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When a baby tries to walk, (let’s say it’s a girl) she tries thousands of times and falls thousands of times. Her parents look at her, they smile and cheer her and laugh with tenderness. No parents would go to the little girl and say “You know what? this walking thing, that’s hard, you’ve failed thousands of time, you might better give up on that.” imagesNo baby feels ashamed of not being able to walk perfectly at the first attempt, they are just eager to run and play and follow other toddlers, falling is even fun some times. It’s like they have no memory, they don’t remember they have failed. They don’t know they have failed. They don’t remember the past, they don’t think about the future, they just try, once again, now.

When a toddler tries to speak, he uses (this one is a boy) words that don’t exist and speaks millions of wrong sentences and it takes him thousands of days to come up with some decent talking. Parents laugh and take notice of the improvement. No parent go and say: “This talking thing, it’s too hard, you better quit.”

 

So baby learns how to walk and run, and baby learns to speak. But then, suddenly, parents change. They don’t smile anymore, they don’t laugh, they start expecting success, they start apprehending failure. And what happens to the girl and the boy? They learn what failure means. And they also change. They learn and develop new attitudes. They learn frustration, they learn steadiness, they learn to lie, they learn to be unsecure, they learn evasion. And they forget the happy times when they would try whatever they wanted to do and try again and again and again. They forget the happy times when they didn’t know what failure was.

 

Fear of failure is one of the main reason we sometimes don’t even try. Fear of failure is one of the main reason we don’t enjoy the ride. Fear of failure is one of the main reason we don’t reach our goals.

 Michael Jordan has said the reason for his success were the 300 games he lost and the 9.000 shots he missed and the 26 times he was trusted to take the winning shot and missed.

What would happen if we started celebrating failure, if we started smiling at it, if we stopped taking success so seriously? If we considered trying more meaningful than failing or succeeding.

 

Rafael Nadal won his 9th French Grand Slam title yesterday. Was he happy? He didn’t looked like. He was exhausted. Novak Djokovic who lost the match was frustrated and only after several minutes of the public applauses did we see tears in his eyes and a smile on his face, and he said he would be back next year… Kipling wrote success and defeat (triumph and disaster) are 2 impostors, he meant we just have to try again and again, that success and defeat are impostors because they make you stop. And if you want to feel alive, don’t stop! Maybe in one week from today, the happiest of the two tennis men will be the one who lost yesterday…

We fear for ourselves, we fear for our children. We have forgotten the bliss of ignoring failure. What if we could regain our childhood attitude? What does it take? Put our ego aside? Face our fears? It is no guaranty of success, but at least a more enjoyable journey, a more daring life.

I challenge you to change your mindset, to start appreciating failure. Next time you fail at something, feel happy, say to yourself “It’s so good I failed, I am going to be able to try again and fail better (as Samuel Beckett said) next time.”

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I have been working on writing stories. Interestingly enough, what I have learned applies not only for speeches, short stories or novels, it is wonderful to apply to real life.

When I am able to look at my life or someone else’s life as if it was a novel or a short story, and look at myself and others as characters of the story,  when I imagine I am the writer of that “real life story”, my perspectives broaden incredibly and so does my enjoyment of every moment.

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Each life is a story and all stories are worth to be told.

When anyone’s life is seen as an adventure or a novel, it always contains the magic and wonders of humanity, narrowing beliefs are dissolved because all perspectives are valid: no more good or bad, no more less or more, and acting as a writer, I can choose that everything is gonna be fine at the end! What a relief! What an enjoyment!

When one of my characters is faced with a specific circumstance, I ask that character, “What are you going to do? Go away? Persevere? I let my character choose, he can choose both and I end up writing two different stories, the one where the character goes away and what happens next and the one where the character perseveres and the consequences of his perseverance. There is no single correct way to face the event, any way is valid, the more unexpected the better! One step just leads to another, that’s all, that’s the story, there is no success or failure path, no duality, just the embracement of diversity and infinite possibilities.Image

In real life we tend to judge, to consider one way is the only correct way to do or live. This is not true! Life, like stories, just needs to happen. Without fear, without prejudice.

Imagine how exiting it would be to start each day wondering “what extraordinary event is going to happen to me today?” the event might just be a magnificent rain or a marvelous moonlight, or a silent conversation with myself, it is still full of magic if we appreciate it!

I have a business opportunity… will it be successful or not? If it is, is it a good thing for me? Maybe, maybe not. Curiosity helps stay detached because if this doesn’t happen, something else will, and there will always be a story…. and forget about unhappy stories. No Dickens’ Oliver Twist here, only Austers and Tylers and Bradburys and Flauberts and Prousts…Image

Everyday we can walk down the street curious and prepared for the most amazing thing to happen, or just interested in how we are going to manifest ourselves during the day, in each word, each thought, each sharing.

Seeing lives as stories helps me remain curious about the world around me, have more fun and observe more. Listen more and talk less. Respect more and judge less.

You think you know what surrounds you? Try this: Look at a familiar place and notice something you never noticed before. You see: there is always something new to be aware of, if you allow it.

ImageWhen something bad happens,  I try not to stay attached to the disturbance or the pain, I know that after some pages, after some chapters, I will be out of it, with a lesson learned.

I have spoken of magic and amazement, I don’t mean actions and fantastic events are what makes life a story, not at all. It’s our look at life, our look always alert to grasp the essence of breathing life, even if all the days are alike, seem to be alike, chapter after chapter, a wonderful story unfolds.

Seeing my life as a story has helped me identify opportunities for new experiences and has helped me be more detached from my expectations because I know now that everything is valuable when my awareness is alive and most of all when my curiosity is stronger than my prejudices.


I shared some time yesterday with a women who remembered me of my mother. We had a glass of wine, the evening was pleasant, the sound of the waves nearby was stimulating, I wished so much my mother would have been there, but she wasn’t: she died long time ago. I felt so strongly the desire of her company, her joyful humor, her strong character. I felt so sad, missing her so much.

But then I asked myself : What have I done to keep her with me? to invite her to my table ? Do I speak of her with those who knew her and those who don’t ? Have I tried to maintain her around me all these years ? I could have: I remember vividly her face, the smell of her perfume, the tone of her voice, the taste of her sautés zucchinis, the shape of her hands… but I haven’t brought her to my conversations I haven’t made her part of my life. Because instead of bringing her to my memory as a living being, when I thought of her it was her absence that hit me. And with her absence, the suffering of her absence. So, to avoid suffering I avoided speaking of her and remembering her. And doing so, I lost so many opportunities to be with her, to enjoy my love for her and share it with my family, her grand sons and daughter who don ‘t remember her or were born after she died.

So many members of my family have died and I have faced those events so wrongly. I realize that now, so late. To late? Maybe not. My sister is coming for Christmas and she has a much better memory than I have, I plan to ask her to speak about Paola, to describe her to my children, to help me make her present again, with joy and without sorrow. I hope they will enjoy the stories. They sure will.

 It is so easy to get caught in the suffering. Our culture supports suffering. So easy for me to become a victim, to fall into the trap “poor me”. I don’t have to. I can choose differently : I can choose love and connection. When I choose that, I no longer suffer. (Try… on any topic). I can release the ego who is longing for a presence, I can. I can choose love over suffering.

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When I’ll die, I hope my children don’t face their grief by putting me out of their lives. I know I haven’t shown them that way: after their father died we barely spoke of him, I feel so bad now for not handling this grief with more wisdom and love. It’s all about love, isn’t it ? Not suffering. Love. And imagination (As Byron Katie says). It’s about choosing to feel the love instead of the loss.

I hope they will remember me, speak about me, about my defects and my qualities, the odd things I did, the particular way I had to pronounce a certain word or how I hated television. I want them to think of me as if I was in another country and we would soon be reunited, as if I was just not answering the Skype call right now but would, later.

Maybe I am talking nonsense. I know the loss and the void are to hard to face. Maybe that’s the reason why it took me so long. But time has come. Time has come to rejoice remembering my mother and enjoying her presence again.


Thank you Alberto for recommending Ken Blanchard’s book “Whale done”. It is a very interesting perspective on what stimulates us to do the things others expect us to do. (Employees, kids, partners).

It starts from the whales training observation.

At Sea World, whales are trained to participate in shows, to jump out of the water when the trainer raises her hand. The question is: How can you train a killer whale? You can’t use punishment, do you? You can’t use constraint, can you? So, what do you use? That’s the beautiful part: See:

To start, trainers put a rope at half depth of the pool. Every time the whale swims above the rope, they give her a treat. When the whale swims beneath, they do nothing.

The whale is smart. One day she will understand when there is a treat and when there is none.

Day by day, they put the rope a little closer to the surface.

You got it? One day, the rope will be out of the water…. And the whale will jump!

OK, you reader, you don’t want to be a whale trainer. But this practice may interest you a lot. It is the perspective of paying attention to what is well (whale) done and not to what is done wrongly.

Can you imagine for a moment how would your work life and your home life be if everybody around was celebrating the good things and even the smallest improvement?

I think everybody will be motivated to do more, to be a team, to enjoy being together.

Others might think everything would go wrong because many of us think that if you don’t point out the things that don’t work, if you don’t threaten, people will not improve.

I believe this perspective of “whale done” can be very useful when people are trapped into negative attitude: complaining mother or despotic boss or over-demanding organizations where nothing is ever “good enough”.

I believe in the natural tendency of individuals to look for appreciation, to be happy with what they do and how they do it. (And, bottom line, that’s the kind of people you want around, don’t you? So that’s what you want to cultivate.)

I do believe this perspective can boost great results at work places and homes. You can read more:

About Ken Blanchard

To apply to parenting


I have been trying to put up with a description of people I know well, like my sister, my husband, or even myself. I realize I can’t. I cannot say my sister is sweet because sometimes she is firm and not sweet at all; I cannot say my husband is easy going because sometimes he gets very upset and looses his temper; I cannot say I am determined because sometimes I change my opinions by the hour. So I asked myself: “How can I say I know a person if I can’t describe that person?” My best answer is “I can only describe someone through what that person does or says.”

That is why good novels show what the characters do.

The physical appearance is an exception, that I might be able to describe, provided I have the person in front of me… or at least a photograph. If I wanted to describe my mother for example, who died almost 30 years ago, just relying on my memory, I would be in trouble, I have a sensation of her, I can feel her, but describe her!…?

She had a peculiar upper lip but it is so difficult to describe. It was thin but full and alive. It had a special way of slightly pricking forward.

She had beautiful hands and nails but I can’t describe them neither but I do clearly remember the noise her long plum painted nails made when brushing against the plastic KEM playing cards and the way she could hold in just one hand, like a fan, the whole range of eleven perfectly displayed cards.

I clearly remember the energetic way she had of doing whatever she would do: getting into or out the car, prepare a meal, speak on the phone, saddle her horse; but how do I describe an energetic way? I can’t. It was a way of being like an eternal glowing fire, not burning her surrounding but rather keeping it warm and quivery. How can I describe that?

I rarely liked how she dressed, it was to plain, to functional; but sometimes she would be spectacular and perfect, like when she wore a turquoise very light cotton outfit in which she would look like a tropical happy and peaceful yogi or a black and gold evening dress in which she looked like a gleaming star in a deep night.

So if I can’t describe a person, can I say I know that person?

 


 

 

What is Emotional Quotient? 

Why is Emotional Intelligence important ?

What can you do about it ?

 

 

Let’s start with brief history review:

In the 1870s Charles Darwin published the first modern book on the role of emotional expression in survival and adaptation.

In the 1920s American psychologist Edward Thorndike, talked about something he called Social intelligence.

In the 1940s one of the father of IQ testing, David Weschsler, recognized the importance of emotional factors and the need of including affective and conative abilities in any measurement (even if he didn’t included them in his IQ tests).

In 1983: Howard Gardner (Harvard University) expresses the concept of multiple intelligences. By that time Reuven Bar-On was active in the field and contributed with the phrase: emotional quotient EQ10.

In the 1990s starts the formal use of the term “Emotional Intelligence” and its assessment: The Emotional Quotient inventory: EQ-i.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

EI is a set of emotional and social skills that influences the way we:

Perceive and express ourselves,

Develop and maintain social relationships,

Cope with challenges,

Use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.

What EI is not:

EI is not vocational interests, it is not personality, it is not aptitude to perform in a technical field or specific discipline,

It is not about being nice or sweet or touchy-feely.

2 others important notes about EI:

1-The higher your IQ is, the more you need EI.

2-EI can be improved and enhanced by means of training & coaching.

EI is composed of 5 realms that work together:

Starting point is: Self perception: our ability to understand our feelings, their causes and their impact. It is also the way we appreciate our strengths and weaknesses; and our aptitude to improve ourselves meaningfully.

Once we are aware of ourselves, comes in:

Self expression: our ability to express feelings, beliefs, thoughts; our ability to maintain our independence and be assertive.

Those 2 aspects will define the 3rd:

Interpersonal realm: is our ability to give support, to develop, maintain and enjoy mutually nurturing relationships.

All these 3 previous abilities will determine how we will deal with:

Decision making and problem solving: yes, decision making! Decision is often much more about emotions than knowledge, think of it: How many time your emotions get in your way to delay or rush your decisions?

And finally, the realm that will define our well being:

Stress management: I am sure we have all experienced the impact of emotions on stress and vice versa.

The conjunction of these 5 realms will picture our overall happiness and well being.

Why is EI important?

In the private sphere I guess we all understand why and how EI is important for us to enjoy life, but, are we aware of how important it is in making life more enjoyable for the people around us too?

In the professional sphere, let’s have a look at a manager for example. What is the day to day experience of a Manager? How do you like this description (taken from Harwell Thrasher):

Intense pressure to keep people working productively.

Ok, suppose you have on board the people who know what they have to do and how to do it, the only thing you need to do next is: Keep them doing it, improve it, under all circumstances.

Easy no? Simple!

Let’s take a brief look at the 13 skills Harwell Thrasher suggests a Manager needs:

Communication, listening skills,

Commitment to the truth (knowing the truth & not hiding it neither to your superiors nor to your reports)

Empathy (understand others perspectives and feelings),

Persuasion, Leadership, Focus,

The Art of the Division of work,

Obstacle removal, Heat absorption (both are about problem solving and stress tolerance)

Uncertainty removal (be consistent, avoid confusion),

And finally, Project management & Administrative skills

How many of those skills require EI?

Almost all of them need either people management skills or self management skills… they are about self-expression, independence, assertiveness, impulse control, empathy, decision making, stress management, optimism…. All aspects of EI.

Now, how can you improve your EI?

Here is an exercise taken from The EQ Edge: Think about the worse boss or mentor you have had… the one who made you hate mondays. Write down 6 attributes of this person.

Now think of the best mentor or boss you have had… someone it was a pleasure to be alongside, someone you have learned from. Write down 6 attributes for that person also in another column. Then reflect on yourself. How many of those attributes apply to you?

There is a wonderful tool that can help you identify where are your strengths and where you need to improve. It is the EQ-i 2.0 : Emotional Quotient Inventory. It is a very accurate & very consistent assessment of 133 questions.

Once you have taken the assessment, the Coach that has provided it to you will guide you through the results and will support you with strategies to enhance the skill you want to improve, and most of all will help you to follow-up your action plan.

It is quite simple: once you are aware, you can do something about it!

Remember,

The 5 regrets people have on their deathbeds are:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

I wish I didn’t work so hard.

I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

I wish that I had let myself be happier.

 


Edward Hale quotes (1822-1909)
  • ‘Do you pray for the senators, Dr. Hale?’ No, I look at the senators and I pray for the country.
  • I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.
  • If you have accomplished all that you have planned for yourself, you have not planned enough.
  • In the name of Hippocrates, doctors have invented the most exquisite form of torture ever known to man: survival.
  • Make it your habit not to be critical about small things.
  • Never bear more than one kind of trouble at a time. Some people bear three kinds of trouble – the ones they’ve had, the ones they have, and the ones they expect to have.
  • The making of friends who are real friends, is the best token we have of a man’s success in life.