Being an entrepreneur in the business of consulting engineering has always been an incredible journey for me. The freedom to choose a particular path, the creative energy devoted to developing a great team, the excitement of watching exceptional people rise to the occasion. These are the aspects of the business that have always held the highest appeal for me. However, there is a side to the business that is a slippery slope for me and I find myself disenchanted each time I encounter it, I call it the “hobnob façade”. We’ve all seen it and to be honest I have participated in it in the past, and each time I experienced a very unsatisfactory feeling afterward. So what is the hobnob façade? It goes something like this:
“So how is business going?” Says Dean Goldberry, CEO of Initech Corp.
“Fantastic, we are blazing new trails, can’t seem to count the money fast enough it’s pouring in so quickly.” Says Earl Lee Riser, President of Dunder Mifflin, Corp.
“We are too, this level of success was really inconceivable to me,” Dean adds enthusiastically.
Earl responds, “we should get together and see how we can join forces and conquer the world of paper and data.”
“Absolutely, I will get in touch with you in the next couple of weeks and we will formulate a plan to seal our deal,” Dean says.
“Well….(as Earl awkwardly fumbles with his phone) I need to get going my wife just text me and our dog desperately needs a flea bath I am the only one who can do it. Let’s get together over a grande sugar-free vanilla latte soon, I’ll call you.” Earl declares as he hastily power walks to the door.
This is a dramatization of real events, the names were changed to malign the guilty, no lattes were actually harmed in the making of this dialog.
All silliness aside, this is a very real, albeit heavily embellished, side of the business that is not consistent with my way of being in this world. I feel the most powerful, the most in sync in this world when I am being honest, kind, patient and brave. I also like to have fun, so I will go along with Ralph Waldo Emerson and add silly to that list. I try to measure my words and actions by those benchmarks. It’s so interesting as I have become more successful in the realization of my intent, life simplifies and my relationships have transformed. I find myself attracting like-minded souls. The hobnob façade, which used to repulse me, has become a practice of observation and presence. The presence to know I am up to something else, and the compassion to recognize others are on their own journey which has nothing to do with what I am up to. In other words I’m OK and they are OK.
I notice, particularly on social media, this overwhelming need by many to engage in the repulsion of others, I get it, I have done the same in business. I invite us all to consider a new thought, a new way of looking at it, and recognize what bothers you, be present to it and make your choices from there. These moments of repulsion are not an invitation to lay down and roll in that same mud puddle, they are an invitation to be present, to recognize where you are being pulled or repelled from and make a choice from that place. Always, always, always go back to intent and harmonize your thoughts AND your actions, your intention AND your words. Peace out.
“Great intentions become tragic actions when delivered without careful thought” ~ Michael Dooley The author of, Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams.
I often wonder what kind of cosmic energy was flowing through the universe when I was born because I know I ain’t right or at least not the norm. Some days that is great, some days I feel like a fish riding a bicycle. I have always felt that way, never quite with the “in” crowd but not shunned by them either, well maybe I should say – at least as far as I’m aware. I could easily navigate among the various cliques in high school, I had friends that were in FFA, band, jocks, journalism, stoners, cheerleaders, and the brainiacs. There was friction between some of the groups but I just tried to focus on what I liked about the people I hung around with and not what made us different.
What motivates me is equally eclectic, I am equally moved and inspired by the works of Dr. Suess as well as Leonardo DiVinci. My music tastes are also broad, and as some would say, unusual. When I shuffle the music on my iPhone this could be my playlist; Jill Scott, Kenny Chesney, John Two-Hawks, Lady GaGa, Harry Belafonte, Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, Albannach, Adele, AC/DC and Bob Marley. Ok I know that ain’t right, but it’s who I am.
My family and friends reflect a similar eclectic and marvelous blend of personalities, energy and interests. I absolutely love it. I also realize that keeps me real. I believe the more you expand your horizons and are exposed to the wonderful potpourri of life the more likely you are to accept ideas and personalities that are not a reflection of your own. I have become keenly aware of an increase in impatience in our society; impatience with other people and impatience with different ideas. I observe this impatience with curiosity and puzzlement. I am curious why people have such impatience, and I am puzzled by why I am not feeling the same way. I think it is due to my assorted interests, my magnificently diverse family and friends who have helped broaden my universe and as a result I generally receive stimuli in a different way, with my heart and mind wide open.
I also believe kindness is a byproduct of your comfort level with diversity. I have noticed that kindness can be a casualty with people whose universe is confined by only accepting ideas or approaches that align with their own. I have noticed how as a young girl I greatly admired intellectuals and as I age I find myself admiring kind people. My increasing consciousness of kindness has transformed my life. Kindness really does cure-all, like those old-fashioned folk cures or potions that vagabonds would peddle that promised to cure everything, I am a believer that kindness is that magic potion. I realize kindness is relative but I define kindness as caring about the experience the other person is having with you at the moment.
I have admired and observed others who display kindness even in the most trying times and aspire to be more like them. When I think of the kindest people I know my number one person is my grandma LaVaughn she loved and cared for everyone even the most challenging people in our family. My friend Mary exudes kindness and she extends that kindness to our four-legged friends, when she comes to my house for a visit she always brings a treat for my dog, I love that. While I have never met the following people their words and actions inspire me to be kind; Mother Theresa, Wayne Dyer, Eckart Tolle and Dalai Lama.
A friend told me she was talking to her 13 year-old son and he was sharing an experience he had at school that was upsetting and she told him to think about this statement: “It’s not about how much people like you, it’s about how much they like themselves when they are with you.” When she told me this story I grabbed my purse and was scrabbling for a pen and paper as if it was a fire extinguisher and I needed to put out a fire. There was such an instant spark of “eureka” when she said that. If we all could go one day and try this out and in all our interactions be present to the other person and their experience, just think about what a difference it would make in not only our lives but everyone we touched that day. It gives me chills to think of the possibility.
It’s just human nature we are all drawn to people and things that make us feel better. Even if that good feeling is fleeting, that’s why there is so much addiction in our society. Just think if we could get that same fix from each other. What if you are trying to effect a change; in a relationship, at work, with your kids, and what if you infused kindness and the way you were being left them feeling great, can you imagine the possibilities. Oh the places you’ll go if people felt great about themselves when they are around you.
Of course, kindness is easy when the other person is also kind, the real challenge is being kind to a person that is unkind. I have come to recognize that if I am truly a disciple of kindness I must practice it with the unkind people in my life most of all. Which is an interesting dilemma for me, I loathe unkind behavior, so it is very challenging for me to be kind to people who are unkind. It takes epic compassion on my part. My view is that people who really struggle with kindness have a wounded heart and to help the wounded you must go to the front lines and leave your comfortable and safe area. You cannot achieve enrichment by tending to those that are already rich. It’s really that simple, but it is not necessarily easy.
I would love to hear your stories of kindness especially responding with kindness to the unkind.
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” ― Dalai Lama