Lightening up and being playful

Busy is the New Fine

Woman On Her Cell Phone

Picture two friends running into each other at the grocery store. Their conversation goes something like this:

“Hey, great to see you! How are you?”

“Wow,  super busy. You?”

“Oh, same as you. Busier than ever!”

Sound familiar?

We used to say, “Fine,” even if we weren’t. There will always be situations where this exchange is meant to be a polite social ritual, not an invitation to download every trauma we’ve encountered over the past week. When we walk into the office in the morning or greet the barista, “Fine, thanks!” is a polite response.

But now, we aren’t fine.  We are busy.  Super busy.

Sometimes I wonder if we equate being busy with being valuable. If we replied, “I’ve been taking it easy the past few days,” would we fear being judged as lazy, unproductive, or – worst of all – selfish? Read more

I Have No Problems

My life changed in five minutes, playing catch with a child.

Opened lotus flower

Opened lotus flower

This summer, I met with Chris Holmes, the President of Penfield Children’s Center.  PCC serves children from birth to age three. As they state it, “Penfield Children’s Center is a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to help infants and young children with and without disabilities to reach their full potential through education, therapy services and family programs.”

This statement says what they do, yet you cannot fully understand who they are and what PCC is like from reading it. It’s like trying to describe the taste of salt to someone who has never had it. Before our meeting, Chris took me on a tour of the facility. Bright colors, natural lighting in every single room and hallway, soft corners and nurturing people – these are some of the elements that you find walking through the building. I was especially delighted by the office windows. Typically, office windows are in the door, or maybe in the wall along the hallway, at desk level. Windows here are 2 feet off the ground, so little ones can see what’s going on in there.

So you immediately see the combination of intelligent design, intelligent and warm people, and lots of thought given to adaptive spaces that meet the needs of all children, typically and non-typically developing alike. The biggest force at PCC, though, is the children. Laughing, crying, moving, sleeping, learning, playing, being goofy, waving hello, rushing up to hug Chris, the children brought the place to life.

And then I met Miguel and I was brought to life. Read more

What do you do?

Postman delivering mailThis question causes me to stumble and trip over my words more times than I like to admit. I have so many answers, and they’re all true: I coach, facilitate, teach, train, consult, advise, coordinate, manage, lead, design, write.

This morning, this thought popped into my head: “I will do anything I can to help people see things from new perspectives.”

Hearing someone say, “I never thought of it that way,” excites me more than just about anything on the planet. It means there is an opening, a loosening, a letting go of a fixed idea about How Things Should Be or the way we want them to turn out. It means stepping out of certainty and into curiosity and creativity.

So that’s what I get excited about in my work with people and organizations.

I think it’s really important for each of us to redefine what we “do.” Instead of listing our tasks, job titles or functions, what if we stated our guiding principles and passions?

What is your guiding principle? What is the value that you can find in your work, no matter what you do?

For example, if you work at the post office counter, your guiding principle could be, “My goal is to make each person’s day a little brighter and give them a reason to smile.”

Guiding principles transcend the tasks, such as selling stamps or whatever it is you do, and focus on the value or the nature of how we go about our work. When we commit to caring about what we value, we maintain satisfaction in our roles even if the tasks themselves aren’t what we feel called to do in life.

And, we can change the world. There’s a lot of research that shows that just being in proximity to happy people increases your own happiness.

What if everyone you encountered in your day was living according to their guiding principles, values and passions? What if you did? You’d generate happiness and contentment in yourself, and everyone around would benefit.

As the saying goes, it’s not what we do, but how we do it that matters. And we all matter, no matter what we “do.”

Lessons from Settlers of Catan

My partner and his daughter love playing games.  So do I, of a certain variety.  Cribbage?  Yes!  Scrabble?  Bring it!  Bananagrams?  Undefeated!  Ping pong?  I’m not very good, but I’ll play!  I just don’t care for board games of strategy such as Monopoly, Risk and Settlers of Catan (no offense, devoted fans).

However, they both indulge my cribbage cravings so I willingly reciprocate by agreeing to play Settlers on occasion.  The last time we played, I was agonizing over my next move.  I didn’t know where to place a new section of road and sat staring at the board, getting more confused and tense by the minute.  I finally said, “This is too stressful!”

My partner smiled and gently replied, “You can’t take it so seriously.” Read more