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Building a Life (2/3)

Don’t look for big things, just do small things with great love….The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love. (Mother Teresa, “Come Be My Light, the private writings of the Saint of Calcutta”, 2007)

mother-teresa-200x300Have you ever thought about your purpose in life? How you’re supposed to make your life meaningful? Or what you want your business to look like in the future?

Stop doing that. Stop wasting your time and energy on figuring out what to do with your life.

Just be who you are and do what your life’s energy wants you to do. That is what makes your life meaningful. That is what you are supposed to do. To be you. This unique manifestation of life energy that is only available to us right here, right now.

When you start your business from where you are at right now, you can build it step by step. Instead of spending time figuring it out, you spend time taking action. Many successful businesses started that way. Baking cookies for friends. Coding a program for the computer. Wanting to be excellent at what they did.

Maybe this bottom-up path doesn’t work for you. It does for me. My friend Aralyn Hughes told me to stop fuzzing and puzzling, and just do what I want to do now. I picked up Stephen Covey’s “The 7 habits of highly successful people” and started reflecting on the principles and paradigms that run my life. I find it inspiring and helpful. Can I see God’s face in every person I meet? Can I serve others and bring out the best in them? Can I open my heart an inch more to love each encounter?

Working with his questions, I realize that part of my motivation to build my business is “hubris”: a drive to accomplish something big, something that builds my self-worth and mattering. As soon as I realized that, I calmed down. I don’t actually need that. I want connection with my husband, my family, my friends, I want to make a difference in the lives of the people around me, and I would be very happy doing just that.

Who knows? Maybe I apply for a simple job. Maybe I build a highly successful business. I probably will do what makes me happy in each moment: appreciation, a smile, connection. And being excellent at being me, with all I’ve got. I trust that that is enough.

You want to learn to Build a Life? Contact me, 512-589-0482 for a free, discovery session.

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Building a business (1/3)

“If readers have a sincere desire to make life miserable for themselves, they might learn to compare themselves to other people.” (Dan Greenburg in: Rosenberg M., Nonviolent Communication, a language of life, 2003, p. 18)

Did you ever do the comparison game?

It is very simple. You look at the results you created in your life and compare them with those of others. I am very good at that game. I compare myself a lot. With siblings, community members, colleagues. With Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Thich Nhat Hanh. I look at my life and at theirs, and I always fall short. At a bad day, I take it personally and start to think that there is something wrong with me. That I am a loser. A failure. That I am unworthy.

In the (perceived) absence of results, I come up with reasons.

“I had a challenging childhood. Now I suffer from low self-worth.” “I’m too insecure to get the word out about my business.” You probably have your own reasons to soften the pain of the comparison.

What if it is true? What if my life circumstances didn’t give me a head start? Does that mean that I can’t move forward and take a step on my path of aspiration?

Imagine a marathon. The winner has it all: perfect age, support team, running shoes. And then, 20 hours after the winner crosses the finish line, comes in the man on crutches. One leg. No coaches. No fancy shoes. He didn’t win the race. Wouldn’t he be your hero? Wouldn’t you be in awe that he dedicated his life to fulfill his dream? That he started practicing? Started running? With all he got? I know I bow to the ground for him. He is my inspiration to give life all I have, however much it is.

We all have different starting points in life. And we all can move forward. One step at a time. We might not have a clear end result in mind, we might not have a clue what we want our business to look like 12 years from now. And we know what our deepest values are. Who we want to be right here, right now. Empathic, compassionate, mindful for me. Something else for you.

Building a business starts with being. Building a business is building our character. Then we naturally start doing. And from the doing comes the having.

You want to learn to Build a Business? Contact me, 512-589-0482 for a free, discovery session.

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Beginning Anew (3/3)

“There is a world of difference between a complaint and a criticism. A complaint only addresses the specific action (…). A criticism is more global -it adds on some negative words about your mate’s character or personality. (…) A criticism ups the ante by throwing in blame and general character assassination.” (Gottman, J.M. and Silver, N., The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, 1999, p. 27-28)

The third and last step of Beginning Anew is sharing your complaint.

The first step, appreciation, builds a context of turning toward. It conveys the message “Hey, I really like you and I value our connection.”

The second step, expressing regret, tells “I want to learn how to be a better friend to you.” You own your responsibility for the dynamic of the relationship and you acknowledge your contribution to needs unmet.

The third step is an invitation for your friend to reflect how her behavior might have contributed to your needs being unmet.

Complaints follow the same pattern as any other NVC-expression:

  1. Observation: the specific action you refer to, as factual as a robot would describe, had he been in the room. Without judgments, evaluations or interpretations.
  2. Needs that were unmet. Needs are universal, strategies are local in space and time. We all want love, acceptance, belonging, autonomy, safety, purpose, etc. We chose different strategies to meet those needs. Some might meet their needs for purpose and contribution by working for Amnesty International, others by designing a high-performance, light-weight car wheel.
  3. Feelings that arose from those needs being unmet, like anger, sadness, fear, disgust, contempt, surprise or flavors of those. Feelings often have a physical experience. Pseudo-feelings have a thought mixed in with them, usually blame about how someone did wrong. Pseudo-feelings could be: neglected, ignored, disrespected, violated, put down.

If you combine these three NVC-elements, your complaint might sound something like this: “When I came home last night and saw two plates and a pot with food remains in them, I felt sad and irritated, because I have a need for support. You could end your complaint with a connection request: “What did you hear me say?” or “How does that land for you?”

Because your message starts with an observation the other person can confirm, you are less likely to trigger a defensive response. Your roommate would probably agree that that’s what she left behind. When you would say “The kitchen was a mess” or “You are inconsiderate and egoistic.”, she might start to argue. Feelings and needs help your roommate understand your reality: these are the feelings I have (instead of pretending my thoughts about you are the truth) and those needs are important for me. This invites your roommate to empathize with you. “Oh, I didn’t know you cared about a clean kitchen and wanted support.”

I’m curious to read how translating your criticism into a complaint changes your relationship.

You want to learn to Begin Anew? Contact me, 512-589-0482 for a free, discovery session.

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Beginning Anew (2/3)

The second step of Beginning Anew is expressing regret.

Beginning Anew (2-3)The first step, appreciation, builds a context where you see the other person and yourself as human beings with the ability to contribute to life. Your appreciation conveys the message that you include yourself in the respect for your basic goodness. Regret isn’t an invitation to beat up on you, do the “you’re-a-bad-person” bashing or play a guilt trip. Regret is not about taking the blame for how the other person feels. Regret is about mourning what you did that contributed to needs being unmet.
An apology NVC-style is the same as any other NVC-expression: observations, feelings, needs: “I feel sad to see you feel upset over the way I expressed myself. I understand your needs for emotional safety, consideration and respect weren’t met. I wished I had taken three deep breaths to calm myself down and remind myself of my aspiration to show up with compassion and empathy.” Your regret can end with a connection request: “What did you hear me say?” or: “How does that land for you?” Or you can end with a solution request: “What can I say or do to restore connection and trust?”

When you express a regret, you want to keep in mind that what you did (or didn’t do) is not who you are. You are not a bad, disrespectful, inconsiderate, egoistic person, because you did something you regret in retrospect. When you made the choice you now regret, you tried to meet a precious, universal need. Perhaps you didn’t have enough resources and creativity to make a choice that included all needs: yours and those of other stakeholders. When you hold your actions as the tragic expression of unmet needs, you build a container of self-acceptance and self-compassion. This compassionate environment supports learning how to show up differently and honor your values.

Expressing regret is also an opportunity to learn about the other person, their sensitivities, vulnerabilities, and needs. Your regret is an acknowledgment of their pain. You convey that you are aware of how your actions contributed to the pain of their unmet needs and that you care enough about them and the relationship to express your mourning.

Once your regret is shared and understood, you both can brainstorm strategies that might have worked better. You can ask for input to expand the creativity and resources you were lacking in the first place.

The first step of “Beginning Anew” is appreciation. The second is regret. This is the basis for deeper understanding and compassion. For others. For ourselves.

You want to learn to Begin Anew? Contact me, 512-589-0482 for a free, discovery session.