Showing posts with label Awareness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Awareness. Show all posts

Friday, January 3, 2014

Do You Overlook the Obvious?

Several years ago, my business partner Denny Coates and I used to travel a lot, conducting training programs for clients.

I distinctly remember one of our trips because of the lesson we learned one evening at our hotel.

It was our first day in town, and we had just gone out for a bite to eat. When we returned, we decided to park near a side entrance to the hotel since our rooms were far from the lobby entrance.

When we got to the door, we saw a sign that said, “Use room key to open door.”

Back then, magnetic room keys were fairly new. I knew how to use them to open my room because the lock box is right there on the door. But I didn't see any lock box next to the entrance where I could insert my key.

I turned to Denny and said, “Do you see where I’m supposed to put my key?”


We pride ourselves on being pretty resourceful and quick to come up with workable solutions.

But this had us stumped.

There appeared to be nowhere that I could insert or slide my key to get the door to open.

I even resorted to sliding the card along the area where I could see the lock. But honestly, I felt pretty foolish doing that because I was certain that wouldn't work.

And it didn't.

We were ready to give up and walk around to the lobby when another hotel guest approached the door from inside the building and came out. She held the door open for us.

I thanked her, showed her my key so she’d know we were legitimate guests, and told her why we were standing there.

She said, “Oh, the place to insert your key is right here.”

She stepped about a foot away from the door and pointed to one of the same lock boxes that was on our hotel room doors. It was not right next to the door. But you only had to step back a few steps to see it.

Neither Denny nor I had thought to do this.

Instead, we had looked at each other befuddled and had not been able to see the solution, which was less than a foot away.

We felt silly and then laughed about it for a long time afterwards.

Even though you may not have encountered a situation exactly like this, I bet you've faced something similar.

You get so close to a problem that you aren't able to see the solution. And often it’s right in front of you. Your emotions or other filters get in the way of seeing what’s right there.

Next time you find yourself struggling with an issue, take a step back – literally or figuratively. Ask yourself what you might be overlooking.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help from someone who’s less emotionally involved. That person may have the objectivity and insight to help you see what you need to do. Or at least point out other options.

“The obscure we eventually see. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer.” - Edward R. Murrow, American journalist (1908-1965)

“Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them.” - Alan Watts, American philosopher (1915-1973)

"The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend." - Henri Bergson, French philosopher (1859-1941)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Life Comes Down to “Moments”

My father would have been 91 today. It’s the first birthday he hasn’t been here for us to celebrate it with him. I honored him in this post, "A Life That Mattered," after his death on November 25, 2012. Remembering his life and its positive impact on all who knew him makes it easier to deal with his absence on this, his special day.

My uncle “Bub” emailed a touching note to me and my siblings to let us know he was thinking about us on this sad occasion. He also reflected on his visit with us last year to celebrate Dad’s 90th birthday. Bub reminded us that “life comes down to Moments.” As someone who just entered his 88th year, my uncle has come to appreciate one of life’s most important lessons.

We can set ambitious goals, pursue a rewarding career, or make grand plans for a successful enterprise. But in the end, it’s instructive to remember that what counts most in life – what we cherish at the end of our lives – are times shared with those who mean the most to us.

Ironically, this point is reinforced beautifully in one of my favorite business books.

Executive Coach Marshall Goldsmith closes What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, with a thought-provoking chapter. He asks the reader to imagine that you are 95 years old and ready to die. You have the opportunity to go back in time and give advice to your younger self. What counsel would you provide?

He then shares what elderly folks have actually reported when asked this question, and three key points emerged:

1. Enjoy the NOW. Find happiness and meaning in the current moment. Quit projecting ahead to when you get the next achievement, promotion or house, and focus on appreciating and taking pleasure in who and what you have in your life today.

2. Make time for family and friends. The people who care about you most want time with you. Do you carve out enough time each day, week or year for your personal relationships? You have to invest lots of moments with them in order to strengthen the bonds you have.

3. Follow your dreams, both large and small. Have you figured out your true purpose in life? Once you do, your life has more meaning if you give yourself permission to pursue that passion. No one else can experience your life but YOU, so don’t be held back by concerns about what others will think.

Applying this wisdom starts with awareness.

Take time to think about your current attitudes and actions as they relate to these pieces of advice. If you agree that these are major contributors to a successful life, what do you need to change to make your daily life become more aligned with them?

Start by taking one day or one minute – whatever you have – to translate these ideas into action.

That way, when your time comes, you'll have no regrets. Instead, you and those you love will have only cherished memories of all the moments that added up to life well-lived.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” 
Thornton Wilder, American playwright (1897-1975)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pay Attention to What's Around You

In 1997 I became certified as a SCUBA diver. I don’t get to dive very often, but when I do, each experience is memorable. The ocean world holds an amazing array of plant and animal life that’s totally different from what we see on land. I’m the kind of person whose mind wanders into the future a lot, so diving helps me focus on the present moment in two important ways.

For one thing, there are gauges to check. I have to be aware of how much air I’ve got in my tank and how deep I’ve gone because those factors determine how long I can stay underwater.

And then…there’s simply taking in the beauty that lies beneath the surface. The brilliantly colored fish and coral reefs are breath-taking. I’ll never forget the time I spent several minutes face-to-face with a red grouper, both of us hovering just above the floor of the ocean. While I was studying this beautiful fish (and it, apparently, studying me in return), time seemed to stand still.

Even though there’s much to appreciate in your own life, you may not always be aware of the positives. That’s because you have to make a concentrated effort to absorb what’s happening around you.

When you’re busy analyzing the past, solving problems and planning for the future—all of which are necessary—you can overlook the wonders right in front of you. The moment passes and you haven’t really experienced it because your mind was somewhere else.

The solution is to keep your eyes wide open to whatever presents itself each moment. That way, you’ll see things you might otherwise ignore…

Like a spectacular sunset… 

Or flowers blooming along the side of the road… 

Or the person sitting in front of you who’s trying to tell you something important. If you’re not fully present, you’ll miss their tone of voice and facial expression. You won’t detect the thoughts and feeling behind their words.

Remember, it’s important to slow down and pay attention to the details of what’s going on around you. When you do, you’ll see that each moment is uniquely valuable and offers you an opportunity to enrich your life.
“One of the earliest lessons I learned as a child was that if you looked away from something, it might not be there when you looked back.” – John Edgar Wideman, American author (1941- )

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What Do You Have a “Knack” For?

My husband Lee and I were traveling north on Interstate 85, returning home from a visit to his mother, who’s lived in a nursing home for seven years. These trips give us time to talk, away from the hectic pace of our typical work week.

We had just passed a truck pulling a boat with a large outboard motor on the back. My thoughts drifted back 25 years to the boat Lee’s parents used to own. They loved to take it out on nearby Buggs Island Lake to fish for crappies, whenever they could get away from the country store they owned and operated.

The motor on their boat was much smaller than the one on the boat we’d passed, but it still had to be maintained. I wondered who had taken care of that, so I asked Lee if that was his father's job.

His laugh gave me my answer, but then he added, “My dad? He didn’t know how to do anything mechanical. Neither did my mother.”

It turns out that, from the time he was a teenager, Lee had maintained all the equipment and vehicles that his parents owned…their tractor, riding lawn mower, car, truck, and outboard motor. If anything broke, they looked to him to fix it.

And with good reason.

Ever since he was a small child, Lee loved taking things apart and figuring out how to put them back together. To this day, there is no tool, engine, electrical device or household appliance that intimidates him.

Lee likes to say he has a “knack” for fixing things. I call it GENIUS because I am often lost when faced with mechanical or technical challenges.

I’ve been married to Lee for 29 years, and I’m still amazed at his ability to tackle - with total confidence - anything that breaks. He takes this extraordinary ability for granted and doesn’t understand why others (like me) find anything with a motor or moving parts so mysterious and daunting.

The truth is, I don’t want to do the work to develop the skills he has – and I doubt I could come even close if I spent the rest of my life trying.

I’m much more fascinated by people and how they work. And that’s a good thing, considering the business I’m in. I've learned to play to my strengths. It's much more rewarding and fun.

What is it that comes easily to you AND you love to do? And when people see you do it, they’re amazed? 

Take time to think about what your special “knack” is. Because the world needs it. And your life will be rich and fulfilling when you get to do it a lot.

Leave a comment below sharing what your unique genius is and how you use it in your life.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Are You Fully Present with Your Loved Ones?

We’re lucky to live near Newport News Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the U.S., with more than 8,000 acres of woodlands, meadows and lakes. When our daughter Alison was a child, I’d often take her there for walks and to play on the playground equipment. I’ll never forget one gorgeous warm spring day she and I went went out on the paddle boats.

We had a great time exploring different areas of the reservoir, but what I remember most about that day was not the experience itself.

I had my own business even back then – working as a solo entrepreneur – and I distinctly recall having to constantly shift my mind from work back to the present moment. I kept thinking about a project I had going with a client, so I was not paying full attention to Alison or the beauty around us.

To tell you the truth, I became really annoyed with myself. I caught myself becoming pre-occupied with my thoughts several times, so I had to continuously remind myself to focus on the “now” and not the future.

Today I’m glad I had that experience. When we got home, I realized the price I’d paid. I had not created the rich memories from our time together that I could have if I’d been attending more fully to each moment as it unfolded. That day continues to serve as an anchor for me, reminding me to pay attention to the people and events around me.

Life holds even more distractions now. Smart phones alone have resulted in a dramatic changes in the way people interact with each other. How can someone possibly be fully focused on the person in front of them when they’re checking text messages?

Ultimately, the ability to be fully present requires self-awareness - so you recognize when your mind is drifting - and a willingness to adopt a new way of thinking and being. There are huge payoffs for making this commitment:

#1 - You won’t look back years later with regret that you didn’t give focused attention to the people who matter most to you.

#2 - You’ll have richer memories of all your experiences because you’ve truly “absorbed” them as they happened.

#3 - The individuals you gave focused attention to will feel cherished and valued by you.
“If you let yourself be absorbed completely, if you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.” - Anne Morrow Lindbergh
“Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them.” - Alan Watts
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” - Thornton Wilder

Friday, August 27, 2010

Awareness - Focus on the present moment.

With all the speed and distractions of life today, it’s hard to pay attention to anything long enough to really experience it. But it's possible to slow down and appreciate the miracles presented to you each day. Discover why it’s so important to make the most of the present moment.

What’s one thing can you do to make sure you are fully present for each moment of your life today?
“Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them.” - Alan Watts, American philosopher

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” - Thornton Wilder, American playwright

"The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend."
- Henri Bergson, French philosopher

“You can observe a lot just by watching.” - Yogi Berra, American professional baseball player