Monday, April 20, 2015

Stop Telling Yourself That - It's a Lie!

Do you have a good grasp of the "facts" of your life versus the "myths?"
A recurring theme has risen in my interactions over the past few months. When I've been in both personal and professional discussions, the idea of knowing your story versus your circumstance has been popping up again and again. Whether it was directly pertaining to me or the person I was speaking with, it is clear that we all need to be reminded about the facts of who we are versus the things we tell ourselves.

During this current season of my life that has been both a mixture of deep despair and triumphant joy, I have had to re-examine the facts about myself versus my own or society adopted fiction. Knowing and fully embracing my true story is what propels me during the tough times. And of course, it's during tough times that we have fight off the myths that keep us from realizing who we truly are. Here are two pieces of advice to help you distinguish lies from truths.

Spot and Name the Pattern of Good in Your Life

What is the pattern of good that keeps surfacing in your life? Can you readily name it? If not, carve time out of your day TODAY to recall good in your life over the years. Was it your support of others? Was it your network's support of you? Do you bounce rather than splat under pressure? Are you the source of great ideas in a pinch? Would someone say your words are "lifesavers?" There are so many possibilities for this. Take some time to reflect on your life. If not your whole life - how about the last 5 years? 10 years? Look for and annotate times you were proud of yourself. Think about and record specific incidents where you felt good. What was happening? Who were you with? When you can spot and name the pattern of good in your life, you can summon it when circumstances tell you otherwise. Your consistent patterns of good are your true life story, not the situation you currently face. Knowing and recalling the good serves you when what's around you is not so good. Make it a habit to know and retell the good in your life.

Know the Difference Between Circumstantial Evidence and True Evidence

Wikipedia defines  Circumstantial evidence as  evidence that relies on an inference to connect it to a conclusion of fact—like a fingerprint at the scene of a crime. By contrast, direct evidence supports the truth of an assertion directly—i.e., without need for any additional evidence or inference. Clearly, this analogy applies to criminal or civil case law but look at how this applies to the topic we are unpacking. As you reflect on your life, you may see a pattern of circumstances that have led you to believe certain lies about yourself. And in the self-fulfilling prophecy, you have adopted the lies as truth when in fact, they are only true in certain contexts.  Take time to realize what circumstances are harmful and take steps to remove them. Remove yourself from the contexts that feed your lies and immerse yourself in contexts that feed your truths. This could be situations or even people patterns but you owe it to yourself to hold on to what is actually true versus things that occur in a certain set of circumstances.

Once you've reconnected with your true story and start to repel your myths, you will see an immediate difference in the results you get as you face your circumstances. No, your circumstances won't magically be more bearable. They may even get worse. But your ability to manage through those circumstances will soar and you will feel more peace and security. When grounded in our truths, there little that can shake us.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Chance Meeting, Lifetime Impact: Tribute to Dr. Levi Watkins

Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone that seemed so normal and routine at the time only to realize it had a profound impact on your life later?

That was me this past Saturday as I leisurely scrolled through my Facebook feed to learn that someone really special was no longer walking among us. Immediately, upon reading the news of the passing of cardiology pioneer Dr. Levi Watkins in Baltimore last Friday, I was struck with a deep sense of loss. It almost felt like my mind was playing tricks on me. Geez. I'd only met him one time. And last Fall had made a new friend who worked near him at Johns Hopkins Hopsital who had passed a message to him for me. It is a very volatile time in my life, I started to say in my mind as I tried to calm myself in the moment. But reading the very personal and poignant tribute to Dr. Watkins from his brother, Daniel Watkins really made the tears flow.

I'd had a chance meeting with greatness.

I'd shared wine with one of the finest doctors who ever lived.

I was encouraged to BE ME and keep moving forward with BOLDNESS by a living legend.

And I had no idea.

I have never forgotten that late Spring afternoon meeting at the Chesapeake Bay Wine Company in 2007. I was in the area to meet a friend of Dr. Watkins, who was a client partner of the company I worked for at the time. This partner was one of our company's toughest customers and if I'm honest, most every one in our home office was deathly afraid of him. He was gruff. He was flippant. He was witty and cold. And a trip to DC/Maryland to see him was always dreaded, until that day.

I was not afraid at all.  I went to the meeting prepared. He immediately informed me that the allotted time he agreed to before I arrived was no longer possible. In his stiff, Southern drawl, he encouraged me to "brang my best, in much less (time)."

I did. I presented data and offered my humble opinion on what they could do better to up their marketing game. He challenged me hard and I stood firm. Before I knew it, I actually did get the full amount of time with him as he previously agreed. He even offered to take me to lunch and asked if I'd ever had Maryland Crab Chowder. "My favorite dish", I replied and he proceeded to treat me to one of the best bowls of chowder I've ever had a dive location near Beltsville, MD. As we entered his huge truck, I asked him where he's from because he certainly doesn't sound like he's from Maryland.

"Alabama", he replies proudly and I finally have a personal connection to Stan. "My dad is from Alabama", I offer to which he quickly responds, "knew you had 'Bama blood in you." From that moment on, our conversation changed and was rich. We talked Alabama and business, we talked about our families and our dreams.

Back at his office (now I'm in OVERTIME), he invites me on his boat that evening proceeds to write me handwritten directions to Chesapeake Bay. He adds, almost as an after thought, that he has someone he wants me to meet. "Another Alabama great", he said. I agreed.

Dr. Watkins came into the Chesapeake Wine Company right on time to meet Stan and I and Stan introduced me. I don't remember his exact introduction but it was peppered with compliments about me, my courage and expertise at what I do. Dr. Watkins congratulated me, confirming that Stan is never generous with praise. Our 45 mins were lively and full of talk about Alabama, courage and other things I scarcely remember but I do remember what Dr. Watkins said when we stood to part. He specifically said he enjoyed meeting "young folk" like me, "self assured and confidently taking on the world." His last words to me were, "don't ever change - no matter how hard it gets or who you face, the world needs you just the way you are".

We hugged and I went on my boat ride with Stan. Over the years, since that meeting, I've often thought about that conversation and it rang in my head in late 2011 as I boldly left my corporate job to do Relationships Matter Now full-time.

Saturday when I heard Dr. Watkins had died and began to read about the outspoken civil rights and medical genius he truly was, it occurred to me that our chance conversation was one of the first mustard seeds of my entrepreneurial journey.  I was pushed to my life's work by someone who was doing his. I was acknowledged and validated as a great mind in my field before I knew it myself by someone accustomed to greatness and achievement.

Thank you Dr. Levi Watkins for your amazing life. And especially thank you for seeing more in me than I even saw in myself that day.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Action Trumps Everything

"A real decision is measured by the fact that you've take a new action. If there is no new action you haven't truly decided." - Ruby Gettinger

A few weeks ago, I saw that quote somewhere when I was traveling and I took a moment to record it on a post-it note and shoved it in my purse.

Low and behold, last week, I was confronted with taking action in a situation that has long yearned for me to act. Have you ever been there?

You know you must act.

You even have an inkling to what action must take place.

You also understand the consequences your action may have on others around you.

Yet, you do nothing.

That's where I was last week, in a tumultuous time where every possible stressful situation a family can face was staring me down and the circumstance that I'd been avoiding taking action on finally could no longer be avoided.

So I moved.

And INSTANTLY, I felt relief. Not the relief I'd felt the night before at hot yoga class - the very good (very guided and ) temporary release of tension but a true and definite release of all body tension. I'm happy to report that every day since my action, I have felt better, physically and emotionally. Even as I write this post, the uncertainty of the full consequences of my action is still very real but the tension and anxiety is gone.

We owe it to ourselves to act.

Act on faith.

Act on the confidence of your own convictions.

Act for peace of mind and spirit.

Act knowing that nothing changes until you do.

Two days into my new action, I stumbled across the post-it with the aforementioned quote written on it and I smiled. Little did I know a few weeks ago, I was sending myself a message of confirmation into the future. Reading that quote again, validated that change I desired was coming my way simply because I took action. 

Action does indeed trump everything.