I am grateful for all the support and comments readers of my blog have provided over this past year. Your comments, shares, “likes”, and re-tweets (while personally gratifying), have greatly increased the potential of this blog to reach others, and to encourage more people to invest in their own potential (which is really what this blog is all about). We each have an amazing reservoir of potential, it makes up the most wondrous parts of who we are and the gifts we share with others. And (in my humble opinion), potential is one of the most powerful forces on the planet.
Thank-you for your support in 2015. Consider sharing these Everyday Potential highlights from 2015 with someone whom you know has potential.
Carleen Hicks is a certified Integral Professional Coach™ and EQ-i 2.0 Practitioner. She uses a unique perspective from her experience as a Leadership Coach and HR Professional to help people reach their full potential. See her Resources page to find great books, blogs and web sites that support professional growth and development.
The Power to Receive
At this time of year we are focused on acts of giving, but there is an important counter-action to giving; receiving. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the act of receiving is a complicated one, yet one that is foremost as we head into the season of giving. On the surface it seems easy enough, someone gives you something and you express gratitude, and the majority of time that may be exactly what happens. However, not every one is as able to receive, it is not always a comfortable act. Sometimes receiving is a complex action that requires something of us we may not have available (which is no reflection on the gift giver), or because the gift (anything from a smile to a present) takes us by surprise. For a variety of reasons, we may feel uncomfortable or even unwilling to receive what is being offered, even though it may be given in a heartfelt way. Receiving requires an act of self-confidence, an act of celebration, recognizing your worth thorough the kind intentions of others.
To make this more tangible, when was the last time you asked someone for help (either at work or at home)? At this time of year things are always busy; year-end wrap-up activities at work, working to get budgets aligned or spent before the end of the quarter, social commitments (or social obligations, depending on how you look at it) with family and friends. While the song may say “Its the most wonderful time of the year” I would add it is also one of the most demanding. Have you asked for help lately? If not, why not? Could you have used a hand, either at work or at home, to ensure what needed to get done would be done without strife? What are the more indirect benefits in asking others for help? Did you think you should ask for help, or was your inclination to simply “suck it up” and work harder? Many of us feel if we ourselves are too busy to do anything but check off our own lists, we would not want to place demands on others. Sometimes we do not ask for help as a misplaced attempt to maintain balance, for others and ourselves (“I can do it faster myself”). Yet I know many people who, when asked to help, are pleased because they can see they are well regarded, they are needed, especially if the request is considerate and has everyone’s best interests at heart. Specific requests that come from a very well intentioned place have the power to help others see their own worthiness, while helping us to reflect this in ourselves. Sometimes we do not make requests because we know we can’t reciprocate, and so mitigate any further intrusion on our own productivity by going it alone. What would our days look like if we all chose to act this way? Vulnerability is threaded through the act of receiving, but it is not always a comfortable state.
If we are not inclined to ask for help we may also be very poor at receiving it when it is offered, like any other skill in life, you need to practice this to be good at it. Unfortunately there are those who have been touched by life so harshly they simply cannot trust the act of giving, but for the majority of us there is a lesson here. Wrapped up in our own fugue of things to do we sometimes choose not to make the time to receive what is freely given to us, and in the process we ignore our own worthiness. From the smallest offering (the smiles of strangers), to well intentioned compliments, hugs, gifts and the well wishes of co-workers, family and friends these things are meant to provide a measure of recognition, of celebration. If those gifts make you feel uncomfortable (or if awkwardness has descended just reading/thinking about them) ask yourself “Why?”. Then ask yourself “What is the most gracious thing I can do when these gifts are offered?” It is an act of selflessness that allows us to meet others where they are, which is what the art of receiving is all about. While you may be preoccupied with work and home consider returning the smile of a stranger, accepting a compliment warmly (rather than demonstrating discomfort), receiving an unexpected gift as it was intended (without the gilt of having nothing to reciprocate) because this honors the act of giving, the giver and ourselves.
While a lot of societal value is placed on giving, receiving is an equally important act for that must be present for giving to take place. As you head into the final days of 2015 reflect on your ability to receive as a mirror of your own self-confidence, and the value your openness here may hold for others (as well as yourself). Consider the importance of asking others for meaningful help, and providing an opportunity to build something of value together. The act of heart-felt receiving provides shared meaning and warmth at a time when we all may need it most.
“At the deepest level, there is no giver, no gift, and no recipient... only the universe rearranging itself.”
Carleen Hicks is a certified Integral Professional Coach™ and EQ-i 2.0 Practitioner. She uses a unique perspective from her experience as a Leadership Coach and HR Professional to help people reach their full potential. Check out her Resources page to find great books, blogs and web sites that support professional growth and development.
The Power To Celebrate
It is true that what we give power to then has power over us. A way to see what this looks like in everyday life is to understand how the voice inside your own mind governs what you think of yourself in any given moment. All of us are equally at risk of mentally calling ourselves “stupid” (or saying to ourselves “that was a stupid thing to do”). How likely are you to give yourself a mental congratulation when you do something well? Or is it more a sense of relief when you complete a task or activity (with no self-acknowledgement) then moving on to the next thing on the list?
Many of us may have an imbalance of mental chatter – it may be critical, not much of it may be positive, celebratory or even very “nice” (I certainly would not “speak” to anyone else the way I often seem to be speaking to myself). Yet in reality we apply ourselves with good intent and experience positive outcomes, we are often kind; smile a lot and/or apply a healthy sense of humor to others and ourselves. Why then is there an imbalance between what happens outside ourselves (what we show others) versus what is happening on the inside (how we treat ourselves)? What we give power to then has power over us. Listen to the running narrative in your mind, the one that may provide fertile ground for the critical mind chatter; is there is always “something else that needs doing?” Do you unconsciously give that narrative an almost dictatorship level of power? That example is a future oriented narrative, but narratives may focus on the present or the past fueling mental chatter (“You should focus more to do this right”; “This is not your best work, you did this same type of work better two years ago”).
Is this sounding familiar? If so, check in; build some objectivity around this for yourself by collecting data. Create a simple tally sheet for yourself and over the course of an ordinary day, put a “tick” in a column that recognizes negative thoughts you attribute to yourself, another column for “ticks” to acknowledge positive self-thoughts. Resist the temptation to “guesstimate” the outcome, commit to spending one day to pay attention to this and see for yourself – it is important to use data (as opposed to making an assumption). Hopefully you experience a wealth of positive thoughts, but do not panic if you don’t, you are not deeply flawed (or alone). Instead, know that awareness is the first step towards being able to think about how this is supporting (or sabotaging) your efforts in work and in life.
No one feels good about himself or herself when consistently living in an environment where expectation cannot be met, or if when met, goes unrecognized. We would never treat our family and friends, or our employees, this way. To compound this, when we do not recognize our own accomplishments, it is less likely that anyone else will either. So why do we accept this unkind approach to ourselves (in a brief moment or over the course of our days)? The answer may be found in taking a look at your values and beliefs; these are the underpinnings of much of what we do, how we choose to approach things, what we invest our time in, etc. They guide many important aspects of our lives, and most of us will not compromise our beliefs – but we use them in unconscious ways that may not support us as well as we think. When you make negative statements to yourself, what is the underlying belief that holds them up? What are you valuing (or not valuing) when you do this?
When we choose not to engage in “self-celebration” we seldom give ourselves the opportunity to sit back and mentally say, “That was good, I did it!” This may be attached to a belief in humility; using this as an example, most of us would agree that humility is a good quality to have, but between a narrative that has power, like “there is always more to do, keep moving forward” and a strong humility belief, positive self-reinforcement will hold little value, be minimized or absent. Except that step helps us to see what we accomplish as good and of value, creating more balance with the negative thoughts we encounter in our day, providing positive energy and a sense of well-being. If you are missing this step what belief are you applying? Humility is valued by society too, and that helps to reinforce beliefs like the one in this example, but so is sharing and celebrating, because these things are also important to all of us. Have you ever stopped to consider the impact of choosing not to celebrate your successes (large or small), on yourself or those around you? What is the impact of forgoing something that supports consistent well-being, fights off fatigue, and keeps us resilient when faced with a really bad day (or a challenging life circumstance)? What happens to us when we shrug off compliments from others without fully appreciating or acknowledging them? What is the impact of inadvertently discourage others from supporting us? Looking at it through the lens of humility you can see becoming overly humble is not humility, in fact that is almost the complete opposite of humility. This is never the intent of something we believe in or value, which is why paying attention to how you treat yourself is so important.
Give power to celebration – whatever your celebration is. From a quick celebratory “dance move” when no one is watching to smiling at yourself in the mirror. Talk to you loved ones when you are most satisfied with what you’ve accomplished in your day – think of it not as “boasting” but as helping others to know when you are happy with yourself. Sharing is an important part of acknowledgement, and it sets a great example for others. Monitor your mental chatter - challenge it. When you are riffing off the long list of things undone, or the mistakes you can’t quite seem to move past, balance it out with a list of the things you’ve done well, things that make you feel good. Each of us can find an example in our day when we were patient, kind, empathetic, humorous or supportive of ourselves or someone else. That is cause for celebration, because the “to do” list will never be done, it is not supposed to be (or we’d freak out because no one needs us anymore). So celebrate! Eat the “good” ice cream, sharing it with others; tell them why you are celebrating. Smile, put your hand on your heart and say out loud (when you think no one can hear you, or even if others can) what you appreciate most about yourself in this moment. Give yourself the power to celebrate things large and small and it will support you, and the ones closest to you, in many amazing and wonderful ways. Unlock the power of celebration.