Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Start with Belief by Jean Walters Years ago, the St. Louis Zoo was one of the first zoos to take animals out of cages and put them in big pits. They started with the bears. A visitor noted a big polar bear pacing rhythmically forward twenty feet and then backing up twenty feet, then repeating the action again and again. The visitor inquired of the zoo keeper, “Why does the bear pace back and forth in that small area, when it has a great big pit to move about in?” The keeper replied, “He has the Small Cage Habit. This animal was born and raised in captivity in a twenty-foot cage. He got his exercise by pacing forward and back in the cage. So, even though he was moved to a much larger area, he continues to exercise by pacing twenty feet forward and back.” Many people have the Small Cage Habit. They can be surrounded with possibilities, ideas, innovation, but continue to do the things the same tired, old way, not bothering to familiarize themselves with new, better methods. But they have good reasons, “I’ve always done it this way”, “I am comfortable with this method”, “I don’t know how to do it another way”. These are all ways of saying, I have the Small Cage Habit and I am not interested in growing or exploring the world of possibilities.” Do you have the Small Cage Habit? In your life lessons, you are challenged to try new things and explore the unknown. Many people resist change in the same way that the bears do. They are intimidated by expansion and newness (just like the bears are unable to move throughout a new, larger area) and hold to the old, believing that it provides stability. Growth demands new ways, new ideas, new thinking, and new methods. Today I spoke to a woman who works in finance. Because she has expanded her consciousness, she is now shifting her work to larger, wealthier, more progressive clients and businesses. She has moved from small-minded (victim-type) people to those who see and operate from a bigger picture. This would not be happening if she had not grown and expanded her own mind-set. Some would say that Personal and Spiritual growth is frivolous, but this client defies that reasoning. Thus the question to you is: Are you operating from the Small Cage Habit or from an expanded understanding of the possibilities? Are you ready to step into the unknown and expand your potential or are you trying to be safe in your old ways? The Universe provides opportunities. It is up to each of us to go for it. As you confront your fears and do it anyway; as you open yourself to new ways and opportunities; and as you move forward with determination, you can connect to a bigger picture and expand your energy. Personal transformation is subtle, yet dynamic. At some point you no longer want to hang out with negative people, or expose yourself to negative media bombardment that takes place daily. At this point, life takes on a different quality – grandeur, if you will. You will no longer be willing to hold yourself back or accept lack as your reality. These are signs of growth. Watch for them and as they occur, realize that the Universe is speaking to you. It is good! I follow with a short story about two brothers who wanted to expand to a new life and had the guts and determination to keep at it until they succeeded. The brothers are Ben and Dan Newmark of Ladue, Missouri who believed that they had the audacity and talent to develop careers in the film industry. It began with Ben deciding “if no one would hire me as an actor (in Hollywood), if I can’t even get a meeting, let alone an audition, I’ll write my own TV series.” And, that is what he did. Ben started by recruiting his brother, Dan. Together they churned out a script for a comedy-drama about the young inhabitants of a quirky Los Angeles apartment house. They followed this effort by shooting a pilot called “The Wilton Hilton.” In nine days, using digital video and casting their friends as characters, they completed their movie. What came next was lots of rejection and advice to “get out of the business.” Undaunted and dedicated to having what they wanted, the Newmarks connected with director, Lee Krieger and shot a 45 minute comedy. Then they hit another pivotal, “Now what?” Again, more negative advice, “dump it in the waste can;” “Don’t screen it; it would be career suicide.” So, of course the brothers, believing in the power of possibility, and determined to get out of the Small Cage Habit, did the opposite. They rented a theatre, filled the place with friends and sent postcard invitations to Hollywood insiders – mostly assistants to agents and producers. The result: three trainees from the mailroom at Creative Artists Agency, one of Hollywood’s top talent agencies, took their film back and showed it to the big guys, who loved it. Voila! They were signed! Ultimately the brothers pitched their idea to the CW network and a new television series, “The Wilton” was born. Determination to expand their skills and talents and to meet the challenges proved to be motivating to the Newmark brothers. It caused them to increase their creativity, imagination, and determination. This is what entering the field of possibilities can do for you too. If you have had the Small Cage Habit, break through it by considering what opportunities have appeared to you lately? Is there potential for new methods, new relationships, markets, or clients? You can accelerate your expansion by doing things differently. Here are some suggestions: Drive to your destinations using different routes. Go a new way daily. Select an unfamiliar entrée the next time you go to a restaurant. Choose a new spot for vacation. Strive for newness – a new color, pattern or style in your clothes or décor. Rent or purchase an unusual model car or vehicle. Try a new hair-do. (When women change their hair, you know they are serious about change.) Take lessons – clowning, dancing, painting, or Tai Chi. Be bold! There are no limits in the Universe. Test this theory to discover its truth. Stay open to possibilities. If you catch yourself saying “No,” rethink that choice. Learn to say, “Yes, I’ll give it a try.” The only person that can get in your way in life is YOU. Watch out for comfort. Many think that the way to go is to be comfortable. I will tell you that comfort is your enemy. It keeps you from growing. As you say, “Yes,” to the possibilities, you make yourself strong. In time your willingness grows and you become undaunted. Soon you realize that you can accomplish anything, and that means you are operating from your vast spiritual self. It is the process that is important for it is what educates you as to who you really are. As you engage in the process, you discover that you really are connected to something greater than yourself. Here is an activity to internalize this principle Consider opportunities that have appeared in your life of late. It could be new relationships or social settings, new groups with which to get involved, new business concepts or work, education to expand your skills, opportunities to give more fully. Life is filled with a vast array of opportunities to help you expand. List some of these ideas on a sheet of paper. Now, choose one opportunity and decide how to get started. The idea here is to discover a new, expanded self and release the Small Cage Habit. The only way that can happen is with new methods or activities. Next, take action on your idea. Get started. Do this within the next 24 hours. Do this without concern for the outcome. Step into the field of possibilities. If you haven’t determined this next step, seed your mind by expanding in smaller ways as stated above: drive a new route to work and shopping, venture to new locations for restaurants, entertainment, shopping. Try new entrees, or cook different recipes. Venture into the unknown. Explore the possibilities. Have some fun!!
How to inspire and empower others to be their BEST SELVES Do you remember psychologist, Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? It is a list of human needs that stack from the bottom up. The bottom or lowest layer of needs include health, food and sleep and the next level up is safety and shelter. Then comes belonging (the need for people or groups with which to feel connected.) Then as we move to the upper layer, we find the need for esteem (to esteem self and receive esteem from others) and above that the next ladder rung is Self Actualization. This top level of Maslow’s ladder of needs (self-actualization) is where a person’s psychological needs have been met so that he is free to understand more fully who he is and to make an impact on the world, to really be their best selves. . As we aspire to optimize our experience of self, we begin to have “peak experiences” or moments of extreme happiness, high performance, or bliss. It is when we feel most successful and operate at our full potential. Maslow arrived at this hierarchy of needs by studying happy, healthy people – from regular folks to high achievers, like Albert Einstein. His quest was to understand how they were able to achieve happiness and success in their lives. This same quest has always intrigued me. As a child I would read every biography and autobiography available with one question in mind, how did this person know he/she could accomplish what he did? Be it Paul Revere riding through villages to warn people that the “British were coming,” or becoming president of the United States or leading a troop of soldiers in war, in each case it seemed that there was a spirit in the individual that spoke to them and drove them to take the lead and do more. I believe we all have this Spirit and perhaps it isn’t about forcing ourselves to perform, but developing the self esteem and confidence to open to the opportunities we face and release our creativity, talents and potential, to really desire to be our best selves. I believe that each opportunity we face in life is part of this progression – each one brings us closer to living our full potential and having peak experiences. So what if our real “work” is to assist others to actualize in every area of life - as a parent, teacher, boss? To really help each one realize that they have greatness within and the capacity to rise above their challenges and do great things? Maybe we are to create situations where folks can develop their talents and potential. Often as parents and perhaps as co-workers and employers, we want to make it easy for people and we do the work for them. So when we do this, are we really supporting and believing in the ones we are there to help? Sometimes we even call it love when we take care of things that others need to do for them selves. In actuality we are stealing from them. We are demonstrating our greatness, but not letting them express theirs! So what is the message today? It is really a challenge…. How can we encourage others to be their best selves and in the process, become our own best selves? Think of it this way… are you doing something for someone who needs to do it for themselves…. because if you are, you are denying them the opportunity to develop and express their talents and creativity. Maslow’s insights into personal psychology may offer the challenge we all need. What if my job isn’t about coercing performance, but encouraging people to rise to their full potential? What if my job is to believe that each person has it in them to be great? If that is so, then let’s begin with ourselves by meeting whatever challenge is in front of you, and, as you do that you encourage each person in your world to do the same. Let’s make a practice of studying healthy attitudes and asking ourselves, “How can I be like that?” In this way we move to self actualize and maybe help the world be a more exciting, rewarding place as well.