Thursday, 26 December 2013

You Don't Just Need a Friend...

 I, like many people have experienced some really rough times over the years and some good times too.  This past year hasn't failed to deliver on both good times and bad, although it seems like more of the latter.  When keeping your sanity seems like the most important goal in your life, you know you're in trouble and while you pray and you hope and you try to keep things together, whether or not you like it, you depend on others to help.  But it's times like these when you don't just need a friend...

There are advisors, colleagues, partners and spouses; there are acquaintances and networks, support groups and associations, peer groups and drinking buddies, gym partners confidantes and friends; and then, there are best friends.

If you're a best friend yourself then you know one thing above all; you didn't choose the role, it chose you and that makes it the greatest honour and the greatest burden.

Source: Google images

If you have a best friend you'll know, because that person will tell you like it is, good or bad, but will never fall off your gift list.  That person will listen when you whine and instead of hurrying you along, will offer you a drink so you can whine some more - "Get it off your chest", your bestie will say.  That person will leave their work station and miss an important deadline because you're having a baby and they wouldn't miss that for the world.  That person will make sure you know what's good about you; make time for phone calls way too early in the morning; suffer total inconveniences for you; back off when you need to clear your head and be right there waiting, almost magically when you are 'ready to talk'.  

They'll call just at the moment when you're about to say something that would get you fired; invite you out just when it's the last thing you want to do but absolutely the best thing for you.  That person will call you as soon as that job opportunity you've been hoping for shows up in the newspaper or wherever.  That person prays for you when you're not around, orchestrates rescue parties when you're feeling down, makes a meal just so you can sit, talk and eat; calms you down; gives you perspective; fights your fights with you and walks your most difficult journeys alongside you.  In all of this doing and giving, this best friend has time for his/her own life.  Now that's totally magical.

Trust me, when life throws you lemons you don't just need a friend, colleague or partner, you need a best friend.  When life makes a turn for the better you don't just need to celebrate with a spouse, gym buddy or acquaintance, no one will appreciate it like your best friend will.  Your best friend is a priceless gift from God. So if you have a best friend, give thanks, be a best friend back, then give thanks some more.  I do, but then, I have the best best friend ever.

Giving thanks for you, +Kim B, voted Best best friend  by me.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Love is a Decision

There is love and then there is LOVE.  

I love smooth dark chocolate, I love my home made burgers and I absolutely love sunshine ray yellow on me.  These things make me happy. But then I love my son; I love to see him happy, I love to see him flourish, I love to see him smile and I love to see others recognise him for all that he is and can share with the world.  I'd give up dark chocolate, home made burgers, sunflower yellow and a load of other things to experience the joy of him.  In fact I've already given up a lot of what I 'love' for that .  I'm not saying that I liked giving things up, but I'm saying I would do it and did it. I'd make and I've made those decisions.


It might be a tough pill to swallow but when you make the decision to love, you make a decision to give in to a force that commands your self-sacrifice.  More than likely it's going to be much more than your favourite food, clothes or hobby that you will have to give up.  Sometimes a complete adjustment is required and no matter how evolved we may think we are, we don't look forward to complete adjustments.  We like things the way they are or the way we 'always pictured they would be'.

Maybe we instinctively know that true love is sacrificial.  It is as exceedingly demanding as it is tremendously rewarding. But being petrified of the sacrifice part means that so many times we deny ourselves love; we run the other way looking for euphoria - you know, the 'high' you feel when you take a bite into that favourite food, like me and my dark chocolate.  We desperately want to control the balance between loss (sacrifice), and feeling on top of the world in a series of euphoric moments. But while love is a decision we can make, it isn't a force we can control.  It demands to be in control and it will stop at nothing.

Relentless in its pursuit for our souls, this thing we call love instructs the impossible and drives the questionable, but inevitably it insists on self-sacrifice.  We have to lose ourselves to gain ourselves in love and we have to lose ourselves to the service of others.  But what ultimately compels us to love is the self-fulfilment that is born out of the labour of self-sacrifice.

Our real challenge is discerning whether we're answering the true love call or trying to simulate the ultimate feelings of euphoria and fulfilment.  We can definitely get addicted to the feelings that love generates and sometimes we try to recreate or create scenarios just to have those feelings. In those cases we are self-serving; we really just by-pass the love call to get to 'the good part' and the 'feel good' outcome won't last long. 

The truth about LOVE is that it is a response to the call serve others in spite of obstacles, in spite of what you have to give up.  This is the beginning of the true love journey.  If you have problem with that you have problem with love.

Are you ready to make the love decision?

Friday, 6 December 2013

'Me' Is Not Enough

In memory to my former Sunday School teacher Ms. Cicely Brown and Nelson Mandela freedom fighter - two people from a different time and space who knew and exercised the power of 'we'.

If you really think about it, there's so much about how we live today that is focused on 'me'.  I touched on how being 'me-centred' can end a relationship in '6 Things Relationship Gurus Don't Tell You', but this topic is worth some more Straight Talk.

Seems to me that we humans need each other; that it's natural for people to need people.  We're born into families, we make friends, we go to school in classes, we work with colleagues, we worship in congregations, we govern through organisations, we live in communities.  What we are and what we do is about people. So how come we make so many decisions without considering other people and how it will impact on them?  I'll tell you how come.

1.  We don't really 'Get' what Love means

We use the 'l' word so much for everything from how we feel about a piece of chocolate, or a pair of shoes to how we feel about our first born.  We do this without realising that love isn't just a feeling, it's a decision - more on that in another post.

2.  We're blind to the true success Harmony creates

We get busy working towards our own achievements and making a name for ourselves. Really, what's happening is that we want to revered in our peer group, seen as better than the others.  Can you blame us, sometimes being just one of the others can be boring right? And after all we are still individuals.  But when we constantly have to be 'one up' on other people, we create unnecessary rivalries and imaginary differences.  Seems that as much as we humans need each other, harmony, working beautifully together in spite of our differences, seems like an alien concept.

3.  Having Compassion makes you look stupid

Unless of course you're getting good PR.  Compassion is fine once we're being photographed and captioned as the 'cheerful giver'.  But step away from the cameras and the concept of caring for others in need is pretty stupid, seeing as how we have enough of our own problems.

4.  We've forgotten the 'golden rule'

Remember, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'? Ring a bell? I know I had to memorise this rule and recite it as a child.  The premise couldn't be more straight forward, you would want people to do good to you so do good to people.  It's supposed to be one of those simple guides to help us make better decisions.  I don't know about you, but maybe the golden rule is just too simple to remember because while I was hurting people I forgot all about it.

5.  We're oh so self-righteous

In any given situation we can see clearly all the reasons why 'I am right' which of course makes 'you wrong' or why 'the way I do things is better' which means 'your way is not good enough'.  Ignoring an overall point of view in favour of being 'right' causes conflict, whether we choose to be aware of it or not.  It's good to have our principles, but it's even better to take a look in the mirror and recognise that the thing we share with other humans is imperfection.  We are all wrong sometimes. 

 My point in all of this is that we won't know how to make good decisions unless we exercise true love, compassion and self-sacrifice. This is not a new concept, in fact it's pretty old, centuries and centuries old and key to many religions.  But sometimes we just don't get it until we've messed up one time too many, then the light bulb goes off and we connect the dots:  "Hey sometimes 'me' is not enough, other people make my life more important too!"

Friday, 29 November 2013

Work, Misery, Passion

I promised you some thoughts from my friend, Life Coach Cheryl 'Nyara' Gittens, on passion and the work you do.  There's a whole lot on the web on this topic and I've been pretty big on passion throughout all the phases of my life.  My perspective has changed at least twice in major ways.  Cheryl helped me pin down the things that make passion real for real people in real jobs, who sometimes see it as this as 'something' that other people are fortunate to find.

Forget the 'Just get it done' job mentality and be thankful

When it comes to work misery Cheryl disagrees with my 'just get on with it and forget about enjoyment' advice shared in Your Dream Job?...Not! .  She reminds me that just trying to ignore work misery will make you sick, literally.  She says that you have to have to have a 'why' - Why am I doing this job? Why is this important?  How is this helping me to achieve some of what I want to achieve? More than that, you have to be thankful, not just that you have a job and they are other people who don't, but that it really does allow you to do things that you may not otherwise be able to. If it puts food on the table, be thankful, if it pays the school fees, be thankful, if it allows for family vacations, be thankful.  Misery or not, it's doing something good. Cheryl puts it pretty poetically: "Being in a space of gratitude helps to pivot your perspective."

 Be specific about your misery

When we say we are finding no passion in our job, that's vague.  What is it that we really want? Cheryl advises us to separate two concepts: passion around job content and passion around job process.  It may be that you hate your boss or you detest the office location or you can't stand your dowdy office, but the actual work (the job content) is something you like.  On the other hand it may be that the work itself is tedious but you have the best workmates you could ask for and work conditions and benefits are pretty good (the job process).  Maybe if you could find a way to change even one of the things making you miserable, you could actually move towards passion in your job.

Do your job and do your passion

Cheryl says: "Why not stick it out in that job?"  She acknowledges the financial reasons that we may have for staying in a job that we say we don't enjoy but she says also "Why not pursue that thing that you love?".  In other words, make time for both - as if one isn't hard enough.  I think though, that the key word here is pursue.  It may be your passion but it's not something that you can be lazy about.

Passion takes strength of character

Cheryl describes passion as that thing that drives you forward, the thing that you believe you will die physically or spiritually if you don't do it.  So then why, I ask is it that some of us can suppress that.  Surely everyone would be walking around living their passion all over everyone else if they were experiencing it right?  Well it turns out that our passion can be buried deep after years of 'doing things the way we are expected to do them'.  Not only can fitting in make us more accepted, but it can also suffocate our passion side.  People who live and work their passion are able to do that no matter what is said about them.  For them Cheryl says, "The big deep fortitude of a 'must' or 'why' looks like strength but that's passion."

Some people are lucky

There are some people who leave you in awe, or just make you sick because they seem to effortlessly live and work their passion.  Cheryl calls these people lucky: "They're some people who follow their calling from day one and it requires no extraordinary strength or mental resilience...They just came out the womb doing this thing so magically that it was easy for their parents to say they gotta do it...They appear to be 'lucky' is because never occurred to them to do anything other than following their gifts; then atop that they get to do what they love because they are supported by their parents and loved ones."  In other words no barriers, no fight, no suppression required.

Your Passion doesn't have to pay

Quote: "Where did you get the idea that your passion has to pay?"
Quote: "You can add value without having to make money!"
End Quote

Enough said?  Well not quite.  Cheryl acknowledges that some so-called gurus have been irresponsible in their spin on passion, giving the impression that quitting your job to follow your passion is the best scenario.  But as she puts it passion without the 'growth mindset' will leave you lacking if it's riches you're expecting from your passion.  What is the 'growth mindset' you ask?  It's the opposite of "Oh just do what you love and the money will follow".  It's having an active plan for how that thing that you love can lead to a livelihood, financial security and yes maybe riches.  Don't have that plan?  Well just enjoy your passion for what it's worth.

Cheryl 'Nyara' Gittens is founder of Connect With Your Passion Life Coaching Inc. based in Barbados.  She has been  an Organisational Behaviour Specialist for 18 years, turning around teams and eliciting higher levels of performance. You can connect with Cheryl at to arrange for speaking engagements.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Passion counts

This one is not an article, it's a poem and a spin off from my last post Your Dream Job?... Not! It's a also forerunner to my next full post where I share some thoughts from an interview with Cheryl 'Nyara' Gittens of Connect with Your Passion Life coaching.

Passion Counts

Competence is great
Skill is fantastic
Being Proactive and results-driven counts for alot
Having experience and the right qualifications always helps
Knowing the right people is a 'feather in your cap'
But the work doesn't stop being a job unless it is your passion.

I want to thank everyone who has read and commented so far.  In particular, for this short series on how we deal with work and our jobs, got to say thanks to +Andrea Sealy for her Straighttalk comment on the last post. She says:

"I enjoy certain aspects of my job, but not everything...and this is my "dream" job (for want of a better word). I studied with the intention of going into academia and research, which I am doing at present. But this is to say...even when you get into what you want to do...there are days/weeks where ya gotta grin and bear it. I look for new challenges, and various aspects to channel my energies into, which thank God, I have some flexibility to do. Thanks for posting this and other very pertinent topics on the blog!!!"

Is there such a thing as a 'dream job'?  Let me know if you have a clue.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Your Dream Job?... Not!

Let's face it, most of us don't get the opportunity to do exactly what we're best at everyday.  Despite how much we read about strategies to find out what truly drives us, we continue in jobs we don't enjoy and that don't even adequately pay the bills.  If you're in this position, I have six (6) tips, Straight Up, to help you deal with your misery.

1.  Forget about enjoyment and just do it

You may be so focused on your idea of 'enjoying' your job (whatever 'enjoyment' may mean to you) that you're not taking the time to learn more in your work environment.  Result?  Stagnation, boredom, even less 'enjoyment', low productivity and even the risk of being let go.

Do your job. Learn more about what makes the business run. Learn more about what other people do.  Just take the time to learn.  No one is going to give you your dream job if you're just a miserable, stagnant complainer.

2.  Tell Your Boss

Risky? Yes.  Honest?  Absolutely!  If you don't enjoy what you do, don't lie.  Say what you don't enjoy, but you better make sure that (a) you're very good at what your don't enjoy and (b)you can clearly articulate what you're better at and how you are willing to help in that area to demonstrate that you can make a shift.

3.  Get a life

If your life at work is hellish then make sure that when you exit the gates of purgatory every day that you enjoy the heck out of the rest of the day.

4.  PRAY

Why is this word such taboo these days?  Listen, if no one else is listening to you, God will.  Pray without ceasing for the change you need and then act as if change is certain.

5.  Make Your Lunch Break Count

Passionate about something else?  Do it during your lunch break.  Read about at lunch, watch the 'how to' videos on your tablet or phone, while taking a bite.  Immerse yourself in it for that moment and then... get back to work.

6.  Start the 'I hate my job' Club

When all of your club members get together, you'll get so sick of hearing each other complain all the time, you may actually decide to do something useful, like swap jobs, or find new jobs, or start a business.

You know, in the end, who says we have to enjoy work?  It's WORK!  It's NECESSARY!  When work became something that we do for money, enjoyment of it became irrelevant.

Love it or hate it, I'd love your comments on this post, or just share your ideas on how we can defeat work misery. 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Your Dream Guy Does Not Exist

Did you ever dream of who your ideal mate would be?  Maybe he'd be tall, nice voice, understanding, a 'fix-it' guy, sociable, great conversationalist, tender; you know... and the list goes on.

Image Source:
Good + Bad = Perfect
I have bad news and good news.  The bad news is that your dream guy does not exist.  The good news is, there may be someone better, but you may have to get real with yourself in order to see it. 

If you find yourself making some of the statements below with your current guy, I've designed some responses to help set you straight and thankful for the one you've got.

Statement 1.  "He's really sweet but..."
Response: But what?  Isn't sweet what you want?

Statement 2.  "Everything is perfect except..."
Response: Give the guy a break, his flaws are probably what attracted you to him in the first place.

Statement 3.  "If he would just do things the way I want them done..."
Response: Then he'd be just like you and what would be the use?

Statement 4.  "I wish he would take initiative and not just do things because I ask him to.
Response: Huhhhh?  Are you hearing yourself?  You better be grateful that he listens!

Statement 5.  "If he leaves the toilet seat up one more time..."
Response: Just say you don't appreciate it and then get over yourself.

Statement 6.  "We used to spend quiet time together.  Now he's working all the time.  He's got no time for me."
Response: Is it because you have a laundry list of stuff you need?  Guy's just doing his job of providing.  Do yourself a favour and shorten your list of must-haves.  Meet him halfway.

Love or hate I'd be happy to hear your comments and anything you would like to add.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Six Things You Need to Know About Men Before You Get Into a Relationship

Men are amazing beings.  We women get mesmerized by their special skills, talents and physiques but we have to learn much more about them before we can grow in a relationship with them. 

1. They Are Not women 

Sounds obvious, I know, but men just don't think like women do.  So if you want to know the answer to a question don't look for emotional cues, you'll never understand them.  Ask straight questions to get straight answers.  Then for heaven's sake, take the answer as it is.  If he says " You look great in that dress", that's just what it means.  It doesn't mean "I want to marry you."


2.  Sex Means A lot, But It's Not Everything

If you think men use you as a measure of their manly performance in bed, you're right.  Men need to feel that sense of having performed well, sexually and otherwise.  Don't be fooled into thinking you've got him on 'lock' if you stroke his sexual ego though.  When he's looking for the 'right one', he's more likely to choose the lady who will allow him to be a protector, performer, provider and procreator.  In other words, the one who lets him be the man.


3.  It Isn't Easy for Him to be Faithful

A man is wired for sexual attraction.  When he makes a commitment to you, he's done a really difficult thing.  He suppresses the urge to experience a manly rush with other women.  Acknowledge his commitment.  Be good to him.


4.  He Needs to See His Mum in You: That Makes You Worthy

Even if she wasn't the most upstanding person, a man, in most cases, can't help but find some strengths in his mother.  Having more of his mother's good qualities makes you inherently more valuable.


5.  Having Children Terrifies Them but Fatherhood is 'Kinda Cool'

The difference here is in the details.  For such logical minded beings, men are petrified by the logistics of taking care of children: diaper changes, potty training, choosing formula, that's a blur.  But there is no greater sense of pride than being called 'Dad', providing for their children's needs and being acknowledged as a father.  Great men get a handle on the logistics and bask in the great glory of 'Daddy-dom'.

6.  He's As Strong As Your Support For Him

Want to see a man thrive?  Throw your support behind him, endorse him, say good things about him, spin his negatives into positives and TELL HIM.  He thrives on hearing it and your relationship will be the better for it.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Six Things Relationship Gurus Don't Tell You

We've all been in relationships right?  And they're those where we just wish we would have done things differently.  Want straight talk on relationships? Well I'll tackle what works and what doesn't in the next three posts starting with this one.  Just what aren't the relationship gurus telling us?

1. It's Your Fault

You know when you've done wrong. Admit it.  You may have been 'looking out for your own interests' only to realize that in the process you hurt those you love the most and made your own life more miserable.  Own up.  Own it.  You created the situation.  Now work on creating a better situation.  But realize that it will take time, energy, commitment and self-sacrifice.  All the things you hate to hear.

2.  Pull Your Weight

You are in a relationship, that means you and someone else share the responsibility for making things work through communication, compromise, patience, service and mindfulness of the other.  So what if your partner makes it look and feel so easy but you can't seem to do it without lots of effort.  Get in there, work on it, do your part.  Ask where you can make improvements and do it.  Things won't work unless both of you decide to PULL YOUR WEIGHT.

3.  Express Yourself

Sometimes you have to be prepared to let it all out.  Let it be known when your feelings are hurt, or when you expected more, or when you just need to vent.  Any relationship can benefit from plain unpolished truth and emotion.  Nothing like a kick in the ass to say "Look something is wrong and we have to fix it".

4.  Think 'Us' not 'Me'

Best way to end a relationship?  Be completely 'me-centred'.  You come to a relationship to feel a sense of wholeness and satisfaction with another person.  Once your focus becomes on how everything will affect 'me' or work for 'me' or help 'me' rather than 'us', you've just ended the relationship by default.

5.  No secrets

So you've kept that years-old secret close to your chest. No one can ever know right? Wrong! When it comes to relationships, be brave.  Get it out in the open.  If you don't, some day your skeleton in the closet may just accidentally fall out and scare your partner to death.

6.  Children are a Deal-breaker

If you want children and your partner doesn't or vice versa, then you won't be in this union for the long haul.  State your position and be prepared to move on if it isn't mutual.