No man is an island

“Mummy am I Muslim or Hindu?”
“Neither darling, you don’t really have a religion.”
“So can I choose what I am?”
“Yes you can!”
“Oh good! That means I can marry Shey and be a Muslim. My teacher said that if one person doesn’t have a religion they can marry anyone and be the same as them.”

This was a recent conversation with my 5 year old daughter.  I loved the simplicity of it.  Her thoughts reminded me of an item I heard on the radio last week where a Christian lady was being interviewed about her 40 year marriage to a Jewish man.

The point of the item was to highlight the challenges of living a tandem life like this. She talked about the difficulty their parents had accepting that they would marry. How they worried that she’d feel excluded from his Jewish celebrations because she wouldn’t be allowed to join in. How they wouldn’t be part of either community and therefore how they’d have none.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”  ― John Donne, No Man Is An Island - Meditation XVII

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
― John Donne, No Man Is An Island – Meditation XVII

Being part of a tribe or community is really important to our primitive brain.  We like to spend time with people like us because it helps us feel safe and, as far as our primitive brain’s concerned, safe = good.  The minds of this couple’s parents would definitely have been seeing this marriage as a serious threat to their safety and security.  And especially in those days.  40 years ago when they married – about 1975 – there were three TV channels, no mobiles, no internet, definitely no social media.  This meant two things:

………The world was much smaller and awareness of wacky things like inter-religion marriages was incredibly low.

………And, being part of a religion at that time was a significant source of having our basic human need of ‘community’ met.  If you didn’t have support there, where could you get it?

Today we have so many ways to be part of a community – whether virtual or in real life – yes religion, and also communities based in work, sports, music, shopping, theatre, food, friends and family …and more, and then there are all the social media community options…..

They provide us with support and a sense of belonging.  A sense of shared purpose with others.  Community is one of our basic human needs that, if not met, leaves us with a sense of dissatisfaction with life, and a lack of balance. Or worse.

If you stop now and think…..  What communities are you part of.  Why not list them out.  How important are each of them to you?  Where would you like to spend more time?  What would that give you?  And what would that mean for your other priorities?

But what about communities you’d like to be part of but never ventured into?  Communities that might challenge your thinking, your attitudes, your experience – and ultimately help you grow and develop in some way.

That little voice of our primitive brain is still there sometimes, telling us whether it’ll be safe or not.  Just like the parents of that couple 40 years ago.  And yet there they are, still happily married with a richer life because of it.  From the joining of their two religions, they’ve had a great breadth and depth of conversation about how to live their lives together, how to raise their children.  And apparently their kids were the most enthusiastic with the most mature perspectives in RE class, because of their broader and more varied experience.  And they’ve benefitted from the support of two communities rather than one.

So what communities do you want to join that could broaden your horizons and give you a new perspective or a new challenge?  And what’s stopping you?

I believe in people being the key to success and that success is unlocked by great bosses. And being a boss is a tough job.  

If you believe in this stuff too, get in touch for a chat and let’s see what we could do together – 07718 316 616 or helen.amery@wildfigsolutions.co.uk or take a look at my website to find out more.

Executive Coaching and Development for SME leaders –

creating success for you, for your team, for your business.

[Photo credit – world-visits.blogspot.com]

Judgement Day

The events in Paris last week saw one of the most extreme forms of judgement possible.  People with a belief in something so strong that they chose to judge those who believed differently, and end their lives so they couldn’t believe it anymore.

There’s been enough coverage on this topic that I don’t want to use this post to explore it further.  But what I do want to talk about is the fact that we are surrounded by judgement all day every day and we don’t even notice it.

We judge things as good or bad, right or wrong, for pretty much every waking moment.

We judge others for having too much money, and for not having enough.

We judge others for being beautiful, and for not being beautiful enough.

We judge others for doing their job well, and for not doing it well enough.

And we judge ourselves for being ‘good enough’ or not.

So often we attach negative meaning, have negative beliefs, make negative judgements about people or situations.  And yet most of what we see of people is 10% of who they really are.  Most of who they are is beneath the surface, possibly so far down that they aren’t even aware of it themselves.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – Dalai Lama

Here are a few real life recent examples of how judgement of others affects how we feel and how we then behave…….

I read a Harvard Business Review email saying that managers who are morning people are more likely to believe someone’s work performance is below standard if that person’s requested, and works, a later working day – because they believe the person’s lazy.

Somewhere in the past of those managers you can hear their parents shouting…. ‘John!  Get up now.  You shouldn’t be so lazy!  Half the day’s gone already!’.  Engraining that belief in their mind that lying in = lazy.  By the way, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my mum at this point for engraining early starts in me by using the vacuum cleaner early on a Saturday!

But back to the ‘lazy’ staff.  Is it true that everyone you’ve ever met who enjoys a lie in is lazy – all day.  Every day?  You might be hard-pressed to prove that to be true.  And, assuming it’s not, then someone who works a later day isn’t lazy, they’re actually really smart to do their work when they’re most productive.

Then I read an article at the weekend which highlighted how children don’t attach meaning to things that we do as adults – well, not unless they’ve been taught a meaning by an adult.  This article was about a mum who died of cancer at Christmas.  In fact on Christmas Day.  In the preceding months her bodily functions were giving up on her so she had a colostomy bag.  Her 5 year old twin boys observed the fact that ‘mummy can poo into a bag’ with interest.  As an adult, our immediate reaction is probably something like ‘how awful, poor woman, how undignified’.  But we only believe that because of our parents, our teachers, our experiences, our interactions, society’s rules.  It’s these which cause us to assign meaning, and label that situation as ‘bad’.

What if it wasn’t all those things.  What if it was just a fact that this person needs that treatment to continue to live a vaguely normal life – well, that’s pretty good.  Isn’t it?

I had a similar thought when I saw a recent headline: “NHS Collapsing: Patients taken to hospital in fire engines”.  (By the way, you can rely on the media for negative judgement – daily.)

I don’t know the ins and outs of the latest crisis with ambulances but I do know that, for the fire service to be helping out, things must be tough – in some instances, for some hospitals at least.  Reading that headline gives us choices in how we see that situation.  We can join the crowds and bemoan the state of the NHS, heaping more criticism onto an organisation full of people who work hard every day to take care of us and who, like most of us, are doing the best they can with what they’ve got.

Or we can celebrate the brilliant team mentality of the fire service to get stuck in and help out.  I’m pretty sure that if I needed urgent medical attention I’d rather get to hospital in a fire engine than go without any care.

I don’t believe that we could ever remove all unhelpful judgement from every situation but I reckon we can begin walking in that direction.  We can start to notice when we’re judging, and practice spotting the good in a situation, or in a person.  We can be more kind.

I believe in people being the key to success and that success is unlocked by great bosses. And being a boss is a tough job.  

If you believe in this stuff too, get in touch for a chat and let’s see what we could do together – 07718 316 616 or helen.amery@wildfigsolutions.co.uk or take a look at my website to find out more.

Executive Coaching and Development for SME leaders –

creating success for you, for your team, for your business.

Christmas Brain – Take 3

The final part in my trio of Christmas brain-related reflections. (If you missed the others, here’s Take 1 and Take 2). Today it’s about the love our brain has for filtering out what it sees as needless information.

Festive Filter

“I’m sorry for ignoring you but that’s all I can do.” – Taimoor Madni

I don’t know about you but every year when we pack away our Christmas decorations we leave something out. Maybe the tinsel my son draped on his shelves, maybe the little Santa resting on his wooden bench. Our brain so quickly filters out the stuff that it sees as unnecessary for its everyday function and survival.

See new thing – check.
Is it important for our food, shelter, safety, etc? – no.
Great!  Ignore new thing now!

(This is actually a festive coffee filter!)

(This is actually a festive coffee filter!)

It’s a bit like the notice board at work with the information on that nobody ever reads. If there’s a chance for our mind to save energy by filtering stuff out then it’s going to do it.

What about where you work?
How much are people overwhelmed by constant new and changing information?
How much is the accepted behaviour just wallpaper that nobody notices anymore?
How often do you not listen to someone because you believe you already know what they’re going to say?
How do you want things to be?
What’s the first step you’ll take to change?

[Photo Credit – http://www.ourprairiehomeblog.com/2012/11/festive-coffee-filter-wreath.html%5D

I believe in people being the key to success and that success is unlocked by great bosses. And being a boss is a tough job.  

If you believe in this stuff too, get in touch for a chat and let’s see what we could do together – 07718 316 616 or helen.amery@wildfigsolutions.co.uk or take a look at my website to find out more.

Executive Coaching and Development for SME leaders –

creating success for you, for your team, for your business.

Christmas Brain – take 2

Welcome to the second of my Christmas reflection trio. Take 1 is here if you missed it. Today’s one is about the choice we have about how we see our competition.

Rivals – For Better or For Worse

“Nothing is ever done beautifully which is done in rivalship.” – John Ruskin

My kids are major rivals. In fact, to my son, pretty much everyone is a rival. His life is one big competition. And if he’s not winning, it’s not worth playing. A strong Achievement Drive it would be fair to say!  And it makes for short family game playing experiences if it’s not going his way.  But lucky him, he has me as his mum, and I’ve been telling him about the work of Timothy Gallwey.

 tennis1

In the Inner Game of Tennis, Gallwey talks about seeing your better opponent as the opportunity of your life to learn and improve, seeing them as a brilliant challenge to be better.  it changes your perspective on not needing to be the winner all the time and brings in that idea of spotting the good instead of the bad from last week’s post.  Spot the opportunity to learn rather than seeing it as a humiliating defeat.  I also think there’s a bit of our primitive brain in here too. A bit of alpha male behaviour – ‘I need to show my dominance, my supremacy, because if I don’t someone else might, then they’ll get all the girls, and reproduce the most – and I want my genes in the future generations of the species.’

This basic instinct plays out everywhere, everyday, with people wanting to show they’re the best.  Even if that sometimes means they’re the best at moaning.  The best at being a ‘difficult’ employee.  As well as, pure and simple, the best at what they do.

So rivalry can be great. It means we have the chance to strive for more and for better.
But how do you see your rivals?

Do you feel [fed up / frustrated / dejected / jealous / determined to take them out] because you don’t feel you’re as ‘good’ as them?

Or do you see them as the best learning opportunity of your life? The best source of insight for what you can do to be even better?

What would change for you if this last part was true?

[Photo credit: http://www.best-betting-strategies.blogspot.com]

I believe in people being the key to success and that success is unlocked by great bosses.  I’m an Executive Coach for SME leaders to help create success for you, for your team, for your business.

If you believe in this stuff too, get in touch for a chat and let’s see what we could do together – 07718 316 616 or helen.amery@wildfigsolutions.co.uk
or take a look at my website to find out more.