I'm a crack expert!

It seems as if I have spent a good deal of time lately dealing with cracks!   Cracks in relationships, cracks in organizations, cracks in communication, and cracks in the roads!

 
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It’s spring in Minnesota and as the snow and ice slowly melts off the highways, we begin to see the cracks in the pavement. During my travels this week, I saw that even the newer roads were beginning to show cracks. As I looked closer, I began to notice that the cracks usually begin where the strips of asphalt come together – the seam. That is exactly what happens in my work!

When people need to come together to produce results, there is a chance that a crack will form.  Oftentimes there are ‘things’ that keep the parties from really being joined together. It might be personality, communication style, values, experience, or any one of a dozen other things that can put a wedge between people rather than helping them stick together.

 
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I feel as if I might be a crack expert! I worked for the highway department in college and spent many hours fixing cracks in the pavement and filling potholes. As an organization development consultant and coach, I have spent many hours helping to fix cracks in teams, organizations, and even fractured egos!   All of these hours have taught me a few things about cracks and potholes that I believe can be applied to humans!

  • Pay attention to where responsibilities, ideas, personalities come together.  That joint/ juncture/seam needs to be strong.

  • Put in extra work to create a strong bond between the parts. Just because they are next to each other doesn’t mean they are tight.

  • Be aware that the swing in temperatures is extra hard on those junctures. The atmosphere can have extreme heat and extreme cold.

  • Notice the traffic! The more people that travel across that joint, the greater the pressure on the joint and the more likely that it will begin to pull apart.

  • As soon as you notice any change in the relationship of the two parts, fix it.  Once the crack starts, it is more susceptible to external forces creating more damage.

  • At some point, the crack can’t be fixed. The only solution is to dig down below the surface, haul away all the junk and build a new road from the foundation up.

So, where are there cracks in your life that you drive past daily and just hope they will not get any worse?  It might not be too late to bring the parts together if you get out of your car and take a closer look. On the other hand, where are there cracks that no amount of “patching” is going to help and it’s time to take a different road?  Sometimes we just need to explore a different path - a trip down a one lane trail can provide a nice reprise.

Was I giving the best I had, or just my leftovers?

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The hard truth slapped me across the face like windchill on a cold winter day. Instead of feeling good about my attempts to serve and help others, I felt pretty lame. I’m not going to lie – it stung!

Yet, that cold slap in the face has awakened me to reality as well as what is possible, and so I am grateful for the truth. I am going to lay out my imperfections here and ask that you not judge me, but that you learn from my experience.

I was raised in a family and in a faith that emphasizes serving one another. The Good Samaritan was a hero at my house. My Dad picked up hitchhikers. He gave rides to people who had run out of gas on the side of the road or drove them to the nearest gas station to get their tire fixed. My mom volunteered to clean someone’s house when they were sick. We were always having people to our house for dinner who struggled to put food on their own table. If there was an event at church, my family volunteered to set up or clean up.  We shoveled the neighbors’ driveways. We gave rides. You get the picture. Service was as much a part of my life as was eating and showering. It’s just what we did.

As an adult, my life has gotten busier and busier. I own a business. I travel. My husband has a time-consuming job. He has an aging mother that he spends time with. We have dogs that need to be exercised. We have church responsibilities that take a good deal of time. We own a house and there is always something that needs to be cleaned or fixed or taken care of when you own a house. Do you see? My life is now really busy and time for serving seems to be less prevalent than when I was younger.

As a person who wants to do the right thing though, I have tried to find ways to serve. There is always someone that can use help. Help can take on different forms, and I have found myself helping in the least disruptive ways.

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When volunteers were laying a new floor at the fitness center where I teach, I volunteered to buy and deliver pizzas for lunch on Saturday. That’s nice, right? It saved them money and time and kept them fed. I looked like a hero, but really? It was just money and 20 minutes I didn’t bother to rearrange my schedule so that I could help lay the floor.   

When my grown kids needed to a break from being parents, I bought them gift certificates for movies and dinner and even paid for a sitter. Nice thing to do, right? Again, it was the easy way out because it only cost money. I didn’t cancel something in my life so that I could spend a few hours with my grandchildren.

When a friend’s mother passed away and they needed help with the funeral luncheon, I made dozens and dozens of cookies. Helpful, right? It was, except I didn’t volunteer to spend time with other women preparing food at the church or serving lunch to the family, instead I baked in the comforts of my own home far away from the people that were grieving and having a need to be served.

Are you clearly seeing the picture I am painting here? On the surface, it appears that I have been doing the right thing. Granted, I have been helping, but as I take a closer look, I notice that I have been taking the easy way out. If there is a convenient way to help another that doesn’t really interrupt my life then I  do my part. But, if it requires sacrifice, then I haven’t been signing up for that gig. Bottom line – I am very good at serving when it’s convenient. That’s not bad, but it certainly isn’t my best.

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Last week at church, we had a lesson on selfless service and the following analogy is what grabbed my attention BECAUSE IT IS ME! Our teacher asked if we had ever been asked to donate to a food shelf and in filling up our grocery sack we opened our cupboards and looked for the green beans that were about to expire or the can of Spaghetti-Os that we didn’t like anyway or the generic brand of marshmallows that we found didn’t melt very well and put those in the sack. We made the donation, but we gave what we wouldn’t eat ourselves. We gave our leftovers. The receivers of the donation would be grateful for whatever they received, and they would never know, but we do. We know that we are giving leftovers and keeping the best for ourselves.

Service, done the right way, benefits the receiver AND the giver. The greater the sacrifice, the better the giver feels. The more we give, the more joy we can feel. When we dig a little deeper to give, something happens that I can’t explain. We change a little bit. We recognize that we need each other. We realize that we are all here on earth together to help each other and when we help another, we help ourselves. That’s what happens when we give the best we have instead of the leftovers.

I have been awakened and pledge to give more of me – to serve when it doesn’t fit into my schedule – to look for ways to help lift another because I know lifting another lifts me too!

What’s Possible If I Just Say it Out Loud?

What’s Possible If I Just Say it Out Loud?

I’ve been doing “this work” for over 25 years, and while I know what I do and how to do it, I was pretty clueless when it came to talking about what I do. The thought of trying to help my website designer create something that captured who I am was intimidating, but then she started to ask me questions...

"Quest"ion

A great QUEST-ion should lead you on a QUEST, in pursuit of something valuable,  interesting,  a treasure?

I'm on a QUESTion kick these days.

Skilled facilitators ask great QUESTions.

Good leaders ask thoughtful QUESTions.

The interviewers you love to listen to ask probing QUESTions.

Wonderful conversationalists ask engaging QUESTions.

Coaches help you find your way in life through powerful QUESTions.

I am not talking about your everyday questions that can be answered yes and no or with a short answer, like  "will you pick up some bread?" or "what time will you be home?" I'm talking about the kind of questions that can change your life, or at least change your way of thinking.

Some QUESTions don't really have answers, but they send you on a great journey - that's okay, too. Perhaps the journey itself was what you needed.

A really great QUESTion should send you on a quest. I love a QUESTion that sends me to a place I have never been before. My coach told me that a powerful QUESTion should send you somewhere - it should shine a light into a room or a tunnel where you haven't been before, and maybe you are just a little afraid to enter, but you are also so intrigued by the possibilities that you take a step and try to see what's there. That is a good QUESTion.

Powerful QUESTions reveal things you didn't know were there. Sometime we hide from questions because we don't want to know the answer - we don't want to look down that tunnel, but we need to. If we get to a scary place, we just need to ask another QUESTion that will get us further along and through to the light. Oftentimes, the only way around something difficult is to go right through it. QUESTions can help you do that.

I am blessed in my line of work that I get to spend a great deal of my time coming up with great QUESTIons and sending people onto paths that are unfamiliar or forgotten or scary or well-traveled. I ask them to follow these paths and bring back what they notice along the way. I know I have asked a great QUESTion when they say "I don't know - I need to think about that - I need to spend time with that - that' s a really great question and I have no clue what the answer is." That's when I know I have sent them somewhere good - they are going to go on an adventure where treasure lies.

If you are interested in going on those kinds of paths yourself, I really encourage you to check out THE SCHOOL OF YOU

I promise you that every week of that program will send you on a quest leading to treasure - personal treasure. If that is not your thing, then I encourage you to find another way to engage with powerful, meaningful, probing questions. Pull back the covers on some stuff and see what's there. Don't be satisfied with the superficial, easy answers that lie near the surface. Be brave - be open to learning - be open to investigating the what, why, how, who, and when of things. Ask them of yourself. Ask them of others. Spend time with intentional, thoughtful inquiry this year.

 What answers are waiting to be found in your life?

 

Lessons from Lyrics

                 

WHAT COULD  THIS EQUATION POSSIBLY MEAN?

It means that I was mowing the lawn yesterday listening to my ipod on shuffle and heard two particular lyrics that gave me cause to contemplate what they meant --- in general and in my own life. You know by now that when I have one of those moments that I simply  must share it with you. That's because I never know when something I have learned or observed will have meaning for others, so I take a chance and share it.

As Long As You Love Me (Justin Bieber) - stop judging me for listening to a Justin Bieber song :-)

"But the grass ain't always greener on the other side, It's green where you water it"
I have heard and used the phrase about the grass always looking greener somewhere else, but I had never heard about it being greener where you water it.  I started thinking about how many times I have been unhappy or dissatisfied with what was going on in my life and it seemed like all I had to do was look around me at other situations or relationships and they seemed better. I left jobs. I changed hairstyles. I ended and began relationships. I painted rooms. I bought new phones (or software or apps). All of those things took place because from where I stood, things didn't look like what I wanted them to look like. More times than not, the grass was not greener. The grass was the same old color, or in some cases, it was even less green than where I had come from. I have learned that it's more about me - the person looking at the color of the grass - than it is the actual grass.  The more I thought about that, the more I realized that I am growing up - perhaps, getting wiser? I do this much less often than I used to. I don't give up on things as readily. I don't spend as much time looking around me for what I don't have. I am more present to where I am at. I have learned that the color of the grass is much more in my control than I had realized.
The second line ... "it's greener where you water it" ... kind of saying, the grass might look greener over there because that grass is getting watered and mine isn't. Water can be a lot of things, right? Attention - money - energy - time - positive effort- willing attitude.  If I find that I am dissatisfied with something, how could I increase my satisfaction level if I "watered" it more? As I reflected on where I could have grown greener grass in my life, I realized that I was often unwilling to put in what it took to make it better. I just wanted it to change without me having to do much, or without ME having to change. One situation that really worked was when I had a co-worker that I really didn't like.  My initial thoughts were to see how I could convince my boss that I should work with a different manager, but for some reason, I decided to try to make it work. It wasn't fast and it wasn't easy (required time and effort), but we ended up being a really successful team. We were able to complement each others' expertise and approach to work and the combination was a good thing - for the organization and for us.  This made me think about how badly I want a green lawn. If I really want it, then I need to spend time working at it - pulling the weeds, planting new seed, providing ongoing nourishment, and sometimes just sitting back and noticing how much it has grown.
Things Have Changed (Bob Dylan)
"I hurt easy, I just don’t show it You can hurt someone and not even know it"
Pretty simple! We never know for sure how our actions or our words land on someone else. Some of us are very transparent and when we feel hurt, you will know it. Others of us have faces that show no emotion and it's very difficult to determine if there is a reaction or not. These words reminded me of how important intent is and why we need to state our intent. I know that I have said things that were hurtful to others, and it was certainly not my intent. At the end of the day, it doesn't make any difference if it was intentional or not. If someone is hurt, they are hurt, and it's up to us (the ones doing the hurting) to own our part in it and do something about it.   I believe that I have matured in this area in several ways (thank goodness):
1) I don't get hurt as easily myself. I typically assume good intent and give people the benefit of the doubt. It costs NOTHING to do that!
2) I also think I have gotten more courageous and I tell someone if I feel hurt by what they say. (NOT always easy to do)
3) I have worked to put more filters in place between my brain and my mouth and simply say less things that can be hurtful.
4) I have learned to be quite comfortable with 2 phrases that I didn't hear much in my childhood. "I'm sorry" and "Will you forgive me?"
Those are the deep thoughts I was able to pull from such great philosophers as Bob Dylan and Justin Bieber this week. THANK YOU, IPOD SHUFFLE! I'm not sure what you will pull from these, but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. I'd also encourage you to listen underneath the catchy melody sometimes - notice underneath the words you may be singing less consciously - tune in and see if there is something there just a tad deeper that you can take away and become a bit wiser!

Get off the Dance Floor

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Perspective is a big deal! Not just understanding that other people have a different perspective than you, but understanding that you  may be too close to an issue and what YOU need is a different perspective.

A great analogy is that of a dance floor. Picture yourself on this dance floor ... what might you feel? Fun - music you love - a partner you like - you really can't dance very well - you think everyone else dances better - it feels crowded - tired.

Now, picture yourself leaving the dance floor and heading upstairs to a balcony where you can get a different view.  Things tend to look very different when you are not in the thick of them. What might you notice up here? no one dances well - the music is really, really loud - there is a lot of open space on the dance floor - there are lots of people that are just hanging out not dancing - the energy is exhilarating, but you needed time alone. Those are all things you don't notice when you are in the middle of it.

When you feel as if you are spinning on the dance floor, simply excuse yourself and go up on the balcony. Take a look down and observe the whole floor. What do you see?  What surprises you? What disappoints you? What looks the same from here as it did when you were in the middle of it? What pleases you? What do you want to do something about now that you see it? What do you want to ignore when you go back to the dance?

I have been teaching this principle a great deal lately. "They" say that you teach what you need to learn. Guess I better step away from the dance more often and broaden my view. I challenge you to do the same. As always, feel free to share what you notice from a different view with us here on the blog.

Looking beyond the problem...

If you don't look beyond the problem, you'll never see the solution.

Patch Adams movie clip

Patch Adams movie clip

There are many reasons why we can get stuck ... not be able to see a way out ... have our progress halted. I'm not here to share the list of reasons; you can make your own list (which isn't a bad idea, by the way). I want to focus on one reason we get stuck -

IT MAY BE WHERE WE ARE LOOKING!

DON'T READ ANY FURTHER WITHOUT WATCHING THE MOVIE CLIP LINKED TO THE 4 FINGERS

I encounter people, myself included, who have the philosophy that if we look long enough and hard enough at a problem, we can come up with a way to fix it. Not necessarily true!  One way to get unstuck is to talk through problems with other people. It isn't their problem, so even if they wanted to, they couldn't look at it in the same way you do. It is highly likely that they aren't very invested in finding an answer, so they may be willing to toss out random ideas - that may or may not work, but they are ideas that you didn't have before you talked to them. Others may truly want to understand the problem before they offer solutions, so they ask a zillion questions, which in turn may uncover information that you had not really thought about.  Yet others, may not have any ideas and just one question "how are you? and what can I do to help?"  It's pretty great to have those people in your circle, too.

I offered up 4 different perspectives to your "problem"

1. Yours - pretty locked in and, likely, limited

2. The critical thinker, who will dig and probe and ask questions to help you uncover new ways of looking at it

3. The idea person, who is glad you are talking about it, and is grateful you asked them for ideas, of which they have many

4. The support person or friend, who really has no interest in the problem, but is very interested in how it is affecting you

That alone presents three good reasons why you would do well to get a friend or colleague to "look beyond the problem" with you; chances are very good that the answer lies just beyond the problem, but you couldn't see it because you were stuck in the yuck/thick/density/darkness/frustration of the problem. You see what you look for; if you look for the problem, that's all you'll see.

Have a problem that you are tired of looking at? Don't keep it to yourself. Don't continue to see the same thing louder and clearer. Why don't you contact a friend and together look past your four fingers for a solution. It might take some practice - it might seem blurry at first - it might seem impossible - and, it might be worth trying!

BTW - what else did you become aware of as you watched this video clip?

FIRSTS

One of the things I love about my work is that I get to have a lot of FIRSTS. I work with a company for the FIRST time. I work with an individual or group for a FIRST time. I learn about an industry for a FIRST time. I eat at a restaurant for FIRST time. I get to visit a city for a FIRST time. There was a time in my career that I was afraid for FIRSTS. FIRSTS were scary to me because they were unfamiliar and new and I was afraid of not knowing. That feeling disappeared a long time ago - for the most part. Not only do I enjoy the FIRSTS now. but the people I work with enjoy that it is a FIRST for me. Being with someone, like me, when it is my FIRST can remind others what they take for granted - of what they no longer see because it is part of their everyday. In some ways, it's like having a child and as the parent you get to experience many things through your child's eyes as a FIRST.  We all recognize the look that comes on a parent's face when they see their child take their FIRST steps or taste their FIRST lemon or touch their FIRST puppy dog. It's hard to tell who is more excited - the child or the parent. I had several FIRSTS in the last 24 hours. After 30 years of traveling for work. I went to NYC for the FIRST time yesterday. Can you believe it? I have been to Atlanta. LA. San Francisco, San Juan. Paris. Oxford. even Istanbul - but never the Big Apple. I also got to work with a brand new client and meet 30 new people. I had a driver named Sing. who is my new best friend in NYC. He was delighted to tell me all about his city and indulge me as I reveled in my FIRST.  My other best friend is Felicia, who made sure I was treated like a princess as part of my FIRST trip to NYC.

One of the things you get to do when you are having a FIRST is ask a lot of questions?  I get to ask dumb questions because I don't know any better. The pressure to be smart is taken away. I don't know anything about how this organization or group works. I don't know why or what people do. I always get answers. but my favorite answers fall in two categories ...

1) They get into telling me all about it, or

2) They can't answer my question because they don't know

I experienced both on this trip and it was awesome!

Here are some of the questions I asked (with no answers provided)

  • Why are their garbage bags stacked all along the sidewalk?
  • Do the garbage guys just pick up stuff at night, cuz I saw them last night but not during the day?
  • Why does the Statue of Liberty look so much smaller in person?
  • What is the name of that really cool old bridge?
  • Where does Manhattan switch from the West Side to the East Side?
  • Is that the Empire State Building?
  • Where is the Theatre District?
  • How can you stand driving here?
  • What is the difference between a green taxi and a yellow taxi?
  • How big is Central Park?
  • Was the park built first, and the city built around it?  or the other way around?
  • How many taxis in Manhattan?
  • Is Central Park safe now?
  • What is the big deal about NYC pizza?
  • Are you a Mets fan or a Yankees fan?
  • What do you enjoy about being a limo driver in NYC?
  • How well do the people on this team know each other?
  • What is your definition of success for this team?
  • How much of yourself are you willing to give to this project?
  • Do you know where Balto, the sled dog statue, is in Central Park?
  • If I pay you extra, will you take me there and take my picture with him on the way to the airport?

Balto and Jean in NYC

 

My awesome driver, Sing, found a place to park the car, walked with me 4 blocks to Central Park, took me right to Balto, helped me up on the statue, and took pictures of me and this awesome sled dog.  He knew where the "dog statue" was, but had no clue why it was a big deal. He got to take me to the place and I got to tell him why the dog was famous. I had a FIRST and so did he.

My challenge for you is to have a FIRST this week; I don't care what it is, but have a FIRST and ask the dumb questions - give up the need to be smart.

If you are interested in thinking deeper about this concept of adaptation (when the newness or novelty of something wears off and we lose interest), check out The Paradox of Choice.

How about you signal before you turn?

"Really? It's so sad that you bought a brand new car and IT DIDN'T COME WITH TURN SIGNALS!!!"

Ask any of my three children, my husband or anyone else that has spent much time with me in a car, and they will tell you that I can get pretty irritated when I am driving.  I don't do nasty things like share inappropriate hand gestures, or lay on my horn, or curse, but I do mutter and have one-sided conversations with the other drivers. Recently,  I seem to be surrounded by drivers that do not use their turn signals. AND IT MAKES ME NUTS!!!

Before I turn my driving pet peeve into a deep thought that I hope you ponder as you reflect on your life this week (WOW - that was deep), I want you to know that I looked for cartoons or comics that made fun of people NOT using their turn signals. I found very few and none of them were appropriate for this family-rated blog, but there were HUNDREDS of cartoons about the people that leave their signals on. I know that is an issue that can also cause irritation, but I never run into one. However, as I get into this analogy tonight,  I am sure you can begin to draw your own conclusions about the drawbacks of either neglecting to turn a turn signal on or neglecting to turn a turn signal off.

Sunday morning, I was driving to church. I try to make Sunday a different day in my life. I don't shop at any stores. I try not to do any housework, yard work or work-work. I try to cook a special evening meal. I don't listen to the same kind of music I do the other 6 days of the week; I tune into only classical (or a baseball game, if it's baseball season). I might use that day to write cards to family members or friends.  I pay extra attention to what I am grateful for and reflect on the kind of person I have been that week. I wish I could say that I do that last one every day of the week, but I don't. The bottom line is that I try to make Sundays special. They always were in my house when I was growing up and I try to do the same thing. This last Sunday as I was driving to church, which is about a 12 minute drive from my house, I was joined on the roads by three different drivers that made turns WITHOUT using any signal. The first one - I sighed. The second one - I hit the palm of my hand on the steering wheel (NOT the horn). The third one - I lost it and started yelling in my car.

WHAT IS YOUR DEAL?

WHY CAN'T YOU REMEMBER TO TURN ON YOUR SIGNAL?

YOU ARE A MORON

SERIOUSLY? DID YOU REALLY  JUST DO THAT?

DUDE, IT ISN'T THAT HARD TO DO

HOW ABOUT THINK AHEAD BEFORE YOU JUST MOVE YOUR CAR?

Yep, I was crabby. I took a deep breath and tried to think about why that is so irritating to me. It has to be more than a driving thing. It didn't take long for me to figure out what was at the core of my disgust with this driving faux pas that I see all the time.  The real irritation/anger/frustration comes because these people have not managed my expectations. Admittedly, I have an expectation when people drive that they will let me know when they are going to turn because their action often requires a reaction on my part. I might need to brake or at least take my foot off the gas or move over.  Sometimes, their unsignaled move can and does cause accidents. Sometimes, it's just an irritation to me because it doesn't allow me to respond in a timely manner.

I started to think about how mismanaged expectations cause problems in real life. People don't often like surprises - maybe for a birthday party or a date or a gift - but with decisions, money, plans, etc. people aren't all that thrilled when you suddenly pull something on them. Some personality types really like to be in the know - they like to feel prepared - they want to know what is expected of them - they want to have time to plan. Other people handle not knowing much better, but in general it is a good idea to let people know what you are thinking about doing. Picture the boss that has an idea of what a "good job" looks like, but doesn't share those specific expectations with you. Then, you give the presentation or write the report and he is disappointed. "That wasn't what I was expecting." Then, you get irritated because you didn't know what he was looking for. Parents do the same thing with their kids. "I'd like you to shovel the sidewalk."  They do - you go out and proceed to reshovel and tell them you should have just done it yourself because they "didn't do it right".  Did you bother to tell them exactly what your expectations were?  

Mismanaged expectations are a primary source of conflict, anger, disappointment,  and frustration in all types of relationships.  Spouse.  Parents. Friends. Boss-employee. Co-workers. I am not perfect at managing others' expectations, and I continue to work at it.  I have expectations in my head; the action I have to take is to become transparent and share those with others. Whenever I take the time to do that, things work out better. It doesn't mean that things will go smoothly because people may still not like your choice or your plan, but at least then the conflict can just be about the issue itself and not be complicated by the fact that you weren't clear on what you were going to do or what you were expecting of them.

Am I making any sense to you? I sure hope so. Before I wrap this up and send you off with a powerful question to ponder this week, let me share a thought and a graph from a cool post I found on this very topic. I reposted their graph and changed their story to fit my life. If you don't take the time to go to their website and read their article, I at least wanted you to get this much because it's cool and explains why I (and many others) feel our energy drained when working with others who do not meet our expectations.  (www.positive-deviant.com)

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Managing expectations with people does take time, however it will save you in time, energy and upset that occurs when expectations are not met.

In the graphic below when we talk about expectations, we are also talking about energy. For this example we are assuming the following.

An increase in energy (up arrow) implies that we are happy, excited, joyous- a very positive type of high energy.

Neutral energy (flat red line) implies that we are neutral in our energy. Neither up nor down. Calm, unperturbed.

A decrease in energy (down arrow) implies that we are angry, frustrated, annoyed- a negative type of high energy.

If I have an expectation that someone do something, for example, take the dogs out to go potty every morning before they leave for work, and this happens, every morning, as I expect, then we are looking at the upper left quadrant, and my energy in neutral. I am getting what I expected, no more, no less.

If however, one morning they take the dogs out, feed them breakfast, bring me breakfast in bed and give me a big smooch,  and greatly exceeded my expectations, then I have been very pleasantly surprised. (Upper right quadrant)

If one morning they do not take the dogs out, and leave for work so that the dogs wake me up early to take them out, then my energy is down and I am upset. (Lower left quadrant)

If I was never expecting them to take the dogs out, and it never occurs, then my energy is neutral. (lower right)

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The powerful question I am asking you to ponder this week is this ... What parts of your life have unclear or mismanaged expectations? and what do you want to do about it?

Reflect a little light

I know how this random thought starts, but I am not sure how it is going to end. I guess that is part of being random! We recently had a bit of wintry joy in Minnesota. I, at least, thought it was joyful; many others thought the 18 hours of snow was awful. I have many reasons why I enjoy snow - the Christmas lights look better, it means snowmen and snowball fights are possible, it's hockey season if there is snow on the ground, fireplaces and hot chocolate are both much better with snow on the ground, I love sweaters, scarves and mittens - I could go on, but I think you are getting the point... I LOVE WINTER!!! While I have a long list of reasons, I had not heard one reason shared by a fellow Minnesotan on the radio yesterday. "I don't mind shoveling at all because I was getting sick of the dark, gloomy nights we have this time of year when there is no snow on the ground. Once we have a snow cover, there is white to reflect the moonlight and the nights are brighter. I love having the lightness and brightness."

I had just never thought about that, even though I spent many nights as a child looking out at the moon reflecting off frozen Beaver Dam Lake or the snow in my yard. I never got sick of witnessing that beauty that was only present during the winter. Up north, it can get dark by 4:30 on December evenings and it is awfully gloomy when the light from the moon and other sources get absorbed into the dark ground - there is simply nothing to reflect light.

For whatever reason, that thought worked its way down into my brain and wouldn't let go. I couldn't help but think about how we all have the chance to be that covering of snow that reflects light and brightens a night or day or moment that is otherwise dark. I try hard to bring light to others, and typically find that when I bring light it is reflected back on me or on others. That is a pretty cool thing, isn't it?  To think that you have a choice to either absorb light or reflect it, thereby creating greater light.  We all have chances each day to be the light - to reflect light - to be the greater light - let's do it!

Powerful question: Who is a person in your life who reflects light and brightens your life?  Will you please let them know that this week?