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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

True Leaders Inspire You to Become Your Best

Judith L Smith-Foote with Bill Clinton, 2012

'If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.' John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States

Transitioning from 'You're NOT the Boss of me' to allowing others to bring out your best

I don't know about you, but I've been in the presence of greatness and it profoundly influenced my life. My entire adult life has been deeply influenced by one woman--Judith L Smith-Foote--the one shaking hands with former President Bill Clinton.

Now I know when you see her shaking hands with Clinton you already know she's someone special--but that's not what she was doing the day I met her so many years ago.

When we first met, Dr. Smith was a new Professor at UCLA and I was a new student intent on making my own way without people telling me what to do.

There I was--stumbling along in college--doing my best to avoid being tracked down by administrators who wanted to dictate the order I should take classes--in full-out 'you're not the boss of me' mode'--when I slipped into my first Human Anatomy class with Dr. Smith.

I was mesmerized  by her from the start--and didn't even notice the moment I effortlessly opened the 'you're-not-the-boss-of-me' door to allow her influence to take hold. Her greatness snuck up on me, and at first I didn't recognize her to be the person who was to become my greatest teacher, mentor and influencer. I just knew she was an exceptional teacher.

Finally, here was a teacher who commanded my attention, not because she told me to pay attention to her, but because she inspired me. Unlike so many other Professors who were clearly enamored with themselves, she was straightforward and unassuming. She was an extraordinary role model who had a way of presenting things in an upbeat, positive manner that captured my heart and imagination.

Through her own inquisitive, unselfconscious nature, she opened me up to my own excitement. As she lead the class, artfully keeping our focus on systems and structures, my own self-consciousness about other people's expectations fell away and was replaced with an internally-driven and expectant excitement about learning.  I would leave her class loving anatomy and marveling at the beauty of the human body.

The Moment I Chose to Follow

I still remember the moment in time when I decided this anatomy teacher was going to be my ultimate teacher and chosen leader. She flexed her elbow and said, "Your elbow joint enjoys a full range of motion." 

It sounds so silly to admit this was the turning point, but her simple statement had the most profound effect on me. I was fascinated by the idea my body enjoys moving and it gave me an incredible sense of freedom. It was in this moment I connected with this outwardly serious woman whose focus on the enjoyment of learning and living came through in everything she did.

The Key to Being a Leader who motivates

We are always listening for answers to our unspoken questions and quest for direction in life.  When I met Judith Smith-Foote it was one of those life-changing moments that helped to open me up to be the person I am.

In that critical time of self-consciousness, when I was questioning who I was and how to live up to my potential I met this woman who was a serious scientist on the outside yet a fun-loving, whimsical person on the inside. While I wasn't consciously aware of it at the time this was an inside out mirror of me--soft and silly on the outside, serious and thoughtful on the inside.  She was the right person to become my teacher, mentor, influencer--and friend.

Under her tutelage I learned to communicate in a positive way, and to facilitate other's learning to allow them to think for themselves.

By working with Judith, I discovered the key to being a leader who motivates: Get the focus off you--it isn't about what a brilliant teacher you are--it is about inspiring others to tap into their own abilities and excitement.

I watched as she artfully demonstrated over and over again how to open people up to learn for themselves; be their best selves; and bring their best. She set up the lessons, showed people where to look, and then got out of the way. She made room for students to excel and enjoy learning.

A Leader's Rise to the Top

At the beginning of this year, I had the honor of attending the celebration of Dr. Smith-Foote's 43 years at UCLA, serving as Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education in her final position.

Judith is an amazing woman who has dedicated her life to education and opening up opportunities for others. In her parting words and actions at her retirement dinner at the Chancellor's residence I saw exactly what I saw 40 years ago when I first encountered her in the anatomy class--perfect pitch for understanding human nature, leadership and communication. 
She was gracious and graceful as she took the spotlight off herself and put it back on the people in the room. The extraordinary person she is shone through her humble, understated manner.

When I asked her what's next on the horizon I knew her answer would contain the same element of joy and excitement I saw 40 years ago. She said:

'Retirement is the time you pay yourself to do things you absolutely love.'
Like all great leaders,  she didn't start out trying to be great. She simply lived her life with focus and passion--and along the way her actions inspired the rest of us to dream more, learn more, do more and become more.

And for those of us who have been touched by her we are grateful for the privilege of being able to sit alongside her and learn from her example.




After wandering across the night sky
The pale moon pauses 
Above the windswept sea 
To ponder the thin cover offered by 
Waning clouds and slips of canyon fog
And to wait for the
Rising sun’s glow and warmth 
Before making its descent
 Judith L. Smith-Foote
(Overlooking Malibu Bay October 20, 2013)

 
Choose a Leader

We all need role models to influence our lives. Who are yours? Who do you count as a voice of reason in your life--someone to emulate?

If you haven't already found that person you'd like to emulate--start with the end (of your life) in mind: What do you want your life to look like? How would you like people to remember you after you die? Look for a leader who has the characteristics you want to develop in yourself--then choose to learn from them.

Thank the People who make a Positive Impact on your Life

Make it a habit to go back and thank those who have made a positive impact on your life. It is good for them and good for you.

  • Who opened you up?
  • Who showed you what you could be?
  • Who prodded you to become the best you could be?
  • Who do you want to emulate?
  • Who showed you how to get out of your own way?
  • What was the moment in time you knew a person was going to play a significant role in guiding your life?


Share the Love--Lightarted Postcards, and Heart-felt Gifts

 Contact Susan for custom-made gifts. New cheerful designs are always available.

 
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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

 
If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.

 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Love, Faith and Compassion: Untangled Truth to keep you Doing Good



Untangled
"People are often unreasonable and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you.
Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway."
Mother Teresa
Comfort Across the Airwaves
Thank you to TMR for posting this quote from Mother Teresa on Facebook. I've never seen it before--and it touched me in a moment of fatigue.
Why Untangled?
I named these words of wisdom from Mother Teresa 'Untangled'  because that's what it did for me this morning--untangled my thoughts when I was tired. I read them over and over again until I was able to let go of the entanglements I discovered lingering inside me.
It is so easy to get tangled up in faulty self-centered thinking after we work hard to achieve good things with the best of intentions--but we haven't yet taken enough time to recoup our energy.

"Tangled up thinking can lead us in a direction far away from our heart's desire to do good, be good and feel good."

What I found in Mother Teresa's wisdom is grounding truth for staying the course despite the daily difficulties--and the truth of how to be internally motivated and driven. It is simple unadorned truth for how to keep you doing good.
  • Where are your thoughts tangled up today?
  • Where do you have faulty self-centered thinking?
  • What part of Mother Teresa's Wisdom speaks to you today?

Share the Love--Lightarted Postcards, and Heart-felt Gifts
Contact Susan for custom-made gifts. New cheerful designs are always available.
Sign Up for Free E-mail updates
For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.
If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

3 Secrets to Happy, Long-Lasting Relationships




'A loving heart is the truest wisdom' Charles Dickens


What is the Secret to Enjoying a Long-lasting Relationship?
  • Are you in a relationship with it's ups and downs? Do you wonder if you have what it takes to make your relationship last?
  • How do you know if it's worth investing time in a new relationship or mending a long-standing one?
  • After facing difficult times in the relationship, how do you even know if you want to continue in the relationship?

What a Happy Relationship Isn't....Conflict-free

If you think a conflict-free relationship is the key to a long-lasting happy partnership you're barking up the wrong tree.

All happily married couples have a good amount of 'bark' in their relationship. It's what puts the heat, or bite, into the relationship.  Look at Lucy and Ricardo (I Love Lucy); Alice and Ralph Kramden (Honeymooners); and Bert and Ernie (Sesame Street). We love watching these comedic couples interact because we can relate to their conflicts and differences.

Truth is, we all have negative thoughts and feelings about our partners. It's natural. Over time our differences arise and the rose-colored glasses come off letting those petty annoyances surface. But there is something about happy, long-lasting relationships that makes them withstand the test of time and trouble.

Secret #1: Happily Married Couples Keep the Negative from Overwhelming the Positive

According to Dr. John M Gottman, author of 'The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work' and professor of psychology at the University of Washington and cofounder and director of the Gottman Institute, what can make a marriage or partnership work is surprisingly simple.


"In their day-to-day lives, happily married couples have hit upon a dynamic that keeps their negative thoughts and feelings about each other (which all couples have) from overwhelming their positive ones."

People in healthy, long-lasting relationships deal with the same garden variety issues that people who break up do. The difference is those in healthy lasting relationships find a way to maintain an overall positive feeling to their relationships despite the negative thoughts and feelings that naturally arise over time.

This isn't to say you should always work through conflict and stay together at all costs. It provides a measuring stick for you to consider. How do you create a dynamic in your relationship to allow the positive to over-ride the negative?

Don't be afraid of conflict and run away at the first sign of it--look for ways to put conflict in perspective. Instead of viewing a 'fight' as an ending, use it to create a new beginning to better communication.


Secret #2: Turn Passion into Compassion  

In a happy union, love does make the world go round, but what love looks like over time changes. Family counselor, Gary Strait, noted that while relationships may initially be based on passion, if we are to continue to live with the differences and annoyances found in each other we must expand passion to have compassion for one another.

The longer we're in relationship together, the more acceptance, forgiveness, understanding--and perhaps a sense of humor about each others foibles--needs to play a central role in how we interact with ourselves as well as each other. 

Secret #3: Ask Yourself--Do You Want it to Work?

Before you tie the knot, and whenever you deal with upsets in the relationship along the way there is one question you can pose to yourself that cuts through all the layers between you and knowing what to do--'Do you want it to work out?'

You'll know the answer immediately. If you want the relationship to work out you must do whatever is needed to make it work. Your pride, anxiety, anger, or hurt feelings getting in the way will fall by the wayside once you know you want the relationship to work. It will bring you to the negotiation table faster.

When you are in the throes of a new relationship--accept your immediate gut response to the question 'do I want it to work'. Stop overwhelming yourself with added expectations and responsibilities for the relationship ('I think she's more into the relationship long term than I am'). You are simply trying to get clear about your desires and feelings today.

Are you in or getting into a relationship now? What's your answer for today? Do you want it to work?

If YES, get out there and create more fun and meaningful times with one another. Find a way to enjoy and make a constructive use of your differences. Move into that place of allowing the good times to roll....


'To get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with.' Mark Twain
A Tribute to 30 Years of Making it Work 

Today's post is in honor of the love of my life, Mark Gibbons, who 30 years ago was brave enough to ask the question, 'Do I want it to work?' I made an excellent choice for a life partner. We're still working it!


Share the Love--Lightarted Postcards, and Heart-felt Gifts

 Contact Susan for custom-made gifts. New cheerful designs are always available.


Sign Up for Free E-mail updates

 For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

 If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.