Tag Archives: trust

Maybe There’s Not a Reason for Everything

By Nicole Christie, Principal + Creative Director of NICO, Inc. and Friend of Simple Intentions

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I want to believe things happen for a reason. I’m a hard-wired meaning-seeker, who’s spent an inordinate amount of time asking “Why?” And I’m a storyteller at heart, who wants life to flow like fiction, with a plot and a climax and a resolution that explains it all.

But even if things happen for a reason, it’s rarely—if ever—apparent in the moment. Sometimes when we look back, we can connect the dots—why a relationship didn’t work out, why we lost a job, why we didn’t get the house we swore was our dream home. Only then do we see how it positioned us to gain something else—hopefully something better that we didn’t even know we wanted. Or maybe it taught us something we needed to learn, like patience, assertiveness, or diligence.

And sometimes stuff just happens. Good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people. There’s no lesson to learn, no virtue to gain. And it’s not necessarily cause-and-effect, though many of us like to believe we’re responsible for everything in our lives. When something good happens, we take credit for it—we worked hard, we’re kind, we’re aligned with our purpose. When something bad happens, we blame ourselves—we’re lazy, we’re stupid, we made bad choices. The appeal of this way of thinking is control: if we succeed, we steered the ship; if we failed, we can fix it.

That’s the problem with seeking meaning and reason. We can’t accept that life throws a mean curveball. That we’re not really in control. That the world is filled with things that will never make sense. All we can do is get up, get out, and keep going, no matter what this nonsensical life throws our way.

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Out of Place In a Place You Are Meant to Be

By Kim Lowe, Simple Intentions Managing Editor

0124654ff537cab587ad1b98268b0aa099704d16a5Do you ever feel out of place in a place you’re compelled to be? Maybe you’re the sole marketer on a virtual team of PMs and developers. Maybe you’re the only woman amongst a cohort of men. Maybe you’re the sole introvert in a group of garrulous extroverts. Your first inclination may be to extract yourself from the discomfort, to just get out, no matter the consequences.

But when fleeing is not an option, how do we endure with our composure intact? How do we make the best of an uncomfortable situation? How do we rise to an occasion that at the outset looks and feels like nowhere we want to be and nothing we want to experience?

I recently had this experience during a weekend yoga retreat in the mountains, two hours from my home. Initially I planned to attend with a friend, with the intention of getting away from our daily lives for a few days of yoga and fresh mountain air. When my friend’s plans changed and she wasn’t able to go, I decided to go alone. It would still be awesome, I thought. After all, I did a week-long yoga conference 1,300 miles from home a few years back that was incredibly fulfilling.

But this time, the gates around my heart started rising the minute I walked into our mountain lodge. I was the oldest among this group of 20- and 30-somethings. While I’ve practiced yoga for years and felt confident in my strength, this appeared to be a group of expert yogis, most of them teachers, whose spirituality was far deeper than mine. They arrived in small groups, already acquaintances, if not best friends. And did I mention I was the oldest? Suddenly I felt an urgent need to color my hair and Botox my body.

But I was here. For three nights. In the mountains. Without a car and too far for my husband to come rescue me. That first night, as I lay in my creaky cot, in a large den I shared with four others, I felt terrifyingly out of place, frustrated that I’d not more carefully considered canceling, praying I’d wake up in my own bed, all of this a hilarious dream.

I woke up in that same creaky cot. Resigned, I pulled on my yoga clothes for the morning’s practice. Dear God, please no handstands or chanting. Please let there be English along with Sanskrit cues. Please don’t let me fall on my face during crow pose.

Yoga has an inexplicable way of transforming one’s mindset, of paring open a closed heart, of releasing fear, uncertainty, despair, judgement. That morning’s yoga practice was slow and gentle, offering abundant space for deep breathing and long stretching. Space, too, to consider my intention and the possibility that maybe I was there for a reason. Maybe if I paid attention these three days, I’d discover that reason, whatever it might be: A new friend? A new skill? Simply release from all my responsibilities back home? Could I even allow myself such a release?

From that morning practice, I carried with me throughout the weekend the intention to simply be open to that possibility I was indeed there for a reason. That an open and willing mindset was the only salve to those uncomfortable outsider feelings. That by clinging to despair – and fretting about my age – would only add to the misery, my own and everyone else’s.

And so I joined the group making malas. And laughed when, after two hours of laboriously tying knots and threading beads, I shredded my efforts, surrendering to the reason I buy my jewelry already made. I approached conversations with curiosity, looking for what I might learn from a younger generation, what experiences they’ve had that my own two kids will too soon have. Humbly, I learned that this generation is far wiser of the world than I was at their age.

One afternoon, while others tucked themselves under throws to nap, I pulled on my boots and set out for a walk. It was gently snowing, quietly lonely – and a little scary walking against traffic on a road where both shoulders were piled with snow. Yet it was exactly what I needed. Energizing and meditative, cold and sweaty, familiar and foreign, all at the same time. I felt safe, happy and for the first time all weekend, glad to be there.

Ultimately, my reason for being there was not dramatic or life changing, but rather simply to be reminded that with humor, curiosity and self-compassion, I can find ease in uncomfortable situations, I can connect with people outside my usual circle of friends, and I can accept experiences as truly meant to be.

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Who Wants to Be Vulnerable at Work?

By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder

[Note: This post originally appeared on Huffington Post.]

vulnerable“Who wants to be vulnerable at work?”

It’s a question I often ask during workshops or speaking engagements. And surprise: Very few hands go up. I understand why. We are programed to act as if we know what we are doing at work, even in moments when we have no clue.

Who wants to risk being perceived as defenseless, weak or unsure in the eyes of our superiors, employees and colleagues? Not many of us. We act instead from a shared belief that being vulnerable at work is not acceptable, that it will result in perceptions of incompetence, lack of confidence and poor reviews.

But what if we upended that belief? What if being vulnerable at work was in fact the linchpin that meaningfully shifts the way we work? Open workspaces and flex-time options are great, but they’re not game changing when it comes to HOW we show up at work.

What if — like the invention of the pen, typewriter or computer — vulnerability could radically shift the workplace in the coming decade? What if today’s children could enter the workforce with the ability to fully and authentically show up, owning their strengths as well as their uncertainties and imperfections?

Vulnerability can mean both openness and defenselessness. Not many words encompass such paradox; no wonder it’s so difficult to express, especially in the workplace. Defenselessness is driven by fear. As humans we avoid this feeling at all costs given that it used to mean death when we were all running around as cave people.

Whereas, openness captures our human desire to been seen and acknowledged, and can only happen if we are willing to put down our defenses, to acknowledge and share our fears of being wrong, failing, embarrassing ourselves, or not being good enough. When we show people who we really are in all aspects of our life, we risk being rejected or ridiculed for what we value and believe. For some, this risk feels as primal as defending ourselves from a wild beast.

But when we choose defense over openness we rob ourselves the opportunity to contribute a foundational element of team success: trust. As any business expert will assert, trust is essential to building and maintaining successful teams and companies. Avoiding vulnerability at work is avoiding the parts of the journey that galvanize effective teams.

Meaningfully shifting how we show up at work begins with being vulnerable. Think about it: Where are you open and where are you defending at work right now? What would happen if you dropped your guard? How would openness impact the people with whom you work?

The choice is yours to defend or open. What are you going to choose?

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