Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Freedom and Choice of Thought

If you are still being hurt by an event that happened to you at twelve, it is the thought that is hurting you now”. - James Hillman

All too often I hear colleagues, friends and relatives speak about something that happened years ago with such anger and hurt it’s as if they were reliving the event all over again. When I saw this quote it made so much sense I had to share it. This is exactly so. It’s the thought that hurts years later, not the deed. Why bring it back if it brings you pain? Why not acknowledge it happened, deal with it and move on? You are who you are because of everything you’ve lived and experienced.

I know I’m going to receive many angry comments about this….from people who have been abused, badly treated, survived horrific experiences. All I’m saying is, it’s not the experience that is hurting you any more, it’s the memory of it. One of my favourite quotes of all time was when Richard Carlson said “You can’t have a better past….only the past you’ve had”

Bringing things up over and over again won’t make them go away and be better. It will just become your focus and stop you from moving forward in your life. Is that what you want?

Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us”. - Stephen Covey

That includes us. How you deal with the present will determine your future. And if you live in a past you hated by rehashing those events over and over, they will become magnified into gargantuan proportions, take over and push aside everything else. You’ll be so busy reliving what you’ve hated, you won’t have time to create a life you love.

All the best…
Donna Karlin

Monday, June 21, 2004

Individualise vs. Institutionalise

“The shape of our lives is defined by our insertion into institutions and systems whose interlocking power generates the "virtual reality" we experience. Such 'knowledge' is so thoroughly a part of our worldview that it simply would not occur to most people to question it. Yet underneath this reality is another, subinstitutional reality in which very different responses are simply acted out. This is the reality in which everyone, until very recently, lived.” - David Schwartz

When I begin working with an executive, a partnership forms. As I Shadow them through their day and routine I look for effectiveness, leadership and how they maintain their individuality within the organization. Leaders foster individual talents and encourage their staff to be unique and bring that uniqueness to the table to enhance the talent of the organization. In order for them to do that, they need to discover their hidden talents and strengths and learn how they compliment others’. That’s where I come in….translating newfound awareness of strengths, talents and skills into tangible change by choice.

In his book on Contrarian Leadership, Steven Sample speaks about leaders maintaining their intellectual independence by thinking in the gray zone, not black and white. Many in leadership roles need to learn how to be better listeners, for what’s spoken and the unspoken modes of communication. They are often too busy to take notice or, in too many cases discount anyone’s opinion but their own or that of the organization’s so why bother in the first place?

What struck me this morning as I was searching for a particular e-book I had seen in an online library I subscribe to, was there was next to nothing on communication (listening, speaking, effective communication) for executives. That is usually the first complaint from staff about their managers and superiors. They don’t listen. One can’t discover talents or ideas of staff without taking notice; listening to perspectives and ideas other than our own. It’s the very basic foundation of good leadership.

By helping your staff pull themselves forward to succeed, leaders need to stop running organizations and start fostering excellence in their direct reports. That is what will create organizational excellence and a strong, sound organizational future.

An organization of clones who don’t rock the boat will eventually disintegrate. Human beings are unique and need that feeling of individuality. Few will stay when they are not valued for who they are. What is an organization if not its people?

“We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have—for their usefulness.” - Thomas Merton

It’s time to turn that around.

A pot-stirring…
Donna Karlin

Sunday, June 20, 2004

What Do You Love?

Recently someone asked me this question. I immediately had an answer and then realised it went deeper than the obvious. I wonder what it would be like to ask that question in a group setting.... or to a significant other, partner, child, parent… her the myriad of answers from all perspectives. It’s more than just the question. It’s the feelings the answers evoke, reminding me of everything that’s wonderful in my world…..that of which I have control and much of which has nothing whatsoever to do with me or who I am. I would love to hear your responses and how they made you feel when you recalled them.

I’ll start off with a few of mine…..

The sky when it’s streaked with colour at dusk or dawn
The sound of true laughter
A smile that lights up someone’s whole being
The smell of cinnamon
Golden Retrievers (they smile, have you noticed?)
Unconditional acceptance without judgment
Music, of course : )
Open, stimulating conversation
Learning something new
The ocean….its power, beauty and peace
A sun-filled day
An amazing book

Care to add yours?

As the list ever grows…..I wish you the best…..
Donna Karlin

Thursday, June 17, 2004

The Next Five Decades.....

Yesterday marked the beginning of my next 50 years (or so I’m aiming for) of life. I don’t plan to grow up any time soon and as a friend of mine responded (with a smile) to when I said “I have no intentions of growing up any time soon” with “Donna I’ve been friends with you for 43 years and believe me when I tell you that I gave up on those expectations a LONG time ago!”

I realise that my attitude is what keeps me young at heart. As many of us do when we hit a special birthday or milestone in life I thought back on what was and created intentions for what will be…

In the Attraction Program ™ we work on attracting to our life everything that we want with the absence of what we don’t. The distinction there is absence vs. freedom of what we don’t want. With freedom the meaning is that it’s there and we need to get rid of it whereas absence of means it isn’t there in the first place. My intention is to attract to my life exactly what it is I want to such an extent that there will be an absence of everything I don’t. My first intention being not wasting a day I’m gifted with. Even if it’s spent in solitude or rest, it’s being aware of time, my surroundings and everything extraordinary that happens in an ordinary day.

That goes for relationships, to spend my time with those who energise me and accept me exactly the way I am and to not throw away time on those who suck me dry of energy and are takers. To share what I feel, who I am without filters or conditions and give of myself because I want to, not because I have to. To let go of expectations and be wonderfully surprised instead. When I’m upset to share it and when I’m overjoyed to share that too. To always strive to learn and teach what I’ve learned, for when I stop learning is when I stop living.

I decided the next fifty years are for me…..a celebration of sorts. It’s not being selfish and putting myself first to the exclusion of everyone else, but to nourish who I am to such an extent that I have more to give others as well. Or to put it another way, not putting myself last. And in each role as mother, daughter, teacher, student, friend, partner, I will give what I can.

I didn’t blow out any candles last night. I spent it in conversation with my son and contemplation for what it is I want for my future. The celebrations will continue with friends later on in the week. I wanted some quiet time to process my thoughts first. And only when a few days pass will I make that wish and blow out the candles, asking the universe or powers that be to sit up, listen and take notice.

And then time will tell : ) I’ll keep you posted.

In the meanwhile, I thank all who remembered and helped mark the occasion. I am so blessed with family and friends and am especially grateful to them for taking the time and the warmth of thought to share wonderful wishes for me……with me. For me that’s one of life’s best gifts.

It’s quite magical.

Donna Karlin

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Insights from Norwich, Norfolk, England

It's Sunday....the day I usually write my blog. Alberto is leaving for Mexico tomorrow and I'm able to post with his computer from Norwich. I've had many insights watching my son and his roommates as they wrap up the year away from their homes and get ready to sadly say goodbye. Some, like Michael will be continuing on for their Ph.D's and others will head back to their countries. A poignant time for them all.

Through the years I've met brilliant people.....those who make a difference in their areas of expertise. I've seen surgeons create miracles for their patients, my son included. I sit back and applaud my brother as he continually works and researches to create better ways to treat patients. There are artists who touch you through their work, composers who touch you through melody and song and books that stimulate imagination, creating pictures with words. What makes all the difference is when someone so unexpected comes into your life for no known or expected reason and touches you in a way you've never been touched before. And because they've unlocked your soul and fed your spirit you can, only then, fully appreciate their magic and let them permeate your being to enrich your life immeasurably.

The ultimate gift....

Something happens in a unique and personal way between the two of you where you finally come to know what your lives are meant to mean. It transforms us into a total person, all facets of life coming together as one. Finally it all makes sense and even if it doesn't, it no longer matters.

It just is.

You can learn life, your life, through anyone, whether teacher, child, who has never been schooled to a Ph.D. That person can create a world with words or speak wordlessly through a look. There are few who can truly teach in life and many teachers who don't look at themselves that way. To me, a teacher is one who has heard life by watching, growing and seeing what it's right in front of their noses. I believe the best thing anyone can learn is to pay attention enough to trust their life. And through our teacher we can learn the priceless gift of wisdom to live well and celebrate the joy, laughter and ability to embrace life and all that should mean.

Our best teacher is one who sees the best in us in spite of us, makes us aware of whatever that is and encourages us to soar. Who is your best teacher and have you ever shared that with him/her? How will they know the myriad of ways they've changed your world by seeing yours clearly and how will they know if you've never told them?

Donna Karlin

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Clustering aka Literary Tinker Toy ™

For some reason I've heard a great deal from friends, colleagues and clients how they'd like to write more, sharing expertise or ideas or to test their creative talents in writing fiction. The common thread.....they don't know where to start. I've listened to their desires and frustrations and know if they would just sit down with pen and paper, or at their keyboard, the thoughts would flow. However for many, that still isn't enough. They start with a title.

The title is usually the hardest few words to come up interesting enough to entice readers to turn the first page, electronic or otherwise. As they struggle with a title, their creative literary juices stop flowing altogether and the project is abandoned in frustration. Clustering is a way to counteract all that. Interestingly enough, as I worked on an org chart - strategy for a client using visual software, it occurred to me that this was the same as clustering only in electronic form (and I'll describe it in a minute, though the title might give you your first inkling).

Think Tinker Toy™. One of those amazing toys that span generations. Wooden round disks with holes drilled and wooden sticks to insert in the holes and voila! You have a structure being built with little or no effort. Clustering is just that.

Picture your first wooden disk placed on the centre of the page. This is your idea. The one that burned to be written in the first place. And from that idea, others come to mind. From a Tinker Toy™ perspective those are the wooden dowels placed in the centre disks with other circles placed on their ends. Sub-ideas. And as each one is jotted down, other thoughts for each one of those ideas come to mind. New dowels and subcircles. Before you know it your chapters of the book are determined. Holes are filled in and you have an outline, translated to a book. Your main idea that started it all off can be tweaked to create a title and voila! Without hitting your head against the wall with writer's block, your book has taken shape.

This technique works beautifully for everything from a book to a course to writing a detailed report. It also works in creating an effective org chart for an organization, to organizing files. (Enter Personal Brain ™ software for those techies who shun pen and paper for technology.)

One vehicle doesn't work best for everyone. Bottom line is getting the thoughts down on paper or 'puter. It's exhilarating and who knows where this could lead? A an ebook to a print book.....the sky's the limit and it all started in one small circle.

Donna Karlin