Sunday, October 6, 2013

Take a detour

I recently wrote a column for the Baltimore OUTloud newspaper about automatic behavior, the rut it can create, and how to break out by trying something new. Click here to read the column.... 

Recently, I was reminded about the connection between this topic and being able to tap into creativity to solve problems.

A few weeks ago, I was working with a gentlemen who was trying to manage a business relationship with a consultant who was threatening to undermine my client's efforts because of feeling under appreciated, because of not "feeling enough love" coming from my client. So, we brainstormed on strategies and tactics for managing a difficult business relationship.

At one point, I said, "When this guy gives you a somewhat helpful suggestion or tip, be sure to send him a thank-you card, perhaps a bottle of wine with it. Thank-you cards tend to give people warm fuzzies and help them to feel very appreciated."

It was at this point that my client slapped his own forehead in disbelief. He said, "I can't believe I didn't think of that. That's exactly how I established the strong business relationship in the first place, by sending thank-you cards and small tokens of appreciation." My client was unnerved as to why the solution had eluded him given that he'd done that in the past.

I reminded him that by allowing the consultant's bad behavior to kick up resentment and other hard feelings, my client had put himself into a negative space that blocked not only his creativity but also access to things he already knew! Instead of focusing on criticizing the consultant, my client needed to get into a relaxed, playful, problem-solving mood. The consultant's OK, I'm OK...let me just figure out a creative way around this!

The best way I know of being able to slow down, recognize what's going on, and shift gears like that is to make a steady practice of mindfulness. Click here for tips sheets about practicing mindfulness.


Dating strategy: what do you need to build your home?

When we're young, all we really want from dating is some passion and steady companionship. As we get older, our needs change, and most of us alter our dating course toward that LTR (long-term relationship). As a result of this shift, we often bump into dating frustration. 

A large part of the problem involves our friends, family, and society—supported by movies, TV shows, poems, and songsencouraging an intense, single-minded focus on finding love. Instead, consider focusing on building your home. Focusing on finding love can distract you from what you need for your home, but focusing on building a great home includes finding love.

So, this person you've started dating? Is this person capable of "having your back" during good times and bad? (Notice how well she or he does with having other people's back.) Does this person treat others—the waiter, a sister, a boss, a neighborthe way you'd like to be treated? Can you communicate well, make decisions smoothly, handle disappointment like grown ups, and partner well, even when it's as simple a task as choosing a movie to see on Saturday night? And, yes, is there enough passion to keep the fires lit in the bedroom; the bedroom is part of the home, too!

Right from the start, focus on whether this is a person who can respect your current home and who can smoothly build a new one together with you. This way, you won't get distracted by one room in the house at the expense of all the others.