Archive for the 'Success at Work and at Play' Category

Information Overload? Just Do What You’re Inclined To Do

Seth Godin posed this question in his blog today:

Redoubling to system failure

Every 18 months for the last decade, the world has doubled the data it pushes to you.

Twice as much email, twice as many friend requests, twice as many sites to check, twice as many devices.

When does your mind lose the ability to keep up? Then what happens? Is it already happening?

As his blog is not open to comment, I’ll respond here.

Thia actually happened to me about a year ago.  There was so much information coming to me and at me that my mind just GAVE UP. Before this break, the mental chatter went something like this:

“Gotta know this.” “Must reply to her today.” “OMG! I have 25 emails since 9am this morning, and it’s only 9:10!”

I came to the following realizations:

  • It’s impossible to keep everybody happy.
  • I cannot keep up with ANYTHING
  • I cannot control ANYTHING
  • I cannot know ANYTHING for certain.

So, I’ve decided that my best approach to the issue of information overload is as follows:

  • Be really clear what I want from life
  • Attend to each moment with a sense of openness, and let the moment decide what I do next
  • Trust in Life (God, the Universe, Allah, etc.) – what Life wants to happen through me is Life’s responsibility (not mine), and that whatever happens is part of the overall Plan.

What do I mean by “letting the moment decide what I do next”? It’s listening  – giving my full attention – to what is present in the moment. The action (or non-action, as the case may be) then presents itself and happens naturally: not from fear or desire, but out of a “rightness” or “correctness” that this is what I am to do (or not do) Now.

By living life from this perspective, I do not worry.  There is nothing to worry about, as ultimately I cannot Do anything to improve or screw up my situation. If I could Do something, I would be God. And I am not. I am only God living through this form called Carol.

I’ve been a whole bunch happier after this “mental breakdown”, and actually get more done with less stress than I did before (with NO guilt).

Free at last, free at last. Thank God, I’m free at last!

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Why Wall Street Can’t Be Fixed.

I came across David Korten while viewing an ad in this month’s issue of UU World for the conference “Why Wall Street Can’t be Fixed and How to Replace It” (to be held April 3-5 2009 at the Rowe Conference Center (http://www.rowecenter.org)).

Dr. David C. Korten is an author and a leader in the global resistance against corporate globalization. He is probably best known as the author of the book When Corporations Rule the World. In this video, David explains how the US government was established to ensure the rights of the landed elite. The balance established after WW2 between business and the rising middle class was upset in the 70’s as the rich ruling class found power eroding. We see the effects of this today.

It is interesting to note David had not yet experienced the power of the internet in marshaling everyday people to elect a previously “unelectable” candidate (video created January 20, 2008).

This 11 minute video is a great view for anyone wanting to have a perspective on how we got to where we are (and how we may be able to get out of it).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Why Wall Street Can’t Be Fixed.“, posted with vodpod

A Model CEO

Clovice, my husband and CEO of Advanced Housing Technologies, LLC told me “I can completely relate to this man!”

CEO Takes a Pay Cut from CNN

How can I protect myself in a failing economy?

This wasn’t exactly the question I’ve been asking myself lately, though it is the one I think is on most people’s minds.

The first thought that comes to me when I ask this question is “Protect myself from what?” I started thinking. Usually a need for protection comes out of a sense of a lack of something – in this case a lack of security that comes from a stable financial base. But, is this true? Can we really find true protection in “stuff”?

My spiritual heritage has its roots in the Christian tradition. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been meditating on the following verses in Matthew:

Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the filed grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

So do not worry, saying,”What shall we eat” or “What shall we drink” or “What shall we wear”. For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

-Matthew 6:25-26; 28-33

Are you worrying about what you will eat or what you will drink or what you will wear? If you’re a person of faith in a higher power, it isn’t really useful to spend time concerned over these issues, as God already knows we need them. So, where then should the focus of our thoughts be if not on our desperate condition? On the Kingdom of God.

Right. Anybody got a roadmap to where this “Kingdom” is?

Well, actually, yes.

“The Kingdom of God is within you.”(Luke 17:21)

OK. If that’s the case, how do I know what part of me is the “Kingdom” and what is not? Actually, God gave the answer to Moses after Moses asked him, “Who should I say sent me?” God’s answer? “Tell them ‘I AM’ sent you.”

The Kingdom of God is when you are connected to the “I AM”. And, what is the “I AM”? The only thing that there is – The Present Moment. The NOW.

Anytime you feel fear, anxiety, worry, guilt, anger, etc, etc., it’s because you’re living in a time-bound experience. These emotions imply a sense of time, as fear, anxiety and worry are rooted in an imagined future, while guilt and anger have their source in a remembered past. Neither is happening now (though your ego-mind would like you to think this is so).

When you’re Present, you experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (does this ring a bell with you Christians as the “fruits of the spirit?”).

How do you get and stay Present? A few ways:

  1. Acceptance and Surrender
    Allow the present moment to be what it is. Completely accept the situation as it stands. This does NOT mean you cave in and do nothing about it. Quite the contrary – by not judging the conditions you find yourself in, you bring a sense of clarity to the moment. This permits you to see things in a different, less emotionally charged, light from which a better course of action can be determined
  2. Gratitude
    I like to think of gratitude as the energetic opposite of “surrender”. “Surrender” to me implies an inner acceptance of what appears to be an outward experience. “Gratitude” to me is the outward expression of an inner state of being derived from surrender. Having gratitude – or thankfulness – means you are OK with what Is and is the natural result of Surrender.
  3. Do not Judge
    (anybody got a good antonym for “Judge”? I couldn’t find one!)

    Ever wonder why Jesus admonished, “Judge not, lest ye be judged”? I would dare say because we do not know the mind of God. What we deem to be good (or bad, or fat, or old, or ugly….) may not be so because we tend to look at the situation from our own small point of view rather than God’s bigger picture. If you can cease to label an experience, you open up yourself to a wealth of possibilities only accessible by this freedom from your inner critic.

  4. Give.
    “Give, and it will be given to you. A large quantity, pressed together, shaken down, and running over will be put into your lap, because you will be evaluated by the same standard with which you evaluate others.” (Luke 6:38 ISV) .Do you ever wonder why it feels so good to give? Because when we give, we are filled with a sense of abundance, not lack. And, don’t just give money – give the most valuable item you own to everyone and everything: Your Attention.

You say you’re a Christian, a Buddhist, a Jew, a Muslim? All of these religions have these tenents at their heart. You’re living as a “Pagan” (read: “Non-Believer”) if you are not living in the Kingdom, and the only place you’ll find the Kingdom is by being Present Now.

Enjoy the Peace and Abundance of the Kingdom of God!

Social Intelligence And The Biology of Leadership

or, “Why Barack Obama Might Have a Better Chance at Reaching The Oval Office Than John McCain”.

I came across this article in the Harvard Business Review this morning. Brain function has always been interesting to me, as is leadership development, so naturally I was drawn to the material within.

Leaders who have true empathy with their followers not only connect with them figuratively, but researchers have discovered the brains of both the leaders and the followers become “fused” into a single neural system.

The authors of the article also list the seven characteristics they identified for social intelligence. They have developed an assessment tool for CEO’s, managers, leaders, etc – anyone willing to take the steps necessary to plan for and improve their social intelligence. Here they are:

  • Empathy
    Do you understand what motivates other people, even those from different backgrounds?
    Are you sensitive to others’ needs?
  • Attunement
    Do you listen attentively and think about how others feel?
    Are you attuned to others’ moods?
  • Organizational Awareness
    Do you appreciate the culture and values of the group or organization?
    Do you understand social networks and know their unspoken norms?
  • Influence
    Do you persuade others by engaging them in discussion and appealing to their self-interests?
    Do you get support from key people?
  • Developing Others
    Do you coach and mentor others with compassion and personally invest time and energy in mentoring?
    Do you provide feedback that people find helpful for their professional development?
  • Inspiration
    Do you articulate a compelling vision, build group pride, and foster a positive emotional tone?
    Do you lead by bringing out the best in people?
  • Teamwork
    Do you solicit input from everyone on the team?
    Do you support all team members and encourage cooperation?

May the man with the best social intelligence win!

419 scams now target business investors seeking funds

We could have been burned by a 419 scam.

To all of you unfamiliar with this term, “419” refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code (part of Chapter 38: “Obtaining Property by false pretences; Cheating”) dealing with fraud these Internet scammers are prosecuted under.

You’ve all seen it: The Nigerian who will share his windfall sum of money with you and needs your help in getting access to it if you only loan him a few thousand first. We really didn’t think their tentacles would extend into the arena of business investing, but it has. They prey on the enthusiasm of fund seekers who think they have finally found someone to finance their business idea.

Here’s our story (from my close, yet outside, perspective):

My husband’s (well, theoretically it’s mine, too) company is looking for its next round of investment funding. We’ve had quite a bit of success locating potential investors and brokers by posting our funding request online at a service called GoBigNetwork.com. It’s keen to be green nowadays, and because our project is enviroment-friendly, we’re seeing the kind of popularity once afforded to business builders of the Internet.

Initially, we gave an upfront finder’s fee to a few brokers. Bad move. Those who we paid in advance have performed far less then stellar. Mind you, it would have been useful if we had done more due diligence. Lesson well learned.

One of the responses we received to our funding request was particularly intriguing. It came from a “Majid al Futtaim” who sent a direct email to Clovice saying he was interested in our project and would like to invest. We did a bit of homework and discovered “Majid al Futtaim” was on the Forbes “Top 500” list for richest people in the world. Wow! We knew our little project could fit in pretty well with his investment portfolio! And, if I were a rich person, I’d want some level of anonymity in seeking investments from networks like gobignetwork.com

We sent an executive summary, and a few weeks later al Futtaim notified us his team had investigated our summary and had decided to fund us, though he wanted our assurance this decision would be kept secret from his family. This seemed plausible, as the al Futtaim group is only just now exploring investments outside of the UAE. We also though the usual due diligence was not sought by him, because the amount we were asking amounted to a pittance for him.

We were connected by al Futtaim to a Kenneth Bryan via a Yahoo email account (red flag number 1) and a mobile UK telephone number (red flag number 2), who would serve as the agent coordinating the fund transfer. We made contact with Bryan and he again reiterated the terms al Futtaim had described, plus added we would need to go to London to sign the paperwork and complete the deal (red flag number 3). A few emails went back and forth sketching out the deal prior to receiving the draft funding agreement.

We were happy to go along with this for the time being – after all, it wasn’t costing us anything up to this point. We had done some initial due diligence, and weren’t overly alarmed we couldn’t find much about Bryan. Plus, what we had discovered about al Futtaim was encouraging.

When we received the first version of the funding agreement, doubts which were swirling around under the radar of our conscious minds suddenly rose quickly and prominently to the surface.

Gosh, you’d expect these scammers would at least enlist the help of an English-speaking paralegal to write their material! The wording was elementary and the agreement riddled with legal loopholes. They couldn’t even be bothered to rename the file they had obviously downloaded from one of those “Do-Your-Own Legal Work” websites. Plus, they were asking for 20,000 UK pounds in advance that they said would be reimbursed after funding.

When we wrote al Futtaim asking him to verify his identity, he wrote back an angry and scathing email threating to revoke his offer for funding (another classic 419 scam tactic).

The trick with uncovering these people involved saving al Futtaim’s emails in a text format (which saves all the routing information). This uncovered emails sent from the majaidalfuttaim.com domain were actually faked to come from the UK. Additionally, by placing “419” in front of Kenneth Bryan’s name, Google revealed other scams this name had previously been involved in. We did further research on 419 scams to realize all of our red flags were common elements of this type of fraud.

My husband enjoyed himself this morning sending the following email:

Date: July 1, 2008 3:14:35 PM PDT
To: Majid Futtaim <majidlfuttaim@gawab.com>, Ken Bryan <ken.bryan88@yahoo.com>
Subject:Will Send Transfer Charges for Funding – See You in London!

Majid and Kenneth,

My favorite movie of all time is the “Wizard of Oz”. In one of the final scenes, when Dorothy appears before the Wizard after liquidating the Wicked Witch, her little dog Toto starts barking at something. The dog is calling everyone’s attention to an old man with a microphone hidden behind a curtain. The Great and Terrible Oz tells his visitors to disregard “the man behind the curtain.” But Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man realize that the great fiery image with the thundering voice is a false front. The great wizard is merely an old man with a microphone.

You might find this clip as entertaining as I have your last few emails to us…

“I enjoyed doing business with men of great confidence and courage. You have every reason to be cautious but not when you Will personally confirmed the availability of the investment in London before the final bank deposit. What exactly is the prove you want? Are you trying to call me an impersonator because you have been requested to contribute to something that will better your life and business?”

“However, for security of your personal information and satisfaction of your curiosity on the legitimacy of the process, I shall advise you make an arrangement to meet with the processing security/financial brokerage firm in London to enable you access as well as analyze the transactional modalities in person.”

LOL, these emails are really funny!

I can’t wish you “good luck” in your endeavors. However, I terminate your sad charade with a video you may recognize yourself in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWyCCJ6B2WE

So long, Humbug!

Our moods were only a little dampened by this experience. Our investor dance card is pretty full, and we gave these criminals nothing. The irony is our investment opportunity is one the real Majid al Futtaim Group would be interested in….

The moral of this story:

If you are searching for funding, be very wary of using services like gobignetwork.com. Many of the investors on this network are reputable, though they presently do not have any rating or referral system like Amazon does for books or LinkedIn does for profiles. If they did have such a system, then you could at least have some level of initial confidence in an investor’s trustworthiness and ability to perform.

Let the fund seeker beware!

On the need for being in control

Hi. My name is Carol and I’m a reformed control-aholic.

I think my story is fairly common among women, especially A-type personality chicks regardless of their career choice (you don’t need to be running for president to want to be in charge. …)

How do you identify whether you’re a control-aholic? Here are some examples you may be able to relate to:

  1. Your husband is driving. He pulls into a parking lot with hundreds of empty spaces. Even before you realize it, it’s out of your mouth,”Why don’t you park in THIS ONE, dear??”
  2. You are at a restaurant with a group of people. The waitress arrives to take your order and no one in your group appears to be responding to her requests. You react by getting the group’s attention and serve as liaison and interpreter.
  3. It’s a Saturday afternoon and for some reason, you can’t think of a single thing you absolutely must do. You panic.
  4. You’ve just been fired from your job. You have enough money in the bank to last you for more than a year, yet you find yourself highly anxious and set about immediately finding a new post even though you may not have had a vacation in months.
  5. You have a pile of tasks in your in-basket. You pick one and start working on it, however you’re not happy because you’re not sure if this is the most important thing you should be doing right now.

And the physical symptoms accompanying a control addiction?

  • You wake up most mornings with a vague (or stronger) feeling of dread. When you try to find out what’s causing it, you can’t locate anything specific.
  • There’s a tightness in the chest, neck and throat area, and a narrowing of your focus of attention. For example, your husband is driving with you on the freeway. You’re coming up to the exit you’re to take and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down. What physical feelings and thoughts arise before you blurt out,”That’s our exit!!”
  • Your mind is always filled with chatter as to why something (or someone) is not right.

About 13 years ago I “woke up” and began my path to healing. However, the most significant strides forward came after reading “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. Here’s the quote from the book that transformed me: “The most important thing you can be doing is what you are doing right NOW.”

Wow.

I realized I don’t have to concern myself with my career, my purpose, my list of to do’s. Nor do I have to be responsible for my husband’s career, purpose, or to do’s, either. All I have to do is to give my full attention to what I am doing right now.

As you get better at being present, the tightness and narrowing is replaces with a freedom and spaciousness. The dread turns into peace, and you relax as there is nothing else to do but what you are presently doing.

Bliss.

Why do I feel this affliction is largely a feminine one, at least in our culture? Because historically women were raised with the notion the man is the “head of the household.” This belief, no matter how true it may be in your own life, nonetheless is still indoctrinated into the minds of Western women as a powerful meme. Many a woman frequently finds herself in conflict with her dreams and her programmed upbringing. She may not even realize this is the source of her perpetual unhappiness.

I’m glad I added this practice of “presence” to my toolkit. It has kept me “on the wagon” and my great marriage has improved even more with continual use.


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