Vulnerability

 

A few weeks ago, I spent some time catching up with my former manager. She’s always been a great mentor for me and someone that I’ve always thought has her head on straight, can look at situations objectively and always aims to do the right thing.

While her and I were catching up, she recommended a Ted Talk to me that I thought was a really good reminder of both the need we all have for connection and the paradox of how our behavior inhibits us from creating those connections.

Brene spent six years doing the research that she pulls together in this Ted Talk, so her series of thoughts that tie together are somewhat complex. She walks through her process in the video and this is the summary as I interpret it:

She talks about uncovering the key to our fear of disconnection, which is shame. Shame, she says, makes us scared to become disconnected from others. The only way we can become truly connected to others is by letting ourselves become completely vulnerable, and having no fear or shame.
Of the people she interviews, she breaks them into two groups:
Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging, and
Those who do not have a strong sense of love and belonging
She determined what the difference is between these two types of people. Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging BELIEVE that they are WORTHY of love and belonging. That is it. It seems so basic, but for a lot of people, this is an incredibly difficult belief to produce.
She then focused her time on those who exhibited that belief of worthiness. She calls these people “whole-hearted.” The main characteristic she determined these people had in common, was courage. These people had the courage to be imperfect and to be compassionate with themselves and others about that imperfection.
She draws a distinction here, which I think is particularly interesting. That is, the difference between courage and bravery. She explains the roots of the word courage, which essentially explains that the word means “to tell the story of your heart.”
At the end of the day, she says these people were able to let go of who they thought they had to be, in order to be who they are. By becoming completely authentic and vulnerable, they were actually able to create true connections with people.

She goes on to give some examples of how we as a society tend to try to numb the bad things we feel, but at the end of the day, that numbing results in numbing both the bad things and the good things, because it is not possible to selectively numb. It’s clear in the video that all of these findings created a life-changing revelation for Brene and she decides to pursue the work that allows her to become vulnerable, which I felt was both incredibly courageous and brave.

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Peaceful Persistance

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When I was a kid, my mom took my brother and I to a predominately African American church in Tacoma on Martin Luther King Day. I will never forget the feeling of being one of the few white people in a room full of people with a different skin color. I automatically thought “now I know what they feel like,” because I had never experienced looking around a room and not seeing very many people that looked like me.

Over the weekend I asked my daughters if they knew who Martin Luther King was, to which Eloise (in Kindergarten) responded “Doctor Martin Luther King Junior (she said so as to correct me) made the world a better place because they used to not let the dark skinned people drink from the water fountains and then he made it so they could. It’s not nice to not let people do things just because of their skin color.”

The world is just so simple in the eyes of a five year old. We tend to make things more difficult as we age for some reason.
A bunch of us were sitting at the team lunch yesterday discussing how racism even came to exist and one of our clients recommended the documentary I Am Not Your Negro. One of our colleagues also recommended 13th.
One of the things I think is interesting about MLK Jr. is that he’s known so well for his peaceful and loving approach to making monumental social changes in this country. At the same time, he persisted and never let up his cause just because he wasn’t met with the same respectful response. Going into a weekend where I know a lot of us were peacefully marching for Women’s rights, I wanted to share some of these quotes from the amazing MLK Jr. that serve as inspiration to me to always continue down the path of working together to make a better world.

Tell Me Lies

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Chapter 1:
Since the New Year started, I’ve been listening a lot more to my favorite band, Fleetwood Mac. I grew up in a household with a record player and my parents had a lot of great records: Steve Miller, the Doobie Brothers, Hall and Oats, and of course Fleetwood Mac.

Chapter 2:
My biological father was not really a super great guy. While his intentions might have been good, he treated the people around him (especially those who loved him most) quite horribly. He threatened my mom and when I was older I discovered tapes of phone calls (yes, they were actual tapes) my mom had recorded as evidence in case anything ever happened.

Chapter 3:
When I was older (I think around 5 or 6) I was fortunate enough to have my step-dad adopt me from my biological father and that is who I refer to as my dad.

Chapter 4:
When I would sit and listen to Fleetwood Mac as a pre-teen on the record player, the song “Tell Me Lies,” always made me think of my biological father. I strongly believe that because of this experience, I have this odd and relatively annoying ability to sniff out people with selfish intentions, toxicity and narcissism. It’s also not great because combined with my other odd and relatively annoying skill of being a truth-teller, it’s not uncommon for me to be disliked by people who fall into this category.

Chapter 5:
What I’ve always been fascinated by, since this experience at a young age, is how everyone has different ranges of what a lie is. On the surface, it seems obvious – a lie is something that isn’t true. But as we know, everyone’s perspective determines what their truth is.

Chapter 6:
I’ve referenced this book before and it’s available in the Streamline library. The Four Agreements has a very specific definition of honesty. Brian (my husband) read this book recently and actually adapted this portion of the book as one of his New Year’s resolutions. The Four Agreements include one agreement, called:

Be Impeccable with Your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

From my perspective, the most important part – and one of the most difficult parts when we’re challenged by those who don’t – is to Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

I truly believe if every person made the promise to use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love, we would live in a much more harmonious and positive world. If you read the book, you’ll also know that the 4th agreement is to always do your best. The point is that we don’t have to be perfect at being impeccable with our word, but if we’re constantly trying our best to be impeccable with our word, we are succeeding.

New Year’s Resolutions, Goals & Priorities

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I know it’s not Thursday – sorry about that! I thought better late than never, so here goes…

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but it’s a new year! I can personally say that while there was a lot that happened in 2017, I’m quite happy for it to be behind us. I don’t have that feeling every year, but mostly due the macro things happening in the world, I’m happy to welcome in 2018!
As happens every year, people start to make goals and resolutions. I was fortunate to have some time to think about those things back in late November, but sadly I haven’t really touched it since then. Rather than share some of my personal goals, I wanted to share some ideas that I’ve read about coming into the new year and since 2018 began, that I thought were particularly interesting.
The first one comes from my coach, Max. She asked me to write a love letter to my future self. In it, answer the question of “what would make my heart sing?” I know, it’s woo-woo, but I think it’s a great exercise. She said to write in the letter 3-4 things that would make your heart sing this year, put it in an envelope and open it at the end of 2018.
The second is an article I came across on LinkedIn, posted by one of my role models, Arianna Huffington. Many years ago (probably 5 or 6), I went to a conference and Arianna was the keynote speaker. It is for sure one of the most memorable keynotes I’ve heard. She was ahead of her time and was discussing the negative side-effects of a hyper-connected life. She said she hypothesized that people in the future would actually start to disconnect from their screens and phones, as we begin to realize how negatively they can impact our social interactions and relationships. Ever since then, I’ve followed her on LinkedIn and love reading the articles she puts out.
This one in particular caught my eye because there are several tips in here I’ve personally been very conscious about and feel like I’ve done a great job mastering, or at least improving upon, but there are also several I still need to work on. My speculation is that all of us will see a few things in here and think to ourselves “oh, I’m really good at that,” (ahem, #11) and we will see a few things and think to ourselves “oh, I should really do that more.” (ahem, #12)
This article comes full circle to our conversation on Thursday in the team meeting about strengths and weaknesses. While I am a huge advocate of people aligning their work and efforts with their strengths and passions, I also firmly believe that acknowledging our weaknesses and making goals to improve upon them can also be beneficial.
As a Libra, I constantly go back and forth in my mind about this as well. On the one hand, I think “this is who I am, I should embrace it. I don’t need to be perfect.” On the other, I think “what’s the harm in putting a little effort in to improve something if it could make me happier?” Ultimately, it becomes and exercise of contemplation and prioritization. Some things are just who I am, it would take a lot of effort to change them, and I don’t know that the results and positive impact would be worth the effort. But some things are just little things I can be more conscious about, they don’t take much effort and they would have a hugely positive impact on my life and my happiness. So, I decide to focus on the latter and let go of the former.
This natural exercise also reminds me of another article I recently read on LinkedIn about the CEO of AirBNB and how he begins his day. His process is:
• Make a list of everything you want to accomplish that day. Be as exhaustive as possible.
• Group a few similar tasks together.
• Ask yourself for each group: What one action takes care of all of these? “It’s like a game of leverage,” Chesky said.
• Repeat the grouping and refining process until you have just a few big tasks.
I like that process of minimization and prioritization. Sometimes when we have so much on our plates, it’s easy to think we have to get it all done. In reality, there are many things that would have little impact if we didn’t get to them that day and it will greatly improve our sanity if we let them go.
You may be one of those people who always has a New Years resolution or two. You may gravitate more toward goal setting. You may never do anything and not really care. No matter which bucket you fit into (or if you have your own bucket), hopefully these thoughts and ideas give you some inspiration.

The Construct of Time

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As we are in the thick of the holiday season, our clients are busy, we’re busy doing work for them, we’re busy with social events and travel and family functions. Over the next couple of weeks, things will start to slow down and as is natural every year, the New Year will come and it will be a time for reflection and goal setting. I was fortunate to have a 5-6 hour flight to and from Hawaii last week without wifi and one of the things I did during that time was make a list of some of the things I want to accomplish in 2018. Some of them are destinations, some of them are means and slight tweaks to my way of life.

One of the things that always comes up in conversations between Brian and I is being conscious about how much time we have for ourselves together and for ourselves individually. We consciously try to “slow down” and take time to celebrate, have fun and relax.
I was speaking with my business coach yesterday and telling her about this and she asked me how I feel about that in my gut. It’s funny because my brain says “Lacie, you should really slow down. Maybe you shouldn’t have something scheduled at every minute of every day.” Side note, it’s not really THAT bad. But I’m a busy person, sometimes I commit to too much and my general attitude is that life is short and I want to live it to the fullest. All. The. Time.
So, my response to Max was that in my gut, I don’t really want to slow down. I secretly (and not so secretly now) love how busy my life is. I very seldom feel out of control or stressed out by it. I do take time (and I feel like a good amount of it) to be with the ones I love the most. I take time for myself. Brian and I go out quite a bit together. Every once in awhile the world tells me to stop and chill out and I have to listen to that. So mostly, my goal is to prevent the world from getting to that point with me.
This brings me to something I read about awhile ago in The Big Leap, Einstein Time. You can read all the details about Einstein Time in this summary from Hendricks. Essentially, we have a construct in our minds that time is a thing that is given to us, which we must work within and we do not have any control over it. This construct manifests within us as stress, when we feel like we “don’t have enough time” to get things done. We have a social habit of blaming things on time, rather than taking responsibility for time.
The solution to this nagging problem for so many of us is to change our perspective and remove that construct. If we believe we are the creators of time and that we choose how we spend our time, that will free us from the stress of it. Secondly, it’s our responsibility to mentally focus on the event we are presently participating in. Doing so ultimately allows us to feel as if time is slowing down and we become hyper-productive, both in a work setting and in a personal setting. If we can stop thinking about the next thing we have to do and focus on the thing we are currently doing, we begin to control time. One of the most tactical ways Hendrick’s recommends controlling time is to change the way we talk about time. Rather than saying “I don’t have time for,” we can say “I haven’t prioritized this,” or “I haven’t made time for this quite yet.”
It’s a little bit of an abstract theory and I think this video does a nice job explaining it. For further information, refer to his book as well.

Perspective and Gratitude

(originally written on 9/28/17)

A lot of you are probably aware that the new Macklemore album came out, Gemini. I’m a huge Macklemore fan and am super excited because the hubs got me tickets to his show for my birthday!! I love a lot of the songs on this album and generally his music is pretty thought-provoking, but one in particular really struck a chord with me and the fact that Kesha’s in it was the icing on the cake.

This might be a little TMI, but about 5 and a half years ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop with my friend Molly. We had both recently had babies and often spent time each week consuming copious amounts of espresso and venting about our new crazy lives with kids. It was so nice to have someone to relate to and vibe with during such a changing time in my life. One day, the topic of our new “mom-bods” came up and we both took a moment to complain. I said something to the effect of “If I would have known this is what was going to happen to my body after having kids, I might have modified some of my wardrobe choices in my pre-kid years because at some point you can’t get away with certain wardrobe options.” She was like “YES!!!”. But then we both thought about it and we talked about how some day it’s only going to be worse. We’re going to get old and have saggy skin and not want to wear sleeveless shirts or dresses without tights, so maybe rather than lamenting about the past, we should let it help shape the present.
Perspective. It’s one of the two things the hubs says are the most important things in life. That and expectations.
The Macklemore song, The Good Old Days, tells a similar story. I recommend listening to it and thinking about how that perspective can impact your life. The official music video is here and the lyrics are below. Enjoy!
I wish somebody would have told me that
Some day, these will be the good old days
All the love you won’t forget
And all these reckless nights you won’t regret
Someday soon, your whole life’s gonna change
You’ll miss the magic of these good old days

I was thinking about the band
I was thinking about the fans
We were underground
Loaded merch in that 12-passenger van
In a small club in Minnesota
And the snow outside of 1st Ave
I just wanted my name in a star
Now look at where we at
Still growing up, still growing up
I’d be laying in my bed and dream about what I’d become
Couldn’t wait to get older, couldn’t wait to be someone
Now that I’m here, wishing I was still young
Those good old days

I wish somebody would have told me that
That some day, these will be the good old days
All the love you won’t forget
And all these reckless nights you won’t regret
‘Cause someday soon, your whole life’s gonna change
You’ll miss the magic of the good old days

Wish I didn’t think I had the answers
Wish I didn’t drink all of that glass first
Wish I made it to homecoming
Got up the courage to ask her
Wish I would’ve gotten out of my shell
Wish I put the bottle back on that shelf
Wish I wouldn’t have worry about what other people thought
And felt comfortable in myself
Rooftop open and the stars above
Moment frozen, sneaking out, and falling in love
Me, you and that futon, we’d just begun
On the grass, dreaming, figuring out who I was
Those good old days

I wish somebody would have told me that
That some day, these will be the good old days
All the love you won’t forget
And all these reckless nights you won’t regret
‘Cause someday soon, your whole life’s gonna change
You’ll miss the magic of the good old days

Never thought we’d get old, maybe we’re still young
May we always look back and think it was better than it was
Maybe these are the moments
Maybe I’ve been missing what it’s about
Been scared of the future, thinking about the past
While missing out on now
We’ve come so far, I guess I’m proud
And I ain’t worried about the wrinkles around my smile
I’ve got some scars, I’ve been around
I’ve thrown some pain, I’ve seen some things, but I’m here now
Those good old days

You don’t know, what you’ve got
Till it goes, till it’s gone
You don’t know, what you’ve got
Till it goes, till it’s gone

I wish somebody would have told me that
Some day, these will be the good old days
All the love you won’t forget
And all these reckless nights you won’t regret
Someday soon, your whole life’s gonna change
You’ll miss the magic of these good old days

Focus

My friend Diondra is super into yoga. After I left Expedia, even though I only knew her for a few months, she convinced me to go to Wanderlust in Whistler and do yoga with her for 5 days. It was actually awesome and I’ve gone to several since then.

It was at the first Wanderlust where the intro to a yoga class began with a story I’ll never forget, although I will likely not deliver it as eloquently as the instructor.

She told a story of a man in India who discovered a small town up in the hills. The town was beautiful and full of vibrant art, handmade goods and produced amazing produce and other delectable treats. He moved to the town and thought to himself that others should see this beautiful place. He decided that in order to attract others to the town, he would host a parade, including having a gorgeous elephant at the end of the parade. He decided to have vendors along the parade path, so everyone who came could enjoy the food and art at the same time.

Hundreds of people showed up and the parade was beautiful. It was at the end, when the crown jewel of the parade, the elephant, should have made the biggest impact. The elephant started walking down the street, but soon became overcome with the joyous scents of all the food on display along the street. The elephant just couldn’t help himself and quickly deviated from the parade path, knocking over people, stands and making an utter mess of the place. People screamed and ran off and the man was embarrassed and hung his head.

A woman from the village came to the man and asked if she could work with the elephant and if the man could give it another shot. The man said he didn’t know but there was no harm is trying.

The woman worked with the elephant. She adorned his trunk with beautiful decoration and trained him to focus on it during the parade. Sure enough, on parade day, the elephant focused on the decoration, not allowing itself to become distracted by all the chaos and distractions going on around it.

My living room now has a silver elephant on the shelf. Namaste.