Last photo with my dad

TGIF – Remembering Al McDonald, my father

Hello.

I have been silent these past weeks.  My parents recently moved to a senior residence.  Once Dad was assured that Mom was settled in, and I had just had time to hang pictures on the wall, my father passed away.

This newsletter is quite personal, and I share my faith in Jesus Christ.  If this turns you off, now is the time to close this email.

So, here goes for a politically incorrect and totally genuine TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

I am trusting in eternal life.

My father, Al McDonald, died last Thursday, one week before Thanksgiving.  I am trusting in eternal life that is a gift through Jesus Christ.

It is with sad but grateful hearts that we commemorate the extraordinary life of co-founder Alonzo (“Al”) McDonald, who passed away this past week at the age of 91. Al’s remarkable life included service as CEO of McKinsey, President and Vice-Chairman of the Bendix Corporation, White House staff Director for President Carter, Deputy Special Trade Representative, and Harvard Business School faculty member. Al also founded and chaired the McDonald Agape Foundation, and served as founding Chairman of the Trinity Forum, which he helped launch with Os Guinness in 1991. 

extract from The Trinity Forum newsletter

Click here to read the tribute to Al McDonald by author Os Guinness.

Dad himself wrote about his faith in three essays printed by The Trinity Forum.  You can get free copies (scroll down on this page for instructions):

Trusting in eternal life means believing that the best has just begun.  I consider that eternal life begins NOW…and the best experiences we have in our life here on earth are merely signposts of our life after death.  Life as we experience it daily resembles the light of a lamp, whereas life after death is like basking in sunlight.

I am trusting that my father is in the best time of his life ever!

Gratitude

Grief is real.  We grieve because we love and were loved.  What a privilege to have shared tenderness with my father throughout various times in my life.  I am grateful to having loved, to continue loving, and to be loved.

Al McDonald young father
When he believed in me even though I fell LOTS.
Al McDonald father
During my awkward years. Gotta have vision!  (No Photoshoping!)
Al McDonald grandfather
When he welcomed my husband and invested in our kids and the next generation.

Inspiration

Here is what I learned from my father:

You don’t try, you don’t get.

Opportunities come to those who take risks.  Wise risk-taking centers on identifying your personal perspective on potential gain and potential loss.

Dad spoke of decision he had made where colleagues had focused on the discomfort (moving internationally with young kids to a country speaking a foreign tongue) or the downsides (leaving headquarters and the center of power).

He had seen and sought out challenge and growth opportunities…and choosing the less travelled road made all the difference.

Keep growing.

My dad embraced life through learning.  He devoured books.  He sought opportunities to go out of his comfort zone.  And he only settled for excellence.  If we could do better, then why settle for less. 

When he read our report cards, his tone of voice changed from satisfaction to questionning when an “A” turned into an “A – “!  Yes, he put on pressure to perform!

Maybe in reaction to this intensity, each of his four children chose a career path quite different from his.  And yet, we each integrate love of excellence, hunger for understanding, and wonder of life.

Be strong
…and sometimes that means being weak.

For the first half of his life, my father sought strength through power. He reached his level of professional success through exceptional strategic intellect, political savvy…and some bulldozing.

When I entered college, my father’s faith in Jesus Christ had a transforming impact on his life.  Before, Dad “did the right religious moves.” On Sundays he was a respected church member.  Yet, during the week, he forged forward, sometimes leaving debris on the wayside.

Then he chose to follow Jesus. Not just to proclaim allegiance, but to put his beliefs into action.  I remember a special dinner when I was in college. He asked for forgiveness for the mistakes he may have made as a father.  It’s not that he suddenly became Mr. Nice Guy and immediately adopted non-violent communication tools.  It was a beginning of a new trend, of seeking strength through humility.

The end of his life is crowned in tenderness.

Last photo with my dad
My last photo with my father.

Fun

Dad had two things read to him the day he died.  The Bible and the lunch menu.  He loved God’s word and fine dining.

We are having a party to celebrate his life and legacy.  I am soooo looking forward to being with people he loved and to cherishing his memory and their company.  What fun!

 

Next…

I am taking time off from these TGIF letters.  We can be so busy doing.  Doing our work.  Being busy.

I want to take some time to be.  Sip tea with my mom.  Bask in sunshine.  Celebrate Christmas, family, and life.  Clarify priorities for the new year.

Let’s stay in touch.  With love and appreciation,

Denise

Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – Flying High…and Sometimes Crashing

Hello for the weekly rendez-vous on Friday.  TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Only it is Saturday.  Catching up

Trust

I am trusting in the growth that results from asking delicate, intrusive questions that expose our beliefs.

Asking questions can feel awkward.  People wonder if they are being interrogated and can respond with wariness.  Or they are surprised to be listened to; they expend so much energy trying to be heard!  That’s why I lead training on asking questions effectively – getting to meaningful answers without putting people on the defensive.

This week I have been asking questions about hope for the future.  One of the students speaking at my son’s recent graduation condemned us, the older generation, for passing on a world in destruction:  damage from climate and strife run rampant and without solutions in sight.

The world left to next generation
Image from The Conversation

While she spoke, her vehement speech put a damper on the graduation ceremony, yet many allowed her words to enter one ear and leave by the other.  We returned to celebration as usual.

And yet, I was perplexed, and I started asking questions to young adults around me and engaging in insightful discussion about priorities, sacrifice, decisions, and more.  None of us prone concrete answers.  Yet, in the process of asking and responding to authentic questions, we all grew in purposefulness and in mutual appreciation.

I am trusting in asking questions…AND LISTENING TO THE ANSWERS!

Questions lead to learning.

Gratitude

I am so grateful for forgiveness and second chances.  Just this morning, I tried asking a delicate question and it came out all wrong.  I struck out.  I feel bad…and the other person must feel even worse.

Striking out

Reparations are in the works.  More will be required.  When the sh** hits the fan, there is clean-up.

Yet it is still worth confronting sensitive topics.  The air and space get refreshed.  And I learn humility in the process.  I am also grateful for humility!

Inspiration

The young woman who spoke courageously and with passion at my son’s graduation inspires me.  She had a provocative message; the stakes were high for her; and she delivered her speech with aplomb.

If she were a man, I wonder if we’d say, “She’s got balls.”

She’s got balls!

Instead folk expressed that she’s abrasive.  I am inspired by her gumption.

Fun

Here I am literally going outside of my comfort zone.  Flying high (the person paragliding in the background is moi) !

Flying in the mountains

Fun..and freaky!

Wishing you a great week.

Sincerely, Denise

 

Neat & New Stuff

What Kids Hear when Parents Repeat 1000 Times

You ask nicely.  No response.  You ASK insistently. Still undesired response…. Check out the family workshop on listening skills.  We reversed roles between parents and kids and “Aha! moments” abounded!  Read on…

Give the Gift of Time

Father and son spending time together

During the holidays, give kids what they crave the most:  your full attention.  We made it easy and fun.  Read on… 

4 Ways Kids Can Help Parents Resolve Work Challenges

Kids-give-lessons-to-parentsYour children are smart.  They have been around you.  They also view the world from a different perspective.  In our difficulties, sometimes we lose clear vision.  Discover these ways you and your child can grow in intimacy AND bring clarity to a fuzzy situation at work.  Read on…

Express Your Values and Give Them Purpose

On a sampan in the Mekong riverSummer vacation is a great time to share your values with those you love.

Try traveling to transmit open-mindedness, tolerance, adaptability, patience, and more.  Read on…

Trust Gratitude Inspiration Fun

TGIF – Hope in the Next Generation

Hello for the weekly rendez-vous on Friday.  TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

I am trusting in the next generation’s ability and desire to embrace people who are different from them.

In my last TGIF, I told you of my son’s graduation.  After that ceremony, my husband and I drove off for a weekend wedding celebration.

At both events, the next generation were radiant.  The young adults proudly walked across the stage to receive their hard-earned diplomas.

Graduating high school senior

The young couple glowed with happiness.

What fills me with trust in their ability to welcome differences is that they already have!  The students attend a multi-cultural school which integrates French and Anglophone teaching methods (VERY different).  The Franco-American couple welcomed thirty nationalities to their wedding.

It’s exciting to see the next generation embrace multiple cultures with enthusiasm.

Gratitude

I am grateful for being shaped by the next generation.  I am the person I am today partly because of who my kids are and how they helped me grow.

Mom's thanking kids for growth

I have long believed parenting is like leadership development.  We craft a vision (try to), communicate it (try to), and organize to make it happen (try to).

It’s in the “trying to” and the “messed up and trying again” that I have become the person that I am.  Thanks, next generation, for being such thorough (!!!) trainers.

I shared my appreciation directly to my one of my sons before his graduation.  We have this bulletin board by our front door, and friends often come over.  As the buddies were leaving, there was a quiet moment by the front door.  Then, “That’s cool.”  Later, I asked my son what that was about.  “The sign, Mom.” 😊

Inspiration

My inspiration comes from Mother Teresa.

“We train ourselves to be extremely kind and gentle in touch of hand, tone of voice, and in our smile, so as to make the mercy of God very real.”
– Mother Teresa

It is easy to think that some people love or are organized or lead others naturally.  It’s auto-magic.

I had thought that of Mother Teresa.  She was born good and kind and gentle.  And yet, she asserts otherwise.  She INTENTIONALLY trained herself and created training methods for all of the Sisters of Charity

  • to lovingly touch the leper
  • to genuinely smile with eyes and lips at the drawling and toothless elder
  • to soothingly speak to the person disformed by pain

As I train upcoming leaders and students, I am inspired to remember that kindness can be learned.  So can resilience, patience, optimism, listening….

Fun

It was a blast to see my son get his well-earned diploma.  We are proud of him.  Even more importantly, he is proud of himself.

Intrinsic motivation will help him more in life than approval from others.

Proud parents of high school senior

Wishing you a great week.

Sincerely, Denise

 

Neat & New Stuff

What Motivates More: Encouragement or Compliments?

Denise Dampierre in workshop

Are some people born with intrinsic motivation (it’s auto-magic or genetic…) or can it be learned?

Scientists assert that the way you and I act can develop (or not) intrinsic motivation in others.  Read on…

4 Ways Kids Can Help Parents Resolve Work Challenges

Kids-give-lessons-to-parentsYour children are smart.  They have been around you.  They also view the world from a different perspective.  In our difficulties, sometimes we lose clear vision.  Discover these ways you and your child can grow in intimacy AND bring clarity to a fuzzy situation at work.  Read on…

Intergenerational Communication that Works – Insights from Dem DX

Newborn baby in hospitalThe younger generation seems more comfortable with diversity in nationality, race, and religion.  How about with different generations? That can seem tougher.

Learn how this start-up integrates the wisdom of senior experts with the expertise of younger generation.  Dem DX won the European prize for the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition.  Read on…

Muslims in prayer

Being an Outsider in the Paris “No Go Zone”

Last week I was invited to lunch in the Paris “No Go Zone” and here is what I learned about being an outsider.

My Outsider Experience

There I was waiting in front of a low-income housing complex in the middle of St Denis, the Paris suburb where Jawad Bendaoud housed the terrorist attackers who stormed the Bataclan on November 13, 2015 and killed 130 music fans and wounded another 413 people.

Equiping Juvenile Delinquents to Contribute Positively

I was invited to lunch at the restaurant Taf & Maffé to join the seven youth in juvenile detention that I was training in social skills.  The town justice service hires me to give wayward youth tools to contribute positively to society.  I love these sessions of authentic exchange and where I grow as much or more as they do.  This lunch opened my eyes wide with discovery.

White Anglo-Saxon, Female, Red-Head Outsider

As a tall, white woman with spikey, bright red hair, I often stand out in a crowd.  Here, surrounded by men of African and Middle Eastern origin, some wearing tunics and prayer caps, I definitely looked out of place.

I felt displaced as well.  My bearings were off.  I consider myself open-minded and had thought I had no specific expectations.  Yet, standing alone in unknown territory, I realized I looked for familiar signs.  Specifically, I searched for the welcoming signboard of a restaurant and a clearly displayed menu to lure me in.  There was nothing of the sort.  Just a high rise and men.  (I saw two women in veils, both begging.)

welcoming restaurant from outsider view
My unrealistic expectation

A man in a tunic pointed me towards the inside of the housing complex and I went in.

Outdoor “Mosque”

Beyond the entrance, in the building’s courtyard, lay a patchwork of colorful rugs.  I had not integrated that we were Friday and that, for the Muslims in St Denis, prayer time began at 1:48 pm. There wasn’t enough space at the mosque, so the “inn” made room for the faithful.

The man pointed me further down a corridor and I walked into a large hall with tables and chairs and people serving out of industrial size cooking pots.  Questioning eyes observed me as I scrutinized the room, noticing the buzz of activity and the full chairs.  I was not expected here either, so I waited outside for my crowd.

The youth finally arrived AND our group kept waiting (!), huddled in the small segment of the sidewalk that basked in the sun.  My confusion grew, yet since the youth were calm-despite-hunger, I remained relaxed-enough too.

Our dining room was being prepared.

Lunch is Served

We were ushered into a 20m² room which served as the office of an association which integrates refugees into France.  They had moved the printers and photocopy machine to the side, stacked papers in piles, and moved the desks to form one large table.  Again, I had not come with set expectations yet discovered that this is not what I had anticipated!  In retrospect I realized I had expected a “Chez Samir,” something like an exotic version of “Chez Sylvie.”

We enjoyed a flavorful, filling, and exotic meal of bissap (hibiscus) juice, chicken maffé (like an African paella), HOT chili sauce, and dégué (millet grain pudding flavored with orange blossom).

Even when everyone had finished eating, we stayed put.  Since I was leading the afternoon training session for the youth, my eye was on the watch.  Yet, as a guest, I let the organizers set the rhythm and opted to let go of control and to enjoy the company and the moment.

Waiting.  Not my Schedule.  Theirs.

By now a group of ten or more of us were huddled in the doorway, with still no indication of movement and easy chit chat around.  Then one of the youths announced, “It’s time.”

While we were eating, the courtyard had filled with men for the mid-day prayer.  Prayer time was now completed; we could open the door.

We joined the crowd of worshipers as they flooded into the street and flowed on their way.

I grew from the experience of being an outsider.

My Take-Aways from being an Outsider

Open-Mindedness

I (re)learned that open-mind is not a state of being that one reaches.  It’s a journey…that goes deeper and deeper.

As a Protestant white American married to an atheist French man from West Indies descent, I think of myself as open-minded.   Our marriage would not have lasted twenty-seven years had we not each made considerable concessions to and for each other.

Yet an open-mind cannot be earned and worn as a Scout badge for public recognition.  As I acknowledged my surprised reactions to these unknown surroundings, I discovered untrod paths of open-mindedness and traveled further along the journey.

Unconscious Bias

A decade ago, few people were aware of unconscious biases.  Now, “unconscious bias” is an often-heard, sometimes-understood term.

Unconscious bias. Lots of outsiders
Growth in awareness of unconscious bias over 15 years

Here is how the University of California, San Francisco defines it.  

“Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.

Unconscious bias is far more prevalent than conscious prejudice and often incompatible with one’s conscious values. Certain scenarios can activate unconscious attitudes and beliefs. For example, biases may be more prevalent when multi-tasking or working under time pressure.”

I confess, I had thought I was addressing and uncovering (a.k.a. eliminating) my unconscious biases fairly well.   Yet during my visit to Saint Denis, a neighborhood physically close to my home and yet culturally far removed from my norm, I kept bumping into my assumptions.

I expected restaurants to have outdoor signs and buildings to welcome residents, not worshipers.

Mostly, I realized that we (you and I included) have an uncanny bias towards thinking that we might be unbiased!  LOL

Empathy

The best way to grow in empathy is to get out of our comfort zone.

Authentic empathy comes from the heart.  It is experienced.  It is not an intellectual thought.

Alone on that sidewalk I felt insecure, with a loss of bearings.  Taking initiatives required effort and felt risky.  Instead of my usual proactive self, I waited for others to make the first move.

I caught a glimpse of what it feels like to be excluded.

In the past, I responded to other people’s slowness, reactivity, and lack of self-confidence with critique.  “C’mon.  Get over it.”  Thanks to my work in constructive collaboration, I have learned to replace judgement with encouragement.

I did not need advice on that street corner.  I needed courage poured into me and the strength that comes from a benevolent presence.

Transformative Trainings

In St Denis, I was hired to open these youths’ eyes, minds, and even hearts.  Through soft skills training and building their self-awareness and other-awareness, we connected constructively.  Here were their parting thoughts:

  • Hope
  • Motivation to look for a job
  • Confidence in myself

These youth also opened my eyes, mind, and heart.  That’s what I love about our workshops on constructive collaboration tools.  Through role plays and team activities we create a safe space for learners to step outside of their comfort zone.  They are free to laugh at themselves, to discover new insights, and to choose how and how much to grow.

For YOUR Team Too

Find out more about these trainings to bring out the best performance and collaboration from your teams.  We define our training program according to your organization’s needs.

Are you seeking to build a more inclusive culture?  We help build self-awareness, empathy, and trust which are pillars to developing a sense of belonging and contribution.

Your success depends upon negotiation skills?  We help you and your team understand other people’s perspectives and balance short- and long-term benefits so that you can negotiate creative outcomes where all parties gain.

You want to give your team a motivational boost?  We help you break down communication barriers and build relationship bridges so that expectations are clear, progress gets recognized, and success is achievable.

Be in touch.  It’s what we do:  transform difficulties into opportunities for growth.

SoSooper = from blooper to sooooo super!

Cover photo from The Great Courses Daily website
Restaurant photo is Chez Sylvain & Sylvie in Bordeaux region

Man reflecting in park

When It’s Urgent to Reflect

For many of us reflection seems like a luxury in our over-packed schedules and high-efficiency mindset.

We feel a need to respond immediately.

To respond!

In our world of disruptive innovation and fast change, don’t we really need to initiate?

Proactivity requires reflection.  Overcoming recurring stumbling blocks demands new solutions.  In the words of Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

Reflection gets us thinking at another level.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”
– Albert Einstein

Here are five situations when deeper level thinking is vital.

1. When Faced with Failure

  • The deal you were about to close fell through at the last minute.
  • You expected a positive response from a colleague and met a very different reaction.
  • An employee left the company or is in burnout.

Step back

We could be too close to the problem.

Try stepping back using space.   Using Post-It notes, write one element of your challenge on each note and place them in order on a wall.  Step back and discover the pattern.  Where is the breaking point?

Try stepping back or forward with time.  Two weeks ago, what was the situation like?  Two weeks from now, what would you like to happen?

2. When Your Body “Complains”

  • You cannot sleep at night.
  • You have gained or lost weight.
  • You get sick.
  • Your digestion has gone havoc; gurgling sounds interrupt your meetings (!)

“If I knew I would live this long I would have taken better care of myself.”
– 90 year-old Al McDonald, previous Managing Director (CEO) of McKinsey & Company

Your and my energy is finite.  With exercise, nutrition, self-care, and planning we can increase our productivity … to a limit.

Re-Prioritize

Physical signs point to a need for change.  It’s time to re-evaluate the distribution of work.  Are you accepting too many projects?  Is it difficult to say, “No”?

Seeking recognition is a common goal.  All humans experience the fundamental need to belong and to contribute to a meaningful community.  Colleagues and neighbors may admire superhumans from afar.  It’s people we come alongside.  It’s relationships with fellow humans that bring meaning to work and life.

Review your investments in time and energy to identify tasks to delegate… and offer others a chance to grow and contribute too.

3. When Bored or Feeling Blasé

When all you see is 10 000 shades of grey, mental fatigue may be blinding you to life in full color spectrum.

Re-Connect

Consider these color images.  The first lacks greens.  The second is without red.  Without these hues, one can miss out on the obvious.

Numbers for Color Blind. No green
No green => confusing!
Numbers for Color Blind. No red
No red => confusing too.
Color blind numbers vector
Even with all the color, reading the numbers takes effort. Similarly, additional perspectives makes reflection easier.

When life appears color blind, it’s an invitation to reflect.  Easier said than done when we are in the blues.  Connecting with another person can add the clarity of perception we may have temporarily lost.  (That’s what coaches like me do.)

We have been given life in technicolor.  It’s urgent to re-assess when life appears monochromatic.

4. When Your Calendar is Always Full

I read of a foreigner learning English who integrated phrases she heard spoken around herShe learned to respond to, “How are you?” with, “I’m so busy.”

Many of us live with little margin.  We plan flexibility out of our lives.

Think of Yourself

Have you travelled on an airplane recently?  The flight attendants remind us to put on our oxygen mask BEFORE we help others.

Many people postpone self-care, prioritize working for others over taking time for oneself.   If you don’t invest in yourself, why should anyone else?

Self-care is a way to express your worth to your entourage.  Again, if you don’t believe in yourself, why should your boss, colleague, spouse, or child?

5. When You are Bitter or Jealous

We all look at the world through a filter.  The lens of envy focuses on faults … and since we are all humans, imperfections in each of us will be found.

Bitterness jettisons us into a vicious cycle of hurt and retaliation. It’s a lose-lose situation, and the one who harbors bitterness suffers most of all.

Lack of forgiveness is like drinking the poison you wish for someone else, reminds us Nelson Mandela.  Riddled with venom we perish; our joy dies, our ability to contribute constructively dwindles, and our sense of belonging withers.

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
– Nelson Mandela

Focus on Long Term Benefits

Numerous studies report how the elderly look back on their life.  Men and women lament the energy they wasted on insisting that they were right, even at the cost of a relationship.  The wise in years wish for strong rapport with folk who know their imperfections AND respect them still.

You may not desire nor need to reconnect in a hurtful relationship.  Do reconnect with yourself and your values.  (Often this does imply some kind of gesture in relationship recovery.)

It takes some stepping back to recognize our own responsibility in a relationship rift.

  • The 10 additional critical words to make SURE the reprimand got across
  • The 10 additional decibels in our tone of voice so that the entire floor could hear the negative feedback

As we realize and express our responsibility in the conflict, we free ourselves from a victim mentality and from reactivity.

Do you use a mirror to pluck out an ingrown hair?  Consider getting a coach or a sparring partner to bring to focus behaviors which could be aggravating an already delicate situation.

 

Reflection Becomes a Habit of the Mind

Reflection becomes a habit.

Try this activity from Positive Discipline that we do in my workshops:

  • Put your hands together and interlace your fingers
  • Straighten your fingers and move them down one notch. If your right index was on top before, the left one will be on top now.
  • How does it feel? What do you want to do?
    One participant shared, “The new hand position felt weird.  I wanted to go back to the previous way, and without thinking did so.  Then I tried the new hand position again.  It still felt unfamiliar, but less uncomfortable.  I realized that with practice, I could do this.”

Neuroscience corroborates this phenomenon.  When we activate our brain (as in through reflection) neurons create a pathway of connections from one part of the brain to another.  As we rethink similar thoughts, those same pathways get utilized, like a path a well-worn path that becomes easier and easier to follow.

Phew!

Action Step

Schedule a free trial coaching call.  Get in touch.

 

 

 

Serenity of lighthouse

Serenity to Accept Things I Cannot Change

Google announces 6,2 Million results to my search for “Serenity Prayer.”

Many team-help groups gain inspiration from this prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

These lines hold “serenity” as the namesake, and yet who focuses on accepting the things they cannot change?!

Courage to Change Things

How exciting and ego-boosting to be a valiant savior!

To show courage and, with chivalry, to forge ahead into the unknow with sword drawn.  We can almost hear the cheerleaders encouraging us on: “A.C.T…I.O.N….Action, Action, We want Action!”  

Wisdom to Choose

The wizened elder expounding sound advice conjures up a positive image too.

The sage gathers a following of disciples.

The wise person holds authority.

The counselor is sought out.

A mentor’s insights lead to action.

Decision-making is prized by people from all walks of life

  • CEO’s organize “strategy sessions” around critical company decisions
  • Poets pen about our choice of life path…which makes all the difference
  • Child educators and neuroscientists refer to developing social and emotional skills by triggering areas of the brain related to decision-making

Making choices also brings a semblance of control, a feeling especially prized when we feel out of control!

Serenity to Do Nothing!!!

Isn’t doing nothing…bad?!

Non-action runs against our sense of control.  When we make a move, we feel power.  When we wait, we depend upon others.

Inaction is vulnerability.  Big time.

Serenity: When “Doing Nothing” is Good

To Accept Matters Beyond our Control

Some battles we cannot win; matters are beyond our control.

As I write, the French railroad employees are striking.  No personal effort on my part will get my scheduled train on the tracks.  Serenity helps me stop waste time moaning and groaning.   Then wisdom and courage get me on my smart phone to reserve a spot on a car-pool app.

Challenges happen.  We don’t choose war, persecution, cancer, corporate takeovers, our noisy next-door neighbors or ageing.

We do choose how we encounter hurdles:  either as victims or as survivors.  Serenity helps transform anger, hurt, and frustration into resilience, creativity, and hope.

Serenity helps us step back to identify whether we have a chance to win the challenge-of-the-moment.

To Take a Step Back

Sometimes our trouble results from a choice we took; our chosen path did not lead to the desired destination.

If we climb the winding trail at the base of Machu Pichu, we will not find a Yurt.  In the same way, no matter how far we travel the plains of Mongolia, we won’t find Inca treasures.

It sounds obvious…and yet how many of us slurp ice cream or sip wine and simultaneously lament being out of shape?

Or let steam out on a colleague and expect them to be motivated at work.

Or nag at our children and anticipate they will turn to us as trustworthy, secure, and patient counselors.

Sometimes the best action is to STOP. That’s what serenity helps us do…and to look around and find an alternative route to reach our goal.

How to Build Serenity

Serenity in the Brain

Our ability to observe a situation with calm and clarity relies on brain chemistry.

Have you noticed how your thoughts get fuzzy under emotional excitation, whether anger or extreme frustration or deep grief?

Our human brains physically disconnect.  The prefrontal cortex (which enables you and I to make logical connections, develop plans, understand emotional cues….) lifts and exposes the mid-brain which is responsible for our gut reactions of fight, flight, or freeze.  Dr. Daniel Siegel, neuroscientist at Stanford, explains it in this two-minute video.

Serenity in the Mind

Sometimes it just takes seconds (literally) to help calm the brain and to reason clearly again.

1. My favorite way is through laughter

… and sometimes I fake it until I make it. Other times, I imagine the S.H.I.T. hitting the fan…literally.  Stench.  Aggggh, the clean up!

The dread of this outcome makes me laugh.  AND STOP.

2. Gratitude also invites serenity.

Early in my career I interned with a clothing manufacturer to do market research and help the company owner prepare a five-year growth plan. The team consisted of seasoned men who had worked their way up in the garment district.  They considered me book smart and street stupid and wanted to prove me wrong.  I presented what I thought was the final report…and then discovered mistakes in the Excel calculations!  No opportunity to reverse time or to delete the shared files from these colleagues’ computers.

Gratitude helped me find serenity which then allowed me to act with intelligence.

  • Thankful to have found the mistake as soon as I did and that it did not change the recommendations
  • Thankful I learned to review. Review. REVIEW work early on in my career
  • Thankful to realize that we become super through our bloopers…the inspiration behind SoSooper!

 

Serenity is simple.  Not easy.  The opposite of serenity is worry and brooding.  Now THAT is complicated!!!

In what situations do you need serenity?

What do you do to take a step back and regain perspective?

 

Cover photo by Joshua Hibbert from Unsplash.
Paris marathon 2018 by Eiffel Tower

Encouragement Tips from the Paris Marathon

Runners streamed through the streets of the City of Lights during the Paris Marathon.  I was out there encouraging them to the full as marathon runners demonstrate character qualities I admire:

  • They have a goal
  • They train with discipline…even waking at 5:00 am to run before a full day at work
  • They persevere…for 42 kilometers straight

Friends shared about their marathon experiences in various cities.  They especially rave about NY where the encouragers never sleep.  Fans line the streets in all neighborhoods and boost the athletes on.

Our local encouragement remained discreet.  Here is what I learned by cheering on the Parisian athletes.

Encouragement is Rare,
even Attention-Worthy

I walked along the Marathon route between kilometers 27 and 30, between the Eiffel Tower and Alma Marceau.  Runners have just come through the tunnel where Princess Diana died in a car accident.  It is dark and dreary; getting out is an uphill hike.  The route continues to slope up slightly to the food and water stations by the Eiffel Tower.

It’s a tough leg of the race.

Active encouragers were so few and far between, that we became entertainment, even distracting attention away from the runners.

Admirers lined the road to watch quietly.  From time to time a fan caught a glimpse of the runners they had come to support and burst into praise as they sped by.  Then, back to silent admiration.

I, on the other hand, clapped avidly and repeatedly shouted out, “Hurray!  Keep it up!  What athletes!” to all of the runners.  They are achieving an amazing feat.  Some passersby rolled their eyes at me and snickered.

During my 90 minutes of cheering, I noticed one other person applauding as loudly as me; she wore an official Marathon Volunteer vest.

A band played marching music to boost the runners’ energy.  A crowd gathered around them, turning their backs to the racers.

Check out the video where we hear the band and barely a sound from the crowd.

Paris marathon supporters playing music

It’s like the onlookers delegated the role of encouragement to the few official volunteers and sporadic musicians.

Cheering on in a marathon differs from a soccer game or a tennis match.

  • We don’t know these athletes
  • Runners keep coming for hours which translates into cheering for the long-haul

Spurring on marathoners in Paris demonstrates that encouragement is a purposeful decision.  It’s not something we do to follow the crowd.

Pouring courage into others will feel unusual and odd.  The question for you and I becomes, “Is the value of helping another person be the best they can be worth our momentary discomfort?”

I believe it is…and I also believe the investment in the other person helps me grow wiser and happier too.

For you too. That’s why my paradigm-shifting workshops include activities on how to effectively encourage team members.

Encouragement is a Mindset

We find what we seek.  Look for problems and challenges.  They are there and easy to identify.

Positive qualities can be harder to identify.  It takes a shift in perspective.

Think of hiking up a mountain. As you look forward, the peaks loom large and daunting.  Yet, pause, and turn around and admire the view.  How far you have already come!

Encouragement begins with looking for value in someone or their actions.  Many of these attributes could be taken for granted or are visible through empathy and shared experiences

  • Effort
  • Persistence
  • Sacrifice
  • Intermediate successes

The marathoners could be viewed as sweaty-huffing-and-puffing-(sometimes-struggling)-runners.  They can also be perceived as toned athletes, champions in discipline, and goal achievers.

Encouragement is Substantive

Critics deride praise as vacuous and without substance.  Avoid that trap.

Real and useful encouragement is grounded in truth and reality so that it effectively pours courage into another person.

Admittedly some words get overused and misused.

“You’re awesome,” said to everyone and anyone and no matter what the context sounds insincere.

“Awesome effort,” shouted out to a runner who has progressed 30 kilometers recognizes an accomplishment.

Encouragement in Practice

Here is how I tried to make my Paris marathon encouragement purposeful, empathetic, and substantive

  1. Acknowledge an effort or a behavior
    Think of children who call out, “Look at me.” They are hoping to hear, “I see you.”
    “What an athlete!”
    “Look how far you have come!”
    “You made it through the tunnel!”
    “Still smiling!!!!”
  2. Orient to the next step (not the next twenty steps ????)
    “There is water and food at the Eiffel Tower.”
    “Keep it up.”
  3. Link Past Achievements to Confidence in Future Performance
    Sometimes that’s simply combining the first two practices together
    “You have come so far! You can keep going.”
    “You survived the tunnel.  Keep it up with the sunshine and the great view.”

Be an Encourager

Who needs encouragement around you?  A demoralized colleague, a worried (and possibly nagging)  spouse, a misbehaving child, or an ageing parent?  Try noticing one thing they do well.  Want help to know how?  Click to send me a note.

Maybe YOU are the one in need of encouragement.  Notice and share one thing that you have done well too.  If you stick to the facts, it’s not boasting.

Yesterday was sunny and warm and our house was filled with friends.  Today the skies are grey and work progresses with two steps forward and one step back.  I’ll focus on the two steps forward…that helps me keep going.

Construisez la Confiance de vos Enfants

“Quelles compétences voulez-vous transmettre à vos enfants?”

Ludocatix chore chartC’est ainsi que nous commençons nos ateliers de Discipline Positive et les parents partagent une liste de qualificatifs comme celle-ci:

– Responsabilité
– Autonomie
– L’amour de l’excellence
– Empathie
– Le respect
– Le travail en équipe
– …

Le partage de tâches ménagères vous aide à transmettre ces compétences à vos enfants ET, SIMULTANÉMENT, vous facilite la vie. Ludocatix vous propose un tableau de corvée magnétique que vous et les enfants, ensemble, adaptez à votre style de vie.

Le Saviez-Vous?

Dans un sondage paru dans les Wall Street Journal et mené auprès de 1001 adultes américains, 82% ont déclaré qu’ils avaient des tâches ménagères lorsqu’ils étaient enfants mais seulement 23% ont indiqué qu’ils demandaient à leurs enfants pour les faire.

Que s’est il passé ?

Beaucoup de parents ont l’impression de charger leurs enfants de corvées et de se sentir coupables. Ou ils craignent que les corvées puissent avoir un impact négatif sur leur relation avec leurs enfants. Pourtant, la recherche démontre le contraire.

La recherche indique que les enfants qui font des corvées ont une meilleure estime de soi, sont plus responsables et font mieux face à la frustration ce qui contribue à une plus grande réussite scolaire.

Est-ce que ce ne sont pas les compétences que les parents veulent transmettre à leurs enfants ?

Le cadeau du jour est un tableau magnétique que vous pouvez créer avec vos enfants afin de les aide à se souvenir de leurs tâches ménagères de façon amusante et colorée.

10 Façons dont les Enfants Bénéficient des Corvées

Voici 10 raisons pour lesquelles les corvées sont bonnes pour les enfants … et donc génial pour vous aussi.

  1. Pour aider les enfants à se sentir nécessaire
    Comment définissez-vous votre famille? Que faîtes-vous pour que vos enfants sentent qu’ils font réellement partie de la famille ? Dites aux enfants qu’ils ont un rôle à jouer pour contribuer au bien-être de tous.
  2. Stimuler le gout de l’excellence
    En ce qui concerne les corvées, les parents peuvent voir la qualité du travail et fournir une récompense. “Chérie, est-ce c’est du dentifrice rose que je vois dans l’évier de la salle de bain ?Un lavabo propre est un lavabo brillant et blanc. Montre-moi comment tu l’as nettoyé la dernière fois et nous trouverons une chose que tu peux faire différemment pour faire briller l’évier!”
  3. Ne pas traiter les parents comme des serviteurs
    Lorsque les parents font toutes les corvées, les enfants ont tendance à traiter ces derniers comme des serviteurs dont le but est de satisfaire leurs désirs. Quand les enfants participent aux corvées, leur respect pour leurs parents grandit. Ils ne vont pas traiter maman ou papa comme des serviteurs, parce qu’ils font la même chose! “Chéri(e), nous sommes une famille.  Tout le monde participe.”
  4. Pour enseigner la responsabilité
    Le lave-vaisselle se vide tous les jours. Les déchets sont retirés plusieurs fois par semaine. Nous passons l’aspirateur régulièrement dans le salon. Les tâches ménagères sont des tâches récurrentes et les enfants apprennent l’importance de faire des efforts.
  5. Gérer le temps
    Les corvées nécessitent un peu de temps. Cela prend 5 minutes de mettre la table. 10 minutes pour nettoyer le couloir. 10 minutes pour passer l’aspirateur sous la table à manger. Une corvée régulière nécessite un enfant afin d’intégrer ces corvées dans leur emploi du temps quotidien.
  6. Améliorer les résultats scolaires
    La performance à l’école est souvent liée à des efforts continus et réguliers … tout comme les corvées ménagères. La maîtrise d’un sujet se développe peu à peu avec la pratique quotidienne. Les corvées donnent des résultats immédiats et renforcent ainsi la valeur de cet effort quotidien.
  7. Pour construire l’empathie
    Nous faisons des corvées au profit de tous les membres de la famille, pas seulement pour nous-mêmes. À un âge précoce, les enfants qui font des corvées apprennent à penser et à agir pour les autres.
  8. Construire l’espoir pour leur avenir en tant qu’adult(e)
    Les corvées deviennent vraiment du travail quand elles sont faites seules. Quand les enfants voient leurs parents toujours occupés avec les tâches ménagères et jamais disponibles pour eux, ils créent une vision triste de l’âge adulte : que du travail et pas de plaisir. Pourquoi sortir de l’enfance pour devenir l’esclave du labeur?
  9. Devenir un partenaire plus attractif
    En tant que mère de quatre garçons, je leur rappelle souvent : “ Si vous voulez attirer une femme de valeur, vous ne pouvez pas la traiter comme une servante. Traitez-la comme une femme de valeur! “ Et cela signifie faire votre part des corvées.
  10. Pour être apprécié et reconnu
    Le résultat des corvées est immédiat. Soit la table est mise, soit elle ne l’est pas. Et tout le monde dans la famille sait à qui c’est le tour de mettre la table à manger cette semaine. “ Chérie, c’est un très beau travail de plier les serviettes de cette façon. Je t’en remercie! ”

Finalement, nous n’avons même pas mentionné que les enfants préfèrent une maison propre, ils testent les compétences de négociation (“Est-ce que tu peux  faire la vaisselle pour moi aujourd’hui et demain je passerai l’aspirateur dans l’escalier ?”)

Tableau des corvées

Comment passer de la théorie à la pratique ? Un tableau des corvées aide certainement. Et les cartes magnétiques colorées de Ludocatix le rendent plus facile à utiliser.

Les enfants et les parents travaillent ensemble pour décider qui fait quoi et quand.

Et à mesure que les enfants grandissent que leurs capacités évoluent et que les besoins de votre famille changent, eh bien, déplacez simplement les aimants pour mettre à jour le tableau !

Photo de Frank McKenna sur Unsplash

Family coaching paradigm

See through Someone Else’s Eyes

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

One hour of Family Coaching
with Jane Mobille, PCC Professional Certified Coach working with executives, individuals, and families 

How to receive this 1 hour off on a Family Coaching session?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky one to win the draw.

What is Family Coaching?

Family coaching benefit

A family coaching session is a special kind of confidential conversation between a coach, and a family wishing to explore a specific issue causing tension among members at home. The coach receives the family with compassion, curiosity, and non-judgment. Each member of the family has the opportunity to share their perspective on the situation while the others listen. The coach leads the family in an exploration of choices and impacts. The goal is to come up with a few actions to implement in order to reach a solution which satisfies the needs of each family member.

As the teen shared with Jane in his text message:  PHEW!

 

The Generational Paradigm Gap

Do you expect your children to share your priorities?

We often hope so. In an ideal world, the children would brush their teeth without needing reminding, they would be ready on time to go to school, and they would be motivated for school work and have a vision for their future.

Reality check.

Our children like to play, get distracted and want attention, and simple tasks can take forever to accomplish.

Parents and kids see the world through different lenses. This paradigm gap creates stress in families.

Today’s gift helps create bridges between the mother, father, and children’s perspectives.

smiling teenager with parents

Jane is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) currently coaching executives at Kedge Business School and leading her own practice for executives, individuals, and families. She especially enjoys coaching teens and young adults as they build confidence, make intentional choices, and live a life of curiosity.  Jane is a contributing author for the online magazine, INSPIRELLE, and editor of AAWE News.

In short, Jane excels in communication:

  • listening,
  • expressing herself,
  • helping you and your children listen, and
  • creating a safe environment to express yourselves.

 

What Does my Child See?

A friend, Vincent Cassigneul, recently took this picture

  • Of a blurry Eiffel Tower
    or
  • Of a clearly focused man taking a picture of the Eiffel Tower

Vincent Cassigneul Eiffel Tower

Vincent chose to focus on the admirer of the Eiffel Tower in her flashing glory, as opposed to the monument herself. We usually see this majestic monument towering over Paris, occupying center stage.

Did he “get it all wrong”? Did I?

Or should we be asking a different question?

The Wife and Mother-in-Law go to Harvard

An optical illusion used by Stephen Covey further helps us understand that process.

In his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey shares an example from a Harvard Business School class. Everyone was shown the same optical illusions. ONLY he had prepared people differently. One half of the class had previously seen a sketch of a haggard, old woman and the other half had been given a drawing of a chic lady.

optical illusion used by stephen coveyWell, half the class found the woman in the optical illusion attractive and the other half quite the opposite. Tensions rose over the disagreement.

Finally, some students began to ask questions, and listen.

“See this line. That’s the old woman’s mouth.”

“Oh, for us it is the chic lady’s necklace!”

And exploration ensued until all the students could identify BOTH women depicted in the optical illusion.

Are you and your child at each other’s throats unnecessarily too?

Try asking questions to understand your child’s perspective.

A tool, like this optical illusion or Vincent’s photo (graciously made available to us, thank you), can help launch the discussion.

Parent to the child: “What do you see?”

Child answers.

Parent purposefully and playfully takes an opposing stand. “What?! This photo is NOT about the Eiffel Tower!” or “This is a drawing of ONE. O.L.D.  woman.”

Let your child react.

Then explore.

“Tell me what you see and point with your finger.”

 

How to start?!

This conversation sounds easy, but it’s harder to launch in real life.

(That’s where Jane Mobille’s family coaching brings resolution to communication blockages and harmony returns to the family.)

Try starting these paradigm discovery conversations at home.

Want the Wife and Mother-in-Law optical illusion and the photo of the Eiffel Tower?  Sign up here and we’ll send them to you tomorrow….along with the news of who won the Family Coaching special offer by Jane Mobille.

Jane can be reached at jam.atlantic@gmail.com