Sensitivity-A Communication Killer!

The other day I wrote about tough love, which can come in the form of discipline or correction.  Correction to most of us is not so easy to swallow, it is like being given a plate of boiled liver, tough and not tasty, nonetheless  it is a necessary part of life because if there is no one there to help correct us in order to insure that things are done properly, we will go on through life making the same mistakes.

Today I wanted to share a point concerning the killer of communication and this is sensitivity.  There is a good sensitivity when you are sensitive towards the needs of others or their feelings.  When you are able to empathize with others and learn to walk in their shoes so as to avoid causing unnecessary hurt feelings or pain.  The other is not that positive, it is when you are overly sensitive to other’s words or situations and are easily offended, this is the sensitivity that I am addressing.

Some might defend themselves and say. “I have to be myself and let others know how I feel otherwise I am just being a wimp.”  Yes, while this to a certain extent is true, it is important the be able to express ourselves so that our position is understood, but when it comes to being overly defensive when our boss, friend or co-worker is trying to point something out about us that may need to be fine tuned or changed, it is best to keep our emotions toned down a few notches.

As time goes on, should we react continually in a defensive manner, we will find ourselves very lonely!  The fact of the matter is, on the work place, amongst real friends etc., should our reaction to any suggestion that we may be wrong be sensitive or offended, sooner or later our colleagues, or friends will simply stop attempting to communicate with us!  It becomes too much work to have to “pick up the pieces” when others fall apart each time we have to mention something that they may need to work on. So, human nature tells us to avoid the situation and pass on by.

By being overly sensitive we begin closing the door to any hope of growth or even social life.  The fact is, we all could use some fine tuning, and not that we are all always “wrong”, but we do need to co-exist with the rest of the world, and this is why we need to be open to change and willing to adapt to our surroundings.

In a marriage or relationship this problem, although initially may not exist, tends to surface after you have been together for some time. After growing familiar with one another, for one it is difficult to take criticism ever, and two you wonder why after such a long time your partner is getting “picky” over something that they used to seem to be fine with before.  You feel, “what is the big deal, this is how I am, just live with it” while the fact is, you have been doing something that has always been a little bothersome but it was overlooked through your “in-love” stage. But if you cannot learn to communicate honestly with your partner, you are soon to run into some pretty big problems.

Communication is absolutely essential in life! Not all communication is done “the right way”, so we need to learn to listen in order to respond in such a way that will leave the door open to others.  If we don’t, within time we will find that everyone will be side stepping us everywhere we go, and the world will become a very lonely place!

How do you handle correction or criticism?  Do you take in stride or do you tend to make it hard to deliver?

Tough Love–Discipline

The other day I wrote about the importance of appreciation and how it can tend to bring out the best in others!  We thrive on positive input, and by emphasizing the positive it can help in a great way to encourage a  positive reaction.  Today I want to share a little about the other side of the coin and that is, what do you do when you need to deal out some correction or discipline?  I am a true believer in the importance of discipline, as if you do not take the time to discipline a child, or a subordinate when they may have made a big mistake, you will be robbing them of an important lesson that could save them more trouble on down the line.

As a parent it is our God-given duty to “train up our children in the way they should go”, and it can be difficult to live up to, but oh so necessary.  With the fast pace lives that we now live, both mom and dad often are busy working and so kids are often given into the care of others.  By the time you get back home, or have time to spend with your child you usually prefer that this time together be positive, and so having to deal with a not-so-positive behavior or situation is not really your choice activity,  so we can tend to let the discipline slide. For one, your tired and two, you just want some positive time with your child.

We as humans since birth, don’t usually invite correction with open arms.  It is difficult to receive and we have learned since childhood to make those having to give us the necessary discipline feel as though they are being an ogre and that they obviously don’t care for or love us. My kids used to equate discipline to a lack of love towards them.  They used to say, “you don’t love me” which made having to continue my job all the more difficult, but I told them that this IS love, but that it was “tough love”.  I would go on to explain to them,  “God loves us all unconditionally as I do you, but although His love is a gift and it never goes away by His grace, on the other hand in order to receive His blessings we have to obey, and that is why that in order for me to reward you, you need to follow my instructions”.

As in all things in life, there is an important balance, you don’t want to create a world around you where everything becomes, no, don’t, you can’t etc..  On the other hand you don’t want to just let everything slide to be “Mr. or Mrs. nice guy” to where there are no boundaries.  We all need to have boundaries in order to accommodate the other six or so billion people in the world, but we also do not want to place our children or others in a box limiting them from learning lessons on their own and progressing into well-adjusted adults.

There are laws that have been put in place concerning discipline to assure that it is not administered too heavily which has been good.  Discipline is something that should never be done in haste or when emotionally charged.  You have the authority as a parent or an overseer, so there is really no need to get all emotionally excited when administering discipline.  I once read a good illustration of this point which used a police officer as an example.  When an officer stops you for running a red light or for speeding he does not run up to your car waving his arms in the air and start screaming at you all emotionally telling you what a terrible thing you did.  He usually walks slowly up to your car, politely greets you, (you are already pretty much shaking in your boots because of the ticket you are about to be issued), he then goes on to explain calmly and mater-of-factually why he is now going to have to issue you a fine for breaking the rules. This is how we should be with those we discipline as well, without emotion and without becoming unnecessarily mean.

At the end of the day, the goal is to help others to grow better, and possibly even avoid future accidents or unpleasantness.  Those you may have to correct today will thank you tomorrow for having been there for them in their time of need!  And you, contrary to how you may feel at the moment, will be even more loved and respected in the future than you would be if you just let things go too easily.

Do you find it hard to administer “tough love?  Have you been thankful now for the times there was someone who cared enough to discipline you in the right way?  Share your thoughts!

Appreciation–An All Too Neglected Practice

Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary. — Margaret Cousins

There are so many things in life that we simply take for granted, particularly the people that we live with, work with, and encounter in the course of the day.  It is so common to grow used to things being the way they are that we don’t pause long enough during the day to take notice of them let alone to express our appreciation for them through words or acts of appreciation.

It is interesting that this might be so since we all know how wonderful it is when someone takes notice of something that we took the time to attend to at work, or a special something we do for our spouse, or family member.  Not that this is why we do things for others in the first place, but when anyone sits up and takes notice of us, and expresses their appreciation to us, it makes us want to go out of our way to do even more things for them.

Knowing how appreciation helps to spur us on to do better, it is a wonder why we don’t show our appreciation more generously to those who we live and work with.  Of course if you have been raised in an environment where little or no appreciation has been given for what you have done, then it can seem normal to you to treat others the very same way that you have been treated. In the Bible it says to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you“, but this often is miss quoted or miss applied as “do unto others as they have done unto you“.

Have you ever worked really hard to accomplish something at work or at home that you felt real satisfied with and that brought about real progress or improvement, but then it only gets a passing glance?  No appreciation for all the hard work, the long hours, the concentrated effort that went into it, and in the end no one acknowledged you for it?  How did that make you feel?  Did it make you want to continue to do it again or rather did it make you feel like “what’s the use”?” Most likely you felt like saving yourself the effort the next time around.

Now try this…stop and take a moment to thank your wife for having cooked a wonderful meal and let her know how much you appreciate the way she prepared the meal. Tell you husband how much it means to you when he takes the trash out with out you having to remind him.  Thank your son or daughter for the extra chores that they do around the house and make sure to reward them in some significant way for their good job! Express today to your co-worker your appreciation for all the details that they tend to throughout the day!  Do this regularly for a few months and see if you don’t notice a major difference in how they work, respond to you and reciprocate your attitude!

By applying this principal and putting it into practice, you are sure to notice a tremendous change for the better!  Appreciation is powerful, appreciation is yet another way of expressing love and it is love, not money that makes the world go around!  How has it changed your life when you have been appreciated? What was it like to go largely unnoticed? Your comments are appreciated!  (Yes they truly will be!)

Stretching Your Capabilities

“When you engage in systematic, purposeful action, using and stretching your abilities to the maximum, you cannot help but feel positive and confident about yourself.” –Brian Tracy

I mentioned the other day about having signed up at the gym and how it seemed as though I was dying since I hadn’t really done that much in the way of exercise in a while!  I’m the kind of guy who, in order to get exercise, prefers to chase a ball around o give me a reason to run.  When you are out competing in a sport it makes getting that much-needed exercise way more fun than when you are simply working out.

I love basketball and have played it since I was a kid, but here in Italy there are not that many courts available since the main sport is soccer and I am really not that good at soccer.  I also enjoy playing tennis, which unfortunately is not all that readily available where I am and so I have still not been able to get in a club to play. So I decided to sign up at a gym, and I am so glad I did!  There is a trainer there who follows you and he sets you up on a program in order to challenge you to make the progress necessary for your personal needs.

Whatever means that I do get exercise, whether it be at the gym or a sport such as basketball or tennis, I preferred to play with others who were better than myself.  In fact, there was a period whilst living in Taiwan when I had a couple of colleagues and good friends who were really great at tennis and so we made it a point to go play. As it turned out, most of the time I was on the losing end of the game, their capabilities were higher than mine, but this is why I enjoyed playing with them in particular. Eventually I began to win a few times too!

It is fun to win games as it can boost your self-esteem, but I felt that if I could at least become competitive with these guys, then I knew that I was growing and gaining great experience.  On the other hand, if I would always play against others who were not as good as I was at a game, I would never have the opportunity to improve, or would not really realize it if I had or not.  This opportunity placed me in a position to stretch my capabilities and therefore grow.

I feel that if you are always seeking the easy way out,  instead of challenging yourself with something more difficult, you end up robbing yourself of an opportunity to grow!  This is what life is all about, learning to overcome the various obstacles that you encounter along like’s path.  By doing so, you strengthen your muscles in preparation for the next obstacle that comes your way!

Do you seek the easy road or the road that leads you to greater challenge?

Entertainment Finding The Balance!

“Exactly when people are in turmoil is the time that the entertainment business has always been at its best. Because people don’t want to be reminded every day that they are under siege, or that they’re not having a great time of life”. –Lionel Richie

Isn’t it great to have entertainment, a way to get away from it all and to have some fun, especially during tough times! After a long hard day of work it is rewarding to be able to sit back and enjoy a movie, read a book, or even go out and join friends for a night of well deserved relaxation.  It would be truly impossible to carry on were there not ways to escape the reality of certain situations to maintain our sanity! It is actually a physical need that keeps us refreshed and re-energized to go back out the next day and to give it our best.

But there is also a down side to it as well, as there is to anything in life, if we do not find the proper balance and overdue something.  Anything that you take to an extreme can have an adverse affect on you, and therefore it is important to find a balance in all things like, eating, sleeping, working exercising, sex etc..  They are all necessary and important, but when abused or taken to one extreme or the other they can do more harm than good.

As humans we are led largely by our emotions, some more than others, but it is a fact that we tend to believe that whatever feels good must be good and what ever does not feel good is bad.  It had been a long time since I had gotten my needed exercise and so I  made the decision to sign up at the local gym.  This gym has a wonderful trainer who makes himself available to all the members and helps you learn how to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself.  Well, day one, after not having done much of any exercise for quite some time, by the day’s end I was not feeling so good! So therefore it must be bad? Not at all, it is good for me, but boy I am having to stretch myself to do what I would really rather not do in order to get where I want to be. I thought to myself, “how silly, I am paying this guy to kill me!”

With the multitude of avenues for entertainment and the thought that what feels good must be good, much of humanity are overly addicted to being entertained.  If something is “boring” then they don’t want to do it.  So they seek the easy route in order to get it done faster so as to get to what they like doing rather than plodding along doing what is really needed. Water always seeks the lowest level and flows down hill, and so do we when we are not challenged with doing otherwise.  We tend to do the same, whatever is easiest, I’ll just flow on down hill and hope for the best.

Entertainment is a wonderful thing and very needed, but it needs to be kept in perspective.  Even tough mundane duties can be “fun” if we change the way that we look at them.  If you know that something is going to eventually make your life better by sticking with it, such as my new exercise torture example above, then you can have a whole new outlook on it and even begin enjoying it.  It would be nice if you can get your emotions to desire something that you don’t particularly enjoy, because emotions can be really deceiving!

Have you found ways to have fun doing the boring things in life?  Do you have any tips to share?  Thanks!

The Weed of Bitterness

Song Verse: “So watch the garden of your heart, never let the evil start, little thoughts are little seeds, growing good or evil deeds, into flowers sweet…or weeds….they all must grow!“–Author unknown

I talked about forgiveness in my last post and how it can be liberating if you learn to forgive. Today I wanted to talk about the potential consequences of holding on to bitterness and ill feelings towards others, your current situation or towards anything for that matter.

When you occupy your mind with ill feelings or bitterness or negativity of any kind, you are blocking the way to any potential forward movement or progress of any kind.  Holding on to bitterness or negative feelings wastes so much of your valuable mental resources that it leaves little room for constructive thought or creativity.  Your mind tends to go on and on building up a case to justify your feeling the way that you do.

Bitterness is like a weed that unfortunately doesn’t just stop at the negative feelings that you may have towards a person or situation, but then it will go beyond this and will begin to  absorb the nutrition from the blossoming flowers of progress, creativity and life-giving thoughts or ideas that you may otherwise be able to nurture.

Bitterness can grow to such overwhelming proportions just as certain weeds can tend to do, that once they have grown to a certain size, they are much harder to eradicate.  The roots grow deeper, and the stalks grow so thick that in order to cut them it will take an axe instead of a simple weeding tool were you to have tended to it from the beginning!

If allowed to grow and fester for a prolonged period of time, bitterness can even cause you to develop into much more serious physical illnesses that can even be fatal!  You have to guard yourself from this awful weed! Guard the garden of your heart from the terrible weed of bitterness.  If you take notice of bitterness popping up its ugly head in your heart, take action right away, do whatever it takes to get ride if it, before it grows into a monster of a plant that saps you of your strength, both mental and physical!

Have you had experiences where you held on to bitterness and were able to finally let it go?  How did it make you feel once you were freed from its grip.  Share your story!

The Liberation of Forgiveness

We all are here on planet earth, and we are not alone! Thank God!  But on the other had, we are all just human and we make our set of mistakes.  Mistakes that hurt us, and mistakes that have serious consequences to others as well.  We live in a “dog eat dog” environment, where competition is high on all fronts and in order to get ahead, some people end up getting trampled! This is a very ugly reality that we live with, and sad to say along life’s arduous road some people get hurt, others get left behind, and then there are those who get ahead.

It is not a fun thing to be wronged by someone, and in particular it is most difficult to be wronged by someone who we have been close to, or emotionally involved with, as it hurts even more, and the scars can last for a very long time! But actually, what is it that causes these “scars” to go on for so long?  They are contingent on our ability or inability to hold on to them or to let go! At the end of the day the decision is ours .

To forgive is not always that easy to do, it costs us great courage, strength and even some times our dignity.  However if you weigh this pain against that which can be caused by holding on to the past, bitterness, anguish, hatred and vindication, it can have a far less negative effect on the overall.  All the energy that it takes out of you when you get so emotionally wrapped up in the ordeal can work against you in the long run! Science has proven that  anger and rage built up over time can have serious adverse affects, not only on your mental state but even on your overall physical health.

To learn how to forgive and yes, even forget, is not all that easy, but it a power that will bring an incredible liberation.  When you hold on to a negative sentiment, the only person that you end up hurting is yourself! You are surrendering to the person who has wronged you, and in the case of one who may have deliberately wronged you, you have handed over to them victory and satisfaction.  However, when you are able to forgive, forget and move on, you have gained an incredible freedom of mind which will liberate you to move on. There is no sweeter victory!

Have you experienced difficulty and misfortune at the hand of another?  How did you handle it?

Making Others Be Just Like Us!?

We have all been created equal, yet we are all different one from the other.  That is what makes life so wonderful, the world so colorful and life so amazing!  And yet, despite this wonderful difference, many of us spend a great deal of our time trying to make others just like us! We think, erroneously, that if others would just be like us, then we would get along so much better.  The world would be a better place if only we were all the same! This is a mistaken thought that we tend to have in relationships, in politics and on the workplace.

Why is not good in a relationship?

When we find our “soul mate” and fall in love, we enjoy our partner so much that the differences that are between us go largely unnoticed. We are so over-the-moon, love-struck, mesmerized and are just down right having fun, we do not notice the gazillions of idiosyncrasies that our new-found love has. Then, once the honeymoon’s over and realty sets in, you start seeing the areas that you are not so sure you like.  So many begin at this point to try to stuff their partner into their mold, trying to make them become what they are not.

It can be a pretty confusing period to go through to suddenly find out that, the love of your life, no longer accepts you for who you are but now has begun have you become what he or she would prefer you to be. Without realizing it ourselves, what we are really trying to do, is to get them to be just like ourselves so that we can now get along better. But this actually is not why we fell in love in the first place, in fact, by doing so it could be the very thing that will continue to separate you even more.

Once you have partially been successful in “cloning” your partner into someone compatible with how you think they should be, then enters the competition stage.  They finally comply with your wishes (or try to) and then you find yourself together with someone who will compete with you in everything you do instead of being themselves.  So, how do you avoid all of this and keep a relationship from this downward spiral?

Well, it is time to take a step back and make a list of all of the attributes that attracted you to this person in the first place.  Realize that it was not that they were so much like you, but that they were actually complimenting you.  Make a list of  all the things that you are thankful that they are good at and that they do that you are not and how they have completed you. Allow them the freedom to enjoy what they like doing most, as time spent on separate activities is healthy for your relationship and you will then appreciate your time together even more.

Why is it not good at the workplace?

The main goal you have in a company is to get the most done in order to accomplish the agreed upon goals and policies.  To do s, it does not necessarily mean to do it all in the very same way.  Follow the rules and policies of the company yes, but at the end of the day, the results are what you are looking for, not how they are reached.

Some bosses are on the look out for little “mini-mes”, but a good boss will be on the look out for those with some personality and initiative to find new and better ways to get the job done.  If you are trying to squeeze everyone into a mold, trying to get them to do things exactly like you, you could be squelching the very thing that could catapult your company into a totally new and successful adventure.  Do not put a lid on novelty, many of the most successful entrepreneurs have become very wealthy because they tried things that had never been done before, thanks to the contribution of other people.

Thank God we are all different, you need your co-workers as much as they need you as no one is the all-in-all and really knows it all.  So instead of getting everyone to be like you, be thankful for each and everyone’s personal talents, get them to work together in cooperation.  Can you imagine if our body was one big huge head and nothing else?  We would not get very far, in fact we would be totally unable to move!

Why is it not good in politics?

In the running of a country, if everyone were totally the same, believed the same way, and never questioned the other, we would be in a real mess!  Debate can be healthy, it is only when the different parties start to pick on tiny details that it then becomes a tremendous bottle neck and things can come to a literal stand still! You need the diversity in order to see the big picture, but what is it that we should be looking for through this diversity?  The answers that are necessary to keep the nation going forward for the better of the people of that nation.

It is not good to try to convince the other party that yours is the right party, this is silly, there is no right party, they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.  Having diversity in a country helps to avoid a totalitarian dictatorship, but it should never be a reason to cause total stagnation and lack of progress. It should stimulate thought and innovation which is what makes a country into a great nation!

In Summary

Diversity is a gift to man kind, not a curse.  It should be embraced, welcomed and accepted as a wonderful opportunity to combine two or more great people to form a more powerful entity.  We should never think that we have to try to push others into being just like us and thus robbing them of their individuality! Granted, it can be a challenge at times to work with others of diverse beliefs, customs or habits, but it can bring out the wonderful colors of a rainbow if you succeed!

Have you experienced situations in your life where someone was trying to make you into what you are not?  What was the result?

The Day That Changed The World

Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of the infamous day dubbed 9/11, a day that the world literally stood still to witness an advent that would then change the globe as we knew it.  I can still remember as if it were yesterday when, at the time I lived in Taiwan, I received a phone call from a friend of ours that said “turn the TV on to CNN, something has happened in New York, it looks like an attack on the United States”.  The call was in Chinese and so I was unclear as to what she was trying to say.  I flipped on the TV and just minutes after, I witnessed the second plane plow through the second tower! Needless to say, like the rest of the world I stood and watched incredulously.

The effects of this day are still being felt 10 years on, and my heart goes out to the thousands of people who have been affected in a very direct way, having lost friends and loved ones on that day.  I salute those brave men and women who risked their lives to rescue and aid those on the scene and who are to this very day experiencing illnesses due to their exposure to the debris.

We have all been affected in one way or the other due to the events of this day, some changes that have taken place have been positive and most have been more on the negative side.  New York had already been on a campaign to clean up their city under the then Mayor Giuliani, but after 9/11, the people of New York began to see life in a totally new perspective, and gained greater respect for others which was a positive change.  Back in the day when I had first visited New York, I was not left with a very positive impression of the people of New York City, today it leaves a totally different impression, and a lot has to do with that fatal day.

On the negative side, our lives have changed due to the repercussions of that day in 2001, we have been hurled back into the dark days of racial profiling and prejudice.  Many, not knowing anything about the Muslim religion have been convinced that all Muslims are bad and thus cannot be trusted.  Despite the many attempts to clarify the fact that we are not at war against the Muslim religion, but rather we are at war against fanaticism and extremism that uses religion as a cloak for their sins.

On the negative side we have found ourselves once again in the quagmire of endless war, trying to figure out the destiny of a country that is not even our own and not ours to make decisions for. There have been many more deaths of innocent men, women and children due to “collateral damage” and  “friendly fire”, and a total disruption of several societies in a greater proportion than that of the crumbling of the twin towers of New York, only on foreign soil.

On the negative side, we have given up many personal freedoms that we once enjoyed through sweeping changes under the guise of personal °protection and safety°.  We have all been told that it is for the greater good that we should be willing “at any cost” to relinquish whatever privacy that is deemed necessary for our own well-being.

Yes, this was a day that has changed the World as we knew it.  I prefer the change that has taken place with those in New York, to learn the value of life, to appreciate what we have, to strive to do more for others when we can.  I yearn for the yesteryear that we continue on the road of respect of others despite their personal faith.  I pray that soon we will witness the end of war so that we can rebuild our own economy, take care of our fellow citizens and learn to accept that not all nations are like ours or even desire to be as our, but rather, they have their own culture that is unique and to be admired.

How has the world changed for you?

Who Wins a War?–Nobody!

I have a scheme for stopping war. It’s this – no nation is allowed to enter a war till they have paid for the last one. –Will Rogers

There is a lot of talk of late, and understandably so, about the world economic crisis, political instability in the Arab world, and of course the ongoing threat of terrorism.  The economic situation in the United States has not been so serious since the days of the “Great Depression”, and sad to say, instead of getting better it seems to be growing worse. First  started with the blame game, the “who dunnit”, we found out where it originated, slapped a few hands of the greedy guys on Wall street, and handed the helm back into their hands to carry on as they had been doing! But hey, they own the White House so there is not much you can say!..Or is there?

But one of the culprits that has not been touched on all that much as being an economical drain, is the military budget, which has grown in disproportional levels thanks to our “war on terrorism” and military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and the many other serious situations that have developed in a number of Arab nations.  This money drain is a significant sum of money that the American tax payers are paying to foot the bill for playing “policeman” to the world!  Here is the estimate of total spending requested for 2012 taken from Wikipedia: 1030-1415 trillion dollars!  Wow, if we could cut back on even half of that, we may even be able to balance the budget!

The United States and allies after WWII did a great favor for both Japan and Germany.  General McArthur helped draw up a new constitution for Japan which did not allow them to create an army of aggression but rather one limited to self-defense.  Germany was split into two different nations, one occupied by the communists and the other by NATO, thus Germany was not so militarily active besides protecting themselves from the threat they posed each other.  Since that time, both nations began to prosper and had become financial powers in their own right.

Granted defense is necessary, and in the case of counter-terrorism, America needs to be prepared, but to go beyond borders and to police the world, continually pouring trillions of dollar into wars, money that we do not have, is totally superfluous in my opinion and a great waste. So in the end, who wins a war? I believe that in a war, everyone loses.  Lives are lost, money is wasted, and not all that much is changed, in fact more people are getting stressed and the hate and anger level is on the rise, not decline which only heightens security concerns!

Now lets take a look around you, China who has a rather large military budget, has not used their military to invade or participate in the international policing, has been prospering! Not only, did you know that they are slowly buying the United States and that without firing a shot are economically taking over?  If things continue as they are now going, China is set to become the worlds greatest super power!

You may not agree, or maybe you do, let me know down below.