Saturday, August 28, 2010

How a Relationship Made a Quantum-Leap When I Dared to Suck

By Julie Rahm

Jackie has been my bonus daughter (stepdaughter) for over 12 years. I love her so much, yet she may not know how much because we are a bit guarded with each other. For the last 12 months, Jackie has participated in the Practical Nursing program at her local college. About a month before her graduation, she asked me to play the piano for her graduation ceremony. Jackie told me how much it would mean to her if I were part of such an important event in her life. I would only need to play Pomp and Circumstance and some background music during a portion of the ceremony. And, she thought the piano would be in the back of the auditorium.

My heart melted as I reminded Jackie that I had not played the piano publicly since Eighth Grade. She responded that she enjoyed hearing me play and that she thought I played very well. My memory flashed back to how much I enjoyed helping her when she was taking piano lessons eleven years ago. She had asked me so sincerely. In a moment of possibility thinking, I said yes!

Hanging up the phone I realized the countdown started at only 28 days to graduation. I dug through stacks of old music looking for Pomp and Circumstance. Eureka! I found it. However, the arrangement called for eight to ten fingers on the keys at all times. As I began to play, tension grew from my chest outward to my head and toes. Uh oh. What had I done?

For the next 28 days, I practiced during every free moment that I could pull myself away from the demands of business. Over and over I played each section until it was perfect. Each day I built on my work from the previous day. Remembering from childhood recitals that my performances were never as good as my practices, I worked hard to make my living room rehearsals sound magnificent.

As I practiced, I kept my metaphorical tool kit handy. As I made mistakes, my level tilted. I used my metaphorical pliers and plucked out thoughts that I would mess up, ruin the ceremony, and humiliate myself, my husband and Jackie. With my metaphorical utility knife I cut the cord to past times of being nauseous before performing, fearing criticism and rejection, and feeling humiliated. I hammered in the knowledge that playing for the ceremony was not about me. It was about celebrating the graduates and creating something beautiful for all in attendance.

As I arrived for the dress rehearsal the day before the ceremony, I was overcome by emotions when Jackie proudly introduced me to her teachers and classmates as her mom. She had never just called me mom. Feeling drunk with joy, I went to the back of the auditorium to look for the piano. But it was not there. Instead, I found a fabulous grand piano on stage right. I had never played a grand piano and did not even know how to open it properly. Thankfully the operations manager was there to set up the piano for me. Playing on the stage in front of the audience was not what I had envisioned. I needed my tool kit again to pluck out my fears and continue to hammer in the fact that the event was not about me. Through a miracle of God I was able to play. The dress rehearsal went well.

For the ceremony I wore an elegant long black skirt and sparkly long-sleeved black top. If I sucked at least I wanted to look good doing it! Seeing my name in the program with “pianist” behind it was surreal. I have had a lot of titles, but never anything like “pianist”.

An hour before the ceremony began, I warmed up and played through the music perfectly. Ahhhhhh. I sat on the piano bench on the dark stage waiting to begin. As the stage manager brought up the lights, I took a deep breath and lifted my hands. With passion, I hit the keys for the dramatic introduction to Pomp and Circumstance. Instead of the beautiful music that came out an hour earlier, it sounded like something fell on the keys. In my confusion I felt possessed. After a few bars I recovered, finished the introduction and began the familiar part of the piece as the graduates began their procession. Fortunately, the graduates were outside of the auditorium and did not hear those first notes. The rest of my playing went well and was timed perfectly. The ceremony was lovely and meaningful.

Following the ceremony, the graduates gave me a thank you card each one had signed along with a stunning bouquet of yellow roses. Jackie and I hugged, both of us relieved. Being on stage in front of people to receive her certificate was a stretch for Jackie who does not like to be the center of attention.

A few days after graduation, I received a heartfelt handwritten note from Jackie that I may frame. Chills came over my body as I read how grateful she is for our relationship, that she loves me, and how much it meant to her that I was part of her ceremony. She understood what a challenge it was for me and how much I have going on each day.

I wanted my relationship with Jackie to be deeper. So I did something different and dared to suck. With total disregard to my performance anxiety I agreed to do something Jackie asked of me. The unexpected gift was a quantum-leap in our relationship. Now I challenge you to keep your metaphorical tool kit ready and at your first opportunity, dare to suck! And then celebrate the resulting miracles.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Power of Teamwork

By Julie Rahm

Yesterday our town had a fun, entertaining and community-bonding event – the Dragon Boat Races. Nine teams of 20 people paddled Dragon Boat canoes on the Neuse River. The teams came from businesses, non-profits and neighborhoods. In addition to racing, each team decorated their team tent and raised money for their favorite charities.

As I watched the teams prepare to race, I observed their varied mindsets. Most people expected the winning team to be the one from our local Health Club. Their team members were the most physically fit and they had practiced the most. But that team did not even make the top three. The winning team, Paddle Mania from Deaton Yacht Service, won the event by five seconds – a huge margin. What made this team so much better performing than the eight others? After all, they had only practiced together for one hour the evening before the race, none of the team members had paddling experience, and the team of men and women spanned three generations. The winning difference was that the team worked together. In Dragon Boat racing, synchronicity breeds speed. Togetherness was the key ingredient. Despite the varying weights and strength capabilities of their members, with each drum beat, 20 paddles stroked through the water as if they were connected and automated. Everyone on the team appeared to like and respect each other. Their chemistry was electric. While they all hoped to win the race, their most important aspect of the day was working well together and having fun.

Unlike the winning Paddle Mania team, the other slower teams behaved like 20 individuals. They had members whose mindsets were tilted off balance by negative thoughts toward other teams and even toward members of their own teams who they thought were not good enough. There was some minor trash-talking as if it were part of a winning strategy. Trash talking can be fun and entertaining. However, while a member of a team, it is generally detrimental to a winning performance because it creates negative energy and directs one’s focus away from their team.

So the next time you find yourself on a team, whether at work, at home or for fun, remember to bring your metaphorical tool kit. Use your metaphorical level to ensure your thoughts are off of competition and in balance. Use your metaphorical pliers to pluck out thoughts of criticizing others and keeping others down in order to raise yourself up. Let your metaphorical plumb bob point to respecting your teammates, cooperating with each other, doing your best and having fun. Achieving your goal and “winning” follow. And remember to measure your progress with your metaphorical measuring tape!

The rest of the story...
The rest of the story is that my husband, John, paddled with Paddle Mania and his friends at Deaton Yacht Service. I delighted in seeing them pull away from the pack with Grandmother Deaton drumming their paddling rhythm from the front of the boat and Granddaughter Deaton paddling at the back. Small town living agrees with me!

Friday, August 13, 2010

How Much Do Health Worries Affect You?

By Julie Marie Rahm

On a scale of one to ten, one being “no effect” and ten being “paralyzing effect”, how much do thoughts of your health or the health of others affect your life? In this section you will learn how to discipline your thoughts about health and reduce their effect on you to less than a three out of ten.

Health concerns top the list of thoughts that tilt the metaphorical levels of my clients. They fear that they are victims of their genetic code and are waiting for the inevitable day disease grips them. They fear for and fret over their loved ones who are ill. They think they have to live with ailments and take prescription drugs to relieve their symptoms. And, they are weary of the amount of misinformation they receive about their health and the health of those they love. Do any of those thoughts resonate with you? In the next several paragraphs you will meet two of my clients and learn how they used their metaphorical tools and the core principles to resolve their issues about health.

Let’s begin with my client who feared her genetic code and thought heart disease was inevitable for her. She came to me with health affecting her at a level of eight out of ten. We reviewed the latest science together. Without going into great detail and oversimplifying a bit, recent research by scientists and doctors like Dr. Bruce Lipton has shown that DNA in our cells is not the cell brain, but is instead merely the sex organ. Cells receive instructions on what to do from outside themselves. Ultimately, researchers have concluded that we are not victims of our genes. Rather our beliefs and expectations about our health most affect the health results we experience.

Armed with new knowledge, my client used her pliers to pluck out her thoughts and fears of being a victim of her genes and of the inevitability of disease. She hammered in the framework for good health by hammering in the thought that her truth is having a healthy body. She used her utility knife to cut the cords to the cumulative effects of all of her experiences and memories of health misinformation and disease. She manifested her healthy life by using her screwdriver to connect her intention of being healthy to her actions, her actions to results and her results to manifesting reality. She used her measuring tape to measure her results disciplining her thoughts around the subject of health. Now health affects my client at a level of only two out of ten.

The second client came to me bothered by thoughts and fears about her sister’s health that affected her at a level of eight out of ten. Her sister was only 37-years-old and had ovarian cancer. And, her sister’s children were only eight-years-old and ten-years-old. I explained to my client that we do not know what the future will bring and that at least one person has survived every disease in the world. My client’s primary job with her sister was to hold the vision of her sister as healthy and to treat her as such. The thought energy we project reflects back to us as the same energy. Fear is the worst energy to bring to an ill person. Love is the energy people need to heal.

My client understood these concepts in her head, but her heart was still full of fear. She needed neutralize her fears of the future and her past experiences and memories of women with ovarian cancer. She used her pliers to pluck fears of her sister dying from her mind. With her utility knife she cut the cords to the cumulative effects of the experiences and memories she had of people with cancer of all kinds, especially those people who died. She hammered in thoughts of pure love for her sister so there was no room for any other thought. At last my client could use her screwdriver and connect her intentions, actions and results. She felt so much calmer about her sister’s condition. Now instead of adding to the illness energy she brought healing energy to her sister and a sense of peace to her sister’s husband and children. My client had lowered the effect on her of her sister’s health to a three out of ten.

Health concerns affect people more than anything else in their lives until they learn to use their metaphorical tool kits. You can reduce the effects of health concerns by applying your tools and converting the fears that grip you into love. In doing so you will create the environment for health in your own body and in the bodies of others.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Competitive Survive – The Cooperative Thrive

By Julie Marie Rahm

The value of cooperating with each other is my favorite lesson to teach whether I am speaking to corporate leaders, volunteers, salespeople or assembly line personnel. To be productive and successful you must eliminate competition from your life. Why? Every person who wins success by competing causes others to lose. When you cause others to lose you are not living a balanced life of value and fulfillment. If you succeed only to feed your ambition, to outperform others, or to be famous you are living purely for the pleasure of your mind. You are not living in a way that balances the triad of your body, mind and spirit. And, you will never be satisfied. Every person who achieves success by creating paves the way for others and inspires them to follow her.

As an aside, if you prefer a more scientific reason to cooperate, while you are on the Internet read about “reciprocal altruism” in evolutionary biology, game theory and the “Prisoner’s Dilemma” in mathematics and neuroeconomics. You will learn that your brain produces dopamine giving you feelings of pleasure when you cooperate, not when you compete. You will also learn that recurring interactions with the same individuals, especially when you enter the interactions with a reputation, stimulate the desire to cooperate. Your brain’s frontal cortex helps you resist the temptation to “win the battle” – the interaction in the short term, and “lose the war” – the long term relationship.

Look at your life. Have you built a life around competing? Do you use expressions like "This is tough," or "I'm fighting my way through this"? Pay special attention to thoughts that keep your mind in competition programming. "This is going to be a long road," or "I've got to work hard so that I can earn this income," are typical thoughts that can lead you toward a life of strains and struggles.

Start now cooperating with your work world. Use your metaphorical pliers to pluck out thoughts of your work world being a difficult place to be and where you always need your sword and shield raised high. Instead take a moment each day to analyze where you can become more cooperative.

Use your metaphorical hammer and hammer in the answers to the following questions. How can you cooperate with the marketplace? How can you cooperative with your boss and fellow associates? How can you cooperate with your family and friends, the weather, your car, and your health? Discipline your thoughts by hammering in your strong self relationship and your vision for what you want to create.

Is your corporate culture so competition-based that you cannot imagine what cooperation looks like? If so, make peace with where you are and start with small changes. Speak respectfully to and about others. Greet people with eye contact and a smile. Keep your work area tidy. Give your best effort to each task and client. Support each other. Help each other.

Remember your work day starts at home, because your mood for the day starts at home. Keep your metaphorical level in balance by cooperating with your environment. Cooperate with your body and its health by sleeping when you are tired and eating when you are hungry. Dress for the weather. Maintain your vehicle or keep your bus/rail pass handy. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive at work on time even if there are traffic or transportation delays. If someone is rude to you along the way, use your pliers to pluck out your thoughts about using your finger to show them they are number one and hammer in love. Use your utility knife to cut the cord to all of your past experiences and memories of rude people. Arrive at work with your level in balance.

If you are still struggling to imagine your workplace as cooperative, allow me to use a very specific example of cooperating in a career that is stereotypically competitive, namely selling real estate. Imagine REALTORS® and their associates sharing with each other techniques that work best for them. Imagine a REALTOR® from one company re-setting the sign that blew down in front of a home in her neighborhood being sold by a REALTOR® from a different company. Imagine REALTORS® knowing first hand the inventory of homes for sale in their area and being ready to answer questions about specific homes when potential clients call. Imagine all REALTORS® being masters of client service and their trade.

Use your imagination. Be a leader in your workplace and pave the way with your creating. You may need several interactions cooperating with the same person to build trust. Be persistent. Practice forgiving cooperating.

I cannot emphasize enough the value of cooperation. The REALTORS® I coach experience the success and peace that comes with a focus on cooperating and creating. By applying a cooperative mindset individually and collectively each real estate firm, whose associates I coach, achieves the #1 position in its community. One firm even ranked in the top 10 for its franchise internationally.

Whether or not your company or business has a competitive culture, you can succeed by cooperating and creating. Opportunities will come to you because people will like working with you. Co-workers and management will align with you. You will pave the way and inspire others to create along with you.
Top curve