A Case for Less Passion – 5 Reasons


passionless

OK, I am prepared for the onslaught of readers disagreeing with my premise. Not really! Hardly anyone reads my blog, so, you few, loyal, and truly treasured supporters are left with the burden of pointing out my (in your eyes) obvious failings on this topic. But I wanted to explain what I mean by having less passion.

First, I should state for the record, for those that may not know me well, that I am by nature, a very passionate person. I care. I can’t just turn that off. Probably you are too. You have causes, concerns, issues, topics, human beings, that you care deeply about and for. I get that. It’s a good thing. Heck, it’s a GREAT thing. We need more people like you in this world. We need people that care deeply about other people, and about injustices, and things that we all just FEEL are not right. But, at times (many times), our passion gets in the way of us being effective in righting the wrongs, and in being able to help people. This is the point of my premise, so let’s explore what I mean. Here are 5 reasons to hold back on your passion.

  1. Extreme Passion drowns out the basic message

    Don’t let your passionate plea turn people off to the point that your great message or cause is lost. Get the message delivered, let the cause be heard.

  2. Fervid Passion overwhelms the person you are trying to help

    I believe that deep down, we all welcome a little help. Many of us need a lot of help, and it is good to have people around that are there to support and help us get through the rough spots in life. However, a passionate plea may totally overwhelm the person needing the help, and they might push you away as a result. Not many people enjoy being preached or lectured to. Don’t allow your passion to become a scolding.

  3. Passion can create a blind spot

    A Scotoma is a partial loss of vision or a blind spot in an otherwise normal visual field. Feeling so passionate about an issue, person, cause, or social injustice can create a blind spot, to the point that we no longer think, see it or act objectively about it. My grandmother had a favorite Cuban saying, “Le ciega la pasión”, meaning, their passion blinds them. Be passionate, but be objective and make sure you see the many sides of complex people and issues.

  4. Other People’s Passions

    You have passion. Other people have passion. What about their passions? Be aware. The thing you are MOST passionate about, may not even make their top 10. That’s OK. Their’s may not make yours either. But be aware, and be respectful. Just because you feel strongly about the plight of Baby Seals (I do too!), doesn’t mean everyone else will see it as THE most burning issue to be most passionate about. I buy Girl Scout cookies, but not everyone does.

  5. Passion can create misalignment or lost support

    Causes require alignment to address them. People in need require resources to assist them. Issues require thoughtful and deliberate discussion and debate to explore and resolve them. Don’t fall into the trap during a discussion of losing someone’s support and alignment by continuing to escalate your passionate plea to the point where what was once a healthy discussion, debate and willingness to listen and help, is now a diametrically opposite way of thinking. Someone who was aligned and ready to help, is all of a sudden misaligned and actually even working against you. Throttle your passion, and bring people along with you slowly, respectfully, kindly, thoughtfully.

Every day, more and more, I see passionate people engaging in these damaging Passion behaviors, and falling into these Passion traps. We are living in politically and socially charged and potentially explosive times. There are many people, issues, events, and causes that are creating unhealthy debates, arguments, and at times, downright unacceptable behavior and actions. Good people against good people, and some not so good people too, so passionate about their viewpoint, it colors their thinking, dialogue, speech, conversation, and most importantly, their actions. Dial the passion back a bit. You can still feel and be passionate, without creating the negatively charged and explosive atmosphere that pushes people away, and causes the exact opposite effect that you had hoped to have by being passionate in the first place.

I hope this was a helpful and respectful (while remaining passionate!) viewpoint. It would be terrific to hear what you have to say! Let me know. And if you would be so kind, consider liking and signing up for my blog please! Thanks so much!

You can read my blog via my web site, www.fiallo.com HERE, connect with me on Twitter HERE, on LinkedIn HERE and on Facebook HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Change, Effectiveness, Inspiration, Leadership, Personal Development, Responsiveness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Half Dozen Bruising Lessons – Let Me Save You the Pain


wakeupcallPlease keep reading. Don’t get turned off by what you are about to read. Hear me out. Give me a chance. I think it will be worth your while.

I consider myself to be a good leader. Considerate, thoughtful, strategic, helpful, a good mentor, coach, attentive listener, and, a fairly nice guy. I also consider myself to be the kind of person that gets things done. Effective, efficient, proficient, strategic, great at my craft, with finely honed skills, vast experience, and above all, accountable to myself and others. Many people may take exception with much of this, but please bear with me. There is a method to this madness.

Look, let’s get one thing straight, I am not bragging, and don’t have such a lofty opinion of myself that I can’t be objective. I do recognize and acknowledge my weaknesses and shortcomings. I have a lot of them! I have spent a life time examining myself, being introspective, and working on my issues, problems, blind spots, weaknesses and the areas of my life where I am deficient.

I have been through 360 Reviews, Steven Covey 7 Habits,  5 Dysfunctions of a Team, Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last and Start With Why, Excellent Cultures training and MOLOs (More of Less of) and other seminars, webinars, and various and sundry other training sessions, not to mention dozens and dozens of self help and personal development courses and books. 

I take personal development and continuous improvement seriously. And although there certainly is plenty of room in my personal development plan for more improvement, I believe that I have made significant strides in many areas. But… as I found out…and as you will come to know if you read on, as a leader, what YOU believe, is not nearly as important as what others perceive and believe. 

You see, I recently had an experience that brought things to a head for me. This experience caused me to rethink my entire approach to how I saw myself working with and treating people, how I went about working on the self improvement things I had decided were important to focus on, and how I actually carried out my day to day activities. 

The experience itself is not that important to describe, but I should tell you a bit about it so that you can appreciate the rest of what I am about to share. Suffice to say that members of my team became concerned with the way I was interacting with them, how I had conducted myself in meetings and sessions where we were working on solutions to issues and project related work, and disgusted (yes, disgusted) with my dialog and treatment of them. The bottom line is that they came forward to my superiors to voice their concerns. If I can paraphrase, the consensus was, “We never know which Henry is going to show up,  the good Henry, or the bad Henry.” The bright side is that at least there was a Good Henry! 

Wake up call! Clang Clang Clang!

So let’s cut to the chase. Here are the 6 Leadership Lessons I took away from the entirety of the circumstances surrounding these sets of events.

  • Your perception, is not as important as what others perceive

Unless you are destined to be a jerk, or a hermit, or are going to star in the remake of Castaway, and especially if you want to be a truly effective leader, how others perceive you is important. I just don’t know any other way to state this, and how important it is. You MUST know how others perceive you and it MUST be important to you. It MUST drive how you interact, behave, and deal with others. 

  • Perception is reality to most people

Most times there is a gap, big or small, between perception and reality. No matter. You MUST be aware of it, you MUST figure it out, and you MUST  close the gap. The closer the reality is to the perception of who you are, the more effective a leader you will be. 

  • Other’s realities are the realities you ought to be concerned with 

Its more important to be concerned with other people’s reality than yours. See your reality as subservient of their reality. Be a Servant Leader. And if the issue is that you find someone has a mistaken sense of reality, and you are sure, because other people see things as you see things, and they don’t agree with the others whose realities are different than yours, then help them to work towards the collectively help reality. That was a bit of a logic pretzel, but hopefully, I was able to make myself clear.

  • You MUST be on guard all the time

As a leader, you are on stage all the time. You are observed all the time, you are listened to all the time. What you say, how you say it, how you behave, the talk AND the walk, are observed, and judged all the time. Leaders are held to a higher standard. Unfair you say? Face it, deal with it. If you don’t like it, perhaps leadership is not for you. Now, everyone has a bad day here and there, but you should be aware of who showed up for work today as much as you possibly can, and if you don’t feel up to your usual self now and again, considering calling in sick (smile). Or be on double guard, and if you catch yourself in a behavior or saying something that you realize is not consistent with who you want and/or need to be, correct it on the spot, or as soon as possible thereafter.

  • Feelings are part of the equation

People are not project resources, not the means to get sh*t done. They are PEOPLE. They have feelings, dreams, wants, needs, fears, aspirations. They are frail, as strong as they might appear from time to time. Never forget this. Treat people as the human beings they are, and with the care and compassion and patience they deserve.

  • Stand Up Comedy is only appropriate at Open Mike Night at The Improv

You can be witty, you can use humor, but you cannot be witty or humorous or sarcastic at the expense of others. Err on the side of caution. One person’s humor is another’s insult or offense. Watch what you say, and how you say it. If you have a doubt about something, don’t say it. What Jimmy Kimmel or Fallon or Conan said last night, is only appropriate in that context, not in your context as a leader. Also, as a reminder to myself, more than anything,  people have given names, and self-accepted nicknames. These are the only ones that are appropriate to use. 

There they are. A half dozen bruising lessons for me. Hopefully helpful for you as well. 

You might be asking, “so where’s the How To here, Hank?”. It’s OK to call me Hank. Hardly anyone does, except for a VERY few close friends. Consider me a close friend! Well, I am not going to get into a detailed “How To” here. That’s better left for another post. But I will share a few bullet points, without much elaboration.

1 – Find a mentor to help you (I’m available! smiley )

2 – Find people who will give you honest feedback about you and how you walk and talk

3 – Get a 360 done or a MOLO (write to me  or sign up on my blog and I will tell you how)

4 – Spend time every day, at the end of the day being introspective and taking inventory on what and how you did – BTW, Alcoholics Anonymous, AA, has an EXCELLENT Self Inventory HERE  which is part of Step 10.

5 – Buy a few good books and read them. Write to me, and I’ll share a list with you.

Even self improvement and personal development is a means to an end. The end is not just about a better you. It’s about a better you in how you lead, work and collaborate with, and interact with people. Your people. All people.

This  was a tough one to write.

Let me know what you think. I am listening. Honestly.

You can read my blog via my web site, www.fiallo.com HERE, connect with me on Twitter HERE, on LinkedIn HERE and on Facebook HERE.

Posted in Accountability, Change, Effectiveness, Integrity, Leadership, Personal Development, Responsiveness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“It Fell Through the Cracks” – and Other Lame Excuses – 5 Ways to Close Those Cracks


falling-through-the-cracks_1454461“I’m sorry I didn’t respond to your request. It seems to have fallen through the cracks”.

How many times have you heard, or uttered or written those oft-abused famous words?

Look, most of us mean well, and want to be thorough and responsive. But we end up succumbing to the onslaught of email, text messages, phone calls, voice mails, blog and web site comments, forum messages, and various and sundry other communications launched our way. It is almost impossible to keep up, and to be responsive, no matter how hard we try. Often times, the harder we try, the more behind we fall, until, that notorious crack in the earth opens up, and something we needed to do, some very critical deliverable or commitment, some absolutely critical milestone or element with a mission essential deadline, falls right through that fissure.

So, what to do? How do we prevent these cracks from springing up like a mad crocodile, swallowing up items on your to do list? Well, if anyone tells you that they have a silver bullet that will prevent anything you are responsible for from ever falling through the cracks again, run, don’t walk away from them. Because that is never going to happen. But read on, because, while we can’t be perfect, and can’t commit to being completely responsive all the time, and can’t guarantee that nothing will EVER fall through the cracks again, there are some things I can share with you that will help. In fact, there are FIVE tactics we can employ to fight the fissure monster and prevent him from swallowing your credibility and reputation. I have used these tactics successfully over a 40 year career, spanning multiple industries, cultures, and geographies. Here they are:

  1. Develop a System for Dealing with Received Requests, Emails, etc.
    I’m not going to solve ALL of your REQUEST and COMMITMENT problems today (After all, I have to leave SOME things for future blog posts, you know?). Requests do come at us from many sources, such as Support Forums, FAQ sites, phone calls, formal escalation and request systems and applications, in person, and even snail mail. But for me, the vast majority of requests and potential for things dropping through the cracks, come to my email inbox. So, that’s what I’m going to concentrate on here.The system I use to manage the onslaught of emails is called Inbox Zero, and I have to admit, I am a confirmed zealot. I learned it from watching and reading Merlin Mann’s videos and material, including the stuff at 43 Folders. In fact, I so much believe in this philosophy, that I developed a course on it, teach it on line, and have even delivered it to my entire staff. I’m about to deliver this material at a Lunch and Learn for our entire department soon. Check Inbox Zero out via the links above. Though the principles behind Inbox Zero are way too much detail to get into here, the point is, you need a system so that your inbox doesn’t overflow to the point where cracks consume the things you need to do.
  2. Put in Place a Simple Follow Up System – Track Yourself and Others
    Well, this is what it is all about isn’t it? Following Up and Following Through. I advocate strongly the use of simple systems for everything. It may seem obvious, but, I think it’s worth restating. If something isn’t simple, and if you can’t make it part of your everyday life, you won’t use it. And if you won’t use it, it won’t work. So a simple system to follow up on things you need to do, so they won’t fall through the cracks, is essential. I create an email folder that I just happen to call “Waiting For”, then create a simple rule (it’s an Outlook Rule since my primary email system is Outlook). The rule allows me to add my email address in the BCC: line for any email I either originate, or reply to, and when I press SEND, a copy of the email gets deposited in that “Waiting For” folder. Daily, sometimes several times per day, I will scan that folder looking for things that need to be followed up on. Sometimes, the “Waiting For” action is complete when someone sends me a response or handles a task I may have delegated to them. Sometimes, I have competed the task myself. Either way, once the work I was “Waiting For” is complete, and the original commitment I made is fulfilled, I delete the email in that “Waiting For” folder, and I am done. Simple as that. You can get more elaborate if you wish, but, remember, my rule is, the simpler the better. As long as that folder does not get too big, and I am disciplined enough to scan it at least once a day for the status of things I am “Waiting For”, life is good.
  3. Create and Utilize “Templates” for Standard Responses
    This one is rather straightforward. There are things you do in the course of fulfilling requests, answering questions, and meeting people’s expectations that are repetitive in nature. For these, I use a standard template; a word document, spreadsheet, email, etc., and I pull that out of my file folder, and use it to respond to an email, or a request, simply by filling out the template that already has a lot of standard repetitive information on it, and I’m good to go. Why re-invent the wheel, right?
  4. Institutionalize Use of Methodical Calendar Planning for Work to be Done
    Calendars are not just for meetings. The real beauty of a calendar, is that you can, and should, use it to reserve blocks of time for work. Real work (so meetings are not real work huh? Heh heh…). Some requests and commitments will require a certain amount of my attention and time to complete. So, these merit an estimate, and a calendar entry. Once I estimate it, and find a spot for that amount of time to get it done, on my calendar, I can then commit to the person who made the request, reasonably assured that I can deliver what was asked for and when it is required.
  5. When It Has to be NO, Say NO to Requests as Quickly as You Can
    I don’t like to say NO. I prefer to negotiate WHEN instead. However, I believe that it is preferable to say no, when it is a foregone conclusion that the request cannot be fulfilled, than to create an expectation that will not be met. So, it makes sense to review and categorize ahead of time, if possible, those kinds of questions, and requests that are against policy, or that can never be honored. Getting those off the table as quickly as possible, clears the decks of clutter that could potentially impede progress and steal resource and time for real issues that can be addressed.

That’s my list of 5 fairly straightforward tactics. I don’t believe it takes sophisticated Time Management courses, or Techniques, or even special tools or applications to, if not win this war outright, at least make a major dent in the face of things that are contributing to missed commitments and expectations.  I believe that if you implement these tactics, they can help to avoid you having to utter those totally embarrassing words, “sorry, your request fell through the cracks”.

I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say about all of this. Leave your comments below. And if you wish to get a PDF of my E-Mail management training, go to my web site, sign up for the newsletter, and indicate in the comment field that you want a free copy of the Better E-Mailing Practices PDF. I’d be most happy to send it along!

You can read my blog via my web site, www.fiallo.com HERE, connect with me on Twitter HERE, on LinkedIn HERE and on Facebook HERE.

Posted in Accountability, Commitments, Effectiveness, Empowerment, Leadership, Personal Development, Responsiveness | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Things I Never Saw My Dad Do


old-saltyMy Dad passed away last year. Together, he and I had the unenviable task of burying my Mother the year before. Dad never got over her passing. He really thought that he and Mom would live forever or at the least, one day, just pass away in their sleep together.

I had the unique opportunity of working with Dad in my teenage years up to the age of 20. He was plant superintendent for a shoe manufacturing company in Miami Lakes Florida. I worked for him on the production floor as a teenager and during the first two years of college. I was able to observe first-hand his leadership and management style. Daily, I observed how he directed operations on the manufacturing floor. I was privy to the way he coached the supervisors and production employees on his team, and how he mentored and offered real-world, value-filled advice to anyone that needed it.

Even after I moved on and left that job after graduating from college, Dad and I would sit around the dining room table, trading stories, while I continued to gather golden nuggets from him about his style.

There are many things I learned from him that I utilize to this day.  But these 5 are things I never saw him do.

1. Raise His Voice

Dad spoke softly, firmly, but never raised his voice. In fact I’m sure he purposely lowered his voice, and in doing so, caused you to listen more intently to what he was saying. Quite a technique!

2. Disrespect People

Dad respected everyone, even those who didn’t deserve it. I find it hard to do this. I’m more of the philosophy that you deserve my civility, but my respect you must earn. Not Dad. He respected everyone.

3. Take Credit for Things Others Do

Dad never took credit for others’ accomplishments. In fact, even when he was the one doing the heavy lifting on a project or a particular effort, when it came time for the credit, he graciously stepped aside. He used to tell me, “there will be plenty of opportunities for you to get credit for things. Take every opportunity you can to give it to someone else”.

4. Demand Respect

Dad never demanded any one to respect him. It came automatically. The way he talked, and his actions, caused others to just naturally respect him.

5. Force People To Do His Bidding

If there was grungy work to do, like disciplining an errant worker, or terminating someone who had gone astray, Dad took care of it. He was accountable and responsible. He never asked his people to do the dirty work.

I suppose I should have paid more attention to my father while I was growing up. I am sure I missed opportunities to learn from what I now recognize as a master leader and expert. But I did learn a few things. Many of them I still use today. And these 5 are leadership gems in my opinion.

I hope you enjoyed reading about “Old Salty’s” gems as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you.

Let me know what you think. I’m truly interested.

You can read my blog HERE, connect on Twitter HERE, LinkedIn HERE and Facebook HERE.

Posted in Leadership | Leave a comment

10 Reasons Why You Need a Coach


coach

My daughter recently said to me, ” I feel like I have bad karma. I seem to be living under a dark cloud.” She is in college, living away from home, and has had to deal with a couple of rough spots. Nothing major, but, then again, that’s my opinion, not hers. To her, life is a bit tough right now, and she is having some difficulty dealing with recent events. There is no doubt that life can be a real bear at times.

Some days, everything is really rosy, the sun is shining, things are just falling into place. It’s all flowers, strawberries, chocolate and puppies. Then on other days, thunder and lightning surround you, weeds creep into your mental garden, you are greeted by a flat tire, someone rear ends you on the expressway, you spill hot coffee on your freshly dry-cleaned outfit, or drop your keys down a sewer grate (this actually happened to my other daughter several years ago. Talk about a significantly major PITA!). It just seems like nothing is going your way, and perhaps, it will not go you way ever again. At least that’s the way it feels, anyway.

We face these and even more serious issues every day in life. Some small, some large, some huge. We usually get through these times. We manage. We get by. But sometimes, you find the going tougher than you have ever experienced. You feel like you are wading up-stream, in a river of molasses. You fight against the current, swim against the tide, making little to no progress. In these times, the swirling waters threaten to pull you under. You fight to breathe, you gasp for air, you struggle to survive.

It is at these times that you should consider seeking out and engaging a Coach, a mentor, a sage. Someone who can listen to and observe the difficulties you are facing, putting them into their proper perspective, and assisting you in emerging successfully out of the morass you have gotten yourself into. A trusted person that you can trust to methodically and patiently help. I can think of many good reasons to engage a coach. I will share ten of them with you now.

  1. Good Coaches have experience. They have either personally gone through what you are going through, or have seen it before, time and time again. This helps immensely to cut through the haziness of a particular issue, since they typically have been there, done that, bought the T-Shirt.
  2. Coaches will look at your predicament objectively and unemotionally. This allows them to strip away the bad feelings and drama that you cannot do for yourself. They look at the facts and root cause(s) of your issues. The cut to the objective chase.
  3. Coaches listen really well. They make sure they understand your point of view (after all, you are the one with the problem!). They do not impose their paradigm on you. They look at things from your perspective. The walk in your shoes.
  4. Coaches steer you towards thinking about great outcomes. They help you to develop a custom vision of how things should really be. This is hard for us to do by ourselves when we are wallowing in a swamp full of alligators.
  5. Coaches are action oriented. After they help you develop the vision of how things are, they assist in putting together an action plan for getting there. YOUR action plan, not theirs.
  6. Coaches hold you accountable for your vision, and your action plan. They ensure you maintain ownership and accountability over your issues, your vision, your plan. Without this accountability, you won’t stick to it. you won’t get it done.
  7. Coaches tell it like it is. They don’t tell you what you WANT to hear, they say what you NEED to hear. Unfiltered. Unadulterated.
  8. Coaches are ethical, confidential, and private. You can be open with them, where you may not be able to with a friend, even a good friend, or a family member. This is one of the most important attributes of a coach. You can trust a person whose profession it is to help, and to maintain confidentiality.
  9. Coaches are outcome and results oriented, and they help you get there as quickly as you are willing to and can move.
  10. Coaches are balanced, and help you balance. Your life may not be a bowl of cherries, but it’s not all gloom and doom either. They help you see, recognize, and exploit strengths, while you are working on the weaknesses.

In short, having a competent, experienced person beside you, to guide you through the complexities of life, can be a real blessing. Many executives, celebrities, and professional athletes employ coaches, to give them that edge they need to be successful. We can all use the help. If its good enough for them, why not for us?

Let me know what you think.

You can read my blog HERE, connect on Twitter HERE, LinkedIn HERE and Facebook HERE.

Posted in Leadership | Leave a comment

Want to Feel Fulfilled and Healed?


be-healed-2

As a Life Coach, Mentor, and as a leader of large organizations, I consistently encounter many of my fellow human beings in distress due to various events in their lives. Let’s face it, life is constantly throwing jabs and punches at us. We are dodging, ducking, weaving, more often than we would like. At times, life lands some fairly heavy blows, and inflicts wounds and pain on us. We are always looking for ways to ease that pain, to heal those wounds, to fill the emptiness that we feel at times. We are constantly searching for those things that fulfill us, and that heal those wounds that life constantly inflicts on us. Often, the search is for that silver bullet, that antidote, the dose of magic elixir that will make life recede into the shadows, put out the fire in our souls, and take away our pain.

As a result, I see many people turning to substances and things like alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, online activities and other stimuli to take away the pain and heal the wounds. The problem is, none of those things heal the wounds, and any pain relief is very temporary. And, as we have become all too familiar with, those supposed “solutions” bring along lots of baggage full of damaging addictions and side effects.

One thing I have found that consistently leads to fulfillment, healing, and relieving of pain, is to seek out people who need help, and to work collaboratively to help them through their dilemmas. I am convinced that we were put on this earth and designed to help our fellow human beings, and that a whole host of good things come down on us and others, when we do this. Here are 10 reasons why helping someone helps us in turn:

  1. Shifting our attention to helping someone else, takes the focus off of us and our own problems
  2. Helping others is a positive activity. We focus on positive things and not the negativity associated with our own issues
  3. The connection we develop with others when we help them, is a satisfying feeling that washes over us and soothes our wounded souls
  4. The act of doing good, just plain feels good. It heals, it takes away pain, it makes us happy. Beneficial chemicals are released in the brain when you do good
  5. Helping others is great for your self esteem. It gives your psyche a tremendous boost and makes you feel powerful
  6. The connections we make with others when we help them, builds friendships and a lasting bond that continues to have a positive effect on us for a long time
  7. An inner peace washes over us when we selflessly give our time and assistance
  8. We make the world a better place one kind act at a time
  9. We set an example that others can follow
  10. Helping others is a great way to learn about you and who you really are, and in turn, to help yourself

So, we really do hold the key to self-healing, easing of pain, and fulfillment. It is there for us to take advantage of, any time we need to, any time we want. And there is no shortage of tattered and hurting souls to help either. So, get out and help someone today, and enjoy the positive effects that it will bring.

Do you have your own stories about how helping others has helped you? I’d love to hear them!

You can read my blog HERE, connect on Twitter HERE, LinkedIn HERE and Facebook HERE.

Posted in Leadership | Leave a comment

4 Reasons Why Broken and Fixed is Better Than New


  
Western society discards used and broken items like so much flotsam and jetsam. Once something loses its shiny and new appearance, we don’t want it anymore. Trash piles and landfills are replete with mounds of unwanted, broken and discarded things. First desired and valued, once we have “put a few miles” on these treasures, once they have become broken and flawed, we are quick to disregard, to snub, to throw away. 
We do this with people as well. We kick once close friends to the curb if they fall from grace. We brand as forever useless and shameful, those that no longer meet our definition of the beautiful, desirable and ideal. We are quick to judge, slow to forgive and relentless in our persecution of those unfortunate human beings that make mistakes, fall off the wagon, and no longer measure up to our self defined and imposed standards. 
Japanese society and culture is quite different. The Japanese continue to treasure and value once broken things, repaired and restored to a new level of beauty. The essence of this philosophy is called Wabi Sabi. 

Wikipedia defines Wabi Sabi as the comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. 

Wabi Sabi is well captured in the concepts of Kintsukuroi, the art of repaired pottery, also known as Kintsugi, golden joinery, or joined with gold. Basically, when an item of pottery or ceramic is broken, it is not looked down on and discarded. It is repaired, with gold and lacquer or epoxy. The repaired item now takes on a new life, and is even more treasured and valued than it was originally. 
Let’s relate these concepts to people. People rise to great heights, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. In both their professional and personal lives, people excel, they prosper and achieve great success. But at times, people “fall of their shelf” like a piece of beautiful pottery, and break. They can be dropped like we would drop a treasured ceramic serving bowl, no longer able to serve the original purpose, becoming pieces of brokenness and shame. They are shunned, snubbed, discarded. 
What if we were to apply Wabi Sabi, utilizing techniques like Kintsugi, like Kintsukuroi, to repair and restore these broken lives? Why wouldn’t their value be restored? Why couldn’t we once again begin to cherish and treasure them, as we once did in their original state? Why wouldn’t their lives be able to start anew?
I submit to you that all of the above can and should apply to people that have been repaired and restored. As a former truly broken and shattered person, due to a period in my life I am not proud of, I can attest to both the shunning and shame, as well as to the restoration and value that takes place after a period of applied Kintsurukoi. 

We do know it is true that some people will never repair and restore. They will remain broken and flawed, mostly due to a self imposed sense of shame and lack of self esteem. They will forever be relegated to the landfills of life, never to be valued again. But many can and will regain their beauty and value. And again I submit to you that they are worthy of our admiration and re-acceptance. Here are 4 reasons why:

  1. When people break and shatter, the ordeal and the process of restoration teaches valuable lessons. We can greatly benefit from these lessons. Re-engaging with restored people will in turn add significant value to our lives as we learn from their lessons
  2. Repaired and restored people are great role models. We can point to the breaks as pitfalls to avoid in our own lives
  3. We enrich our own lives and fulfill one of the prime reasons we exist, by extending a helping hand, and by putting those restored people back on their valued place on the “shelf”
  4. Putting people back to good useful work, much like putting that serving dish back into service, is an effective and efficient use of valuable resource, something which our planet sorely needs.  

We can learn much from Japanese culture. Wabi Sabi, embodied in the concepts of Kintsugi and Kintsukuroi, are lessons our society should adopt and embrace. There are a lot of formerly broken people, now repaired and restored that should be welcomed back into our lives. They should be put back on their “shelves” to be admired and revered. They deserve it, and we deserve benefitting from the valuable lessons and renewed beauty they have to share with us. 
Let me know what you think about all this. I’m keenly interested!

Posted in Change, Inspiration, Personal Development | Tagged , , | Leave a comment