Posts tagged ‘life’

April 17, 2012

Priorities

It is very challenging to get where you want to go without establishing some priorities. Without establishing priorities, everything has equal weight or equal urgency. This could result in either a) everything needs to be done NOW and you feel overwhelmed and panicked or b) everything could be done “whenever” and progress is easily procrastinated.

In my job, I have had more experience working with people who have difficulty placing everything in the “oh no it’s a crisis and everything needs to be done now” category. In my opinion, these folks are easier to help than the class of “why should I bother performing my basic job duties” or the “if I procrastinate long enough, someone else will do it” group. People in the “crisis now” category are motivated to take action; they just have more difficulty knowing what to do first. Setting priorities helps classify work tasks into “what needs to be done now” versus “I will get to this when I can”. By establishing what needs to be accomplished first, we can focus on one thing at a time and give our full attention to the present moment.

When working in an organization, it is helpful to understand that organization’s institutional priorities. In almost all jobs, there are essential tasks that absolutely must be completed. Additionally, most jobs have time sensitive projects and tasks with absolute deadlines. We can also determine what aspects are important to our supervisor. Therefore, in most job situations we can determine the job priorities just by paying attention to our work environment or by collaborating with our co-workers.

Setting life priorities help us organize all aspects of our daily routines. Priorities help us budget time, energy and finances to the things that we hold to be most important. A very important element of setting our own life’s priorities is being honest. We need to reflect on what is truly meaningful in our lives instead of following a dream that was dictated to us by our parents or by copying the lifestyle of our peer group without some level of reflection. For myself, time with my family is the highest priority. If will re-arrange my work schedule (if allowed by my supervisor) to make sure that my family is taken care of. I make sure that I spend time each day to spend with my children. There are other people that I know that do not have children and prioritize engaging in leisure activities. In this example, our life priorities are just different and it is pointless to label one’s priorities as “good” or “bad”. However, I do feel that it would be harmful to prioritize a life activity that has little meaning in our life.

Many people know Randy Pausch for his book and viral YouTube video “The Last Lecture”. However Randy Pausch also gave a great lecture on time management during the last year of his life. One of the best strategies he shared on time management was based on priorities. The first step of this exercise is to establish you basic “to do list”. Once you have everything listed, you sort each item into four categories; important, due now, unimportant due now, important, due later, unimportant, due later. Most people habitually prioritize based on due date. The crucial point of this exercise is that you prioritize based on importance! Therefore, your classification would be:

  1. Important, due now
  2. Important, due later
  3. Unimportant, due now
  4. Unimportant, due later

Once we understand what is important to us, we can allocate our resources appropriately. Since our time is described as our most valuable resource, it is best that we spend it wisely.

I hope that you are able to find the time to do the things you find most valuable in your life!

March 27, 2012

Responding to Gossip

I have wanted to write something about gossip for some time. I thought it would be easy. I thought I could just write “gossip is bad, avoid it at all costs”. Unfortunately for me, this is much more of a nuanced subject. In 2006, Jennifer Bosson published a paper demonstrating disliking a third person creates a more powerful social connection than a mutual preference for somebody. This supplies us with another example that the world is not simply “Black or White”.

When reviewing the literature on gossip, there are challenges on how to define gossip. Is gossip just a conversation about a third party without the third party present? Is it gossip only when we are talking about someone we know, or is talking about a celebrity count? Is it gossip if we are “talking smack” about someone who is in earshot (like children have been observed to do)?

In Eric K. Foster’s paper “Research on Gossip: Taxonomy, Methods, and Future Directions” (Review of General Psychology, 2004, Vol. 8, No. 2, 78–99) it is stated that a common definition of gossip for research purposes is: “In a context of congeniality, gossip is the exchange of personal information (positive or negative) in an evaluative way (positive or negative) about absent third parties.

Eric K. Foster’s paper breaks down gossip into major social functions including: information, entertainment, friendship (or intimacy), influence and evolutionary utility.

Information: Gossip can be an effective tool of distributing information. Historically, before the advent of print media, radio, television and the Internet, most information was passed through an oral tradition (gossip). In smaller social groups, gossip is how group members exchange information about each other.

Entertainment: Gossiping for entertainment’s sake does not need to be malevolent in nature. In this instance the gossiper and gossipee may just exchange information about third parties without any salacious details. However, more “sensitive” or controversial information is often seen as more entertaining gossip. In this context, the enjoyment of the gossip is considered more important than the information itself.

Friendship: “The friendship or intimacy function of gossiping refers both to dyadic interchanges and to the way in which gossip brings groups together through the sharing of norms, thereby establishing boundaries to distinguish insiders from outsiders.”

The 2006, Jennifer Bosson study on gossip fits into this category. When two “strangers” meet and find they have a mutual dislike for a third party, the gossip about the third party creates a new “in group” and the “strangers” now feel that they have something in common. Gossip for the sake of friendship can be positive in the sense that gossip can enhance the social bond between select people. The downside of this type of gossip is being on the out-group, where this type of gossip may lead to one feeling like a victim of the gossip of the in-group.

Influence: Gossip has the power of significantly influencing our behavior. Many of us fear being “caught” engaging in a behavior that our “in-group” may deem odd, eccentric or a violation of a social norm, since this violation will be likely topic of gossip. If we know that rule violations are spread quickly through our social group, our behavior is greatly influenced. This type of social functioning is “positive” if gossip is used to dissuade a group member of engaging in an activity that is harmful to a group. However, the influence function of gossip is “negative” if this social mechanism targets freedom of self-expression, religion, political affiliation etc.

Evolutionary Utility: This is the type of gossip that keeps cousins from marrying Cousins and alerts community members to the health risk of interacting with “infectious” people. In the old days, the matrimonial custom of “speak now, or forever hold your piece” was essentially a query to the local community of; “Hey folks, the word has been out for a while that these two are going to get married. Does anybody know if these two are related?”  In Malawi, a country in southeast Africa, gossiping is used to alert community members as to who has HIV and who does not (see This American Life).

As we have seen, gossip does provide some social functions. However, as many of us has experienced, there is definitely a “down-side” to gossip.

Reputation – Gossip can be used as a tool to harm someone’s reputation. During every political cycle, one party brings up a tawdry piece of gossip about the other party. This type of gossip can be based on truth, or completely fabricated.

*Response: When you hear about a piece of gossip that is obviously designed to “take someone down”, remain objective. Look to a neutral third party for verification. If this piece of gossip does not affect you ignore it. Do NOT pass it on if you have any doubts to the intent or veracity of the gossip!

Productivity – Idle gossip, though “entertaining” is unproductive. Excessive gossip at work or school lowers overall productivity. If the work environment allows any gossip that maligns the character of any employee, there is a great chance of a “toxic work environment” being created where gossip wars are fought by varying in-groups.

*Response: When you hear co-workers gossip on a continual basis, resist the urge to join the chorus. Sometimes it can be valuable to change the topic to something more positive or at least something bases on facts. Whenever possible, it is best to stay out of gossip between “warring factions” at work.

Self-Esteem: Hearing gossip about oneself can be harmful to your sense of wellbeing.

*Response:

  1. Remember that you are in control of how you choose to think, feel and react. You can always ignore gossip if you have the feeling that it is innocuous and it will just go away.
  2. Be wary of the truthfulness of all gossip. Avoid being “Iago-ed”! In Othello, Iago continued to fill Othello’s ears with lies until (SPOILER ALERT) Othello killed his wife. If someone is telling us gossip that they heard someone else say, consider their motivation. Are they trying to get you in their in-group? Are they trying to socially isolate you? Are they honestly trying to be helpful?
  3. Refrain from retaliation. Once you retaliate, you are an active participant the “gossip game” and with any game, there is a great chance you may lose. Spreading gossip makes you a target for more gossip.
  4. Set the record straight.  If someone is saying something that is untrue, make sure the truth is known. If gossip is happening at work, it is best to inform your employer. However, it is your boss that is spreading gossip about you, it may be wise to consider human resources or your union representation.
  5. Share what you want shared. Sometimes it is best to keep your private life private. If you don’t want your co-workers to think that you are an “irresponsible drunk”, don’t talk about the one time that you drank too much.

It would be easy to say, “gossip is the problem”. However, gossip has historically been a positive force of social communication. The challenge comes with how we use gossip or respond to gossip. I hope that you are able to learn to be mindful of gossip to strengthen social bonds as well as being able to respond to gossip so you can maintain high self-esteem.

All comments/ feedback are appreciated. (Rumors and innuendo are discouraged).

 

 

 

March 25, 2012

Appreciation versus Depreciation

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.
Voltaire

Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.
Alan Cohen

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. – Frederick Keonig

 

When we consider our beliefs, there is a dichotomy of how we can choose to approach the world.  We can find value in everything around us, or we can devalue our world. In “The Secrets of the Power of Intention”, Dr. Wayne Dyer discussed this in terms of appreciation and depreciation. When we are appreciative, we find more value in all things around us. Wayne Dyer used the example of the Holocaust Survivor Victor Frankl  who was able to mentally survive living in a concentration camp by finding beauty in a fish head floating in his soup.

When we look at the world appreciatively, we are creating more value to ourselves. Since our experience is essentially governed by our perception of the world around us, the more value we find, the more value we perceive. When you adopt the strategy of appreciation you are more likely to turn a challenge into an opportunity.

It is important to note that most people are not solely appreciative or completely depreciative. It would be very difficult to imagine someone appreciating the passing of a loved one or devaluing winning $1,000,000. However, the more appreciative someone is in his or her habits, thoughts and feelings it would be easier for that person to accept the passing of a loved one by focusing on memories of the good time shared with that person and of all the things they have learned from that person. If someone is commonly depreciative, they may still adopt a pattern of daily complaining even after winning $1,000,000.

When evaluating your beliefs, consider if you beliefs are creating more value for you.

Depreciate beliefs include:

  • Belief that you are unworthy of love, affection, success or material goods
  • Belief that you are superior to others (since you are depreciating others)
  • Belief that you are inferior to others (since you are depreciating yourself)
  • Belief that you would only be worthy if you had a certain amount of social status or material goods.

Appreciate beliefs include:

  • Belief that you are worthy of love, affection, success or material goods
  • Belief that all people have value
  • Belief that you have value regardless or race, status or class
  • Belief that you can learn something from all situations

I hope that you are able to find value in each and every day!

Judgment as an evaluative process is “positive” since it is helpful for us to compare differing perspectives to make a decision or to evaluate information to make a wise decision to determine the best course of action. This sense of judgment infers using sound criteria as a part of the process. It also connotes an image of fairness and justice.

However, we people are labeled as “judgmental”, we imagine a person who uses judgment to devaluate. We devalue others when we engage in the practice of discrimination and prejudice. When we devalue others, we feel in some way superior to “the other”. The process of devaluing people can be extremely dangerous. In the extreme case of genocide, the side committing the atrocities devalued the group victimized by the genocide.

When we adopt the habit of devaluing others through judgment, we know subconsciously that other people may be “judging” us. If I am judging others, it only makes sense that someone else would be judging me. Therefore, the more judgmental we become, the more afraid we may become of being judged ourselves. It also follows that the more that we have experienced being devalued by another’s judgment, the more likely we are to feel justified in judging others.

The next time you find yourself judging a quality of another person, ask yourself if you are evaluating or devaluating this person.

I feel that this is one of the many life situations where the old saying of “do onto others as you wish others to do onto you” would apply.

March 19, 2012

I thought this post was an important reminder to “stop and smell the roses”.

Leading with Trust

I was feeling stressed and overloaded last week. I had too many important things to do and the lack of margin (time & space) in my life was causing tension and anxiety.

There was the training class I was observing and co-facilitating, the important meetings with colleagues to figure out solutions to significant organizational change issues, last-minute details to iron out for my global team meeting of 50 staff members next week, the online college class I’m in the middle of teaching, the pending deadline for a magazine article, an upcoming client training event to prepare for, and as President of my local youth baseball league, getting a season’s worth of games scheduled and helping my 19 year-old son get the snack bar operation up and running.

It’s all good stuff that I enjoy doing and feel blessed to have the opportunity to participate in, and I have no right…

View original post 999 more words

March 14, 2012

Momentum

Some times, life presents obstacles that appear to stand in the way of your goals. However momentum can help us move forward.

For example, I have made a promise to myself that I would post something every day when I started my blog. When I hit my first obstacle (a major report deadline that took all the free time available to write), I only missed a day of posting. I have the momentum and the established habit of writing and I was able to get back into the routine once I had met all my report deadlines.

Another recent example was getting sick recently. It is very challenging to exercise when you have barely enough energy to get out of bed (and coffee did not help much either). To keep the momentum going, I needed to change my exercise pattern to light stretching and greatly reduce my exercise time.

When we are establishing a pattern, it is best to find some way to keep it going.  A moving object likes to stay in motion. When obstacles present themselves, it is better to slow down, do what you can and keep your pattern of behavior moving instead of stopping your pattern and hope that you will pick it up again later.

Blogging Irony – This blog was written to keep my own blogging momentum going. I am actually fighting sleep, but I must post!

I hope this post is valuable!

March 11, 2012

Think from the End and Have Fun Along the Way.

Image

One of my favorite quotes from Wayne Dyer is “think from the end”. If you want to live the life of your dreams, you need to know what the life of your dreams is.

Here is a simple exercise to help you “think from the end”. Get out some writing paper or get out your word processor, it is time to get ready to write! First, set aside some quiet time to reflect. This reflection will not work if phone calls/ family members would repeatedly interrupt you or if you are preoccupied on a report that is due tomorrow. Once you have found a quiet time and place, close your eyes and imagine what you want in your life. Take some time to explore your true wants and desires. For this exercise, remember that you are worthy of anything and anything is possible. Once you are able to imagine your perfect day in such clarity that it runs like a video in your head, it is time to write it down. Write your vision with as much detail as possible. Explain how your perfect day would start. Include the people that you would interact with. List your feelings as you move through this imagined day. Your description should include details of the sights, sounds and smells of the day.

When you have finished this exercise, you have created the destination that you wish to achieve. You can now start working on the road map of getting you there. You future vision can assist you in creating goals and can help you with further self-reflection.

What beliefs would I need to change to achieve my perfect life?

What habits would I need to implement on a daily basis to get where I want to go?

How would I need to think to achieve my goals?

What actions can I take to start moving forward?

Life is always a great adventure. Have fun along the way!

March 8, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

Thanks and appreciation goes to Jay Rando http://jayrando.wordpress.com/ for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.

I am very grateful for this award. Thank you for the encouragement to keep writing. Thanks to all of you who have been reading “Influence Versus Control”. I am glad to be a part of the blogging community.

Here are the rules to the awards: Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them when you create a post on the award. Share 7 things about yourself. Pass the award on to 15 people you know who have blogs that you follow and enjoy. Contact those people that you have nominated.

More on the Versatile Blog Award http://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com

7 things about me: (Andrew Gilbert)

  1. I have an incredible wife who is an artist/ muralist (http://www.insideemilyshead.com/)
  2. I am a proud father of Connor who has started writing a book at 8 years old (http://hillsideelementary.wordpress.com/)
  3. I am a proud father of Aidan, who had probably taught me the most about love and whose early struggles in life facilitated my “cynical recovery”.
  4. As an occupational therapist, I have created a program to teach handwriting / penmanship to Kindergarten students (see http://occupationaltherapystrategies.com/ and http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19411243.2011.629554#preview)
  5. I love surfing
  6. I enjoy mountain biking
  7. I play guitar, bass and a little bit of drums

When creating this list, I realize that I have defined myself by what I do. However, from my blog postings I feel that it may appear evident that I am doing my best to replace previous cynical thought processes with appreciative, forward thinking, thankful, compassionate and grateful practices.

15 Blogs nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award

I am amazed at how many good blogs there are “Wordpress”. I know that there are more than 15 blogs out there who are deserving of the “Versatile Blogger” award. Two of the blogs that I read regularly http://saymberblondi.wordpress.com and  http://thebettermanprojects.wordpress.com
 are already on Jay’s list.

I wish that I could include everyone on my list of 15. However, like Jay Rando, I choose to list those blogs that I have been following for a longer period of time.

My 15 nominated and most favorite blogs are:

  1. http://jessicacoleman330.wordpress.com/ – My first “follower”. This is a gratitude blog from a good friend.
  2. http://onlyartblog.wordpress.com/ -Great art!
  3. http://goalhabits.com – Good advice for self improvement
  4. http://bellableue.com/ – Healing Health and Inspiration
  5. http://mikepoliquin.com/ – Mr. P’s math blog
  6. http://journey2enlighten.wordpress.com – A “Journey to Enlighten”
  7. http://pamjackson9189.wordpress.com/ – “Inner Peace Transformations”
  8. http://isleofbooks.wordpress.com – A great source of good literature
  9. http://thejourn3y.com – A description of one’s Journey to be the best they can be.
  10. http://orples.wordpress.com – Author of a children’s book with good life lessons
  11. http://iamnotdefined.wordpress.com – Great perspective and advice
  12. http://mazeaday.wordpress.com/ – Great quotes and awesome mazes!
  13. http://jamesdez.wordpress.com/ – “Have a Dream” – A very positive guy.
  14. http://henriksenlearning.wordpress.com/ – “It’s All About Learning” This is a great blog for educators.
  15. http://photobotos.com/ a lot of amazing photos

Thank you to all of you!

-Andrew Gilbert

March 4, 2012

A Goal Setting Activity

Now that we are starting the third month of this year, there is a chance that we may have drifted away from our “New Year’s Resolutions”. We do not need to wait for a New Year to create or re-focus on our live goals.

One exercise that can help guide you towards moving forward towards your life goals involves a folded piece of paper.

One the left side of the paper, write “old” and on the right side of the paper write “new”. Under the “old” column, write down all the things that you want to move away from or all those things you do not want to experience any more.

On the right column of the paper, write the opposite concept to the items on the left side or what you want to move towards. For example, if the left side of the column listed “debt”, the right column would read “abundance”.

After you compete this exercise, tear the paper down the middle. Take the left side of the paper, crumple it up and ceremoniously throw it away. These are the things you are DONE with! On the right side, you have a list of things that you want to focus on.

The “old” and” new list exercise can be taken further.  For each habit that you want to change, write the attribute of what you want to change as well as the feelings that you want to move away from on the left/old column. As before, for each of these items, write the opposite of each word on the right/new column.

For example, if the habit that you want to change is to stop smoking, on the left column you may list:

– Short breath

– Increase chance of heart attack and stroke

– Bad breath

– Expensive habit

– Smelly clothes

-Fear of poor health

-Dependency

– Low energy

The right column for this list may look like:

– Deep healthy breathes

– Decreased chance of heart attack and stroke

– Clean breath

– Money saved!

– Clean smelling clothes

-Confidence of health

– Detachment

– High energy

Once you throw the left/old column/list away, you are left with a positive image of where you want to move forward. Think of it as a map, you want to move a way to a better place in your life. To do so, you need to know exactly where you are going. By creating this list, you see everything you want and the actions are up to you. If you want to get to the proverbial town of

“Deep health breaths”, we know we cannot get there by going through “Smoke in Lungs” Avenue.

Another powerful step to this exercise is to have some form of statement of feeling or a mental image of how you will feel to change a habit or reach a certain goal. For the example above, we may write, “I feel awesome breathing deeply and healthily every day!” and imagine a satisfied smile on our face as we take deep long relaxing breaths.

It is best to think of things in the positive since it is easier to visualize. Although our thoughts are words, each word has a mental picture attached. A frequent example of this is the phrase “don’t think of a penguin. The more I say, “don’t thank of a penguin”, the more likely you will have a mental image of a penguin. Saying, “I will not smoke” will lead to a mental picture of someone smoking and therefore a greater chance that you may choose the action of smoking. It would be better to say something like “I will take healthy breaths every day”.  When you write your scripts for each goal, it is best to find words that appeal to you.

May you find the time to reflect where you want to go and create your goals as a road map to get there.