Driving along the freeway the other day I saw a row of orange barrels marking a change in the traffic pattern. A large sign announced, "Construction Area". Drivers are trained to pay attention to the orange barrels. We know that something's going to change. We're entering a stretch of road that could be dangerous if we don't pay attention. We could hit a construction worker if we don't slow down.
There are orange barrels in relationships too. Markers, events, attitudes that warn us that we're about to enter a construction zone in the relationship. A zone where we may need to slow down, look alert for our own safety, or the safety of others. If we're not paying attention, we won't see the warning signs and end up in a relationship wreck.
What kind of orange barrels are we talking about?
In one instance, I was introduced to a man by a mutual friend. He was handsome and he was employed. The latter of which had become a requirement for dating me. My friend knew this man from seeing him at a local bar. When we started dating, I began meeting his friends. They would tell me stories of his being drunk and falling asleep in their bathtub. They told stories of his being drunk and wrecking his motorcycle. They told me dozens of drinking stories that were orange barrels, warning signs.
Yet I didn't see the barrels! He was handsome. He was charming. He didn't drink every day and I never really saw him drunk when we were dating. How could those drinking stories be orange barrels warning me of rough road ahead?
What about other relationships? Friendships? Workplace relationships? Are there orange barrels there? I believe there are.
Some of the orange barrels I have experienced included a new friend who would create emotional drama within group situations to get her own way. The entire group was afraid of upsetting her so they went along with what ever she wanted. I got caught up in that drama! Looking back, I could see all the warning signs were there to forecast the event. I just thought our friendship was stronger than her need for drama.
Whenever orange barrels appear in relationships, we have choices. We can slow down, stay in our lane, and watch for rough road ahead. We can choose to take the first exit. We can look for an alternative route.
In what instances have you ignored the warnings signs in a relationship and not followed the signs? How have you coped?
Are you emotionally involved with your hopes and dreams?
I came across a video by Bob Proctor on www.sixminutestosuccess.com that started my thinking about emotional involvement. There have been times in my life when I was emotionally involved with everyone except me! Watch this video to learn how emotional involvement with yourself can help you grow your life and teach others how to do the same.
As I was driving up the freeway this morning, I saw two signs on either side of the road that said, "STAY IN LANE."
I thought, "Those should be posted everywhere!"
My Life Recovery journey has included learning to stay in my own lane. By living that simple traffic rule, I have been able to sustain my own peace and happiness even when I've been surrounded by other people's chaos and drama.
How do you stay in your lane? By minding your own business - mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
What happens when we don't stay in our lane in relationships? There is an emotional collision. We cut someone off and they get a resentment.
Mentally we can stay in our own lane by not worrying or obsessively thinking about someone else and her problems. We mind our own mental business, staying in the present moment and focusing our mental energy on tasks we can accomplish. We learn that we don't have to share every thought we think. We learn that we aren't mind readers either. How many times have you heard yourself say, "I know what you're thinking"?
Emotionally staying in your lane is all about detachment. Life recovery means being adult enough to know at our core that we get to choose how we're going to think about something and thereby choose how we're going to feel about it. It's learning that we can never feel enough pain in our hearts to change someone else or to heal their pain. It is only by remaining steady in our own emotional being that we can teach someone to be steady in theirs.
Spiritually we stay in our lane by minding our own spiritual business. What would that look like? It means not preaching about spiritual principles and simply leading by the clarity of our example. If we are all one and we are all on a spiritual journey, who are we to judge another?
Make up your mind that nothing is more important than how I feel now, because now is everything. Now is the whole enchilada. Now is the power of me. Now, now, now, now, now... You might as well start somewhere, and it might as well be now. Why not start improving your life now, now, now?
Have you ever received a Cosmic Postcard, a message from the Universe from a source totally unrelated to whatever issue you were working on? I received a Cosmic Postcard from Mari Smith on Facebook the other day when she quoted Kevin Nations as saying, "Winners take imperfect actions."
A few days ago, I gave a presentation about the basics of Twitter to the CREW, Commercial Real Estate Women. Later the mistakes I made were pointed out to me.
On the back of the brochure for Enigma Wellness, my first name was spelled wrong and on a slide that referenced the book, Outliers, I had Malcolm Gladwell's name wrong. For some reason, I had put Malcolm McDowell. Two mistakes! That's not to mention that I had to borrow someone else's laptop to even do the presentation because the AV output cord wouldn't fit my MacBook.
Yes, I was embarrassed. How can you spell your own name wrong? But I wasn't embarrassed for long. Why? Because I am learning. At the end of the day I knew that I needed to purchase two pieces of equipment, an adapter and an internet card, to effectively use my MacBook for presentations. I went back to my material to correct my name and Malcolm Gladwell's name. I thanked the person who pointed out my mistakes and encouraged her to always correct me because it would help the group and let it go.
Then the video by Mari Smith popped up on my newsfeed in Facebook. Mistakes or not, I knew that I was in alignment; that I am a winner with imperfect actions.
How do you handle your mistakes? How long do you wallow in self-deprecation? How does the fear of making mistakes trap you into not following your dreams?
Michele McCarthy (of The McCarthy Show) and I collaborate on many ideas including the posts for the series Difficult Bosses. The other night when we were talking about applying the Serenity Prayer to workplace conflict and difficult bosses, Michele mentioned, "the courage to change bosses."
What if you've done all that you can to change your perception and your boss is truly a difficult boss as defined by Michele's No. 1 Criteria - your boss stops you from doing great things? Then it's time for the courage to change bosses.
Pixie: Why do you think it takes courage to change bosses?
Michele: I think a lot of people think of their workplace as their home instead of a place of business. Home feels safe and you don't want to leave that warm, comfy safety, so you put up with a lot of mediocrity to avoid making a change.
Pixie: I work with clients who agonize over making decisions for fear of making a mistake. I reassure them that there are no mistakes; just new decisions.
Michele: I tell my clients that I would expect they would make mistakes if they are growing. And mistakes are when you learn. For me at least, I have had the biggest growth spurts after making big mistakes.
Pixie: What I hear you saying about a bad work situation is that people fail to act in order to avoid discomfort. And some people get locked up for fear of making a mistake.
Michele: "Mom, I don't want to go to school, it's scary out there. I can't make a decision what to wear, so I'll have to stay home from school today."
Pixie: We think we're safe if we stay put. We fear the unknown.
Michele: I also think we love sameness, ritual, and tradition.
Pixie: I know others who change jobs too much because they get bored without the chaos of change.
Michele: Yes, chaos junkies. I don't have many clients with that issue, but I have seen it. I think it's more common to avoid change, though.
Pixie: Yes, traditions, rituals, sameness makes us feel secure. Courage in this sense, to change bosses, is like a leap of faith. How do you move your clients toward that change?
Michele: I ask them what they want. I investigate in detail what they have now and what they want. Only they can decide whether they are willing to change.
Pixie: Yes, it is much better when we know what we want.
Michele: Deconstructing what they have and why they have it usually helps them make better decisions. I talk to them about their feelings too.
Pixie: For example, you'd ask "How do you feel about where you are now compared to where you want to be?"
Michele: Right. You have to repress a lot of feelings to stay in a mediocre job. When you are aware of your feelings, it is easier to take action. Anger, for example, is a great motivator in a mature adult.
Pixie: I think it was easier for me when I left the legal field because it had changed from a career that I enjoyed to a job that was a means of making money. But I was looking for a calling; some way to be of service and to make a contribution.
Michele: Yes, I like those categories. That's a useful structure for people to think about: Do you have a job, a career, or a calling?
Pixie: I didn't need courage to change. The change came to me when my department was closed. I was in alignment with that event.
After identifying my clients' desires (often they don't know what they want), I try to help them move into alignment with those desires. When we are in alignment with our desires, the change takes place organically.
Michele: Yes, it becomes a flow if the resistance is low.
Pixie: Resistance is low when we have clarity. It's the murky middle that takes courage. In recovery the opposite of fear is faith. A saying used in recovery is that "all men of courage have faith". The truth for me is that I don't even need faith or courage unless there is fear. It is the fear that creates the need for courage.
Michele: Yes, that's right. And having a great life takes courage.
Pixie: My clients ask how to have courage; how to have faith. My response is - ask, listen, receive, take action. People seem to believe faith is a feeling. For me, trust is the feeling that I get when I take actions of faith.
Michele: Next time, let's talk about the drama we create as an excuse to change.
The Law of Attraction Assembles Happy Relationships... Asking your relationship with any other to be the basis of buoying you up is never a good idea, because the Law of Attraction cannot bring to you something different from the way you feel. The Law of Attraction cannot bring you a well-balanced, happy person if you are not yourself already that. The Law of Attraction, no matter what you do or say, will bring to you those who predominantly match the person who you predominantly are. Everything that everyone desires is for one reason only: they believe they will feel better in the having of it. We just want you to understand that you must feel better before it can come to you.
In simple terms, if you are not happy with yourself, or with your life, the attraction of a partner will only exaggerate the discord, because any action taken from a place of lack is always counterproductive.
Excerpted from Abraham's newest book, The Vortex, Where the Law of Attraction Assembles All Cooperative Relationships
Michele McCarthy (of The McCarthy Show) and I collaborate on many ideas including the posts for the series Difficult Bosses. Michele and her husband, Jim McCarthy, provide executive and teamwork consulting utilizing the results from research conducted in their teamwork laboratory, "BootCamp." Two nights ago, Michele and I talked about the Difficult Bosses series by phone.
Pixie: So Michele, to you, the bosses that I’ve discussed so far in the Difficult Bosses series are annoying bosses, not truly difficult bosses?
Michele: Yes. If people came to me with those types of complaints, I would just give advice about how to deal with them.
Pixie: Then how would you describe a truly difficult boss?
Michele: Some of the characteristics of a truly difficult boss:
won’t fire people
won’t promote based on merit
values loyalty without regard to merit
Loyalty without regard to merit means a truly difficult boss will promote someone regardless of the results just because he’s loyal to that employee or because that employee is loyal to him.
Pixie: That’s like returning to the same barber over and over again even though he gives you a bad haircut.
Michele: Exactly. A truly difficult boss is also very parental.
Pixie: Can you give an example?
Michele: Truly difficult bosses think their job is to control their employees as if they were unruly children. For example, they spend a lot of energy "containing" or saying "no." Furthermore, they think they carry their job title because they’re smarter or better in some dimension.
Pixie: Well, aren’t they better or smarter?
Michele: 99 percent of organizations aren’t rational enough to promote someone to boss because they’re smartest or best. Come to think of it, I challenge anyone to define "smartest" or "best." That’s an arrogant point of view to begin with. Frequently, difficult bosses are the boss simply because they wanted to be the boss so people would do what they say.
Pixie: So it's all about power.
Michele: Yes, for the difficult bosses we are discussing at the moment, the primary motivator I perceive is a dark version of power.
Also, a truly difficult boss consciously or unconsciously sabotages or won’t promote people who they are afraid are “smarter” or “better.” The way to highlight this is to contrast the difficult boss with a perfect boss. A perfect boss loves someone who is “smarter” or “better” because they understand their job is to get results so they see someone who has some virtue as helpful to attaining their goals. Consequently, the perfect boss supports and gives more attention to employees that show the most potential.
The darkest bosses will promote those who are loyal but who, in their mind, pose no threat.
Pixie: What I hear you saying is that a truly difficult boss isn’t focused on results. He or she is focused on power.
Michele: Right. I also think if a boss doesn’t stop great things from happening, then you’re fine. It’s the stopping greatness that defines a difficult boss.
Pixie: So all the other things that I’ve discussed about difficult bosses are really about emotional boundary issues?
Michele: At least a large part are, yes. If a boss doesn't stop you from doing great things, just ignore the annoying parts. Do great things. Don't use the boss as an excuse. However, if you have a "truly difficult" boss, I recommend getting a new boss.
What are your thoughts? Is your boss a truly difficult boss who stops you from doing great things or is he just an annoying boss? How do you put the "courage to change" into action in your workplace relationships?