Archives For Reflecting

Nature and art: The material and the workmanship. There is no beauty unaided, no excellence that does not sink to the barbarous, unless saved by art: It redeems the bad and perfects the good. Because nature commonly forsakes us at her best, take refuge in art. The best in nature is raw without art, and the excellent is lacking if it lacks culture. Without cultivation everyone is a clown and needs polish, fine attributes notwithstanding.

~ Baltasar Gracian, The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1647)

Tao Te Ching

As soon as beauty is known by the world as beautiful, it becomes ugly.

As soon as virtue is being known as something good, it becomes evil.

Therefore being and non-being give birth to each other.

Difficult and easy accomplish each other.

Long and short form each other.

High and low distinguish each other.

Sound and tone harmonize each other

Before and after follow each other as a sequence.

Realizing this, the saint performs effortlessly according to the natural Way without personal desire, and practices the wordless teaching thru one’s deeds.

The saint inspires the vitality of all lives, without holding back.

He nurtures all beings with no wish to take possession of.

He devotes all his energy but has no intention to hold on to the merit.

When success is achieved, he seeks no recognition.

Because he does not claim for the credit, hence shall not lose it.


~ Lau Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Men admire the man who can organize their wishes and thoughts in stone and wood and steel and brass,
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of my favorite philosophizers. Known for leading the transcendentalist movement, Emerson has inspired millions from across the world with his many lectures and printed essays.

This month’s quote originates from Emerson’s chapter on Courage found in a collection of lectures and essays, entitled Society and Solitude. These words ring true in any age of any civilization. Whether it be a sky scraper, a mural or a monument, the human civilization has honored the works of others who have the capacity to envision, correlate and physically create something that moves them to act. Inventions, architecture or art have all been mediums for the creative and open minded people. I will not begin to claim only few truly have the capacity to achieve their goals or to physically manifest their desires. No, though it may seem only few out of so many are capable of such success, we all have it in us to make possible. Passion, purpose are all the ingredients needed to spark that fuse that has been waiting to be lit. And when it’s lit, oh boy, the world better be ready.

Now, if you were to do a little digging you may find the paragraph this quote begins. And upon finding it, you may find yourself enlightened.

Men admire the man who can organize their wishes and thoughts in stone and wood and steel and brass, – the man who can build the boat, who has the impiety to make the rivers run the way he wants them; who can lead his telegraph through the ocean from shore to shore ; who, sitting in his closet, can lay out the plans of a campaign, sea-war and land-war, such that the best generals and admirals, when all is done, see that they must thank him for success ; the power of better combination and foresight, however exhibited, whether it only plays a game of chess, or whether, more loftily, a cunning mathematician, penetrating the cubic weights of stars, predicts the planet which eyes had never seen ; or whether, exploring the chemical elements whereof we and the world are made, and seeing their secret, Franklin draws off the lightning in his hand; suggesting that one day a wiser geology shall make the earthquake harmless and the volcano an agricultural resource. Or here is one who, seeing the wishes of men, knows how to come at their end; whispers to this friend, argues down that adversary, moulds society to his purpose, and looks at all men as wax for his hands; takes command of them as the wind does of clouds, as the mother does of the child, or the man that knows more does of the man that knows less, and leads them in glad surprise to the very point where they would be: this man is followed with acclamation.

An amazing message. Now though Emerson explains this as an attribute of courage, it is not hard to see the relevance to what Mr. Hill is trying to expound upon in chapter 7. Now, though there is a lack of femininity in this passage, one must only look to our modern times to see how the women of today exhibit every ounce of courage stated in Emerson’s lecture. But it is not a question of men or woman, it is a matter of who indeed are the brave ones.

Originally published in 1870, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Society and Solitude is a collection of Emerson’s lectures given while touring the country. Transcribed into philosophical essays, his lectures have been added to the immense archive of influential literature. In fact it seems, now a days, it would be difficult to throw a stone without hitting a quote or other piece of literature from Mr. Emerson’s works.

Written by: David Leingang

Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.”
~ Rumi

Do you lack desire?
Do you dread getting out of bed in the morning?
Do you get to excited for Friday and dread Mondays?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you might want to reevaluate your life this coming year. I doubt that the Grand Overall Designer (G.O.D.) placed you on this earth to be miserable. So why do so many people seem to be?

One reason, or the main reason, is what Rumi stated in this quote, if your work isn’t your desire, it really isn’t in your heart. And if something really isn’t in your heart how much do you put into it?

That’s why companies pay people a salary, so they will do something that doesn’t add to their desire. Most people’s work isn’t what they desire to do so the money they receive will help them achieve their desires. That’s one reason why people volunteer and work without pay, they have a desire to add value to others or a worthy cause.

When people have no goals in life, have they given up on the possibility of fulfilling their desires and achieving their dreams?

Sometimes I think that there really are dead people walking amongst us. Their dreams are dead and they move through life emotionless. Their bad habit is thinking “they can’t” instead of “I can do what I love to do and get paid to do it.”

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with working in a job that you like because it gives you the resources to pursue your desires. Most people start there, jobs help us find and hone the skills needed to pursue our desires. If the job you’re in doesn’t even do that, it gives you no happiness, well, you need to decide if it’s worth being one of the walking dead.

Find desire in what you do or do what you desire. It’ll make for a happier life.

It is said that the two most important days in your life is the day you were born and the day you found your purpose for being born. Of course we all experience that first day, but don’t remember it. We know it happened and the majority of us are thankful for that day.

The second most important day, when we find our true purpose, is often never realized by some of us. Sometimes it’s hard enough to drag yourself out of bed to face the world for another day. If you feel that way every day, then let me tell you a little secret.

You haven’t found or aren’t living your purpose, because if you where you’d be jumping out of bed.

People who have discovered a reason to get out of bed in the morning live longer. Recent studies show that people with a purpose live on average 14 years longer than those who do not. The sooner you find your purpose the sooner you can take advantage of increased longevity. Amazingly some folks just don’t seem too interested in living as long as possible. They keep practicing disruptive habits that take time away from their lives, and possibly away from the things they are passionate about.

Do we ever do something at work that doesn’t have a purpose? Maybe we aren’t told what it is and it’s frustrating when leaders don’t explain what the real purpose is for doing something. Maybe that’s why some of our lives or portions of our lives frustrate us, we’re not living for our true purpose.

Victor Frankl (1905 – 1997) who survived a Nazi concentration camp, observed that neither pleasure or power motivated a person, meaning did. In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he states that depression can result when the gap between what a person is and what he ought to be becomes so large that it can no longer be carpeted over and could lead to all sorts of excesses and compensatory behaviors. The person’s goals seem far out of reach and he can no longer envisage a future.

So how do we find our purpose? There’s plenty of ways but you need to start by studying a hard subject, one that may take some serious reflection to understand. It’s the study of ourselves, once you do that you can learn what your real purpose in life is.

Here are a few ideas;

a)    Sit on top of a mountain for a few weeks and think about life.

b)    Join a seminar that takes you deep within yourself through yoga, meditation or sweat lodges.

c)    Take illegal substances to tap into your “inner self.”

Or more realistically you could;

d)    Do what Jacob Sokol says in his article “What You Need to Live a Life of Purpose,” start by doing the math:

Your Values + Strengths + Passions + Service = Your Purpose

Dedicate some time for introspection and reflection of those variables and creating three lists:

  • Your values
  • Your strengths
  • Your passions

The key is to figure out how you can combine your passions and strengths in service to a cause, person, community, or organization other than yourself.

e)    Follow what Bill George says in his book True North.

 “Find your leadership purpose through defining life stories, your passions, and your motivated capabilities.”

    1. Recall a life story and identify sources of your passion, what events shaped you and why?
    2. In what ways do your passions lead you to the purpose of your leadership?
    3. Write an essay to yourself on what your long term purpose in leadership is. In what ways does the purpose of your leadership relate to the near term and to the rest of your life?

f)     According to Victor Frankl, meaning/purpose can be found through:

    1. Creativity or giving something to the world through self- expression,
    2. Experiencing the world by interacting authentically with our environment and with others, and
    3. Changing our attitude when we are faced with a situation or circumstance that we cannot change.

Finding your purpose is a difficult task for many of us and a person’s purpose may change as they grow through life. Maybe one reason some people find it hard to find/realize their purpose is that they stopped growing. You need to enjoy new experiences, read new books, and add value to as many people as you can. If you do this you may find that your purpose in life isn’t about you, but in serving others. 

© iQoncept - Fotolia

© iQoncept – Fotolia

Why do some people keep doing damage to their bodies when they’ve seen all of the information on how bad something is for you? I call it ignorant intelligence, you know what to do but just don’t do it. Don’t get me wrong, I fall into this trap also, we justify our actions one way or another. So why do we keep on doing it? I ask myself that question all the time.

One of the things I’m aware of is my insatiable sweet tooth? (I have a bag of gum drops on my desk right now.) I know that I should have a healthier snack. I even force myself to walk past the candy aisle, just to stand at the checkout drooling over the candy bars. Now, I’m aware of why they put candy in the checkout line. Not only for kids to bug their parents, but for my subconscious to convince my conscious that it’s sugar time, or is it the other way around?

What I found interesting about awareness is that your subconscious doesn’t have the ability to discern what is right or wrong. If you tell yourself something your subconscious believes it and secretly acts on it. Yes, that even means bad things. If you tell yourself that you can’t do something then you won’t be able to do it. You’re negative towards yourselves if you say crazy things like;

I’m stupid.
I’ll never be able to buy a new car.
I don’t like cheese.
I’m fat and will never lose this weight.
I won’t be able to get the new position.
Etc, etc, etc.

We beat ourselves up and wonder why we stay stuck in a rut, but it’s where we tell ourselves to stay by using negative self-talk.

Jim Rohn said “Words do two major things: They provide food for the mind and create light for understanding and awareness.”

The most important conversation you have during the day is the one you have with yourself.

Change the negative self-talk to positive and tell yourself;

I’ll be able to learn that.
I’m saving money now to buy that new car at the end of the year.
I’m not a finicky eater.
I’m at my idle weight (even if you aren’t)
I will be successful.

Once you become aware of your negative self-talk you can change it around to be more positive, even if you might be telling yourself a little white lie. Your subconscious doesn’t know that it’s a lie and will automatically start to guide you toward making it a reality.

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”
~ Abraham Maslow

So back to the opening comment, “Are you who you think you are,” and I would say yes. As James Allen in his classic book “As a Man Thinketh” states ;

“Mind is the Master-power that moulds and makes
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills:
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass,
Environment is but his looking-glass.”

The internal thought process has been written about over and over, from the Greek philosophers to Napoleon Hill, to Stephen Covey and Dale Carnegie to John Maxwell. If you think that you won’t amount too much than you probably won’t amount too much.

How do you become more self-aware? I can think of a couple of ways;

1. Study the success classics like As a Man Thinketh (there are versions called As a Woman Thinketh) and Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill are two of my favorites.

2. Ask yourself a series of questions around these three questions;

• Who am I?
• What am I?
• Why am I here?

“To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are.”
~ Eric Hoffer

3. One way to learn about yourself is to take some self-assessments like the Myers-Briggs, Strengthfinders, DisC, or the John Maxwell Leadership Assessment. Once you read the reports you may become aware of why you do, or don’t do, certain things.

4. Find a personal coach. A coach can not only help you build on your professional career but they can also help with your personal life. A coach’s job is to ask the right questions so that you can find the answer within yourself and become more aware of the person closest to you, YOU.

I can understand why some people prefer to not learn more about themselves, it’s a tough subject, especially when you learn that YOU are your biggest problem.

What do you do to become more aware of the impacts your behavior and actions have on others and your own success?

Is persistence an uncommon word? How many people can you think of that are truly persistent?

I was reading a study about how 31% of employees are actively disengaged in their jobs. The only thing they seem to be persistent at is the ability to do the minimum until it’s time to retire.

Have you looked at someone who is successful and asked yourself how did they get there? I think Calvin Coolidge made life an even playing field when he said,

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

So, through persistence, can a person become successful? Personally I believe there are many levels, besides persistence, to one’s success. But without it, is any of that possible?

So what really causes someone to be persistent? Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich has a chapter on persistence and lists definite causes for a person to have persistence and how it can be cultivated;

  • Definiteness of Purpose – What do you really want in life? It seems like some people really struggle with this question. It’s almost like they’re afraid to unleash the thought. Once you realize your purpose you’ll either have to change or become disappointed because you struggle to live it.
  • Desire – What do you really desire? Do you dream about something but think you’ll never get it? Well, stop thinking like that! The only person stopping you from your desire is YOU.
  • Self-Reliance – Here’s one of the problems that folks have, they don’t believe in themselves. If you’re not self-reliant, if you need people to get you started, you won’t go far.
  • Definiteness of Plans – How do you get there? How do you achieve your purpose? You need to develop a plan.  Just thinking through the steps to get you there is a start, and then get it on paper so you can read it daily and adjust it as needed.
  • Accurate Knowledge – If you know that your plans will work, great. If you’re unsure, than you’ll struggle to follow through with them. Learn more about how to achieve your purpose, find others who are doing it and ask questions.
  • Cooperation – Seek support from others. They’ll either support your purpose or dispute it. If they dispute it, find a new friend.
  • Willpower – You will never get anywhere, even out of bed, unless you have willpower. You need willpower to do what you haven’t done before.
  • Habit – Persistence is the direct result of habit. Good habits help us move forward, bad habits keep us where we are or more than likely, set us back.

When it comes down to it, people with persistence just get it done. They take what some say is impossible and end up beating the odds, through persistence and will-power. They don’t become defeated.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ~ Maya Angelou

If you struggle being persistent, then think about how to increase your will power muscle. Just like other muscles that need to be flexed and used, so does your will power. This is essential if you don’t like doing the tasks on your “To Do” list.

You find people at work who are successful because they get things done by being persistent. They may not even really enjoy what they’re doing, but they do it because they’ve developed positive habits. Here’s some of the habits I think attribute to being persistent.

  • Be timely. This doesn’t include showing up to work on time, which should be expected in order to keep your job. Being timely is showing up to meetings on time and ready, having reports completed on time, and meeting assigned milestones. I know that things happen and deadlines are missed, but then you need to be timely in explaining why it’ll be late, not after it is.
  • Be organized. This is a real struggle for some people because their work area is a cluttered mess. If you spend too much time looking for something in your “organized mess” and it’s impacting your productivity, than it may be time to straighten up, unless you like being persistently disorganized.
  • Be respectful. I know you’re asking how this relates to being persistent. I think it’s important to be persistently respectful, even when people get you upset. It’s a sign of self-control, and you’ll struggle being persistent in other areas if you struggle being persistently respectful. Do you think that when someone is disrespectful it’s a way they’re covering up their own insecurities?

One way is to set a time to focus on the tasks and stay at it till it’s completed or set a finish time. Maybe you only want to work on the dreadful task for an hour, schedule the time on your calendar, just like the meeting that you dread, but feel obligated to attend.

If you’re like me I tend to procrastinate and end up rushing at the end to get it done. For me it’s this newsletter, I wasn’t persistent this last year and missed a couple of months. I made the excuse that I was too busy helping my wife start the Mandan Diner and Soda Fountain, but if it writing this newsletter was a priority, I would’ve made it a priority.

What do you need to be more persistent at in 2014?


Learning to Pause Allows Growth to Catch Up with You

I think reflecting may be one of the most forgotten activities known to man (and woman). Maybe the reason is because most of us don’t really know how to. Isn’t it strange, one of the most important activities to be successful and they don’t teach you how to do it in school.

© peshkova - Fotolia

© peshkova – Fotolia

The first step to reflecting is to find a place to do it, and then schedule the time. You can even build reflecting time into something you’re already doing. If you run, ride bike, or swim you can build reflection time into one of those activities. It may not be the ideal setting, but I think being intentional is more important.John outlines how to reflect by using your “I’s” when you take time to pause;

  1. Investigation – Pausing is about finding meaning in each experience
  2. Incubation – Like Crock-Pot cooking, incubation allows experiences and thoughts to grow to their own full potential
  3. Illumination – The process of placing value on your experiences and performance. “They either applaud you or prod you” – Jim Rohn
  4. Illustration – The process of expanding your experiences into teachable lessons.

One of the main reasons to reflect is to learn more about yourself. Who knows, this may be the reason why some people don’t reflect. John has ten Personal Awareness Questions to ask yourself;

  • What is my biggest asset?
  • What is my biggest liability?
  • What is my highest high?
  • What is my lowest low?
  • What is my most worthwhile emotion?
  • What is my least worthwhile emotion?
  • What is my best habit?
  • What is my worst habit?
  • What is most fulfilling to me?
  • What is my most prized possession?

Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich has a Self-Analysis Questionnaire For Personal Inventory which I’ve listed in the December 2012 Exploring Leadership Soulutions newsletter. But it doesn’t really matter what questions you ask yourself, just start reflecting, the questions and insights will come. To experience growth in a specific area of your life, ask specific questions to that area of your life.

In John Maxwell’s book, How Successful People Think he has a chapter on reflective thinking and states five reasons why it’s so important to do it;

  1. Reflective thinking gives you true perspective
  2. Reflective thinking gives you emotional integrity to your thought life
  3. Reflective thinking increases your confidence in decision making
  4. Reflective thinking clarifies the big picture
  5. Reflective thinking takes a good experience and makes it a valuable experience

Grab a journal or notebook and start reflective thinking. Your future success might depend on it.

 “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”

   ~ Peter F. Drucker