Posts Tagged ‘joy’

Man Overboard!

May 19, 2011

“You can only ever become bored, when you no longer follow your heart.”  ~Mike Dooley

A series of ear-splitting bells split the afternoon air, followed by “Man overboard!  Drill, Drill, Drill!”  All around us the crew spring into action, shifting from whatever they were doing to pre-set roles, as gracefully as a professional dancer moving from a ballet to a Samba.  Over the next 15 minutes we witness the crew of the sailing schooner Adventuress hone their individual and collective skill to respond to emergencies.  I am moved – to tears – each time I witness the crew in action like this.  They are doing work they love, with people they respect, for the sake of things that matter deeply to them.  And I cannot help being moved, though I confess I hide behind my sunglasses and the viewfinder of my camera.

Hauling away to raise the sail.

Observing all of this, from the viewpoint of a group of civic and corporate leaders in training, we get a glimpse of something I believe we all seek: A Purpose Driven life.  In my experience, the heads and hearts of the crew are fully engaged in work they love.  Their commitment to each other, the boat, and their passengers, is one I am repeatedly inspired by.

For context, this drama unfolds aboard the floating national historic landmark – the schooner Adventuress.  This beautiful sailing ship measures over 100’ long, her rig reaches 110’ into the sky, and she carries roughly 5,500 square feet of canvas sails.  She is also nearing her 100th birthday.  It takes a crew of 12 – mostly volunteers – to sail her, and thousands of hours every winter to maintain and restore her.  Last winter alone she absorbed 5,000 volunteer hours plus roughly 10,000 paid hours by skilled shipwrights practicing their ancient craft.

The Adventuress is owned, operated, and is being lovingly restored, by the non-profit Sound Experience.  Their mission is to “educate, inspire and empower,” for the sake of a sustainable future for Puget Sound.  And the Adventuress is their platform for furthering this mission.  (www.soundexp.org)

Betsy climbs the rigging on the main mast.

Viewed through a different lens, the Adventuress is the physical manifestation of a massive pool of human energy – expressed in the form of Love, Passion, and Purpose.  Channeled into a wooden sailing vessel.  And formed into an organizational culture that fosters exceptional teamwork, models deep respect (for people, boat, and planet), and embodies purpose-driven work.  Their heart’s are in the game.  Fully.

Thank you Adventuress crew and staff.  You always dazzle and touch us!  Safe sailing!

This is our Leadership Journey, Pacific Northwest style.  To learn more check out a recent article in Seattle Business Magazine featuring this program.  (link here)

Reflection questions: If you followed your heart for the next 24 hours, what would you do differently?  Who would you be?  How would you treat those that grace your day?  What would you say YES to?  Who and what would you not take for granted?  What would you say that you haven’t been saying?  To others?  To yourself?

The combined Ascent and Adventuress Crew!

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Adjusting Expectations

July 23, 2010

This was to be my summer.  I had spent several years meticulously re-habbing several nagging injuries.  I had gained strength and set ambitious goals for climbing, biking and mountaineering.  Then one little moment changed that.  I was on a climb in Squamish when I pulled and twisted in an awkward movement.  At that moment my summer, and my plans, were changed.

The injury isn’t severe, but enough so that I was in bed for a week and now slowly nursing myself back to health.  At first I was really bummed.  What about all my goals?  I had worked so hard…blah, blah, blah.  I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and rather depressed.  Then it hit me.  The source of my suffering lay in my expectations.  If I had different expectations then I would have a different experience.

So, I have adjusted my expectations.  I have set more modest goals and I am choosing to see this as an opportunity to become more at home in my body, to learn to listen to the signs/symptoms of what it is telling me.  I am still disappointed by what I won’t be doing this summer, but the sting of those disappointments is greatly reduced.  And I am welcoming the opportunity to achieve some of my other goals…like learning to slow down and enjoy relaxing in the hammock and reading a good book!

This reminds me of a quote that I have on my wall….

This is the way to your inner most home:

Close your eyes

And surrender.

~ Jalalludin Rumi

Questions: What expectations (explicit or implicit) do you have that are creating suffering for you?  What/who is the source of those expectations?  Are those expectations serving you?  What do they produce?

Laughing While Falling

March 4, 2010

I just returned from my annual ski trip with some buddies.  We had a few days of skiing in beautiful Telluride, CO.

the boyz in Telluride

My objectives when skiing are generally to: Have fun and enjoy my friends.

When I take a closer look, however, I see that I am also trying to:

1) Look good, and…

2) Avoid falling down

When I do fall I tend to get frustrated.  I try to analyze what I did wrong, I make excuses to myself, or think “I should ski something easier so I don’t fall.”

JK having fun, falling or not!

This changed, at one point during our trip, when I took a minute to watch my friend and colleague Johnny K as he skis.  I noticed something really strange.  HE LAUGHS WHILE HE FALLS DOWN!  He is actually having fun in the midst of crashing!  Check him out in this picture…he hasn’t even finished crashing and he is looking up and laughing!  And then it struck me — this is consistent with how he lives his life.

Seeing him laugh while crashing — he really goes for it when he skis — opened up a whole new possibility for me.  First, I saw that if I wasn’t falling I wasn’t going for it.  Second, I saw that in trying to look good and not fall I was undermining my ability to ski at my best — trying NOT to do something makes me tense, tight and fearful.  Most importantly, skiing this way is less fun.

So, in the spirit of a good Johnny K head-over-heels crash, I ask you:

1) where are you taking yourself too seriously?

2) where are you trying to look good or not fail, at the expense of achieving your dreams, goals and aspirations?

3) what could you gain if you brought a focus of fun, laughter and learning to what you are doing?

Have fun…and go for it!

John M finally having fun in the midst of a wipeout.

Human DOING

December 10, 2009

[Post by John McConnell]

I have been going full tilt now for several months.  Really fully engaged in my work, my play, my family, my life.  It feels really good.

Yesterday I was scrambling to pull together the final details for our first newsletter, while packing for a trip to California, while attending to few client needs, while planning my holiday gift buying, while…. you get the picture.  Sound familiar?

On the one hand I love it.  I am so plugged in right now.  Generating, learning, sharing, doing, checking things off the list….  On the other hand, I think I lost the OFF switch.  As I boarded the plane I pulled out my laptop thinking “if I can just get one more thing done…”  And then I stopped.  And I FELT IT.  That state of being where I am no longer BEING, but rather stuck in the DOING mode.  I am a HUMAN DOING!

So what did I do?  I finished that one thing.  I kept pushing, even though some part of me was saying, “whoa, its time to slow down for bit.”  And I’m doing it right now.  Posting this blog as my last action before going into a 3-day training to continue my own personal and professional development.  I am choosing that.  Given what I am committed to right now it feels right to me.

That said, I know I am close to the point where I will lose the ability to CHOOSE.  I’ll be stuck in GO/GO/GO mode.  Historically I know that I’ll do that until something makes me stop.  Usually for me that involves getting hurt or sick.  So, I take a moment to breathe.  Stretch my shoulders.  Soften my eyes and brow.

Doing is so seductive.  Yet whatever I get done there will be another thing to do.  Fortunately, the training I am going into will help me slow down.  I am committed to slow down.  Do a Sudoku, take a nap, take a walk, take a bath.  Call my wife and tell her I love her.  It is time for me to bring my BEING self back to life.

How about you? Are you choosing your pace of doing or is it choosing you?  What are the unintended consequences your current pace?  How are you balancing the doing with the being?  What action or inaction might you do for a few minutes or a day to slow down, recharge, renew?  What little actions can you take in the midst of the doing?  My favorite on-the-fly techniques are: pause and take a deep breath; soften my eyes/brow; smile; think about something or someone I love; remind myself that I really do have all the time I need.

By the way, the project I was working so hard to push forward is our announcement of our new website and our latest offerings.  You can check it out here: http://www.ascentinstitute.com/news/ascent-news-2009-dec.html

We invite you to join us!

Never stop learning

August 11, 2009

Learning is life.  Aliveness.  We are either learning, growing, evolving….or contracting, decaying, withering.  I’m not talking about learning a new tidbit while watching TV.  I am talking about stepping into discomfort, doing something you aren’t (yet) good, developing some new perspective or capacity.  All for the pure joy of feeling alive and thriving.  Draw a picture, learn an instrument, walk in your back yard and pay attention to the birds that live there, pick up a few words of your neighbors primary language, research something interesting on the web, learn to juggle.  It doesn’t matter what it is so long as you are learning.

When I was a kid one of my idols was Ringo Starr of the Beatles.  I wanted to play drums like I wanted to breathe.  I just had to.  For my 8th birthday my parents bought me a real snare drum.  They hired a college kid to give me lessons.  And guess what?  I discovered I have no natural sense of rhythm (something my wife will attest to when we hit the dance floor to this day!)  Learning felt painful, I wasn’t going to be the next Ringo Starr.  So I quit.  As I quit many other things that didn’t come easily or naturally.  Learning can be hard, scary, embarrassing or just plain boring at times.

But here is the thing.  All the research into brain development says that learning is critical for our health, joy, vitality, and overall well being.  Not long ago it was thought that the brain stops developing once we reach adulthood.  Now we know that simply is not true.  Our brains and bodies, our hands and our feet, they are all just longing to develop new neural pathways.  The process of learning keeps us young and vital.  And in order to learn we must develop our commitment and ability to step into the discomfort of doing something we aren’t already good at.

Learning is life.  Aliveness.  Just do it.

Questions:  What have you always wanted to learn?  What skill, language, idea or arena of knowledge have you thought would be fun or interesting?  For the sake of what would you continue to learn and grow?  How would you assess your ability to step into discomfort for the sake of learning something new?

I AM a blogger…now

July 27, 2009

I have been thinking about blogging for awhile now.  I kept thinking, “I would like to write a blog.”  And, “I should really write a blog.”  And then there was “I’m really going to try and blog.”

But the fact is, I had never written a real blog, so it was just an idea.  It wasn’t who I AM.  The words in my head were a combination of “wish-ing” and “should-ing.”

While trying to get myself to write today, I had an epiphany.  My story of who I AM in this world includes “not a blogger.”  And that story creates my reality.  And I can change that.

Then I remembered why I want to blog.  To be known, to share who I am and what I am up to.  To inspire, to listen, to learn, to move and be moved.  That sounds fun.  Less like work…more like play.

So, now I AM a blogger.  Expect to hear from me.  From the heart.  Sharing what I’m learning and experiencing.

My Question: Who are YOU?  What is your story about who you are and who you aren’t?  Is that story serving you?  If not, what story would you write about yourself?  If you “want to run more” consider changing your story from “I am someone who struggles to stay in shape” to “I AM a runner.”