Author Archives: djadminsr

Step One-Dancing With Change

As we enter (willing or not) the second year of this Decade of Change, we will be called upon more often than ever to adapt quickly to rapidly changing circumstances.  I can think of no more important competency for success at work and in your personal life than the ability to dance with change. As with any dance, mastering the steps is necessary before you can relax and enjoy the music.

Over the next several months we will learn, together, the steps for dancing with change. Once we master the basics, we can learn to improvise.

The process of change is both simple and complex. Simple in that it is something we do everyday.  There is not one person reading this who is the same person she was yesterday: cells have grown or died; we’ve aged by another 24 hours and the world is different than it was and we’ve adapted accordingly. Change is complex in that it is something we all do and yet resist to varying degrees and under different circumstances.

Take the weather.  As I write this, it is winter and many parts of the world are buried under snow. Some relish the change, declaring the air “crisp” and the smell “fresh.”  They love to see the white powder covering the ground. Others complain nonstop about the inconvenience of waiting for cars to warm up and roads to be plowed.  They never see the beauty of the white powder; only the roadside soot-covered snow piles.

Identical circumstances; different processes of adapting and yet, the bottom line is that we all adjust to cold by changing the way we behave and how we dress; it would be foolish and sometimes deadly not to.

Those who relish cold weather have learned that adapting to winter comfortably requires acceptance.  They do not resist the cold; they focus instead on the good things that come with it. Conversely, those who resist can see nothing good and spend the months of winter in misery. Either way, they adapt.

The first step in learning to dance with change is to accept that which cannot be changed.

Have you ever been on the dance floor when the song that lured you onto your feet ended and the next song turned out to be one you didn’t know how to dance to?  When that happens to me, my initial response is to get mad at the song or the band playing it.  I think, “Who could dance to this?  Nobody!” And then I look around to discover that better dancers than I are dancing to it, and well.

I cannot change the song so I have two choices:  (1) figure out the beat and how to move to it; or (2) get off the dance floor.

When you run up against a circumstance you cannot change, what is your initial response?  Are you determined to figure out how to go with it or do you want to flee?  This is the typical “fight or flight” response to danger.

Change, even one as simple as a new dance song, can trigger feelings of vulnerability.  The intensity of that feeling depends on several factors:

  • Are you a practiced dancer, experienced with many styles of dance?
  • Do you only know one or two dances?  If they play rock ‘n roll, you know what to do; if they switch to a polka (do people still polka?), you’re lost.
  • Are you a complete novice?  You’re not even sure why you ventured onto the dance floor in the first place!

Our feelings of vulnerability when we are asked to adapt are directly proportional to our perceived level of expertise within the domain that is changing.  Show a Communications Manager a problem with a component of the message he is writing and he frowns for a moment and then goes to work using his expertise to solve it.  Approach that same employee looking for solutions involving how to use a company software program he has had little interaction with and his anxiety level rises. He feels vulnerable.  In many instances, this vulnerability is tied directly to the fear of looking stupid.

The good news is:  if you have learned to adapt in one domain, the same skills you learned to do so are applicable in another.  It is fear that keeps us from trying.

In today’s rapidly evolving world, we must all learn to apply these skills in different domains.  That Communications Manager, if he knew he had to learn the software program in order to feed his family would figure it out. He would have taken the first step:  accepting that which cannot be changed.

What circumstances are you faced with that cannot be changed?  What do you need to do to accept them so you can move forward?  And how can you apply your success at adapting in one domain to the new one you are facing?

Remember, the Law of Attraction says you get more of what you focus on. Therefore, whether you think you can or think you cannot, you are right.

Next blog:  Step Two of Dancing with Change

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Reframing Work

When a piece of art is moved from one frame to another, it gives it a whole new look and the viewer an entirely different perspective.  The same holds true when we reframe our attitudes and beliefs.

In our society, we hold contradictory beliefs about the topic of work. On the one hand, we desire work; we want to make a living. On the other hand, once we find a job, we mark off how many days are left until we can stop doing it. Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance and define it as an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously.

What is most important about the definition above is the word uncomfortable. Discomfort is a negative feeling and provides a clue that you are focused on something that is not serving you well.

Always remember that you get more of what you focus on.  The more you focus on how unbearable work is (else why would you be counting the days?) the more you attract circumstances that make life even more unbearable.

If you are one of the many who are holding contradictory beliefs about work, why not reframe them?  It is one of the most important things you can do to relieve stress and enjoy life.

We all know people who are marking time—counting the seconds until retirement. There are so many things amiss about that it takes one’s breath away:

  • What if you never get to retirement? I had a friend in her early fifties who passed away very suddenly a few years ago. The last conversation we had was all about how much she hated her job and was considering retirement.  That memory deeply saddens me, even today.
  • Are you missing opportunities to have your life be satisfying? Closely examine why you want to retire. What do you plan to do?  Are there opportunities at work to do some of that? Could you use work to prepare yourself for the day when you retire?  If, for example, you want to do volunteer work when you retire, why not pretend you are a volunteer at your job? How would you do things differently?
  • Are you creating unnecessary and unhealthy stress? I can’t think of a better laboratory than a job to figure out tools and techniques for managing stress. If you think stress will melt away once you retire, I invite you to think again.  Once you acquire the habit of worry and pressure, it continues even when the perceived danger has lifted.
  • You will miss your social network. Don’t kid yourself that you will continue to see the people you work with after retirement.  It rarely happens, especially if they are still working.  So why not fully enjoy them now? For those you want to continue to see post-retirement, use this time to deepen your relationships so they are based on more than shared work.  If you do, you will continue to see them even after you leave.

Most importantly, and I cannot emphasize this strongly enough, the retired you will be a mirror reflection of the working you. Please read that sentence again.

If you are happy at work, you will be happy in retirement. If you are miserable at work, you will be miserable in retirement. You see, work has little to do with your moods. It is you who controls them and the same you who shows up at work every day will be the same you who doesn’t have to anymore.

Let’s face facts. The world is in economic disarray.  What used to be certain is not anymore.  We may all have to work well into our golden years and, if we do, it could turn out to be the best thing to happen.  In order for that to be true, it may be necessary for you to reframe your beliefs about work. If you’ve already done so, bravo!

Having an excuse to get up everyday is what breathes life into us. Given a choice (which you have), why not opt for enjoying what you do?  Don’t do it because I want you to, or the boss wants you to—do it because it is an amazing gift to give yourself. The rewards will be so great you’ll wonder why you waited so long.

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Open for _________

As a teacher of The Law of Attraction, it continues to be amusing how much and how often I have to re-learn how it works. I KNOW you get more of what you focus on. I KNOW I can control my focus. And yet, I still catch myself worrying, looking at what’s not working instead of what is, and giving my full attention to what I don’t have instead of staying focused on what I want.

Apparently it’s true that we teach what we most need to learn.

This week I have been reminded about what happens when you deliberately hang out a sign to the Universe.  Lest you think I’m actually painting signs and insanely pointing them at the sky, let me explain.

All over the world, shops let people know they are open for business by hanging out a sign that says so.  What they are “open” for depends on their business:

  • Please buy our ice cream
  • Enjoy our delicious coffee & bagels
  • We will clean your clothes
  • Let us cut your hair
  • Etc., etc.

This week I decided I wanted more work. In essence, that decision was like hanging out a sign that said, “Open for business.” Less than 24 hours later, I finally connected with a potential customer with whom I’d been exchanging emails. He booked a program for next summer. Then I got a coaching referral from a former client.  And just this morning I received a call from another client who wants me to come and speak to her association in April.

Open for business. The Universe heard my message.

In the past few months, my “Open for Business” sign has not been out. I’ve been travelling, having a great time exploring Europe and enjoying life.  My sign actually said the equivalent of “Gone fishin’.”

There’s nothing wrong with that.  I enjoyed every second but now I’m ready to work again. I love what I do and it feels like play so I hung my sign out.  The Law of Attraction kicked in and the Universe is responding as it always does.  When you get clear about what you want, the Universe delivers. No exception.

What sign(s) have you hung out?  Remember, that each one is a request for more.  Are you using your focused attention to post a request for:

  • Fun work or drudgery?
  • Loving relationships or negative drama?
  • Plenty of time or, “I’m so far behind it feels like my hair is on fire!”

What you pay attention to creates a big neon sign flashing to the Universe, “More of this, please!”  It’s difficult to grasp this concept because we THINK we are asking for what we want when we push against what we don’t.  That’s my dilemma.  I have such a habit of beating myself up when things are not working I forget that the awful feeling in the pit of my stomach is telling me I’ve lit up the wrong sign.

Your emotions are the purest indicator you have of whether you are focused on what you want or what you don’t want.  If you feel less than terrific, stop for a moment and consider what you’re focused on.  I guarantee it will always be something you don’t want (and oftentimes it will be something that’s actually none of your business).

Pretend you are a shopkeeper on a street where the Universe (a very rich customer) hangs out regularly. Hear that tinkling bell?  It’s the shop door opening as the Universe (in the form of customers) comes in. I hope your sign is a clear indicator of what you want because whatever is on there is what you will get.

Here’s my suggestion:  Open for living happily ever after.  That ought to cover it!

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Change Your Conversation, Change Your Life!

Yesterday I attended an exciting Strategic Doing workshop led by Ed Morrison of Purdue University.

Morrison’s organization works with geographic regions on Economic Development issues that impact the community as a whole.  Having said that, this process can work on any issue because it is designed to change conversations.

We all have conversations that impact us in ways that work and ways that do not.  One conversation for example could be, “I’m too old to change,” versus, “I have the wisdom and experience to change quickly and well.” Another example: “I don’t know how,” versus, “I’m figuring it out.”

These are not exercises in semantics. Whatever you tell your brain, it takes as gospel and acts on it. That’s why conversations matter so much.

In our society, we pay little attention to how we sound:

  • We entertain friends and co-workers with examples of stupid things we do, all to get sympathy or a laugh but at what cost?
  • We complain about things that seem out of our control and we get others to agree with our negative viewpoints but at what cost?
  • We talk about how hopeless things are in government, education, and the world but at what cost?

Conversations matter. The Law of Attraction says, “You get more of what you focus on.” When Morrison’s organization works with groups to tackle specific issues, one of the outcomes is that people stop looking for someone to blame (blame begets more blame). Instead, they take responsibility for moving toward solutions (which beget more solutions).  The first step toward accomplishing that shift is to change the conversation.

When you mix in the element of holding conversations within networks, things get very interesting.

Networks are nothing new.  We all have them, even those of us who are not on Facebook or LinkedIn or any online social or business networks. Your network is comprised of family, friends, co-workers, your church group and other groups to which you belong.

Every conversation you have has an impact on your network and spirals out to the networks of others. Think about movies or books people have recommended to you.  Sometimes they haven’t even seen them or read them but they feel comfortable recommending them because, “My friend Pat told me it was great.”  That is a positive outcome of a network.

Conversely, how often does something negative get repeated only to spread rapidly throughout people’s networks? Urban legends abound. And if the news media gets involved, heaven help us, we have a network on fire!

Think back to the floods in New Orleans. Which conversations inspired you more—reports of death and destruction or stories of neighbors helping neighbors? The impact of the former is a feeling of helplessness whereas the latter inspires hope and a desire to help. This is the very essence of what’s possible when you change the conversation.

If you want to have a positive impact on your world (and who wouldn’t?) it is time to pay attention to your conversations. We are deaf to our negative conversations.  I often think back to the day I was complaining about someone whom I judged to be very negative. You can imagine how red my face was when I suddenly realized that I was being negative about someone else’s negativity!

All conversations have focal points.  Since it is true that you get more of what you focus on, if you want to change your life, change your conversations!

For more information on Strategic Doing go to:

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The Happier You Get, The More There is To Be Happy About

I can still hear my friend April’s voice over the telephone line, “Silver, you sound happier than I’ve ever heard you.”  As I reflected on this later, I realized that, not only am I happy, I am also attracting some pretty amazing circumstances that provide even more excuses to be happy.

Now that might sound silly. Who needs an excuse to be happy?  As it turns out, nearly everyone over the age of ten. The idea that we need to search for a reason to be happy creates many problems.

Somewhere along the line, many of us developed a belief that happiness needs to be earned. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth; happiness is our natural birthright. If you don’t agree, just watch small children. They are born 100% committed to their own happiness (until we train it out of them). If, for example, you punish a small child for some infraction of the rules, he will be unhappy for about 10 minutes. Then he will do everything in his power to find a focal point that brings him back to his natural state of happiness.

(In contrast, if you punish an adult, it will remain a bitter memory that he takes to his grave, even 40-50 years later!)

How did we develop this belief that contentment comes from something external?  From those who seek to control us or get us to do what they want. Over the centuries, they have delivered this message in many different formats.

I imagine that the very first chieftain, while invoking the newly created rules for his tribe convinced his people that the reward for following the rules would be happiness of some sort.

Religions soon followed and began teaching that happiness is not to be achieved in this lifetime. Rather, happiness would be our reward in the next life for the suffering we do in this one. (A brilliant ploy since no one yet has come back to sue for false advertising!)

Speaking of advertising—advertisers’ promises have always been clear: buy this product and you will be happier.  And so we buy and buy and buy.  And yes, for a few brief and shining moments, the products make us feel good as promised. But have you noticed that the glow wears off pretty quickly?

Now, do I think following the rules, being religious or buying nice things is bad? Absolutely not! I have engaged in all three and always will.  What IS troublesome is when we believe that something outside of ourselves has the power to make us happy or unhappy when both of those emotional states result from decisions we make.

Why is the decision to be happy or not so critical?  Because the Law of Attraction is at play and dictates that you get more of what you focus on.  When you decide to be happy your focus is naturally drawn to circumstances, people, places and things that are agreeable. The more you focus on what pleases you, the more you attract other things that are equally pleasant.

In other words, the happier you get, the more there is to be happy about!

The problem with looking for something outside yourself to make you happy is that, when it goes away, so does your happiness. And there will always be things in our lives that don’t match what we had envisioned.  Ironically, that’s because we get what we want and then we want more. This is a natural part of being human. What’s unnatural is using any of it to dictate how we feel.

Are you able, no matter the circumstances, to decide to be happy?  Or content? Or satisfied? Or joyous?  If the answer is, “No,” you might ask the follow-up question, “Why would you deprive yourself of this? What have you done that you think you need to be punished for?”

Yesterday I saw my friend Steve who has a chronic leg condition that causes him tremendous pain. In moments of repose you can tell. But mostly what you see is his big grin indicating that overall, he is enjoying the hell out of life!  Why not join him?

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