Do Something at Half Speed

A blanket of snow covers the earth this morning.  The streets are a pristine white before intrepid drivers will haltingly make their way to their destinations.  Schools are closed and people are asked to leave their homes only if they need to.
The snow will invite us or force us, depending on how each person responds, to slow down.  Later we’ll sweep the steps, or we’ll walk to the store for milk.  We’ll need to slow down to get to our destination or risk slipping and falling and going a different direction than the one we intended.
I am reminded of how rushed I feel most of the time; how my motions are sped up like a film on fast forward.
What am I missing when I am fast forwarding through my day?  Whose smile am I overlooking?  What wisdom passes me by? What crucial bit of instruction from the universe am I not noticing?  And how much harder will I work by not slowing down and listening, observing, noticing?
Today, practice doing one thing at half speed.  Make it a game with yourself, nobody else needs to know what you are up to.  Drink a cup of coffee or tea at half speed.  Walk down the corridor at half speed.  Or listen to your colleague, friend, or child at half speed.
What do you notice beyond your initial irritation?  What helps you stay in the moment?  Breathe.

Put on Your White Belt (Embrace Being a Beginner)

Take a breath, expand your belly.  Breathe in vitality and clarity.  Allow that inhale to extend your energy up and out like the branches of a tree.  Allow your long exhale to spiral through you and into the center of the earth.
A participant on a teleclass I led today said, “I want to declare myself a beginner.”  His words reminded us that there are domains in our lives where we are beginners.   Perhaps it’s in being a parent of a teenager, or leading a team, or beginning a new exercise program, or assisting someone at the end of their life.  Or maybe you are a beginner in noticing the quality of your breath.
We place a lot of pressure on ourselves to already know something, to be an expert,  even when we are just beginning to learn it.  This pressure produces constriction rather than expansion.  Expansion serves us best in sparking the light of discovery and curiosity for optimal learning.  So, put on your white belt; take a breath, allow your shoulders to relax, and declare yourself a beginner in that area that is new and perhaps uncomfortable in your life.
Notice:  What is available to you when you declare yourself a beginner again?

New Year's Resolution: More Play Time

How can I invite play or playfulness into my work today?
George Leonard, a notable American Sensei (teacher) of Aikido speaks about the Primacy of Play (Leonard, 1999) in work, life, love, leadership, learning… in all our activities.  Yet becoming an adult often means a chiseling away of play time in the name of “more serious” pursuits.  And by the time we enter the workforce we have forgotten how to play.  However when I look at the landscape of leadership that results in successful, innovative businesses I see that play is present.  The design of the work space itself creates an invitation for play and creativity.   IDEO, the innovative Palo Alto design firm, comes to mind.  Here the work environment and the leadership mindset invite a natural sense of play to achieve powerful, innovative results for work teams and the company.
So play with these questions:

  • Where and how do I play?
  • How can I invite play or playfulness into my work today?
  • What do I notice when I make space for play?

(Leonard, G. 1999.  The Way of Aikido.  New York: Penguin Group)

180 Degree Vision—Please Try!

My tendency when receiving a punch to the gut is to look down at the fist that is coming towards me.  Holy Moley!   Yet my aikido instructor asks us to practice receiving our adversary’s punch by expanding our gaze to include the outer periphery of our vision.  In doing so I notice my hand knows exactly how to receive the punch.  I tap into my inner knowing and trust.  My future action blends with the energy of the punch to create a fluid movement that takes my adversary gently to the ground.
I learn the value of looking up and out, of expanding my vision to capture as much of the whole space as I can.  What I find is my inner strength and the resources included in the space around me.  I see immediately where my next move will be to bring both my adversary and I to a soft landing.
Please try!
Get comfortable, take a full breath, relax your shoulders and jaw and ask yourself the following questions.  Listen gently (without judgment) to the answers:
As a leader where are you focused on the punch?
What might be available to you by looking up, out and around?

A Dojo? Is That Like Mojo?

Well they are connected actually.  Dojo comes from the Japanese word meaning “place of the way.” It’s a place of learning.  It is a place of awakening to our hibernating places of strength (both inner and outer).  Practicing in the dojo brings those dormant resources to life so that we can bring a wider palette of ways of being to the joys and challenges of our lives–so we can bring more of our mojo into those places in the world where we lead, play, grow, and engage with the “stuff” that brings us to life.
I invite you into my virtual dojo.  Come here to get centered, practice how to fall and to stand up again gracefully!  Get in touch with your intuitive, artistic side.  Get in touch with the wisdom of your whole being.  Bring that mojo back!