Monday, April 21, 2008

Sustainable Success

In the midst of all the talk about GREEN, there are benefits to hanging out with the life forms we are most immediately connected with - family. Beyond the humbling experience of being absolutely human in such a consistent and observable way, in my case it means hanging out with a great philosopher, Richard Gale. Dr, that is. He's the writer of volumes with great titles like "The Existence of God" and "The Philosophy of William James". He's the kind of philosopher just as likely to hit you with a growing-up-in-the-streets-in- Brooklyn metaphor as he is to ponder the mystical logic in James' writings. Which is basically what he did today.

We were standing by the barbecue grill, watching the chicken turn a great shade of crispy, and he said, "you know, it's the interim between longing and fulfillment of longing that ruins the bargain. At one moment you want whatever you think you want so badly, and by the time you get it you end up wondering why you wasted all those years wanting instead of just enjoying".

Sound true? What are you not enjoying right now? What beautiful experience are you not having for worry about what has not happened?

The following posts are about Sustainable Success, and suggest a little tag phrase in latin: sine qua non. You see, sine qua non means "that which without" and points to what is essential or must exist. Therein lies the trick: in our pursuit of whatever accomplishments we consider to be the signs or fruits of success, we often forget the essential question of what version success is really WORTH HAVING?

What has true worth to you? Stay with that question long enough, and you're likely to come up with some interesting answers: qualitative answers like joy, connection, harmony, peace, fulfillment. And all of these qualities require nothing more in this very moment or any future moment than absolute devotion to them - not money, not status, not new dwelling, perfect job or great partner.

So go ahead, look at your ideas of success. Ask yourself just how much these qualitative expressions of success are driving your perspectives and choices. If your own frenzied pace on the treadmill is leaving you feeling somewhat burned-out, energy-less, frustrated, or ovewhelmed, chances are that the driver of your idea of success has somehow become divorced from these sustaining qualities. In the course of living, it's easy to forget that the point of our own lives is honoring the very beautiful life within.

The greening or sustainability of your own life's path requires going back to that must have, that essential sine qua non. Check out our tips to help you do exactly that, and be sure to let us know what you think by posting here - your comments may be exactly the sine qua non someone else has forgotten - so SHARE IT!

Appreciative Inquiry Workshop NYC!

Learning is a powerful sustainability tool - reviving you with growth through new perspectives. As a client recently commented, "YOU take workshops???"

Yes, and we love company!

We'll be hitting the "books" in a couple of weeks with Appreciative Inquiry facilitator Robin Stratton Berkessel. Join us and her in exploring a powerful tool to transform how you frame and take action in just about any aspect of your life - whether individually, with colleagues or family.

  • Create community where people are energized and

  • Capture and leverage the best and most compelling ideas

  • Improve the quality, efficiency and dynamics of all interactions

  • Instead of knowledge management, knowledge creation

For more info check out her site here: Positive Matrix.

Seasonal Eating: Spring

Comfort food in winter? Duh.

Salads in summer? Of course.

But what about spring?

Seasonal eating is a formalized version of everything you ever learned about eating in the common sense variety - Think Globally, Act Locally, and oh, don't forget that means how you eat as well.

Think about it this way: the foods that result from the seasons you experience as you experience them are foods that THRIVE in the midst of whatever you are experiencing. Seasonal Eating experts argue that hey, if that's the case, wouldn't we derive more life energy by eating what thrives under the same conditions?

Unless you're a farmer, chances are you're not sure exactly what thrives in the springtime. No worries - a simple search online will result in a bevy of websites to bring you up to speed on your local food sources. In general though, focus on tender, leafy vegetables that represent the fresh new growth. The greening that occurs in springtime should be represented by greens on your plate, including Swiss chard, spinach, Romaine lettuce, fresh parsley, and basil. Given the bounty of Spring, check out this awesome chart tfrom the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture to find exactly the foods that will help your body thrive!

Peace For Peace

Happy Birthday to the Peace Sign - this month marks it's 50th year. Hard to believe that such an icon isn't actually some ancient tribal shape adapted to modern sensibilities. After all, from protest signs to fashion design, it's become one of the most recognized shapes in the world.

The creator, London-based graphic designer Gerald Holtom, never made a dime on the shape. Motivated only by the desire to create a symbol to represent nuclear disarmament, he never bothered to copyright it despite it's wild-fire adaptation. Interestingly, the notion was never to "fight for peace", rather just to remind folks not to fight to begin with.

The act of contributing his design ability to his own passion and love of peace spawned an iconographic common-ground not only for his contemporaries, but for all of us who followed. A great example of doing what we do out of passion and love, in his case war tugged at his heart and put his frustration into an action he was capable of. He never asked himself if he was capable of creating an icon for an enduring ideological movement. He simply gave his passion to what he COULD give to.

Rather than feeling "deer in the headlights" about your own form of DOING, Appreciative Inquiry Maven Robyn Stratton- Berkessel shared this as way to get into action, "To be reminded that the seemingly smallest acts of kindness, acknowledgement, appreciation: a smile, a hello, holding the door for someone, telling a child how good she/he is, a wave to the neighbor can have a profound effect and made a big difference. It is the compounding effect we can't anticipate. You never know how far positive kind work or action will travel and for how long. What we can do is make those little acts of kindness a more conscious behavior. The moments will add up to hours and days and months and lifetimes. "

Greening your own actions in this way, you move constantly from contending with life as you know it to being deeply connected to that which without we could simply not BE.

Green Your LIFE - Just say NON!

What can't you live without? Beyond jokes about Ipods or subscriptions to Vanity Fair, let's take a rudimentary look at what truly puts more life in your life? What rejuvenates you? What restores your inner sense of "yes", your joie da vie? Can you think of what those activities might be? If you had to list them right now could you commit them to paper?Because the truth of the matter is, we forget to do them. Sure, mom always told us to take a nap or eat our vegetables, but whether you're one to go on week- long carry-out diets or push the three hour night's sleep habit, most of us have more intimate relationships with the habits that burn us out than the habits that inject life, or SUSTAIN us.

For this reason we created the Sustainability Schedule. We use a little chart when we teach this in workshops, but for the purposes of this newsletter, check out the bullet points below and make your own. The key here is to actually write down the things you can do at each type of interval no matter how crazy your day/week/year/life gets so that even if you can't go to the gym, get the massage, eat right, or spend time with friends 'cause you're on the road, you have a ready set of tools to turn to to keep you in the livin' zone rather that the o-mi-gosh-I-feel-like-I'm-dying zone.

  • Daily - okay, so say you've got a packed day with meetings, presentations, lunches, coctails and dinner. All the activities you use to get you through the crunchare out of the question and you've got to shine. What can you integrate into such a day? Parking at the far end of the parking lot? Five conscious breaths between each obligation? More water than coctails? Turning off the crackberry during meetings? Make a list of every peace & well-being enhancing action you can take when nothing you would like to do under more ideal conditions will possibly happen.

  • Weekly - The week went pretty well as planned, meaning nothing unfolded the way you wanted it to and next week doesn't look any better. What are you going to do to make sure you refresh/revive & renew? Is it planning on a single solid night at home reading? A walk through the park on the way to work at least once this week? A massage on Sunday night to make sure you can get a good night's sleep? What exactly can you do to make sure you put a little YOU back into your universe on a weekly basis?

  • Monthly - for some people the massage is weekly, for some it is monthly. Some folks make sure they take weekend escapes once a month. Still others work in a trip to a museum or a phone date with a far-away old friend. What is a monthly activity that would feed some aspect of you that might otherwise go 'round hungry? Even though "America Runs on Duncan", your soul doesn't.

  • Annually - Yoga retreat, 10 day vacation, a trip to a state park, a course to develop new skills or explore new topics. What can you identify that if done annually would help you feel more alive year upon year?

The point here is not to create to do's. By identifying things that can be done in any timeframe, you've got a go-to for the moments when you've mistakenly come to believe that life ails you - as if it ever could. This go- to list reminds you that the only thing that can ail or enliven you are your own choices and actions, and provides a remedy for whatever the situation or timeframe you are dealing with.

So go ahead, take responsibility for your quality of living and green yourself. Remember your own "that which withouts", and the next time you're feeling burnt out just say NON!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

We Got Greened on NBC!

It's true that I learned everything I needed to know about green from my hippy parents. Unfortunately, Earth Day '80 was a long time ago, and I haven't applied much of that knowledge very consistently.

Enter the folks from OpenSpace NYC. They invaded our apartment and left me feeling a little greener - inside and out!