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Moments of Inspiration
Anne-Maria Yritys, Master of Business Administration
What do you value in life? We all have values in our lives. Even organizations have values today, the most successful of which place the values at the very core of the organization, creating an organizational culture with the purpose of committing its employees to these values. This is a reason why smart companies include values in their long-term business strategy, attracting employees who they trust can live up to these values, and hopefully, even go beyond them. Therefore, when job-hunting and looking for long-term employment, or even if running your own business, make sure that you know what your values are.
Why are values so important in the determination of your success in life, and at work? Because, if you understand your values, and you live against them, your outcome will not be successful. I know this from experience. A coach once said to me that I should not discuss values in my application, or express what I believe in and value. Why? To me that was not the best coaching experience. Someone asking me not to act according to my values, or to hide them, is simultaneously asking me to refrain from being my true self. During my MBA program one of our core courses included researching corporate values, in a real organization. This was done as teamwork through appreciative inquiry, a qualitative research method where a number of employees of the organization in question were interviewed. If not earlier, this particular research made me reflect upon my personal values both in business and private.
It is no secret that values become increasingly important, and individuals want to work with purpose and meaning.
I was actually inspired to write this article by author and speaker Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, whose work has influenced my life in a positive way. In his movie The Shift, the emphasis is put upon spiritual growth and moving from a place of ambition to purposeful ambition, and ambition with meaning. Dr. Dyer is speaking about peak experiences in life, sudden changes that have the characteristics of being vivid, surprising, benevolent, and enduring. At the very center of the lessons he is sharing with us through The Shift is the fact that we need to let go of the ego´s need to be right, surrender, trust in the natural flow of life, listening to our higher consciousness. Trusting the guidance of something larger than merely external circumstances, we connect to the place of Dharma in ourselves, and cease acting with force.
Further on, according to Dr. Dyer, enthusiasm and passion are signs for us living up to our true values. As he states, we live in a world where all things are possible, when we have faith. To cite Lao Tzu, according to whom virtues to live by are respect for all of life, sincerity/honesty, gentleness/kindness, and support/offering service to others. In general, we all want to lead a fulfilling life, and make a difference (in other people´s lives).
“And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth, You owe me.
Look what happens with a love like that. It lights up the whole world”.
(Hāfez, Spiritual Persian Poet and Mystic, 1325 –1389)
Are you one of those people who disguise public speaking? Whose chins become red just from the thought of having to stand before a crowd of people, whose hands get wet, and whose heart begins to beat at an unnatural rate?
No worries. No one can force you into public speaking. You will know when you are ready.
I am one of those people who love public speaking, despite of my limited experience. I have spoken to complete strangers without preparation. I have spoken to class mates about study topics. My biggest fear in regard with public speaking has been the fear of not having anything interesting to say, nothing worth of acknowledgement, nothing new, nothing exciting.
Mastering public speaking is like mastering any other skill. The more you practice, the better, and more confident, you get. I have learned that the most important factors in public speaking are a personal connection to the topic itself, and not being afraid of failure. The best public speakers speak from their hearts, from their experiences, and know how to connect with their audience. They are not afraid of embarrassment, and they know how to laugh at themselves. Allowing you the possibility of failure is as important in public speaking as in any other activity. Just do not take yourself too seriously. The audience does not know you; they have no idea about your experience from public speaking. As soon as you realize this, and connect as a spirit with your audience, you will notice that the fear your fear was irrelevant.
Tips for becoming a great public speaker:
1) Be self-confident – people love self-confidence, and you shining a light upon them.
2) Be thankful for the opportunity to speak in public – not everyone has the opportunity!
3) Practice in advance through watching inspirational videos on the Internet, and attend public speaking events if needed.
4) Connect with your audience, and be spiritually present.
5) Respect yourself.
6) Respect your audience.
7) Speak from your heart, not from a piece of paper. A great speech is not read from a piece of paper.
8) Speak from and about your experiences, not about numbers. Even if you are a Fortune500 CEO. Successful measures are led and achieved by people, not by numbers. People, and great leadership, are the key to success (and key to increases in profitability, returns on investment and so on).
9) Involve your audience. Ask them for feedback, questions, make them enjoy the experience.
10) Take yourself seriously (but not too seriously), and your audience as well. They may have traveled from far away just to hear you speak.
11) Be grateful. Grateful for the fact that you have the possibility to give a speech, grateful for having such a great audience.
12) Your audience will sense your emotions, so be inspirational.
13) Remember to thank your audience! Take all kinds of critics as a learning lesson. If something went wrong, embrace the failure and improve for your next public speaking event.
14) Benchmark – Learn from the best!
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Watch this video to learn from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, who speaks straight from his heart:
Miracles happen all the time. We do not always sense them, or realize how full our world, and the universe, is with miracles. Very often we think about a miracle as something huge happening, a drastic shift or change in things, like a sudden strike of lightning in our environment, transforming our existence in a second. Miracles take place all the time, some of them bigger, some smaller. If we constantly expect a miracle to be a major event, we are likely to miss out the smaller miracles.
One thing is certain: in order to experience miracles in your life, you have to start believing in their possibilities, if you already do not. The deeper your belief, and the more you trust in miracles taking place at all times, everywhere, and the stronger your affirmations are, the higher the probability of you starting to sense how full of miracles your surroundings, your life, and the whole world is.
There is much more to life than the human eyes, or other senses, can explain. As rational individuals, we often prefer translating things, people, and circumstances through rationalism and facts. We are eager to find logical explanations for anything, although deep within us we do know how important it is to use intuition and feelings in order to be capable of expanding as individuals. A miracle is not bound to any certain culture or religion, and miracles are acknowledged in all religions. Miracles are a part of spirituality.
Jon Bon Jovi has said: “Miracles happen every day. Change your perception of what a miracle is and you will see them all around you”.
Sometimes difficult circumstances or major life crises lead us to increasingly believe in miracles. We need something to believe in, something that motivates us, inspires us, and guides us further on our life paths. However, sensing miracles does not require having a difficult life, or difficulties in life. Miracles are always there for each and one of us, no matter what our situation may be.
Experiencing miracles in one’s everyday life becomes easier with belief, increasing spirituality, and opening our minds to sensing small and big wonders, being grateful for anything that life gives us – even tough times, since they can be such important lessons for us. However difficult it can be, try to express gratitude even for setbacks and problems – they most often are the greatest lessons life has to offer us, and lead to personal development when we are open to learning.
The Universe is full of miracles. Many of them so big, so familiar, so small, so everything that we have become too accustomed to even noticing them in our lives.
“Many people are alive but do not touch the miracle of being alive”. (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Dr. Wayne W. Dyer was an inspiring personality who spoke about experiencing miracles. Watch this video clip on YouTube to listen to his message:
“Light Yourself on Fire with Passion and People Will Come From Miles to Watch You Burn” (John Wesley)
Passion is an emotion often affiliated with romance, or sexuality, but it is only half the truth. It is also a tremendously important source of motivation and desire in hobbies, sports, and occupations. Referring to my previous post from last week, where I wrote about important success factors, including productivity – since passion increases motivation and desire, it is also an important factor of productivity, and enjoyment.
Think about extremely successful people throughout history, and at present. There are examples from all spectrums of life: art, entertainment, sports, business, and politics, including names such as Picasso, Lady Gaga, Diego Maradona, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet, Julia Roberts, and many, many others.
How have they become so successful? It is definitely not only a question of luck, or hard work, but the fact that these people have found their true passion, a desire so strong for what they do and achieve in life that makes them shine from within.
There are a number of ways of increasing passion, including:
– Overcoming fears, and working them through. Fear is a negative feeling, repressing passion and other positive emotions.
– Stepping out of your comfort zone, setting goals, and increasing the amount of work you are willing to put in to reach your goals. There is a difference between working passionately, and being a workaholic. Passionate people work out of inspiration, and since they love (or enjoy) what they do.
– Learning what makes you thrive, and tick. We are all different: some of us are excellent, outgoing sales people, while others love working in the back office. Some people love mountain climbing, while others prefer yoga or golf. Finding out what truly makes you happy will definitely increase your daily levels of passionate emotions.
– Leading a balanced and healthy life. This definitely increases your energy levels. When eating and sleeping well, to begin with, positive emotions increase.
– Increasing confidence, bravery, and focusing on positivity in life: the better you feel about yourself, the easier it gets to face less positive reactions. The more you focus on positivity, the more it increases in your life. Soon you will notice that you are surrounded by positivity, and your positivity will transform your surroundings too.
If you feel you are surrounded by too little passion, start implementing small changes into your life which increase your personal level of passion. Start a new hobby, make new friends/get to know new people, open your heart and mind, network, stay active, be confident, and if you feel that your current job is not what you are passionate about – try to find out what it is that you truly have a passion for. I am not suggesting that you should quit your job (although some people do when they no longer feel happy about what they do for work), only that you can try increasing passion through other small changes in your life. If these changes do not increase your passion for your work, you probably should start working towards something that you know will make you feel passionate.
Be brave, dare to seek until you find what truly nurtures your soul and lets you grow. Free your creativity, be even eccentric if it suits you, because very often the most creative spirits are those who in the end, enjoy the biggest of success, and fulfillment in their lives.
“When I began having a mad, passionate love affair with my own life, the rest fell perfectly into place”. (Katrina Mayer)
“There is no such thing as a good influence. To influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of someone else’s music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him”.
(Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray)
Do you agree with Oscar Wilde´s citation? That good influence does not exist, since the purpose of all influence is to transfer one person´s feelings and ideas to another person, thus affecting the other person´s behavior?
One thing is for sure: Oscar Wilde´s words include a lot of truth. With our feelings, thoughts, knowledge and actions we all do have more or less influence on people around us. The line between influence and manipulation, however, is often quite subtle. And the difference between influence and manipulation is merely that influence is often regarded as being something positive, while manipulation, a term originating from the Latin word manus (hand), means processing, and very often has a negative meaning while it refers to misleading, or forgery of evidence. Manipulation can also refer to concrete handling of something, e.g. the manipulation of stock markets. There are definitely many kinds of manipulation, such as magician card tricks. In this post, however, I refer to psychological manipulation, which actively aims at having an effect on someone´s, or something´s, behavior and thoughts.
Influence, on the other hand, is the power of affecting, controlling or manipulating someone, or something; the ability of triggering change in the development of fluctuation in things, including thoughts, or decisions. Thus, manipulation can be regarded as the negative version of influence, although even influence itself can be regarded less positive.
Influence can be actual, bad, beneficial, big, cultural, economic, good, harmful, heavy, huge, important, intellectual, mental, military, moral, negative, personal, positive, potential, primary, significant, social…and much more.
Influence and manipulation are constant energies in our societies, and environments, starting from a crying baby´s cradle trying to manipulate (or influence?) its parents towards an action. Hence, the most primary ways of manipulation and influence can be observed in a child´s world. At least one could think so. However, very primitive influencing and manipulation techniques exist in all age groups, depending upon many different factors, such as an individual´s learned patterns, defense mechanisms, sense of self, morals, and ethics. An individual usually behaves in a way that he/she thinks is correct, without perhaps knowing or understanding better. Thus, bad influence and bad manipulation, unfortunately, together with primitive behavior, equally exists amongst all age groups.
How can we learn to identify different ways of manipulation, and influence? And how can we cope with these? How can we make sure not to be the one´s negatively influencing, or manipulating other people, organizations, whole societies, or e.g. the economy?
There are no simple responses to these questions. Since manipulation, and influence, both occur on a common level in our societies, it can often even be difficult to take notice when someone, or something, is influencing or manipulating you. Very often people influence or manipulate us without even noticing it themselves. Therefore, both influence and manipulation can happen somewhat by mistake.
A good guide for protecting yourself against both influence, and manipulation, is to listen to your intuition, and feelings. Another important thing is to stay grounded, and centered – again, listening to your intuition and your feelings rather than being too much affected by external sources or distractions. It is of course possible to learn these through experience, which can sometimes be a tough life lesson, especially if you are someone who is easily influenced or manipulated. There is much literature available upon influence and manipulation, the different types of both, and how to respond to either external influence or manipulation.
Leading by example and being a positive role model is a way of making sure that you are not the one with the negative influence (or manipulation). Changing other people is impossible. Therefore, if we wish to trigger positive change, and be role models, we need to work on ourselves, on our behavior, our actions, our personal wisdom, and on our growth as responsible individuals in our societies.
“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours”.
(Dr. Wayne W. Dyer)
“Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught”. (J.C. Watts)
Pfeffer and Sutton (Harvard Business School Press 2000), have in their publication “The Knowing-Doing Gap – How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action” addressed something very relevant. Not only is this book useful for enterprises, but also for organizations, governments, societies, and for an individual ́s personal life. The basic facts and ideas can be used as an effective change tool, applied and lived by every day, and in long-term planning.
The Knowing-Doing Gap signifies a gap between our thoughts/knowledge and our actions. Many people are aware of their actions, yet are not always capable of changing themselves. Others are not even aware of some of their actions, yet about the consequences. Unfortunately, the latter applies to too many of us. Why?
It is a fact that most of us are aware of grievances, be it in our personal lives, in our neighborhood, in our city, at school, in our workplace, or in society in general. This is the KNOWLEDGE part Knowing-Doing Gap.
DOING, or taking ACTION, in order to improve things – could be in personal life, in someone else’s life, correcting iniquities, working towards improving e.g. work processes and or workplace circumstances, taking action to improve the state of e.g. the environment, human rights issues, developing authentic leadership and so on – is the ACTIVE part of the Knowing-Doing Gap.
We are all aware of the fact that in order to change things, and circumstances, improving conditions be it in our own lives, in education, at work, in society, we need to take action, instead of just waiting for something to happen.
Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
The actions must not always be big. What is important, is to overcome inactivity, procrastination, and fear. Be willing to step up, step forward, and start by influencing things you can influence, and taking those steps you are capable of taking. Do not be afraid, instead, challenge your fears and notice how your life and surrounding changes as you begin living, and working, for the things you believe in. Very often, you will take two steps forward and one step back, but do not let it stop you. Every small progress counts, every little action in order to improve things – anything.
“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. (Shirley Chisholm)
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world”.
(Joel A. Barker)
Any kind of change requires activity and action. Be it in our personal lives or in business. I have learned, through personal experiences, and through observation of other people and companies, that a fear of making the wrong decisions leads into inactivity, which in turn leads to increased inactivity and there we are – in a vicious circle.
I have written about the influence from external events, such as the news that are brought into our consciousness every day through various media channels. Experience has taught me that listening to news, in general, can have a huge impact upon the decisions that I am willing to make regarding both my private life, and also regarding business decisions.
In the world of investments, investor´s actions are often referred to as actions based on mass psychology. When hearing bad news about a certain economy/market, or about a specific company, many investors react quickly based upon that information. Some may react e.g. by selling all stocks of that specific region/company. Others, called contrarian investors, go against prevailing market trends by buying poorly performing assets, as opposed to “traditional” investors.
Keeping a cold head in any kind of situation is important. Be it in personal life decisions, in business practices, in investing or whatever. The world is full of temptations, but also full of what we could call propaganda. The word propaganda has a very negative echo, but any intelligent person knows how important it is to question everything one reads, hears, and experiences. I´m not saying that one should not trust anything; however, questioning sources of information, and staying objective, is healthy. One way of questioning and staying objective is to be very selective regarding the sources of information that we use in our everyday lives. Taking some distance in regard to e.g. news and media can sometimes prove to be an efficient way of getting in touch with one´s inner guide: the intuition.
Many people have lost the touch with their intuition, because they are always affected by external distractions, be it news, media, other people, friends, family etc. Taking some distance and being selective is a good way of finding back to listening to our intuition, since it rarely mistakes. How you react to something, and how you feel about something rarely lies to you.
Sometimes reflecting upon various things is a positive thing to do, but mostly procrastination leads to an increased difficulty in decision-making. This is where mass psychology has a huge influence: if, let´s say in a certain market, the economy has been in recession for years, it easily leads to even worse decision-making, or no decision-making at all. Investments are being cut down; companies are dismissing employees, which lead to decreased consumption and so on.
Markets are always turbulent, if we let them be. Media is capable of bringing negative news into daylight, but smart entrepreneurs know that there always is a demand for their services/products, and that there always is a market for those who are ready to take action, create new demand and push their services/products to consumers. This, in turn, requires the ability and willingness to hire the right people to help the company in succeeding – people (employees/consultants) who believe in the product and who know how to generate income for them and for the enterprise.
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy”.
(W. Clement Stone)
If you are at all like me, you have taken the time to reflect upon your life, at least every now and then. In truth, we all reach a point at some stage in our life, where we start questioning ourselves certain things. This may happen several times during our lives, and to be quite honest, it is a sign of spiritual growth if we are capable of questioning ourselves, our actions, and to develop as individuals.
Many people prefer to go with the flow, which probably is the easiest way to “get through life” – because, in the end, no one escapes from life alive. This is something worth keeping in mind e.g. when facing your fears. Life is not a gamble, but those who are never willing to risk anything, are neither capable of winning anything.
“You never know beforehand what people are capable of, you have to wait, give it time, it’s time that rules, time is our gambling partner on the other side of the table and it holds all the cards of the deck in its hand, we have to guess the winning cards of life, our lives.”
(José Saramago, Blindness)
Referring to J. Saramago´s quote, you will never know what you are capable of achieving unless you try. I have a deaf-blind cousin who is an excellent chess player, and he has also cycled throughout half Finland on a tandem bicycle together with his personal assistant. No one needs to be perfect in order to be capable of achieving wonderful things in life.
Achievement always starts with personal motivation, setting long-term (and short-term) goals, and a willingness to work towards reaching those goals. The road may sometimes be bumpy, even difficult, depending upon the complexity of the actual goal, but the more purposeful the achievement is to us, the harder and longer are we willing to work towards the final outcome.
Sometimes we may lose the appetite, especially with obstacles coming our way. In these situations, it is important to take a break, to question our actions, perhaps the actions of others as well, perhaps consulting someone with similar (or more) experiences, to get a mentor and/or a coach who you can trust to help you on your way.
“Part of the issue of achievement is to be able to set realistic goals, which is one of the hardest things to do because you don’t always know exactly where you’re going, and you shouldn’t”.
Have you ever thought that it does not matter if you try, since one person cannot make a difference in society (or in anything)? At some stage in our life we probably all do, hesitating, and wondering if continuing with our efforts is worthwhile. Admit it. The difference here, in becoming really successful, is to believe, and never to give up on our dreams, whatever comes our way, and no matter how big the obstacles sometimes may seem. After all, frictions and hardships usually are a sign of us doing something correct.
“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them”.
Do you know where your limits are? Have you ever challenged yourself into pushing those limits further? Do you have any limits at all? Or do you always give up, listening to that voice inside your head whispering “oh no, don´t do it – you´ll never make it anyway, it is not worth giving a try”.
The next time you have an inner or outer conflict – try to calm down, be objective, and analyze where that feeling comes from. Yes, feeling.
We have only one sense, the sense of feeling. All other senses are different forms of the same sense: to see, hear, touch, smell or taste IS to feel. Therefore, all senses lead to feeling.
Our basic feelings are:
(Kymäläinen, M. University of Tampere. 9.9.2014).
It is all right to have different kinds of feelings, and the easiest way of coping with them is to accept them as a part of our everyday lives. How we handle our feelings is another thing, and it does make a difference whether we focus more on the positive, or the negative ones.
As the old Cherokee legend where a grandfather teaches his grandson an important life lesson says:
“The grandfather explains to the young boy about the battle we all have going on inside of us.
Grandfather: “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ that live inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’
The old Cherokee replied simply, “The one you feed.”
I found an interesting article about this in The Huffington Post (Andrea Wachter: “Which Wolf are You Feeding?” Quoted 10.9.2014). You may want to read it.
Every single day I get inspired by many different people, acquaintances, friends, or complete strangers.
Planning my first official half marathon, I have been reading articles and sites about running, and came across a site about ultra runners. Ultra runs are all runs that are longer than a marathon (42,195 km), the shortest of which is 30 miles (48,280 km). The longest ultra runs can be thousands of kilometers and last for several months.
A Norwegian ultra runner, Mensen Ernst (1795-1843), earned his living by running across the world from one city to another, sometimes betting about the time, and other times delivering letters. He was a celebrity known as the “King of Running”.
His first long run was 116 km, from London to Portsmouth, in nine hours, where after he became even more famous by running 240 km from London to Liverpool in 32 hours. He became such a well-known runner that even kings paid to just in order to see him running. In 1832, he ran from Paris to Moscow, 2.500 km in 14 days, running 178 km per day.
What is the lesson behind this story?
That we all should become ultra runners?
Of course not.
This story, along with the story about the two wolves, is just to remind us about how we can make a difference in our own lives, and even in whole societies, with the right attitude and by being passionate about what we do.
What is your dream? What are you passionate about?
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the start to change the world”.
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