Browsing the archives for the Generosity tag

Wake Up Call! – Baggage Wisdom

 


BAGGAGE WISDOM

The baggage of your life will either be a teacher or a prison guard.

My friend Crystal was distraught. She said, “My Mom is unable to live in the present or acknowledge how blessed her life is.” She added, “The terrible mistreatment she had from an employer twenty-five years ago is something she keeps reliving and retelling to this day. I’ve had her go to therapy but to no avail. All she wants is for me to keep validating how awful the injustice was.”

Crystal had a choice to keep feeding her Mom’s baggage or detach from it.

In detaching from it Crystal discovered new freedom. She said, “I cannot accept the learning from that situation or be a prisoner to it; only Mom can make that choice. I can only love her for her wonderful qualities.”

The result has been Crystal’s sadness and frustration at her mother being replaced with a love that hopes for her freedom from her baggage.

Call-to-Action:

  • Be aware of the baggage that informs or imprisons life

  • Be present to the choices that you can make

Notice how letting of real hurts in your own life or that of another frees you to be lovingly present.

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©2014 Robert V. Taylor

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Wake Up Call! – Let Go of What You Do Not Have

 


LET GO OF WHAT YOU DO NOT HAVE

To be thankful for what you have let go of what you do not have.

I remember my first Thanksgiving as if it were yesterday. It was my first year after leaving South Africa and I’d been invited to two gatherings. I wasn’t sure what to make of pumpkin pie but I loved the extended family gatherings I was included in. And then I began to think of my family so far away and how the only family I would have would be the one I created.

In that moment I had a choice to focus on what I did not have or open my energy and spirit to something different.

I knew I could not live in a place of longing for what I did not have. I looked around the room and realized that I was blessed by those who had included me.

In my moments of regret or longing I always go back to that moment and remember the life-lesson it still teaches. How will you be thankful for what you have?

Call-to-Action:

  • Let go of yearning for what you do not have

  • Be thankful for who and what you have today

Notice how being present to thankfulness enlivens you.

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©2014 Robert V. Taylor

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Wake Up Call! – The Gratitude Bank

 


THE GRATITUDE BANK

A simple expression of gratitude to someone can be a gift to you both.

I was thinking a lot about Priscilla, a woman whose mere existence is one of the anchor’s in my life. I wrote her a short note expressing my gratitude to her and for the gift that she is in my life. As I dropped it in the mail box I paused and visualized her face.

Instead of taking her for granted I had chosen to be proactive.

I was bowled over by her response. She wrote back to say that she was house bound and feeling how disposable people can be and that my note had reminded her of the fullness of her life. “I still have purpose and meaning” she wrote.

I was deeply moved by what she said and glad for this luminous woman. In that moment I thought of how simple it to express gratitude to another person for simply being who they are.

Call-to-Action:

  • Be aware of the often unexpected people for whom you are grateful

  • Take a few minutes to express your gratitude

Notice how the currency of gratitude is a circle of thankfulness. Who will you express gratitude to today?

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©2014 Robert V. Taylor

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Wake Up Call! – Being Awed!

 


BEING AWED!

Simple pleasures invite awe.

I was out early taking my dog Lucy for a walk. Unlike many of our walks I was preoccupied and wanted her ablutions to be completed quickly. As I looked to my left the morning sunrise had turned the sky into a brilliant blood orange color. I stopped – entranced by the beauty of it. As I turned to look for Lucy a rainbow was in the sky behind me.

Instead of resting in my preoccupation I entered into the awe of the moment.

Minutes later the rainbow was gone and the color of the sky was had become a dusky blue. I continued to walk slowly filled with awe and thankfulness for what I had experienced.

As I headed to my office my preoccupations seemed less important. The awe was more than just a pause in the day; it reminded to be present to awe wherever it presents itself.

Call-to-Action:

  • Be present to moments of awe

  • Take time to savor the awe

Notice how the rhythm of your day changes when simple pleasures invite you to be awed.

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©2014 Robert V. Taylor

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Wake Up Call! – Shockingly Wonderful Guides

 


SHOCKINGLY WONDERFUL GUIDES

The unexpected guides who appear in our lives are shockingly wonderful.

A wise and generous-hearted guide appeared in my life two decades ago. As I wrestled with major decisions his words were a luminous light giving me hope and comfort. Then one day as I responded to a question of his he softly said, “You are full of…..” I was startled!

Instead of ignoring or being offended by his observation I intuitively knew he was correct.

I began to smile then laugh at the arresting yet loving way in which he was inviting me to be real and authentic. In that moment I knew that there was no place to hide from the inner work I needed to do.

This unexpected guide who mysteriously appeared in my life for a year periodically still connects to ask if I am present to the new insights along my journey. How will you respond to the unexpected guide whom life presents to you when you are open to new insight?

Call-to-Action:

  • Name the guides who have mysteriously appeared in your life

  • Allow yourself to be present to the guide who might be in your orbit already

Notice how your own journey is enriched when you are open to their shockingly wonderful presence.

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©2014 Robert V. Taylor

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Wake Up Call! – Extraordinary Gifts!

 


EXTRAORDINARY GIFTS!

Transforming a gift into something extraordinary for others is an act of loving oneness.

I knew that the second box of Saffron given to me would remain unused so I asked a friend if she could use it. She was overjoyed to receive it. The next weekend she posted on Facebook that she had used the spice to make a chicken dish that she served to 100 people at a soup kitchen.

Instead of keeping the gift for the enjoyment of her immediate circle she chose to use it all in an offering for the hungry.

When I asked her what prompted this she said, “I wanted to use this exotic expensive spice to create a beautiful meal. I didn’t want to hold on to it like a personal treasure. The best part was seeing how much the meal was enjoyed.” Then she giggled with delight!

A simple act – a gift shared in the creation of an extraordinary meal – was with joy from those not expecting such a feast. What gift of yours will be transformed into something unexpected and extraordinary?

Call-to-Action:

  • Be mindful of the many gifts you have

  • Be present to unexpected opportunities to do something extraordinary

Notice how your act of transforming a gift into something for others affirms our oneness.

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©2014 Robert V. Taylor

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Wake Up Call! – Live Generously!

 


LIVE GENEROUSLY!

To err on the side of generosity towards others is a choice to live well.

I held open the door to the dry cleaners to allow a harried looking man to go ahead of me. He threw three pairs of trousers on the counter and barked, “Three” as he radiated fury and rudeness. The generosity of spirit of the woman who served him was striking. I commented on her kindness.

She said to me, “I always have a choice to live generously or not.”

As we spoke she said, “I could experience his fury and get drawn into his behavior but I choose to believe that by being kind he might get a glimpse of another way to live.”

The result of erring on the side of generosity is to live well by choosing the markers how to live in the present. How will I choose when confronted by the fury of another? I’m counting on the grace of generosity.

Call-to-Action:

  • Mindfully err on the side of living generously each day

  • Be thankful for each person who tests the grace of generous living

Notice how you experience living well in the company of generosity.

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©2014 Robert V. Taylor

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Nelson Mandela’s Leadership Legacy to Us

Nelson Mandela

This piece first appeared in Huffington Post, July 3, 2013

We have much to learn from Nelson Mandela’s leadership grounded in generosity of spirit, authenticity and moral authority that transcends human divisiveness. Two things stand out about his leadership legacy — his open mindset and the choice to make human calculations rather than political ones.

South Africans adulate his unique transformational leadership of their country. The human family celebrates that, in the particularities of the South African experience, Mandela offered courage and hope to a world too often accustomed to revenge, retaliation, partisan politics, personal gain and lack of vision. It is a vibrant enduring legacy.

During his 27 years of imprisonment for leading the anti-apartheid movement Nelson Mandela was vilified by the South African government as the embodiment of evil. In spite of the prison conditions of Robben Island, designed to crush his spirit, he continued to nurture and expand the vision of the Freedom Charter of the African National Congress which sought a country in which all races would live together in a democratic society.

The attempt to silence and diminish Mandela was an unmitigated failure — a truth acknowledged by F.W. De Klerk, the South African President, whose negotiations with Mandela led to his release from prison in 1990. De Klerk spoke of the moral failure of apartheid’s unjust and cruel divisions.

When Mandela reappeared on the world stage on February 11, 1990 he told the world, “Our long march to freedom is irreversible.” In that moment it was clear he had never left the world stage; he was re-entering it with even greater moral gravitas.

While Mandela’s leadership was marked by a lack of rancor, bitterness or revenge it is useful to think of two constant themes that guided him.

Open mindset leadership. A friend of mine had a private meeting with Mandela several years ago. He confessed his nervousness to me about what to ask Mandela that would not seem insignificant before settling on inquiring about what he had learned about leadership. He was surprised by the response.

Mandela said the most important thing he’d learned is that you have to have an open mindset. As my friend looked quizzical Mandela explained that most leaders rise up through the ranks of an organization and come to office with others expecting that they are owed something by the leader. This, he said, usually creates a closed mindset that leaves little room for progressive or transformational leadership.

In his first year as the democratically elected president of South Africa Mandela provided a clue as to how his open mindset approach would inform his actions. South Africa was scheduled to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the odds were that their own team stood little chance of winning. Citing the pressing problems facing the country, many of his top advisers tried to dissuade him from engaging the predominantly white home team. They were constrained by the closed mindset of the sports paradigm of apartheid in which soccer fans were primarily black while rugby fans were predominantly white.

Mandela chose to engage the rugby team by actively encouraging them to win the World Cup, which they did. His open mindset reinforced his transformational leadership, not by talking about systemic changes or poring over political strategies, but by engaging an entire nation. The entire country was mesmerized by his level of interest in the home team.

Mandela took the race based assumptions and divisions and used them to re-frame a vision of how things might be. He was not willing to be imprisoned in a stultified past. He refused to be confined and defined by the expectations of those who, under his presidency, were part of the new power structure. Courage and generosity of spirit joined together with his open thinking reminding the world of the possibilities of transformative leading.

Making Human Calculations. In the Clint Eastwood movie Invictus, which tells the story of Mandela’s role in inspiring the rugby team, there is a telling moment when one of his advisers warns him to make political calculations about the cost of supporting the team. He challenges that assumption by saying, “It is a human calculation.”

Unlike the dull and politically calculated leadership we have come to expect as the norm from so many leaders, Mandela’s human calculation inspired people to see beyond narrow confines and create a more expansive view of themselves and others.

The human calculation reflects more than just Mandela’s generous spirit; it serves to remind people of the oneness that his friend Desmond Tutu speaks of. It is leadership that refuses to cede decisions to fear and divisiveness, choosing instead to believe in the human goodness discovered in our commonality.

Nelson Mandela is honored to the degree that we embrace the transformative leadership marked by his open mindset and human calculations. Then we participate in the courageous and generous authentic leadership that is his vigorous legacy.

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Dalai Lama – Invitation to Show Up with Compassion

The Dalai Lama invites us into compassion as a way of life.  Today’s meeting with President Obama at the White House elicited both praise from Tibetans and condemnation by the Chinese government.   While the politics of Tibetan-Chinese relations remain unresolved, it is the spirituality of His Holiness that makes him a global moral voice. He speaks to our hunger for meaning and purpose.

The Dalai Lama has said, “My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.”  No wonder so many throng to hear him.  Or that his spirituality connects with those on a spiritual quest.  It is a message of simplicity without being simplistic.  It stands in stark contrast to the divisiveness so often expressed in the name of religion.

I once heard His Holiness counsel a member of the audience not to abandon her own religious tradition, but instead, learn how to be more compassionate and kind in her daily life.  His lack of proselytizing or expecting a “buy-in” to all Buddhist teachings from the spiritual seeker is telling.  In itself it is an example of practicing the compassion and kindness that he expresses as the heart of spirituality.

People who encounter His Holiness invariably leave with a renewed sense of life, usually feeling optimistic about their own purpose and spirituality.  It is a message far more profound than passing “feel good” emotions.  His message is rooted in the moral high ground of what we call inclusiveness; of what he describes as all things and all people, being intertwined.

The question which the Dalai Lama has suggested we ask in our conversations with the Holy is how can I “show up in the world in a way that will cause the world itself to change.”  Compassion and kindness impact our way of being.  They offer a new mindfulness to whom and how we are!

The issue may be human rights in Tibet, the way in which we each exercise leadership, our care for the environment, the hope of a more compassionate world for our children or any number of things affecting the life of all.

Compassion and kindness are not just good ideas!  It is about how we show up in the world each day. No wonder the Dalai Lama connects and speaks to our longings, inviting us to become fully alive.  Kindness and compassion are possible to practice, to integrate into our living.  As if he is always coaxing, inviting us on, the Dalai Lama knows how to keep showing up.

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Your Footprint of Compassion

The compassion of people throughout the world to the people of Haiti has been remarkable.  Some estimate that at least 50% of all Americans have contributed to the Haitian relief effort in some way!  I believe we are each hard-wired to be compassionate and generous.

If you haven’t done so yet, please consider supporting groups with trusted, effective on-the ground relief capacity in Haiti.  Perhaps an organization like one of these:

Every compassionate and generous action makes a difference, joining that of others. We are hard-wired for generous compassion.  We grow into it by practicing compassion and generosity. Soon your part and mine reveals the face of compassion, hope, love and justice.  So we begin to leave a footprint of compassion.

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