Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Street Clothes of RESPECT

The Street Clothes of Respect
by Dexter Valles, Managing Consultant VALMAR INTERNATIONAL Mumbai-INDIA

Respect . A commonplace word with a value that packs a powerful punch !
I am sure you have used this word many times in your life. It is also probably a value you have been advised to embody or one that you advise others to act with.

What is Respect and what's the fuss about it ?
"Respect, also called esteem, is a positive feeling or action shown towards someone or something considered important, or held in high esteem or regard." Source : Wikipedia
Respect is probably the most understood value in action ! Aha ! In action ?
I would like to go somewhat beyond what Respect most often shows up as, in behaviour. What would Respect look like on the streets of everyday life ? How would we recognize it ? What clothes does Respect wear ? Can we wear them too ? Well, here is what it could be.

The Street Clothes of Respect

Reciprocity and Responsiveness
Reciprocity and responsiveness needs to be graciously active and alive in a relationship. It is the very fabric of the street clothes or respect.
Turn this inwards into yourself as Regard. How much do we  regard ourselves ?  Do we really matter to ourselves? This is the aura or perfume we wear of Self Respect. Every element of Respect which follows must first be applied to ourselves.

Empathic Engagement
Empathy is about caring enough to be available to let people know you acknowledge and value them, especially when they feel most vulnerable and emotionally frail. Empathy does one significant thing. It does away with judgement and replaces it with curiosity and  unconditional care.

 In the midst of the storm of sheer stress of competitiveness, volatility of the playing field, crashing economies, collapsing success strategies, complex and carefully formulated algorithms gone haywire. Empathy is the Mind-Spa to soak and calm fevered judgement, anger, guilt, shame and blame.
Empathetic engagement is what brings the soul to the surface. The resilience and coherence of the mind and heart. To courageously build choices patiently with optimism. Accompanied by the warmth of compassion. It's always recognized in the vibrant yet deep colours of your street clothes of Respect.

Supportive Space
When was the last time you sensed this ? How did it feel ? To have someone just hold that space for you to gather your thoughts and emotions and find your sense of purpose and direction.
Without judgement. Without advice. With empathy. With patience. With consideration for both stated and unstated personal and emotional boundaries. With caring acknowledgement of both strengths and also vulnerabilities. With willingness to be with you especially when you can not possibly contribute back.
Supportive Space are the hands that hold your heart. It is the comforting innerwear that clothes you in the most unpretentious and invisible way. 

Promises Practiced
Stephen Covey wrote about Emotional Bank Accounting being the accumulation of small positive deposits made in each relationship. Keeping small promises is one of these small yet significant deposits.
Promises practiced is about putting everyday promises into practice. Little things. Like calling back. Coming on time. Showing up for the other. Being available. Offering help and acting on it. Taking ownership of shared responsibilities. Owning up for lapses and making up for them.
Promises practiced are those comfortable shoes that help you walk your talk. Take you the extra mile. Put a spring in your step and add strength to your stride.

Expectations Managed
What do you really want in a relationship ? What would make you feel that the other person cares ?
Investing in a relationship, emotionally and intentionally, creates greater awareness of the touchstones of each relationship, the patterns producing pain which need to be broken and reformed, the options available or choices which can be created.
Shared expectations management are the adjustable hats or caps we wear, share and gift to each other too.
It fits best when our expectations are acted on with reciprocity and responsiveness, engage the hearts of people in understanding them with empathy and supports the space in which expectations are struggling for visible form and articulate expression. 
The sweat band of these hats tell stories of the everyday sweet sweat equity we put into our relationships as often as we can. It says " You matter to me. And I shall always strive to give you, what you want from me. To be who you need me to be. Will you do the same for me ?"

Communicating Authentically
Underpinning all aspects of every relationship is Trust. Not just the performance of the elements of Trust. But importantly, communicating trust.
By communicating honestly. By communicating our intentions. By communicating our vulnerabilities and fears. By communicating our expectations. By dropping those needless masks we wear, out of our need to project strength, prowess, capability and competence. Communicating Trust is achieved via Communicating our Authenticity.
Communicating Authentically is the hallmark of transparency. Transparency unashamedly declares our vulnerabilities. We are all too human more often than we wish to be. And it's no sin to declare our utter human-ness. We are okay being "extra-ordinary". The infinite power of naked ordinary-ness lies in its acceptance.

Time ( making & giving )

All of us make the time for what really matters to us. Yet we catch ourselves saying we don’t have time to spare for others. Even those who seem to matter to our lives. 
The hard truth is that none of any of the street clothes of respect can be worn, unless we first wear the watch  of time on our wrist. But then, the irony is that we must give it away every hour every day. Yes. To ourselves too. A man with no time for himself cannot give any away !
Our lives are time shared. We don’t live fully when we live in the narrow speed lane of our own share of this time.
Making and giving time to create, grow and nurture relationships is like parenting. If you don't invest the time and energy into it, the child will grow anyway. And we shall pay a bitter and painful price for what it grows into.
Make the time willingly, with grace, clothe it everyday on the streets of life with respect and more time shall be made and given back. Especially when our time has finally come.

Summing up, the street clothes of respect when worn well clothes not just the wearer but also miraculously everyone the wearer embraces and enfolds into a growing, graceful and gracious life.

Notes from the author :
1.      This article was triggered by a conversation with a friend, over a powerful  speech by Oprah Winfrey at the Harvard Commencement 2013  . You can see it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMWFieBGR7c   
2.      Emotional Bank Accounting  is a  concept mentioned in  the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by  Stephen Covey . See more about it here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoEy_zA3ZEk and  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrUTlHW1_lw   

Friday, March 15, 2019

12 Friendship Reflections

12 Friendship Reflections

If you have to "manage" your friendship, it's probably not a friendship.

No matter what the pressures of life, true friends find time for each other.

Great friendships are like sparkling streams of joy and release, refreshing the parched earth of our lives.

When people say great friendships need not worked at, they are making excuses for their failure to do so.

Flowers do bloom in a well cared garden. As also in the wild. But even the wild is cared for by Mother Nature. Whats your relationships like ? Is Mother Nature overworked ?

Friends who come and go like the tides of the sea, must be watched for what they leave behind when they go

Dont stay perpetually ready to smile and support someone who refuses to see the strain and struggle behind your smile.

When a friend loves you, it is almost always unconditionally. Make sure it can gladly stay that way.

Dont deny old friendships and old acts of love just because you dont need them today. Thats like a tree shaking off the gold and auburn leaves before autumn

When a friend is lonely and in pain, do you know ?

How many friends did you call today ?

What do you expect from a good friend ? Do you do that too ?

And a Bonus Quote
The best way we celebrate a friendship is when we celebrate the friend.

Monday, October 29, 2018

EMOTIONS Our Constant Companions.

EMOTIONS Our Constant Companions

by Dexter Valles
Everyone I know has feelings. Feelings about almost everything. I dont know of anyone who does not have any feelings about something. Even if they say they don't ! Because that statement itself discloses a feeling !

So where do feelings come from ?
How long do they last ?
Why do feelings change ? 
Do we act on our feelings or can we suppress our feelings ?

Is it good to feel strongly about things ?
Is it more important to be emotional or rational ?

There is now a lot of research undertaken in the area of the brain and the mind. A field called neuroscience, which helps explain our behaviour. Psychometric and neurometric assessment tools and assessments developed in the fields of Emotional Intelligence or EQ, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Mindfullness, Whole Brain Thinking to name a few, have provided very useful insight into how our brain seems consciously and subconsciously  to influence our lives.

Research in neuroscience suggests and points to evidence that our Emotional Brain ( the limbic system of the mid brain ) triggers fastest , much ahead of the Cortical Brain ( the intelligent rational / thinking brain ) and if this is not integrated into the decision making process, we are more likely to act emotionally rather that with emotional intelligence.

Our brain is an amazing complex network of one hundred billion neurons, that regulate enormous traffic of information every second. Whew !! How awesome is that !!

A vital part of the brain's information-processing neural network includes, naturally, neurons, or cells that transmit signals containing messages throughout the brain. This complex network of neurons send these signals through  neurotransmitters, which really are chemicals which some neurons release and others receive. Chemicals in the brain !! Who would imagine that !!

These chemicals essentially let the different parts of our brain communicate with each other by jumping across synaptic connections from one neuron to another. And it is at super speed. These emotional chemicals are so fast to spread that they even beat the speed of thought !!

The four most widely studied brain chemicals are dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and norepinephrine.

Dopamine is related to experiences of pleasure and the reward-learning process. In other words, when you do something good, you're rewarded with dopamine and gain a pleasurable, happy feeling. This teaches your brain to want to do it again and again.
So watch out !! The learning curve is laced with dopamine !!

Oxytocin is a powerful hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It regulates our social interactions and yes indeed, it is essential to sexual reproduction, playing a multifaceted role in regulating behaviors from mother-child bonding, empathy, generosity, trust, and the Big O in bed. When we hug or kiss oxytocin levels increase; hence, understandably oxytocin is often called "the love hormone."
Serotonin is associated with our memory and learning. An imbalance in serotonin levels is most likely to result in an increase in anger, anxiety, depression and even panic. So the next time you press the panic button, your serotonin probably needs a refill.

Norepinephrine helps moderate your mood by controlling stress and anxiety. It acts to regulate the effects of Cortisol, the Stress chemical of the brain

So our feelings which are body based sensations of our emotions, produced by these chemicals in the brain, are the first  to register and often linger for a long time. Becoming moods. Though if these feelings are acknowledged, entertained, observed for the messages they carry, the rational brain can process these feelings to decide on the most suitable course of action. Not that it works all the time this way, nor is it always as effective as we would like. But it does give us a chance to coach our behaviour into a better place !

So yes, we feel first, in between and last. We are always feeling. Though through odd advice and practice over the years, we have coached our mind to ignore our feelings. Or suppress them. This does not mean that our feelings do not exist. It actually means we allow our feelings to undermine the power of our decision making process, because we do not acknowledge them and ignore the emotional messages they carry. Thus allowing our emotions to invisibly influence us.

Amazing isn't it ? Like having a guest or even several guests at home and pretending he isn't or they aren't there. Yet allowing unfettered free access to the most private areas of our lives. What a terrifying thought !! 

So how do we strike a balance between our emotions and our thoughts ?
Because we are more conscious of our thoughts we use them to consciously influence our behaviour. Therefore it's really important that our thoughts are constructed with clarified emotions. Emotions which have been routed through our cortical brain to be processed with  reasoned pathways to action.
It's quite clear that our lives shall always be abuzz with our feelings because without them we really won't know what it means to be "alive" !! We can choose to ignore their presence only to find them too close for comfort. So what do you do with your constant companions. Your emotions. Your energy in motion.Your informants to how your inner world is responding to your outer world. Well, reward them for their loyalty !!

Acknowledge, appreciate, be attentive, encourage their voice, and be curious about their gifts !!
Unwrap them carefully. Most are marked Fragile !!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Attitude of Gratitude

The Attitude of Gratitude

By Dexter Valles
How do you say thanks ?

Or do you say it at all ?

Do you need to say thanks or show it ?

Well, how do you show you are thankful ?

Is reciprocity an act of gratitude?

Do you need to be asked or reminded ? Does it then count as much ?

What are you usually grateful for ? The act itself or the result ?

Who are you usually grateful to?Those who help you ? Or those who need your help ?

How do you count your blessings ?

Do you hold back gratitude because you can't bear to acknowledge it ? Does acknowledging the need to show gratitude make you feel obliged or obligated ?

Who do you feel do not need your gratitude ? What does that tell you ?

Do you like talking about gratitude but cant be grateful yourself ?

If gratitude was a defining power in your life......answer this.

Whats your attitude of gratitude ?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Living Powerfully in the New Age

Living Powerfully in the New Age

by Dexter Valles

We now live in radically different times than ever before.

Technology has transformed life as we have never known it to be. Barring the human being looking the same, there is nothing today that  looks like anything yesterday.

Every single aspect of life has changed. Much of it for the better. Yes it comes with its hazzards. Yes nostalgia is always an escape from the hazzards.

But lets face it. We cant really go back to where we came from without losing the tremendous advantages, ease of living, speed of living, upskilling of everyday human capability, massive explosion of knowledge.

Mind boggling leaps into creation supported by an incredible expansion of the mind to drive fearless participation in an ecosystem underpinned by volatility, uncertainty, chaos and ambiguity !!

Our challenge would be to adapt as quickly as we can to manage and master the monster of life before it devours us. Do we drag our feet objecting to the difficulty it poses, dig in our heels and resist the metamorphic demands of our times or do we learn to be nimble and agile ? And master this monster of life ?

Lets ask ourselves a few questions. Our answers will inform us how we are likely to negotiate and navigate the future. Which is already on our front porch. About to ring our bell !

What would happen ??

If we don't cope or manage technology at the everyday application - gadgets and devices to begin with.
If we don't vigourously seek and embrace alternate sources of energy to light our homes right through to drive our cars, fly our planes, explore space, clean up the choked environment our dying planet.
If we don't want progress because we cant finance the cost and find the price we pay overwhelming ?
If we don't quickly learn to make space to pause and clear the debris of the construction of our new world before we construct shining towers of life with rubble of the past choking every corridor. What would then become of the human being and human relationships which deliver our dreams
If in the speed of living we race to dying
If we insist on processes and habits of the past to manage the deliverables of future.
If we agree to growing older but not growing into the world being built.

What would happen if YOU dont care to answer these questions?

An Ode to Friendship !

An Ode to Friendship !

Friendship is Love's poor cousin,

Waiting in humble service,

By Love's ornate door;

Whilst in her boudoir Love clasps,

Passion, Strength and Courage

Close to her scented breast !
Court Love and ye shall have these too;

Seek just the bejewel'd hand of Friendship

And ye shall forever banish Love to weep,

In the empty nest of a faraway memory,

Of a forgotten time.....
For perchance you may find Friendship lends its charms,

To a lifetime and more, of true Love,

Whilst Loves' bright flame, burns not as fierce with Friendships' wick,

Then choose to rest thy worn spirit
In the comforting cradle of love's care,

And gently place thy weary head,

On the blessed bosom of true love.
For Love must steer Friendship, To the Shore of Trust,

Through mists of Doubt and Delirium,

Where treacherous reefs of shallow conscience,

Bare the jagged edges of careless promises,

That e'er so oft, rip the seams of Love's fragile dreams.......

Friday, October 12, 2018

An Ode to a Coach

An Ode to a Coach
by Dexter Valles 

Life is a journey and oft a rough ride

We need good counsel and a guide on the side

Someone who will help us achieve our goals

Through the tumult of times to play such a role.

Of mentor and coach, a teacher who's tough

Especially when the pathway is rocky and rough

To lift us high to our lofty dreams

Knowing we can fly once we burst the seams.
Of the chains that shackle us down to the ground

And keep us from reaching our dreams that abound

The exhiliarating playing field of life

Where lions are born from the hearts of mice.
Where the world snatches hope from the meek and the mild

But a coach shapes a conqueror from the mould of a child.

A sounding board, a firm force in the field,

A trusted friend who helps us reveal

The armour we wear, the sword and the shield !