Friday, July 9, 2021

Accept What Is (an audio podcast)


Focus:  This audio podcast includes inspirational quotations, war stories, examples, a little philosophy and some practical challenges to help individuals and teams discover the power of accepting the reality of a difficult situation in order to handle it effectively. Only when you accept it, see it clearly without denial and hand-wringing, can you take appropriate action to remedy it.

(Use the control bar below to download or play the podcast. Or scroll down and simply read the transcript. Enjoy!)

Transcript of this audio originally published on April 19, 2009 [some links referred to below may no longer be valid]:

Imagine this situation: You are in your beautiful, newly remodeled kitchen wiping the counters clean after dinner.  Out in the hallway you hear your big labrador retriever galloping toward you. In a flash, he bounds across the tile to the table, plunks his meaty front paws up on a chair and begins sniffing the dinner plates for leftovers. Stopping your clean-up chores, you whirl to see what he's getting into and bam!... his big nose knocks over a nearly full glass of dark, purple grape juice left untouched by one of the kids. The tough plastic tumbler bounces all over the place, spritzing the walls with purple droplets, while a big puddle of juice begins expanding across the tile. It's flowing straight toward your new beige living room carpet.  Do you:

  • A. Deny that this is actually happening, telling yourself that you are a good, hard-working person who doesn't deserve this kind of misery?
  • B.  Find your spouse and begin an angst-filled review of your family's history of owning this dog, bemoaning the fact that while the dog is lovable, he has always caused too many minor disasters?
  • C.  Sit down with your wife and kids and imagine a future that has in it no potentially staining leftovers and no dog anywhere near the kitchen?
  • D.  Run across the room, placing yourself and your counter-cleaning sponge squarely between the expanding puddle of purple and the new carpet, thus preventing the major stain?

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Practice Mindfulness (an audio podcast)

Focus:  This audio podcast includes inspirational quotations, war stories, examples, a little philosophy and some practical challenges to help individuals and teams expand upon their inherent power of mindfulness — the practice of bringing your full awareness into the present moment.

(Use the control bar below to download or play the podcast. Or scroll down and simply read the transcript. Enjoy!)

Transcript of this audio originally published on April 26, 2009 [some links referred to below may no longer be valid]:

Acknowledgement:  The main inspiration for this post comes from various interviews and articles featuring Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  Kabat-Zinn started his career as a scientist at MIT and it is with this scientific perspective (along with his clinical research to support many of his positions) that he shares his thoughts on the power of mindfulness. He teaches mindfulness meditation as a technique to help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain and illness. You can check out the links below for more about Jon and his work.]

In this post I hope to convince you of the power of mindfulness -- the practice of bringing your full awareness into the present moment. This is very different from that "kinda sorta" awareness that you have while you are attending a meeting, firing off a text message, and eating lunch all at the same time. And it is different from the awareness you experience within a conversation while you are trying to stifle clever or fearful or angry or resentful thoughts that are clamoring for your attention. And it is different from the awareness you experience when sitting alone at your desk, working to solve a problem while thoughts of past difficulties and future fears challenge your concentration. Instead, it is a cleaner, simpler kind of awareness. It is simply being fully present, with all your attention. It is, in the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, "paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, without judgment." This is mindfulness.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Do What You Fear and Grow Stronger (an audio podcast)


Focus:  This audio podcast includes inspirational quotations, war stories, examples, a little philosophy and some practical challenges to help individuals and teams push through fear and grow stronger.

(Use the control bar below to download or play the podcast. Or scroll down and simply read the transcript. Enjoy!)



Transcript of this audio, originally published on March 22, 2009:  

Do one thing every day that scares you.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

“Always, always, always, always, always do what you are afraid to do... Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain... Do the thing and you will have the power.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I was 15 years old, I loved to sing. I sang mostly in the shower, really belting out the lyrics to rock and roll songs. The bigger the shower, the better the echo, and the louder I sang. One night after basketball practice, I was alone in the school's shower and really wailing. As I finished my shower and my song, I grabbed my towel and turned to leave and saw one of the seniors standing there smiling at me. I knew this guy. Everybody knew this guy. He was the lead guitar player in a popular local band. And he informed me that he really liked my voice and wanted to know if I'd consider singing with his band. Consider?! Well I jumped at the chance. Nervous, but enthusiastic, I attended a few rehearsals at his house and discovered that I really loved singing amplified and surrounded by all that rock & roll thunder. Eventually, during one of those rehearsals, it dawned on me. This was the real deal! Someday soon I'd have to do this in front of a crowd! If I stopped to think about this for long, my heart would start racing and I'd feel like running away and hiding. But I loved the music and I kept on rehearsing and pushed those thoughts out of my mind.

Inevitably, a couple of weeks passed and I found myself walking on stage in front of my first big crowd. I had sweaty, cold palms and I was terrified. My heart was in my throat and I could feel all the lyrics just leaving my brain entirely. And again, I felt like running and hiding! But, ready or not, the band started playing, people started dancing, and I somehow started singing on cue and the energy of it all just began to flow. For the next several years my singing skills grew, I learned to play bass guitar, the band played a wide variety of venues where we met all sorts of people, and I became completely comfortable in front of crowds. Whole new worlds were opened up to me... and I wasn't even out of high school!

As the years pass and I face even more frightening challenges, I realize that I've come to regard fear as a doorway. You can't really see everything that's on the other side, but if you ignore your sweaty palms, gather your courage and step through, you almost always enter another dimension in your life. A dimension in which you are stronger than you were in the one you left behind.