Don't Take It Personally

Demand the best from yourself, because others will demand the best from you… Successful people don't simply give a project hard work. They give it their best work.

·   Win Borden

Spotlight: Your Inner Tarzan KNOWS, by Stephanie West Allen

A problem cannot be solved on its own level. It cannot be done any more than you can lift yourself up by pulling upward on your legs. Something higher, something outside yourself, must be contacted. That something is awareness.

Remember Tarzan? He could fly from tree to tree high above the jungle. High above the quicksand and wild animals and other entangling dangers found on the ground. Today find your inner Tarzan. When you encounter a problem today, sit quietly for a moment and envision your solution tree. Imagine the most beautiful tree you have ever seen. Up at its top is a new awareness, an awareness that holds the perfect solution.

Stand up and say, "I AM- I am Tarzan in the jungle, not Tarzan of the jungle." Then imagine yourself at the very top of your solution tree. Enjoy the view. Begin to swing lightly yet strongly from the top of your tree to all the other solution trees high, high above the jungle.

You will swing from the health tree to the wealth tree. And from the self-expression and creativity tree to the relationship tree. They all hold golden nuggets of truth. Up here you are not in any danger of quicksand thinking, or man-eating worries. Swing, fly, and soar in the lofty heights of awareness.

If your problem tries to pull you down to the ground of anxiety and concern and bother, smile and say, "I KNOW the answer is not down there. I am staying up here." This new place will hold the answers for you. Just listen.

To use the terminology of Vernon Howard, quoted above: your swinging Tarzan is your "True Self." The one that stays mired down on the ground is your "False Self." The False Self never knows the best solution. Pondering and cogitating on the ground of old thoughts will not unravel and untangle your dilemma.

You have to fly high above. Claim your inner Tarzan and get up to the treetops now. Sound silly? Well, the origin of the word silly comes from "blessed" and "happy". Be silly. Climb your tree.

About the author:
Stephanie West Allen, JD - This week's contributing author

Stephanie West Allen, JD, brings humor and motivation to organizations and associations. Stephanie is a principal in Allen & Nichols, a Denver-based firm that brings entertainment into the workplace, and conducts training programs using fun techniques to make learning easy, long-lasting and applicable to daily life. Subscribe to her Upsy Daisy Daily newsletter with a vitalizing message each morning, Monday through Friday by sending a blank e-mail to

A Second Helping: Sixth Century Wisdom for 21st Century Changemasters by Eileen McDargh

The cry echoed across business publications, employee surveys, human resource conferences, and on-line chat rooms is this: help us with chaos and balance! Within a 48-hour period, the headlines of the Los Angeles Times business section, a cover story in the latest issue of Fast Company, and the lead article from Fortune all proclaimed the same thing: workers want help with turbulent change and work/life balance.

In the January 11, 1999 edition FORTUNE, you'll uncover an array of work/life balance practices found in the top 100 companies to work for in America. Rather than give a category of these practices, this article offers some thoughts on how to deal with the second, and equally challenging issue: how to deal with the chaos of unending change.

Surprisingly, history can often provide invaluable lessons and solutions to today's challenges. In the sixth-century, the Rule of Saint Benedict asked monks to take vows of stability, "conversatio" (Latin), and obedience.

Stability emphasized the need to work for the good of the community. Hence, all actions taken were in the context of "will this be of assistance to all rather than just a few?" Certainly this wisdom must be at the center of the top-ranked place to work in America, Synovus Financial, whose employees say it has "a culture of the heart." Obedience meant that once the monastery had made a decision (after a practice of hearing from the many members of the community), the monks followed. Independent thinking in business is good to a point, but the team has to always move and take action in the same direction.

Of even more significance is the ancient word conversatio, a term that is difficult to translate. Conversatio connotes a commitment to live faithfully in unsettled times and to keep one's life open. Such a paradox: remain settled; stay open to change! For the monks of the Middle Ages, living faithfully meant listening to an inner voice and responding to the call.

For those of us in the 21st century business world, living faithfully also means listening and responding. Here's what we need to listen to: the stories we tell and those around us tell, regarding an organization's consistent adherence to values shown by actions that match core beliefs. If there are no stories, there will be trouble. It means listening with empathy and responsiveness to the needs of others within the organization as well as to your own 'inner voice.' How well do you practice conversatio?

At a time when we hear terms like "spirit" and "soul" more and more frequently in the workplace, the wisdom of a sixth century monk might help us all deal with the realities of this demanding world.

About the author:
Eileen McDargh, this week's Second Helping

Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE, is an international speaker, author and seminar leader. Her book Work for A Living and Still Be Free to Live is also the title of one of her most popular and upbeat programs on Work/Life Balance. She is fun, funny, relevant and provocative, drawing upon practical business know-how, life's experiences and years of consulting to major national and international organizations. Her stimulating, interactive presentations promote self-discovery and creative solutions to everyday situations - in the workplace and at home. For more information on Eileen and her presentations, please call (949)496-8640 or visit Eileen's Website.

If you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work.

·   Kahlil Gibran

Feature: Smooth the Road, Lighten the Load

The noble scholar and philosopher, Albert Pike, said, "To be modest and unaffected with our superiors is duty; with our equals, courtesy; with our inferiors, nobleness. There is no arrogance so great as the proclaiming of other men's errors and faults, by those who understand nothing but the dregs of actions, and who make it their business to besmear deserving fames."

Within the confines of my home and personal life, I take care to interact with my spouse and children in ways that promote harmony. While at work, however, it can be a different story. Gossip, backbiting, infighting and politics abound on the job - if I look for them. These things are all the more noticeable if I participate. But there is another route to take, one which smoothes the road and lightens the load. It is the path of courtesy and affability on the job.

I don't always get positive feedback when I do my job. It would be nice if that did happen, but the pat-on-the-back usually comes in the form of a paycheck. In my current position, I am between upper management and the guys and gals with the tools. I have found that if I catch people doing something right, and let them know they are doing a good job, I can get more production from them.

How I deal with negative feedback, however, is the key to effectiveness on my job. Criticism about my work or the work of those I supervise, no matter how stated, can help me to do my job better, more efficiently - if I first listen to what is said. That is, assuming that the criticism is business or job related. If the criticism is personal, such as how big my nose is or how much of my hair is missing, I just don't have time or energy to listen, because comments like that won't make my work better.

The key is, "no matter how stated." Sometimes the people I work with get a little frustrated, for what ever reason. Maybe someone jumped on them about something, and the stuff has come downhill to me. Maybe their home life is experiencing some challenges. Perhaps they didn't get a good night's sleep last night. Even if they didn't choose their words well, their concern is, nonetheless, a valid one. If it's about business, it's not about me. It is incumbent upon me to understand their point, to be responsible for that understanding, and to act upon that knowledge.

Taking things personally will only clog the works. As Miguel Ruiz tells me in his book The Four Agreements, I shouldn't take things personally. Nothing others do is because of me. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. If I can keep myself immune to the opinions and actions of others, I won't be the victim of needless suffering. It is not always easy to do that, but if I participate in - or become offended by - the bickering, the politics and the gossip, I become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

And, in truth, those things have no place on the job. Loving acts of kindness, courtesy and affability, on the other hand, are always warmly welcomed and amply rewarded.

My mug   ·   Michael Rawls, Friday's Inspiration © 2003


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