I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however, if I
treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I
help you become that.
Wolfgang von Goethe
is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties,
little things, in which smiles, and kindnesses,
obligations, given habitually, are what
win and preserve
the heart and secure comfort.
keep the alabaster boxes of your love
and tenderness sealed up
until your friends are dead. Fill their lives with
sweetness. Speak approving,
cheering words while their ears
can hear them
and while their hearts can be thrilled by them.
Gary Zukav and Linda Francis
In order to create harmony with another person, you must
care enough about that person to hear her story, share her
struggles, and be with her while the parts of her
personality that are frightened come to the surface.
Harmony requires that you accept another individual as a
personality whose life is as complex and difficult as your
own. You cannot open yourself up only to the parts
of a person that are loving, and expect to create
harmony. You must also be willing to interact with
the parts that are angry, jealous, vengeful, and
violent. It is easy to create harmony with someone
who cares for you, but it is difficult when that person is
angry, disdainful, or judgmental.
Harmony only with those who look, think, speak and act
like you is not true harmony, but the maintenance of a
clique. Sometimes, the clique is small, with only a
few people to re-enforce one another's beliefs and
perceptions. For example, they all ride motorcycles,
have children, or are artists. They are harmonious
because they limit their interactions to mutually
acceptable areas of interest. Sometimes the clique
is very large, such as the cliques of people who feel
comfortable only with those who attend their church,
synagogue, or mosque.
nation can be a clique of millions of individuals who feel
superior or entitled to what others do not have because of
their nationality. Skin color, sex, education, and
economic status are all foundations of cliques.
Within the clique, harmony exists only as long as
interactions remain nonthreatening.
Your soul wants harmony with all of Life--with those you
consider your friends and those you consider your enemies.
It is as difficult to create harmony with friends as it is
with adversaries because friends bring the frightened
parts of their personalities into their interactions, just
as you do. That makes it difficult to say no to a
friend and to hear no from a friend. When you try to
please another person, you distort your behavior in order
to make that person comfortable, and you put yourself in a
position that is not authentic. When your strategy
works you become resentful, and when it fails you become
Harmony requires integrity. You cannot control
whether other people are authentic, but you can decide
whether or not you will be. In other words, harmony
with another is not always possible, but the in-tention to
create it is. For example, when a friend asks for a
favor and you do not feel comfortable saying yes, you must
choose between your discomfort and your integrity.
If you say yes, you are not truly a friend to that person,
because you do not care enough about him--or yourself--to
say what is important to you. Not only do you fear
losing your friendship, you fear asking yourself if it is,
indeed, a friendship.
On the other hand, when you are not willing to accept an
authentic answer, your relationship is also based in
fear. You keep a record of how much you have done
for her and how much she has done for you, and when the
record becomes unbalanced, your relationship breaks.
An in-tention is not an expectation. Harmony and
expectations cannot coexist. An in-tention does not
depend on what others do, but an expectation does.
When others do as you expect, you are pleased, and when
they do not, you feel disappointed, betrayed, or
devalued. Relationships are intimate arenas in which
you encounter frightened parts of your personality and
frightened parts of the personalities of others.
Harmony is the in-tention to heal.
How you express integrity is important. If you need
to become angry in order to say no, or reject before you
can be rejected, you cannot create harmony. Harmony
requires the ability to say no, yes, or perhaps with the
in-tention of creating a caring, constructive, and joyful
relationship. Some circumstances call for a direct,
or blunt response, while in others, a more gentle
communication is appropriate. When your in-tention
is to create harmony, you become like a deeply rooted tree
that can stand in the strongest wind. You do not
hold expectations, but rather do what you do because you
have chosen that course for yourself.
Harmony requires courage. For example, if you care
for another, you will not allow him to speak to you
disrespectfully, even though looking the other way or
making excuses for him may appear to be the easier
route. Speaking from your heart, without judgment
and without expectation, is not always easy. At
other times, the in-tention to create harmony without
speaking is appropriate. At all times, courage and
integrity are required. . . .
Creating harmony does not require you to become a doormat
for others. In fact, it demands that you do not,
because when you make yourself a doormat, people will
clean their shoes on you. Creating harmony requires
the courage to fail the expectations of others, to object
when you feel an objection is appropriate, and to say no,
yes, and maybe, without expectation.
The creation of harmony is spiritual activism. You
devote your energy to what you believe, but you do not
make others wrong, tolerate violence, or contribute to it,
nor do you confuse kindness with weakness, or need with
The parts of your personality that object to harmony
object also to your spiritual growth. They judge,
condemn, and refuse to forgive. They forget that
Harmony is a conscious creation of a loving world.
The in-tention to create harmony is medicine for deep
pain. It opens you, illuminates your dark places,
brings peace to them, and allows you to develop your
greatest gift--an open heart.
Mind of the Soul
describes with easy-to-read text and practical
exercises how each moment in life presents a
choice: whether to persist in old, limited
patterns or to experiment with the unbounded,
liberating potential ahead. Whether your choices
are large -- concerning work, marriage, parenting,
divorce -- or appear small, such as whether to
show annoyance when angry, they carry consequences
for which you must assume responsibility. The
Mind of the Soul shows you how, in every
situation, one choice among the many that present
themselves is the optimal choice -- to create
harmony, cooperation, or reverence for life.
people behind the words
and excerpts - Daily
Two - Year Three
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What does it mean to live a full life? How do we
stay happy and content in a world that often seems to be
throwing more at us than we can handle? Thirty years in
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Do You Get Back Up? A Counterintuitive Approach to
Thriving in Challenging Times
while back, I received a distressed email from Ken, a
young manager at a high-tech company.
Ken and I had never met, but he had read my first two
books and had done his best to apply the ideas and
practices of Extreme Leadership to the way he'd led his
team. To their culture, their work ethic, their
camaraderie. When necessary, Ken told me, they would
band together and work hard -- 10 to 20 hours a day at
times -- to solve a problem or meet a pressing need.
Ken's wife would cook food for everyone and bring it to
the office. They felt like a family, he said,
committed to doing great work and devoted to one another's
success. No one ever complained, least of all Ken.
And then something happened. A downturn, a re-org, a
shift in the management structure -- we all know the
drill. Ken still had a job, but his position was
eliminated. New management full of old ideas came in
to oversee the department's function and the emotional
fibers that connected Ken's team to each other and to
their work unraveled.
"Now," Ken wrote, "for the last four weeks
I sat at my cubicle, web surfing for eight hours a day at
the same company where I once worked 39 hours straight
with my team to make things right, never going home.
"I'm not a quitter; I don't want to leave. But
-- just or unjust -- I feel stripped of everything we've
done," he said. "So the advice I'm looking
for is this:
"How do you get back up?"
admit that I was loath to hand out that kind of
potentially life-altering advice to someone I'd
never met. After all, I had only the
sketchiest of details about Ken's situation, and it
seemed way too presumptuous to represent myself as
the all-knowing answer man. But I did have an
idea for him, and I really felt that it could make a
huge, positive difference in Ken's life -- and in
the life of those he worked with.
And it wasn't the kind of advice you'd expect.
It's already become a cliché to say that we live in
unprecedented, challenging times. We all know
it. But the truth is, the world of work is
always challenging. That's why they call it
No matter the industry, market, or type of company
you work in, you've had to deal with some
combination of the classic work-place obstacles,
issues, and barriers to a satisfying, fulfilling
At some time or another, for example, you've
reported to bosses or people in positions of
authority who were self-centered at best, and
idiotically egotistical at worst. They took
all the credit and none of the blame and could care
less whether or not you succeeded or failed.
Or worse, they preferred that you'd fail, and took
great pleasure in your struggles.
Or perhaps you worked in a company that, even though
populated by terrific human beings, was so obsessed
with the bottom line and shareholder value that they
made executive, strategic decisions that compromised
the employees' ability to serve the customer.
And the customers, therefore, exited in droves.
You may have been in an environment that was
hyper-competitive to the point of paranoid,
risk-averse to the point of stifling, or so
political that it made you consider running for
local office just to get some relief.
We've all experienced some combination of these
themes with varying levels of intensity. And
we've all spent some amount of time and energy
navigating our way through the personal challenges
that the organizational pitfalls present. It's
just the price we pay for hanging out with other
Now, add to that the current, sucking implosion in
the economy, and it's easy to see why, with all our
efforts to be positive, productive leaders, we still
get knocked down from time to time. Sometimes
The problem is in the way we typically deal:
Our knee-jerk reaction in times of crisis is to hold
on tighter, to be more cautious in our actions, and
more protective of our resources. We think
that our way out -- or up -- will come by virtue of
shoring up and hoarding what we have.
There is, however, a much better, far more powerful
alternative. A counterintuitive course of
action based on this ageless reality of true
Your own greatness as a leader (or in just about
any other role you take on, for that matter) lies,
paradoxically, in your ability to cause others to be
greater than yourself.
Said another way, your (and my) best way out of a
challenge or crisis is not to focus on your own
peril or rut, but, instead, to reach out and try to
boost someone else over your head.
The idea should sound familiar. It's really
just a variation on the "do unto others"
sentiment of the Golden Rule, a philosophy that
exists in virtually all religions, schools of
thought, and philosophies on the planet. And
in none of those versions -- not one -- will you
find a footnote saying, "Does not apply Monday
through Friday between the hours of 9 to 5 or any
time you find yourself in a jam."
So the solution I offered to Ken was this:
Pick someone at work to invest in, with the intent
of making that person greater than you are. Be
a coach, guide, or mentor in the truest, most
personal sense of the words by choosing someone to
be your GTY (Greater Than Yourself) project, and see
what that does to your own predicament, your own
state of mind.
Maybe it was out of desperation, but as surprised as
he was by the curve ball I'd thrown him, Ken took my
advice and agreed to the challenge.
Two weeks later, Ken wrote to say that he'd thought
deeply about our conversation and had come to
realize that before he could lift someone else up by
sharing his knowledge and experience, he needed to
be sure that he had learned the right lessons from
the recent team trauma. So he'd met with his
boss, and asked for feedback on how he could have
acted differently, what he may have done to
contribute to the problem, and how he could be a
better leader in the future. The "30-minute
meeting turned into a two-hour confessional,"
said Ken, which resulted in him learning some hard,
"gold lessons" about himself.
"Now," he continued, "I've already
started to work with a tech on my team who wants to
be a manager. And I'm taking a vow," he
said, "to make the people around me better --
as I continue to grow myself. I'm going to
teach my children about this, too." Ken,
it seems, has gotten his energy back, and he's well
on his way to getting back up.
We're all human, just like Ken. And just like
him, we all get bashed down from time to time.
So, the next time that happens to you, resist the
temptation to pull yourself up by the proverbial
bootstraps, and reach out to pull someone else up,
instead. Go find someone to be your GTY
Come to think of it, why wait?
* * *
©Steve Farber. Steve Farber, author of Greater
Than Yourself: The Ultimate Lesson of True
Leadership, the president of Extreme Leadership,
is a leadership consultant and speaker, and the
author of the national bestseller The Radical
Leap, and The Radical Edge. He lives in
San Diego, California.
someone up does not
reduce your stature—in
fact, it exalts you in ways
you have to experience
to believe. Greater Than
Yourself shows how you
can begin improving the world
by giving of yourself. It’s
a wonderful message wrapped
in a highly entertaining,
Wallpaper! Just click below
the size your desktop is
right-click on the
picture that appears
in the new
window, and choose
"Set as background."
photo's from a spring
day at Lake Louise)
x 800 - 1440
not compare yourself
with others, for you are
a unique and wonderful creation.
Make your own beautiful
in the snow.
Balance between Work and Play
I think it's important
to keep in mind as time goes on that any discussions of
balance are necessarily going to be a bit
artificial. One sets up two extremes and then
looks for a way to balance those extremes, while the
fact of the matter is that if we talk about work, we
could also talk about the balance between work and rest
or the balance between work and education, or even the
balance between work and time spent with friends.
Likewise, we could discuss the balance between play and
rest, the balance between play and study, or the balance
between physical play and mental play.
That said, though, there can be a great benefit to
exploring single balances at a time, as the discussion
gets much more focused and one isn't trying to discuss
everything at once. And work is an element of our
lives that so many of us share that it makes sense to
examine it, just as play is an element of our lives that
we all used to share, but that many people have given up
as something just for kids. Many of us have
built artificial dichotomies that don't allow play to be
involved with work or vice versa--there's a time for
work and a time for play, and never the two shall
meet. Unfortunately, this idea brings a lot of
people down and doesn't allow them to see the fun sides
of life because they've decided to focus their attention
and energy only on the work side of life.
But the two concepts most definitely are not mutually
There's plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests that
those people who still play in their lives also work
better and more efficiently overall because they
approach work from a rested perspective--they're not
burned out from focusing only on work. Play in
this sense is much like a nap in that it allows you to
recharge your mental and physical batteries in order to
be able to tackle the necessary tasks at work.
The beauty of work depends upon the way we
meet it, whether we
arm ourselves each morning to attack
it as an enemy that must be
vanquished before night comes--or
whether we open our eyes with
the sunrise to welcome it
as an approaching friend who will keep
company and who will make us feel at evening
that the day
was well worth its fatigue.
Problems arise usually
for two reasons: first, some people simply
don't know how to find the balance or when to employ
it. They may start playing at an extremely
important moment when play truly is inappropriate,
thus sabotaging others in their efforts to get
things done. I've witnessed this over and
over, when one person isn't taking things seriously
at a moment when things truly need to be taken
seriously, as the outcome of the work is very
important. While play during a down time when
things aren't so busy can be very helpful, play
during a busy time when everyone needs to be focused
can be very damaging. That's part of the
balance: learning when to play and when to
work. And if you're getting paid for the work
you do, making sure that the play is a very small
part of it.
The other time I see play being ineffective is when
other people react strongly to is, usually with the
attitude that the person who's playing really should
"grow up" and "take life
seriously." When two attitudes are at
odds like this, play can be less effective and even
damaging to a relationship. Of course, the
person who thinks like this is completely unable to
see any benefits to play in "older
people," and his or her perspective is a bit
skewed. But take five minutes to throw around
a football in the office and this person is going to
be irate, and that's a very sad thing to be when
other people are just enjoying themselves.
Sadly enough, this is a person who often doesn't
mind that one person takes a ten-minute smoke break
and another spends twenty minutes in the bathroom,
while others spend five-ten minutes every hours on
social media, but if someone dares to play for five
minutes in order to re-focus, it seems to be a crime
The major work of the world is not done by
geniuses. It is done
by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have
learned to work in an extraordinary manner.
Gordon B. Hinckley
It's important that we
find this balance, though, because it's dangerous to
let play slip out of our lives. Play helps us
to stay creative, and it helps us to see the world
in different ways. If I'm throwing and
catching a ball, I'm using my brain in completely
different ways than I am at work; if I'm playing tag
with some kids, I'm using my brain and my body
differently; if I'm flying a kite or roller-blading
or playing softball or jacks or even Monopoly or
cards, I'm focusing my attention fully on the
present moment and developing strategies for the
moment and reacting to things that happen in the
moment--play is one of the most effective ways of
practicing being in the moment that we have.
Work, on the other hand, has us thinking of
potential problems down the road and dealing with
problems that may come up tomorrow or the next day
or next month or year. The strategies that we
develop at work are generally for the future, not
for the present, and the more we spend our time
thinking this way, the less time we have for living
in the present moment. Work is important, and
sometimes work can be the best thing in our lives--I
love teaching and I wouldn't want to be doing
anything else, but I also love the time I spend
playing because it makes me a better teacher to
often get my mind off of the classroom and the
students so that I'm refreshed when I get back to
them. I take my work very seriously because I
know that the stakes are high for my students, and
it's because I take it seriously that I make sure
that there's plenty of play in my life, too.
To be playful is not
to be trivial or frivolous, or to act as
will happen. On the
contrary, when we are playful with
other we relate
persons, and the relationship is open
everything that happens is of consequence. It is, in
closes itself to consequence, for
seriousness is a dread
possibility. To be serious is
to press for a specified
conclusion. To be playful is to allow
whatever the cost to
I know that my
students appreciate it when I'm a bit playful in
class, as long as I don't let that get out of
hand. It lowers the stress level and it makes
people much more comfortable asking me questions and
challenging any ideas that I share with them.
I also don't get burned out on the subject matter
because I spend time enjoying myself, doing
It's important that we remember that play is what we
define as play, too. For me, for example, a
five-mile run is extremely enjoyable, and it
qualifies as play. For someone else, a
five-mile run may be their own special slice of
hell. Play to me is never enjoyment at someone
else's expense--teasing or tricking or mocking--I
never want to laugh at someone else's pain or
confusion. Play can also get ruined if people
take it too seriously, as you'll see in many adult
sports leagues--when it's no longer fun and winning
is the only goal, then it's no longer play, but just
another source of stress. Some people enjoy
that sort of thing, but I certainly don't. I
want play to be fun.
Balance in life is extremely important, but
something that we don't talk about enough in our
society. Talk about it with your loved ones;
figure out how to make balance a high priority in
your life. And as you think about it, consider
how to make the balance between work and play one of
your highest priorities, for your work will benefit
if you find your balance, as will your spirit and
your overall mental and physical health.
of the most important elements
of living life fully is
awareness-- awareness of our surroundings, of other people
and their motives and fears and desires, of the things that
affect us most in our lives, both positively and negatively.
In the twelve years of livinglifefully.com's existence, this
essay series has been a mainstay of the weekly e-zine--a
series that has explored not just the things that exist and
that happen around us, but also our reactions to those
things. The first five years of the column are now available
exclusively on Kindle.
Life Fully, the e-zine
exists to try to provide for visitors of the world wide web a
of growth, peace, inspiration, and encouragement. Our
are presented as thoughts of the authors--by no means do
mean to present them as ways that anyone has to live
from them what you will, and disagree with
whatever you disagree
with--just know that they'll be here for you
is the centerpiece of a connected life. It allows us to
by the grace of invisible strands. It is a belief in
a wisdom superior
to our own. Faith becomes a teacher in
the absence of fact.
Terry Tempest Williams
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