I love quotes! They are insightful, oftentimes intriguing and on many occasions inspiring! I found one such quote a few weeks ago now and posted it on my personal Facebook page. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
The words have rung in my ears for weeks now. I’ve searched to identify who the quote was attributed to and have found some evidence that it was possibly originated by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
An extended version appeared in the 1990’s attributed to Henry David Thoreau, who states “What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.”
No matter who it is attributed to, it is a powerful, insightful and thought provoking statement about the power that lies within each of us, to rise above the various storms of life and succeed in whatever we choose to do with our time upon the earth.
As I reflected upon the quote, I was reminded of the story of a pearl. A pearl develops from an irritant that gets inside the shell of an oyster, such as a grain of sand. The oyster then produces a special substance, that surrounds the foreign matter and over several years it forms a beautiful pearl. Every oyster produces a different form of pearl and similarly I believe that every irritation within each of us, can produce different results in our own lives – all of which have the capacity, over time to become beautiful pearls. We simply have to recognise those irritants, act upon them, desire to change and watch as they emerge as powerful strengths.
I love this old parable told by J. Thomas Fyans: “There’s an ancient oriental legend that tells the story of a jeweller who had a precious pearl he wanted to sell. In order to place this pearl in the proper setting, he conceived the idea of building a special box of the finest woods to contain the pearl. He sought these woods and had them brought to him, and they were polished to a high brilliance. He then reinforced the corners of this box with elegant brass hinges and added a red velvet interior. As a final step, he scented that red velvet with perfume, then placed in that setting this precious pearl.
The pearl was then placed in the store window of the jeweller, and after a short period of time, a rich man came by. He was attracted by what he saw and sat down with the jeweller to negotiate a purchase. The jeweller soon realised that the man was negotiating for the box rather than the pearl. You see, the man was so overcome by the beauty of the exterior that he failed to see the pearl of great price”
And so it is with each of us. Lets not be deceived by the beauty that lies around us, but take a long, long, hard look at what lies within us. We all need to slow down, pause in our busy lives and take much more time to reflect upon those things that really do matter most. Self reflection and its reward of self awareness are critical elements of personal development and leadership in homes, in our communities and in our business organisations.
My invitation is to stop today! Now even! Even if its just for 5 minutes. Reflect upon those things that matter most and bring what is within you, out into the world…. today! Write them down too! You may well be truly surprised and inspired by the pearls you have been blessed with. *Henry B. Eyring stated “Someday, when you know who you really are, you will be sorry that you didn’t use your time better”.
These last few weeks I have really enjoyed reading my journals.
Whilst doing so, I was reminded of a little story that I’d love to share.
Before we hastily return to our pre-lockdown life, please consider these three principles that have helped me considerably.
Have you ever felt a little flat?.. Yes, me too.
This personal story may help you to see things differently.
Just married and living in the Netherlands in 1994, I recall cycling home from my workplace at a Kaaspakhuis in Woerden when I got a puncture in the back tyre. Frustrated, I eventually made it home and began to repair the damage, in exactly the same manner that my dad had taught me so well growing up in Scotland. Removing the back wheel is always a bit of a pain. A few moments later, as I was busy with the repair, my brother in law arrived. Looking quizzically at me and laughing at the same time, he asked “What are you doing?” Cheekily, I replied “Isn’t it obvious!”
I was then given a life changing lesson on how to repair a puncture 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙩 having to remove the wheel from the bicycle. An approach I had never considered before, dad always removed the wheel! A simple procedure that every dutch child learns to do at a very young age. Wow!! 😆
In a like manner, dealing with frustrations and challenges can sometimes puncture our enthusiasm and vitality for life, leaving us feeling flat at times.
I learned a great lesson that day, oftentimes, there is a simple way, a more obvious way to lift the trials from our life.
How about you?
Why don’t you slow down a little, perhaps there is an easier, more obvious answer to the problem at hand that you’ve never considered before!?
Do you like being you?
My days are filled with being me!
More than just affirming widely held character traits like honesty, kindness and compassion, I believe in 𝒃𝒆𝒊𝒏𝒈 – or in other words 𝒃𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒈 what I say I believe. Thus these character traits are not just a simple belief, but an actual practice, a way of life, not just a way of thinking.
During many of my coaching conversations magical discoveries are made during the process of self-reflection and self-exploration. Oftentimes, individuals rediscover who they are at their very core. If you are plodding along, day to day, not understanding yourself at all – then perhaps it is time to begin the process of introspection and develop more self awareness. A coach can help you on your way.
Once you are aware of who you are, 𝒃𝒆𝒊𝒏𝒈 who you are is key!
– Love who you are
– Don’t let others tell you who you are
– Don’t make apologies for who you are
– Have the courage to be different from others
– Laugh at yourself – frequently!
Quickly you’ll learn, like I have, that I am best at 𝒃𝒆𝒊𝒏𝒈 me!
“𝑺𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒅𝒂𝒚” is an all too frequent response I hear over and over again, in many settings including leadership workshops, coaching sessions or even in many simple conversations.
There is a real danger in the word 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒅𝒂𝒚 – what it actually means is 𝒏𝒐𝒕 today. It is very disheartening. Many discussions focus on the glory days of bygone years, with little desire for others to fulfill their hopes and dreams of a brighter future. The danger of delay is clear, life will catch up with us and we 𝒘𝒊𝒍𝒍 run out of time.
How many times have you said 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒅𝒂𝒚, postponed or procrastinated something and never got around to it?
Often, doing what matters most will not be easy. It is not supposed to be. But, it is time to change. It is time to start that new job. It is time to make that bold decision. It is time to move forward in a positive new direction. It is time to do what matters most over those things that matter least. It is time to wake up and make those dreams a reality!
There are seven days in the week and someday isn’t one of them. The real winners in life, are the ones who evaluate the situation, make a decision, then act and are not acted upon. Choose to get rid of the 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒅𝒂𝒚 syndrome and get on with life 𝐭𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐲!
Our values are under attack…. personal, societal, organisational – open your eyes and see. This is a momentous challenge of our day.
Actions speak much louder than words. Know your values. Live them. Know your organisations values. Live them. Walk your talk. Be true to yourself, and those who you lead. Act, do not be acted upon.
In organisations when values are ignored and people don’t live by them, they have no meaning. When this occurs, I’ve witnessed business cultures becoming hypocritical, and employees losing respect for the organisation and its leaders. Conversely, when values are put into action, people feel engaged, energy, enthusiasm, and the drive to go beyond the ordinary all come to the fore.
“Vertigo to values brings a special dizziness” – Neal A Maxwell.
Identify the obstacles on your own path, get rid of the roadblocks and eliminate them! Always remember to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong. Strongly-held values create powerful foundations in personal, family, societal and organisation structures. Be true to who you are and stand by your values.
Start today. Pause, reflect, identify your values and what matters most.
In recent coaching conversations, the topic of “balance” has arisen several times.
There are three areas in life – self, family and work – the key relationships – that need daily attention if balance is to be obtained.
Decide and commit to adopt the goal of balancing self with family and with work. Commit yourself to make yourself do the hard work, including the daily mental effort that is required to bring about this balance. We need to change our thoughts and what we think about, to change our world.
For example, there are three effective times for me every day to consider balance ….
– Early morning as I get out of bed – that first hour allows me to reflect, focus and plan the day ahead.
– Late afternoon or early evening when I return from work and the labour of my day.
– Late evening or when preparing to go to bed.
My top tip – Reserve a small segment of those times every day to consider the important matter of balance. Little things, will prove to be big things. Go on, give it a go!
Are you stubborn? Or obstinate perhaps?
Stubbornness is defined as “having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.”
However, stubborn people are driven by a resistance to being forced into doing or experiencing anything that feels against their will, even when all the evidence and opinion is pointing in one direction. A person who is being stubborn will cling to their decision regardless of the consequences. At the root of all stubbornness is the fear of letting go of your own ideas, convictions, decisions and at times, identity. Of course standing your ground I guess can be a good thing when it comes to living your values or defending something that is of great importance. But there is a very fine line between the two.
True stubbornness can and will block our happiness in life, it will harm our relationships, and can hold us back professionally.
I think the key to overcoming a stubborn streak is to “know thyself” in other words greater self awareness. Recognising too as to whether you are right or wrong in a given situation is vitally important, as I believe there is significant value to looking at something from many different perspectives. Always listen to the other side of the story, seeking to understand, then pause, consider and reflect. Everyone of us can and does make mistakes, and we are all wrong sometimes. Remind yourself that this time might be one of them. When that occurs, then its wise to admit you are wrong, and seek to repair the damage done.
How will you be more sensitive to that stubborn streak of yours?