“I could be so successful, if only I had more time…”
Have you ever started the sentence, “If only I had more time…” then finished that sentence with realization that you would fill that extra time with more hassled, stressful tasks that would leave you even more exhausted than you already are?
Time, precious time
Author Harvey Mackay says that time is the one commodity that we can’t reproduce, alter, capture or revisit. We each have the same quantity of time on a given day, day after day. How we use that time makes all the difference.
Think about the Food Network television show, “Chopped,” where several chefs open a mystery box with a tiny window of time and a mission to create fabulous food fare. Invariably, one contestant groans as the clock runs out and Chef Ted shouts, “Time’s up!” The contestant stares at the unfinished dish below and states as if it’s the first time this has ever happened, “I ran out of time” as their reason for not including all of the required ingredients on their plate, or for not cooking their dish to the judges’ satisfaction. Each chef had the same ingredients, the same cooking station, the same pantry, and the same amount of time. Why were the other chefs able to finish on time with the intended delicious outcome, while Joe/Jane Too-Late is standing with a raw slab of pork on the station?
So how to make the most of this precious, limited resource? How do super-successful time managers seem to breeze through tasks and still have time to show up at the kids’ soccer games or catch a concert in the park? Continue reading →
Is it possible to be more beautiful in the broken places?
Recently, I sent a message to my friend who was struggling, in hopes of lifting her spirits.
My friend had been feeling down. Defeated. Convinced that she wasn’t capable or deserving of success. I knew better, of course. I’ve known her more than half my life. I’ve watched her rise from an aspiring writer to international best selling author. Countless reasons, I could offer, as to why she’s more than capable and perfectly deserving of success. With indignance, I wanted to shout at her, “You’re already successful! Do you know how many people would dream to live your life for even just one day?”
I had really good intentions that day. It was a thrill, in fact, to think that I could be of help to a hero. Here was little old regular me, being asked to Help…Fix…Repair…Heal…this amazing role model of mine, who happened to be struggling. Being able to nurture and support this person who has served as a model of excellence for me for decades. Here was my chance to make a difference!
And the way I chose to help this supersuccessful person to feel better? I denied her feelings. Not a good thing, turns out.
I countered every single negative thought she was having with a reason why she was wrong and “should feel great” or “ought to forgive” herself or “was being too hard” on herself.
Thinking I was helping, actually I was making it worse. I took away her right to suffer. In fact, I teetered on the cusp of shaming her for feeling down.
With all the best intentions, I missed the whole point. She was feeling brokenand needed to let the pieces fallon the floor in front of her.
Realizing that I was making things worse by only focusing on the sunny side and by denying her need to feel broken and fall apart, I suddenly remembered a concept I once heard about the importance of being able to “fall into” pain rather than simply denying it. This concept, I was now remembering, was about honoring and highlighting the broken parts. Drawing attention to the damage, even!
So, what is this radical-acceptance-like process of honoring and even highlighting our failures and broken parts?
It’s called Kintsugi, and it’s a beautiful way of turning damage into beauty.
The Japanese practice of “kintsugi” is the art of embracing damage. Check out this Kintsugi video:
“Now you shall transform to a new level, my friend. Think wabi-sabi and kintsugi: the art of embracing damage!”
Now remembering this concept of being stronger in the broken places, I stopped my barrage of “happy thoughts” and apologized mid-conversation to my friend. I acknowledged that I’d been trying to deny the fact that she felt broken. I was trying to pretend the cracks weren’t there. I told her that I’d suddenly remembered this Japanese art of Kintsugi, and that I would send her a video to illustrate the concept right away. We ended the conversation awkardly, and I seriously questioned whether I knew how to be a good friend.
Pushing past my disappointment in myself, I sent her the Kintsugi video, hoping that she was still open to my support, even after I’d botched and Pollyanna’d my way through our earlier conversation. After I sent the note and video link, I started to question myself.
“Who am I to tell this highly successful and internationally recognized thought leader how to live?”
“Why do I always appoint myself as the ambassador of all that is positive?”
“What if she resents my message and sees it as patronizing?”
There I was, spiraling to all my places in my head where my own brokenness lurks.
Worrying about how my friend might feel after I’d missed the point with her suffering, I was spinning in my own broken parts, thinking…
I’ve spent my whole life embracing the broken, the not quite, and the almost…
Saving birds with broken wings
Fixing toys with broken parts
Cheering for the underdog
Coaching those who don’t yet believe in themselves
Coaxing sunshine from clouds
Just as my negative self-talk was reaching a fervent pitch in my head, the phone rang.
There was my friend, laugh-crying through the phone line, telling me how she finally felt understood. The video just spoke to her. Captured her. She told me how she felt connected to this concept of embracing damage. How she IS kintsugi. How this concept of mending the broken pieces with gold and proudly displaying them was exactly what she’d needed. It was a great moment, and not just because my friend was feeling better or because I’d been able to help her. It was a great moment because she and I were creating Kintsugi in real time. We were piecing back together a set of broken shards of a conversation and making the resulting product even better than when we’d started.
I knew on that day that I would never look at broken pottery in the same way again.
Now, whenever either of us faces a rough patch in life, or when things fall apart altogether, a single word helps us both begin to put the pieces back together and to anticipate an even more beautiful outcome than the original situation could have intended.
Embracing the damage. More beautiful in the broken places.
What if you spent 30 minutes on your personal development every day? Reading. Blogging. Journaling. Drawing. Imagining. Networking. Planning your future. A half hour. Every. Single. Day.
A friend recently told me that in a “How to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile” seminar, she learned that we should spend a certain amount of time each day focused on our personal and professional development. Each day? Wow, that sounded like a lot. I mean seriously, how many meaningful moments do you average each day, working on developing your strengths? Or your resume? Or your network? Pffft, my answer to the question wasn’t all that great, so I decided to try out the concept.
For one month, I’ve spent 30 minutes each day with focused attention on my personal development. Reading, writing, sharing, listening, and absorbing myself in energy focused on my growth as a professional and as a person. The results are predictably exciting and positive, but not for the reasons I’d expected.
Of course I learned a lot through tuning in to authors and speakers and mentors and idea-makers. But it wasn’t those active learning moments that made the biggest difference. It was the spaces bewteen that yielded a refreshing and unexpected rush of creativity, clarity and focus.
I believe that investing in your personal and professional growth is an iterative process best achieved through small, meaningful steps over time. Just like a great athlete or musician or speaker, it takes sustained and consistent effort to build the muscle memory needed to become fluent in any worthy pursuit. Intentional practice in directional increments is often said to be the secret to reaching a development goal. But I believe that in between those efforts of intention, the silent “pauses” are just as important. A pause can be a time of silent introspection or just a rest from the norm of day-to-day goal pursuit.
The pause is for me is about allowing thoughtful spaces between my rushed and hurried emails, calls, and meetings. It’s about protecting and valuing those spaces, rather than rushing to fill them with urgent-but-not-important matters…Allowing those spaces to be dedicated to developing my strengths and focusing on where I want to be, not just where I am.
English musician Gordon Sumner, better known as The Police’s Sting, once said,
“Paradoxically, I’m coming to believe in the importance of silence in music. The power of silence after a phrase of music for example; the dramatic silence after the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, or the space between the notes of a Miles Davis solo. There is something very specific about a rest in music. You take your foot off the pedal and pay attention. I’m wondering whether, as musicians, the most important thing we do is merely to provide a frame for silence. I’m wondering if silence itself is perhaps the mystery at the heart of music? And is silence the most perfect music of all?”
What are you doing with the “spaces between” in your life?
Ever feel like the world is falling apart at the hands of hate? Need a ray of hope? Want to make a difference, but not sure what to do? Try the HARMONY PHOTO CHALLENGE. Try these 3 simple steps to make the world a little bit better:
Step 1: Take a photograph of people being good to each other
Step 2: Post your photo to Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, or anywhere that could use some positivity
Step 3: Tag your photo with #harmonyphotochallenge
Let’s build a huge pile of positivity!
Example: In this example you can see Holocaust survivors Dorothy Finger and Morris “Freschie” Freschman chatting about the power of forgiveness. #harmonyphotochallenge