Lessons from the Trenches of Life
First published in Common Ground Magazine, 2005.
What makes for success in life, love, and leadership? Everyone has different experiences, and different lessons they can share. Here are some of mine, gathered mostly from my working life as a self-employed person.
1. Offer yourself in service to the Earth or Spirit every day, and ask for insight, guidance, and support.
2. Seek your inner enthusiasm, then follow it. Don’t seek permission; jump right in. “Enthusiasm” comes from the Greek en-theos = “the god within”. Allow yourself to fly!
3. Be guided by your vision, not by your reactions to things you dislike. Visualize the result you wish for. All success begins in the mind, and shows up later in the physical dimension.
4. Think ahead of the problem you want to address, and seek a solution at a level higher. Invent the future; pull it out of thin air. Be creative. Feel free to invent new ideas, projects, and initiatives.
5. Trust your intuitions. If you get an inspiration and want to try something unusual, do it!
6. Timing is key. Opportunities come, then slip away again.
7. Take the time to read good books in the area you’re working on,. They’re often a source of inspiration. And listen to music, too.
8. If you feel confused, take time, and seek your centre. Go to a place you consider special, whether in nature or wherever, and ask for guidance.
9. Don’t seek after happiness. If you offer your life in service to your greatest source of love (and not the human kind), happiness will come and sit on your shoulder like a bird.
10. Know when to be silent, as well as when to talk.
11. Treat every letter, email or phone call as if the person is, or could become, a friend.
12. Create a list of your year’s goals and priority projects, and give them approximate timelines.
13. Create a weekly to do list, including phone numbers for people to be called.
14. Create a daily to do list, and priorize your actions. Some prefer to do big tasks first, some small.
15. Create a folder or notebook where you can keep notes for each project; but don’t drown in notes, especially in a meeting. Priorize listening, and relationships.
16. Don’t drown in emails: they will consume your day! Try to answer those on the same topic at the same time.
17. Invest time in research. There are no short cuts. Good research is invaluable, and lends power to knowledge. Create a good filing system, so that everything is easy to access and up to date.
18. Keep all commitments; be on time. Phone in advance if you’re going to be late, or cancel.
19. In new situations, listen, and then listen some more, until you have a grasp of the situation and can contribute with useful suggestions.
20. A clear project has clear energy. If a project feels blocked, pause, and re-assess what’s happening.
21. In a group project, seek to involve other people as much as possible. The world is full of people who are looking for purpose, and a way to contribute.
22. Tune into your close co-operants. Find ways in which they can play to their strengths, as part of a team. Find ways to reward and acknowledge. Time invested in a phone call is ten times better than an email.
23. Accept criticism wisely, even if it hurts. Be happy to say “oops!” if you make an error, and accept full responsibility.
24. If negative energy comes your way, say hello and let it pass straight through. If it comes persistently, take time to ask the person what’s up, and clear away possible misunderstandings.
25. Where possible, don’t do business with people you don’t feel good about. Steer a path around them.
26. If someone is becoming emotional, listen with your heart, not with your brain.
27. In meetings and workshops where you are the leader, take time to connect with each person. Always make space for introductions for new people. Prepare a space before people meet in it. Set a positive energy.
28. Carry your sense of humour wherever you go. Remember the fifth law of sustainability: “If it’s not fun, it’s not sustainable!”
29. Above all else, be kind. The world is full of grief and sorrow, and longing for love.
30. Be grateful for all.