ADJUSTING

BACK AND FORTH, UP AND DOWN, SIDE TO SIDE – WHAT TO DO?

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Sometimes life is mixed up.  Jumbled-up seems to be the theme of the day.  Disorganization follows everywhere even into our thoughts.

So what do we do?

We understand that being in the throes of adjusting our lives is a central theme of life.  When we look at nature adjusting is a central theme.  Clouds adjust to the weather, temperature adjusts to the position of the sun, birds adjust to the availability of food and water, plants adjust to the warmth and direction of the sun, animals migrate to food sources, water flows downstream.

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We learn lessons from nature.

When we find that things are difficult we should figure out why they are hard and then make them easy.  Sounds logical doesn’t it but in reality, if we take time to make the adjustment in our thinking or our approach to life our path would match nature’s theme.

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Dealing with a difficult problem, working with a stubborn person, living with an abusive partner or wrestling with complicated emotional issues requires adjusting for everyone.  However, if your adjusting efforts don’t bring results that are giving you positive rewards – keep adjusting!!!

 

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That One Person…

By the time you’re 2 years old, your environment has already influenced your developing brain. The message that both early stress and loving tactile interaction affects a child’s brain is nothing new (DiscoverMagazine.com5/2018). When you feed your precious newborn hold them and look into their eyes – don’t lay them on the couch and prop up the bottle with a baby blanket, it’s important!

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Developmental research shows that having one or more caring adults in a child’s life increases the likelihood that they will flourish, and become productive adults themselves. (Scales, P.C., Developmental assets: Amer. J.of Comm. Psy., 20(4),445-461.

Obviously, “That One Person” in a child’s life makes a difference.  Having a positive adult influencing a child increases the likelihood that the child will:

  • stay calm and controlled when faced with a challenge
  • show interest and curiosity in learning new things
  • care about doing well in school
  • complete assigned homework
  • play sports or participate in some type of organized club
  • participate in volunteer work or community service (Research Brief 12/2013 Child Trends – #2013-54)

This means that when a child has “That One Person” in their life who believes that they are special, that child has a greater likelihood of positive outcomes and a reduced likelihood of negative outcomes in both their family and social environment.  To translate this into everyday terms: the child will volunteer, exercise, stay calm, show interest in learning, be less sad and be less likely to be bullied.

You as a parent, of course, are  UNIQUELY “That One Person.” When your newborn is awake during those first few months, spend the time walking or singing to them; research reveals that these interactions wire baby’s brain for language and communication. You don’t even need to stop your daily activities.  Put your baby in a sling and kindly narrate your activities.  This advice is given to us by Dr. Lee Beers, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with Children’s National Health Center in Washington, DC.

3.8 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2017 and a new baby is born in the U.S. every 8 seconds. (WebMD.com Jan/Feb2019). If you are attentive to your child’s cues they will naturally fall into step with the positive motivations.

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However, even if you aren’t a new parent there are many opportunities to be “That One Person.”  One is to become digitally literate.  Keep up with the latest technology and guide your children’s use of it – this will reduce the risk of their victimization.  Kids who face online cruelty report loneliness, depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety.  Nearly 9 in 10 teenagers have seen some sort of cruelty between their peers on social media (WebMD.com Jan/Feb 2019).

Mentors are “That One Person.” If you are a grandparent, a clergy member, a school teacher, a librarian, a social worker, a medical provider, a first responder, a scout leader, a cook at school, a bus driver, a mailperson, a cashier, a bank teller, a school peer-advisor, a caring adult then you are “That One Person” who can make a difference in a child’s life.  You are a mentor-like adult.  When the big scientific “they” examine the association between having a caring adult and the number of child ‘well-being outcomes’ the “numbers” prove that a greater likelihood of positive outcomes equals a reduced likelihood of negative outcomes.  In other words, having a caring adult in your life equals a better life for the child.

Social Well-Being

20181220_210755Co-hosting with James Kelly the syndicated radio talk show “Aspects of Writing” that is devoted to showcasing writers, authors, illustrators, visual arts, and creative composition gives me an opportunity to meet professionals in these fields.

Recently we were privileged to host 4 distinguished guests who offered an exciting glimpse into the arena of creative writing and graphic design. These award winning creators share their unique talents with not only the general public but individual children.

You may often spot them at your local library sharing a precious moment reading to a young child or talking about the alluring illustration that adorns the front of a childhood mystery novel.  These writers and illustrators are well known in their field and respected by their peers and could spend their time in any number of ways.  However, they opt to read at your local public library or come to a local radio talk show so that their professionalism can be spread out into a wide circle.  They want their message for the love of writing and illustration to awaken in everyone the adventures that lurks within the pages of a book or the laptop in your hands.  They want you to feel, experience, absorb and remember the unique sensation that is possible from reading a good book.

Social Well-being is evident as these writers and illustrators willingly share their talent with the public.

As you pick up a book your eye focuses on the cover art.  The purpose of the illustration is to not capture your attention but to intice you to purchase the book or download the ebook. Whether you are someone who likes to feel the physical book in your hand or use an electric devise to read a story you still are induced by the opening line of the story and any illustration within the book.   So the next time you walk by a shelf of books think about the author and illustrator who made that precious book possible and spread a little Social Well-Being…

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SOCIAL GRACES: The Intangible Assets

Can leaders, ingrained in the digital age, acquire the appropriate social graces?

Social graces, according to (Artful Thinkers, 8/2017) current articles is a collection of skills that we use to politely interact in social situations.  These graces congeal into etiquette that is universally accepted as proper protocol within our culture.  In other words, it’s hearing what isn’t said.  Using these intangible skills are invaluable in building long-term, profitable relationships.

So important are these social graces that they intermingle with the old idea of “it’s not only who you know but what you know.”  If a successful business person in social circles wants to be regarded as someone who can build relationships, develop profitable markets and reach measurable deadlines, then that person follows a few simple rules.  Most of these guidelines aren’t “plugged-in” or ‘turned-on” or “downloaded” or “updated with an app.”  These skills require that a physical person be totally present so that they can communicate with another human being.

LISTENING – I’m not only talking about the anatomical ability of hearing sound. Listening refers to what a person does with the sounds that they hear.  It is what we decide to do with the noise that enters into our realm of detection.  As we form this information into our streams of belief, it determines the manner in which we deal with the matters that occur in our life (Lines of Listening, 2015). Be a skilled listener, make good eye contact, use appropriate body language, divert your cell phone calls during conversations, don’t interrupt others.

EYE CONTACT –  Within 10 seconds of a conversation the other person decides your true commitment to the exchange.  Even if you are not physically looking into the person’s eye (i.e. conference call) assume that the person can indeed see you and act accordingly.  Smiling, good posture and making eye contact, even if it’s with the conference telephone, will denote your focused interest.  An article in “Psychology Today” states that we as humans rely on eye contact to connect on many different levels.

CLOCKS and CALENDARS – Being on time for an appointment or opportunity could change your life.  Aim to be 5 minutes early in every situation.  When you leave someone waiting for you they may be devising reasons to not interact with you or your company.  This also refers to conference calls, in-person meetings, television or radio shows.  When you don’t arrive on time, it tells the person that you don’t respect them or their business.  You may want to even arrive before they do.

WHAT’S IN A NAME? – Remembering and using a person’s name in the conversation reinforces that you not only listened during the introductions but are genuinely interested.  If you don’t remember their name, ask them to repeat it; that’s better then forgetting their name or calling them “you”. You yourself know the feeling when another person addresses you by name; it’s respectful.

JUST THE FACTS – You have heard the saying – “everyone has an opinion.”  A leader does not engage in gossip, or hearsay or opinions or unsolicited judgments.  You gather information based on credible facts and analyze your own first impressions.  If there is a documented issue in a person’s past, confront the person in a face-to-face, confidential manner to address the incident.  This doesn’t mean that you ignore fair and critical input, it means that you rely on the facts to resolve the matter.

PERSONAL INTERACTION – One of the most important social graces is our ability to interact on a personal basis with another human being. This usually means that we put our electronic equipment away.  Don’t panic; especially if you are in the generation raised with electronic devices.  It’s okay.  You can do this activity.  Just review the few simple steps that I just outlined and you’ll be fine.  You won’t actually have to touch anyone (unless you shake hands), you’ll just have to acknowledge another human being, make eye contact and verbally talk to them.  I’m not being sarcastic or making fun of you, I’m just acknowledging the fact that human interaction may be an awkward skill for the younger generation.  This may be the most VITAL SKILL SET that you develop as a business leader. Putting your cell phone on vibrate, or airplane mode or messaging mode or temporarily turning it off is not as scary as it sounds.  People do it all the time.  It actually is very relaxing.  Many people do it when they are on vacation or want to relax.  So, it could be a good opportunity for you to take a short vacation and still stay at work.  Great idea!!!

THANK YOU –  Respect for a persons time, energy, relationship and attention is a compliment to not only them but yourself as well.  A thank you note takes many forms.  It can be a hand-written note scribed immediately following your personal interaction or a quick note to express your thanks.  A leader remembers to thank everyone involved in the activity.  I’m not suggesting that you walk around saying “thank you” a hundred times to everyone in the room, I’m talking about your personal touch of acknowledgment.  Your outreach will be remembered.  Speaking to everyone in the same respectful manner should be universal for you – it is your brand and it may be the ultimate social grace.

Yes, leaders ingrained in the digital age can acquire the appropriate social graces.  The intangible assets gained by interacting on a personal level is the key.

First Impressions

IMPRESSIONS, FIRST

Entering a room with an expectant audience or speaking in a public forum presents an opportunity.  Walking to the middle of the stage focuses attention. People often form a lasting impression within the first 3 seconds of viewing the presenter or person entering their field of vision.

Our eyes, our mind, our past experience, our attitudes, our prejudices form an opinion -instantly.  Before we have heard the subject matter or met the person being introduced our entire physical and emotional body responds to external input and makes a decision about incoming information.

This is human nature.  We are programmed to respond.  It’s for our survival. We need this information to physically exist and function. When a new entity approaches we need to instantly decide if it is a danger or friend.  This is natural.  We make this decision without conscious thought: almost a reaction.

However, we understand from our experience that “new” is not always harmful. This knowledge kicks in about 2 seconds after our initial first impression hits us.  So, within about 5 seconds of confronting a new person or situation, our entire being has developed an impression, albeit good or bad.

Our task, as responsible adults, seems to be both complex and simple.  Acknowledge the presence of our human instinct to discern between danger or demure and then accept that first impressions may be askew.  An example of this occurred in the New York Museum of Modern Art.  A picture by impressionist Henri Matisse hung upside down for 47 days in 1961.  To announce the blunder, the New York Times ran its headline upside down -(artnet.com-Readers Digest Dec2017/Jan2018, p.45)

First Impressions are necessary.  It’s our job to get them right.

Civility

Civility is described as: a polite act or expression (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus).  In today’s society this idea seems to have taken on a character of it’s own.  Wouldn’t it be nice if courtesy and civility were interchangeable.  It could be our calling card.  We could be kind to people that we meet and be sociable at the same time.  Each person who met us would believe that we valued their opinion and truly wanted to spend time with them.

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When we sit down with a person to have a face-to-face conversation, we could look them in the eye, respond both verbally and physically to their comments, wait until they are done talking, respond appropriately to their statements and engage them in a meaningful conversation.  As a very famous person once said – “You can’t underestimate the power of primal needs.”  Everyone is hungry and wants to be valued, listened to, and understood.  If a person repeatedly gets ignored or beaten down when they nicely state their cause, they will become louder and louder in their delivery method.  This behavior quickly becomes erratic.

People become overwhelmed with emotion and their perspective fades into a cloud of grey annoying chatter.  This verbosity mixes with other babble from other ignored, emotional mortals geared toward hubris and the air is filled with opinions, ideas,  feelings, judgments, conclusions and estimations that stray far afield from truth.

So, let’s all take it down a few notches.  Maybe you didn’t like the past but ponder a minute on what you would like the future to look like.  Maybe the purpose of your next conversation is to determine what the other person really believes instead of trying to win the conversation or convert the listener or belittle them in public.  Albert Einstein may have posed this thought: “I think that the most important question facing humanity is, Is the universe a friendly place?” You decide.

Fact or Opinion

Ripples of information float through health and medicine today like waves in a still pond.  Each brings with it a new bit of news heralding some discovery which will give us a longer life or a brighter future.

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The key for a health-conscious consumer is to decided what is fact and what is opinion.  According to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus – fact: is the quality of being actual; something that exists.  That is very different from – an opinion which is defined as: a belief stronger than impression and less stronger than positive knowledge.

As you can see, both are related to knowledge.  However, opinion takes a free range and adds the very human concept into the mix.  Of course, we all want to believe that what  we read is the gospel, especially if it comes from someone who has an academic degree behind or beside their name.  However, it may be of value to investigate a little further and actually decide if the information makes sense to you.  I would suggest that you be critical in your reading.

That is not to say that you approach everything from a negative point of view.  Instead, read with a “critical eye.”  Check out the background of the author.  Look at the other topics that the author writes about.  Be a good read. Decide for yourself weather the idea is a real fact or just an opinion.  We need to teach our children to be both healthy in their bodies and their minds.  Make no mistake our children are watching what we put into our bodies and our minds!

Authors

Attending the authors showcase at a local library yesterday was an exciting event. Friends of the Library, writers groups, local arts councils, big box retails and over 70 local authors were all present to make the day a roaring success.  The project was partially funded by the Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.  This means that “all hands were in” to sponsor this celebration of local acknowledgement of writing talent.

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This brings up the question. Does anyone read anymore?  Well, that question was quickly answered not only by the enthusiastic turnout of independent authors but the presence of internationally known author, Sylvia Day.  She flew in from England to attend the event.  She was warmly received by the general public and authors as well.   Her gracious attitude extended not only to greeting her fans at a book signing but offering “inside” information on her extremely successful career.

From her point of view, writers and authors are divided into two categories – plotters and prancers.  A plotter outlines the book in every aspect before the writing begins.  Each chapter is outlined with a storyboard approach.  The paragraphs are detailed and “bullet” statements are used to determine each step that each character will take in their development. A graph may be used to outline how each character interacts with the others.  This process is continued until the entire story is complete and the ending is known and written – on the storyboard.

The prancer writes in a totally different fashion.  This writer imagines ideas of the story and has vague images of how the plot will develop with only a simple knowledge of each character. As the “prancer” approaches the task of authoring a story, they let each character develop their own style.  The writer is simply seen as a “tool” that the characters use to tell their story.  It is as if the author is only needed to sit in the chair and move their fingers over the keyboard so that the characters can get their story put down on paper.

Life often reflects these writing styles.  Some people need to plot out their every move, must know every option, look at every pathway before making decisions in their life.  Others, simply wake up each day and have no idea what lies ahead of them – they just do what comes their way – what feels good.

I guess the key is to first decide which kind of “writer” you are in life and then design your life or just take life as it comes…

It’s Easy, It’s Good

The choice was easy, just tell the truth.  She was a good person – didn’t lie or steal.  The truth was known to her.  She even knew all of the details.  There was no mystery to the story.  Everything was in plain sight.  It would be a good thing.

Her conscious fell heavy.  Bearing her soul meant that her lifelong, best friend would be convicted of a horrible crime and probably be sentenced to death.  No one had actually confronted her yet and asked her any questions but other potential witnesses were slowly being eliminated.

Her best friend was a good and morale person – not prone to violence or fits of rage.  However, the only witness to the horrible incident was her trusted friend, the perpetrator, and herself.  No one else knew the truth – the whole, awful truth.  She knew that revealing the details would sever their friendship forever and send her lifelong friend into a spiral of despair and sadness.  Even her urging had not forced her friend to confess to the crime.

It was clear to all that the truth hinged on what she would reveal about her friend, even though her heart ached just thinking about the consequences.  Her mind told her that telling the truth is a good thing.  However, her heart knew that doing the right thing is not always easy.

She approached the witness stand, was sworn in and took a deep breath as she began to answer the obvious questions.  Yes, it is good to tell the truth but not so easy when you know how the facts will affect your friend.

Truth

The concept of truth is something that causes me to pause.  It is an idea that permeates every aspect of society.  Whether we talk about advertising, friendships, legal issues, promises, or just everyday discussions, truth seems to be a precious commodity.

The issue resembles the tap root of a great oak.  When the root system of a healthy tree is based is solid, firm soil its’ branches reach forth toward the warm sun and send out new growth which, in turn reaches even higher toward its’ life giving source – warm oxygen.

Truth is liken to this healthy tree in that both grow and flourish only when the base and “tap root” of the system are based in solid ground.  I encounter situations which give me moments to pause when this idea is openly disregarded.  It isn’t as though truth is by-passed or forgotten – it’s knowingly and willfully disregarded.

I have an internal monitor that blinks or activates when I am approaching a morale issue.  It alerts me that I may want to check myself concerning the path I am going down.  I assume that others have the same internal monitor, that may be my challenge – assuming.  But I can’t help thinking that if I want to keep my “oak tree healthy” it means that I need to also keep my morale compass pointed in the right direction.

Truth, they say is in the judgment of the beholder.  However, it seems pretty clear to me that truth is basic, true and grounded.  It, like the oak, is always reaching for clean air.