When you feel heard, you trust…

I have been thinking a lot in the last week about awareness. Being aware. Watching. Being present. After a few day training session at work, I realized how much more I could be aware of my surroundings, my actions, and how I approach situations. Last Friday I specifically practiced awareness, and while yes I was only in day one, I had a very good day. It could have also been because the sun was out, which means that those I was around were in a great mood. Sunshine in Portland in February does that to folks.

Regardless, I focused on listening in each conversation. I stopped, slowed down, and was aware and I enjoyed the day so much more. Sometimes that means I am more focused in my listening, other times it means I quiet my mind and do not say all the things that are happening within it. I am an extremely direct and transparent person, but I am learning that does not mean that I have to say everything that comes to mind. Part of being aware is listening to see if the person you are interacting with needs to talk and share from their own minds.

As I learned last week, awareness takes practice. Just as an Olympic athlete must train every day, so must each of us as we continue to be better and better, or as we continue to learn how to be our best. All we can do is try again each day. Try to be more aware, more present, and listen more. I love a line from this Fast Company article titled: “How One Simple Change Can Make You A Better Listener.”

“When people feel as though they have been heard, they trust you more.”

As well as:

“Ultimately, the ability to extract what people mean from a conversation is one of the most important tools of any leader. It takes a lot of work. And it requires curbing your natural tendency to jump right to a solution to people’s problems.”

I have a lot of work to do. I need to resist my constant urge to find a solution to problems, and start by listening first. Here is hoping I can keep up with my awareness this week. Listen more. Be more aware. Are you with me?

Pour Some Water on Me

For any of you that are on Facebook you will know that your feed this past week has been filled with friends and family who are raising awareness for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The focus: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It is a great way to use social media for a good cause. However (yes there is a but), my hope is that all the individuals that are doing the ice bucket challenge actually donate money. The awareness campaign is that by having ice + cold water poured over you that you are outing yourself from paying $100. Individuals that get nominated have 24 hours to do the challenge or donate $100.

Awareness is great, supporting ALS financially takes it to an entirely different level. What if we took the time to raise awareness, and put our money and/or our support next?

I love the fun and humor of making a video and putting oneself out there online, I only hope it does good. Think of all the other initiatives and programs that could benefit from such challenges. Of course we’d all be broke, and it would get old, right? How do we keep the freshness on continuing the momentum via social media where we have access to so many people, yet do it in a way that promotes true awareness? For example, the ALS website has been shared in most of the videos that I have seen, and there has been a plethora of high-profile athletes, CEOs, and past presidents that have joined into the mix, but have we really learned more about ALS? Do you know what it stands for? Do you know how your money can help?

Be careful, I might go Laura Bush on you and decide that I do not want to mess up my hair and just donate the $100. However, it is hot here in Oregon, and a little cold does the body good.

What do you think?

Head out of the clouds

We talk about random acts of kindness and how we do not always know the impact we have made on another’s life. We might pay for the coffee of the person behind us at Starbucks, or let someone go ahead of us in line at the grocery store. We may never see that individual again, and we never know if our small act has made an impact on their day. We don’t do it to say, “I did this.” Instead, we do it out of love, we do it to be selfless, we do it to lighten another’s load.

Often, I am deep in my thoughts, a zillion to-do lists cascading through my mind as I walk, drive, or scurry from point A to B. Yet, as I check items off the list, and add new items, I may miss opportunities to help another. I could always be more aware of what is happening around me. How often do you notice someone in need, and yet keep walking because you think, “I do not have time to stop.” or “I have too much to do to think about how to help.” I get it, as I am sure we all have those days, but has that become the norm that we are too busy to stop?

When I saw this video (in Thai, with subtitles), I immediately thought, if only we all could be more like this man, the world would be a better place. I know I often write about awareness, helping others, and gratitude, but each time I find a new idea I always want to share it. Repeating similar message in different ways allows us each to open our thoughts to new ways of thinking. Each are new reminders on how to lead better lives. My hope is the ideas that inspire me, will only then inspire others. So watch this man share of himself and hopefully be inspired.

We each could probably be better about keeping our head out of the clouds. Together lets notice more of what is happening around us. It might help us to see that all those lists are of small importance to what is happening around us.