Thursday, May 23, 2013

Empathy & Wisdom

"Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt."  Exodus 23:9
I acknowledge that I am one of the most judgmental people I have ever known.  Not proud of it though.  I work very hard to understand.  Sometimes the Universe helps out by sending me the exact experience that I previously judged harshly.  This leads me to exclaim, "I get it!"  Now I try to do my homework so I don't have to learn the hard way.  It is inevitable sometimes.

I envy those that are perceptive enough to understand the story behind people's behavior.  It doesn't occur to me naturally and I struggle to understand sometimes.  I try to surround myself with friends and healers who can help me decipher the mysteries of human behavior and relationships.  In the end, I have found that I gotta trust myself, my inner voice and my own intuition most.  It's part of my growing up pains.

After turning 40, I tend to see the nuances of every story.  Most people have a point - no matter how divergent their views on a single issue.  The complexity and sophistication of life awes me.  I like it when I can play with others at these borders of reality.

The less I think I know, the calmer I feel.  The more I thought I knew, the more belligerent I was.  "I know that I know nothing."  Feeling empathic and wiser.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Magnetic

"We're not truly loveable unless we're real.  Authentic people are attractive because only the most healthy - the most confident - can express shame and still love themselves...My favorite definition of emotional intimacy is being able to tolerate seeing the flaws in your loved ones and, just as important, still loving yourself knowing your intimates can see your flaws."  --Wendy Walsh, PhD

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Thank Your Mentor(s)

January 17 is Thank Your Mentor Day.  If the day came and went this year without fireworks then now is as good a time as any to show your gratitude.  Martin Seligman talks about how Gratitude Visits are an evidence-based approach to happiness - for the person being grateful.  You can imagine how it feels to be the recipient too.

I wanna publicly thank the brilliant and down-to-earth men and women that I count on as mentors.  My life would not be the same without them.  They inspire and save my behind in countless ways.

Roberto Gutierrez, L.A. Latino Artist/Teacher/Mentor/Friend/Father-Figure Extraordinaire
Reevah Simon, LCSW, Expert Clinical Social Worker and Clinical Supervisor
Robert Cordova, Retired Educator, School Principal, Community Organizer, Agitator and Bada$$
Dr. Karin Elliott Brown, Social Worker, Scholar, Professor, Administrator, Role Model
Dr. Hector Myers, Scholar, Professor, Psychologist and one of the warmest and most genuine souls
Dr. Stuart Kirk, Scholar, Retired Professor, Critical Thinker, my committee co-chair and tireless supporter of my doctoral journey
Dr. Todd Franke, Scholar, Professor, Stats Bada$$ and my committee co-chair

What blows me away about really off-the-charts brilliant folks is their warm approachability.  It's like they know they got a gift from God and are grateful to get to use it in this life - so they are happy and full.  They radiate good energy - I'm grateful to bask in their glow.

My friends ask me - why do you have so many mentors?  I need some too!  Who doesn't?  What I love about wise older folk is their willingness to share their hard-earned wisdom.  They are not stingy with their lessons learned.  I feel like all I've had to do to engage them is ask them questions and listen (taking lots of notes! and sometimes I bring a video camera!).  I encourage you to start collecting your mentors today.  Do you get that when you ask them to tell you their stories, especially if they are retired, it's good for them too.  Good stuff all around.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A-Level Players

In his biography, Steve Jobs talks about his responsibility, as a CEO, to keep C-level players out of his company - even in middle management.

The thing about mediocre people is that they tend to hire people who make them feel better - that is, D-level players.  Steve Jobs was convinced that allowing this meant fast-tracking the death of your company.

Unfortunately, C-level players abound.  They may manage to make tenure.  In bureaucracies, they may rise among the ranks if they stick around long enough or cow tow to the right person(s).  Aside from an uncanny knack for spotting and hiring talent that is lesser than their own, they feel an urgency to unleash insecurity-inspired vitriol and attempt to take A-level players down.  It has always been this way.

In a system - family or workplace group - the unstated rules sometimes are: don't rock the boat, don't stand out, don't dare to excel lest you make the insecure members look or feel bad, and know your effin place.  That's how you maintain stability, order, predictability, status quo, boredom, rigidity, gradual decline, brittle ossification, and essentially guarantee that the law of entropy will lead to sure death of the system or revolt.  It has always been this way.

Remember:
  • Cain killed Abel because God found Abel's offering more pleasing.
  • Jacob & his mother plotted to steal his older brother Esau's birthright.
  • Joseph's brothers conspired to kill him but sold him as a slave to Egyptians instead because they were envious of the richly ornamented robe their father, Jacob, gave Joseph and they were jealous of the love and attention their father directed toward Joseph.  Joseph went from slave to Pharaoh's right hand man - very rich and powerful - due to his gifts of dream interpretation and foretelling the future.  So being forced out of his home was a blessing in disguise for Joseph. 
A good friend told me - trust the Universe.  When things don't pan out, it could be you dodged a bullet. A new friend reminded me that rejection may be God's protection.

When asked if A-level players fight all the time, Jobs responded that A-level players like to work with other A-level players - it is not competition, it's more like play.  Excellent shit gets done smoothly. 

Let your light shine.  Your bright star will light the way for other stars to find you.  Then work might  become play.