Bringing Light to the Darkness: Reducing Complexity in the Work World.

 

How often have you found yourself asking “why is this so complicated?”  I recently tried to close a bank account and payroll processor at the same time.  What a horrible experience.  Banking issues, system issues, communication issues; obstacles that kept me from giving and receiving good information. I had to spend way too much time, money and energy in what should have been a simple task.  In the end, I was left frustrated and unfulfilled. We are  so connected thru technology, yet so disconnected from one another.

Why is this?  I believe partly because of our basic disconnectedness and partly because of the complexity of our systems.  We’ve become so complicated, that there are layers of systems to move through in order to say a simple “Hello”.  Think about what is needed to buy a car or home.  To get insurance.  To set-up a bank account or establish credit.  Lots and lots of information.  Lot’s of people to process that information.  Lot’s of channels for distribution.  Lots of procedures and protocols.  What used to be simple task – with a clear channel to the decision maker – has become overwhelming in  scale with layers and layers of people and stuff; complex, out of human scale and full of inefficiencies.  We are told we must “do more with less”.

The problem with the “more with less” norm we see today in business, is the worker is expected to multi-task and be demand oriented.  So we scale up in size, while the human infrastructure below it is stressed to it’s limits.  Our job titles are many and varied but our quality of life in the workplace has become hectic and stressful.

I wonder about the issue of complexity and question why we don’t hear more about ways to scale down (not up).  How do we do with less?  It seems the whole idea of scaling down only applies to people and their personal stuff (i.e. minimalism).  What about our work and the workplace?

How do we reduce complexity?  How do we re-think our expectations?  Here are a couple of thoughts on shifting this paradigm:

1. Focus more closely on the creative process.  Don’t push creativity, but let it unravel, naturally.

2. Let our ideas “cook” longer, giving time to explore all possibilities.

3. Moving through different processes, fully experiencing what happens on a human (vs. technology) scale.

4. Giving people more time to be “one-track” minded.

5. Take more time to produce quality, while enjoying the process more completely.  Allowing more elements to enter into the process.

6. Lastly, making decisions that are people-centric.  Making the customer and employee experience a critical part of the output.  No more upset customers.  No more stressed out employees.

If we can only reconnect with these simple concepts, then perhaps we can move in a different direction – reducing the many levels of complexity, in order to better “ground” ourselves in what we’re doing and how that impacts on the big picture.  We can refocus on our ability to relate and connect to one another.

Doing less, but better.

 

 

Step One – The Stillness

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How do I prepare for personal and spiritual growth?  What skills or tools do I need to help me build fortitude and clarity (and why?).  The first step is a practice or ritual that starts my day off.  I’m talking about meditation.

I’ve been practicing meditation since 2012. I have watched meditation explode in recent months, as thought-leader after thought-leader espouse the benefits of this practice.

Meditation is important to my process, so I wanted to share the practice I have developed over the past 4 years.

Mornings

I sit every morning between 6:00 and 6:30 am for 20 minutes.  I practice a “third-eye” meditation.  My goal is silence and stillness, so I do not chant or pray.    I do not listen to sounds or guided meditations in the morning.  At the end of my session, I turn my awareness up in aspiration. From there I start my other daily rituals (yoga, tea, writing, etc.).

Evenings

I sit 5 out of 7 nights per week currently (I am living on my own temporarily).  My nights are focused on my Chakras and usually lasts for one hour.  I first play sounds (frequencies/chants) designed to activate or clear a specific Chakra (there are 7, each serving and representing a different purpose).  I focus on one each night, working all 7 – from Root (1) to Crown(7) – over 7 nights, then repeat. I then finish my practice with 15 to 20 minutes of stillness.

It seems simple, but it is hard work.  I approach my meditation with intention and dedication because I have come to know that consistency is critical.  There are no short cuts.

A word of advice to anyone starting a meditation practice – everyone’s experiences are different so don’t rely on others for experiential advice (what to expect).  Just do it and go with whatever comes up for you.  There is no right or wrong way.

See you down the road.

Peace

 

Day One – The Journey

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I am not an island or a rock…

These words come to me as I prepare to launch this chapter of my weekly blog practice.  You see, I am on a journey of self discovery – a journey 8 years in the making.  With the half century mark approaching in seven months, I want to participate in my life as fully as possible; feeling the fear, pain and pleasure that inner exploration brings upon those who explore.

So where do I start?

Perhaps with some background.  I am currently living on my own.  My partner of eight years is away at a spiritual practice center (doing her own self exploration). My thirteen year old son is moving to the east coast in a matter of months (he’s there now with my ex visiting his future home).  So, here I am in Santa Fe, NM, taking care of myself and two cats.

My home has become the command center for my voyage.  It is were I prepare myself physically, mentally and emotionally for the journey ahead.  My computer is my voice and window on the world.

What I hope to share from this blog is an honest assessment of my journey down the “Burning Path”:

“The heat of our soul, that fire in our belly or the part of us that burns with love. All of us on the path of healing, awakening, and spiritual growth have that inner fire burning, or we would not have even started this journey. We need to be on FIRE for our own transformation; something inside of us needs to BURN if we want to step out of the dream of separation and awaken into our true selves and connect with Source. This path we are on (whether we call it awakening, liberation, union with the Divine, or fully surrendering to God’s will), requires 100% of our energy, commitment and engagement! It is a radical path. That is not to say harsh or angry, but radical, as it often takes us where we wouldn’t normally go if left to our habitual egoic tendencies: into what scares us, and what can be mentally, emotionally and spiritually challenging.”

The Passionate Heart

What it’s like to go to places that are enriching and places I dearly dread.

Welcome to my journey.

 

 

Wire and Wood

 

*image courtesy of www.commons.wkipedia.org

A line crosses the dusty plain pulled by it’s ends
Chiseled for centuries, peaks rise robustly toward deep blue
The arid air pulls breath from my unspoken mouth long left parched by doubt and crime

Clouds bleed across the sky
The damned stay withered under coffee stained landscapes and teeth
A single road passes forward like a long twine spun from desert temperaments
I feel my soul drift down that road, glancing at the lies, loves and dreams of what I once was.

I cannot touch thistle or thorn
My veins never to pulse again
The wire tightens around my ankle
I waste away from a life and bone less lived

No wooden post will hold my soul

Broken
Forlorn
Sage
Stone
Wire and Wood

Teaching a Boy the Importance of Doing: A Father’s Practice

My son passed this comment as we headed for his swim class – “I really don’t want to go to swimming, but I’m going to” – as if he wanted me to approve a decision that would avoid his afternoon workout.  I could see he was looking for an out.  No such luck today.

I thought about all the things I do each day I’d rather not do, but feel obligated as an adult and a parent.  Paying bills, running all over the place, chasing down details to the swim meet this coming weekend, etc. etc. There is just so much to do.  Much of which I’d rather walk away from…daily.

After he left the car for swim, I thought about the choices I make each day; choices to move forward with intention and purpose (action) or turn the other way and avoid (inaction).  The choices I make as a parent, guide or mentor to my son (I know he watches me, my actions and attitudes).

My son is very head strong and definitely has his likes and dislikes. The independent character is strong with him.  He’s also very opinionated.  Whether it’s chores, homework or grocery shopping, he would definitely rather be somewhere else… Like most of us.

So as a father and a man, this is the opportunity for me to begin to provide guidance for my son on the importance of being action oriented.  Doing what he needs to do; for himself and for others.  Looking at what’s in front of him (focus), being discerning about what is important (in that moment) and taking action toward resolution (leaving nothing unfinished).  This is the time to teach him how to take care of his needs first in a mature and healthy way, how to prioritize, and how to say “no” when no is necessary.  Building the bridge toward manhood, one plank at a time.

This is also an excellent time for me to practice what I preach.  A constant reminder for me to be full in all my actions.  He’ll get that.

The next day I watched my son working away at his theater camp.  He was breaking down the stage props and putting items away.  I watched him work with purpose and intention.  When he finished, I could feel something different about him and what he was becoming.  My son is becoming his own.

The beauty of parenting is that it is a practice of duality.  One part for the child and one part for ourselves.  When our children succeed, we feel their success.  When our children stumble, we still feel their success.  The important piece is that we feel ourselves in our experience and we do what is necessary (even when we’d rather not).

Intention + Offering + Action = Opportunity for Everyone

Recently, Marilyn and I were asked to help a young lady in need of a job.  We contacted a friend that we know in community and a meeting was scheduled.  Four days later, the young lady was working her first training shift.

It took about 30 minutes and a little effort and know-how.  The outcome, potentially, could be life changing for the person on the receiving end; an opportunity for much needed income, personal growth and long-term success.

To make this happen, we followed a very simple formula.  We put an intention out to the world, we offered of ourselves and we took action when opportunity arose.

Marilyn and I have made a conscious effort to become more involved in helping others in community.  We are leveraging our contacts in community, utilizing our cognitive surplus and expressing our genuine care for the people around us. We’ve even begun to enroll our friends in hopes of creating a network of community minded, community active, individuals who want to be involved.

There is no greater time than now, for all of us to take action in our lives.  Whether it’s helping others or helping one’s self. Now is the time to step out of our mind busy state and look around to see where and when we can make a difference.

When we step out of ourselves, we find opportunity for everyone.

Are you ready to step?

What is your favorite daily ritual?

What is your favorite daily ritual?

I think about this question this morning as I write (a new morning ritual for me).  Something I do daily to make my life better. Coffee, a hot cup at dawn, can be such a ritual (and one of my favorites).  Meditation, yoga, walking, writing, exercising, are all ways we can center ourselves before stepping into our busy lives.

So I’d like to hear from some of you in community in what that looks like for you.  I traditionally start my day with my morning meditation followed by a cup of my favorite coffee (local roast preferred).  This “ritual’ gives me direction in my day and helps me ground in what ever emotion or feeling is coming up for me.  A place in which to intentionally begin my day.

So, what’s your favorite daily ritual?  How does this help you?

What I do to you, I do to myself

I wrote this piece two summers ago, in response to the shootings in Charleston, SC.  Two days post election and the talk of race and equality (or inequality) are once again front and center.  Our country is divided and frustrated.  I wanted to republish this piece because I feel the core message is as important as it was two years ago.  I will be posting a follow-up piece to this tomorrow.

When I sat down to develop my blog this week, my first thought was that there is very little I can add to the greater commentary, (in light of the recent killings of nine, innocent worshipers in Charleston, SC), on the topics of race relations and gun violence in this country. The pain felt by the families of those who perished at the hands of a 21-year old sociopath cannot be eased by our continuing debate.

But I want to redirect our attention above the fray of popular media and politics, to a meta-theme that needs to be revealed and shared among those of us in community looking for answers. A theme that goes straight to the root cause of our sociopathic behavior. A theme, not about who’s right or wrong, but about what we’ve become.

I am talking about our collective disconnectedness from everything and everyone.

Our disconnection – as in we are disconnected from – our fellow men and women, our families, our communities, our past and most importantly, ourselves. A dis-association that allows us to exist, not as whole beings, but as desperate, separate individuals.

A splinter instead of a tree.

I draw this out because I feel the need to highlight how our media driven society looks to sensationalize and expose this decay in glorious light. Each killing of an innocent (whether they be a young black man in America, or the religious fueled genocide of ISL) is vulgarized in sound bytes and high definition, complete with experts, eye witnesses, video, chat rooms and social media. The fundamental issue, lost in the emotion and diatribe that follows. We can and will continue to maim, kill, denigrate and destroy every living thing around us as long as we continue to live our lives disconnected, disassociated and numb.

Don’t misunderstand me. Race relations and gun control are important conversations; all inclusive conversations. Our words, of pain and disgust, must echo through our churches, mosques, temples, universities, state capitals, community centers and homes. But I see them as only symptoms of something deeper and darker brewing within our societies.

Symptoms fueled by our deep separation and isolation.

I believe it is time to start examining a new direction of self-responsibility necessary to begin the reversal of our “communal” madness. We have to begin to ask ourselves – why do I believe I am separate, different and alone? We must look to reconnect – putting away the constructs and beliefs that burden us and keep us separate. Understanding that we are together, by design, on this very small planet, in this very finite time.

What I do to you, I do to myself.

This will take a shift. A change in our very character. But only then, will racial indifference and violence begin to fade from our collective psyche. The fear and hate – bi-products of our disconnection – are tempered by a communal movement that is inclusive of everyone. No one left behind. We can speak to that which makes us blind to the needs and suffering of others.

A space of non-judgement.

A movement that turns away from holding others accountable and embrace the power of I as in “I am a person of great quality”. A movement that reconnects what has so long been disconnected. A movement that is personal, heart felt and sincere.

So how do we do this? The first step is self initiated, as in me and not as in you or them. I, we becoming accountable to the greater whole. Next we must heal the “old wounds” of injustice. We must offer apologies and action to those who have so long suffered the oppression of race and color. This is not about thinking or talking, but about doing. When each of us as an individual begins to look inside for the will and wanting to be a part of something greater, we will then see an end to such unnecessary sadness. No more violence. No more killings.

What I do to you, I do to myself.

Grace – a simple movement or moment

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A simple movement or moment; what grace means to me.

What does it mean to be in the moment?

What does it mean to be present?

I think of these questions often as I go about the process of creating my new business venture, Ten Graces (Ten Graces is a values based business/educational concept for building awareness, creativity and sustainability).  

My life is fast paced – work, parenting, relating – bringing stress and disconnection from the moment.  When I feel that I’m disconnecting from myself or getting caught up in an emotion related to what happens around me (in reaction), this is were I turn to the value I refer to as grace.  I bring my awareness to what’s happening inside of me, moving from being “reactive” to a conscious state of looking inward, as in to give myself a pause.

In other words, I stop thinking and tune into what I’m feeling.

I find that when I move my awareness inward, my life changes in beautiful, subtle ways. I perceive the world more intuitively. I can feel and experience myself deeper and richer; giving form to that which stirs in me.

How graceful life can be when I look inside thee….

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