Living with Intention

Living in the present is not always easy. We often have challenges that are really though, periods in our lives that are far from what we want, even some months (in my case February) that just feel overwhelming. However, every season has an ending and winter is not the exception. If I pay attention, I can feel the call of spring when is almost ready to come forward and melt the snow and the challenges of the winter and all that comes with it, and that gives me hope.

I have had some very difficult moments in life, and I want to share with you what I have learned and how did I move forward, every time faster and with better results than the previous one.

One of my earliest learnings about life management 101 was a brief lesson shared by one of my uncles when I was probably 14. I asked him how did they have so much money and abundance in their lives and he said that what he has learned from his father was that “the more you give, the more you have”. They had a fund for an annual celebration honoring the saint patron of our town and the doors of their place were open during that week of festivities and people were fed without questioning. I just loved the humbleness and the generosity of this family and that lesson stuck with me.

When I feel that there is not abundance in my life, when I am concerned about the scarcity, I always look to see how much I am giving. If I am not generous, I won’t have room to receive Life’s gifts. So, there you go, for me, this is the first step to live with intention and enjoy life at the fullest. Make room for Life’s blessings by giving free advice, giving your time, giving a smile, or giving whatever is that you need to receive in abundance and the universe will show you all the kindness you spread around.

New Beginnings

People say that a new year is a new beginning. A lot of people feel a stronger need of change during the holidays, perhaps because the new year brings a new chapter in our lives; but I suspect that often, the reason behind our need for changes and resolutions is that with each new year, we become aware of how time is slipping through our fingers and that we have less time to achieve our plans.

I truly believe anytime is a great time to slow down, dream, and plan how to make our dreams part of our reality. My last post was about the dreamlining process and I wanted to talk this time about career planning, but I’m still inspired by quotes, readings, and conversations that I have had during the last couple of weeks and I would like to invite you explore with me what is your true calling.

I don’t believe we’re in this amazing world to push papers (or as we say in Spanish, to drag a pencil) and although I don’t believe that there are jobs unworthy by themselves, I’m convinced that we need to run away from a job that doesn’t nourishing our souls. I believe we all have a higher purpose related to the gifts we received when we came to this life,  that we all have a piece to the puzzle of Life and that we won’t thrive as humankind until we work together and we share our gifts with everyone.

Of course, I understand the pressing needs of living in this world, paying rent and buying food, but I also believe that when we do what we love, we thrive.  We need to find our purpose in this life, and as Zig Ziegler said, if you cannot find your purpose, find your passion, and this will lead you to your purpose. 

LET’S WORK!

Finding our purpose is not an easy task. I, myself, still wonder what am I supposed to do with the gifts I received and the competencies I have developed.  However, when I followed the advice of teachers and friends, I was able to find my passion. Finding your passion could be done in different ways, but here are my suggestions:

-Ask yourself (and your family  and/or friends) what is what you loved to do when you were a kid. This is frequently a key to find our passion.

-Ask yourself, if money and financial responsibilities weren’t an issue, what I would like to do?

-Which activities do you find exciting?

-If you could only work 2 hours per day, what would you do? If you could only work two hours per week, what would you do?

Don’t forget to explore your vision, create your vision board and include your findings in it. Finding our passion is also a journey, where both, the journey and the destination are important. Don’t forget to enjoy this discovery process and don’t be afraid of the time this process will take.

Also, please share with us what else have you done to find your passion or your purpose, and feel free to ask any questions.

Dreamlining

 

iStock_000014405228XSmall

Unbelievable,  2013 is about to finish! For most of us each year seems to go faster. This year was a busy one for me: starting my consulting practice, as well as an aromatherapy company, it really took a lot of my time. Between those two activities and writing my blogs, I learned that I really need to pay attention to my plans and dreams, if I want to achieve  them. I used to think that dreams and plans were mutually exclusive, but this year I had the chance to focus on my dreams and see them take form. I am still early in the process, and it’s clear to me that it IS a process and it will take time, but I feel confident and excited about them.

 

 

 

It seems yesterday when I started my vision board for a class. In the years before I had only written affirmations of what I wanted to achieve, but having a vision board helped me to see the big picture. So, today I want to invite you to start dreamlining: writing a plan for your dreams. To start, all you need is a dream, which of course is easier to say than do actually do it. We’ve been forced to settle and to forget about our dreams in order to fit in society; we need to start dreaming again, remembering what we wanted to do when we were younger and what we feel would give meaning to our lives.

 

LET’S WORK! As Timothy Ferris says in his book The 4-Hour Workweek, the best way to start is to think: -What would you do if there were no way you could fail? -What would you do, day to day, if you had $100 million in the bank? This is about doing, but you also should consider something about being and something about having.  To help you explore your dreams, describe: One place to visit One thing to do before you die One thing to do daily One thing to do weekly One thing you’ve always wanted to learn Then, look for a board or a notebook where you can put your vision board. Visioning is a powerful exercise and it will help you to keep your eyes on the goal. Once that you’re done with the dreaming part, it’s time to start planning it. When do you want to reach your goals? how much will it cost? what investment do you need to make? what are the first steps you need to take? As this planning process is overwhelming (you should be aiming for something amazing, remember Disraeli’s words: Life is too short to be small), you may want to start with the next, minimal, elegant step. Then write down the next step, and the ones you will take in the next week. Ferris recommends to determine three steps for a 3 months and 6 months dreamlines. As he says, the objective is to define the end goal and build momentum with the critical first steps.

Life will find its way to help you achieve your goals, so you might as well plan and dream big!

Feel free to share your goals here in the comments or contact me directly if you have any questions.

How to lead “Like a Boss”

Managerial skills are like common sense: no one likes to admit they don’t have enough. But the reality is that we all have had a boss who doesn’t know how to deal with people.

So here are some quick and dirty tips to deal to work it out.

1. Observe: What is happening around you?  What is supposed to be happening? What are the patterns? Are you part of the patterns?

2. Listen:  You know. We know that you know. And listening is the best way for you to know more.

3. Ask good questions: Start always with humble questions about things that matter. The person working directly with the issue is usually the one who has the information needed to solve it.

4. Think: What do you need to do? How does it fit in the company long-term plan?

5. Act: How can you invite your team to collaborate and solve the issue? How can you empower them and facilitate the process?

That’s it. It’s that simple.

Transitions

Several years ago I read a comic book called “Escape from Cubeville” by Scott Adams. I remember it kind of resonated with me, but I was not sure I could leave the corporate job I had. Then I started exploring a little bit what it meant to be an entrepreneur with a couple of projects I abandoned to come to Canada. Here, I had the opportunity to start my Coaching practice in 2006, almost without noticing: a friend of mine asked me for advice on her career change, then recommended me with some people and then other friends started doing the same. Three years ago, when I started my masters, I had to look for clients and I discovered that I loved talking with new people and help them develop new skills and see things under a different light.

Two years ago, I decided it was a good idea to start my own company at the same time I was working. I wouldn’t feel the urgency of getting more clients as I had my salary, but I would build my confidence as a consultant and coach. Finally, this year I went through the transition of being an employee to being an entrepreneur and I discovered several things. A lot of them apply to our lives, either we are entrepreneurs or just in any transition.

My first reflection is how conditioned we are to run the rat race. Leaving behind the corporate title we have is not easy. The same when we have a break-up or we quit a job. We think we absolutely need what our job or relationship was giving us: security, routine, status. We’re conditioned to need it; we’re used to be called someone’s partner, someone’s boss, etc. But the reality is that it hasn’t been always this way. The first days are not easy: it’s like going out to daylight when we have been comfortable inside our caves. There are a lot of new things waiting to be discovered, but we don’t know how to approach to them.

LET’S WORK

The way I see it, we need to see the process in two ways: externally and internally, and they are interwoven.

Take your time to analyze the situation where you are and the two different process you may need to take.

I hope you enjoyed the process and please, feel free to share your insights and questions in the comments section.

Internally Externally
What do you want What are the opportunities available for you
What are the skills you have What does the situation requires from us
What are the skills you need to develop Who/what can help you develop them
What is the support system you need and have What are the next steps you need to take

7 practices for Happiness

I’ve always being intrigued by Happiness. How some people can be happy regardless the situation they’re passing through and how some people cannot be happy even if they seem to have their lives resolved?
And this may actually be the key. As someone who was born and raised in a “third world” country and then moved to the “first world”, I have always been surprised by how happy people in my hometown seem to be, compared to the people in Montreal.   I have noticed that, in general, people are happier when they are with other people, when they’re focused on an activity, or focus on their loved ones. The key seems to be being Present, enjoy the moment, enjoy themselves, enjoy the life and blessings they’ve received.
Thinking about the blessings we have had through our lives brings us satisfaction, while thinking of what we don’t have yet will bring us dissatisfaction. Notice how different is to say: I’m glad I’m …. vs. I wish I were… 
When we’re kids, we’re naturally present. We enjoy the moment or we express our discomfort openly and we naturally try to be happy. We make an effort to obtain what will make us happy or we move on.
Later on in life, when we are not able to be happy, we tend to hold grudges, and as we’re unhappy, we tend to need drugs and anti-depressants. We’re not able to move on.  We tend to keep our eyes on the negative things.
If you have a conversation with a co-worker and praise her work for 5 minutes, then tell her 1 single little thing that she could do to improve, and all she will think will be that “negative” comment.
 
If we keep focusing on the negative things we perceive or are afraid of, we may soon enter in a mood of sadness, anxiety or anger, which, in turn may have an impact on everything else we “experience”, as emotions change the way we perceive or remember things.

If you want to have a happier life, we can:

1. Surround ourselves with positive people. Build a circle of friends to share the joy with us.  From what I have seen, in North America, people tend to be isolated. When we have a group of close friends and we feel taken care of, we feel supported and loved.
2. Be grateful. Count our blessings. You cannot be thankful and sad at the same time. We just need to remember that we came into this world naked and without anything. Everything that we have now is a blessing!
3. Be active. Regular physical activity keeps the body healthy and makes the spirit happy. Daily walks raise the level of happiness, the brain works better and so our bodies, so it’s a win-win situation.
4. Help other people. John A. Schindler wrote, “Live as a giving person. Those who give are happier than those who only take. Those who give to others discover the beauty in the world.” There are studies that prove that people who help other people feel better.

5. Take time to rest. Get enough sleep, relax.  Scientific research shows that relaxed people think more positively and are happier. Every hour of sleep missed lowers the positivity one can experience during the day.

6. Start our day with gratefulness, purpose and a positive attitude. I have noticed that the way I start the day, is the way the day goes. Gandhi said that he used to count his blessings for half an hour every morning.  If we focus on the positive things that surround us, we will notice more positive things. If we have a purpose for the day, we will be more present and it will be more likely that we accomplish what we want.

7.   Take ourselves less seriously. People who feel entitled to something, people who easily feel offended, and people who take themselves and the rest of the world very seriously won’t be as happy as people who can laugh about themselves.  Add some good humor to your life, see cheerful films, laugh often.

Do you have any other advice that can help us to be happier? Please, share it in the comments section and share the joy with more people.

Trust

Every time that I’m in a circle, I realize how important trust is. Trust manifests along with the intention of being part of a circle. When you’re part of a circle, you become part of something bigger than yourself. The circle wouldn’t be the same without you and you’re never the same again. Being in a circle is absolutely different than just observing it. The circle has its own voice and it respect yours. Trust is a firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing; but trust is also more than that. Trust is the relationship within which the trust is based. 

Lacking trust is a frequent problems in couples, organizations, societies, etc. you may 
like other people, but not necessarily trust them. Trust cannot be taken for granted. We need to build it, create it, maintain it. Which means that we have to come to terms with the possibility of breach and betrayal.

Re-building trust is one of the most complex tasks in life. It’s frequently compared to a crumpled paper. You can try to restore it, but it won’t look the same.

Our reluctance to trust is rooted in feelings of insecurity and egotism, and our ability to trust is founded in feelings of safety and acceptance.  Trust is not control, nor cordial hypocrisy. Trust is a form of freedom. We allow other people to be who they are; also, we trust the process without trying to control the outcome.

 In our process to improve ourselves, we have to learn to trust one another. Trust is an opening up of the world, an openness to its gifts. Breaches of trust don’t mark the end of trust but are part of the process of trusting. Trusting, not trustworthiness is the issue. It’s a matter of changing each other and the relationship through trust.

The worst enemies of trust are cynicism, selfishness and a naive conception of life in which one expects more than one is willing to give. Trust and control are incompatible, because the core of trust involves freedom.

DISTRUST
Distrust is the other side of the coin. Distrust demands suspicion;  authentic trust incorporates the possibility of distrust and is inconceivable without it. Such trust is no longer simple, but sophisticated and experienced. 

Basic trust starts when you are a kid and your needs are satisfied. Distrustful families raise distrustful children. So, perhaps your family was distrustful and now you’re in the difficult process of trusting other people, or you have experienced betrayal repeated times and you’re afraid of trusting again. But since it’s the only way to have an honest relationship with other person, you need to re-build trust.

LET’S WORK!

The first ingredient of trust is self-trust. How can we trust someone when we don’t trust ourselves? If this is your case, analyze why you don’t trust in yourself. Get professional help if it’s needed. Also, do what you say and honor your promises. And if you cannot longer honor them, apologize face to face with the other person. Be honest and speak from your heart and when you have the feeling that the other person is not being honest, make sure that s/he knows you are being open.

Then, extend your trusting process to other people. Go beyond the family and your closest friends. In our day to day lives we are surrounded by strangers whom we implicitly trust because we have to. Choose more people to trust them. When they seem to be genuinely concerned about you, share important information or at least tell them why you cannot disclose certain things. Be honest with yourself and with the rest of the world and you will see how a lot of people are also trustworthy. 

 

 

Aphei – it is kind to ask for help

Through Toke Møller,one of many teachers (although an unofficial one), I was reminded of Aphei, an ancient practice that means:  It is kind to ask for help.

 A person who

cannot

ask for help

cannot

be trusted

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see how people flourish through the helping process. During a 3-day event, we collaborated, shared laughs and information and worked together. Finally, we closed the event with a session of co-creation: a group of people presented projects, and  the rest of the attendees formed small groups and supported one of this project with our expertise, questions and suggestions.  For some hours, we became their consultants and our clients shared their needs and information about their projects. 

ask for help 2013

It’s amazing to see how this simple practice of asking for help and being open to receive it can change a person and a situation so much. The process of helping also enriches the helper, and although there are some rules that need to be considered in order to be helpful, when we help from a place of respect and appreciation for the other person, both grow.  We usually think that asking for help will make us vulnerable, but the reality is that if we don’t ask for help when we need it, the things that we fear most (losing control and being vulnerable) will probably happen.  Remember, all the problems start small.

LET’S WORK!

Think of a topic where you need some help: either input, questions or help in the execution of something. Be careful with requesting advice, as the responsibility should always rely on you and not on the other person, remember also that an advice that is not followed usually has an impact on relationships.

Be clear on the type of help you may need and find who is the best person to provide it. Ask the person if they would be willing to help you with your process, allow them the opportunity to decline, and explain briefly the topic. If they decline, say thanks, too. It takes courage to do it.

If they accept, proceed to give a more detailed explanation: what happened, what did you do, who else is involved, what do you think the problem may be, and clarify what would you like to achieve. Be open to answer questions and be challenged on your assumptions. Ask for clarification if it’s needed and be open to co-create new results. Finally, always remember to be grateful!

Feel free to contact me if you need some help : ) or leave a comment!

Letting go in 7 easy steps

Life is an intermittent lesson of letting go.  We have something, we get used to it, and more often than not, we need to let it go.

One of the biggest “let go” moments happened some months ago. Last October I graduated from a Masters program and I was ready to let go of my work in Customer Service with the intention of looking for a new job and starting again my career in Organizational Development. I did this for years in Mexico and I wanted to go back to this field. I was ready to let go of the certainty while I found a new job, but I couldn’t imagine the whole picture at the moment.

I live in Montreal, a vibrantly bilingual city, that is receiving more and more immigrants every day. I had the opportunity to work in Spanish and English most of the time, I attended school in English and the first thing I had to let go, after being laid off, was of my comfort with the language.  A big portion of the jobs are exclusively for fluently French speaking professionals and my “good” French wasn’t enough.

When I moved here I knew I had to let go of the comfort of the familiar, the friends and relatives, the places that I knew and where they knew me. After 6 years of adapting myself to a new environment, I had to let go of this barely familiar environment. I thought it was a good time to flow and put my attention and my intention to the French. All this came with a little bit of frustration, for sure, but I’m someone who knows how to adapt to the new realities.

I had to let go of my previous life-style as before I wasn’t careful with the money, I wouldn’t be concerned of investments and I was always very generous with everyone who needed money. I had to let go this “no worries” attitude and be more mindful of the way I spend.  For sure, generosity is very important, but not everything is money. I’ve learned to value my time and my intention.

I also had to let go of my superficial need for consumption, buying things I didn’t need, or things I could make myself, including prepared food. Prepared food is expensive and less healthy than food that we make ourselves, but you know, no one has time to prepare bread, for example.  Food is just an example but there are many things that I can do myself, and that are not difficult (such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, creams, deodorants, etc).  I can say that I was moderately crafty, but I have discovered new interests and skills now that I have more time and less money.

But perhaps the most important thing that I had to let go was a “self-sufficient” attitude. I was the one who helped others, I was the one solving problems and I was the one who knew what to do. My ego was probably the most affected in the process, but I finally applied the common sense advice that we have ever given or received: “Ask for help”.

So, this is my reflection for you today. One of the biggest obstacles for change is our inability to LET GO of anything (attitudes, assumptions, relationships, jobs, concerns) that no longer serve us. Let go in order to get to different, new places. Let go of the past, so the past can let go of you.
let go

LET’S WORK!

Here are some simple ideas to let go of the past and embrace the unknown future.   Of course, they can be as difficult or easy as you want them to be. If you need help applying them, or letting go, please, feel free to comment or contact me directly.

1. Be honest and remember the good and the bad. Not everything was perfect and you know it.

2.  Embrace things as they come. Remember that things come and go, that no one promised us anything, nor we signed a contract before arriving to this world. Everything is an expectation and the bigger they are, more room for disappointment, so let’s be conscious.

3. Focus on what you can control. Yes, it’s not fair that people tend to hire their friends, for example, but what I can do is develop more skills to better position myself.

4.  Allow yourself to express the emotions you feel. If you feel like venting, do it, but then do something that is positive, that brings you closer to your goal.

5. Take responsibility but don’t put all the guilt on you. Yes, you may have contributed to the situation, but sometimes, bad things just happen.

6. Be open to new experiences and thankful for the positive ones. The mind receives millions of stimuli every day. Focus on the ones that serve you and be thankful for them. You cannot be thankful and sad at the same time.

7.  Relax. Think what’s the impact of this in the future. In the next 20 years, will this situation still matter? Probably no, so, just relax.