A woman called yesterday and asked if I would be willing to talk to her brother. She said he was a busy executive and liked his work but felt like it had “overtaken” his life. Apparently he travels several times a month and is beginning to think that he does not spend enough time with his spouse and two small children. He said to his sister (who works at a church): “Don’t tell me I should change my work—not in this economy. I just need some coaching on how to handle the stress.” I told her I would speak to him and that perhaps the principles and practices of servant leadership could provide some alternative ways of being in his current job.
Many times, in our minds, we think that in order to lead more complete and fulfilling lives, we have to make a radical change—quit our jobs; move to another location; or divorce our spouse. These are external.
Real change happens within our hearts, which in turn, renews our minds. Often we avoid the internal change because we mistakenly believe that change will only happen if we alter the outside conditions.
True change is just the opposite—when we move the inside of us, then the outside sifts as well.
I was walking over a footbridge in a park. In the distance I saw a little girl, perhaps five years old, with a man who was probably her father. They were sitting on the edge of an empty stage under a pavilion. Nobody else was around. I watched the girl run to the middle of the stage but constantly look back over her shoulder to see her father. Finally he turned his whole body around to face her. She began to dance. He applauded and laughed. She ran to him and jumped into his arms. They delighted in one another.
How might we do this more often with one another? Just watching, laughing, connecting and applauding with abandon?
This is where the journey of the heart takes us.
Someone left a message for me to call back. She said she wanted to discuss with me an offer I had already refused. I got irritated. I had already made up my mind. I did not want to do what she requested.
This reminded me of an experience with an aggressive salesperson who insisted on selling us an extended warranty. We said “no” four times. We almost left the store but, frankly, we did not want to weave through the traffic to get to the next place for the purchase.
Perhaps my irritation comes from my own ambivalence about making decisions. I second guess myself and wonder if the “other” choice might have been the better one. Maybe this appliance will break down in the next three years. Then I think of a counselor who gave me some good guidelines about many decisions we make each day. She called it “wanna.”
When we have looked at all sides of an issue, and it is a close call, she recommends just doing what you “wanna” do. This is: trusting your gut for a clear sense of what is right for you. Then we make the choice and repeat it to others over and over—if necessary.
I was walking through a park when I heard a bullhorn in the distance. When I turned a corner, a man was talking about the race that was about to begin and the cause it supported. As people stretched their legs, he talked about the research they were doing to find a cure for a particular kind of children’s cancer. As I walked along, I saw groups of people wearing different colored tee shirts. The blue team’s shirts said “Jason’s Bluebirds” and the green team’s “We love you, Casey.”
The teams began the race together but then all the colors got mixed up as the race progressed. Along the road where they ran, markers were set up every hundred yards with messages like: “We miss you, Toot Toot” or “For our brave Dennis. Love, Mom and Dad.”
There were hundreds of people joined together by something beyond their control doing something within their control.
Even when seemingly helpless, we do have choices.
I walked into a sandwich shop. I had been there twice before and each time I stood in a long line to place my order. But, on this third time, a young girl about eleven years old stood in line in front of me with her Dad. She slowly turned her head to each wall and then up to the ceiling and then to the floor. She elbowed her Father and, without words, he opened his backpack and handed her a camera. She walked up to the wall and took a picture of one of the signs. I had not noticed it before, but it was most interesting. She took a picture of the napkin holder and again I could now see that it held a unique design.
When they reached the front of the line she ordered with confidence “The Titan on white” and took a picture of the sign with the sandwich description above the cashier’s head. She had scoped out this place and had recorded what caught her eye. She was curious, engaged and observant. She was present to the potentially boring or even irritating moment. She helped me become present as well.
I wonder: Do I help others come into the present moment by my own presence?