Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Information without implementation leads to frustration

The thing about being curious, analyzing and learning things is that it can create a situation where you become increasingly frustrated due to the lack of response to this information or your lack of ability to take action on what you now know. It is what happens when you conduct customer or employee satisfaction surveys. We gain access to valuable information that can be acted upon to make the company and workplace better for employees and customers alike.

And then nothing happens. Well other than the presentations and promises to make changes, at the end of the day and in the midst of an economic crisis, nothing really happens. Okay, lip service might be considered more than nothing by some folks. I mean the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

But it happens to me too. I learn something and know instinctively what needs to be done but then there are always too many things to do and not enough resources to do them all, even in my department of one in my personal life. I look in the attic and know that I need to purge to keep the flow of energy and things moving in the universe but do I do that or pay my bills? Florida Plunder and Loot thinks I can wait to act on my information while I pay my light bill.

And so the next time I'm in the attic struggling to find 2 inches of space for a 3 foot by 5 foot box, I get increasingly frustrated at my inability to act on the information I gained the last time I visited this remote region of my home.

So what's the answer? Do something small each day. If you have a choice to do nothing or the choice to do something small instead, do something small. So if you don't have time to completely empty the attic, open each box, purge and cart things off to Goodwill then at least take down 1 box and do that one small thing. At least the next time you are up there, you might have room for the new treasure that is finding it's way to the national storage facility (remember Raiders of the Lost Arc?)

Same thing with the surveys, with anything. Pick one small thing to do and act on that. Once completed you can select another small thing and so on. You will feel better and your frustration levels will subside at least a little and every little bit helps.

Monday, May 18, 2009

There is never a lack of time, only a lack of faith


I learned this lesson over 20 years ago when I wrote case studies for the Darden Graduate School of Management at UVA. My friends would respond whenever anyone asked me what I did for a job that I wrote term papers for a living. And they were right. Writing case studies is like research term papers due every few weeks, loads of fun collecting the data from interviews with C level folks at the company plus hours at the library ferreting out industry data to put the company in context. And then hours and hours of organizing, formatting
, creating tables and writing prose to bring the case to life and thread the pieces together.

There was this one case in particular that was both intriguing and overwhelming in information, facts and figures. It involved Ohio Arts who makes Etch A Sketch and their decision to license the Disney image of Mickey Mouse to create a younger version of the old standard toy where Mickey's eyes would move when the child turned the drawing knobs. I was under deadline as the CEO of Ohio Arts was scheduled to visit the school in a few weeks to hear the students debate the finer points of his dilemma, to renew the license or not.

It came down to the wire, the last night before the editors needed the final draft so they could do their magic, get it printed and distributed in time for student consumption. I sat down that night with only 10 hours left before the 8 am submission deadline. From writing about 15 of these puppies I knew that I had easily, 40-50 hours of work in front of me before the case would be ready for prime time. I was so overwhelmed that I didn't know where to start. I would pick up one stack of facts and then decide no, better start over here with this stack of interview notes and back and forth and back and forth accomplishing nothing!

I decided that I needed to center myself or this constant back and forth would sap all of my energy and not a word would be committed to paper. So I put my head down on the keyboard in front of me and prayed. I stated out loud that I couldn't finish this case alone and that I needed help. That there was not enough time to complete the task and that it would take a miracle and help from a miracle worker to finish it on time.

I was then very still and I let the calm of something other-worldly wash over me and then I heard it. As clear as if someone were in the room, the words came to me, "there is never a lack of time, only a lack of faith." So simple, so poignant, so matter of fact that all I could do was acknowledge the truth in its simplicity.

I sat up and immediately found the exact opening statement flowing from my fingertips onto the computer screen. Every fact or figure or quote that I needed presented itself to me as if it had surfaced from amongst the disarray on my desk on command. The words flowed, the story unfolded in a way that I almost felt like an observer in the movie that was the writing of this case study. I finished with an hour to spare, time for a quick shower and a cup of coffee before I headed to campus to meet my editor.

The case study was finished on time, the students came to the same conclusion that Ohio Arts did (they canceled the licensing deal) and the case study was voted as the student's favorite for that academic year, Etch A Sketch Meets Mickey Mouse. Even the title was inspired. When I read the case later, it was a work of brilliance, one that I don't remember participating in. But more importantly the case was an important lesson in the arena of faith. I have found that time isn't the only thing that we perceive is in short supply.

This simple truth applies to anything we think is in short supply - money, love, abundance, jobs, hope. I have now had an experience of what this looks like and when I remember to apply those wise simple words, the situation transforms itself right before my very eyes. The truth of the situation is that the process or the outcome may not look exactly the way we envisioned it, but whatever needs to happen will happen in the time, money, job or love allotted. And if we get out of the way it will always be better than anything we could have imagined.

There is never a lack of money, only a lack of faith.
There is never a lack of love, only a lack of faith.
There is never a lack of hope, only a lack of faith.
There is never a lack of jobs, only a lack of faith.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Focus on what you want in your life rather than what you don't want


Focus, focus, focus, if I could only just focus. But when we do focus, what is it that we spend our time and attention on? Is the glass half empty or half full? The reason this is important is that what we focus on is what we will create more of in our life.

Half Full Glass
So I ask myself, am I focusing on what I don't like about my situation or am I focused on what I want more of in my life. How many times in my life has someone asked me, what is it that you want most? And my response is a litany of what I don't like or want about my current situation.

How this works is much like the person with arachnophobia who hates hates hates spiders. And how is it that this person experiences more spiders than anyone else they know. It is as if their fear or hate acts like a magnet pulling toward themselves whatever it is that they are focusing on and in this case it is spiders albeit a hatred, it is still an intense focus.

But anything in life can be like a spider (or a whole herd of them if you really focus). If I am focused on not having a full time job and the fragmentation of having 3 part time ones, then I will get more fragmentation and keep attracting the lack of a full time job. If on the other hand I focus on more abundance than I can imagine from what I am doing now or something better then I have a better chance of drawing that into my life. It sounds so easy but how quickly we slip into our old pattern of thinking...where did I put that flyswatter anyway?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Glimpses of brilliance


So one thing that always amazes me when I read about enlightened beings or in the very few times in my life that I have had the opportunity to experience one in person, Swami Satchidananda, The Dalai Lama and Sivaya Subrahmanya Swami,I always marvel at how they got from where I am in my consciousness to theirs and I want to what I can do to get there myself.

One thing they all share in common is a wonderment that is very similar to a child. They see everything in the world as if it were new and beautiful, including even when they are doing something mundane. They also seem to be at peace and in bliss at the same time, experiencing something I recognize but just don't seem to get enough of.

You know those moments in your life when you have an experience of God. It can be a moment of watching the wonder in a child's eyes as they discover the world, that moment when you are overwhelmed with love for someone and you are so full of joy that you could burst with bliss. Or maybe it is a majestic sunrise that takes your breath away due to the beauty it bathes the world in. These are the moments that enlightened beings live in.

So someone told me that the way to get from here to there is to see these moments like a doorway on our dark room that opens a just a crack to let in brilliant rays of light from the outside and then closes again. My goal should be to have more of those moments each month, each week, each day, each hour so that the door opens more frequently. In addition I should focus on keeping the door open longer and longer each time it happens. To stay in the moment, to relish it, to not let the mundane interfere or shut the door. Slowly but surely I can get to a place where the door opens more frequently and stays open longer eventually filling the time of life experiences creating heaven on earth.

This makes it seem more attainable to me, increasing the number and duration of those small glimpses of brilliance a little at a time instead of going from darkness to total enlightenment in an instance. But then again, there is no difference between a small miracle and a large one in God's eyes.