Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Ostriches and Zebras

April 2, 2014

Nature is full of symbiotic relationships. For instance, looking at a zebra and an ostrich, we wouldn’t necessarily think that they were good buddies. They don’t look alike and I wouldn’t automatically assume that they would have much in common or even want to hang out, or get together for drinks after a hard day on the savanna.
I was surprised and delighted to learn that zebras and ostriches DO often travel together and they look out for each other. This relationship keeps them safe from predators, because they make a great team. Zebras have a keen sense of smell and hearing, but they have poor eyesight. On the other hand, ostriches have great vision, but their hearing and smelling capabilities are not so great. Each animal benefits from the strengths of the other and they warn each other of impending danger.

When I read about this phenomenon, I once again marveled at the amazing intricacies and relationships in nature. There are many examples of how members of both the animal and plant kingdoms work together and depend upon each other for survival. That started me thinking about humans and how we relate to one another.

The news reports are full of accounts of conflict between various people, countries, political parties, etc. and that isn’t new; it has been going on since the beginning of humanity. Even more troubling to me are the stories I hear every day from people who are embroiled in arguments, bitterness, jealousy, resentment, and other negative situations in their personal and/or professional lives. Some people seem to be so concerned with competition and being “right” about everything, that they have lost that precious element which makes any relationship work….symbiosis or mutual benefit.

It isn’t about helping someone so that they will, in turn, help you. It is about respecting the value and opinions of people in our lives and appreciating that when it boils down, we all really want the same thing out of life…we want peace of mind and it just might be possible to help each other in that quest. Sadly, some people are under the impression that in order for them to feel peace and joy, someone else has to give up those feelings.

Sometimes, I guess it doesn’t seem possible for problems between people to be solved. Egos become involved and things get blown out of proportion. Perhaps we would all benefit from emulating the zebras and the ostriches and all of the other creatures in nature who seem to have worked things out in more simplistic terms than the human race. Granted, we usually don’t eat each other….but are we willing to hang out with those who look and act differently than we do? Are we quick to lend them our strength in an area in which they are not as strong? And are we willing to work together for a common goal?

Think about that the next time you are at the watering hole.


Spin the Wheel and Guess My Stress!!!

May 15, 2013

Do you ever feel as if you live and work in a battle zone? Do you awaken every morning expecting to go through your day ducking the slings and arrows of stress, frustration and anger? Do you ponder how stress will zap you? Will it come in the form of traffic jams, negative people, budget cuts, increased workloads, impossible schedules, sick kids, or some other equally overwhelming form?
Sometimes, we set ourselves up for stress from the moment we open our eyes. We have prepared ourselves to expect the worst. We spin the stress wheel and play “Guess My Stress! What will make me anxious and possibly sick today?”
So we start our day girded in battle array…ready for the stress snakes to wrap around us and squeeze out all of our air….and we usually get what we expect. Sometimes it feels as if we are stress magnets! We are so used to accepting it, that it becomes a part of us.
Often, we tend to expect the worst because we are creating a reality before we even have all of the facts. Anticipation and presumption can be our enemies. And whether the danger is real or imagined doesn’t matter to our bodies! So, when we convince ourselves that trouble is ahead, we are setting ourselves up to get sucked into the stress spiral and down we go! If we can learn to resist catastrophizing and jumping to conclusions, we will have a better chance to meet whatever comes our way, with calm and clear focus.
It helps to remember that we do have the power to choose the thoughts that we allow to rent space in our brains. It isn’t easy because most of us have been entertaining and nurturing the “Stress is Going to Get Me!” attitude for a long time. We have accepted stress as an acceptable way to live…and die! We program our brains to go into ANT mode (automatic negative thoughts) and ANTS attract the stress snakes
A successful personal stress management program includes identifying stress triggers and stress busters, but just as important, is a person’s ability to step away from the stress wheel and refuse to hang out with ANTS and Stress Snakes!
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
~ William James

Mental Flossing to Prevent Truth Decay

April 19, 2012

Sometimes we just can’t get away from negative people; who shall be called “trolls” for the purposes of this article. And sometimes our brains can be overrun with Automatic Negative Thoughts, which are otherwise known as ANTS. Having ants in our pants is serious, but having ants in our brains can be downright deadly!

Negative people, situations and thoughts can skew reality; causing us to perceive things as truth that are not really true! For instance, when we compare ourselves to other people and just don’t measure up to their standards….we are walking on a thin line and run the risk of convincing ourselves that we aren’t good enough or successful enough or attractive enough or anything else enough!  If we allow ourselves to be influenced by someone else’s opinion of us; that too, is a slippery slope into the pit of despair! It is a false concept that becomes our truth.

This is not to say that we should ignore constructive criticism or not try to improve ourselves; it simply means that if a troll is having a grumpy day and hisses at us or if someone is literally sucking all of the joy out of the room, or if someone’s opinion of us is mean spirited, we need to be able to put things into proper perspective and not let their foul mood define our attitude.

It also means that we have to monitor our own thoughts and not rent mental space out to non-productive or negative images. Your brain is prime property! You need to keep the neighborhood in good shape and not allow it to turn into a garbage dump!

Our thoughts are things. Every time we allow a negative image to enter into our brain and we continue to focus on it and nurture it, we are allowing it to progress to the point of making a neural –connection which will become a permanent part of our thinking process.  We then have a mistaken perception of what is really true…yikes! We literally can program our brains to automatically flip into negative thinking mode, but we can also “floss” out those thoughts and reprogram with positive connections. Whew! That’s good news!

When you find that ANTS are invading your head space; take a minute, close your eyes and focus on that negative image, becoming aware of how it’s making you feel. Is your stomach in a knot? Is your head pounding? Do you just feel lousy? Now, allow yourself to create an image of something positive that makes you feel peaceful or joyful. Visualize that happy thing literally pushing or kicking or eating or squashing that negative image and taking over its spot in your thoughts. Gone is the false idea of how someone else thinks you should feel and in comes the truth of your own value, worth and abilities. Allow yourself to breathe deeply and feel the pleasant sensation flooding your brain and overtaking the stomach knot.

Don’t allow anyone else to choose how you feel about yourself or the day!  The truth is that you can control how you feel and deal with situations.  It takes practice, but mental flossing really works and is a helpful tool in preventing truth decay!

Embrace the Detours

November 17, 2011

Sometimes we get on a path and we think we know where we’re going. We have it all planned….the route we’re going to take and how long it will take us to get there. Then, all of the sudden…WHAMMO! Something happens; a road block or a detour. We’re suddenly thrown into a tailspin as we realize that we have to go a different way and change our carefully laid plans.  This is true in driving and it is also true about life in general.   People don’t like change.  We don’t accept it readily and we fight it.  While driving, I have actually seen people get out of their cars and argue with orange cones.  The cones don’t care…they are cones of silence.  Now that I think of it….I, myself, have thrown out some harsh words at detour signs. It never does me any good because it doesn’t change anything, I can do nothing about it and I still have to take the detour.  And sometimes, I find that the different route takes me to places that I never would have seen otherwise, and I actually enjoy the scenery.  I guess I owe some of those signs an apology.

The same goes for detours in life.  There are many quotes about the uncertainty of life; like “Life is what happens while you are busy planning other things.” and “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”   I’m not really sure exactly what that one means, but I guess people and rodents often get stuck in mazes and have to find their way out. All of nature is subject to unforeseen influences and “stuff happens.”  We experience roadblocks and detours along the way and they can either make us or break us. It depends on how flexible we are and how willing we are to go with the flow.  When life throws us a curve, we can either emulate Rumplestiltskin or throw a tantrum or we can put on our big girl pants and look at the situation as an opportunity to grow.

I once drove on the highway behind a van full of children. After driving behind them for a few hours, I noticed that they were busily working on something. In a few minutes, a sign appeared in the back windshield. It was lettered in crayon and in a childish scrawl. It read “Help us please. We have to pee and daddy won’t stop.”  I guess Daddy was determined to reach his destination and didn’t want to make a detour.  Too bad….because he probably missed some nice scenery.