Posts Tagged ‘perception’

What’s Real? A Nor’easter of Perception & Meaning

December 1, 2009

A long time mentor once gave me a piece of priceless wisdom, which I will never forget.  “A persons perception is powerful.  It is the set of glasses with which they view the world through.  It doesn’t matter what you say or mean to say, they can only interpret it based on those glasses.” The glasses he’s talking about are core beliefs.

How many times has conflict amongst co-workers, collaborative partners or spouses all erupted because of a misunderstanding of what was said, meant, implied or otherwise communicated to another person? How many times have you witnessed an argument yet could see so clearly that the way it “landed” for one party was not at all the intention of the other party.  But in that moment those 2 players could not see or hear that?

It happens so often and is the cause of so much pain and anxiety in our world. We all carry a set of beliefs that become the “glasses” with which we give all meaning.  If you believe that you are a victim then no matter what constructive criticism or guidance is offered there is a knee jerk reaction to blame others for whatever is going on.  If you believe that people are inherently dishonest then most of your dealings in life will be perceived as suspicious or not to be trusted.  Why? Because we assigned a meaning to an event long ago that now has set up those beliefs.

Any situation is merely an orchestration of exchanges.  However they have no meaning, none what so ever until we assign the meaning. I used to have a mentor that would ask me “Why are you getting so upset? Those events have no meaning” and I just wanted to throttle him! (Hey, transparency here!)  It would make me even more upset at what was going on.  But then I really got clear on this point.  The best way to explain this is to give you a simple example.

When I was 16 years old I finally earned my drivers license. I was thrilled beyond belief to have this newfound freedom.  I felt like a grown up and took my responsibility with having the use of the family car – a chocolate brown Thunderbird – very seriously.  My parents imparted the importance of being responsible to us constantly.

One snowy winters day I was allowed to drive the Thunderbird to school.  It wasn’t snowing much in the morning but by lunchtime a nor’easter rolled in and school was let out early.  I stood in the High School parking lot looking at the car and looking at the buses.  I had to make a decision: drive home in the snow or take the bus home.  Thinking that I would be deemed irresponsible if I left the car, I opted to drive home.  Up and down the hilly slopes I drove slowly and cautiously.  Then it happened, I went into a full slide, eased off the breaks and did my best to maneuver the car.  Instead, I ended up crashing into the guardrail right in front of the State Troopers barracks.

My mother picked me up and did her best to comfort.  When we got home my extremely irate father greeted me.  I had completely totaled the front end of the car.  Our bad ass T-bird was cooked.  I started to cry and felt awful.  I immediately turned to my mother and said; “Does he care that I’m not hurt? Doesn’t he care that I’m not dead?!”  I interpreted his actions, his words to mean that he didn’t care about anything, especially me, except the car. In truth, what I had interpreted was really not the truth.  I assigned the meaning to his words and actions.

What would be another acceptable interpretation of this situation or his actions and words?  There are many.

  • “He was so scared that I could have been killed that he couldn’t express that fear in the moment.  He deflected his fear by focusing on the car.”
  • “He was worried about his family as a whole and was struggling with how we would get around without this car and how he could finance another one.”
  • “He did the physical inventory the minute he saw me: 2 arms, 2 legs, no blood, nothing broken.  He knew I was ok.”

We never know what a person is really thinking or what they truly mean. It’s all about how we interpret and assign meaning to any given situation.  Did my father really not care if I was ok?  I highly doubt it.  But in that moment, in my young mind I had assigned that meaning to the experience as well as not feeling loved or responsible.

You know what?  None of that is real unless one makes it real in their mind.  There are many ways any situation can be given meaning.  The challenge is not to.  Not to make something it’s not.  Not to fuel something that doesn’t really exist.  To avoid conflict and misunderstanding by practicing this art form daily.

I offer you this now so that you can reflect on this principle as we close 2009.

  • Where are you giving meaning that causes you conflict and pain in your life?
  • What is causing you to hold grievances against another person?
  • How have these meanings that created a story you keep playing in your mind stopped you short of your dreams?

Let it go.  You’ll be happier for it.

When you realize that you are the author of the pain in your life you will stop.  The greatest compassion you can show is to release yourself from the illusions you’ve created and live a more constructive life without them.

When Gurus Become Gods

November 12, 2009

Yesterday I was pretty restless so I spent several hours in the middle of the day perusing the social media world, updating my tweets and being part of the discussions that were going on.  Personally I love this aspect of social media because it helps me to see what’s really top of mind at the moment. “Great market research” as a dear friend of mine always reminds me.

I’ve noticed is that there are a lot of blog posts and articles being written about teachers, leaders and other note worthy gurus.  I guess that’s fair enough.  When you become more public and are in a position of power you ultimately open yourself up to criticism, comment and others opinions.  After all we are in a country that protects 1st amendment rights.  Free speech and all that.

What I’m seeing are a lot of people “naming names” and criticizing these people openly. They have paid fees to work with some of them.  Others have attended their educational live events or participated in some other program of one sort or another.  So there is  the element of free-will and participation in the exchange.  Actually giving permission to the teacher or leader to impart their particular form of wisdom to the attendee.  Rather than expressing any level of gratitude or appreciation I have witness some pretty severe and sometimes outlandish slamming .

Listen, I’ve paid for these types of services too and found myself less than satisfied but you know what? I made the choice to participate by handing over my credit card.  So it’s my choice. My free will. My money.  Sometimes I wish I hadn’t.  But who is to blame?  No one but me.  It was a choice that I made.

Often times we make these Gurus into Gods.  Hanging on every word. Wishing for them to impart the perfect solution to whatever is going on.  Is that realistic? I think not.  So I offer these 7 things to keep in mind about any guru, teach, mentor, coach or leader in your life.

1. When a person stands in front of you and professes their truth it is their truth. Their wisdom.  From their point of view and life experience.  It does not mean that it is “the truth” or “the only truth” that exists.

2.   Everyone is entitled to an opinion. When an opinion become a need to “be right” and to make others “wrong” that’s a competitive signal. Meaning “I’m better than her/him”.

3.   Take what you need from this person and forget the rest. Not everything they say and do will resonate with you.  Nor should it.  You’re your own person.  It’s like saying everyone likes vanilla ice cream.  (I personally prefer gelato not ice cream and the flavor of choice is nocciola)

4.   No one Guru has the end all be all answer to your problem.

5.   They WILL say something you don’t like or want to hear. It’s inevitable. Sometimes that’s actually why they are in your life.

6.   They cannot always control their guests, staff statements or opinions. People are people and are unpredictable at times.

7.   Any and every teacher makes mistakes or missteps.  Usually at one point or another they may make a correction or amend a previous error.  They are human and should be permitted for possessing a less-than-perfect character.

Ultimately it is up to you to make decisions for yourself. It is about taking personal responsibility for your actions and outcomes. You are not a victim unless you choose to be.

When you make a Guru a God, that means to ask them to perfect, to have every solution to every problem you’ve given away your personal power and choice.

If you are not in alignment with any Guru, teacher, mentor, coach or leader in your life then move on.

If you do not resonate with what they teach, move on.

And most of all, if you really find what they offer so outlandish then stop supporting them with your attendance and credit card swipes.

Are You A Victim of Circumstance?

July 1, 2008

Do you feel that you are bound by the current circumstances you’re in? Or, perhaps you’re limited by what you’re experiencing? If so, I will tell you that your outward circumstances will never change until you change your interior environment – your mind and how you perceive things change. Your PERCEPTION is really just another way of saying “the glasses you view the world through” or the programming of your subconscious mind that tints every interaction you have, the words you speak, your actions and ultimately your results.

People get really upset with me when I tell them this. “Maria, you just don’t understand!” Yes, of course I do. I’ve been there. We’ve all been in that place of utter despair, feeling helpless at what looks to be the whims of others or circumstances we face.

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Cory Booker, the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He told me a story that I’ve found so inspirational that I’ve been sharing it with everyone around me.

A resident of Newark, Cory returned to his native city once he graduated from Yale Law School. Speaking with this mother, he told her he had arrived to make a difference. He was full of vim, vigor and a super-hero sense of doing good. She told him, if you want to know anything about life, forget Yale and go see Miss Jones on the 5th floor of the projects. Young, arrogant Cory (his own self description; not mine) headed off to see Miss Jones. Walking down the street he passed a gang gathering and a handful of drug dealers. Through the doors to Miss Jones’ building he bounded up the 5th floor walk up and knocked on her door. Tap tap tap.

“Hello, what do you want?” came from behind the door.

“Mam, I’m Cory Booker and I’m here to save you.”

She opened the door and let him inside. “You’re here to do what?!”

He explained his position and then asked her, “What can I do to help?” She motioned him to follow her.

They went back down the darkened hallway and down the stairs through the lobby, where he later learned Miss Jones’ son was gunned down in a needless violent act. Then, they went out onto the street where they “respectfully” passed the narcotic entrepreneurs and gang members again. She stood in the middle of the street and asked, “What do you see here Cory?”

He looked around and mentioned the characters they passed and described the burned out buildings and graffiti around him. All of 5 feet tall, Miss Jones looked up at Cory and said, “You’re of no use to me. Go away.”

Running after her pleading to know why, she finally turned and said to him,”What I see here is opportunity. And unless you can learn to see that opportunity, you will never change anything.”

Embarrassed, he realized his mistake. He had to learn to look past what was in front of him and see the opportunity for greatness even in the darkest places or situations. He had to visualize the light on the other side of the tunnel.

Cory Booker is still early in his seat as Mayor of Newark. His mission statement is: “To be America’s leading urban city in safety, prosperity and nurturing of family life. Newark will set a national standard for urban transformation by marshaling its resources to achieve security, economic abundance and an environment that is nurturing and empowering for families.” (Quoted from the NYTimes)

What you might not know about Newark is that it is one of the nation’s poorest cities with a population of 275,000. One third of the children of Newark live in poverty, and less than 9% of the population has an education beyond high school. Additionally, 1 in 800 residents are hit by gunfire each year. “Staggering circumstances” would be a kind characterization of Newark.

I share that story with you because I think it highlights a very important concept you need to embrace in your own life. This is the law of polarity. Where there is darkness, there must also always be light. Heads and tails are two sides of a same coin. The same holds true for hot and cold, and good and bad. These are all examples of the law of polarity. So what young Cory was looking at was the physical signs of a city in a dire state of reformation. But Miss Jones had the ability to look forward to that potential of greatness. She saw the opportunity and the good that could come from viewing the physical situation differently. Her focus and unshakable faith was based on opportunity and not misfortune.

What are you focusing on? Take your power back and stop being a victim of your own circumstances. It is your calling as a leader to see the opportunity in your family, your community and your business rather than focusing on the negative aspects that exist. Remember, the negative cannot exist without a positive. It’s a universal law. Period.

About Maria:
Maria Gamb” The Anti-Sabotage Expert” coaches female entrepreneurs and other highly motivated professionals to overcome self sabotaging limiting beliefs about money, relationships and success by breaking free from the “security of conformity” using Universal Laws and principles. As an ex-corporate diva, now lady-preneur Maria has seen it all and heard it all! Get ready to unlock your personal prosperity potential TODAY!

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