership

Jim is at a point in his life where, in order to be true to self, he must serve consistently. In order to serve as he most desires, and focus on the best outcomes, he must balance himself across individualized significance. As with Jim, our work of leadership is spiritual when it flows from the soul.

Few have the courage to explore publically a topic such as spiritual leadership. The author of the above excerpt does. Maybe it is in part due to Ric’s search for such in his own work. Part of the true leadership experience is confidently doing your own spiritual work; applying personally a principle of self-care for selfless service. Conscious of your own purpose, you increase your ability to respect the strengths and potential of others. As you have discovered for yourself, purpose frees you to focus with confidence on what is most important.

Confident with self, you facilitate confidence for others as they connect through the work. This is leading from the soul. Individuals do not want to be managed. Individuals desire to be led.