4 August 2015      

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You're Allowed to Say "No"!
Jeff Keller

The Listening Ladder
Mike Moore

Challenges
tom walsh

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Life is learning which rules to obey, which rules not to obey, and the wisdom to tell the difference between the two.

unattributed

You're only here for a short visit.
Don't hurry, don't worry, and stop
to smell the flowers along the way.

Walter Hagen

Effort matters in everything, love included.  Learning to love is purposeful work.

Michael Levine

Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.

Ursula K. LeGuin

  
You're Allowed to Say "No"!
Jeff Keller

You've got more work than you can possibly handle.  Not to mention the time you're spending as an officer of your trade association. . . and as coach of your child's soccer team.

Your phone rings and it's Sally, another officer of the trade association.  Sally tells you what a great job you're doing for the Association and then asks if you'd be willing to chair the Committee putting on a large event in three months.

You know this project will involve countless hours of work, including weekends.  You get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.  Your heart tells you to say "no." Your spirit tells you to say "no."  But somehow, what comes out of your mouth is "Yeah, I'll do it."

What happened here? How did "no" turn into "yes"? Maybe you didn't want to let others down.  Or, perhaps, you wanted to be liked. For whatever reason, you agreed to do something that you didn't want to do.  For most of my life, I lived this way.  Saying "yes" when I really wanted to say "no."  I'll bet you've done the same thing many times.

This can happen at work when someone asks you to take on an extra task, or to help out on the weekend.  And in our leisure time, we also have to make decisions when it comes to family, community and other activities.

I know what some of you are thinking. If I say "no" to some of these things, I'm going to look bad or hurt my chances for a promotion. For example, if I decline a request from my supervisor, I'll be viewed as someone who isn't loyal to the team. If I say "no" to attending my cousin's wedding (the cousin I haven't seen in 15 years), the rest of the family will be talking about me.

Yes, there ARE consequences to saying "no." You might not get the promotion. Your relatives might talk about you behind your back. But let's not kid ourselves here. There are also consequences to saying "yes" when you don't want to say "yes." You become resentful and angry. You feel that you're not in control of your own life. You're not living a life that's consistent with your values and priorities.

I'm not encouraging you to become lazy and refuse to go the extra mile at work and in your personal life. We all do activities that we don't particularly enjoy, like working through lunch on a key project or attending a wake after a long day at work.

Furthermore, this isn't about being selfish and thinking only of your own interests. But I'm here to say that YOU count, too! And you block your own success when you feel resentful about doing things you don't want to do. Unwanted activities are not only time consuming; they drain your energy.

So, what can you do to help you say "no" instead of "yes?" It's very helpful to set boundaries, because that will help dictate your answer when someone asks you to do something. Even better, let people know about these boundaries beforehand so they won't be taken by surprise when you say "no." For instance, if you resolve that you won't work on weekends (except in certain limited, emergency situations), when someone asks you to help out on Saturday, you can decline and tell them you spend weekends with your family.

For me, my exercise time on Saturday and Sunday is sacred.  If I'm not doing a weekend presentation or traveling, it takes a lot for me to cancel or re-schedule my exercise sessions. If someone asks me to do something during those times, I will politely say "no" because I value my health and well being too much to let other things get in the way.

I also get numerous requests to speak at certain service clubs and trade association meetings on weekday nights. I am honored to be asked, but in most instances, I will politely decline. I set some boundaries and decided that I will do a certain number of these presentations each year, but that's it.

Otherwise, I won't be able to spend quiet time at home in the evenings. If anyone thinks I'm being unreasonable, that's okay. I feel better about the decision I've made because I'm being true to what's important in my life. As a result, I've found that my presentations are more authentic and effective.

You might think that you're indispensable ... that you have to say "yes" because the world will fall apart if you don't run to the rescue each time. What nonsense! In the end, you let yourself down and wind up feeling hurt.

Here's the bottom line: You're allowed to say "no." It's a small two letter word with the power to liberate you and significantly improve the quality of your life.


* * * * *

Jeff Keller is the President of Attitude is Everything, Inc.
For more than 15 years, Jeff has delivered presentations on attitude and motivation to businesses, groups and trade associations throughout the United States and abroad. Jeff is also the author of the highly acclaimed book, Attitude is
Everything. For more information, go to  http://www.attitudeiseverything.com

   

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The Listening Ladder
Mike Moore

I wrote in my book "Embracing the Mystery" that there was nothing as flattering or as rare as the undivided attention of another.  The fact is that people just don't listen well. I think it was Mark Twain who wrote that a bore is someone who wants to talk about himself when I want to talk about myself.  How many times have you experienced someone asking you a question, not out of a genuine concern for what you have to say, but rather as an opportunity for them to flood you with their thoughts and opinions on an issue?

People have a hunger to be listened to--to have someone care enough to suspend their own agenda in the interest of another's.  Sadly, such unselfish, attentive people are few.

I once had a man at a party come up to me and say that my wife, Carol was a terrific conversationalist. On the way home that same evening I told Carol what he had said and asked her what she did to give him that impression. She thought for a moment and said, "All I did was ask him questions about his life and listen to his answers. From his answers I asked more questions." Therein lies the secret to good conversation:  listening well.

From Carol's insight I have developed what I call the listening ladder.  Climb the listening ladder and you will be on your way to improved social interaction.

The Listening Ladder

L. Look at the person speaking to you.  This alone sends out the message that you are focused and involved.

A. Ask additional questions flowing from answers given to your original starting questions.  Remember that you learn what to say by listening to what has been said.

D. Don't interrupt.  The only time an interruption is acceptable is when you require clarification.

D. Don't change the subject.  The speaker will indicate when they are finished their story.

E. Empathize with the speaker.  Short phrases such as, "How interesting"; "How exciting"; "You must be so proud"; send the speaker the message that you are an empathetic, caring listener.

R. Respond to what is said verbally and non-verbally.  A simple nod or leaning slightly toward the speaker indicates interest and attention.  Add to this such phrases as, "I see"; "Really?"; "Is that right?" and you enrich your response.

I want to make something clear. Conversation is a two-way affair.  Most conversations are monologues conducted in the presence of an observer.  If, after a reasonable period of time, the one speaking isn't willing to ask you a question and become a listener, then conclude the interaction and move on.  I usually give the one speaking ten minutes.  If, after that time, they haven't asked me a question or my opinion, I say something like, "It was nice chatting with you."  Conversation MUST be reciprocal.

I like the story of the self-possessed Hollywood star who was heard saying to an admirer, "Enough about me talking about me.  I'd like to hear you talk about me for awhile."  There is a great deal of truth in this little story.

Good luck climbing the Listening ladder.  The view from the top is fantastic.
   

   

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For years, the people of Canyon Bluff have shared the stories of the Nogglz, their own version of the monsters in the closet. "If you don't behave, the Nogglz will come and get you and carry you down into the mines," they've told their children. Of course, they were just stories. Nobody could have stayed alive in an old mine for six decades. But when one of their own is brutally murdered one cold November night, it may be time to come to terms with the sins of their fathers and their own ties to the town's dreadful past. And for the sheriff and his deputy and the state troopers who are called to the town to deal with the murder, an ordinary day becomes an extraordinary battle for simple survival.
 
Sometimes I write things just to tell a story, but I just can't help mentioning some life lessons, even in a novel about creatures running amok in an old mining town in the Colorado mountains.  Nogglz is available in print by clicking here, or as a Kindle e-book by using the link to the left.  Using the mining town as the setting is a tribute to my mother, who grew up in a tiny mining town herself, and who has never left there in her heart.

   

The face of love is variable.  I am able to love without demanding
that my relationships assume the structures and forms I might choose
for them.  My love is fluid, flexible, committed, creative.  My love
allows people and events to unfold as they need.  My love is not controlling.
It does not dictate or demand.  My love allows those
I love the freedom to assume the forms most true to them.
I release all those I love from my preconceptions of their path.
I allow them the dignity of self-definition while I offer them
a constant love that is ever variable in shape.

Julia Cameron

   

 

Challenges

I love challenging myself.  I like to set a goal that seems difficult or even impossible and then do everything I can to reach that goal.  It's not always easy, and sometimes I don't reach the goal--heck, sometimes I don't come anywhere close to reaching it--but it's still something that I love to do.  Sometimes the challenges I take on are physical, such as running a very long distance, and sometimes they're more mental, such as writing a book.  Sometimes they're very abstract, such as trying to deal with my fear of heights or my uneasiness in crowds.  But no matter what kind they are, I feel fortunate that I'm able to identify challenges and then take them on.

I actually meet many of them.  I've run one hundred miles in 26 hours, I've written a few novels, and I've done some other things that I didn't think I could do at first.  Nowadays, though, after taking on so many challenges, I never really feel that something is impossible--I pretty much know that anything is possible with the right attitude and enough effort.  That's not to say that nowadays I meet every challenge successfully, because I don't.   I just don't start out by thinking that I can't do it.

And I've learned that my attitude towards a challenge is one of the most important keys to meeting it.  If I see a challenge ahead and I've overwhelmed or intimidated, then the chances are very good that I won't be successful in meeting it.

If, on the other hand, I see a challenge and immediately start thinking of different ways that I might be able to meet it, the chances are good that I shall meet it successfully.

   

Face a challenge and find joy
in the capacity to meet it.

Ayn Rand

   
Ayn Rand's words resonate very strongly with me--find joy in the capacity to meet challenges.  We all have amazing capacities to do amazing things, and there is joy to be found in those capabilities.  When I meet a challenge, I learn something important about myself:  that I'm a person who is completely capable of meeting such a challenge.  That's a fact to be celebrated.  It's also a fact to be celebrated that I have the capability of considering the idea of facing the challenges that come up.  When a challenge comes up I can say that I didn't back away in fear, but I stood strong and met the challenge, even if I was afraid while I did so.

There will be fear when we decide to face challenges.  We will feel intimidated and frightened.  That's okay.  Feeling fear doesn't say anything about us; allowing the fear to control us, though, says much about us.  One of our goals in life must be to overcome fear, for the life that is controlled by fear is not a full life by any stretch of the imagination.
    

As we rise to meet the challenges that
are a natural part of living, we awaken
to our many undiscovered gifts, to
our inner power and our purpose.

Susan L. Taylor

    
Remember Susan's words here.  Meeting challenges helps us to get to know the positive sides of ourselves much more deeply and intimately.  When we rise to try to meet a challenge, we are saying that we are worthy, loving individuals who want to make the most of our lives.  As she says, challenges are, indeed, a natural part of life and living, and rising to meet them is as natural as the sun rising in the morning and setting in the evening.  When we do meet those challenges, we do notice and recognize strengths that we might not have noticed before.  And they don't need to be physical or measurable strengths--they can be the ability to listen, the ability to distinguish between two options and their possible outcomes, the ability to empathize with others and show compassion.

You will meet challenges, but why not search them out?  Why not take on things that you know will make you stronger, no matter whether you completely accomplish them or not?  Why not look for the things that are difficult for you and make them things that are no longer difficult for you because you took on the challenge of learning how to deal with them?  I know quite a few things in my life that used to be challenging to me that are no longer any big deal at all.  I never, ever thought that there would come a day when I would refer to a run as "only fifty miles," but since I did the 100-mile runs, my perspective has changed significantly.

For someone else, it may be that talking to one new person a day is no big deal when they used to be afraid of talking to one new person a week.  It could be that an algebra course is nothing when someone used to be intimidated by regular math classes.  As you take on more challenges, you perspective on what they are will change--it's inevitable.
   

Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you;
they're supposed to help you discover who you are.

Bernice Johnson

   
Take on your challenges.  Seek out challenges.  Heck, make up some of your own.  When you meet them head-on, you will grow, and you will have a stronger base than you had before, a place to come from that wasn't there before.  And as that new part of you grows, others will see the change and want to know more about it.  And then you can tell them how extremely simple and incredibly difficult it was at the same time.

   
More on challenges.

   

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Listen to your life.  See it for the fathomless mystery that it is.  In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness:  touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.

Frederick Buechner

  

On Letting Go
Robert Paul Gilles

To "let go" does not mean to stop caring. 
It means I can't do it for someone else.

To "let go" is not to cut myself off. 
It's the realization that I can't control another.

To "let go" is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.

To "let go" is not to try to change or blame another. 
It's to make the most of myself.

To "let go" is not to care for, but to care about.

To "let go" is not to fix, but to be supportive.

To "let go" is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.

To "let go" is not to be in the middle, arranging all the outcomes, 
but to allow others to affect their own destinies.

To "let go" is not to deny, but to accept.

To "let go" is not to nag, scold, or argue, but instead
to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.

To "let go" is not to adjust everything to my desires, 
but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.

To "let go" is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.

To "let go" is to fear less and to love more.

(from his book Thoughts of the dreampoet : vol. 1.)

   
  

Love is when I am concerned with your relationship with your own
life, rather than with your relationship to mine. . . . There must be a
commitment to each other’s well-being.  Most people who say they
have a commitment don’t; they have an attachment.  Commitment
means, “I am going to stick with you and support your experience
of well-being.”  Attachment means, “I am stuck without you.”

Stewart Emery

    

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