Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Thoughts Become Things

If you haven't heard of TUT yet, you need to check this out! TUT.com

I'm a member of TUT's Adventurer's Club and it inspires me to greatness with its daily Note From the Universe. Each daily message, which feels like it's created just for me, ends with the reminder: "Thoughts become things - choose the good ones!(R)"

As I've thought more about TUT's advice, I realize that even without trying, my thoughts really have become more positive and uplifting. When lasting transformations or evolutions happen, it's only in stopping to really look back that we can see how far we've come. If you live with someone who is pregnant, you won't notice the changes that are happening daily. But if you only see your pregnant friend (and eventually her baby) once a month, you'll definitely notice the changes.

Our thought creation process really is a circular process that both begins and ends with the thoughts we think. Of course the thoughts we think can be influenced by other factors - the music we listen to, the books we read, the people we hang out with - which gives us many choices depending upon what we really want.

So our thoughts influence what we create; what we create is what we become; what we become is what we express; what we express is what we experience; what we experience becomes who we are; and who we are dictates what we think.

It's all about choice, and we really are in the driver's seat of our own lives. And it's crucial to remember that, regardless of our spirituality, we're never alone in our lives. Whether it's a Higher Power or our friends, co-workers, relatives, we don't have to be in it alone. There are always others to support us along the way.

The interesting fact in our journey to self-discovery is that some of the companions along the way may be with us for the long haul while some may be with us for only part of the journey - and at different stages. If we become clear in our own minds about where we want to go on our journey, it becomes easier to determine who will be with us. But if we ask those questions in a different order (who will be with me first, and where am I going second), we will almost certainly have very different results.

As usual here, I don't have answers for anyone but myself. As I become more clear about my own purpose and trust my Higher Power to guide me, the pathway really does open up. I am experiencing for myself the whole Thoughts Become Things phenomenon - and TUT was and is a big part of that joruney for me. I know I can't and don't want to make this journey alone, and I've been blessed with wonderful companions along the way.

Thanks for being here with me!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The World According to Patch

I'm working this week delivering training in a small town in northern Minnesota where I don't have internet access at my hotel. I've forgotten how dependent I've become on keeping up to date with e-mail and the web, so this is a great place for me to unwind.

The hotel does have a TV though, so last night I watched "Patch Adams" on network TV. For whatever reason, I have never seen this movie before so it was a really fun way to spend a Monday evening away from home.

I think what Patch tried to do with the medical field can be compared to what trainers like me are trying to do in manufacturing environments. In both industries it seems questioning the status quo is not looked highly upon. But in each, the real key to ongoing, long-term success is how you treat the people.

Last night I heard Patch say that if you treat a disease, you win some and you lose some. But if you treat a person, you win every time.

In the environment Patch was passionate about creating, he said "you carry with you a flame which you can only hope will spread through the institution like wildfire. We can only hope that others will practice 'excessive happiness'."

The movie was set in the early ‘70s and showed the amazing results Patch got from his rather unorthodox method of healing. It was inspiring to me even though sometimes I might think being innovative and creative is a “new” phenomenon. According to the movie credits, Patch Adams’ home-based medical practice has attracted more than 1,000 calls from physicians willing to leave their practices and work with Patch for no fees because they are called to make a difference.

How is this different from Corporate America? Shouldn’t people want to be involved with situations where they know they can make a difference? Are we still so bound by fear that we’re paralyzed to do what we know is right? If we’re afraid of being fired by doing what we know is the right thing, is it really a job we want to have? Does fear hold us captive? Are we willing to sell our souls for a sure paycheck? How sure is that paycheck in the long run? If we’re required to check our true selves at the door, how effective are we in our own lives?

If we’re selling out for the paycheck, we may be missing out on something else that would allow us to live fully, but we’ll never know if we’re not willing to take that risk. I’m willing to bet that if we stand strong in doing and being what we know is what we need to do and be, the universe will conspire to make good things happen for us. Patch Adams was a great example of the good that can happen when you stick to your guns. I’m sure there are many, many more examples – maybe even in your own life – of what happens when you sell your soul to the company than of what happens when you listen to your life. Patch was accused of practicing “excessive happiness.” What a crime!

When you think about what holds you hostage in your job, how much of that is fear? And how much of that fear is authentic fear? How often do people really get fired for doing the right thing? I’m guessing it’s a very, very low number. What is it that we can do to get beyond that fear? What are you willing to do?

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Skeptic's Dilemma

So, when you read that title, did you automatically draw a conclusion in your mind about what a "skeptic" is? Did that word have a negative or a positive connotation in your mind?

I must admit, when it first occurred to me to write about skepticism this morning, I was thinking about those people who never trust anything unless they have proof; those people who want to live in what they KNOW, not what might be possible; those people who won't support anything new; people who are basically difficult to have a conversation with because they question the logic of every idea. For me, the word had a negative connotation.

But when I looked up the meaning of the word in my trusty dictionary.com, I found out that the definition is:

One who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted conclusions.

And I discovered that I am a skeptic.

I've always been a questioner. As far back as I can remember, I had to know why things were the way they were, and whether or not they had to be that way. I really don't believe I was trying to be difficult - I was just curious.

But the older I got, the more I began to understand that questions didn't always have answers, and the people to whom I was addressing my questions didn't want to appear uninformed or unintelligent, so they encouraged me to stop asking questions. Whether this was in school, in Sunday school, or even at home, I remember the effect of my questions on my teachers and parents, and I remember that I slowly began to shut up - at least on the outside.

But now I wonder, where would we be in our world of science, religion, education, business without those people who "instinctively doubt, question or disagree with generally accepted conclusions"?

Maybe for me the hangup has been with the context in this definition provided by the word "habitually." Even the "right" thing done for the "wrong" reasons is still "wrong," right?

Was I asking questions all my life just to be difficult? Was it a habit? I don't think so. I'd like to get beyond my own preconceived notions and concepts of what constitutes skepticism and trust my own gut and instincts. Maybe that's why I asked other people for the answer - because I didn't trust my own knowing. Maybe I wanted validation. Maybe I just wanted to be acknowledged. Maybe I just wanted attention. I'd like to think those reasons for being curious evolved as I evolved throughout my life.

Maybe people have to be skeptical as they're learning things in their lives. Maybe it's their conditioning that turns them from intuitive skeptics into habitual skeptics. Let's not let past perceptions - others' or our own - keep us from questioning.

So let's get back out there and be curious. Ask questions. Challenge the status quo. But don't be afraid to look inside yourself for the answers.

Skeptics unite!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Unconventionalists Unite!

What does unconventional mean to you? Is it something you think you shouldn't be? It might be one of those words, like the word "unreasonable," that sounds "bad" until you really examine what it means.

I used to believe that being unreasonable meant I was stubborn or pigheaded or closed-minded. Since that was the context I had put around that word, it was difficult for me to see anything but that. Then I realized that by being reasonable, I'd put all kinds of reasons out there for why I was staying right where I was in my life. It was easier to avoid responsibility because I had so many reasons for not making any changes. I lived in a little town, therefore I couldn't be involved in national organizations. My grandma had fat thighs so therefore I was destined to have fat thighs, too. There was nothing I could do about it. It would be unreasonable even to try.

Conventional is another of those words. We have conventional wisdom which tells us what we should and shouldn't do. Unconventional wisdom may seem like something that's really "out there" and our past experience of lives of convention may come crashing down on us, even though we're attracted to more unconventional ways of thinking.

My friend Gail and I have created a really fun event called The Unconvention in which people gather to create dialogue around what it means to be unconventional. Gail came up with the concept when she went on an "untour" in Europe. The group traveled together, but when they got to their destinations, everyone created their own tours within the cities or locations, gathering again at the end.

The Unconvention is like that. We gather at the airport conference room to leave on our journey, but each of the participants has a hand in creating the experience for the 3 hours we have gathered together. We have a very loose agenda, but the experience is unique each time we get together because it goes where the dialogue takes it. Together, the participants (all of whom are somehow attracted to the unconventionality of the event) are creating a roadmap which will help guide them through their more conventional work lives. Our hope is that we can provide support to other unconventionalists so they know they're not alone, and so they can practice some of their more creative and unique conversations and share their ideas with a supportive audience.

So far we've had two events and are planning for the third. Gail and I have no expectations, so we are never disappointed with the event. It has proven to us that we are correct in our belief that there are more unconventionalists out there who share our interest in unique points of view.

As Gail's mission statement for her company Blue Moon Training states: "my desire is to inspire!"

Anyone game to participate?