Thursday, February 18, 2010

How Do You Show Up?

In recent appearances at business conferences, a mild-mannered entrepreneur has captivated audiences with his powerful message. And, with his proven results, he's brought respect, excitement, and innovation to an industry that has traditionally lacked these significant qualities.

The person who has captured media attention and the hearts of his worldwide fans is Tony Hseih ("Shay"), the CEO of Tony has grown his online shoe company from sales of $1.6 million in 2000 to over $1 billion in 2008, and attributes this success to a corporate culture with an "unwavering focus on customer service."

In Tony's view, the culture of Zappos is formally defined by their ten core values, which were collectively developed by all employees:
  1. Deliver WOW through service
  2. Embrace and drive change
  3. Create fun and a little weirdness
  4. Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded
  5. Pursue growth and learning
  6. Build open and honest relationships with communication
  7. Build a positive team and family spirit
  8. Do more with less
  9. Be passionate and determined
  10. Be humble
    At Zappos, implementation of these values begins with the hiring process, and continues into their four-week training program. Every employee participates in this program, learns about the company history, vision, and philosophy, and then spends two weeks on the phone with customers.

    In this way, the Zappos culture clearly demonstrates a dedicated, real-world commitment to their core values.

    From my perspective, their commitment reflects an essential realization about values. That is, values create an internal guidance system or "ways of being" for individuals and organizations. Furthermore, this system operates within and outside of the corporate structure. As Tony states, he engages these values in his own personal life, as well as at Zappos.

    When you exercise your ways of being, you begin to establish a predictable alignment between your own core values and your deliberate choices in words and actions. As with Zappos, your self-expression--how you show up--reveals your "personal culture."

    To explore the values base of your self-expression and personal culture, consider this activity:
    1. Review the Zappos values for some ideas.
    2. Reflect on the areas of your life with your varied roles and responsibilities. These contexts include work, relationships, parenting, health, spirituality, family, friends, recreation, education, and others.
    3. Now, respond to the following questions:
    • What do you value--what is important to you--as you express yourself in these contexts?
    • What are some core current and desired aspects of your personal culture? How do you show up now and want to in the future?
    • What is your purpose (e.g., aim, intention) in your life?
    Remember, the idea is to deliberately identify your core values. If you find repetition in your responses, you can simplify these similarities into themes. When you're finished, use your responses to make a list with 5-10 values that can be translated into actions, as you see in the Zappos list.

    Of course, you can also complete this exploration in your organizational setting, and use the process as part of the foundation for building your corporate culture.

    In any case, congratulations! With this exploration, you have initiated the conscious engagement of your internal guidance system.

    Whenever you wish, you can review your core values in terms of how you show up. You just consider the extent to which you promote these "ways of being" in yourself. Then, as needed, make any changes in your words and actions that more consistently embody these values.

    With loving practice, the alignment between your values and actions will deepen, you will cultivate the qualities of self-expression that you desire, and you will establish a culture (personal or organizational) that empowers you and the people in your life.

    Enjoy your expressions!

    Love and Peace,

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Where's Your Gold?

    Another Olympic Games spectacular has begun.

    Now global attention is focused on Vancouver and the highly skilled performances of elite athletes, who strive for a shared and elusive goal--an Olympic gold medal.

    Whether you're an elite performer or never participate in a sport at any level, there is gold in your life!

    This gold is not as obvious as a medal, and may sometimes seem even more elusive. You don't have to do anything to deserve it. There's no competition for this gold. You simply need to make your claim.

    This precious treasure is the "inner gold" of pure self-acceptance.

    How important is this treasure?

    The threats to a positive attitude about yourself (self-regard) begin at an early age and continue throughout your life. These influences typically originate from a wide variety of people, places, and conditions such as family, school, religion, friends, the media, and more.

    Although these sources may not be malicious, any long-term negative conditioning powerfully impacts your self-regard. As a result, many health care and education professionals believe that low self-esteem represents an epidemic problem in contemporary society.

    In this way, your experiences in life can conceal the treasure of unconditional self-acceptance that is your birthright.

    To reclaim your gold, start with this self-acceptance exercise:
    • Take some time and space just for you.
    • Relax. Let this be a fun activity to support your feeling great about you.
    • As completely as possible, answer the following questions. You may want to keep this for later use, so record your responses in a way that works easily for you.
    The questions:
    1. What are your strengths, skills, talents, gifts, distinctive competencies, qualities, or other positive characteristics?
    2. What do you feel passionate or enthusiastic about in your life?
    3. List three to five people (i.e., living or dead, fictional or non-fictional) who have inspired you. What about them inspires you?
    To help you have ease and fun in the process, consider these hints:
    • This is no time to be "humble" or reluctant to admit your positive characteristics.
    • If you have any difficulty with your answers, you might ask a close friend for support. Or, imagine that friend answering for you.
    • None of your responses needs to be extraordinary or on an "elite" level. Your aim is to note what you've recognized, passively known, or probably ignored about yourself. Then, you fully accept or positively regard what has been revealed.
    • Your positive qualities can be "in process." That is, they don't need to be perfected or completely developed. For example, you can list "I am kind," even though you know you could be kinder.
    • After you're finished, read through your lists, and add anything you might have overlooked. You can do this any time.
    Your responses reflect your uniqueness.

    Only you possess this expression of characteristics, passions, and inspirations. So fully take them on as yours. If someone compliments you on one of these personal qualities, extend your hearty "Thanks!"

    Whenever you wish, read some or all of your responses aloud as a proud declaration of your gold!

    Let your Light shine!

    Love and Peace,

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    What's Your Weather Outlook?

    The Weather.

    This past week, I heard people everywhere anxiously talking about it. Some folks reacted to the possible emergency with their customary trip to the grocery store for a few necessities.

    Meanwhile, the news was saturated day and night with colorful forecasts and dramatic warnings. The TV displayed banner information in the midst of programming to announce the latest closings, cancellations, and other alerts.

    And schools, organizations, and businesses all prepared for the inevitable arrival of "Winter Storm Barbara."

    This familiar story may seem mundane. Still, for me, the weather presents a great opportunity to reflect on the profound role of perception in daily life.

    Consider some of the different feelings people shared with me about the recent weather conditions: fear, pain, disappointment, annoyance, tension, anxiety, worry, excitement, surprise, relief, freedom, awe, delight, and joy.

    Although these feelings differ significantly from one another, they share an important foundation. They're all based on your perception of the conditions. That is, the way you see or view a "snowstorm."

    For example, if you see the storm as "beneficial" (or "neutral"), you would be more likely to have feelings such as excitement, relief, or joy.

    If you perceive the storm as "harmful" (or "threatening"), your feelings might include fear, annoyance, or worry.

    So, where do your current perceptions about these storms come from?

    As you may know from your own past, your thoughts and feelings about winter storms make varying, mostly subconscious, impressions in your bodymind. With more snowstorms, these impressions eventually establish your "bodymind set" (i.e., energy, beliefs) for your way of seeing and making sense of the external event called a "snowstorm."

    When this perceptual habit forms, you will have specific thoughts, feelings, and even physical sensations in anticipation of a coming storm. And these habits will then lead to either unhealthy or healthy actions.

    Of course, the process of developing habitual ways of perceiving "snowstorms" also applies to other conditions of living.

    Just take a look at the changing "personal climate" (e.g., financial, workplace, family, relationship, health) you encounter every day.

    Although your habitual responses to these "weather" conditions may seem deep-seated and fixed, you can start to break your habits whenever you choose.

    The first step is simple and critical. You must become aware of your typical ways of seeing your personal climate. Toward that end, consider:

    What's your weather outlook?

    To respond fully to this question, experiment with this exercise:
    1. Choose one "personal climate" area of your life that feels the least difficult or easiest.
    2. Observe yourself without judgment. Notice your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behaviors for that climate.
    3. Reflect on any habit patterns you see. Record your key insights or realizations.
    4. Do this until you feel a change in your awareness. In any case, have fun!
    5. If you're inclined, try the process with your other climates.
    With practice, you will expand your awareness, and set the stage for new, creative ways of perceiving and acting in your life.

    Celebrate your commitment to self-awareness!

    Love and Peace,

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

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    Love and Peace,