Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pigs in the Creek

By Julie Rahm
It is true. I write about pigs a lot. I like using pigs in metaphors. Also, here in North Carolina, writing about pigs is very appropriate. After all, in our state, pig farming is one of the largest agricultural industries. Our state is a leading producer of pigs with sales topping $3 billion every year. In North Carolina, there are 9,535,483 people and 8,800,000 pigs; almost a pig for every person! And, my husband, John, is also to blame. Many of his leadership one-liners involve pigs. John’s latest favorite is, “The water in the creek won’t clear up unless you get the pigs out.”

John is right. Pigs will stir up a creek. And, the water will remain muddy until the pigs leave. The same is true in life. Often, there are people who keep mucking around in your creek and stirring up all the mud. These people can be a relative, a significant other or a friend. They arrive in your creek creating emotional turmoil. The offenders are easy to identify. Once they leave, there is often a sigh of relief. Another aid to identification can be dread. If you dread someone’s company, they are the pig in your creek. Do you look forward to seeing them? Or, do you prefer to avoid the encounter? This simple realization can be very freeing. Once you realize there are pigs in your creek, there are decisions to make.

You could decide that muddy water in your creek is tolerable. It is difficult to exorcise family members from your life. The turmoil created by trying to rid yourself of a family member may not be worth the effort. It may be better to live with some minor muddy water than upset long-term family relationships.

On the other hand, if someone is unkind, unsupportive or abusive, it is time to get them out of your creek. Life is short and we do not get a dress rehearsal. We are mostly the product of those with whom we spend the most time. Take a personal inventory and make the changes that are warranted. If someone is not the wind in your sails, I recommend a change. Choose your friends. Do not let anyone be the pig who keeps stirring up the water in your creek. Friends can come and go like the seasons. Sometimes the season for a particular relationship is over. Moving on is most likely moving forward. Keep a long term perspective.

Recently, I ended my relationship with one of my girl friends. We were the best of friends and first met when we worked together in same Department of Defense office. It was hard, unpleasant and uncomfortable to end the friendship. But, some medicine is distasteful. Our season as friends was over and I could not have her mucking around in my creek stirring up the water.

So, to learn more about achieving the life you deserve, visit my website at www.AmericasMindsetMechanic.com.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fitness

By Julie Rahm


Every time, (and I mean every time), I turn on the television there is a broadcast about physical fitness. Fitness, along with weight loss, account for the largest portion of commercials. In the United States, twenty five-percent of men and forty-five percent of women are on a special diet at any given time. It is understandable. Over forty-one million Americans are estimated to be overweight with pre-diabetes. Unless they make changes to their diet and physical activity, most people with pre-diabetes will develop type-two diabetes within ten years. Even worse, more than ten-percent of children between the ages of two and five years are overweight, double the proportion since 1980. The statistics easily trouble the mind. But, I am not writing to “beat the drum” on physical fitness. Rather, as America’s Mindset Mechanic, I like to “beat the drum” for conversational fitness.

I define conversational fitness as an ability to have a meaningful exchange of thoughts and ideas in order to resolve an issue. Like physical fitness, most Americans could benefit from some conversational fitness training. In relationships, it is vitally important to possess the ability to have a meaningful exchange of thoughts and ideas. After all, conversation is the principal method to resolve conflict in relationships. Some propose that “conversation is the relationship”. I do not go that far. However, the importance of effective conversation is difficult to overstate.

The first step to good communication is emotional maturity. Emotions must be kept on a tight reign. They cannot be allowed to run amuck and derail efforts to resolve an issue. Most times, emotions are not your friends. If an argument starts to boil, turn down the heat by having an internal conversation with yourself. Breathe in and then breathe out. Get intellectual and get control. Round up those bad thoughts and get them back in your mental lockbox. Do not let your feelings get hurt.

Once the emotional charge is removed from the issue, some drilling might be required to determine the real issue. Identify what past experience is being triggered and feel the emotions dissipate. If the feelings persist, you have not identified the real issue. Only when the real issue is identified and brought to light, will the emotions of anger or pain dissipate.

Also important is your goal. What end state are you trying to achieve? Words matter. And, your words and actions must work together to achieve your desired end state. For example, despite what Coach Lombardi said, winning is not everything, especially in arguments. In our house, I have a saying. You can be right or you can be happy. Do not sacrifice a short term “win” for a long term quality improvement in your relationship. When you are engaged in a heated discussion, consider how you want the relationship to be years from now. Most often, making your partner feel bad and defeated does not enhance the relationship.

Learn more to improve your conversational fitness by visiting my website at www.AmericasMindsetMechanic.com.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Aground

By Julie Rahm


This week, I watched a big sailboat leave our creek. Most boats have their home port on their stern. I think this boat was from Connecticut. My husband, John, said the captain of this sailboat did not know what he was doing. You see, this boat was flying the American flag from the right side of the mast. John is a stickler for flag etiquette. He contends a knowledgeable sailor does not screw-up the flag etiquette. So, when this Connecticut boat passed by, John had some disparaging remarks about the proficiency of the captain. Then, as if it were choreographed, the captain drove the boat out of the channel and hard aground into shallows. John was not surprised to see this big sailboat stuck in the mud. John says, “Captain’s must mind their helms.”

A helm is the steering mechanism on a boat. Most helms are a big wheel with mechanical linkage connected to the rudder. One can be at “at the helm” or can even “take the helm”. Fast racing sailboats have good “helmsmen” who steer their boats to victory.

Even more important than minding the helm of a boat, is minding the helm of your personal life. Just as boats are steered from the helm, you are responsible for minding your helm and steering a proper course through your life.

The very first step in personal helmsmanship is setting a course. What do you like to do? What do you want to accomplish? Where do you want to be five, ten or twenty years from now? Once you have decided on a destination, the course will become apparent and you’ll be able to decide on a direction. “Minding your helm” is simply the decisions you will make as you execute your plan. A large part of my coaching business is helping clients mitigate their poor decisions. Good helmsmen make good decisions. Likewise, successful individuals “mind their helms” and make good decisions.

For example, success in school (any school) is a good decision. Being lawful is another good decision. In contrast, drug or alcohol abuse is not a good decision. Financial dilemmas are often the result of irresponsible financial decisions. Willful violations of laws are also not good decisions. Make bad decisions and your ship may leave the channel and get stuck in the mud. Other examples, both good and bad, abound. Most important is the realization that you are the helmsman of your life. And, you must be present at the helm to make the decisions that keep you on the course to achieve the life you want and deserve. Whether your goals are small or big, your personal boat must still be steered. Very few of us drift into our destinations and achieve our desires.

The sailboat from Connecticut was lucky to pulled from the mud by a towboat. In contrast, those who fail to “mind their helms” in life may not be so fortunate. If you need assistance steering your personal boat, you can learn more at my website www.AmericasMindsetMechanic.com.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pamlico Leonidas

By Julie Rahm

This week, Jackie, our UPS delivery man, dropped a cumbersome package on our front porch. The box was roughly four feet square and eight inches thin. I had not ordered anything. So, I knew my husband, John, was the culprit. Late night QVC channel and a credit card can be a dangerous combination. I was slightly concerned and overly curious. The box was too big for a boat thing. John’s boat things come in smaller packages. And, I did not recognize the return address. The mystery surrounding this big box began to build.

When John learned that the box had arrived, he was both excited and unsettled. He was obviously pleased the box had arrived. But, he knew there was some explaining to do. I asked, “What’s in the box?” John replied, “Something I ordered.” (John knows I dislike these evasive conversations.) (Gosh. Do you think? Maybe UPS Jackie delivered the package to the wrong house. Impossible.) I gave John “the look” that most husbands recognize. He perceptively knew it was time to fess-up and reveal the contents of the mystery package.

When John opened the box, out came this over-sized bronze disc. On the front, there was a big Greek letter Lambda. I recognized the Greek letter from my years in a sorority. So, in order to remove all doubt, I asked John to identify this object. Sheepishly, John identified this UPS-delivered, bronze disc as a museum quality, replica Spartan shield, complete with authentic dents!

Now, I’m not against husbands having some material possessions to display their success. However, my initial reaction was distress that this piece of ancient weaponry might soon hang in the living room. I cannot imagine why any husband would want an authentic Spartan shield. Perhaps it is a previous life issue. I tried to reconcile the purchase by ascertaining some utility for this piece of round bronze. Short of doing battle with the neighbors, I could not imagine a purpose for this shield. So I asked John to reveal his intentions for the Spartan artifact. John responded by stating the shield was a mindset tool. His elaboration was insightful and clever.

Knowing that I market myself as America’s Mindset Mechanic and that mindset is my professional forum; John defended his purchase by arguing the shield was a physical metaphor to protect him from negative thoughts and speech. And, the shield serves to defend and protect his positive mindset. It was an interesting defense and one with merit. Now, I am not advocating we all purchase of Spartan shields. However, too often, county residents absorb criticism or the hurtful words of others. Perhaps we all need a metaphorical shield to protect our positive attitudes. Negative emotions can be as destructive as a Persian spear. So, when someone in your life wields a negative word against you, pick up your metaphorical Greek shield. Keep those negative words at bay and protect your positive mindset.

Learn more by visiting my website at www.AmericasMindsetMechanic.com.
Top curve