Yves Béhar: ‘I’m a designer of ideas’

Yves Béhar: ‘I’m a designer of ideas’ http://ow.ly/2OO6SX

Gandhi and the art of Business

As leaders we have been conditioned to think that our job is to come up with a brilliant strategy, share that vision with the team and let them at it, all the while “managing performance” to ensure accountability along the way.  We chug along accepting things as they are until business results don’t meet.  Usually a diagnosis is given as to the problem, people aren’t working hard enough, they aren’t spending enough time with customers, the data isn’t in the right format and doesn’t come often enough, etc, etc… and a prescribed regimen to change certain behaviors is mandated.  

It sounds good, but it rarely works.  We try to change too many things at once and most don’t stick.  Most obvious is that leaders don’t model that behavior that they expect.  I have seen this time and time again in my 15 years of experience.  A leader tells the team to spend more time with customers but continues to demand reports that force the team to be behind a desk crunching numbers.  I leader sends the team to leadership training or provides them a coach, but doesn’t participate in the training themselves or demonstrate the behavior they expect in others.

If you want to start to see real change in your organization, start simple.  Follow Gandhi’s lead, and be the change you want to see in your organization.  

 

 

Fetal Adult

disclaimer – this is my memory as I can best summons, a few words here and there may be off…

I am lying down in the fetal position, eyes closed but not asleep in the standard issue gown on the standard issue hospital bed surrounded by three roommates that weren’t there before I was wheeled into surgery. Suddenly a cold sweat breaks out all over my body, the kind of cold sweat that makes you feel simultaneously freezing cold and instantly sweating through your clothes, hot. “you don’t look good, are you ok?” asks my wife, Amanda. That’s all it took, I sit up and open my dry cracked mouth and instead of the usual heaving and loud vomiting, blood just pours and pour and pours out of my mouth, most of it landing in the hospital issued cardboard puke tray – it fills to the top and Amanda quickly grabs another. I barely heave again and blood flows into the second tray. “Hello, is there a nurse around? We need some help in here” yells my wife. I feel instantly relieved of the clammy cold feeling but am having that feeling that I am not quite of my body. The nurses come in and force me to swallow five gulps of water so icy cold I didn’t know it could be that cold without freezing. “five?!! “I barely manage to whisper. “yes, we need to be sure you stop any bleeding” – it felt like swallowing razor blades followed by cups of salt – “you must have had a small vein bleeding after the surgery while you were still out, your stomach knew to get rid of it.”

The pain of the raw gaping holes in the back of my throat was like nothing I had ever felt before, even compared to natural child birth. My tonsils had become the size of large figs, barely enough space for air to get through. I had been sick for nine months and my body was unable to fight the infections and inflammation – a tonsillectomy was the last resort. I was 35 years old and living in Amsterdam. The gaping holes in the back of my throat were the result. While laying in the hospital bed I scribbled a note to my wife, “can they please give me something for the pain?” When Amanda asked the nurse they told me all I could have was a paracetemol suppository (tylenol without codeine). While marijuana is legal in the Netherlands, they don’t actually believe in pain medication. As a result they don’t have a pill addiction problem. So I suffered. Had I been home in the US I would have been given morphine.

At 5:50pm I had gone 15 minutes without vomiting blood. “Ok, you go now” says the nurse in her broken english “we are close”. I was in an outpatient hospital that closed at 6:00pm, apparently regardless of whether you were vomiting blood or not. Amanda went down to the lobby with her Euro coin and brought back up a rented wheel chair – they managed to get me into the chair and my wife wheeled me down to the car. I don’t remember much of the next five days, other than delirious pain and hunger.

On day six I thought I would feel improvement, at least be able to eat something, it had been seven full days since I ate. The pain was excruciating as I laid on the yellow womb chair in front of the garden and listened to Amanda and my 2 year old son Henry laughing and playing.

Even a joyful life has pain and suffering – and I had dealt with more than my fair share of suffering. I grew up in a house of addicts, my father an alcoholic, my mother a pain pill popper. I sat there remembering the last time I felt so desperate, both physically and emotionally. I was 12 years old. After years of verbal abuse, explosive yelling matches, walking on egg shells afraid to laugh at the dinner table or be sent to our bedroom, two week long disappearing acts where we thought he was dead, we staged an intervention with my dad. My mom told him he was coming for marriage counseling, which he begrudgingly agreed to. It is just like it is on TV, the family and close friends all get together and learn about the disease of alcoholism. Each and every one of us old enough had to write a letter and read it. My brother was only 8 at the time, and my sister just 9. We write heart wrenching letters to my dad telling him how we love him and how “the disease” has hurt us, bringing up happy memories to remind him of how it used to be, in those brief moments of sobriety when things felt relatively better. Then, we slowly crack open the deepest most vulnerable parts of our little hearts to ask, please oh please will you get help and be my daddy again. When it was my brother and sister’s turn to talk all they could say between their sobbing was “i love you daddy, don’t be sick anymore”. Together, we all cried, for lost childhoods and painful marriages and hurt feelings and vacations where we had so much fun we laughed until we peed and then laughed some more. Then came the moment of truth. We all closed our eyes as my mom reads her letter, describing how they met and fell in love and the life they dreamed of having together. She talked about the yelling and abuse and the deep sorrow and their three beautiful children that they made together, and then she asked “Jeff, please from the bottom of my heart, for your sake and the sake of our family, get help so we can be a family again. If you get help we will be with you the whole way and waiting for you with open arms when you get home. There is a van outside waiting to take you to rehab, I love you. But, if you refuse, we will be gone, and you will lose us forever”. We all slowly open eyes to see what he will say. He closes his eyes, and starts to laugh, softly at first and than maniacally, his face turned so red I though he might burst, and then he suddenly stops and says “you thought this would work, you would ambush me with your sob stories and manipulate me? Fuck all of you, this is not my problem, this is your problem.” He then walked right out the door. I ended that day babysitting for our neighbors, which as an adult realize my mom should never have let me do. I was fine until I wasn’t. I put the kids to bed and called my friend, and told her about my day. She responded by telling me that I just told the story like it was out of a book, not like it had happened to me. We hung up and I suddenly had a raging headache, like no headache I had before. I was nauseas and seeing double and felt like I was dying. I can’t remember if I called my mom or not, but I do know I stayed, I stayed until 2am and they were supposed to come home at 11pm – it was before cellphones, so all i could do was lean my head against the cold window and cry myself to sleep, all the while wishing it would all go away.

This was only really the beginning of the suffering we would endure as a family. It was the catalyst for slow self destruction by most everyone. For another time.

As I listened to my son giggling, the memory washing over me, I sat in the fetal position, in our womb chair, and felt nothing and a smile came over my face. Maybe it was the combination of the memory, the extreme physical pain and the fasting that caused the moment, tears started running down my face and I realized that this was it, it doesn’t get any better than this, there isn’t anything else. We all experience pain and suffering and joy and happiness. We break and put things back together again. We take the whole apart and look at each piece but all that is there is a part of something bigger. Life is a series of events, minutes, days, weeks, breakfasts, diapers, friends, joyful surrender, working, mourning, parties, laughter, birth, bills, death, cleaning, stress, finances, broken bones and broken hearts. The searching for the next thing is over. This is what we have and the moments will change, the location will change, the people may even change, and i am the same, i am always there and i am nothing and everything and the rest will not go away, it will just shift and change. I took a deep breathe, it was over.

Acceptance asks only that we embrace life as it is, not life as we want it to be.

“this is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.”

~Rumi

with love.

Habit

We are our habits, whether we like it or not.  Many neuroscience studies indicate that our brains are made up of about 40% (the low estimate) habit.  Meaning that as we do an activity over and over again, the decision making part of our brain starts to shut down and the routine is automated.  The good news is that this frees up our brain to do other things – the brain takes up more than 20% of oxygen, blood and energy to function, so in order to allow up to do higher functioning tasks it needs to automate as much as possible.  The bad news is that it doesn’t differentiate between good and bad habits.  That is where awareness comes in.  In order to change or shift any habit we first have to be aware we have it – the excuse that I just am the way I am doesn’t fly.  We are changeable adaptable, malleable beings.

I will be talking about this subject a lot in the coming weeks as I am working on a project that i think will eventually change the way people look at their behavior and provide the necessary tools to make sustainable change.

As I was doing my research I started to think about all the ways in which habit effects our lives and I immediately thought of my three year old son.  I realized that all the conscious and unconscious decisions my wife and I make in his life are forming habits that he will keep for a lifetime.  Whether we are talking about the basics such as eating and sleeping, or we are talking about how he interacts and thinks of himself, how he interacts and thinks of and treats other people.  Many of you have children, think of how quickly something can become part of their routine, how quickly they come to expect something to happen the same way everyday…

For example, Henry has a bedtime routine, as I am sure your child does.  He takes a bath, brushes his teeth, we read three books and sing three songs, he sleeps with his favorite love thing (he calls him baby E) turns on his lantern and goes to sleep.  We have been following this routine most of his short life.  He expects it and can rattle it off, he will even correct a babysitter if they miss a step.  This isn’t a rant about what routine any child should have, it is about being deliberate and fully aware that whatever you are doing, you are creating a routine and creating a habit – good or bad.  And if you aren’t following a routine than the non routine becomes the habit.  It is about realizing that every choice we make, in our lives as well as the lives of our kids could result in a habit.

So, as you ponder this I highly recommend taking an inventory, maybe just starting with yourself or if it is easier, think of your kid(s) or your pets.  What habits have you cultivated without realizing it?  Write them down, the good and the bad.  Now what habits would you like to cultivate?  Write those down too.  It is the start of creating awareness around how we behave.  Pick one habit from you list – good or bad.  And think back to when the first time was that you did that thing…

It helps me if I do a short meditation before I do the reflection.  Set a timer for 5 minutes –

Arrive – get comfortable and be where you are

Awake – start to hone in our your breath – breathing in on the count of 4 and out on the count of 6

Just breathe – when you mind wanders to the next thought as it will, come back to breath and start counting again

Aware – continue breathing – allowing your self to only have to do this one thing – let go, let be

Back to the breath, counting in and out

When the 5 minutes are up, take out a piece of paper and try the exercise above, you may have opened up some more space to remember more details.

We are all imperfect beings, with good and bad habits.  For change to happen we first have to come to know ourselves.

stay tuned.

 

with love,

kelley

Yesness

Yesness.

We never change, do we…

We never change, do we…

This could be posed as a question or a statement, and I am not sure where I fully stand on it yet. I believe that we only uncover our true selves when we change, so are we really changing or just shifting?

Our conditioned existence poses so many challenges to us, and many of us decide that there is nothing we can do about it. Maybe we are worriers, or defenders, or yellers, or overeaters, or drinkers, lazy, pessimists…you name it, we have a label for it. But we do not need to be embody these habits, they are untangle-able, undoable, movable, shiftable. For any habit that has formed can be reformed, gently nudged, replaced, a different choice uncovered.

The key here, however, is recognizing the choice in the matter. For when we say “this is just who/how I am” we are implying that we are victims to some set of circumstances or DNA that made us who we are, when in reality, we are choosing to think or feel or behave a particular way. Or maybe you will argue that we don’t choose our thoughts and feelings, in that case, we still choose our reaction, and thus the ensuing behavior.

I recognize in myself the habit need to be right and as a result resist. For example, when a decision of mine at work was challenged and overturned, I grasped at all the reasons why the new decision was wrong. I spent hours, maybe even days searching for evidence to support my position. Over the course of that time the situation hadn’t changed, and I only found my self deeper in my self pity, anger and frustration. For every bit of evidence I collected I felt self righteous, and concluded that I was right and they were wrong – but still the situation didn’t change. So where did I find myself? Bitter and angry and stuck with all of the bits of evidence in my misery. And so when all else failed I finally surrendered and meditated. I found some space in my breath, and I looked closely at my need to be right.

Settling in, awake, alert, aware. Just breathing. Letting go. Letting be. Ahhh. What was my real motivation? Was it moral, ethical? Did I want to feel important? Had I really considered the other perspective? What would it mean for me to let go? And I found a mix of answers. Number one, It wasn’t an ethical situation, and that was hard to differentiate. Sometimes when something feels right or wrong to us we assume they is an ethical or moral implication. But really, is there? In this case the real answer was no. I wanted to feel important, that was clear – my ego was standing strong. I also truly felt the wrong decision was being made, and that other people may suffer because of it. But when I looked at the greater context it was clear what the motivations were (right or wrong) and it was clear that nothing was going to change that reality.

So I decided to surrender and to accept the situation as it was, to find a way to work within it, not against it. After all, that is the ultimate teaching of the dharma, isn’t it? To surrender to life as it is and to find a way to weave into it, not to fall down and not to push against – but to ebb and flow within.

In recognizing my habit of resistance I had a choice to make. We don’t and won’t always make the choice to behave differently, but we can allow for the possibility by;

recognizing we are making a choice
driving a wedge between the stimulus and response by cultivating self awareness through mediation (this concept of the wedge between stimulus and response gracefully borrowed from Lama Surya Das)
being as honest and we can with ourselves about why we are reacting or behaving a certain way

If we can start with those first three simple steps we can start the journey of shifting our habits to lead a happier life.

“because of ignorance our minds are obscured. We falsely divide reality into subject and object, self and others, existence and non existence, birth and death” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Opening

One of the things that happens when you open yourself to life just as it is…you may have a constant urge to run the other way, or at least that is what happens to me.  Let me be clear here, I don’t have this all figured out, it is a journey, I try to do it more often rather than less.  In the same way I have a dailish meditation practice.  I attempt to have more moments in the day where I am aware that I am making a choice, whether it is a thought or action and from there try to make the choice that is the most open and real, ishishish…see what I mean?  I ask myself why I am doing what I am doing – what is the feeling behind it? Why I am resisting my boss or colleague or train seat mate or partner?  I may go right on resisting, but I try to do it consciously.  

Case in point.  In my job, the job that in which one of the the things I am tasked with is determining how we can best lead, coach and shape our people to be the best most authentic leaders possible, I also have to role model the behaviors.  Which is damn hard sometimes.  We recently had a very senior role open, one which I declined to interview for (which is a whole other story for a later date).  The final internal candidate is a person I worked with for 12 months during my stint in Amsterdam.  The “person” triggers me to no end.  Very political, extremely hierarchical, not very nice to their team…you get the picture.  The person was given the job, and in an indirect way it is part of my job to help set them up for success.  I found myself so annoyed that they got the job that I spent a good hour with a colleague complaining about all that ails our company and why they would make such a poor choice and how people are going to hate this person, blah blah, complain complain.  I found myself somewhere in my rant realizing I WANTED this to happen!  That I need to be right and I was deep down wanting him to fail.  Pause here.  Yes, this was one of those oh shit moments where I realized that I had a choice to make.  I could acknowledge the feeling, which was embarrassing to begin with, I mean what Director of Leadership secretly hopes for a new leader to fail??  I am gonna go with the “human one” as my answer, that is who.  So in the moment I acknowledged my feeling (to my wife which was way safer) and then made the choice to do what I could do to be wrong.  I decided that as much as the person triggers me, it doesn’t do me, the person, the people around the person, or the Company any good for me to be right.  

So, I am on the journey of trying to set the person up for success.  Even if it is painful.  I look at the him and see him as a person who wants to be happy, healthy, and free just like me.  Ugh.  

My dailish meditation practice and study of mindfulness is what helps me here.  I owe it to that practice that I am cultivating my own self awareness in order to be a more authentic and better person in this world.  If it weren’t for that ability to pause, I would have gone right on waiting for an wanting the person to fail.  

Don’t be afraid to be human but do try to be as honest with yourself as you can.  You may surprise yourself.

On now to your week…be healthy, happy and free my friends.Image

  The pic is just meant to make you smile 🙂

Ninja buddha farmer

Ninja buddha farmer.

Oh how we suffer

The idea that we create our own suffering is not new, yet we haven’t figured out how not to do it. Suffering becomes a self fulfilling prophecy very quickly. It isn’t because we are all martyr’s and masochists, it is because becoming aware of our thinking, noticing the ways in which we create our own suffering is damn hard. Harder still is cultivating the honesty with ourselves to admit it, to be as honest as we can with ourselves. And then if it is going to shift or change we have to act on it, which means constant awareness and deliberate thought and action. After all, this thinking of ours has become a lifelong habit, it doesn’t just go away because we know it’s there.

I, probably like you, have discovered a number of ways in which I have created my own suffering, none more painful or difficult to face than how I was contributing to the unhappiness in my marriage.

Just over a year ago, as alluded to in my post on Roman Ruins, I almost gave up on my marriage of 7 years. I had hit a point where my unhappiness was unbearable, and my habit was to look outside myself as to what the problem was. So I blamed and blamed and I collected my evidence that I was right. That our lives had moved in fast forward for the past 9 years, moving 5 times coast to coast and overseas and back again – that when we were finally in one place and things had slowed the unhappiness couldn’t be pegged on the change or impending change – the unhappiness was right here. Or in my case, over there, it was my wife’s fault. I my mind I had a list of things I needed her to do/change about herself before I would be willing to go to couples therapy. The problem with collecting evidence to support your own argument is that you resist the truth, even when it smacks you in the face. As we are on our path of collecting we aren’t going to pick up those ideas or examples that don’t serve us. So I found myself deep in the well of self deception, drowning in my own blame.

Resentment builds and resistance increases and with each attempt on my wife’s part to talk it through, to go to therapy, to look it in the eye and see it for what it was, I ground myself in deeper. And it continued in that direction for months until one day it didn’t. Her persistence endured and I begrudgingly agreed to one couples therapy session.

Showing up to that session I was certain that I would not budge from my position that was my was at fault, she wasn’t going to change, and maybe wasn’t capable of change. And then we got arrived, to a small office building in a town just north of Amsterdam. I sat down, crossed my arms and shut down. And then our very skilled therapist started asking questions – and my very well defended wall was by an objective third party. As I left the session I had to decide just how much I wanted to continue to build resentment and to resist my life. I had to take a serious look at how I was creating my own suffering. And stop looking outside myself.

The tibetan word Sem mean discursive thinking, it is the way in which we get in our own ways. Rigpa on the other hand mean wisdom mind, it is a way of cutting through things and seeing them as they are. For 14 years I had created this story and self image of me the mindful buddhist, and meanwhile I was just as self deceptive as the next person.

Pema Chodron says that being concerned with our self image is like being deaf and blind. It is like walking through a field a beautiful flowers with a black hood over our head. I decided to take my hood off. I hope you do too.

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