Friday, December 23, 2016

Give the gift of curious attention

Are you celebrating a holiday that involves the giving of presents?  If you're not, you're still surrounded by the decorations and the advertising and the events.  It's a good time to think about what it takes to give a good gift.

Is a good gift the thing you that someone asks you to give, the thing that they want but won't ask you to give, the surprise they might not know they want until you give it?

Photo Credit: Asenat29, Flickr

Here's the gift that grows all the other good gifts, the gift that changes a hit-and-miss process into a sure thing. It's the gift of curious attention. Giving a present begins in being present. This should be automatic, but we often go a very long time without being curious about the people we love.  We make a lot of assumptions based on how things have always been.

This year, be present to someone and be curious about what they feel and how they think and what matters to them. Think of a time you first met someone who later became a friend or lover. Remember how interesting it was to find out how they saw the world? Hold that feeling while you're talking to an old friend or a parent or child. Wonder about them. Let your curiosity guide them to memories they love but haven't visited for a long time.

Being present to someone in a way that makes them feel strong and interesting and loved is the best present of all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Begin with the End in Mind

Setting goals is supposed to be a way to begin with the end in mind. But for many people, setting goals is an exercise in making a wish list or taking whatever they did last year and adding a few percent. That's more like ending with the beginning in mind.
Photo credit: Jaynneandd, Flickr
What does "the end" mean to  you? Here are some possibilities:
  • the final part of something
  • a death or termination
  • a goal, purpose or mission
When you begin with the end in mind, you begin by getting to know the future you want to create. Just as you don't know a person just because you know their name, you don't know your future unless you spend some time knowing how it looks and sounds and feels, who it hangs around with, and what actions it inspires you to take.

You don't plan the perfect wedding by hiring the perfect wedding planner. You plan it by knowing how the people, promises and celebration you include will be an ongoing part of your life. A wedding is the beginning of a relationship, not a piece of fine china that you will use only on very special occasions. When you understand that you are using the wedding to build something ongoing, you will have a different checklist for what you need to include.

The same thing is true with career goals. High performers often have a number in mind when it's time to set goals. The number is set with the beginning in mind: it's just a multiple of what they have already achieved. Beginning with the end in mind means knowing what you will be doing and how you will be feeling when you are serving your purpose with better skills or better efforts. Stepping into a full engagement with the future you are building will lead you to set more effective goals because they will be steps on the way to something you want, not steps away from something you already have.