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Creating Magic & Mojo Part IV

May 8th, 2009

So, if you’ve followed along in my Magic & Mojo series, we’ve covered 1) taking responsibility 2) not taking responsibility and 3) mastering the art of apologizing.

My next critical ingredient for creating Magic and Mojo in your life is actually showing up for the game. Read on to see what I mean. ūüôā

Show Up for Your Life

I get increasingly perplexed by people who refuse to show up for their own lives. Oh, they go through the motions – have a job, relationships, hobbies maybe. But they only bring a small portion of themselves to the table. Then they wonder why life gives them so very little.

Our job and our responsibility to ourselves is to show up fully and consciously for our lives. Autopilot is the easier choice for sure, but that’s what we’ll get handed back – auto-life. Is that what you want?

What does showing up look like? It is bringing your full self – your talents, your weaknesses, your triumphs, your fears – everything that makes you you – to your daily life. No preoccupations, no distractions, no pretending to be someone else.

It’s saying “I’m really scared about saying this to you, but I also really want to say it, so here it is.” Instead of keeping it stuffed inside. So often we give the world an abbreviated, safer version of ourselves and it short-changes everyone.

One of the challenges of showing up is that it requires us to know who we are, what we like, how we feel. This kind of self-knowledge takes time and an intense curiosity about ourselves. I heard a great quote the other day that speaks to this very thing: “You have to know how you feel before you can know what you want.”

Let me ask you this question: when is the last time someone said, “How are you?” and you replied “Fine” with a smile when that simply wasn’t how you felt at all. Now, let me be clear – I am not advocating that you hoist all of your emotional and physical ailments onto the poor inquirer. I am suggesting that the next time you are asked “How are you?” you actually check-in with yourself and find out. Then reply specifically, “I feel great!” or “I’m actually feeling a little nervous/sad/ecstatic” – whatever word best describes how you are feeling.

This lesson is all about accepting responsibility for engaging in the life you are living. I can promise you this: the more richly and deeply you show up, the richer and deeper your life will feel.

Exercises:

1. If you were to show up exactly as you feel at this moment, what would you look like?

2. Choose someone safe and when they ask “How are you?” answer them as accurately (and briefly!) as you can.

Only two exercises, but they pack a powerful punch. Good luck!

Creating Magic & Mojo – Part III

April 30th, 2009

In Parts I and II of this series, we took a good hard look at both sides of “responsibility”; first what we ARE responsible for and second what we are NOT responsible for.

The next part of creating Magic and Mojo involves mastering a very, very rare skill. But if you’ve made it this far, I know you are up for it! (Some of you may recognize this post from February. It’s an important part of the M & M series – so here it is again!)

The Art of an Apology

No one ever taught me how to apologize. I know that sounds silly, but it is a skill that does not come easily to me. For a long time I thought mumbling “sorry” under my breath was as good an apology as anyone could expect from me. And, I only did that under extreme duress.

Now I find myself struggling to teach my son how to master this difficult skill. As I ungracefully slog through the mechanics of how an apology works, I realize that these days when accepting responsibility for the harm we do others is not exactly in vogue (witness Enron among others), making a heart-felt apology
can feel a lot like leaving yourself open to a shark attack.

What I now know, though, is that mastering this skill is one of the single greatest things I can do to foster the growth of my own integrity. It also lays the foundation for healing and for magic in any relationship. Apologizing is good for me and I can get better at it with practice. And so can my son.

So, how do we make a sincere apology? This outline I’ve put together¬†is a good place to start:

1. Use good timing. Apologizing as quickly as you can is a good rule of
thumb – unless you have really screwed up and your apology needs to
be thoughtfully approached.

2. If at all possible, make your apology in person. Doing it over the
telephone is for wimps. If an in-person apology is absolutely
impossible, hand write it (no e-mails, not typed-up letters) and put
it in the mail.

3. Look the person in the eye.

4. Use a warm, sincere voice.

5. Throughout your apology, be sure you emphasize how important the
other person is to you. “I really value you as a co-worker.” Or “Your
friendship really matters to me.”

6. Own what you did and be specific.
“I’m sorry I yelled at you. Yelling is never okay.”

7. Acknowledge its likely impact – causing pain or doing damage.
“My yelling has jeapordized our realtionship and I am sure it hurt
you.”

8. State what you intend to do next time to keep from repeating your
mistake. “Next time I feel angry enough to yell, I will take a walk around the
block instead.”

9. Ask for forgiveness. Depending on the severity of your mistake, the
other person may not be ready to answer and that is okay.”Will you forgive
me?”.

Here’s the tricky part of this last step (especially for my son). We must be
prepared to live with a “yes” or “no” answer. Though we hope to be forgiven,
we are the ones who screwed up and we can’t force the other person to respond
a certain way. If we go into an apology expecting a certain outcome, we are not
apologizing – we are manipulating.

10. Listen to and validate whatever feelings the other person wants to share
with you about the impact of your actions. I cannot over emphasize the importance
of this final step. This is the step that will let the other person know your apology is
heart-felt.

Now, here is a list of what NOT to do:
1. Do not make excuses.
2. Do not explain or rationalize why you did what you did – then the
apology becomes about you, not about the other person and your
relationship.
3. Do not say vague things like “I’m sorry for whatever I did to make
you mad.”
4. Do not apologize for how someone else feels – “I’m sorry you are
hurt by what I did.” or “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

For me, the best part about apologizing is that, even though I am scared to death while I am doing it, I feel so much lighter after I’ve done it. I may still wish I hadn’t screwed up in the first place, but cleaning up a mess I made is the next best thing. It’s all about taking responsibility for myself and my actions.

Now to explain the benefits of magic, morjo and apologies to a six year old…..

Creating Magic & Mojo Part II

April 22nd, 2009

In Part 1 of this series, we covered the idea of Taking Responsibility For Your Life– a critical foundation for creating Magic and Mojo. I hope you enjoyed reading and TAKING ACTION on the exercises so you have a little more clarity about all that.

Today in Part II we’re going to look at the flipside of that idea:

Knowing What You Are Not Responsible For

In my coaching practice, I often ask clients to make a quick list of things in their life they are not responsible for.¬† More often than not, they look at me as if I’ve asked them to recite the multiplication tables backwards – they are dumbfounded.¬† When pressed, they might admit that they are not responsible for, say, the weather or the stock market.¬†

Because our world puts such emphasis on our ability to control and influence everything around us, coming up with an answer to my question feels like admitting some kind of mortal weakness.

So, I’m going to cut to the chase here and give you some ideas on what you are not responsible for:
1) Traffic Рunless you caused the wreck
2)¬†The cleanliness of your grown son’s apartment or bedroom
3)¬†Your teenager’s forgotten homework
4)¬†Your boss’ temper tantrum
5)¬†Anyone’s drinking problem besides your own

You get the idea.¬† Once you realize all the things you are not responsible for, you will feel a ten-ton brick lift off your shoulders.¬† However, if you expect those around you to be thrilled with your new lightness, you’ll probably be disappointed.¬† They’ve all gotten very used to having you carry the load and being able to blame you when things go wrong.¬† Gently explain to them that their life is their own and they are going to have to learn how to take responsibility for it.¬† You’ve got all you can do taking responsibility for yourself and your own life.

Easier said than done sometimes, I know.¬† If you are in deep doo-doo over this one, seek out a professional who can help you work through it.¬† This shift in thinking can take some time and practice to soak in.¬† Be patient and be willing – that’s all you need.

Exercises:

1.  List five things you know for certain that you are not responsible for:

2. List five people that you are willing to give up being responsible for:

3.¬†Let’s write out a simple strategy that you can use the next time you feel compelled to take responsibility or someone tries to get you to take responsibility for something that you know is really not yours to take.

  • First, acknowledge to yourself that it is happening. “Oh, look.¬† Here’s that responsibility thing I learned about.¬† I’m trying to responsibility/they’re trying to get me to take responsibility for ______________.
  • Then, take a deep breath and choose how you will respond.¬† If you are just dealing with you, you could say “Well, I am just going to have to let that person be the grown-up he/she is.¬† My job is to take responsibility for myself.”¬† Throwing in a walk around the block usually takes the edge off particularly tempting cases.¬†If you are dealing with someone else, you might have to say, very calmly, “No.”¬† A temper tantrum of some kind could ensue.¬† That is their problem, too, not yours.¬† Just stick to your guns.¬† You are not responsible.¬† Again, a walk around the block can help you regain your perspective.

I know that sometimes this is much more difficult than this strategy sounds.  Just keep practicing.  You keep getting better at it РI promise.

If you need help crafting a strategy for a particular situation, seek wise counsel – a trusted friend or a skilled professional.

Great work!  Look for small opportunities this week to apply what you have learned in this lesson.