Eyes wide . . .

July 2, 2007

An artifact of my first consulting gig is still among my treasured possessions.  The client group presented it to me on the last day. A poster, adorned with a larger than life image and a message that starts: “Learn to listen like a teddy bear, with your eyes wide open and your mouth sewn tight . . .”  Why Good Things Happen to Good People translates this into Look Again–and Look Truly and Deeply.  The message is about respect.

“requires us to look again, past first impressions and unconscious biases, to gaze deeply in order to understand another person’s history, struggles, life-journey, and perspectives.” How can you help bring more respect into our often biased, unfair world? Are there ways you can demonstrate more tolerance, civility, acceptance, and reverence for others? What is one way you can show respect to someone else today? How did you react to your respect quotient?

In a thumbs up/thumbs down world, where the value of people’s involvement the merit of their ideas are given short shrift, that’s far from the norm.  If the simple idea of pausing to reconsider, of reflecting and weighing and giving way to what’s different or unfamiliar could be a tidal change towards inclusion.  At its birth, the United States symbolically and tangibally captured the ideals of equality and tolerance.  Stephen Post confirms the way we nurture ourselves by personally living those ideals today.


Giving . . . the potent life force

July 1, 2007

Over the last few years, I’ve been thinking that “Cleveland rocks”. David Cooperrider and  the Weatherhead School AI programs, BAWB, Jack Ricchiuto, and gatherings for kindred conversations as blogged by Tim Ferris.  How murch more outrageously interesting, thoughtful and world-shaking can one community be?

 Quite a bit it seems, as Stephen Post, a Case Western ethics faculty member, has published Why Good Things Happen to Good People with Jill Neimark.  His research, a compilation of 50 studies from universites like Harvard, Yale and the University of Chicago, that explains how giving is truly far better than receiving.  In the words of the book’s reading guide:

WHY GOOD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE defies the myths that drive so many of our ideas about success and the good life. This book shows that the real secret of happiness and success lies in giving of yourself to others, and presents striking new science that shows that giving boosts both our physical and emotional health–across an entire lifetime. When we give, we reduce depression, actually live longer, and open a world of other health benefits.

I’ve decided to devote several days this week to the discussion topics in the guide – as they relate to Independence Day. There are 15 that Post and Neimark suggest.  Every one is a gift for reflection and an impetus to redirect the life choices we make on a day to day basis. 

So  . . . “Know the Four Spheres of Love” is where I’ll start.  The authors offer a landscape . . . envisioning a “geography of love,” in which there are four spheres: family, friends, community, and humanity.  Is there more we can give in each sphere?  Are we growing in our capacity to care, share, commit, sacrifice, persist or whatever it takes to support those speheres?  I was watching a PBS program today that highlighted the realities of George Washington’s service that saw us through the Revolutionary War. What stuck me most was mention that for at least half of the time he was on the battlefield living with his troops, (not in a town home with all the amenitites) his wife Martha lived under the same conditions with him. I imagine her devotion being fully lived in the Four Speheres of Love. I can hardly imagine that the wives of the British military leaders would have done the same for an engagement in England.