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Rippling to a Shift in Paradigm

Change, Influence, Positivity, InnovationI recently had a discussion with someone around the direction of humanity. (No small subject here!) The outcome of the discussion was representative of what I have heard over and over in regard to political issues, human failings, and the general state of humanity: “oh well, I can’t do anything about it!”

When did we adopt a victim mindset to our existence? A mindset that demonstrates an inability to change the collective mindset, our ways of thinking and our assumptions? Yes, the world’s challenges do seem overwhelming at times. Where did they begin and how do they end? We have overcome, continued to grow and thrive, and change our ways of being for thousands of years.

I believe the question really is, “where do I begin?”  Every great movement is started by one.  Do a Google search for Derek Silvers’ “How to Start a Movement” for a fun demonstration of this.  All it takes is a few followers to start a ripple effect. We have seen this rippling gain great momentum and create both negative and positive impact and change.


In Irvin Yalom’s book Staring at the Sun, Yalom talks about the rippling effect. He writes that it “refers to the fact that each of us creates, often without our conscious intent or knowledge, concentric circles of influence that may affect others for years, even generations.” The effect we have on others is in turn passed on, much as the ripples in a pond go on and on until they are not visible BUT continue at a nano level.

Influence is, simply put, the power and ability to personally affect others’ actions, decisions, opinions or thinking. There have been many books on how to influence others because when you have the power and ability to affect others, you are creating a paradigm shift through the ripple effect. So, if nothing else, you have the ability to create the change you want by being the change you want. If you want a change in gun laws, be diligent in following the politics, be vocal, be involved, and be authentic in your living (NO GUNS in your home)! This will create more influence than you realize. All it takes is one and a few followers to start a movement!

Self and Civic Responsibility

Beyond Influencing, taking self- and civic responsibility will create the change you want to see happen.  Self-Responsibility means looking at what you can do to influence and create a ripple effect as I mentioned in the example above.  When you take responsibility for whatever that is, you are no longer a victim to humanity. Civic responsibility means getting involved in the community, register to vote, participate in local government or hold public office. There is so much that you can do as an individual to influence and be a part of creating change. “I’m starting with the man in the mirror” is a way of being as much as a song by one of the greats!

A Conversation — A Ripple — A Change

All these examples below came out of conversations. Each idea was the brainchild of one person who, through agreement and collaboration, created a movement. They saw a need and met it.

As you read through these examples remember the comment: “oh well, I can’t do anything about it!” You will clearly see that is a fallacy you are telling yourself.

  • “Bricks and Sticks” Built Environment – Community conversation around sex trafficking jumpstarts the building of new housing for women seeking to rebuild their lives.
  • Cultural Resources  –  A small group of high school students responds to racial unrest in their school by hosting student-led conversations that generate new understanding, solutions and action from the administration.
  • Economic Vitality – Series of conversations leads to the creation of a program that helps thousands of Minnesotans become homeowners, start small businesses and go back to school.
  • Leadership Everywhere  – Leadership development program creates opportunities for congregations, clergy and people of faith to come together and discuss ways to collectively improve racial and economic equity.
  • Natural Environment – Grassroots organization hosts community dialogue sessions that shift public opinion and generate cross-sector support for the removal of non-functioning river dams, setting the conditions for improved water quality and habitat.
  • Political Influence – State agency, in collaboration with a community-initiated credit union, hosts a series of statewide listening sessions that results in a legislative agenda to address poverty.
  • Social Glue (connections across people and organizations) – Coalition of twenty organizations and agencies that serve families with preschool children in the same region host conversations to develop shared definitions of success, and create more opportunities for success together than they would have separately.[1]

We are not victims of the human experience; we are victims of our “lack of” willingness to participate in life!

If you truly want something to change, be that change, become a part of that change and live the change. All of that is within your power to do. See what you can create in the world!

[1] http://www.socialinnovationlab.net/examples-of-ripple-effects/

Life’s Lessons

Life lessons, stucknessTrue story. I was entering a building in Chicago through a revolving door. I was having A LOT of difficulty pushing the door. It seemed stuck. I was looking at the bellman, who was watching me intently. That made me curious. Why wasn’t he coming from behind the desk and helping me? Clearly he could see I was struggling. When I got through, I approached him and quietly said, “you may want to have the door looked at — it seems very difficult to push.” He looked right at me and said, “you may want to push the door in the right direction — it is much easier!” OMG!! I turned around and looked at the door and realized I was pushing in the wrong direction. All I could do was laugh at myself. He joined in and it was all good. What a dork!

Life Lesson: When you are pushing in the wrong direction in life, life is much more difficult! Pay attention when you are feeling stuck. Life isn’t creating that for you! You may be pushing your life in a direction that’s wrong for who you really are.

I have experienced that feeling of “stuckness” many times in my life. Often times it felt very confusing to me because I thought I was doing what fell within my knowledge, skills and abilities. What I have discovered in my journey is just because you can do something, and perhaps even do it well, it doesn’t mean that your fulfillment is guaranteed. If there is not some level of who you are and not just what you are or what you can do, then you, my friend, could possibly be living someone else’s life.

We all have what I call a “created” life: the essence we came with when our presence graced this world! And then life happens and we adapt…to others’ values systems, belief systems, perspectives, etc. We learn or inherit a certain way of being. Family, school, church systems that form and mold us also can become our “adapted self”. At some point we want more; we rebel, we challenge, we change. We either choose to adopt our inherited and learned values, we embark on the journey of discovering our own, or we have a combination of both, which is what most of us do.

Just like the revolving door that was difficult to push, life will notify us through our discontent, through our bodies and through our “stuckness” that we may still need to explore if we are living a life that is resonant with who we truly are.

For years, I have lived and worked in a predominantly “extroverted” world.   I love people and I enjoy being social. One time I had a group of co-workers over to my home for a workshop. We were playing a game over lunch where the question was, write down one thing about you that no one knows and put it in the jar. Each of us would pick one out and read the answer and have to guess who wrote it. I wrote, “I am tired from the time I get up in the morning until I go to bed.” They were all shocked when they found out it was me. Years later, I read the book by Susan Cain, titled Quiet. All of a sudden, I realized that I had never honored my preference for Introversion. What would it look like if I choose to live in resonance with this true part of me?

I can honestly say that I am no longer tired as I have practiced living and honoring my introversion. I am still social, still love people and I have no problem saying “no” to many social events. It no longer matters to me what others think because here is what I know: When I live my life resonantly to who I truly am, I have everything I need…including energy. It became more important to me to make choices that support who I really am because every time I did, my life became easier.

Now, this is the work I do with others. As a Life Coach, I support the journey to who you really are so you can make choices that empower your authentic living. Don’t waste a lot of time and energy trying to get your life to go in a direction it is not meant to!

How to Prioritize when Everything in Life is Important!

Priorities, multi tasking, prioritizingPrioritizing is a challenge for many of us. It is difficult when you have that feeling that everything is important or somebody else’s priority suddenly becomes yours! How do you deal with establishing what is most important in the moment? And how do you choose between two very important priorities when there is only so much time in a day? I have a friend who just had a baby. She is enjoying her baby boy very much however, she also needs to find time to exercise, do her job, spend quality time with her son and be in relationship with her husband. What is a priority when all of it is important?

I am a huge proponent of having a system for prioritizing and making choices that keep you aligned with what is most important to you.  The system does not have to be arduous or time consuming. It may be as simple as mine with these three tactics:

  1. Circle of Control. This is a tool that was introduced by Stephen Covey in 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. Our Circle of Control is those things over which we have complete control: us and only us! What lives in the circle of control? Our values and beliefs. They drive our thoughts and feelings, which then determine our behavior. Our power lies in knowing what is important to us (values) and why. Making conscious choice from our 2 resonant values also helps to determine what will take priority. This is usually where I start in prioritizing my life. For example: I asked my friend if she had to rank her values, what would be most important. This is what she came up with:

Everything Else

According to these rankings, she could start looking at what her options were for prioritizing during this phase in her life. If she needs a deeper dive or is still confused, she can move on to tactic #2.

  1. Yes, No, Impact game. If I say yes to this, what am I saying no to? What is the impact on me? On others? This often will help me clarify between two really good choices, based on which has a greater impact. I asked my friend to list the impacts of this question: “If I say yes to more time with my baby and no to my exercise, what is the impact on me?” Her answers were:

I am not as healthy and do not have energy to get through the day.
I will carry my baby weight longer and will not feel good about myself.
I will be more moody.

And then I asked her, “what would be the impact on others?”.

My husband will have more one-on-one time with his son.
I will not be there to deal with issues my husband may be having with the baby.
The baby will get acclimated to more people other than just me.

You can see that these answers are showing 3 negatives to 2 positives and 1 negative. This is demonstrating that it may be in her best interest to have some time away from the home where she is focused on herself. If she is still not convinced, she could try tactic #3: Non-negotiable.

  1. Non-negotiable. “What is my non-negotiable in this situation and why? “ This question often helps me make a choice between two good choices, depending on what I know I cannot or will not negotiate on.

For example: In my friend’s situation, she said her non-negotiable is her health. She had a difficult pregnancy and it is imperative that she have time to care for herself and exercise is a part of that. She stated that if her health did not improve, she did not feel she would be the mom or partner that she wanted to be. Saying this out loud really helped her to get clear on the ripple effect of her prioritizing and to let go of the guilt of choosing one resonant value (her health) over another (her baby).

While it took a lot of words to explain this, most of what you have to remember is this:

What is important to me?
If I had to, how would I rank these values with #1 being the most important?
If I say yes to this, what am I saying no to and what is the impact on me and others?
What is my non-negotiable in this?

When you go through this process you may be making a choice between two resonant values. The key is that you know why you are making that choice. That understanding frees you of the guilt of making a choice without conscious awareness.