Network Up

The company we keep is pivotal to the outcome of our professional success and personal happiness. We are the average of the top 5 influences in our lives , let it be a person or an entity/community. Who we spend time with, who and what we listen to, will influence us and we’ll eventually talk and behave much the same way. I invite you to surround yourself with influences that are the closest to who you want to become.

There is a level up in that game, and it’s ongoing. We have the opportunity to network up. That means realizing when our growth has exceeded the influence we experience from others. There comes times when some of our influences have taught us all we need to know and it’s time for us to move on and look for the next challenge, the next lesson.

This may not be easy. It’s natural to become attached, our old brain doesn’t like change and the security of what we know is very comfortable. Growth doesn’t take place in comfort. We can have the one or the other, but not at the same time. We must choose.

I completely support periods of plateau and relaxation. It’s valid to want to enjoy the product of our work and go on growth vacation for a little bit, like a couple of weeks for example. Anything longer than 3 months equates to a new lifestyle and it would be all the more difficult to get back to productive habits.

It’s an ongoing evaluation of what’s productive, what serves our growth, how do we serve others, and it seldom ever stops. It’s a big fun game, would you like to become a pro at it?

I invite you to regularly evaluate your relationships and organizations you immerse yourself in. Which ones are the top 5? Have they given you all that they have to offer? If so, start looking for new ones. It may be scary at first, however, the result we’re looking for is begging for it.

Change is part of the natural cycle of life, nothing remains. We have the choice to resist nature or we can go with the flow and be part of something greater. What do you think?

Reach for the greatest version of yourself!


The Hurt

I have been requested to talk about individuals that are aware they are a source of pain to others but don’t seem to care about the consequences of their actions. The question I received was specifically about students, however, I believe it applies to everyone.

I would like us to agree on one thing first for the following to make sense. If you don’t agree with the next statement, stop reading, this may be a waste of your time. I would like us to agree that individuals seldom, ever, want to hurt people in purpose. There is no right or wrong, there is no faults, there are only unmet needs. This can be a very difficult idea, especially considering most of us have been brought up in the fear of punishments rather than the motivation to do good to others. For example, we typically avoid speeding not because we want to be safe, rather because we don’t want a speeding ticket.

When someone is confronted with the fact their action resulted in a negative outcome several things can happen: they fear punishment, they feel shame, they feel threatened, and may retrieve. The  biological response is the desire to protect oneself: we fight, we flee, or we freeze. This can result in an additional negative impact on individuals and our environment. How many times have we done something that resulted in a negative outcome? How many times have we hurt people’s feelings in our lives, and we were unaware we did it? Does that make us cruel individuals? Of course not. We were not aware, or we were distracted, or we didn’t know that the person in front of us had been triggered. Nobody’s perfect. We can only learn from our history and try not to duplicate negative experiences. We’re all doing our best, everyday.

Secondly, how the event was pointed out to us had a lot to do with our follow up response. Shaming and blaming are counter productive, period. I believe that by shaming and blaming someone for their action, we’re creating the hurt we want to avoid in the first place.
My dance partner and I have dedicated a lot of our growth in understanding and applying non-violent communication by Marshall Rosenberg, and studying Brene Brown’s research about shame and compassion. This exploration resulted in the method we apply in our dance classes to create a safe environment for all. By appreciating that there is an unmet need, and by responding to it in a compassionate way, we can discover why a person reacts the way they do. We can have a dialogue, we can create a connection.

One thing I’d like to point out: men in our culture may especially react in a disconnecting fashion when being pointed out counter productive behavior. It’s not because men care less than women, it’s because they’re often raised to showcase strength and force, not vulnerability and kindness. This is an unfortunate cultural issue we’re dealing with. I highly encourage you to watch ” The mask we live in” or follow their Facebook page of the same name to learn more about it.
Let’s be clear on one thing: this is not an easy-as-pie process. A lot of things get in the mix: education, personality, chemical balances, cultural and socioeconomic pressures, history, environment, etc.. That’s why I find it important to keep in mind unmet needs rather than cruelty. How we approach the situation in a compassionate and curious attitude can be a game changer in modeling what we are looking for. We can be the change we want to see by educating ourselves and modeling the behavior we are seeking in others. Keep Learning!

Reach for the greatest version of yourself!
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Ice, Ice, Baby

I remember fondly hanging out with a friend one day and having a conversation about what we wanted in life. My conclusion at the time was: Impact, Connection and Experiences, I may have stretch the notion of experience to the point of being exquisite. My dear friend being a big fan of acronyms , he said to me: you want ICE!”

I do want ICE. I want to have an impact because I believe that true purpose resides in gifting our talents and receiving a positive return on energy. Nothing is only just given, there is always a return, and we want it to be as positive as possible. I agree that some returns on energy may be negative, and still productive if it serves a greater purpose. That would be a delayed return on positive energy.

Purpose is argued by some as being a greater need than simple happiness. That’s a valid argument in my opinion. I’m a hedonist and the simple pleasures in life can yield a great amount of happiness for me. That being said, being purposeful is personally a greater need for me.

Connection is fundamentally important in my life. I can’t make an impact on the world by myself. I need others to do that, and to do it to the scale I dream of. To best collaborate with others I need to be able to connect with their authentic self, I need to offer patience, understanding and compassion as we all write our own story the best we can. Connection is also about connecting to self. How well do I know myself? By understanding my own gift and limitations I’m able to offer the best version of myself. Connecting to others is only secondary to connecting to self.

As I mentioned above, I’m a hedonist. I believe that we create our own heaven on earth, we create our paradise, we manifest our dreams. The experiences are the jewels of our lives, the absolute joys, or sorrows, that we go through willingly and purposefully. Experiences are the building blocks of our wisdom. We are the sum of our choices, and our actions. Our past doesn’t define our future, however, it does build it depending on the lessons we gather. Our experiences are a reflection of our principles and values at any given time of our lives. It goes back to impact and connection: what experience do we offer to others?

I invite you reflect on what you want most in life. It doesn’t have to be grand or original, it’s best if it’s true to who you are right now. It will help define more precisely your intentions in life, and the results you seek.

Reach for the greatest version of yourself!