- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘calmness’
I recently took to reading the Tao Te Ching. It is known worldwide as The Book of the Way, which is really a guide to the art of living. It was written by Lao-tzu, said to be a contemporary of Confucius (551-479 B.C.E.).
In the Tao Te Ching, Lao-tzu insists on the concept of “doing not-doing”. What this means is doing less that is forced and allowing life to just flow. How often have you experienced the situation where you kind of “gave up” trying so hard and did less? Did you end up seeing/getting better results? I am guessing so.
In this concept of “doing not-doing”, Lao-tzu does not mean being passive. Unfortunately, that’s what we all seem to think it means to sit still and let life happen.
I remember in my practice as a lawyer, I was always “busy” doing things. If it wasn’t the active practice of law, it was something else: teaching yoga, running, reading, other appointments. My list was endless. I used to think I had to be a certain way as a lawyer. This left me very rigid and blocked so much of my creativity as a lawyer. One thing was for sure: I wasn’t going with the flow of anything in life. I was unhappy a lot.
As I shifted professions, I realized that the end was not my goal. I had no real “end” I was shooting for anymore. After all, I no longer cared to make partner in a law firm or to be General Counsel somewhere. Been there, done that.
This reality freed me up to just “be”. That’s right. Just sit still and do less. Now, I’d be lying if I claimed to be in perfect mastery of just “being” and not running around thinking I have to do so much. I’m working on it. I’m a work in progress. I’m proud of myself for even having self-awareness around the concept.
Here’s what I have learned: strong brands do less and “be” more.
No where was this clearer to me than watching the finals of American Ninja Warrior the other night. The final challenge, on the road to being the winner of $1,000,000 and the title of American Ninja Warrior, was to climb a 30 foot rope in under 30 seconds. When they interviewed the winner and asked him how he mentally was able to achieve this amazing act, he said, “I became one with the rope”.
Now you may think this is cheezy or crazy. Fair enough. But consider, what he was really saying was the same thing Lao-tzu said: he was being and not doing so much. He was finding his rhythm and groove with the rope instead of fighting against the rope to climb it and conquer it. He wasn’t resisting life, but flowing with it. Resistance leaves us tired and unhappy. That’s a bad brand.
Effective brands that resonate emotionally with their audience have certain magic to them. To do less, is to be more adaptable, flexible and go with the flow.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying to sit around and be passive and lazy. Strong brands also have conviction, drive and a purpose to be of true service to others.
What does this mean for you? Stop and think:
- How much do you take on in any given day?
- How does it make you feel when you don’t cross off everything on your list? Do you consider yourself a failure?
- How do you come across to others when you take on so much and are constantly “doing”? Do others see a flexible, happy brand or a rigid, tired, stressed and unhappy brand?
One of my clients mentioned the other day that in her line of work ,whenever a client disagrees with her decisions or course of action for the client, my client feels like she wants to avoid what seems like oncoming conflict. It’s hard for us to face conflict. Often times, for most of us differing opinions makes us uncomfortable enough to want to run and hide.
I used to be one of those people that could not stand it if someone I cared about would raise their voice or disagree with me. It always felt like I was in a boxing match. My best defense: I would exit stage left and just disappear. Looking back now, it was pretty funny. Who just up and leaves the room like that? Not exactly a strong personal brand.
Most of us believe if we are in careers that call for conflict/negotiation, then we must be really good at confrontation. That’s not necessarily the case. Look at me for example: I was a lawyer, yet I was never fond of conflict.
It wasn’t until I recognized that confrontation does not mean conflict that I was able to stop leaving the room whenever a conversation got “awkward” and uncomfortable. As a result, my brand grew stronger as others saw me as a self-confident person who stuck around.
We often get confrontation and conflict, which leads to possible aggression, confused. Here’s how I define it:
If we can confront a situation, that’s power. There’s creativity in differing opinions. That’s a good thing. Confronting a situation means be brave, stand firm, yet kind and address the issue for the greater good. That’s a powerful brand that is effective and attractive.
If we can’t confront a situation, then we often default to aggression using force. As Werner Erhard states, “force negates power”. Never is aggression backed up by force an attractive brand value. No one respects forceful brands. No one wants to follow forceful brands. No one wants to buy from forceful brands. It can’t work.
So stop and think to yourself:
– how is your ability to confront a situation? Do you flee or stand firm?
– can you start looking at confrontation as a natural part of life based on differing opinions that could result in varied approaches to business and life?
– when do you resort to aggression and force to get your way, as a brand? Being self-aware is the first step in developing a successful, deliberate personal brand.
Right around this time of year we all start to feel the stress of the holidays. The joy of the season leads to the angst of the season. We tend to panic, rush, panic some more, and feel like we can’t come up for air. We tend to put ourselves last- even more than usual. So what gives?
I can say that I can fall into the same trap if I’m not careful. I always look forward to the holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I have the same issues that you do. If I let myself get swept away, then I’m so busy I don’t even enjoy the holidays. I would just run around buying up gifts and random “stuff”, eating to excess and then feeling guilty about it all. My stress would go through the roof and as a result, my personal brand would be down the drain.
However, by employing some self-awareness first, followed by self-care/nurturing myself, I can make the holiday season mean more. As a result, I radiate a personal brand that is attractive on so many levels to so many people.
This year I asked myself what do I want most out of December? The answer was NOT more gifts and “stuff”. The answer was: peace and joy and surrounding myself with people that make me a better person.
All of this takes deliberate intent based on my self-awareness of what matters. So if I want peace and joy, I have to find it inside myself first before I can give it out to others AND get it back. How do I find peace and joy?
For me it is about sitting still (meditating), slow start mornings (no emails, voicemails, lots of yoga and exercise), and partaking in receptivities (versus activities) as Amanda Owen so brilliantly recommends. That’s how I choose to nurture and take care of myself and thus, my personal brand.
So what does this mean for you?
- Are you self-aware of what you want out of this holiday season?
- Are you aware of your stress level and brand value?
- Based on this self-awareness and deliberate brand creation, what is one thing you can do to nurture and take care of yourself?
Here’s an interesting thought for you to consider: what if you don’t have to choose one or the other? What if you can be happy and as successful as you want/think you can be? Does that sound radical and crazy, or totally possible to you?
The truth is we often believe we have to be accomplished and get to the “top” then we can finally be happy. I know, and work with, many accomplished people who are not happy. So I’ve found that we have it backwards: We first need to be happy, then and only then, we can be successful, however you define your own success.
I was a happy, practicing lawyer until I realized that we didn’t have the best image as lawyers. I became fascinated with this issue and wanted to turn it around for lawyers. I also then realized that my natural gift was in personal brand management- that’s what makes me happy as a human- and guess what else? It also makes me successful, too.
Here’s the dilemma. I’ve discovered most of us don’t even stop and consider this distinction, let alone get to the possibility of “having it all” by being happy and successful. I believe it is because we have developed by being conditioned by society (your family, friends, etc.) to THINK this way.
I believe that if we started being aware of our thoughts; we could then be more in control of all our thoughts and in control of our happiness and our success and thus- our lives. This sense of control could and should be liberating- you would then have a focal point behind which to put your energy. And of course, a self-aware person is an effective personal brand.
To help show us how to be more aware of our thoughts with the right tools, I recently had the privilege and honor to interview the great Byron Katie (Katie, as she prefers to be called). In brief, Katie believes your thoughts are the cause of your suffering.
It was in the late 1980s when Katie experienced this belief first-hand. Katie is a best-selling author of numerous books. She has helped millions of people over the years and continues to do so with her process of self-inquiry called, The Work. The Work applies to all people alike. So how can it help you? To answer this question, let me ask another question: does the notion of looking at your thoughts seem scary, perhaps? If so, you’re not alone.
Katie has been quoted as saying, “[w]hen we are not fearful, we are unlimited”. I wholeheartedly believe in this. How often do you find yourself stuck and almost paralyzed by a sense of fear? My hope is you have the self-awareness to stop and notice. I remember how scared and stuck I was when I was initially leaving the practice of law. I often had dreams where everyone was swimming in a pool and I was standing there watching them- I wanted to get in but literally couldn’t move. Those nasty and telling dreams tapered off and gradually stopped once I worked to get past my fears and really embrace my unlimited nature and new career.
I believe when we are not trapped in fear then we can be so much more effective and kind and successful at anything we chose to focus on. This is an abundance mind-set. As I always say, when we know our uniqueness, then there is no competition, but collaboration. Being able to find your uniqueness rests in feeling abundant mentally, fearless and unlimited.
Katie has also found, “[w]hen people take a fearful or rigid stance, they often bring about what they are trying to prevent.” The bottom line is our thoughts lead to our suffering. Katie says we always prepare for winning and losing in our minds. We put so much upon ourselves to win and be right and be a success.
So our thoughts can be stressful and torture, if we believe them. However, listening to our thoughts and being aware ultimately makes us kinder and less aggressive. We are then more aware of all the possible solutions to our problems that we perhaps weren’t aware of before we actually sat still and allowed our own knowledge to flow through and guide us.
When I first started to do The Work, I remember how disgusted and shocked I was with my thoughts. How could it be, I used to think (and still do, but less!), that I am thinking this self-defeating thought?
In fact, The Work is actually meditative in application. But are you open to meditation and sitting still? Or are you stuck in your own ways and can’t even consider anything new to try? Is it just “fluff” to sit still and be with your thoughts? Or is it just too scary?
In actuality I believe, and know to be true, that being self-aware/self-realized makes you: 1) a better person: more positive, more grateful and happy AND 2) even a greater force in other areas in which you want to succeed. The more I practice self-awareness the more I relate to others and find gratitude each day. This is particularly true for my second career- I find I am so much more “in the flow”, in harmony with my ultimate purpose and on the path to big, big things.
So I asked Katie, how can we move past our self-limiting blocks and patterns using The Work, thus trying new methods and being open to methods that may seem like “fluff”? Katie believes if we believe it is fluff, it could cost us something that could really expand and grow us as people. After all, we can’t know for sure that The Work, or any other process, is fluff without trying it. If we don’t try, then the door is shut to new ways and ideas and really, creativity as I see it. So Katie’s advice is to stay open to The Work, stating, “[y]ou don’t have to do it now, but there could be a time in your life when you need it and want to do it. …. We hold all the power to make changes in our lives.”
Here’s another reason to try The Work or some other way of growing. I have found through my research that everyone suffers from some sort of self-confidence issue. My research shows that low self-confidence is directly inversely related to high stress. When we have low self-confidence we have a poor personal brand that doesn’t “sell” us.
My research shows we often end up comparing ourselves to others, perhaps feeling victimized and even like an outcast. To make ourselves feel better, we project how we feel outward onto others so that they are the problem or the cause for our sorry situation. All this rings of a low self-confidence issue, which is true for all humans in one way or another. I know for a fact that every time I sink into low self confidence, everyone around me is well aware of this shift- they may not consciously know so, but so much of what I’m talking about is subconscious processing of information.
In one of her books, Katie states that we all have this unspoken belief that unless people approve of us, we are worthless. Katie also says that defending anything is the first act of “war” or a war-like mental state of aggression. It seems like this is exactly one of our challenges that can hold us back – many times we feel worthless and go into self-defense mode.
So how can we apply The Work to not compare, not defend and have higher self-confidence?
Katie finds that when we feel low in self-confidence, then that low self-confidence is what we think we have to sell. In that instance, we don’t like ourselves, and we don’t expect others to like us. As a result, we can’t attract anyone. If we didn’t defend ourselves and looked at constructive criticism with an open mind, then maybe we’d learn something about ourselves that we may have missed. In that way, we could also connect with another person. Katie holds that every time a person does The Work, they come out as a kinder, caring, enlightened, fearless person, which reeks of high self-confidence because we are on solid ground and we are not defending ourselves to the world.
So where should you start, you ask?
Katie recommends we fit The Work in gradually by perhaps getting up a little bit earlier than the rest of our household each morning, getting quiet and getting still to sort life out. Katie recommends doing so in the early morning because in the mornings our minds are clear before the world bombards them. Even 20 minutes a day helps.
Katie advices that this is not just one more thing on your list- you DO NOT have to do this. But, Katie promises, if you try it, you will have such a shift in your mindset and ability to produce results. To me those “results” are being happy and successful.
I myself am a testament to this process. For years now, I prescribe to “slow start” mornings. I get up early, work out and then spend at least 30 minutes sitting still and focusing inside. Years ago I heard Richard Branson does the same- so I kept it up. I figured he must be doing something right and this just felt like one of those things to keep doing. It brings me so much calmness and clarity every morning. Plus I have something to look forward to every morning.
What should you do in the 20 minutes? Katie recommends you close your eyes and contemplate a thought that you have that is stressing you. This will allow you to get clarity on the issue and how you feel and view it. Katie says that doing this will change the way you see everything for the rest of your life. I totally agree, as I have been doing The Work for some time now in addition to my slow morning routine.
Will it be do-able? Well Katie advices that you just try it on with an open mind. Even if it is hard, be gentle and kind to yourself. As Katie put it, it is all about your own world peace. I agree. I find that it is our job to take care of our peace in this world so we can be of service to others.
As Katie says, doing The Work will sharpen our observations and leave us in balance. Who wouldn’t want that?
For my full audio interview and highlight video with Byron Katie see here: www.purispersonalbranding.com
The full video version should be available through Byron Katie’s website, www.thework.com soon. For inquiries regarding the video, please contact that site.
I am very blessed to live in San Diego because of the all the really cool activities we have got going on. (Yes, I am ignoring the wild fires and the high taxes!). Just this past weekend, San Diego was home to The Weekend Of Grace whereby the Oneness Meditation community brought meditation to the masses/public in San Diego. There was a group meditation in Balboa Park plus other group meditations throughout the city. I was fortunate enough to attend.
I observed the crowds. The regular meditators were very different than the rest of us. In what way, you may ask? While there will always be exceptions, for the most part it was very clear to me that the folks who meditate regularly had all the ingredients we always speak of for a great personal brand. They were much more calm, happy and balanced. They had focus, clarity and could hold a conversation without the need to check their phones constantly or be looking around all the time. In short, they had an effective personal brand.
I am always encouraging (well, requiring it for my clients) you to make meditation a part of your daily life. At least just sit in silence and try to think of nothing. In that space of stillness and silence great things happen. You become focused, clear, self-confident, well-put together and super powerful. You can then go into a meeting composed and effective.
If you doubt it, just try it to prove me wrong. Shut your door, find a comfortable place to sit, remove all distractions and for at least 10 minutes sit in silence and try to be still. See if you can gradually graduate up to 25 minutes a day.
Here’s to your fantastic personal brand!