HELLO MAGNIFICENT!!!

Finding good in others

Last week as I wrote about looking in the mirror and exclaiming this lovely, true sentiment to ourselves, I realized it’s a great way to see the magnificence in others–especially those folks who make us cranky.

A long time ago I was venting to a friend about a family member who I found hard to be around.  He was raised with every advantage and education, yet was demanding, opinionated, and closed-minded. Even a mildly different opinion was not tolerated in conversation.

I had spent a couple of evenings around the dinner table listening to him during a family visit and was now venting to my friend.  She replied, “Lisa, it sounds like he wants your approval.”  WHAT??!!

How could this person who had so much advantage in his life, had lived more than me in many ways, want my good opinion?  But, after pondering a bit I knew she was right. She advised me to just find one thing I liked about him. Then tell him.

What a challenge. But I did it, and was glad.  Evenings around the dinner table were still boring, but I was not nearly as cranky with him, or cranky that I was stuck in the situation.

And, I realized that everyone has something to like. When each of us looks to find something to like in everyone else, we are more joyful.  It doesn’t really matter if it affects the other person.

Writing last Wednesday I realized that one of the best ways to find something to like about another person is to say “Hello Magnificent!” to them.  I practiced it this over the last week and found it really useful, and fun. At this point I am still saying it to myself, but soon I will say it out loud.  Won’t that be fun!

It’s a great reminder that we humans have so much more in common than the differences that we let separate us. Magnificence is all around us. It just takes a moment to recognize it.

My best wishes for an amazing day, and week. See you next Wednesday!

Over the Hump is back!

My life lesson from a schefflera

With just a little room to grow, miracles happen.

A couple of weeks ago I transplanted a schefflera plant into a larger pot and added some additional soil. Voila! Sprouting new sprouts where there had been none for over a year. The previous lack of growth was a bit of a surprise as scheffleras are quite hardy. I had fertilized it and put it near a window with little result.

So when I noticed roots coming out of the top of the pot, I realized it needed more. With a larger pot, more soil, and 30 minutes of digging in the dirt my schefflera had a new home.

Now it has new shoots on every branch. Plus those new shoots are growing really quickly.

I realized this is a great metaphor for life!  A little additional space plus fertile soil can lead to rapid new growth.

To take advantage of this idea we have to recognize that it is we who create the pot that is too small--with our routines, practices and judgements.  Things like “I won’t work on that project after dinner because I am too tired so it won’t be quality work” or “I should not apply for that position because I don’t have an MBA” or “I’ll never be able to finish a marathon or century bike ride.”

We are usually our harshest critic. Sure we may have learned the words from others, but we are the ones who continue to believe them…up until now!

Here are a few tips for creating a bigger pot and more fertile soil for ourselves:

  • Let go of negative self talk–even the most simple things. Take a deep breath and blow it out, away from  yourself. Replace it with encouraging words such as “I am strong and capable. My friends, family and colleagues support whatever I truly want to achieve.”
  • When we make a mistake, or something goes wrong, recognize that it’s all part of human life–everyone goofs now and again, and stuff happens. We are not a bad person, it’s just that we had a whacky moment. Take action to fix or mitigate the results of the mistake or wackiness–then move on. Next!
  • Look in the mirror every morning and say out loud, “Hello magnificent!” (just like each and every other living being)

You may have noticed that Over the Hump has been missing for a while, but it’s back!  It took me a year to get past my small pot and realize how much I enjoy communicating with you all. Heartfelt thanks to those who encouraged me to start again.

My best wishes for an amazing day, and week. See you next Wednesday!

The True Intent for Serving

istock_000017647274_smallServing others makes me joyful.

Scientific studies show that when we human beings help others we are happier and more successful. A few weeks ago I talk about the problem with the response “no problem”, that it seems like the person saying it doesn’t really want to help out.

I get that. Often when we think of serving others it means big stuff such as volunteering, serving in big ways. And there’s benefit in those small actions we share every day–working to bring joy to our everyday attitude and actions.

Think about the last time someone served you at a coffee shop or restaurant with true intent to serve you joy? Even looking back now, how does it make you feel? Do you think that person is happier with their life?

The Problem with “No Problem”

iStock_000005123017Small1I have a problem with the response, “No problem.”

My old fashioned values have me believing that “You’re welcome” or “My pleasure” is the most gracious way to answer “Thank you.”

For a long time I figured it was my somewhat overzealous ideals about manners that had me cringing whenever I hear it. One of my favorite colleagues says it so I really had to let go.

Then a few weeks ago a friend ranted about it at a gathering.  Most of the people in the group agreed. I was vindicated!

What is Good Enough? 80% or 90%?

rock-stack-extra-right-hand 600x599How do you define “good enough”?

How do you know when a project is done? Sauce seasoned perfectly?

Years ago a boss told me, “Your version of okay is most people’s really good (picture me smiling). And I do not mean that as a compliment (picture me frowning). Stop revising and get this document out the door!” After my ego recovered from it’s dramatic turnaround I realized how much agony went into my work and how little benefit was achieved, especially when writing.

A few years after that I heard the term analysis paralysis, and was grateful to have a term for my over-zealousness. (My father did not use his Mac computer for weeks after purchasing it because he had not finished reading the manual. I think I know where I acquired this penchant for analysis and planning.)

KC_OverTheHump_Masthead 230x200Then I learned a new philosophy, “80% and out the door.” I embraced that for a while, but realized there were times when 98% was what I wanted and others when 60% was right.

Today my mantra is “done is better than perfect.”* It helps me push send on this email newsletter when I have only reviewed it twice, or have just one more thought to add; or share project ideas with colleagues when I really want to research them more. I think this takes courage,

  • to know my colleagues and friends will still like me and my work even if it’s not always exceptional
  • to hear feedback and new ideas with an open mind
  • to know I am okay when others disagree with me

What about you? Any great mantras for moving forward? How do you know what’s good enough?

Joyful regards,

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* I learned this from amazing interior designer Laura Robbins. Thanks!

 

How is Life Like Eating an Apple?

apples iStock_93376911 700x700I recently heard a story about a man who moved to a region where apples were plentiful and could not stop eating them, downing up to 20 per day.

I think the story teller embellished a bit, however it did remind me of the first time I tasted a fresh-picked apple when I first moved to New England. Two decades later I still have vivid memories of the amazingness of it.

It was super crisp and juicy. It tasted like sunshine and rain coming together, with honey and a hint of tartness. It was similar to, and yet so very different from, the experience of a grocery store apple.

KC_OverTheHump_Masthead 230x200Now as I drive past apple orchards, watching the ripening this year’s crop my mouth waters. I realize how when I eat really fresh, tasty food I slow down and savor every bite. What if I did that with all my food? All my life experiences?

For sure it has me paying closer attention and working to notice deeply into these final warm days of summer. What are you savoring?

Joyful regards,

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Who’s Afraid of the Giant Green Worm?

Photo courtesy of Univ of MD

Photo courtesy of Univ of MD

It’s summer, so I have to talk about giant green tomato worms.

A decade ago in my first real garden I found a GIANT green tomato worm. It was as big around as my thumb and longer, much longer. As it turned it’s face to me I half expected it to say, “Hello Lisa, what’s cooking?”, like in a cartoon.

I realized that under my fascination I was scared of it, wanting to remove it from my tomatoes so I’d have a few to eat myself, but not wanting to touch it or even go near it with gloves. Then I saw how zany I was being, and laughed out loud.

The worm is not poisonous or threatening in any real way. I realized that my fear of this worm is like most fears in my life–made larger by my mind than the reality of the situation calls for.

Stop Complaining. It Helps!

My mom is visiting from California for the first time in years, so even though the weather here in New England is hot and muggy I am determined to get out and show her the sights.

Last Saturday we ventured to Gillette Castle in Connecticut, picking up Jeff’s mom along the way.  It was interesting and fun to see this funky castle built entirely of local rock, like a stone Lego building.  Inside is covered with intricately carved wooden paneling and the doors have 47 different designs on their surfaces.

And it was HOT, and MUGGY. Getting out of the air-conditioned car on to the blacktop driveway under the driving sun felt like walking into a sauna.  So we quickly walked toward the shade, bought our tickets and headed inside.  Without air-conditioning the massive stone building felt cool, especially with the breeze coming from the Connecticut River below. However many people around us could not stop talking about how hot it was.  I found myself getting cranky. Then I realized why–their complaining made me feel more sweaty and uncomfortable.

Help or Hindrance: How Do To-Do Lists Affect You?

open to learningI’m really good at making to-do lists, not so great at completing all the items on them.

I feel powerful and organized when making the list; then manic as I try to complete everything in the time allotted; then frustrated and disappointed with myself when I don’t complete everything.

Do you create these lists too? They range from dinner party menus, to birthday party or product launch organization, to life goals.

Listening: A Lost Link in a Loud World

from the book "Poised for Success"

Poised-for-Success-by-Jacqueline-WhitmoreI just finished reading Poised for Success and received quite a few useful tidbits from this gracious author, Jacqueline Whitmore. Since I work mostly in high-tech where dress is casual and open expression encouraged, I did not expect to get much from an etiquette expert.

But I did. (Plus my mom is as gracious as they come, so I had a great example all my life to build upon.)My favorite chapter is Listening: The Lost Link in a Loud World. With a title like that, who could help but read on? Here are my favorite tidbits: