The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. Victory comes from living as human beings should live.
Hi! How are you?
Have you noticed how hard it’s become to answer that question? Back in the good old days of February, a“Good. How are you?” would have sufficed for an answer. Now, I’m hesitant to use this cliched greeting for fear the other person might tell me how they really are!
I Zoomed recently with Alex (names changed) a client who is a partner at a boutique financial firm. Alex mentioned he’s been able to guide his team efficiently via remote conditions BUT he’s uncertain how they’re doing personally. He doesn’t know how to check-in on their overall well-being because he views Zoom as an agenda driver. As he said to me, “Just asking ‘how are you?’ seems lame today.”
I suggested Alex ask his team non-cliched, unexpected questions, so as to get non-cliched, revealing answers. For instance –
- Now that we’re headed into the 3rd Quarter, what’s something you’ve learned about yourself these past months that will help you going forward?
- What have you learned about yourself that surprised you?
- What do you NOT want to return to when things return to (new) normal?
Well, you get the idea. . .
I told Alex that asking thought-provoking questions will reassure his team that he’s actually thinking of them.
BUT – here’s the thing –
You don’t have to lead a team to ask thought-provoking questions.
In fact, the first person to whom you should ask thought-provoking questions is – YOU!
The year is half-over.
What have YOU learned about YOU that surprised you?
That encouraged you?
That disappointed you?
I hear people offer the refrain of how they can’t wait for things to get back to normal. I get it. I’d love to be offering workshops and keynotes on site again. BUT – I sense that too many people consider all of what has happened as a huge, pain-in-the butt interruption to life as it should be.
A pandemic + a historical racial reckoning are not mere interruptions to life!
We are living in a time of transformation. Personal. Collective.
As we ask collectively who we want to be as a society, we need to ask who we want to be personally.
According to philosopher and theologian Richard Rohr, there are only two ways we really learn:
Great Love + Great Suffering.
Look around you and you’ll see both in abundance. And so, I have to believe that there is a lot of learning going on!
What have you been learning?
Who do you want to become more of as a result of these both numbing + exhilarating days?
If we do not ask our own self these questions, then truly this has all been an utter waste of human spirit and effort.
But there’s more. . .
Asking these questions excites me. Why?
Remember back when you’d be asked why you did something in the way you did it – and your cliched answer was, “Because. That’s the way I’ve always done it!”
These are the days when you can ask yourself – do I have to do it the way I’ve always done it?!
What better time to reassess your life than when life has been turned upside down?
What better time to determine (as psychotherapist James Hollis puts it) if we are pursuing a life that enlarges us or a life that diminishes us.
As unnerving as this time has been and continues to be have you learned in however bittersweet a way what really matters to you? Have you developed a renewed appreciation for friendships, reordered priorities, living in the moment, small acts of kindness?
When the crisis subsides, we might have occasion to ask whether we want to return to normal, or whether there might be something we’ve seen during this break in the routines that we want to bring into the future.
Charles Eisenstein, economist
In the words of New York writer and director Julio Vincent Gambuto, “We get to Marie Kondo the sh*t out of it all!” (LOVE IT!)
This is the time to examine all the dusty, cliched, cluttering aspects of our lives and ask why we’re keeping habits, modes of thinking, half-baked decisions, draining relationships and some- day dreams. What do we want to keep? Why? What do we want to toss? Why?
By the time life reverts to whatever its new normal will look and feel like, sure, it would be nice if you had created a money-generating side gig or could speak six Babble languages – BUT – the real question and hope is –
Will you emerge from head-spinning 2020 with a clearer sense of what and who matters in your life – andwill you have more of the confidence you need to create, endorse and cheer-on that renewed and new YOU?
The simple truth is: A change in the world begins with a change in our own self.
Change grounded in an attitude of possibility and a posture of generosity – to oneself and to others.
Here’s to the second half of 2020 – may it be days of grace and kindness and confidence!
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