More Flexible, Less Fear

The other day someone asked me to describe my two biggest goals in life. Once I got over the “Hey, I thought this was going to be a casual conversation!” I spent some time thinking about my response.

The reply didn’t come right away, as my mind raced between what I wanted to do and/or achieve and what I wanted to leave behind or be remembered for…then it hit me.

Two simple goals:

1. Be more flexible.

2. Have less fear.

More Flexible. I have noticed something as we progress through life. We tend to become stiff and rigid. This can be physically, mentally, or emotionally. We don’t stretch as often. We stop trying new things. We want things a certain way. We believe certain things. We know we are right and are not afraid to express that view. We have history with others. We hold grudges.

This goal provides a simple reminder. Am I getting stuck? Am I getting stiff? Am I responding and being closed off to new ideas, new activities, or new adventures? Recently I have been trying Yoga as a way to become more flexible physically, and starting to read a variety of books, or articles that may challenge my strongly held opinions. I initially felt resistance to both, but in time, both are becoming more natural.

Less FearLife is pretty ironic. When I was younger with less resources, less experience, and less opportunity, there was little fear. As resources, experience, and opportunity have grown, so has a corresponding fear.

This goal is the other important reminder. What am I afraid of? What is the worst that could happen? What is the cost of not trying these new things? Having this conversation with myself or others helps move me from inaction to action.

I am glad they asked me about my two biggest goals.

Two simple goals.

More Flexible.

Less Fear.

These two goals have become a kind of mantra for me.

Simple enough to remember, yet effective enough to keep me moving.

Now the question is passed to you.

What are your two biggest goals in life?

We all look forward to your answer.

Moats, Distance, and Drawbridges

Caerlaverock_Castle_from_the_air_1

 

(Caerlaverock Castle in Scotland courtesy of Wikipedia)

On the call the other day, I was connecting and checking in with someone important to me. They were describing an old relationship that did not end well. They had been hurt. Words were exchanged. The relationship, although important, had essentially ended.

Because of some recent circumstances, they needed to connect with this other person. Connecting after a falling out is never easy. They were wrestling with how to proceed, and the feelings associated with the time that had passed.

As we talked, I explained that sometimes we need to create Moats. Moats are protections for our core relationships. We keep those inside safe, and others are kept at a healthy Distance.

Distance is the natural by-product of a Moat. Those relationships can be good, but they have limits. Those relationships may be “not so good” but the Distance helps you keep your emotions and expectations in perspective.

Those inside are kept healthy and safe (including you).

When discussing how to move forward, we realized that Moats need Drawbridges.

Drawbridges allow us to let people in when needed. Drawbridges allow us to connect with the greater world by making a decision to lower the bridge.

The Moat still exists, but the connection can be made. When the time has passed, the Drawbridge can be raised again, when and if needed.

We all have Moats. The logical by-product of these Moats are Distance.

It is the Drawbridge that helps us manage both.

 

The Hill Rule

The Hill Rule

Our youngest daughter recently began running with me. We found some new shoes and planned a run.

“How far do you want to go on your first run?”

“How far do you normally go when you go off running?”

“Well my typical everyday route is a 5k.”

“How far is that?”

“3.1 miles.”

“Okay we should do that.”

We ran. We talked. We laughed.

We had to slow down a few times. She is used to sprinting on the soccer field.

As I watched her, her stride, gate, and frame something became clear: it is only a matter of time before she can out run me. With a combination of pride and a little envy, I realized my job is to coach her well, enjoy this time with her, and help her excel in something that she seems designed to do.

Each step confirmed that she is a runner.

But there is a hill.

In addition to providing encouragement and some tips on breathing, I explained that there is The Hill Rule in running. For those of you not familiar with this particular rule, let me explain.

The Hill Rule: when running up a hill, you are not allowed to stop. If you need to stop there are only two options.

1. Stop before you get to the hill, catch your breath, then proceed up the hill.

2. Stop at the top of the hill, after you run up the hill.

The reason for The Hill Rule is simple. A large part of running is a mental game. Stopping in the middle of a hill imprints a pattern that you cannot run hills, and you will tend to stop when faced with the next larger hill. The Hill Rule breaks this pattern, and does acknowledge that hills are hard, but there are options to overcome them.

The more I thought about The Hill Rule, the more I could see how it applies to any obstacle we face. When we give up or stop in the middle, we develop a pattern that can continue the next time that obstacle arises. Frankly, a large part of life is a mental game. 

Try applying The Hill Rule to your next obstacle. Either stop and rest before you tackle it, or rest when it is over. No stopping in the middle.

We ran up that hill without stopping. We rested at the end, and celebrated the run.

We are looking forward to the next run, and there will be hills.

 

Glasses or Binoculars

GlassesBoth of these tools have lenses, and are designed to help us see the world more clearly in their respective application. They are not competing with each other, but we may favor one over the other in our lives.

When looking at a situation, do you reach for your glasses or your binoculars?

Glasses help you see clearly.

Binoculars exaggerate and make everything appear closer.Binoculars

Glasses address things right before your eyes.

Binoculars help you see things that are far away, but may need your attention.

Glasses may need new lenses as life changes and our vision fades.

Binoculars may take some practice to learn to focus and interpret events.

Both glasses and binoculars have their respective role, application and usefulness. They become a burden when we get so used to using one, that we forget to change when the situation warrants.

A life lived solely through glasses makes the world seem smaller, as a quiet seclusion develops over time. Everything around you is in focus, but there is everything “out there” that is fearful and unknown. The life close to you is clear, but there may be a larger world around you that too far off in the distance to be seen.

A life lived solely through binoculars makes everything feel more close, more personal, more perilous. Interactions are overly scrutinized. Risks appear larger than life. Even the past events stay close because of the ability to keep them in sight, long after they have passed. This distorted view may cause you to miss the life that happens close, since your focus is much further away.

Where have you used glasses when binoculars were needed? When have your binoculars exaggerated aspects of your life when glasses would have brought the much-needed focus?

Picking the right application for both glasses and binoculars can be the key.

(Images courtesy of my iPhone and Lifesun)

The Relationship Reset Button

Reset Button

(Image Courtesy of Acceleraction.com)

So often in relationships, whether at home or work, with family or friends or loved ones, the past can overly shape the present.

You had a disagreement with that person. Now every interaction is awkward.

You lost your cool. Now others walk on eggshells around you.

You used to be fascinated by someone’s uniqueness. Now these issues only seem to cause you frustration.

You overly questioned someone’s work. Now they feel that you don’t trust them.

While working with a small group, we noticed this pattern and discussed how it impacts their ability to work together. The more I reflected, the more I noticed this pattern in my own circles.

The past interactions do not disappear, they build on each other to form a strange and often distorted view of others. I read recently that our memories can deceive us. Our memories exist, but each time we access them again they can change and the newer version of the story replaces the old memory.

I thought about how this can impact our relationships. Perhaps this is why it is so hard not to feel like a little kid around your parents. Maybe this is why people in more close relationships are heard complaining about the other one (many times in front of that person). This may be why it is so hard to rebuild a relationship at work that has gone south.

Those memories keep building and changing in a way that reinforces the negative issues.

What we could use is the Relationship Reset Button. This handy device would be available to any two people or a small group where all parties decide to let go of those past hurts, judgements, or misunderstandings. With a simple press of the button, everything would reset. They would be able to start fresh, start new, and get another chance at their relationship.

Yesterday I worked with this small group again. They pushed the Relationship Reset Button. There was history. There was conflict. There was a past. It wasn’t easy, but they stared over.

They let go, and began to appreciate each other’s differences.

They started to anticipate what the others may need, and started to provide that instead of being frustrated by requests.

They started to see that together they could accomplish so much more.

Along the way, some of the past began to return, but they would get together and remind each other that they had started over. These occasional issues didn’t build a new history, but were seen as lingering shadows that would continue to diminish as their new relationships grew.

Where can you use the Relationship Reset Button? Where has the past overly shaped and distorted some of your best relationships? The new year is about to start, so why not go ahead and press it and see what this year brings?

The Cost of Free

FreeRecently, someone was describing a difficult relationship. This is no ordinary difficult relationship, but one with someone who is deeply connected with this person.

They have a long history.

It has been difficult.

They still have to interact on a regular basis.

To make matters worse, the other person offers things for FREE. Since these things are typically valuable, there is an incentive to accept these FREE items or events.

As this person described the situations, conversations, or interactions leading up to these FREE offerings, something became abundantly clear.

These offers were anything but FREE.

The COST OF FREE was significant to this person, their family, and those close to them.

The COST OF FREE to this person was in the emotional stress and obligations that these FREE offerings came with after the fact. They became indebted to this other person.

The COST OF FREE to their family was the toll the stress had on their ability to connect with them during these difficult times, and the time away that the other person would eventually require as payment.

The COST OF FREE to those close was also in the form of stress, but also the inability to have the time to connect because they owed someone else their time, energy, and creativity.

I encouraged this person to calculate the COST OF FREE from now on and compare it to the value of what was being offered. Before this, they just saw the value of what was being offered and felt the obligation to say YES.

Now they can calculate the COST OF FREE and if that cost outweighs the offer, they can say NO.

Have you considered the COST OF FREE? Maybe it is time count the cost.

You may find a way to FREE yourself.