IFX Group 2011 Web Log
- Happy New Year. (January)
- The Last Treasure. (February)
- Love, Hate and Time. (March)
- Hear Here. (April)
- The Hard Road. (May)
- Re-Tired (June)
- Forgive And Learn (July)
- Rainy Day Perspective. (August)
- The Look Of Love. (September)
- Hills and Valleys (October)
- The Bright Side of Bad News. (November)
- Practical Giving. (December)
There are plenty of examples of economic hardships that have happened around the world in the past 100 years. Recessions, depressions, inflations and deflations are all part of the economic cycles that flow around all of us like waves on the ocean. It is not easy when an economic change from high to low hits home, but even in the worst of times there is still room to learn from the lessons others discovered in their hardships. This happens on many different scales from the global, national and local economies right down to the personal and it can happen to anyone at any time.
One very personal view of what it looks like to go from high to low is the need to downsize as we approach the end of our life. A hard lesson can be found at the door of any retirement home where some elderly person is attempting to move their lifetime of accumulation into a smaller space. Those with the ability to let go of things that are no longer useful or no longer fit are able to find comfort wherever they go. Those that refuse to let go are doomed to live in the narrowing spaces between their things.
In simple terms this is a question of happiness. What really makes us happy? Is lasting happiness ever found in the things we can own? Is it stored in closets, attics, basements and storage rooms full of things that have not been seen or used in years? Or is real happiness found in the personal connection with loved ones, family and friends?
It costs nothing to spend time talking face to face with those we love. Talking can be done in any size space from the largest warehouse to the smallest efficiency apartment. It requires no money, no subscription fees, no credit, financing or payment plans. All we need is enough time together to discover the true source of happiness is showing love and being loved. The rewards are invaluable.
This is what we mean when we wish you a happy new year.
The death bed may seem a strange topic for the month most commonly associated with love until you experience a death in the family and see the true power of love. One of the benefits that death brings is a kind of clarity that is just not as freely accessible at any other time in life. Nobody laying on their death bed thinks twice about their job, their things or their money. They think about the people in their life that are bound together by love.
Ultimately love is the strongest bond that holds people together. Unfortunately the importance of this truth is too often lost in the noise of daily life and concerns about trivial things. Is any bought thing more important than the one you love? Most people easily answer
no but still choose to spend many hours each week facing a screen instead of the one they love.
Demonstrate your love with your eyes while their loving eyes can still look back at you.
Loving someone and being loved by them - that is the reward we all seek most at the end of this life when all of the unimportant stuff is stripped away. Why wait until the end? Appreciate this treasure now.
This is for those that loved and were loved by Don.
It is easy to do things with and for those we love when we feel there is plenty of time. We may even be able to do things with and for those we hate when we feel we have time to spare. The truth comes out when we realize there is very little time and must make a choice where to spend it.
Facing a recent death in the family brings the limitations of this life sharply into focus. It opens everything up for review. What is really worth the time doing and what is a waste? In simple terms, what do we love enough to give our time to, and what do we hate enough to avoid spending any time doing even if it comes at a cost?
Is it more important to work a few more hours for a few more Dollars at the expense of a few less hours spent with those we love? How much is it worth to work in a hated job or for a hated employer, or doing things we hate? Alternatively, how much more is it worth to do something we truly love, for someone we love, or even better with someone we love?
What we choose to do with the time we have says the most about what we really love and also what we hate. We all live with a time limit that will eventually expire. What is most important to do with the time we have remaining?
The most important quality any person can have is the ability to hear another. In this context we are not talking about the physical act of an ear turning sound waves into brain signals. Instead we are focusing on what happens to those signals after they are received and how much they resemble the intent of the sender. In simple terms hearing is the most essential part of communication.
There are plenty of cute twists on the saying about people having two ears and one mouth being the reason why we should listen twice as much as we talk, but what about deaf people? They use two eyes and two hands making gestures. Does this mean they are less effective at
hearing compared to someone with ears full of sound? Obviously no.
Clearly communication between people goes way beyond ears. If Helen Keller (1880-1968, U.S. lecturer, author, and educator: blind and deaf from infancy) was able to so effectively communicate without the benefit of sight or sound, why is it so hard for the rest of us with working eyes and ears to really connect with another person without confusion and miscommunication getting in the way?
Maybe part of the problem is that we have become so accustomed to highly simplified and trivialized forms of communication where most of the original intent is stripped away leaving only an abstract remnant to be deciphered by someone else. A century ago people would typically spend hours or days composing, crafting and writing a letter to a friend or loved one with very well chosen words. Those letters were read equally carefully. This reflected the style and care taken in personal face to face conversations of the day. Today we are lucky to have a few seconds, if that much, to put our thoughts into words or worse into abbreviations and acronyms. What does all this thoughtless haste do to our ability to correctly hear what they meant to say?
The good news is this trend can be changed.
- Always preference talking face to face where our expressions of miscommunication, like a confused frown or blank gaze make it easy for the speaker to correct their words before there are problems.
- The human voice is a good second choice when verbal cues are freely used to show how the communication is received. Care should be taken on the part of the listener to ensure the normal non-verbal cues are fully represented in the conversation.
- Then comes everything else with greatly reduced feedback quality and more opportunity for communication problems. Just like the carefully crafted letters of a century ago, a little more time invested on the part of the sender and very careful reading on the part of the receiver can avoid a lot of confusion.
Is what we are saying and wanting to hear so important and time sensitive that we must resort to impersonal, disconnected and dispassionate forms of communication? Or can we wait a few minutes or hours to hear it in person and have a much better chance of hearing the words as intended the first time? Would it be better to ask if the message it worth the wait? And if not, then why are we listening to it?
Maybe a little more time invested in our communication with a little more preference and waiting for a personal conversation is just what we need to avoid the countless problems that all stem from miscommunication.
One of the best travel lessons is that no matter where we are going, there is always a choice between the easy road and the hard road. In the United States this could describe the choice between Interstate highways and state roads. The Interstate highways are all typically tree lined wide roads with high speed limits and a limited number of exits. State roads can range in quality from the Interstate highway size down to farm roads.
Which is the easy road?
At first the Interstates may seem to be the easy road, but that is a common perception held by travelers that consider the destination to be more important than the trip. What wonderful experiences are missed simply because they zoom by too fast for us to notice? Does this loss help or hurt us?
Life is a journey. Every day we get to choose which road to take. Do we take the fast road and possibly miss something wonderful? Or do we take the slower road and make the journey our destination?
When traveling down life's highway, consider the journey as the destination. Rushing past at high speed only steals away the gift it offers. What if we missed the thing that would truly enrich our life simply because we were in a hurry?
Which road is the hard one now? The answer depends on how you want to arrive at your destination.
By signing the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935, President Roosevelt became the first United States president to advocate federal assistance for the elderly. It ushered in a major cultural change for this country.
Social Security was controversial when originally proposed, with one point of opposition being that it would allegedly cause a loss of jobs. However, proponents argued that there was in fact an advantage: it would encourage older workers to retire, thereby creating opportunities for younger people to find jobs, which would lower the unemployment rate. This happened a scant two years before the recession of 1937 and 1938.
Up until that point in time elderly people were very common in the workplace. In the decades since 1935 the business world has grown to view elder workers as something of no value or worse as a liability. This could explain why so many businesses are in such trouble repeating mistakes of the past just because there is nobody left that remembers.
Maybe there is room for a balance. The energy and stamina of youth coupled with the experience and wisdom of maturity could be just what we need to spark the next great leap forward. The good news is that some smaller companies may already be putting this into practice to gain an extra edge over their larger competitors.
Picture the very first time a dog was found sitting a short distance in front of a man. The man wanting to be friendly towards the dog approaches with his hand outstretched to pet it. The dog bites without warning. This creates the need for the man to choose how he will react.
At one extreme the man can destroy the dog. At the other extreme he can release the dog from any penalty for the pain it caused and let the dog have some space for a while. The first reaction is literally the end of the story because all dogs bite and would have been extinct long ago. The second is at the heart of forgiveness and opens the door to a much greater reward. The friendly, helpful and loyal domesticated dogs we enjoy today all trace back to forgiveness shown in that very first man-meets-dog encounter and repeated in some way for each generation since.
One problem with the modern concept of forgiveness is that it is too often confused with forgetfulness where the pain is expected to be forgotten so that it can be repeated without learning. Think about this view of forgiveness and that first dog bite encounter. Even the most forgiving person would use a little caution the next time they approach. They do not forget the pain. They learn from it even as they release the dog from the death penalty.
Everyone makes mistakes. Some mistakes cause pain. If we don't forgive those that hurt us, how can we expect forgiveness when we hurt them? At the same time using caution when approaching something that caused pain in the past is an opportunity for learning on both sides. The history of pain becomes a real barrier unless the man learns to make his intentions very clear before repeating the misinterpreted action and the dog learns that aggressive reactions stand in the way of getting closer. Over time trust can be gained, the memory of pain can fade and a stronger relationship built but it requires learning from past mistakes, changing their ways mixed with a little patience.
Every modern domesticated breed of dog has ancestry going back to wild animals that bit the hand that fed them at least once. It is only through generations of forgiveness, learning, changing of ways, patience and the building of trust that we can now enjoy the close companionship of our favorite pets.
Some people view a rainy day as dreary, sad and negative while others view the same day as encouraging, cause for joy and positive. How can this be true when both are looking at the same rain on the same day? The difference is their perspective.
People that live in very wet places most often look for the warming rays of sunshine peeking through the clouds while people that live in very dry places most often look for the cooling rain that brings life back to their desert soil.
In simple terms people tend to most value the rare and scarce things. But that is not a law. Some people living in the desert draw great joy from a warm sunny day while others living in very wet climates do the same for a cool rainy day. What is different about these people that are able to enjoy something they have in abundance? Perspective.
Every relationship is full of dry deserts and rainy days. Some people ignore what they have in abundance and focus only on the scarce thing. This could help explain why some seemingly perfect relationships fail while other seemingly less perfect relationships remain solid.
Fortunately people in love are not like the weather. The power of love can bring rain to the relationship desert and a ray of sunshine to even the rainiest and cloudiest life.
It all starts with a small change in perspective to appreciate abundance. Tell those you love that you appreciate what they give you in abundance. It may turn out to be a much needed drop of rain in a thirsty land.
The image of a thing is not the same as the actual thing. This is just as true in the physical world as in the emotional world. An image of a house is not the same as a house just like the image or idea of love is not the same as love.
It can be very frustrating when there is confusion between the image of a thing and that thing. People heading into relationships often start out with an image of what they think that relationship should be, where it should go and what it should look like. The truth is revealed when image meets reality.
Every relationship must be built on a foundation or it will crumble, but different relationships have different requirements. Some relationships can be built on a mutually shared need or a common direction. Others require a much more substantial emotional investment where love is always found at the center holding everything else together.
When looking for love, are you looking for an image or are you looking for reality? How can you tell the difference? Maybe, just like the image of a house vs. a real house, the proof is found in how well it holds up to the storms and stress of life.
Everyone has their own path they must follow in this life. In addition to twists and turns every path has hills and valleys marking the high and low places we must pass through as part of our journey.
The good times and bad times of our life help shape and refine us. Our experiences and reactions through these ups and downs can reveal who we really are inside. If we allow it, these extremes can also help make us better prepared to appreciate the next valley or tackle the next hill.
Fortunately we are not alone and often cross paths with others. Some paths offer brief encounters as others continue in their own direction, while some bring longer term companionship as their paths parallel our path.
Some people are in our life to push us while others are there to show us the way. Even though it may not seem like it at the time, both kinds of people can be equally important to help us get past the low places and towards the high places.
Ultimately it is the companionship of those traveling parallel paths that provides comfort through the low times and help to celebrate the high times.
A proverb shared by many cultures puts it this way;
A grief shared is half a grief, but a joy shared is twice a joy.
A positive attitude and outlook can make an huge difference when facing bad news like a potentially terminal illness. The saying
laughter is the best medicine has a proven medical basis pointing directly to the physical benefits of positive thought. Looking on the bright side or looking for the silver lining in every dark cloud is only the start. There is a deeper layer that is even more powerful - positive emotions.
Of all the positive emotions, love is the strongest. Love is the drive that allows a body to push past physical limitations like personal discomfort, fatigue and pain. Love is the strength to survive even the worst situation. Love is the power to endure the worst storm and come out the other side even stronger than before.
Every life has storms and just like summer afternoon thunderstorms, some are larger than others. It is how we meet the storm and how we react to the storm that defines our results. The aftermath of a big storm can be a crushing blow that completely wipes us out or it can be a refreshing clean sweep making room for new opportunities and possibilities.
Is love providing the direction to see our way through the storm?
For most children any time of gift giving is all about the numbers; more is better, bigger is better, expensive is better. Interestingly this is a hard frame of mind to outgrow without help. It all starts by first understanding a little math. Unfortunately we are living with a number of generations that have grown up not really understanding the difference between practical math and abstract math when it comes to gift giving.
Abstract math is a room with only one person in it so when two people leave that room you have to wait until another person goes back in before it is actually empty.
Obviously in practical math it would be impossible to get two people to leave a room that only contains one. This is exactly the kind of economic understanding that was made so painfully clear to the generation that lived through the Great Depression of the 1930's and that seems to be less and less understood in the generations since.
This year only give what you have or create. Even if you have nothing in your hand but love for your family and friends, that gift comes with a priceless lesson of teaching practical gift giving by example that is worth more than anything you can buy on credit.