Created Future Week 1: Integrity

Welcome to the first installment of our “Created Future” series!  Thank you for joining me on this journey.

I invite you to open a document or start a journal for this inquiry.  It may help you bring rigor to the exercises (e.g. writing down your ideas/insights/thoughts instead of just thinking them will likely have you better organize around what you are committed to!).  Yes, there is homework to ensure that you get the most value out of this journey!

This week, we explore the distinction, integrity, which is fundamental to a created future.

Integrity in the context of what we are doing is defined as “a state or condition of being whole, complete, unbroken, unimpaired, sound, in perfect condition.”  Please note that we do not include any notion of morality or ethics here.  Integrity as defined here is neither right or wrong, but rather a necessary component of  workability and performance.  Think of a car; if a car is whole and unbroken, it performs optimally.  It performs exactly as we expect it to, and we can count on it to get us where we need to go, etc.  If a car is broken/impaired however, it performs sub-optimally.  A broken-down car impacts all manner of things!

But we aren’t cars.  So, what does integrity mean for us?  Being in integrity means keeping and/or honoring your word.

Keeping your word means doing what you said you would do, when you said you would do it, and the way you said you would do it.  An extended version of integrity includes doing what you know to do and what others expect you to do, unless you explicitly inform them (in advance) that you will not do as they expect. If you want to maximize workability in your relationship with other people, at work, etc., you will have to deal with others’ expectations of you – like it or not!

Honoring your word means that, as soon as you know you will not be keeping a promise you made, you communicate to all impacted parties that you will not fulfill on that promise, you acknowledge the impact to all parties and yourself, you make it clear as to whether you will renegotiate your promise (e.g. do it later than originally promised or not do it ever).  Then you create a structure that will have you keep your word in the future (e.g. set multiple alarms, enlist someone’s support to hold you accountable, etc.)

For example, if I say that my spin class will begin at 7:15am, and I have a studio full of people who expect class to start at 7:15am, I keep my word by starting class promptly at 7:15am.  If I start late, you as a student might be impacted by having a sub-optimal, shorter, workout.  The following class might begin late, thus impacting my fellow instructor and other members.  And so on.

While I am committed to always keeping my word and starting class on time, sometimes breaking my word is unavoidable (e.g. the 210 is unexpectedly shut down); in these cases, I can honor my word: acknowledge that I broke my promise to all impacted parties, commit to starting future classes on time, and put a structure in place wherein, for example, I leave 10 minutes earlier and check Google maps so that I can take the street if the freeway is shut down.

Imagine that your created future includes losing weight.  To achieve this, you give your word that you will stick to a certain diet.  But say that you lack integrity, and you do not keep your word; you eat outside of your diet repeatedly.  How will you ever lose weight? Nothing wrong or bad about this.  It simply is not workable, and your created future is unlikely to come to fruition.

Get it?  I attached a terrific, short article about integrity as we define it here.

YOUR HOMEWORK: I invite you to look at areas in your life that are currently not workable, or areas where your performance is sub-optimal (as defined by you).

  1. Write down these areas of your life.  These may include exercise, weight loss, work, finances, self-love, or relationships with friends, partner/spouse, kids, family, etc.
  2. Select one or more of these that are important for your created future (e.g., what you would like to address in the first quarter of 2018).
  3. Take an objective look at your integrity in these areas (i.e. not making yourself wrong, just looking objectively).  Write down any areas where you are out of integrity; this inquiry requires a bit of authentic discovery.  It might unveil some things you do not want to acknowledge.  I invite you to get real here.
  4. What can you give your word to in these areas?  What are you willing to give up (e.g. blaming your circumstances or other people, being stubborn or right, pretending that you don’t know what to do or how to start).  What are you “up to” or “a stand for” in these areas?
  5. What would it take to be in integrity in these areas?

Need feedback and/or guidance?  Want to share what is showing up for you?  Please email me, or set up a call with me!  I am here for you.

Next week, we look at how our past might be shaping our future, and what we can do about it.

The Only Way Out is Through

As I near my 100 mile race, I have started working big-time on my mental and emotional game.  At some point after 60 miles, my physical training will falter.  My body will give up.  To finish, I must rely on my ability to push beyond my physical limits.  When faced with “fight or flight,” I must fight.  Push on.  I am training my mind and soul now.  I am working to accept that pain, grief, fear, and anguish will be part of my journey of 100 miles on August 5, just as it is part of life.  I will not shy away from these feelings.

And instead of asking, “why is this happening to me,” I will say, “this is happening for me.”  I get to embrace this!  I learn from it.  Experience it. I will be going through hell, and I will keep going (as Churchill aptly suggested!).  I get to keep going, until I cross that finish line.

What is your 100 mile journey right now?  Where do you face “fight or flight?”  Are you willing to push on, embracing the pain and accepting the fear?  My friends, sometimes the best way out, the ONLY way out, is through.

 Even in the midst of great pain, Lord,
I praise you for that which is.
I will not refuse this grief
or close myself to this anguish.
Let shallow men pray for ease:
‘Comfort us; shield us from sorrow.’
I pray for whatever you send me,
and I ask to receive it as your gift.
You have put a joy in my heart
greater than all the world’s riches.

I lie down trusting the darkness […]

 

– Psalm 4, free-form translated by Stephen Mitchell  

Powerful Positive Wishes

Today, I ponder how we can how we can find real power by transforming our critical and negative talk (both internal and external dialogue) into positive wishes.

Do you realize how often we resort to negative or critical statements?  “I hate my body.”  “My job sucks.”  “I am tired.”  “Don’t throw the ball in the house.”  Even something silly like the phrases “no problem” or “I forgot.”  This type of language is pervasive, yet it does not impact any real change.

What if, instead, you could transform that criticism into positive wishes?  What if we tried:

  • “I would like to weigh 10 pounds less.”
  • “I would prefer to have a more interesting project at work.”
  • “I will get to bed earlier because I need more rest tonight.”
  • “I would like you to take the ball outside to play.”
  • “Definitely!”
  • “I will set a reminder next time.”
Do you see how much more powerful these positive wishes are?  Suddenly, you have goals.  And instead of sitting around complaining, you can move into action and find real change.
Try catching yourself this week and flip negative statements around.  If it works, or if it doesn’t, please share with me!

No Mud, No Lotus

Do you know how a lotus grows?  It roots in the mud of murky ponds.  The stem is flexible, and very tough to break, as it pushes through the mud to reach the surface.  When the lotus flower emerges from the mud and blooms, it is completely clean, despite the long struggle through the mud and murky water.  This process happens every dawn.  And, every evening, the lotus blossom closes and sinks beneath the mud.

To some, the lotus flower symbolizes enlightenment.

To me, the lotus is my life at the moment.  Lots of mud.  But also a lot of blooms!  Maybe that is you, too?  We push through the mud, through challenges and adversities.  We are flexible as we move, embracing the suffering.  We find pleasure and joy in the journey when we can, and sometimes we succumb to tears or fear.  We take the next indicated step, always focused upward toward the sunlight (despite sometimes taking turns sideways or down).  And, finally, we emerge and bloom – BLOOM – clean and beautiful.

Rise, bloom, sink, and repeat.  That is life.  Without the mud, there is no lotus blossom.  Without the mud, we might not ever see the fullest expression of joy.  The mud, like it or not, is essential to the bloom.  As my favorite teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, says, “No mud, no lotus.”

Don’t Be a Wimp

In a pep talk for my race last weekend, my running coach told me:

“In the first half, don’t be an idiot.  In the second half, don’t be wimp.”

These were the mantras I needed to get through fifty miles of tough stuff.  In the beginning, I told myself to run within my ability, to not get too winded, dehydrated, or exhausted.  Kept check on my breath and my body.  Ran smooth and light.  I ran smart.  I was not an idiot.  And once I hit the 25 mile mark, I told myself to not be a wimp.  Feeling tired and hot?  Don’t be a wimp.  Glutes and quads screaming at you?  Don’t be a wimp.  Run into a rattlesnake that strikes at you (yes, it happened!)?  Don’t be a wimp.  Final two miles with zero juice left?  Don’t be a wimp.

Here’s the thing: we are given exactly what we can handle.  On Saturday, I was given fifty miles of beautiful Pacific Crest Trail, ridiculously hot weather, and a snake.  And I was strong enough.

You, my friends, are strong enough, too.  So what ever it is, remember: don’t be an idiot.  And don’t be a wimp.

Humble and Kind

Today, I was inspired by a song a friend shared: Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind.”  I’m not usually a country fan, but this one spoke to me.  And, so, today I want to chat about humility.

Sometimes, it is hard for me to be humble in a society that rewards greatness, competition, and winning.  But what if I suggested that being humble might actually make us greater, more confident, and more competent?  Humility may actually help us gain self-worth, learn more/be curious, hone listening skills, and have stronger personal and professional relationships.

Humility is not thinking less of yourself.  Humility is thinking of yourself less.  

What does humility look like?  Studies show that humble people:

– Put other people first

– Are active listeners

– Focus on the greater good, rather than self-interest

– Are curious learners

– Ask for help

– Accept feedback

– Assume responsibility

– Appreciate others, and vocalize that appreciation often and loudly

– Have an “abundance mentality” (that is, your “win” doesn’t mean their “loss.”  There is enough to go around!)

Act Like a Child

When was the last time you acted like a child?  No, I don’t mean the last time you threw a tantrum because you were hungry and sleepy.  I mean had curiosity, wonder, and adventure like a child.  Rode a swing.  Slid down a slide.  Ran fast, wildly, until you were breathless.  Laughed out loud without being self-conscious.  Stopped mid-stride to check out a lady bug.  Pondered the color of the sky.  Picked your nose while sincerely talking to another person (just kidding — that is my kids!).

I challenge you to go out and act like a child, even if just for a minute.  “Give yourself permission to act like a child, to view the world with wonder and excitement, to let your mind be free.”  

Focus on Being Done

Some days it is tough to get going.  Your bed is comfy or your day has been long.  You’re feeling tired and sluggish.  Maybe life has thrown you a few curve balls, or you are feeling blue.  Starting, let alone finishing, a workout is the last thing on your mind.

But think about how it feels when you are done.  When you are sweaty and gulping down the last sips of water.  Exhilarated.  Refreshed.  Blissful.  Isn’t that the BEST FEELING?

So, friends, do it for the feeling you will have when you are done.  I promise it will be worth it.  It always is.

Face Everything and Rise

I am endlessly grateful for all of the encouragement and strength you all gave me for my race last Saturday. Thank you!! Despite ridiculous trail conditions in Malibu, I finished the 50k in 6:33, enough to snag me 6th place.  Most importantly, I had FUN.  I smiled from start to finish….
 
Except, my friends…
 
Did you know that I was scared?  Yep.  I was scared of the creek crossing at mile 2 (and again at mile 31) of the race.  Due to the rains, a formerly trickling little creek was now knee-deep and 10 feet wide, complete with a safety line to cross.  I am terrified of moving dark water.  It took the encouragement of several people and some meditation to realize that I had to Face Everything and Rise.  And so I waded straight into that river.  I grabbed the line and moved forward.
 
What are you afraid of?  And what could you do if you just FACED it?  Powered through it?  Rose above it?
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Spread the Love

I just learned that a good friend unexpectedly lost her partner today to a heart attack.  My friend is devastated over this loss, but she is comforted by the fact that, before he left the house this morning, she told him that she loved him.  She didn’t leave love unsaid today, didn’t let him make assumptions about her feelings.

I am not telling you this story to make you sad, my friends.  I share it because it is a reminder that we should express our love, fully and authentically, every chance we get.  When the moment strikes you, or even when it doesn’t, maybe tell the important people in your life exactly how you feel about them.  Don’t let them assume how you feel, or assume that they know.  Make it clear.

So, go spread some love today!  Not because one day it might be “too late” or because “life is short.”  But simply because you feel it and love is beautiful to share.  And imagine the happiness you will bring!  🙂