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Posts Tagged ‘vitality

Will you die from an overdose of satisfaction?

The delightful Paolo Coelho quotes Salvador Dali in his blog today.  I deduce that Dali is an artist.  But you and I are probably more interested in his attitude to life.

“The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant. At the age of six years I wanted to be a chef. At the age of seven I wanted to be Napoleon. My ambitions have continued to grow at the same rate ever since. Every morning when I awake, the greatest of joys is mine: that of being Salvador Dali. There are some days when I think I’m going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.”

Do your ambitions continue to grow?  Do you like being you?

I am pretty sure you do.  I’ve never met anyone whose eyes don’t light up when we acknowledge their existence.

But so many of us are trying to be someone whom we are not.  We are exhausted by our constant pretending.

It’s so much easier to look at each day and marvel at the moments when we were just doing what brings us alive.  We can put aside the long commutes and grubby trains.  We can put aside the dentist’s chair.   As we pick our way through the rubbish tip of western life much as a small child does on the rubbish dumps of third world cities, we can still find time to celebrate not only what fascinates us but that we are fascinated at all.

Can we celebrate being us and not airbrush ourselves out of the picture leaving only the rubbish dump for the world to see?  Hey this is us. Why should we bring our lives down to the tip around us?  I nearly said, “sorry not me”.  But I am not even going to give that possibility that much airtime.  I’m too busy.

Put rubbish in the rubbish bin where it belongs

I say to university students, “when something is rubbish, pick it up and put it in the rubbish bin where it belongs.  And move along.”  They are always so relieved. They think they are obliged to honor rubbish.  They aren’t.  They just have to bin it.  With gusto and applomb.

They are too busy and too interesting to waste time on refuse.  That belongs on the dump.

Have your ambitions being growing at the same rate – chef at 6, Napolean at 7?  If not, then it is time to bring your life alive!

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Overtired and babbling like a three year old?

Have you every felt so tired that you know your performance is impaired and that you really should take a break?  I don’t mean go home at a reasonable time.  I mean take a very long holiday?

Of course many professions build breaks into their work cycles.  I remember reading the biography of the best published mathematician in the world.  He worked at Oxford and he took a holiday every vacation – 8 weeks on, 3 weeks off!  He thought 3 weeks was the minimum time on an active physical holiday to recharge.  During term time, he also went rock climbing every weekend from Saturday lunchtime to Sunday evening.  During the week, he got up early to work, as many creative people do, and found he had his best ideas on Monday.  If he had a good idea on Tuesday too, he took the rest of the week off!

Are you heading towards burnout?

Until today, I always thought burnout meant the feeling we get at the end of a work cycle – when we are really tired and need a break.  Or maybe, the feeling that we get when we didn’t get a natural break and we worked two terms back-to-back.

Today, I was lucky to meet psychologist, Jo Haworth (on the telephone).  Jo works out of Strixton about 10 miles north of where I live in Olney.  She is a clinical psychologist who works in the business sector. What she said about burnout amazed me.

Burnout before your eyes

Jo has clients who burnout spectacularly.  One day they find themselves staring at computer screen, maybe in a foreign country, and they have completely lost track of what they are doing on their task, in their career, and in their lives.  They find their way home and they realize they don’t know their neighbors.  They’ve lived in the corporate cocoon for so long, they don’t know how to use a washing machine!

I have found the same pattern with executives made redundant from leading companies.  One day they are “It”.  The next, in a stroke of a pen, they are jobless, and lifeless.  Their income is gone.  Their toys have gone.  Their status has gone.  The people who are hit worse have invested their life-and-soul in the company.  They belong to no clubs and have no life outside work.

Doing without burnout!

We can be amusing and concoct expressions like ‘from 9-6 my soul belongs to the company – but when I drive out that gate, my soul belongs to me’.   We can be serious and say leaders at work must be leaders in other spheres too – and check that our staff have a life.

To be practical, we need to take time out to monitor whether our work, or rather our employment, has a place in our lives.  Forget mincing expressions like work-life balance.  Do you have a life?  Can you answer that in the affirmative without the tell-tale language of a lie – some rapid blinking, some looking away, some touching of your mouth?  Can you walk away from you job tomorrow?  Or, is it your entire life?  When I ask you that simple question – do you have a life? – will your eyes shine or will they dull over?

3 basics for a good life

These are my suggestions.

At all times we should

  • be able to walk away and take a year off to do what we want to do
  • be able to support our partner if they want to take a year out and do what they want to do
  • have 3 alternative jobs lined up so we have enticing and exciting alternatives on a 360 degree horizon!

If you don’t have 2009 resolutions, let these be my gift to you.

It is quite extraordinary how people do live lives they want to live.  They aren’t selfish and they aren’t foolish.  I’ll wager people who ‘live a life they can call their own’ live, like corporate poet, David Whyte who in writing these words, do something of immense value for other people and are quite successful financially.

Some sales objections, hey?

I can’t do this during a recession, you say!  Of course, you can.  Deciding that employment will meet these criteria, even if you bring changes about slowly and incrementally, will encourage you to notice possibilities around you.  I don’t know what changes are possible, or which you will appreciate, but you do and the more you pay attention, the more you will see them.

Or you say, I can’t do this now because I have to work two jobs or spend 5 hours a day commuting on grubby trains in the UK.  Not easy I know. You have trouble remembering your own name under these conditions.  For you, I say, write on your mirror in bright red lipstick: I will find the life big enough for me to live.  Write on the front flap of your diary, “I will organize my affairs so I always have time and room in my life to explore, imagine, support others, and to move on to something more exciting and more adventurous”.  Then use the downtime while you commute to ponder these issues.  The ideas will come.  Believe me, they will come.  On the scale of living through chaos, I am likely to beat you hands-down!

So here’s to a life that is big enough to live!

Dr Srikumar Rao talking at Googletalk estimates no more than a year to reorganize your life without any abrupt moves.

Let me know how it goes?

And thanks to Jo Haworth for an instructive lesson.  I must stop confusing fatigue with burnout!

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An old, dear friend passed away this weekend living in his third country having been displaced by war & politics twice in his life time.  I’ve just received a eulogy from his daughter-in-law.

Bob was one of those rare parents who loved his children as they were. What they were was interesting but not essential: how they were was vital.

Bob, go well.  RIP

Which is easier?  To make the interesting feasible or the feasible interesting?

Or I might say, how do you choose to live your life?

The Steve Jobs way?

Do you have a dream that you would like to come alive?  Do you want to make the interesting feasible?

Or do you fight a losing battle trying  to make the feasible interesting?

Why won’t you take the Steve Jobs way?

So many people won’t take the Steve Jobs route because they fear, if not know, deep down, that their dreams are not worth pursuing. It is not really anything to do with whether the dream is feasible, though that is the excuse.  They just aren’t very good at dreaming!

Could you become a better dreamer?

If you are a bad dreamer, could you be better?  We get better at most things with practice.  Perhaps we can practice taking a small dream and bringing it alive.

When we get good at bringing small dreams alive, then that we might agree, deep down with Frank Boyd of Unexpected Media, that it is easier to make the interesting feasible than the feasible interesting.

Dreaming little dreams is the essence of creativity

In his address to the Creativity: Innovation & Industry Conference in Leicester last week, Frank Boyd also spoke of pitching: a process of testing dreams by speaking them aloud and shaping them as we go.

Pitching and rapid prototyping.  Every week, inventors and designer stand up and spend 5 minutes describing their idea ~ and the get feedback.  A simple format for their presentation is nABC ~ need, Audience, Benefit, Competition.  Easy to say, hard to do; brilliant when we get feedback from others.

When our eyes light up .  .  .

I’ve used this in the inverse of pitching during coaching.

Rather than spend hours with psychological tests, I’ve asked youngsters to page through the newspaper and point out who they would like to be like.

I watch their eyes.  When they light up, I know we are close to what they truly want and I cna help them take small steps to shape and pursue their dream.

Bring a small dream alive, today, and everyday!

And become very good at making the interesting feasible!

And here is a small poem to remind you that the beginning of every dream is right here, exactly were we stand!

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