January 23, 2017
When I do these leadership programs, the participants always ask me, what’s the one thing that I could do that would make the biggest difference? I understand the question. We are all busy. We can’t do dozens of things. We can’t commit to an hour in the gym, seven days a week. We can’t go on a sabbatical for a month. So what is that one thing that can make a huge difference? It’s meditation. We strongly emphasize this in our courses. In order to create well-being, in order to be productive, in order to tap into that higher power, we must have reflection time each day. It doesn’t have to be long. It can be as little as 10 minutes. But it has to be consistent. I probably average four to five days a week where I sit down and be quiet and not do any planning or worrying or problem solving. Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline, says that anyone who is trying to attain personal mastery should practice some form of meditation.
Studies have shown that meditation increases focus and changes physiology. It reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and increases DHEA, the “youth” hormone. It relaxes you. It increases problem solving. It increases your energy levels. Harvard Medical recently found that regular meditation actually changes the expression of genes and lengthens the telomeres. Shortened telomeres indicate aging. So it actually reverses the aging process. So if it does all of these amazing thins, why doesn’t everyone do it? For some it seems too “new age”. For some, it seems cult like. They think that it conflicts with their religious beliefs. But think of it as just an exercise in concentration. You can apply your own belief system to these techniques so that you are comfortable with it.
Here is a very simple meditation technique:
Take a deep breath in. Breathe out and think the number one. Breathe in again. Breathe out again. Think the number two. Breathe in again. Breathe out. Think the number three. Breathe in a fourth time. Breathe out and think the number four. Then start again at one. Other thoughts will enter your mind. Politely dismiss them and go back to breathing and counting. Do this for around 5 to 10 minutes. Set a timer if you need to.
You will no doubt find this hard at first. But the more you do it, the more you will be able to focus. Not only during the meditation, but in all areas of your life and work. You will be more relaxed, more resilient to stress, and you will have more energy at the end of the day.
July 9, 2015
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” ― Shannon L. Alder
This is my mom with two of my brothers. That’s me on her lap. Mom is dying. We’re not sure when this will happen exactly, but the decline is accelerating. I know that sounds really sad. And there is sadness when some someone you love leaves this earth. But there is also a sense of celebration. Mom has been suffering from Dementia/Alzheimer’s the past few years and she has gradually left us over time. A decade ago, mom was vibrant and alive. She was loud and brash and bigger than life. She loved life, and yet she was a paradox. She could be difficult and angry and she could also be extremely warm and funny. She never met a stranger. She was and is loved by many. The Dementia has softened her, weathered her, and made her quiet and content. Now that her time is near, she is gentle and easy, not in any pain. She professes to be happy and she professes love. She still lights up whenever me or my brothers walk into the room. She knows us. She knows that we love her and she knows that she loves us.
I had a realization that although this is very sad for us, there is reason to rejoice. She will transition into what we all believe to be a better place where she will be coherent and free and connected with those who have gone before her. We are asking all who knew her to think of a time when she made them laugh. Think of one of the many jokes that she told so well. Tootie Green comes to mind, or when she would sing, “She’s got freckles on her but she is pretty”. Think of a time when she opened her house to you and let you stay without question or judgment. Think of the time that she served a wonderful meal. Think of how she decorated her house for every holiday. Think of her at work having fun and creating a sense of play. Think of her as she was in your mind, share a story about her, and send those positive thoughts her way as she transitions into the next wonderful place.
September 18, 2014
I heard the news this week that a friend of mine from high school had died. His name was Terry Bryson. In high school, Terry was teased a lot. He looked like Barney Rubble from the Flintstones, so everyone called him Barney Bryson. He hated that. He would get angry. He would lash out. He started drinking heavily in high school. I saw him drunk at parties on more than one occasion. That’s what killed him. At the end of his life, he was homeless and living under a lifeguard stand on a beach in Florida. The authorities said that is was death by alcohol. Although I wasn’t close to him, I was deeply saddened.
It made me think. I felt ashamed that I had teased him along with the others. I don’t blame myself for his death. Everyone has choices. But I keep wondering if someone had showed him some kindness, if someone had made a connection with him, if someone had taken some interest in him, would his life have turned out differently? Simple phrases like “You’re not good at math.” or “You’re not very pretty.” or “You’ll always have big hips.” can shape how we think about ourselves and how we interact with the world. So again, I ask you the question, “What impact are you making on the people you encounter every day?” Do you lift them up, encourage them, help them move on from a difficult time? Or do you criticize? Make fun? Show them anger?
This is one of those things that is simple, but not easy. We all have bad days and we all have our stuff and we all get off track and trample our fellow man at times. But you can get back on track. You can turn this around. You can create impacts that have ripple effects far beyond what you can ever imagine. And all it takes is one positive encounter with another human being. Go forth and find that person today.
April 17, 2014
While walking this morning, I was really taken by the birds and their cacophony of songs. They were loud and insistent, offering a symphony of sound on an otherwise very quiet morning. Their chirps, tweets, and twitters were the only thing you could hear. I looked up and saw a small sparrow on a power line. He lifted his head up and warbled out a throaty, clear, insistent sound that was absolutely amazing. I couldn’t believe this gigantic sound was coming out of this small bird. With total abandon, he lifted his voice out into the world, and it carried on the clear morning air.
Lately, I have been struggling with my confidence. I didn’t feel worthy of my successes. I beat myself up. I felt that I needed more education, more experience, more knowledge. I felt like a fraud. Sometimes, people in the construction industry reject this work with emotional intelligence, and I always blamed myself for their rejection. If I had explained it better, or put it to them in a different way, they would be on board. It was always my fault, and I was always second guessing myself.
And then a revelation came to me. That songbird just sang. He didn’t worry if people liked his song or not. He didn’t wonder if he could do it differently to satisfy more people. He didn’t second guess his song and change it because of me or anyone else. He did what God put him here to do, and he did it with a massive amount of joy and energy. He poured himself into his song, put it out to the world, and let the world decide. Thank you, Mr. Songbird. From now on, that’s what I will strive to do. I am going to do what God put me here on earth to do and do it with as much passion and energy as possible and let the world decide.
April 3, 2014
This is my 101st post. Wow. That’s a lot of blogging.
When our dog’s back hips started going, we were very concerned. My wife’s father had MS, and he had a contraption called wally walkers. It was a simple device, an elastic strap that went over his shoulders and clipped to the front of his shoes. It gave him just enough lift to be able to lift his feet and walk on his own.
So we thought about how we could apply this to our dog, Joss. We bought some dog shoes, took some old suspenders and hooked the suspenders to the front of her dog shoes. It was miraculous! Without these walkers, she dragged her back legs behind her. With the suspenders hooked up, she walked just fine. This enabled her to walk unassisted for months.
When there is a problem, it calls for innovation. And innovation is about taking an idea or a concept in one area and apply it to another.
When Joss could no longer walk with her wally walkers, we had another problem. Of course, Andrea’s dad ended up in a wheelchair. So we looked into dog wheelchairs and found one. Joss was just fine with this setup. See the photo above. She thrived in her wheelchair, took walks, ate, did her business, and loved her life. From the time Joss developed hip problems to her death, we innovated and allowed her to have good quality of life until the end. This was a span of around five years. That’s five more years of enjoying our beloved pet because we chose to innovate instead of giving in.
So when you have a problem, there is always a solution. It just takes a little thought and innovation.
June 11, 2013
I like to teach people in ways that they will understand. Most of you have seen or worked on a construction site. You recognize the Bricklayer and The Jackhammer Operator. The jackhammer operator is in the business of destruction. The bricklayer has the job of construction. Both of these processes are equally important. If there is a hardscape and you must dig a foundation on which to erect a building, the operator must perform his part before the bricklayer begins the construction of a new building. Our bodies work in much the same way. There is a balance in the destruction and breakdown of diseased, old or injured tissues before the way can be prepared for the construction of new and healthier cells and tissues. The tissues and organs breakdown and repair themselves continually and in differing rates, so that in seven years you have all different tissues than you had before, however, some are already breaking down again and ready for repair. That balance is controlled by your nervous system.
Stress has a negative impact on the nervous system. How many of you have heard the term fight or flight syndrome? This describes our body’s ability to handle very stressful or life threatening situations. Let me give you an example. A caveman must go out to hunt a saber toothed tiger for meat for his family. When he is confronted with the snarling, clawing tiger he must choose to fight or to flee. The first thing that happens is that adrenaline is released. In this instance, his body reacts by giving him extraordinary physical ability to handle an extraordinary situation.
Can you think of any example in your life? Have you had to pull a drowning victim from a lake? Or grab your child from running in front of a car? What did you feel at the time? And what did you feel after the danger had passed?
So what does this have to do with our everyday lives? I haven’t had to kill a tiger lately or go hungry. Have you? But we face stressful situations frequently in our life that cause the same responses to a lesser degree. It’s called adrenalin leak. The problem with it is twofold. One problem is the amount of breakdown or destruction that occurs. It is not in balance with the construction of new cells. Secondly when adrenalin continually leaks, we may find that we have run out at a most inopportune time. Deep breathing is a great tool to get out of fight/flight syndrome. Stop what you are doing. Right now; or after you read the next sentence! Take 10 deep breaths with your eyes closed. Do this every 2 hours. You’ll feel better!
March 26, 2013
I have just completed the second edition of my book, The Tao of Emotional Intelligence. After The People Profit Connection, it is my best selling book. Why is it such a popular book? I think it is because it helps people to create true and lasting change. The I Ching, or book of changes, is an ancient Chinese book of wisdom that gives us many insights into living and how to deal with the constant change that life offers us. These 82 sayings cover just about everything you need to know about how to deal with the change. I have taken these 82 sayings and correlated them to the 16 emotional competencies that are measured by the EQi 2.0. There is also a table in the back of the book that lists these 16 competencies and all of the sayings that are associated with each competence. Each day, you choose a different saying to focus on throughout your day. With this daily focus on different sayings from the I Ching, you start to cultivate the changes that you want in your life and work.
Here are the steps to create change as outlined in the book:
1. Take the emotional intelligence test in the book so that you can determine which emotional competencies you need to work on.
2. Graph your results.
3. Read the interpretive guidelines to determine which competencies you should focus on.
4. Choose a different I Ching saying each day and make that your focus for the day.
We are also developing an app that does the same thing.
Stay tuned and be on the lookout for more blogs about sayings from the I Ching. Also, be on the lookout for the app as well as the publication of this second edition.
Take care. Brent