About what matters

Writing about what really matters

Tag: power

At last

Yes take 3

This was my exact gesture when I got off the phone last week after verbally accepting a job offer I’m really excited about–a gesture I’ve repeated several times since. This moment has been a long time coming …

I realized nearly a year and a half ago that I would need to make a change–I hoped sooner rather than later. I went on a couple interviews then, and could have made an immediate change. But my gut feeling was that I hadn’t found the right opportunity yet, and also that (as much as I wanted to leave) my presence was needed to help stabilize the situation for others. Power and fear can be a lethal combination, that’s for sure.

There have been other interviews along the way, other offers I didn’t accept. One came quite close to what I wanted. I loved the people I would have worked with, but the job would have come with a cut in base pay along with a significantly better potential annual bonus. I was a little surprised at exactly how much I didn’t like the idea of a pay cut!

The interview process for the job I’ve accepted began two months ago, and has been slowed by a number of factors, so I was thrilled when the offer finally came through. I’ve taken my drug test–nothing like peeing in a cup while a couple of lab employees wait outside your door to keep your feet on the ground–and dug up various paystubs, W-2s, offer letters, and phone numbers for the background check.

I told a couple of friends at work that I’d accepted an offer, both of whom were surprised–which could mean I’ve finally perfected my poker face! One said he was sure I’d really enjoy handing in my notice. I was a little surprised to realize I won’t … there is no ‘charge’ around this for me. Likewise, I don’t remotely have any guilt about leaving. All of which must mean this is the perfect time for me to move on.

The really outstanding, difficult-to-match feature of my current job is my commute. When the stars are aligned and all the lights are green, I can get from my driveway to the parking garage in two minutes. Four minutes is more usual. Obviously this has allowed me to go home at lunchtime most days, which has been great. My new commute will be about half an hour and will involve tolls–assuming I want to take the fastest route, and I do.

But in virtually every other respect, I expect my new job to be an improvement over the old one. Better pay, better benefits, better bonus (which I happen to know this company actually pays, because I’ve worked for them before). I’m really looking forward to being challenged again, not to mention working with highly competent, bright, professional people. I’m also going to be doing the work I want to do in a really beautiful place–a former headquarters building with beautiful grounds, landscaping, water features, and art.

I’m so grateful for this positive change, and truly looking forward to all that happens next.

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage® card I made today, Yes!

SoulCollage cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

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How to demonstrate grace under fire

Grace

Last weekend, as I prepared to write this post, I had a couple of ideas in mind. Although this is my 100th post, and also my birthday post, my ideas weren’t ambitious. I knew I’d be out celebrating my birthday most of the weekend, and wouldn’t have much time to write or collage.

But when I sat down to meditate and ask for inspiration (as I almost always do before writing), the Muse clearly had other ideas.

The topic had something to do with my birthday–but what? “What you’ve learned, what you’ve accomplished.”

I wasn’t sure what that might be … but looking back at the year, it did seem the most significant event was that whole mess that started in January …

Great difficulty–handled with grace, the most ever. Outclassed [those who created the difficulty and the others involved].

So, it seemed I had a topic–one I wasn’t terribly sure how to start writing about. I decided to start by making a SoulCollage card on the topic, to help focus my thoughts–and here you see the results. This took me a few days. When I completed the card and read it, this is what it said …

 I am the one who is under pressure–and yet I am calm. Joyful, even. I am vulnerable, and yet I am very, very strong.

In the eye of the storm, I am calm. Why not?

Should you find yourself in great difficulty–and unfortunately I suppose it does come to us all eventually–here are a few ideas that I hope will help you handle it with grace and dignity …

  1. Remaining calm is a truly excellent idea. It allows you to process what’s happening and perceive it clearly without a bunch of upset getting in the way. And it feels (and looks) much better than wigging out. “Keep calm and carry on,” says the mug on my desk. (It’s an unused piece of British WWII propaganda–held in reserve for a serious emergency, and then never used.)
  2. Never let ’em see you sweat. You will no doubt need to vent in private, but remaining calm has the additional benefit of giving less than no satisfaction to anyone who may be attempting to create difficulty for you.
  3. When people come out of the shadows and attack you, they’re giving you a lot of information about who they are. This gives you a kind of power. And you should never forget what you’ve learned.
  4. Don’t allow the noxious weed of resentment to take root in your garden. Justified? Perhaps. But this is your health and wellbeing we’re talking about, not anyone else’s. So the resentment absolutely has to go.
  5. I find it helpful to remember that there are no exceptions to karma. It comes to everyone, no matter how apparently powerful or well-positioned. If someone is treating you unfairly or unjustly, it will most certainly come back to them. I’ve read that this cycle typically occurs in a 5-year timeframe, and my own experience bears that out.
  6. If you’re being wronged, don’t hesitate to defend yourself. Calmly, professionally, inexorably.
  7. When doing so, bear your audience in mind. Some may respond more to a reasoned argument, others more to an honest expression of your feelings.
  8. Be honest, and at the same time, hold something in reserve. You don’t need to tell everything you know or feel. Communicate enough to make your point; what you’ve reserved may come in handy for a rebuttal.
  9. It’s very reasonable to be angry when you’re being treated unfairly. But do yourself the honor of channeling your anger into effective action that furthers your cause, rather than allowing your anger to ineffectively blow up, thus setting you back.
  10. No one else gets to dictate how you feel and what you’re stressed about. That choice is yours.
  11. While you are vulnerable in this world, it’s good to remember when under attack or duress that there are many things you possess that are inalienable and cannot be touched, no matter how dismal another person’s intentions may be. Your eternal soul, and its purpose and accomplishments. All the love you’ve given and received. All the joy you’ve experienced and have yet to experience. The truth of the situation. All of your many choices. All these things are yours.
  12. Take good care of yourself. Make sure you’re getting sleep, good, healthy food, physical activity–all that your body needs. Feed your mind and spirit too. Keep all aspects of your strength up–this is key.
  13. Don’t forget to have fun and do all the things you enjoy.
  14. Take advantage of all of your support systems–your partner if you have one, friends, family, supportive coworkers. And don’t forget your ancestors and all the angels standing by, just waiting to be asked to help.
  15. Strike an effective balance between being high-profile (making your voice heard) and low-profile (flying under the radar).
  16. If you already have your ego in check, you’re at a tremendous advantage in almost any situation over those who don’t–and that’s especially true now.
  17. Every person, and every difficult situation, is different. Please consider these elements potential ingredients in your personal recipe for grace and calm.

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage card I made this past week, Grace under pressure.

Experiments with intention

I believe that with our intentions, we can change the world and our own lives for the better.

I believe this because I’ve proved it to myself by experimenting.

It all started when I got my car (a 2006 model, so that was the approximate year), and it came with XM radio, where I started listening to Oprah’s Soul Series. I also bought and read a number of books written by the people she was interviewing on the series.

Consequently I was reading a lot about the law of attraction, and I decided to try it. I’d sit on the sofa before work and spend 15 or 20 minutes with my journal.

First I would write, as mentioned in Esther Hicks‘s books, “I am in my Creative Workshop.” This phrase acknowledges that each of us has the power to be a creator of our own experiences.

Then I would express appreciation for all that’s good in my life by writing down five or more things I felt thankful for–big or small, it doesn’t matter. Genuine appreciation and gratitude are what’s important.

Then I’d write down intentions for my day and my life. I’d think about where I was experiencing dissatisfaction, and write intentions that would improve my situation.

I began to notice that doing this really worked.

The very first thing I remember noticing a change in was the bird chorus outside my door as I did this practice. I was writing in my journal early in the morning, and one of the things I was grateful for was the beautiful birdsong I was hearing. There wasn’t much at first, a few twitters and trills, but as I kept noticing it each morning, it really intensified. I don’t know if more birds showed up, or if the ones I already had sang louder and longer, but it was really something! Just as all the books said, I got more of what I was noticing and paying attention to.

One of the intentions I set that continues to affect my life was to be willing to be in non-judgment of others. (If you want to change your life, this is a great way to do it.) I found that as I set this intention each day, I began following through on it, and dropping my judgments of others. I began saying to myself when I felt judgment come up, “We’re all doing our best.” Or, “No one asked you to judge.”

I could see how I could impact my own life, and I began to wonder, what about something bigger, something that involves many more people than just me and the people I know. Could I change that?

For many years, I commuted to work about 45 miles each way. My manager at the time was fairly inflexible about the hours we worked, so I had to drive during rush hour. I really wanted to drive to work in smoothly-flowing traffic as I was used to doing, but it seemed like an impossible goal. I decided to ask anyway.

I began writing down my intention to drive to work in smoothly-flowing traffic each morning in my journal. I did this for several weeks.

One day at work, one of my coworkers who’d seemed to be nursing a grudge against me and who also had a long commute from a similar location, stopped by and told me about a shortcut through the airport that I never knew existed. She had the air of someone getting something off her chest. I asked for a few details, thanked her, and promptly tried it the next morning.

Well … guess what? The shortcut took me around the worst of the traffic. When I drove to work using this shortcut, I found myself driving, most of the time, in smoothly-flowing traffic. Just as I’d intended.

Wow … I was impressed. A really helpful solution to a problem I thought couldn’t be solved, that definitely improved the quality of my life.

What I learned was, just ask. Don’t worry about how intractable a problem seems, just ask for a solution.

I stopped journaling every morning years later when I had a boss who made me show up to work even earlier. But I still use the journal technique when a significant issue arises.

Last week, someone at work whom I’ll call Bob reared his head again. Bob has a medium-important title, a real facility for regressing to childhood in the blink of an eye, and quite a mean streak. Fear and intimidation seem to be his preferred ways of getting things done.

So last Wednesday on a conference call, when I was right and Bob was wrong, he spoke to me with a degree of contempt that was notable to everyone present. I received multiple apologies afterward–none of them from Bob.

My manager is well aware of the problem and is working to address it. Bob has already had one person in his group get disgusted with the way he was being treated and quit. One of his more highly-skilled people, I might add. Bob has also been asked to apologize to someone who sits near me whom he’d spoken to nastily–I overheard that apology. His MO seems to be that when he knows his team has made a serious mistake, he becomes proactively nasty to those he thinks might draw attention to it. Like I say, he operates out of fear.

I’ve done much of what I can to address the problem in the realm of work, but I don’t like to sit on my hands, I like to call in the big guns. I decided it was time to write some good old-fashioned intentions in my journal.

It is my intention that Bob treat me and those I work for with absolute and complete respect. It is my intention that we be able to do our jobs freely, correctly, and well, without interference from Bob or anyone else.

It is my intention that any negative techniques Bob is using and any ethical lapses he has made come to the full and immediate attention of his superiors, and that they take swift action to correct these problems completely.

I also ask that any karmic consequences due to Bob arrive in a timely way.

On Friday we received a remarkably polite e-mail from Bob. When I investigated I found that someone on our team had made an error, and I responded with a solution. Now that is the kind of interaction I’m looking for.

I know how mercurial Bob is, and I don’t think we’re out of the woods just yet. But I have every reason to believe that setting intentions works. At times like this, it’s very good to know that it’s completely possible, no matter who you are and no matter how much power the world says you have or don’t have, to tap into the power of the Universe to get things done, solve problems, and see justice done. A power–need I say–far greater than Bob’s. And a technique far better than fear and intimidation.

And so my latest experiment begins. I reiterate my intentions, and wait for a solution to arrive.

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