Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Time, Cost & Quality

I have told my clients for years there are three legs to any project; time, cost and quality.  The trick is you can only have two of the legs.  You can have a finished project that is inexpensive but it will either take longer to complete or the quality will suffer.  You can have one that is of very high quality, but it will either be more expensive or will take more time.  Or, you can have a project that is quickly completed, but it will either cost more to rush it or the quality will suffer.  People understand this for  the most part.  there is always a trade-off.  But knowing how to balance these three elements to a project enables them to make the best decision for their needs.

In many ways, the same is true for self discovery.  If you want to learn about yourself, there are many different ways to go about it.  Some are based in religion.  Some in philosophy.  Some in therapy and science.  Each can be right for different people.  Yet no matter how you approach your own self-discovery, the same rules apply.  To find out who you truly are takes time.  It often has a cost attached to it.  And the quality of the outcome, your ability to make real change, is dependent upon th equality of your self examination.

For me, the quality is the one factor that cannot be sacrificed.  It is the most important factor that you should never be willing to settle on.  

So when you're starting down your path, or even taking a look back to see where you have been or where you are going - make sure the quality of your self-discovery is the best possible.  The rest is for you to decide how important time and cost are to you becoming YOU.

simple truth

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bring Compassion Into Your Life With Simple Choices

You are born with compassion.

You wake up with it every morning. 

You simply need to remember to incorporate it into the little choices you make every day.  In doing so, you can bring it to life.  

In every choice that you make, you can either rely on the programing that your primordial ancestors endowed us with [see amygdala below], or you can rise above and personally evolve by making the right choices.  

Remember, life is lived in the little choices we make.  Not in the earth shattering decisions we see in the movies.

The next time a car cuts you off, don't raise a finger, simply smile.  The next time an co-worker puts you down, don't raise your voice, simply stick to the facts.  Remember, you are traveling on a speck of dust, spinning through the Universe at more than 66,660 miles and hour.    No matter how great a slight, it is relatively minor in the grand scheme of things.  But the small choices you make are not.  

So choose the path of compassion you were born with.

simple truth
jeffrey cannon

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Lessons of a Breeze

I was working on my sailboat yesterday, sanding and varnishing the wood to get her ready for this summer's voyages out of Shelter Island.  It's very zen work if you let it be.  The circular sanding.  The linear brush strokes. 

In the midst of my brushwork, I felt a breeze cross my face.  It wasn't much of one.  But it was delicious.  It was soft and caressing, not quite cool, but also not warm.  It simply was.

I couldn't help but think that this breeze would have been there whether I was or not.  It would have skimmed over the tree tops and nudged the boats that were already on the water.  But the fact that I was where I was brought it to life.  At least for me.  It was a moment where I became.  I simply was. 

I realized there is nothing miraculous about the breeze.  The breeze has always been there, and it will be there long after I've gone.  What was miraculous was my my relationship with it as I felt it on my face.  My ability to quiet all those thoughts that were so turbulent in the week, so that I could be aware and uncluttered enough to witness this faint breath of wind.

Clear you mind so that you can enjoy the subtle joys of this earth for as long as you're on it.  

simple truth

Friday, May 13, 2011

Why You Stress, And How To Stop It

There is a very simple answer to why you may find yourself so stressed out all the time.  Especially over so many small things that really shouldn't affect your life or your happiness.  

It's about the size of an almond and it all started about 40,000 years ago, give or take a few.  That was when we more or less became human, as we know ourselves today.  Somewhere along the evolutionary path, we were endowed with a wonderfully small organ, called the amygdala [ah-mig-dah-la].  It was given to us by our reptilian ancestors long before we can even imagine, and it was hard wired into the base of our brains.  So much so, that as we evolved it didn't.  And in many ways, it's a good think it stayed around.  It has, and still has, one very important job.  It's purpose is to keep us safe.  

You see, when something happens that makes us uncomfortable, the signals from the outside world are fed to the almond-sized amygdala, deep in the brain.  It then sends out chemicals to the body that create the sense of fear, anxiety, or shear terror you might know.  

You will recognize its work in the feeling of unease you get as you walk into a dark and creepy basement, or in that spinal shiver you feel when you see a spider.  Yes, it still works wonderfully to keep us safe.  But it has one problem.  It doesn't realize that the 21st Century world we now live in simply does not have all of the threats of the prehistoric world.  So it doesn't realize that when you are asked to give a speak in front of a room you're really not in physical danger.  It doesn't know that it's not helping the situation by pumping you full of fear and anxiety.  It also doesn't know that the excitement elicited from an "SALE NOW" sign is not a life or death situation.  All it knows to do is send you into a fight or flight response. 

But that doesn't mean you can't do something about it.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  You have a few very powerful tools to help you gain control over your amygdala.  They are called meditation and mindfulness.  

Both can give you the foundation you need to prevent yourself from spinning out of control the next time your amygdala tries to spin you into panic mode.  Both can give you the ability to pause, to breathe, and to say to yourself "nope, there's no lion charging at me.  There's not a pack of cave-people running my way.  There's just a sign for a sale.  And I have the choice to either go in and look around, or go on my way with a smile on my face."  

But in order to use meditation to your benefit, you can't wait for your amygdala to kick in for it to do you some good.  You have to start a consistent practice so that you build up your ability to remain calm and to say, "thank you my amygdala, but not today."

Yes, it really is that easy.  So, the next time you panic, think about what causes you to panic.  No. it's not whatever stimuli your eyes, ears and nose are picking up.  It's just that little almond in your head, called the amygdala.  

So feel free to turn it down so that you can get on with your life.

simple truth

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Feeling Lost? Let Yourself Be Heard!

The next time you feel lost and out of sorts, ground yourself in the knowledge that you are not alone.  At some point in time everyone feels as if they are still a na├»ve teenager or a babe in the woods.  Yes, even that rock solid power broker who makes sure he or she sits at the head of the table in every meeting is vulnerable; oft times the most vulnerable of all.  Just watch them.  They spend just as much time comparing themselves to everyone else; and trust me; their insecurities are identical to yours. 

I say this because that feeling is part of our nature.  It’s our brain’s way of making sure each of us stays in line and remains a member of the tribe called human. 

Native Americans hunting a Mastodon

You see 40,000 years ago our greatest advantage wasn’t our physical strength or our ability to create weapons; it was our capacity to work together as a close-knit unit.  Alone we gathered berries.  Together we hunted mastodons.  Our ability to work together, our social nature, moved us quickly to the top of the food chain and made us world’s top predator.  It helped us build huts, villages, towns and cities.  It helped us change the very world we live in, for better and for worse.

But today, the same programming that used to help us win as a species now holds you back as an individual.  In today’s world, you are simply not in a constant state of survival and competition like your ancestors were.  The problem is, your old programming doesn’t know that.  Instead, it keeps sending you signals designed to keep you in line.

Even though you live in the modern world, your brain doesn’t translate your old programming into complete sentences.  Instead it speaks to you through your fears, your habits and your discomfort.  It tries to maintain the tribe called humanity by making you uncomfortable when you’re in a group situation.

Some people react to this by speaking out, others by shutting down.  Some break through their programming and rise above it, but the vast majority listen to it and simply fall in line.  So the next time you feel like a fish out of water, just know that everyone around you feels the same way.  Everyone around you is afraid of speaking out.  Everyone is petrified that they will be ridiculed or laughed at.  That fear is what keeps you in line, not your intelligence or lack of ideas.

So now that you know that the habits, social mores, fears and insecurities are just your old programming’s way of maintaining control, it’s time to learn how to over-ride them. Only then can you take control of YOUR life and make choices that support YOU, rather than what society wants from you.

The next time you feel yourself feeling inadequate or uncomfortable, STOP.  Take three deep, cleansing breaths and focus your mind on a point where your body touches the world around you.  Feel your bottom as gravity pushes it into your chair.  Feel the soles of your feet pressing against your shoes.  Feel your clothes move against your body as you inhale and exhale.  Feel the solid connection to your body as it takes up space in the world around you. 

Now, move that feeling of connectivity into the center of your stomach.  Feel it tighten as you draw your navel backwards, connecting it to your spine.  Use that bundle of energy as a way to energize your confidence. 

When you speak, inhale deep into your stomach and speak from that same store of energy you just built.  Now let yourself be heard.  

simple truth

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

MLK - A Simple Truth For These Times

‎"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

Words of Wisdom from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

simple truth

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Time for Compassion

Now is the time to be good winners, if we want to change the world.

Remember the lesson we learned as children about being a good sport?  Part of it was learning to be a good loser.  But the larger part was learning to be a good winner.  There has never been more of a need for that right  now.  Being a poor winner angers those who have lost.  It spurs them on to try even harder to unseat whoever on top.  It also prolongs the cycle of competition - a cycle that is inherent to our very nature.  

To break that cycle is to break the habits that our 40,000 year old programming pushes us to follow.  To break that cycle is to be humble while winning, and ask for reconciliation.

It is time for us, as a nation, to play this part on the world stage.  As much as we want to scream and shout and throw our triumph into the world, we need to refrain.  We need tor each out with a quiet smile and ask, "where can we go from here?"  

If we want to end the cycle of hate, of war, and of fear that has presided over this world for a millennia, every one of us needs to take a few deep breaths and think before we act.  We have already sent one message.  Now is the time to send another and set us on a positive track well into the future.  

simple truth