Fractures and Fault Zones

The daughter of a geophysicist and a long-time Houston resident (which if you’re not familiar with the city, has a massive fault zone running through it), I’ve always been intrigued by fractures and fault zones; of the seismic shifts that can occur over time and why some foundations can withstand the shifts, perhaps even becoming stronger over time, while others crumble in the wake of a single tremor.

In any team or long-term relationship, whether familial, romantic, professional, etc., there is the almost certain inevitability that at some point, sooner or later, fracture lines will form — cracks that form in the wake of too much pressure or perhaps the revelation of some fact, truth, or behavior that lay hidden just beneath the surface. Sometimes these revelations are the result of unforeseen triggers or unresolved business that may surface in our memory. Sometimes they are the result of people, events, and circumstances that we simply cannot control.

Whatever the trigger; whatever the cause, over time, too many fractures can eventually form fault zones that threaten the very stability of our foundation. Over time, too many fractures can cause us to question the integrity of intention, too, causing us to reactively look outside ourselves for answers (or blame) instead of taking time to look inward at our own role, choices, and behaviors.

So what do we do when we first see them surface? How can we create enough spaces in our togetherness or teams to allow for the natural expansions and contractions that occur over time? How can we practice self-care and cultivate the strength and resiliency needed in the event of a sudden quake or seismic shift? How can we do a better job of communicating our needs, fears, dreams, and hopes, while creating a safe space for others to do the same?

One answer is to take responsibility for our own choices, feelings, and behaviors, while establishing healthy boundaries that both honor the self and others; boundaries that reflect and defend our core values and truths, enabling us to form our own solid foundation even as we live and work in community and relationship with others.

Another strategy is to practice letting go of our need to both know and control outcomes, while allowing Faith to be our guide. So often we assume we know what is ‘best’ in any given situation — whether for ourselves or others, though this need to know or control not only damages others, but prevents us from being fully present in our own lives too. It robs us of the mystery of the moment and erodes our capacity for living from an inquisitive point of view — essential for continual learning and growth.

In the end, we cannot always predict a tremor or quake and we certainly cannot control the outcome. What we can do is take the time to build a solid personal foundation that can withstand the tests of time,  while cultivating the personal readiness and resiliency needed to navigate shifts, expansions, change and disruption, when they inevitably come our way.

Creative Visualization

15541549_10154808096969655_9204891255238104112_nRecently I was feeling a bit silly and rather serious at the same time. Practicing a little creative visualization, I sheepishly snuck an advance reader copy of my upcoming book, Walking the Heart Path, into my local Barnes & Noble, found a few favorite authors’ books for companions, placed my own on the shelf, took out my camera, and began to snap away. No, I didn’t leave it there, but I did pause for just long enough to breathe in the moment and visualize possible outcomes . . . specifically, to envision and consider what success might look like for me.

15589980_10154808096974655_5275041062588752987_nCrazy? Perhaps; Will it work? Possibly; Has it worked in the past? Absolutely. Many times, in fact.

Too early to know for sure, what I do know is this:

We become what we imagine and believe is possible. We should therefore learn to dream with our hearts wide open. 

No, I’m not suggesting that everything is possible. If you are an active asthmatic, for example, the U.S. Air Force is not going to let you pilot their planes. Some rules  (including the laws of physics) are, at least in this present moment, what they are.

But I believe in miracles. I believe in dreaming big, working hard, and acknowledging that while not everything is within our control, the possibilities for our lives do in fact expand or diminish in proportion to our courage and commitment to our vision AND our willingness to make sacrifices and do the hard work required along the way. I believe in the power of Faith, prayer, and honest intention, too — which collectively calls us to both dare to dream and be willing to simultaneously surrender to unknown outcomes.

Here’s where it gets tricky.

If we’re not careful, fear (whether of failure or success) and its close cousin, pride, will show up at our party, often unannounced. Invited or not, letting them roam freely in our minds is the sure fastest way to sabotage our dreams. Left unattended, they will plant seeds of doubt and/or create a lengthy list of reasons why we deserve something less than we imagine is possible (or perhaps have yet to imagine), though trying to smother, silence, and bind them only fuels their fire and determination to squash our spirit.

So what is the answer?

As Elizabeth Gilbert suggests in her book, Big Magic, make friends with fear (and feed your pride some humble pie while you’re at it). Acknowledge fear’s presence, but while you’re at it, step up your Faith, paint the picture you want to see, and learn to lean into love.

That’s where the real magic resides.

I’m curious to know and ask…

Do you find it easy to dream or do you find yourself holding back? What are the biggest obstacles that keep you from pursuing (and therefore realizing) your dreams? Have you ever painted a picture in your mind and/or created a physical visual of your desired outcome? What was the result? How does creating a vision for your life (or project) help move you closer to realizing your dreams?

p.s. Want to read a great book on daring to dream? Pick up a copy of Whitney Johnson’s book, Dare, Dream, Do, and while your at it, a copy of her latest book, too — Disrupt Yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

 

Possibility Thinking

Impossibility thinking comes from a place of fear and a lack of Faith. Possibility thinking comes from a place of love and a fundamental belief that all things work together for good.

I’m curious to know…

Expanding on the theme of dreams and miracles, are you driven more by your fears or your Faith? Despite the inevitable heartache and hardships that are part of any life journey, do you believe that all things work together for good or that you are simply a victim of life’s circumstances? In the larger context of the world we currently live in, what role can possibility thinking play in creating meaningful solutions to complex problems? What role does possibility thinking look like in your own life?

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Do You Have Enough?

If character is at the heart of effective leadership, do you have enough of what it takes to lead yourself and others — with courage, discipline, commitment, fortitude, integrity, humility, accountability, insight, resiliency and faith?

Do You Have Enough?

 

The Possibilities of Hope

Over the past few months, I’ve been busy interviewing a wonderful group of young women — survivors of human trafficking who have each successfully transitioned out of ‘the life’ and are making positive strides towards a purpose-filled future.

In each of our conversations I asked them not only about their dreams, but what hope means to them and the role it has and continues to play in helping them navigate their own path forward. Their answers varied, though significantly, each of them held steadfast to the belief that their life would not change by waiting passively to be ‘rescued’, but rather, would require a willingness to actively take ownership of their own choices, moment-by-moment, day-by-day.

I have not walked in their shoes, though I admire their courage, resiliency and willingness to be accountable for their own choices and outcomes. As I reflected on our conversations, it got me thinking some more about hope and the role it plays in helping each of us move through times struggle, loss, transition or uncertainty.

The concept of ‘hope’ is often misunderstood and expressed as some platitude or affirmation that is supposed to magically transform our lives. But hope is more than passive, wishful thinking. At it’s core, hope is about possibility thinking — an active way of seeing, being and doing.

It’s understanding that while life can be difficult, filled with trials and tribulations that test us along the way, it is always changing. Where we are today, no matter how challenging the circumstances, will most assuredly be different that where we are tomorrow, next week or next year.

Hope Says

More than passively relying on extrinsic events to change our circumstance, hope is not only moving forward in faith and believing in the possibility for a better outcome when we are in a season of sorrow or difficulty, but having enough courage and confidence in the value of our dreams and vision for the future that we are willing to commit ourselves to doing the intrinsic work necessary to realize a different outcome. Whether from a Christian or secular perspective, it’s faith in action — taking steps to advance ourselves forward, while staying open to new possibilities along the way — an idea that in and of itself, gives me hope!

I’m curious to know…

What does hope mean to you? What is the relationship in your own life between faith and hope? How can taking responsibility for your own choices and outcomes enable you to shift from a mindset of ‘hopelessness’ to hopeful, even under the most difficult of circumstances?

Wednesday Wisdom

 
Possibility Thinking

Resting on Laurels

It Matters Less What We've Achieved in the PastIn a world that measures ‘success’ by milestones of achievement, it is tempting to lean into our past accomplishments as a measure of our self-worth and ability, focusing on what we’ve done (for ourselves), rather than what we can do (for others), especially during times of struggle or transition. While the process of achievement itself can be a labor of love, when we identify with and cling too tightly to an outdated past, we risk losing ourselves in the process.

Consider the 1988 motion picture, Everybody’s All American, directed by Taylor Hackford and based on the 1981 novel by longtime Sports Illustrated contributor, Frank Deford. In the movie, Dennis Quaid plays the leading role as Gavin Grey, a 1950s star athlete known by the moniker “The Grey Ghost,” who plays football at Louisiana State University, later joining the Washington Redskins, though no longer as the beloved and worshipped college star idol he once was back home. Over time, age and injuries ultimately result in Gavin being traded, benched, and finally forced into retirement, where he spends his withdrawal from professional sports depressed and dejected, reminiscing about his famed athletic youth. Stuck in past, his sense of self-worth tied to his earlier acclaim, it is a sad, yet all too familiar tale, though one that is not relegated to past sports figures alone.

I’m curious…

Have you ever found yourself stuck in your ego and/or stuck in your past? Have you every found yourself clinging to an out-dated self or script that no longer serves you in the present? Do you have enough faith to move forward when the door closes behind you?

Whatever your future dreams or endeavors; regardless of where you’ve been in the past or what you’ve accomplished, the key to getting un-stuck, out of your ego, and into your heart, is to start from where you are in the present; to open yourself to learning, act from a spirit of service, create, take risks, disrupt and discover. Ultimately, it requires having enough Faith in life itself to let the door to your past close to create space for new dreams and possibilities.

 

Authentic Living

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Creative Possibility

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Connective Purpose

(Photo courtesy of Roadrunner333 via Photobucket.com)

(Photo courtesy of Roadrunner333 via Photobucket.com)

Last week I wrote about pruning for purpose — cutting out or back to create space for deeper meaning, growth and joy — turning down the noise of life that we might tune into our own heart and others’. Though sometimes painful, I believe this process of pruning is necessary to reach the places we’ve chosen to go, for if we try to move in too many directions at the same time, we end up going nowhere fast.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that in this season of pruning; in this time of centered stillness, I’m beginning to better see what once was hidden behind the overgrowth of my life.

I call it connective purpose. Those moments when heart and head align at the intersection of all of our past experiences and future dreams, and we begin to see the connective tissue that gives shape and meaning to our lives. Those moments when the sum total of our experiences, including our setbacks and struggles, reveal evidence of a greater purpose than we could have envisioned on our own.

Beyond our own self-awareness and individual dreams, there is another kind of connective purpose — the kind that binds us to others, as our individual voices and talents conspire to advance a collective good. Like a patchwork quilt, our individual squares, when sewn together with others’, create a larger landscape of possibility.

We take a risk, extend ourselves, reach out, share our stories, and listen to others’. And in the midst of what once felt impossibly vulnerable, we find authentic connection where there once was none. We find collaborative opportunities to contribute, share, and co-create. Opportunities to advocate, serve, and raise a collective voice. We move as individuals, but more consciously as part of a whole.

Yesterday in D.C., The Atlantic hosted a conference on Maria Shriver’s latest report on the female face of poverty, A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From the Brink. I wasn’t there in person, and yet I was — virtually, anyway. For 8 hours, we listened to a myriad of perspectives on the problems of many. It was a robust dialogue intended to not only elevate awareness of an important issue that impacts us all, but to engage each of us in working collectively toward possible solutions in our own communities. As I listened, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own journey and how it fit into the larger context of the conversation. Collectively challenged, moved and inspired, what once appeared as random or coincidental touch points in my own life, now revealed themselves to me more clearly as part of a beautiful tapestry, and in that revelation, I could begin to understand how my personal story was part of a larger, more purposeful plan.

This is how it works with the Universe. We move along in our individual lives, as if isolated from the rest of the world. Yet sometimes, all that is needed is one spark, one connection, one honest moment with ourselves and others, to begin to see how our lives are infinitely intertwined with others in ways and to a degree beyond our human comprehension. In these moments of awakening, selfish desire gives way to a spirit of service, our own pain melts into compassion for others, and whatever sense of lacking we might have in our lives expands to a sense of wonder, abundance and gratitude. A gift of grace, we begin to understand that we need not walk alone in fear and isolation, but can faithfully move forward in community with others, from a spirit of deep, connective purpose.

I’m curious…

To what degree does purpose define your own journey? Have you ever had one of those moments when what once felt like disjointed, random events, began to take shape, and you could see how your own individual story fit into a larger, more connective purpose? How does having a sense of purpose or calling help dissipate fear and enable you to develop the courage needed to achieve your dreams?