I want to speak to all of you fathers out there, dad to dad. (Mothers, you may interested in reading this as well, even though my emphasis here is to address the particular and important role that men play in the lives of their children, something that is important not only on the individual but also the societal level.)
The greatest gift we can give anyone, especially our children, is that of being fully present.
Why is our presence so critically important? What is it about bringing ourselves fully into the moment with our children that feeds the soul – theirs and ours?
The answers lie in the fact that one of the most important human needs is to be heard, seen, known and appreciated. This is how we make a key difference in cultivating qualities such as self-esteem, generosity and compassion within young minds and hearts.
Research in the fields of psychology, sociology and neuroscience all confirm the importance of caring touch and loving connection. Babies, after all, are completely vulnerable to the nurture – its presence or absence – provided by their caretakers. The way they are touched, the tone of voice used, the level of safety in their environment and the nourishment that is provided, these all develop not only a child’s physical but also his or her emotional, energetic and psychological states.
“I am here,” are some of the most comforting words a person can hear in moments of crisis, pain, doubt, fear and sorrow.
This is especially the case when the support comes from someone that is well known and loved. I have raised three children, now all young adults and one with children of his own. I would like to think I have been the kind of father each would turn to in a time of need – for support, comfort, and unconditional love.
Paternal wisdom gained from a lived experience is worth sharing.
Here are five (5) practices for fathers that enrich and grace our children as well as our selves:
I was 31 years old when I gave birth to my first child. Despite an M.D. after my name, and successful completion of a family practice residency under my belt, I soon discovered I had a lot to learn about being a parent. It took BEING one to learn and grow into the role. By about the age of 45, I could more honestly say, “OK, now I feel rooted in being a parent.” By then I already had a teenager in the house, and two more not far behind.
It’s one thing to read parenting books (or even this article), and quite another to translate the learning to each unique individual, situation and moment in time.
Mistakes were made. Oh, how I wish for another chance for certain moments! And yet, then as now, I have stuck to this bit of wisdom:
Do your best.
My best is much better after a good night’s sleep than it is after a long day at work. My best is much better when I feel healthy than when I’m puny with a cold. My best is much better when, well, things go my way.
But just as the bones in our body require constant pressure of use in order to stay strong, so too all life experiences, even the difficult ones, shape us. We cannot hope to become our best selves without some challenges along the way. In having the Courage to Let Go – of the past, of self-judgment, of rigid expectations – every day offers a new opportunity for us to Learn and Grow, to blossom into the best version of ourselves.
Today, I am the delighted grandparent of two precious young lives.
In fact, as I take my place as an elder in society (I’ll be 60 this year), there are many young children and their parents in my life. To these I can offer my heart, my listening ear, and – when it is asked for – my counsel born of “been there, done that.”
(I should add that my sympathy for my own parents grows daily, as I have come to recognize how hard it can be to let go of certain choices made by my adult children. I have to constantly remind myself to respect them, their journeys, their learning, and their sovereign right to choose for themselves. )
I offer here five practical bits of advice for parents.
These are born of my own experience. I hope they serve.
Do you live your life as though everything is a miracle, or as though nothing is?
Einstein was right on point about our perception of “what is.” HOW you set your mind to see the world is one of the most powerful ways to bring change into your life. The larger your frame of reference, the more likely you are to be a transformative force in this world, someone who can make “shift” happen.
To help you do this I suggest you play with, if not outright embrace, the idea that everything around you is a miracle. This shift in consciousness opens the “doors of perception,” leading to a more creative and innovative way of understanding yourself, those around you, your world and your work in this world. It makes the world both more accessible and engaging, allowing new insights into richer possibilities and more enabling choices.
The first two parts of this series looked at the power and the necessity of letting go in order to live in a more transformative way. As highlighted in Part Two, doing this requires all eight (8) Acts of Courage.
In this post, we’ll talk about 5 powerful HOW TO’s around living and leading in more creative, potent and effective ways.
Here they are:
Engage the “Genius of Non-Judgment”
Draw the Larger Circle
Use the Power of “And”
Access “Future Pacing”
Call on Allies, both Internal and External
Let’s take a closer look at each:
Creative How-To #1: Engage the “Genius of Non-Judgment”
Being more innovative requires a conscious shift in your perception by letting go of judgments about self, others and the situations you find yourself in. Organizational consultant and coach Leeza Steindorf has a great on-line presentation on the “genius of non-judgment” that lays this out in great detail.
Briefly, the approach is to focus on describing the “facts” of a situation and using these, as opposed to evaluations and judgments, as your frame. For example, let us imagine that you see someone playing a video game during work hours and they are not on break. The typical approach to this would be to “color” the observation of what the person is doing with a judgment such as: “That person is goofing off” or “That person doesn’t care” or even “That person is a bad employee.”
The path of non-judgment is to simply describe the “facts” as opposed to piling evaluations on top of those facts. In this case, the facts are:
Dr. Brown is the Best Selling Author of Let Your Personality Be Your Career Guide and The Road to Success (co-written with Jack Canfield), the Creator of The Book of You™, and a highly sought after Speaker and Coach.
Last week, Dusty Staub, best selling author of The 7 Acts of Courage, spoke with Dr. Sarah E. Brown, who revealed the secret to finding fulfillment and offering the world your best.
This is their conversation…
Dusty: Thank you so much for talking with me today Sarah. Could you tell our readers a bit about you, your work, and service in the world?
Dr. Brown: I help people understand their unique personality and how to use those insights to be more effective—to be happier, successful, and understood. My primary means for doing so is by writing a completely personalized book for each person.
The reader takes a world-renowned personality assessment. With the data from that instrument, I then write a book all about the reader, with information about him or her and some suggestions customized for that unique individual. The insights generated from the personalized The Book of You™ help the reader to minimize stress while maximizing success. It is like getting a personal coach in a book!
I have over thirty years of experience working in corporate America, including over 20 years of organization development and talent management work. I made extensive use of this powerful assessment tool as part of my organization development work.
In my last role as Managing Director at Accenture, I noticed a whole bevy of clients, mostly women, who were in the wrong jobs or not being able to play and work at their best. They were simply miserable.
They knew they were unhappy, but they could not tell me what would make them happier.
I was deeply moved at the individual pain and the collective cost to self-esteem and effectiveness. Then I noticed some people who were getting out of the rut. The critical difference for those few was that they were working with coaches. The coaching process evidently helped the participant to see her unique strengths, increased self-awareness and then provided action steps to act on that awareness. This was powerful.
Of course, hiring a good coach is costly and doesn’t appeal to everyone. I wondered how I could help people who either could not afford a personal coach or who simply didn’t like the idea of working with one.
Reflecting on the power of The Birkman Method® tool I had been using, I began to see how I could embed the coaching process in a book based on this powerful assessment tool. The Book of You™ was the result.
In the first part of this New Year series of articles, we looked at the importance of letting go, and the creative power that is unleashed as a result. In fact, there is no true capacity to move forward until we let go of our attachment to what was and to where we are standing in the moment.
Blake’s short poem on expanded awareness is predicated on opening what he labeled the “doors of perception” in order to see more possibilities. This requires letting go of the old definitions, of an identity that no longer fits, and of well-worn and threadbare ways of thinking and perceiving.
We stand with a foot in two very different worlds.
One is the familiar everyday world of transactions; of give and take; of contracts, rules and laws. This is also the realm of time lines and getting things done, of having and of doing. It is, of course, literally true that nothing happens until it moves into the transactional space, for this is where ideas, concepts, feelings and awareness get traction through discrete, concrete actions.
The power of this transactional realm is that “success” is measurable and quantifiable: for instance, by the amount of money and status we have, the list of things we have accomplished, or the skills we have acquired. The danger of this world, however, is that it is very compelling, even hypnotic in its ability to pull our attention and lock us into narrowed thinking.
For those who spend a lot of time in the world of transaction, two bumper stickers come to mind: “He who dies with the most toys wins,” and “Shit happens.”
The other realm is that of transformation.
This is the domain of wholeness, of being, purpose, significance, love and deep meaning, of spirit and possibility. It reflects a way of moving with life that uses, in the words of the poet Blake, “divine imagination.” From this perspective, we relate and connect in a way that generates a sense of self-worth, dignity and appreciation.
The bumper sticker here might read, “Shift Happens.” After all, he who dies with the most toys still dies.
But if a person can compost the shit to shift, rich new growth is possible.
From the perspective of transformation, the better questions are: Do peace and joy abide with you now? And what is the legacy that will be left for the benefit of future generations?
At this point in time there is a critical need for more transformational leadership by those with the capacity to make “shift happen.” With all of the many challenges we face in our transactional world, we need a wiser perspective and way of moving past the modern, soul-deadening, fear-based approach to life. Media coverage gives us ample stories of what to expect when the ego mind and the transactional rules without benefit of heart.
What is needed now more than ever is courage.
There are many different Acts of Courage we can muster. Let us hold leaders in government and business accountable and expect them to have the Courage to be Confronted and to make it safe for others to tell truth to power. Let us support those who show the Courage to Confront, and help them to move beyond years of living in pain and shame, diminishment and invisibility.
As we look toward a fresh tomorrow, let us remember that transformational thinking helps to ensure that powerful, effective growth and development is taking place through a more heart-centered engagement with self and others. This is enlivening and enriching for all.
Holding onto what was but no longer fits is very much like the proverb of watering last year’s garden.
It will keep you from taking care of the seeds for this year’s crop, of recognizing the wonderful new opportunities in front of you. Where does the courage to let go and to dream anew, to be vulnerable, to learn and grow, to confront and be confronted, come from? There are many sources. The main ones I have identified are:
Service – to something greater than the fear of the moment
Personal Purpose – a deeper sense of meaning than “ego” or personality
Anger – at injustice; taking action in spite of fear and social condemnation
Inspiration – seeing others who are showing courage in the face of needed change
Camaraderie – and an unwillingness to let others down
Love – the greatest motivator of all
Where others are seeing limitation and dead end signs, transformational leaders identify growth opportunities and new pathways forward. This is making “shift happen.” Every effective leader that I have studied or that I have worked with has been effective at doing this.
So how about you?
Are you stepping up to what is possible by cultivating the courage to let go of the old identity or ways of thinking that no longer serve you?
Are you a transformational presence or leader for your self, family, team, department or organization?
Are you effective both personally and professionally through your ability and willingness to shift your perspective – and way of thinking, working, engaging and behaving – as called for in the moment? (Where you lack this ability, there is a great danger of becoming stuck in a well-worn, even a velvet-lined “rut.” As my old boss and mentor Dr. James Noble Farr expressed it, “There is an endemic and epidemic disease impacting many people: ‘hardening of the categories.’”)
When you get stuck and feel there is no way forward, when the framework and situation around seems hopeless, then it is a sign of the failure to make a critical shift in your way of thinking and perceiving. You may very well be suffering from “hardening of the categories,” that then leads to a failure of imagination.
I invite you to cultivate your creativity in order to shift to a broader, more innovative way of thinking. In the next (and final) blog in this series, I’ll dive into fun and powerful ways to foster this transformational capacity.
Dusty: Thank you so much for talking with me today Dmitriy. Could you tell our readers a bit about you, your work, and service in the world?
Dmitriy: I am a serial entrepreneurial-artist. Creating new companies and doing it as an artist in both what and how I do it. What I actually do at the moment is a creative design business that generates the back end for many growing companies. We also build personal brand sites to drive an entrepreneur’s business while also expressing who they are in the world.
In addition to this I cofounded a group called Maverick X. It is an organization helping those who have accomplished something already, created a business, to step up to a higher level of contribution in the world. Finally, but not last, I am a poet creating most of it on FB or on my personal website.
Dusty: What is your relationship with Courage and why does it matter in your life and work?
Dmitriy: Your book, The 7 Acts of Courage really inspired me when I was 20. In fact, as we are talking I am looking at a beautiful piece of art in front of me. It appears to be a dragon at first glance, but as you look closer you see that the dragon is all made out of Monarch butterflies.
This is a powerful image and insight. All of my biggest, darkest fears are made out of butterflies, like those in my stomach when I am facing my fear. Seeing the fear not as a dragon but a collection of butterflies helps me to step into greater grace and power in life.
In my life and work I like to explore the greatest depths of what is needed in order to be in alignment with my Purpose in living.
That means having the Courage to Learn and Grow, of being willing to step into the unknown. I believe it takes courage for any of us to really claim, discover and share our gifts with the world. The fuel to take those steps is courage.
Whether in relationships to tell the uncomfortable but authentic truth or in business to take a strategic risk, courage becomes the fuel, the key to all gifts that lay on the other side of that apparent dragon blocking the path.
Dusty: Where have you most needed to develop Courage in your life and in your work?
Dmitriy: There is a distinction between the two, and yet as my life is integrated, one flows into the other in many ways. I mostly needed to develop courage in using my voice–speaking my truth when it doesn’t feel comfortable or I know it is the right thing to do even when it does not match the pulse of the environment.
It goes into my business: challenging the status quo, the business frame, stepping up and out. Another major area where I have most needed to develop courage has been in the journey of decision-making. Many times choices have been made from my head (logical process short term, weighing pros and cons).
Those do not require courage as it is just the game of the mind making choices. When it comes to stepping into what my heart wants me to do, then it doesn’t always match what my head has come up with. Making those choices has required the most courage in my life and my work.
An example of this: This past year I went to Burning Man for the first time. This was right after launching a new major product and service. I was also moving from one place to another. My mind was saying, “You need to stay home and handle everything.”
For over forty years it has been my life work to help people claim their purpose, passion, power and true presence in this world. I have had the honor and privilege of working with individuals, families, teams, organizations and communities in actualizing this guiding purpose. Let me share, briefly, what I have seen and why the Courage to Let Go matters so much.
When I was in private practice as a licensed marital and family therapist, I saw many people who were holding on to old grievances, wounds, resentments, anger and fear. They had coalesced their identities around these past pains to such a degree that it sucked up much of their life force, keeping them stuck in well-worn ruts of sub-optimal patterns of reacting, responding, perceiving and thinking.
Whether it was a man holding on to the memory of a woman who had divorced him ten years earlier, entangled in the pain, the resentment, the longing or whether it was a woman holding on to an old relationship and unwilling to move on, it caused a relentless sense of loss, pain, grief and diminishment.
When I worked in Mental Health System inpatient wards and outpatient clinics, as well as in Drug and Alcohol treatment centers, I saw the same thing repeated over and over. People were clinging to old definitions of self, to old hurts, sorrows and losses.
Subsequently they stayed stuck in patterns that brought only pain for themselves, their families and those around them. People were attached to the “stories” of their life. These were stories that did not lead to release and freedom, but instead justified staying stuck and even righteous about patterns of limitation. As the old saying goes…
In theory, holidays are a time when we are exempt from the daily grind.
A time to replace the habitual stresses of living and relax with our family and friends.
In reality, our “holiday spirit” experience is often disturbed by a different stress, the one that can come from being in extended proximity with family. Many of us expect or believe that our “best self” needs to be on display, yet this is challenging because our “best self” co-habitates in our mind with our “normal self.”
And the expectation that our best self be in charge is all too often sabotaged by some unconscious “spells.” As explained in our book Dynamic Focus: Creating Significance and Breaking the Spells of Limitation, there is a “spell” when any unconscious mental habit of thinking and perceiving takes control of our mind and subverts our best intentions through subtle thoughts, beliefs and assumptions.
When this happens we feel we have either lost control, or we end up acting and relating with those around us in a way contrary to the intention of our “best self.”
One particularly powerful spell that we see is that of “Confirmation Bias.”
This is when we see what we expect to see by organizing information to fit a pre-conceived assumption. This includes cherry picking the information that fits our assumptions and expectations, while excluding that which does not. Challenges show up in numerous ways.
One of these is when families get together and there is unresolved tension between any of the members. Everyone tries to make nice and to bring his or her best self forward, but when one thing is said or done that confirms the source of tension, holiday togetherness can become hell on earth.
It does not always require someone else to trigger the “anti-holiday spirit” spell.
A Conversation with best-selling author HeatherAsh Amara.
Last week, we sat down with HeatherAsh Amara, best-selling author, speaker, and Warrior Goddess, about what it means to connect with your inner fire and courageously live an authentic life of your own creation. This is our conversation…
AOC:Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. Awaken Your Inner Fire is a remarkable book. Could you start by explaining what you mean by “inner fire”, and why connecting with your inner fire is so vital to living an authentic life of purpose and passion?
HeatherAsh: Your inner fire is your passion and your creativity. It’s your life force energy. I like to think about it this way: Let’s say you have a computer that’s made from the most up-to-date hardware and loaded with the best software. It’s an amazing computer, but if it’s not plugged into an energy source, nothing’s going to happen. Our inner fire is our energy source. The more power we have running through our system, and the more we’re plugged into our potential and our creativity, the more we’re going to be able to manifest to our world.
The message in Awaken Your Fire is really around bringing your attention back inside to listen for thoughts and actions that are dampening your fire, and the thoughts and actions that will ignite your fire and make you brighter. Coming back into relationship with this vital power source can help guide us in knowing what actions to take to create a life that will serve us the most.
AOC:In the book, you speak a lot about creativity. What would you say to those people who believe that they simply aren’t creative?
HeatherAsh: I believe we are all creative people. When you begin working with your inner fire, you start to recognize that every action you take is creative. The more that you come into alignment with what your truth is – with what’s authentic for YOU – the more creative you are able to be. This is especially true in how we respond to obstacles.
Ignite Your Passion, Find Your Purpose, and Create the Life That You Love
by HeatherAsh Amara
HeatherAsh Amara is a best selling author, speaker, and Warrior Goddess, who travels the world working with groups of women to integrate the feminine wisdom of the ancients into their modern lives.
Awaken Your Inner Fire will show you how to connect with the vital energy within you, the unseen force that gives life to your being. Perhaps because this energy can’t be measured in a lab, many people live without any idea of its existence, or the importance of tending to it.
In this groundbreaking book, best-selling author HeatherAsh Amara introduces you to the fundamentals of your Inner Fire, and explains how the four major aspects of your being – the mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical – all interact with this powerful energy.
Amara teaches that when you view these four aspects through the lens of your Inner Fire, you can radically change how you think, feel, and live in the world. In this audiobook, you’ll find practices, meditations, and explorations to put the concepts to work in your life.
By tending to your Inner Fire, you will learn how to:
Find your true work in the world, regardless of any job you do or role you play.
Use your Inner Fire as your own personal North Star, allowing it to guide you when making important decisions.
Move beyond busyness, stress, and overwhelm and live in joyous creation
Implement a new daily practice to live in balance no matter what life brings.
Learning how to tend your Inner Fire in a world that is constantly trying to hook your attention is a challenge – but this book invites you to take new perspective on who you are and how you relate to the world.
This giveaway is open until Friday, December 18th, 2017 at 12:00AM MST. The Winner will be chosen randomly. We will email the winner and if the winner doesn’t respond in 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.