Sacred Contracts

"The strongest need in the human personality is our need to act consistently
with how we define ourselves."
Psychologist Robert Cialdini

With what do we identify more than with our name. I did not have a vote in “Mona” being my name but, unknowingly, I agreed to it. Whatever we agree to meshes with and become a defining part of our unique and distinctive personality. The demonstration of my agreement is manifested in the fact that, still today, when “Mona” is spoken, my otherwise rapt attention is drawn toward the sweetness of the sound.

The identity associated with one’s name goes hand-in-hand with mankind’s need to love and belong. Dale Carnegie gave top billing to speaking and remembering a person’s name in his profoundly influential book “How to Winning Friends and Influence People”.

In the Biblical book of Genesis, God changed the names of Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah. The nuance expanded definition of their life purpose and spoke into existence sacred covenants. They were given instructions on how to bring about this manifestation: “Live in my presence. Be devout.” (Genesis 17)

Whether eagerly or reluctantly, they agreed to this phenomenon and began to speak it into existence. Before others called them Abraham or Sarah, they needed to pronounce themselves, “I am Abraham.” “I am Sarah.” As they lived up to their changed persona, the family, the community and even the world today, recognizes them as “Father of Many Nations” and “Mother of Many Kings”.

There is a lot of teaching today about walking the talk. Tommy Malone gives a tongue-twister twist to a touchy truthful truism: “Our walk talks, and our talk talks. But, our walk talks louder than our talk talks.”

Inscribed above the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. are powerful words of justice: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
Only knowing truth is not so easily know. Truth is not found through knowledge, but is revealed through trial and error. At least the kind of truth that sets one free to be whom s/he is created to be. It has to be an inward knowing, not a head filled with information. A knowing that is agreed to, either eagerly or reluctantly. A knowing that is spoken into existence through goals and actions and public pronouncements. A knowing that proclaims either boldly “I am strong” or timidly asserts, “I am stronger than I once was.”

Whether one identifies self by his/her certified birth name, a contradictive nickname or a self-imposed moniker, one’s reputation is inextricably connected with his personal contracts. We are not static individuals but are in continual position for growth or stagnation. Early agreements can be jettisoned or modified in light of truth. Truth that is real and freeing. What sacred covenants do you need to explore?


Building Your Safety Net

Restlessness and complacency are twin rivals of the human psyche.

Accept who you are now and grow into whom you want to become and where you want to go or do. The fairy tale world of “Someday I’ll…” does not come true. Wishing and dreaming is not enough. Such irrational thinking sees self as whole and complete. It takes out all the temptations and struggles of today’s reality. Get in touch with your humanness, accept help and guidance and develop those latent strengths.

Monitor your growth. Set a benchmark to focus on and keep track of day-to-day progress. Studies show, for example, that weight loss is twice as effective for those who record their food intake as those who do not. It makes reality more visible, whereas non-measured activity lends to error.

Give up trying (low energy) and go with doing (high energy). Look at how far you have come “since when” and embrace where you are now. Trying embraces struggle whereas doing releases ideas and energy and results. Baby steps are okay. Success in small increments ups the ante to keep on.

Consider changing your playground and your playmates. The body is a remarkable instrument that wants to heal itself. The cells in the body have only two positions: closed for protection and open for growth. Glucose is a willpower enforcer that is released into the blood stream in nurturing environments.

Glucose “willpower” is constricted in hostile, not-good-for-you settings. Consider who is good for you and hang around them. Get honest with who/what is not good for you and limit exposure.

Change is invigorating to soul, mind, body and spirit. Like most things, habits are both good and not so good. The habit that propels you to brush your teeth is great, not so much the one that unthinkingly reaches for the cigarettes. When surroundings are the same, so too are ingrained habits.

A slight change in your environment can cause you to re-think. Replace junk food with fruits and vegetables. Put interesting reading material on top of the TV remote. Keep dumbbells in an accessible spot for impromptu strength training. Every time you chose a positive move, consciously tell yourself you are brain-training your mind.

Believe it and see it. Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality. Athletes who visualize overcoming an obstacle win hands down over the also-rans who tried to do their best. Anticipate challenges and see yourself succeeding anyway. Practice graciously and boldly saying “No, thank you” to those tempting offers that are sure to come.

There is strength in numbers. Align yourself with people who embody the character qualities you want developed. Get involved with wholesome groups like church, sports and mentors. Hang around those who encourage you, support you and cheer you on.

Be kind and patient. Beating yourself up serves no worthwhile purpose whereas self-compassion - especially in light of set-backs - leads to self-control and do-over motivation.

Refuse to indulge in the vicious cycle of error, guilt, condemnation and greater error. Self-forgiveness sets you up to focus on what you really want, who you really are and whom you really can become.

Watch your self-talk directed at others. Judging, condemning and criticizing others turns them into your enemy whether they are or not. We need community. The person you judge as self-righteous may be dealing with his own demons in a different manner than you. Just maybe what you see as nagging is a mishandled way of encouragement. Suppose they (mom, mate, co-worker, authority) see the real possibilities within you and - out of frustration -tries to force you into being you. With the reciprocity of life such as it is your extending compassion to him comes back to you.

Walking a high wire needs a safety net. So does life. The good news is that with a self-balancer in hand, it requires less and less effort to stay aright. A set-back does not mean failure. What counts is how you recover. Get up, dust yourself off and get right back on track. It’s worth it.

Let's start a conversation.


Taking Responsibility for Change

A key concept is to be willing to take responsibility for change. Knowledge is not enough. All I or any one else can do is give information, what you do with it is entirely up to you. Knowledge without application is as crippling as not knowing.

Another key word is responsibility. I define responsibility as,” Respond-ability, Meaning I have the ability to, control I how I will respond,” How will I respond to the information received? How will I respond to the action taken? How will I respond to set backs and frustrations? How will I respond to success?

In a Cathy cartoon a few years back, she was lamenting to her mother about woes of life. To each problem, Mom had the definitive answer.

Cathy’s problem: The Need to lost weight. The need to be more productive. Financial concerns.

Mom’s solution Eat less. Exercise more. Get up early. Prioritize time. Organize. Spend less. Budget. Save more

Cathy left in huff.

Confused Mom stated, “If only I weren’t so brilliant.”

Why was Cathy so upset with Mom? Could it have been because Cathy already knew the answers but was not willing to be responsible for the actions needed. Thus she became frustrated with the one who directed her to the solutions, that- in the reality - pointed out the flaws she refused to see.

Every person has a conscience. Conscience is defined as “an inward knowing of right from wrong, with a compulsion to do right.” The answers are within. It takes time, not only to discover them, but also to receive the strength to be responsible.

The tension of change is to acknowledge,” I won’t know unless I try,” but then only trying the new concept once or twice and declaring it ineffective. The tension of change is discounting the need for continued effort with a trite, ” I tried that once and it didn’t work!” A key word is ”tried” Trying is lying. Trying is giving a two-cent effort, while sabotaging self, thus justifying that the solution was wrong. Quit trying and start doing, sometimes again and again until it takes.

Do pro athletes say,” I’ll try?” No, their language, attitude, and actions are “I will” Later, their language, attitude and actions become: I did it!”

Please share your thoughts.


Time Takers, Time Wasters and Time Makers

At one time or another, everyone has felt like an Egyptian mummy – pressed for time. Through observation we can determine those things that are time takers (and learn to be more proficient), be aware of those things that are time wasters (and commit to better management), and weigh those things that lend themselves to being time makers (an incorporate them freely).

Time management is more about personal management than the number of minutes in a day. It is not just the way you spend the hours, but also how you relate to every aspect of life: physical and emotional, tangible and intangible.

Determine some possible culprits that contribute to your lack of enough time? What about: being overworked; inability to say “No”; lack of planning; lack of delegation, meetings, phone calls, texts, and e-mails; internet surfing; social networking; disorganization; spontaneity; routine and trivia; visitors; indecision; paperwork; mistakes; reading; boredom; not listening; gossip; complaining; laziness; priorities out of order…. What can be eliminated? What can be shortened? What can be delegated? What has lost its relevance but is hard to give up?

What are your greatest time takers? They may be necessary things that must be done, not only once but again and again. Things like payroll, reports, cleaning, maintenance, lawn work, laundry. Rather than be stressfully surprised by payroll every two weeks, recognize it as a pattern. Be pro-active rather than reactive. Stay ahead of the game rather than lag behind.

Business guru Michael Gerber says the solution is in the system. Examine your system. What needs to be eliminted for better flow? What needs to be incorporated for greater flow. What system(s) will be time makers?

· An A-Z filing system. Retrieval files are much more effective than the search and hope method. Piles of files are time wasters as well as clutter producers.
· Look at things rationally, rather than ideally. If you have not read the 2002 magazines, are you going to? If the display case is collecting dust and junk, utilize the space productively.
· Handle it once. Take care of it while it is in your hand or place it immediately in the appropriate place so you can bunch handle it at a scheduled time. The small job you put before other job bring everything to a halt.
· Employ the magic of scheduling. You will never rise above your calendar.
· Hire help! Train an apprentice. Duplicate yourself in someone else.

Prepare ahead of time for the shop to run smoothly in your absence or to expand to another location. Good managers work themselves out of a job by teaching others to do what they do. Then, they can move on up the ladder themselves.

Seconds are attached to minutes; minutes are attached to hours; hours are attached to years, years are attached to a lifetime; a lifetime is attached to eternity. Time matters. Make it count.

P.S. Don’t forget to connect with me.

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