Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November, 2013

Do No Harm

There is an ethical code that guides most of our lives. You may refer to this code as your personal principles or perhaps your core values. For most of us, integrity, the importance of telling truth and keeping your promises, is central to a sense of Integrity.  That said, there is another important aspect of integrity that sometimes is overlooked, that of do no harm.

How do we harm?
Harming another is often unintentional. It can be as simple as an offhand comment to someone to as serious as gossip.

Ah yes, gossip. A few years ago I heard the following story:

A priest in his weekly sermon shared with his congregations the confession of one of his parishioners. In her confession she confided that she had sinned, for she had been gossiping about her neighbors.

The priest, as her penance, told her to return to her home, cut open her feather pillows, go to the roof of her apartment building and release all the feathers over her neighborhood.

She did as he said, then returned to the confessional.

“Father, I have done as you said”.

“That is perfect my daughter. Now return to your neighborhood and retrieve all the feathers you released.”

“That is impossible”, she responded.

“Exactly”, he replied. “When you gossip, the words travel everywhere. You have no idea where they will fall or whose ears your words will reach. There is no way to control the harm that gossip creates and there is no way to retrieve it.”

You know the moral of the story. Not only is gossip harmful, it spreads, like a wildfire in dry bush. If you cannot speak of another with care and concern or in acknowledgement or singing their praises, don’t share.

What's right about you

Your principles and Values
Whether it is gossip or some other harmful interaction with others, always remember that the person you harm the most is yourself.

As a young professional in my early twenties I am sure I frequently harmed others. I had a ‘mouth’, a large one. I said things that in hindsight were frequently harmful to others. It was a way of getting attention. I wanted to leave my wallflower roots behind and to be noticed. Well, I was in a most unbecoming way.

And the effect on me was even greater. I believed that if I could be the center of attention by putting others down, I would elevate myself. My self-esteem would grow and I would feel better about me. It did not work. In fact the more I pursued this path, the worse I felt. I was not really being me; I was not authentic; I was playing a role I believed others would be attracted to.

As time went on, I checked-in  with my values and principles. My wonderful husband held my hand to the fire and pointed out that I was acting in a way that was very different from who he knew me to be. He wondered why?

I am not sure what the wake-up call was exactly. Perhaps it was a realization that my tactics were backfiring. Not only was I offending others, I was on a self-destructive path, doing more harm to me than anyone. I decided to simply stop using words as my weapon and attitude as my armor and start being me.

It was difficult initially – I had some very well established habits. One day at a time, occasionally moment by moment, I changed, returning to my true roots. My colleagues and friends noticed. “What happened to Betty?” they would ask. “You are different”. I made no excuses and just thanked them for their feedback.

Slowly I emerged, the authentic me. I became happier because others accepted me for who I was. I was honouring my values and using my principles to filter my actions. Slowly my self-esteem came out of the gutter. This was the first step in saving me.

Final Thoughts
I am frequently alarmed at what I hear, see and read, the things that are being said about others –  half-truths, innuendo, always with the suggestion that something else is amuck. I want to say to all of us let’s simply STOP IT! Let us all commit to do no harm and set the intention to lift others up.

Be aware of those who openly criticize others and spread gossip. They are not truthful. Understand that putting others down is simply a strategy to elevate oneself. When you experience these behaviors in others, bless them, for they cannot possibly feel good about themselves. If they did, they would not have to do harm .

This is my invitation to you to choose the path to higher ground, to lift yourself up by lifting others. See you at the top!

 

Betty Healey
Betty Healey is an award-winning author, coach and inspiring speaker. You can book Betty for a workshop or speaking engagement at www.roadSIGNS.ca or contact her at betty@roadSIGNS.ca.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Recently I have found myself attracted to the stories of older women. Whether it is my own age that drives me there or simply that older women are interesting, I have yet to decide. What I do know for sure is that all of us are going to age and we have a say in how this aging will happen. And so I write this to share some of what I am observing, to explore my own journey of getting older and to share a little of the wisdom I am picking up along the way.

Choose Your Role Models Carefully
I enjoy older women. I like their humanity and I love their stories. There is a deeper sense of wisdom beneath those wrinkles and grey hair. And yes, like you, I have noticed that not all older women (and men) are people I would choose to hang-out with. And so it is that in our own journey of growing older, I suggest we choose role models who inspire us. Maya Angelou comes to mind for me. Now is her late eighties, this is a woman who continues to teach and share her stories with a self-deprecating way that is humorous and wise.

I also watched a brief film on YouTube the other day, Fabulous Fashionistas, about six older women, average age 80. In sharing their lives several things became obvious. First, each of these women had a sense of purpose, whether that was continuing to work, having a passion, or promoting a cause. As I watch my family members and some of my friends age, I realize that growing old happens quickly when there is nothing to keep you engaged, a reason to throw your feet on the cold floor each morning.

Secondly, each of these women had a sense of style, even flare. They embraced a “the hell with it” attitude that spoke of caring little for what others think or do, and simply showing up the way you are and want to be. I love that. Break all the rules, the way you are supposed to act like because someone in society said that older women should not wear miniskirts or jeans, have long hair or drink beer in public.

Thirdly, they were active. Despite knee and hip replacements, daily exercise was a must. Dance, running, yoga, whatever it took to keep the muscles and bone moving; use it or lose it.

Yes, I loved these women.

sparkle

You Know Best
Whether you are 23, 45, 69 or 83, today is the day to decide what aging looks like for you. My suggestion – don’t settle. By that, I mean disregard the expectations of others and decide on what is perfect for you. Set your intentions around what you truly want rather than what you think you ‘should’ be doing.

We are entering an era where more and more of us will be growing old together. At 63, I may be closer than some of you. Perhaps that’s why I find myself looking for those role models at the moment and making some decisions about aging with grace.

I am learning that age is largely about attitude. I have watched friends and family assume that they were no longer valuable and choose to step away. It saddens me to see them, disengaged and growing older with each moment. I have also observed the opposite, those women who continue to ‘kick ass’ regardless (I won’t name them here but you know who you are). They are artists, gardeners, writes, dancers, and most importantly, they are alive. Aging for them seems to be at a stand still.

And so I say to all of you, women of all ages, and men if you choose to join in, it is time for us to celebrate:

  • to be enlivened by life and never put down
  • to live with purpose and never give up
  • to be inspired and inspire others
  • to dress for YOU and disobey the rules
  • to play with your inner child and never grow up
  • to choose your path, what’s perfect for you, and turn a deaf ear to ‘they said’
  • to work and play as you choose rather than being the norm
  • to re-fire rather than re-tire when the time comes.

Final Thoughts
As one of the women in Fabulous Fashionistas noted, ageism is pervasive in society; the focus on youth and all that goes with it lingers. Reality tells us that older women are quickly becoming the majority. I say, let’s not be the silent majority!

If you want this attitude to change, be part of the change. If you don’t know how, find some role models to inform you. If you have retired, re-fire, identify a new project or cause, re-ignite your passion. Most importantly live large, be bold, and be YOU!

Betty Healey

Betty Healey is an award-winning author, coach and inspiring speaker. You can book Betty for a workshop or speaking engagement at www.roadSIGNS.ca or contact her at betty@roadSIGNS.ca.

Read Full Post »

MORE THAN WORDS

I am delighted to have Aileen Gibb as a guest blogger today on the roadSIGNS Coach. I first met Aileen in 1998 at the Higher Ground Community Retreat. As a master coach, Aileen has touched many lives around the globe including mine. I was privileged to be a reviewer for her new book Voices. Enjoy Aileen’s blog, More than Words.

I’m always inspired when Betty finds an unusual road sign to convey a message for her readers. I was similarly struck by an experience beyond words recently when I checked in to the 14th century Manor House Hotel in the historic village of Castle Coombe, England. A charming young man valiantly pulled my heavy suitcase along what looked like a street of cottages from bygone times. Yes, this row of cottages had been converted into luxurious hotel rooms with amenities a far cry from those their original inhabitants would have known. Mixed emotions flitted through me as we passed by this charming row of cottages to a lone cottage on its own at the end of the lane. Was I being stuck in the outhouse? Of course not – my cottage turned out to be a little house on its own, separated from the very centre of the charming town itself only by five-foot thick walls of hand-hewn sandstone. My chaperone bent down, hobbit fashion, to open the door to my cottage and welcome me in. Imagine my joy at finding I had my own little house for the next five days. A real log fire, which I just had to light one afternoon; a comfortable bed with a choice of six different kinds of pillows, from which I would gaze up into the old oak rafters; and a traditional-looking, yet thoroughly modern bathroom with rain-shower, claw-foot bath and endless hot water.  This was turning into an experience beyond expectations and beyond what words can really convey. A picture might help:

IMG for roadSIGNS

IMG for roadSIGNS2

Sometimes we need more than words to capture the real situation. We need to experience it. And sometimes words convey so much more than the initial, or superficial experience we encounter. Take the thoughtfully provided toiletries in this already memorable hotel room. I was struck by the clever spin on words that some creative product designer had come up with – words that took me to an experience beyond using them for my daily ablutions. An ordinary soap bar labelled “SOAP BOX – JUMP ON” – well that’s an invitation it doesn’t take me long to respond to. A cleansing lotion titled “TAKE THE DAY OFF” extends an invitation to remove the murk and grime of a busy city workday and replace it with a sense of relaxation or even playing hooky. And a kit of manicure essentials promises to “MEND A HAND”. These plays on words create visceral and emotional responses to everyday items.  And they make me think about the words and language we use in everyday life and leadership.

In many organizations, I find myself listening to clients who seem to have a language of their own: three letter acronyms, buzz words and jargon terms which have long-ceased to have   meaning for the increasingly dulled ears on which they fall. Fighting to be heard amidst cryptic text messages, email pings, or even re-runs of last evening’s TV reality show.

Where, I ask, are the quality conversations? The meaningful questions which inspire deep contemplation of possibilities and solutions? The focused listening – not for what has gone before, rather for what is really needed and waiting to emerge? My colleague and mentor, Ian Wallace of the Dream Organisation in Scotland, makes the distinction between communication (usually the one-sided transmission of information and data) and conversation (which literally means to turn something around together).

Every team or organization I have worked in for the past twenty years has, at some point said “we need better communication around here”. I’m convinced that what we really need is “better conversation”.

And better conversation invites better awareness as to the impact of the words we choose the questions we ask, the listening we demonstrate, the voice we use – all wrapped up in the experience of being fully engaged with another person. My coaching clients will often say they can’t get the type of conversation they have with me, anywhere else in their organization. This saddens me. And it inspires me to equip those same leaders to in-turn lead conversations that make a difference.  When those leaders pay attention to their words and invite people into conversations that meet their individual needs, then I believe we’ll see a shift.  A shift from dominating the conversation, as the Lord of the Manor might have done in the 14th century, to listening truly for the real voices and for more than what simple words convey.

Aileen-Gibb-03

About Aileen Gibb:

Aileen Gibb is an inspirational coach, facilitator and leader whose work has taken her around the globe. She has worked with leaders and teams in Kazakhstan, Venezuela, the Middle East, France, Angola and in many companies in the UK and North America, to uncover new possibilities and transform results. Where she has travelled she has been amazed at the power of coaching-style conversations and the choices people make to become more successful in their work and to live more fulfilling lives. Aileen is from the small village of Fyvie, in North East Scotland and has lived for the past twelve years amidst the rocky mountain in Canmore, Alberta, Canada with her husband, Jake and their two boxer dogs. Aileen thanks you for your interest in VOICES, please let her know how it inspires you. http://www.aileengibbvoices.com

https://www.facebook.com/aileengibbVOICES

About Voices:

VOICES is a series of connected coaching stories which reflect many of the real-life choices people might consider making to live the life they truly wish for. All the stories are fiction and her hope is that one of the stories – or one of the questions in one of the stories – might resonate with your life story and invite you to make a choice. The coaching stories are interwoven with the musings of a future-guide who travels to and from a parallel time, considering what the key messages are for inspiring a better future society.

VOICES is available for purchase now and although Aileen has some upfront costs to recoup, as soon as it starts to generate profit, funds from the book sales will be going to support people going through cancer to access complementary therapies such as acupuncture, which are proven to mitigate the extreme fatigue and other side-effects of cancer treatments. http://www.aileengibbvoices.com

Read Full Post »