"Be joyful though you have considered all the facts."
~ Wendell Berry
A Prayer for the Living
by Jeff Foster
Break in me whatever needs to be broken.
Fix my hope of ever being fixed.
Use me. Draw every ounce of creativity out of me. Help me live a radically unique life, forever forging a never-before-trodden path in the forest.
Show me how to love more deeply than I ever thought possible.
Whatever I am still turning away from, keep shoving in my face.
Whatever I am still at war with, help me soften towards, relax into, fully embrace.
Where my heart is still closed, show me a way to open it without violence.
Where I am still holding on, help me let go.
Give me challenges and struggles and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, if that will bring an even deeper humility and trust in the intelligence of life.
Help me laugh at my own seriousness.
Allow me to find the humour in the dark places.
Show me a profound sense of rest in the midst of the storm.
Don't spare me from the truth. Ever.
Let gratitude be my guide.
Let forgiveness be my mantra.
Let this moment be a constant companion.
Let me see your face in every face.
Let me feel your warm presence in my own presence.
Hold me when I stumble.
Breathe me when I cannot breathe.
Let me die living, not live dying.
"Our most valuable currency is not money, it's not IQ, it's not good looks, it's not charisma, it's not multiple degrees, fluency in three-letter acronyms, the ability to build a really cool PowerPoint deck...it is relationships. Emotional capital. And so, in my view — and I work with companies all over the world — the next frontier for exponential growth — whether it's an individual in his or her career or for an organization or for an entire industry — and the only sustainable competitive edge, unless you have a monopoly — lies in the area of human connectivity."
Watch what happens when people take an unexpected break in their day.
Seth Godin from "Seth Godin on the Art of Noticing, and then Creating," On Being, January 24, 2013:
When I give a talk — at the end [I'll] say, are there any questions? And the only people who are raising their hand are raising their hand because they think they have a question the group wants to hear. They think that they have something to contribute.
Now what's fascinating about it is five minutes after we're done, everyone has a question. Right? Because now it's safe to ask your question because you're not going to be judged on the question that you're going to ask.
But the people who do ask a question have demonstrated to themselves that they have good enough judgment to be able to put something into the world that hasn't been said before. That's what makes it a good question. And that practice is something that we should learn and we should teach our kids, and we should teach our colleagues how to do it.
"Memory is not just a then, recalled in a now, the past is never just the past — memory is a pulse passing through all created life, a waveform: a then continually becoming other thens, all the while creating a continual but almost untouchable now. But the guru’s urge to live only in the now misunderstands the multi layered inheritance of existence, where all epochs live and breathe in parallels. . . memory always passes through an individual human life like a building musical waveform, constantly maturing . . .often volatile, sometimes overpowering. Every human life holds the power of this immense inherited pulse: holds and then supercharges it, according to the way we inhabit our identities in the untouchable now. Memory is an invitation to the source of our life, to a fuller participation in the now, to a future about to happen, but ultimately to a frontier identity that holds them all at once. Memory makes the now fully inhabitable."
Willsboro, New York, July 31, 2011
Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us. Not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing. Silence is God's lap.
Many things grow the silence in us, among them simply growing older.
We may then become more a refuge than a rescuer, a witness to the process of life and the wisdom of acceptance.
Taking refuge does not mean hiding from life. It means finding a place of strength, the capacity to live the life we have been given with greater courage and sometimes even with gratitude.
See also: The Capacity to Find the Hidden Light
I remember being in the first month of working; I was so tired. My shoes didn’t fit the next day because my feet were so swollen from working on the concrete. It was a very hard several years. And even in that first month, I remember thinking, ‘I’m done.’ It was midnight, I wanted to go home because I’d have to be back here at seven in the morning and there would be dishes waiting for me. And I was like, ‘I’ll wash them when I get in tomorrow morning or I’ll have one of the girls do it.’ It was more convenient. And I turned around and my sign was there with my name on it. It was hilarious, it was a flapping piece of paper printed at Kinkos with these clips from the hardware store hanging up and the air conditioning was running and it was flowing in the wind, and I saw ‘Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams’ right on it. I was like, ‘You know, nobody else is going to do it if I don’t do it. This is my company. My name is on every single thing we do and it better be what I expect it to be, to the best that I can.’ So I stayed and did dishes, and that’s exactly what’s happened ever since. Taking that seriously is the best thing you can do. It’s not the most interesting thing in the world, but it’s the best thing you can do because, in the end, I’m the one who sets that tone.
It’s almost as if with the evolution of technology and how we’ve optimized our machines, our software, our algorithms, our databases and data analysis capabilities. What comes next is optimizing our awareness and our consciousness and I think that’s increasingly something that is becoming paramount and evident in organizational life...
You know if we think about it, we all work from the age of 21 to the age of 67, 40 hours a week with a couple of weeks of vacation. That’s about 40% of our waking life spent at work -- ninety thousand hours spent at work and [during] that time we will spend most of our productive time, energy and attention.
And so cultivating the quality of the time and of the attention is increasingly paramount. That’s the case because it’s not only something that would be fulfilling for the worker or the member of the organization but it also is useful in terms of business outcomes.
Actually there’s a lot of data on this. In a workplace in which people feel committed, where they feel engaged, where they feel they’re able to really give the best of themselves and exhibit a lot of discretionary effort — when people have that level of commitment and a feeling of wellness they actually perform better.
Corporate Leadership Council and the Gallup Organization are studying hundreds of organizations and millions of employees. They’ve shown that people perform up to 20% better, for example, when they feel committed and engaged. And when they’re thriving they are 57% more productive and they are almost 90% less likely to leave organizations than others who don’t have that experience of well-being.
Well-being, mindfulness, living a sustainable work and outside life are actually differentiators in terms of how effective organizations are whether you’re mission be bottom-line driven, service driven or whatever it is that your organization is purposed for doing…
The consistent and dedicated exercise of mindfulness in the organization is kind of the underlying framework, if you will, that informs all these programs [at eBay]. Something that we’ve been doing at eBay is we’ve been bringing in mindfulness talks and [making] seminars available to employees as well as for some of our leaders and leadership teams…it’s impressive to see a room of 250 Internet employees, on at Thursday around 1:30 in the afternoon sitting in silence for 10 minutes.