The Power of Small Acts of Courage

I never know what might happen.

Tall, short haired and serious, Jean is a very inspirational woman. A Vice President in her company, she works very hard and is well respected. She came in January to a business retreat I led. The work that day concentrated on changing or letting go of things that were not serving life and work. My job was to help the participants to expand and transform in ways they wanted more of. Sometimes surprising things come out of these retreats.

As Jean worked through the exercises, she compiled a list of ideas, both personal and work related. Jean was on firm ground when it came to work goals. But when it came to personal relationships, she was less confident. On her “I want more of this” list, she had written in the personal column, “To be closer to my daughter”. Her adult daughter lived with her in the lower level of her house. They had an okay relationship, but not as close as Jean wished it was. It was a source of sadness to her that they lived in the same house. but never enjoyed each other’s company or had any fun together. They actually had very little interaction. 

 

When Jean and I had coffee later, her eyes were shining. Now that a closeness with her daughter was on her wish list she was feeling hopeful. Jean decided to test the waters and see if there was anything she could do to reinvigorate their family dynamic. She decided to write a note, but give it to her daughter in person. The note said, “Our lives are so hectic and busy, I know. But one of my goals for this year is to have more fun with you. Would you help me with this goal? What do you think?”

 

After her daughter read the letter, she looked up in surprise. She wasn’t 100% enthusiastic, but she didn’t say no.  Jean’s daughter could have said no, but Jean’s desire for closeness over rode the risk. This took great courage. Jean was used to showing strength at work, but in personal matters, she sometimes floundered.

Next day, Jean drew up a list of potential activities to choose from, and asked her daughter to choose something. When the weekend rolled around, they were going to a concert together.

Is this big goal work?

Yes, if the goal is deeper, more loving relationships. Relationships are built, one step at a time.

Does this fulfill the “I want more of this” goal?  Jean was one move closer to a goal that can expand outward. This kind of transformation begins with the quiet power of courageous acts.

What is your “I want more of this” goal for 2017? Work and career? Deeper relationships? Building pathways to greater purpose? Can you do something today that’s a first step?

It all begins here.

The Dark Side of Nice


Do you spend time thinking and worrying about the problems of others, and how you can fix them?

  • Do people know they can call on you at work to take care of the extra last minute projects because you’re ’nice’ and ’so helpful’?
  • Are you the one that always goes along with whatever the group wants? Never expressing your opinion or finding your voice?
  • Maybe you have an adult child who is always calling you for help?
  • A friend who is always embroiled in some drama, and you’re the only person who understands?
  • Do you drop everything to handle things for your family? And you see this as your job?
  • Do you end up feeling unheard? Taken advantage of. Or wonder when it’s your turn to shine?atlas

First. Congratulations on your big heart. You are NICE. You’ve knocked that one out of the park. But because you’ve hung in here reading with me, you recognize that nice could be hurting you, and there are other strengths you could be utilizing.

There comes a time to understand this impulse of yours to jump to the rescue. Not necessarily to become less ‘nice’ but so you feel less fragmented, less taken advantage of, less like you are at the bottom of your own ’to do’ list. When you start to get excited about your own plans, when you quit trying to fix others problems and empower them instead.

Here’s the thing. Getting wrapped up in other people’s problems keeps the attention off yourself and away from your own growth. You may not be aware of it, but taking care of others without caring for yourself, leads to a deep simmering anger that can disguise itself as health problems, stress, sadness, and other secondary issues.

Being constantly pulled away, ’needed’, looks nice, might even feel good, but by doing so, you are closing off growth in those who quote ‘need’ you. Really. 

And, by saying yes to others neediness, you’re utilizing a subtle coping mechanism to avoid your own feelings and resistance to growth and change for yourself.

What does a healthy alternative to the dark side of nice look like?
When you’re whole and complete, you

  1. Set boundaries with people chronically with ‘drama’
  2. You provide a listening ear to your loved ones, but do not attempt to solve their problems for them. You trust them to come up with their own solutions.
  3. At work, you show up as ‘empowered’ doing your job with integrity and capability. You do not take on others problems or last minute projects. Instead, you help coworkers problem solve.
  4. You feel confident and in charge of your own life.

Like many of my clients you may have grown up conditioned to be ’nice’,  to sacrifice your own desires for the good of others. But this only works for so long before the cost of submerging yourself feels wrong.red-shoes-2

You can change the equation from:
You x Other Peoples Problems = You as Atlas
TO
You x Other Peoples Problems = You as Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz

 

Is it time to clear the air?

I work with people who want to develop in their careers, or move through divorce not reduced but expansively, or who want to meet challenges and thrive instead of hide or fight change. In essence,to live a full meaningful life. In every arena, because of the complexity of we humans, being in relationship with others can sometimes be ‘difficult”. To succeed and thrive means to meet those relationships with complete presence.


 

It’s Time to Clear the Air

We’ve all been there. It’s time to have that ‘talk’. Things have come to a head, and you’ve decided that you can’t ignore it any longer. So gather your courage, pull on your boots and be an adult.

But where to begin? Here are some thoughts.Untitled design

First and foremost. You cannot make anyone talk through an issue. The only thing you can do is offer a safe place for dialogue to happen. How do you create a ’safe’ place? By acknowledging that this might be difficult. That you care enough about improving the relationship to work on it. Own up to the fact that you may have contributed to ’the problem’ (whatever it may be). By offering this, you validate everyone’s feelings. Next, be ready to do a lot of listening, if the other party feels like opening up. Another thing to remember, this is a process. The initial conversation may just open the door a crack to honesty.

Which brings us to the next important feature of any relationship — their feelings are theirs, not yours. Your actions are yours. That is what you need to own. Let them know you care about improving things, and are willing to hear, regardless of what they are feeling. Your goal is not to make their feelings go away. It is simply to witness them and stand by the relationship.

Accept that some things may not be resolved. Again, you don’t have control over the thoughts or actions of others. But knowing that this is a process free’s you to lead the way and set the tone, because good things can happen. If not now, then somewhere down the road. By being open and receptive, you hold the key to the opportunity for deeper relationships, which are vital to a rich and abundant life. The life you are committed to having.

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