Whilst away on a recent girls weekend (plus baby Huw) in the quiet countryside I looked in the bookshelf to find a short read and discovered ‘Living the Wisdom of the Tao‘ by Dr Wayne W Dyer.
I hadn’t come across this work before, which shares wise words of the Tao Te Ching, a collection of verses authored by the Chinese prophet Lao-tzu.
I wrote down half a dozen thoughts which resonated with me at the time:
“I know that there is no way to happiness – happiness is the way.”
“I work at eliminating all my judgements of others.”
“I pay attention to my inner callings and apply my own uniqueness to everything I undertake.”
“It is through selfless action that I experience my own fulfillment.”
“When my cup is full I stop pouring….”overfilled, the cupped hands drip, better to stop pouring.”
“I fully trust that others do know what is best for them.”
The cup full analogy really resonated. For me with ‘Maximiser’ my top Clifton Strength, I know it can become a pitfall when overused, trying to always fit more in and keep achieving. I’m working on streamlining, being content in this moment, appreciation versus expectation and embracing the mantra “you can do it all in the long term.”
More to come on this!
I hope through sharing that these words may provide insight/action for others.
Please do share any thoughts on verse sections that resonate for you.
Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead! Xx
Some previous related reads that you may enjoy:
After much media attention has been given to Generation Y, Generation Z are now the youngest generation in the workforce.
Whilst I don’t like to generalise, I do think the different time periods we grow up in can shape our behaviour. Understanding this can help us relate to each other more and for businesses to relate to their target customer base. There is even a business of market researchers, cultural observers and trend forecasters looking to understand the Gen Z psychology!
With Gen Y (which I fall into) often in the media for our neediness and ‘brash, narcissistic, entitled’ nature, also being a higher purpose generation interested in social good, I was interested to see what the media’s portrayal of Gen Z was?
Having a read of the New York Times article ‘Move Over Millenials Here Comes Generation Z’ I discover the points below to which I add some thoughts:
- First true digital natives – Gen Z have grown up with smartphones which didn’t yet exist when I was a young teenager. To them communicating through this medium is seamless.
- Conscientious, hard-working, somewhat anxious and mindful of the future – Gen Z seem to have more pressure academically on them and have grown up in a world where terror attacks have been common
- More aware of their personal brand – Gen Z on the whole seem a bit more cautious when it comes to openly posting publicly online having watched and learned from Gen Y mistakes – choosing more private channels
- Inclusive – many Gen Z’s are growing up in multi-cultural environments making this their norm and are also champions for same sex marriage
- Big dreamers – Gen Z are seeing start ups make it big and are dreaming big themselves, looking to follow their passions even if it isn’t a traditional path to success.
So what can we learn from Gen Z?
I had the privilege of hanging out with two Gen Zer’s (Kya and Bri) during the recent school holidays.
Here’s what I learnt:
- You Tube stars are the new celeb – Sitting in a café one day, Bri suddenly got excited when she saw a You Tuber getting into a car. I quickly learned that You Tube stars such as the Dolan Twins are the idols of many Gen Z’s and are making a fortune at the same time by Vlogging (video blogging)! I heard from my husband Owain that You Tube is the second biggest search site after Google which this infographic brings to life. Businesses note this is the place to be!
- Move over Facebook it’s all about Instagram and Snapchat – As I had already picked up Gen Z mainly communicate over snapchat and Instagram (Insta) versus Facebook, Twitter and text messages which I am comfortable with! For businesses looking communicate with Gen Z it’s good to think about your comms channels. I learnt even party invites now come through Insta with their terms and conditions!
- Boyfriend Jeans are in – We were having a laugh with Kya and her parents that she was wearing her boyfriends jeans, the term for jeans rolled up at the bottom. It seems 90’s fashion has come back including ‘mum’ style jeans (lucky for me!). I had fun with the girls in Cotton On where they picked me a new outfit which was called trendy by some friends.
- Face to face connection still key amongst online relationships – Within lots of online messaging, seeing both Kya and Bri interacting with Ethan and Huw shows me face to face relationships are still very precious. They miss the boys when away and photos just aren’t the same as a physical cuddle.
Spending time with Kya and Bri was a good reminder to me to ensure we have diversity within our network and learn from each other.
Here are a handful of ways that help me relate to Gen Z that may be useful for others:
- Ask for help with your digital challenges – I find they love to help
- Really listen and be curious with your questions
- Look to share experiences – in an online world, the face to face experiences you create can be the most meaningful.
- Go shopping together and let them dress you!
- Brainstorm their ideas, supporting their dreams and big goals
So what can we expect for Ethan (2) and Huw’s (6 months) generation? The alphabet has run out at Z, so I guess we go back to A?! Research based futurist Mark McCrindle led a campaign to call anyone born after 2010, Generation Alpha.
Business Insider writes, “Alpha kids will grow up with iPads in hand, never live without a smartphone, and have the ability to transfer a thought online in seconds. These massive technological changes, among others, make Generation Alpha the most transformative generation ever, according to McCrindle.”
For Ethan and Huw self driving cars and robots may become the norm, what I hope remains is the art of human connection and quality conversation.
Family Matthews have recently returned from a few weeks overseas visiting family and friends in the U.K. and Cyprus.
Approximately 33,000kms traveled across 7 locations with a 2 year and 4 month old! When we finally got home we took a moment to cheers with a beer!
It was very nostalgic to be back after 5 years away and wonderful to catch up with lots of family and friends.
Here are some wisdom snippets I picked up along the way which I thought others may enjoy to spread the learning:
Life is full of new beginnings – this gem was shared by my maternal Grandma who I shared a very special conversation with. At 92 she said there’s always a new beginning like meeting her first great Grandchildren.
Always be a kid at heart – from my 62 year old dad who still loves playing pranks! We were in the garden one day and he said where do you think Ethan’s sock is? He’d hidden it under his hat and was chuckling. Inspired, I embraced my inner kid on the trip enjoying water park fun in Cyprus and a zip wire play in the U.K. which felt exhilarating 🙂
The power of unconditional love – this one from my mum who was born to be a Grandma – seeing her in her element was very special and made me feel grateful for the unconditional love my sister and I grew up with.
Distance means so little, when people mean so much – from my great friend Sharan who it was wonderful to spend time with. It was like we’d never been away as it is where you catch up with dear friends.
Don’t overthink things – this one emerged from me after being a bit apprehensive about 21 hours of flying with the little ones! In the end it was fine, tiring but the boys were champions and Huw didn’t have a melt down. I even took some mental pictures of some precious moments of our beautiful boys flying high.
To finish one more nugget from my husband Owain’s old running coach Des who shared his greatest life lesson paid forward from his dear late mum was to just live life.
Cheers to that 🙂
Learning from our Mother’s
I enjoyed a beautiful Mother’s Day themed yoga practice at our local Lululemon store this morning. During the opening meditation the instructor read an insightful passage from one of her teacher’s Doug Whitaker called a Mother’s Love.
It really touched me both from the perspective as a daughter and now a mother to two beautiful boys.
A few of my favourite snippets:
- According to Hindu and yogic philosophy your first teacher and guru is your mother—the creation of your life is that guru.
- The love of a mother is unconditional. She knows that by virtue of our existence we will cause harm to her—yet she continues to nourish and support us with all her heart.
- Honoring and respecting the power of the Mother, seeing Her as a living being—as a goddess—is to move away from separation and closer toward union with the source of our creation.
As I read on a retirement home quote board on a trip recently : “We never know the love of a parent until we become parents ourselves.” I’m sorry to my mum for the times we have clashed, especially during the teenage years!
Now knowing the unconditional love and nurturing that has emerged from me being a mother I really appreciate even more what my parents did for me.
Learning from our Children
As well as learning from our mothers I think we can learn so much from our children.
My meditation teacher and friend shared one of her favourite readings in the world from ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran when I had baby Huw. A few of my favourite phrases:
- You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
- You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
- You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
When Ethan turned two recently I reflected on the privilege of being a mother and what I have learnt which includes greater presence, patience, empathy, curiousity and the ability to laugh more.
This Australian and US Mother’s Day, I’d love to hear from others….what have you learnt from your mother and / or your children?
Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mums out there! X
Having reflected on this idea for a while, I’m writing this post during some rare, precious quiet time on a family break over the long Easter weekend. Over the past two months, I have found it fascinating to watch our 23 month old Ethan adapt to having his 2 month old baby brother Huw around. Whilst working at IECL we were often helping leaders transition to changing circumstances and observing this transition has really helped me appreciate the stages of change.
Here I reflect on it using Prochaska and DiClemente’s stages of change model with some photos documenting the journey!
Pre-contemplation (No intention of changing behavior) – I vividly remember the day we introduced Ethan to Huw, complete denial that this baby boy was his little brother. We tried all the tricks paid forward from friends, including giving Ethan a present from Huw and picking a present with Ethan to give to Huw….he was not interested at all in welcoming a baby brother to our family unit.
Contemplation (Aware the change exists but with no commitment to action) – The next morning I went to Ethan’s cot, took him to the lounge to play whilst baby was still asleep. When Huw started crying Ethan looked deflated that the baby was still around, was he really here to stay?
Preparation (Intent on taking action to address the change) – Over the coming weeks Ethan would acknowledge the baby with a gruntled ‘baby’ with a pointed finger. He would start to lie next to Huw, but no looking at him, whilst Huw loved looking at his big brother (maybe memorised by the blonde Afro?!).
Action (Active modification of behaviour) – As Huw has started to be more alert and make cute cooing noises Ethan has started to show some affection towards him with eye contact, bounces, kisses, cuddles and tickles. He can be quite heavy handed so we have to watch him!
Maintenance (Sustained change, new behaviour replaces old) – I don’t think we’re quite at maintenance yet as Ethan has to be in the right mood for Huw cuddles. Sure there will be some relapses along the way with a brotherly love/hate relationship!
I’ve taken the following lessons from this which I thought may be useful to others facilitating a change process:
- Patience – people have their own pace for chance, quick expectations and a forced timeline might not do any favours
- Empathy – change is hard, try and walk in the other’s shoes and feel some empathy rather than getting frustrated. It helps if you’ve been there too 🙂
- One size doesn’t fit all – What motivates one person to change may not work for another.
- Acceptance – accepting where people are at in the process and understanding that relapses are very likely!
To wrap up, observing Ethan adjust to Huw reminded me that we need to be patient when expecting people to change habits, whether it be to an agile working environment, virtual team, quitting smoking or starting a meditation / exercise routine. Relapse is almost a certainty as we re-wire those neural connections to a new normal.
Any one working in change / going through a change themselves love to hear any other learning that may help others.
I’ve just finished reading ‘A New Earth’ by spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle and I have to say it’s one of the most thought provoking books I’ve ever read. Maybe this was due to its timing spanning pre and post birth of our recent family addition baby Huw? As discussed with a friend recently, I found it’s a book you need some headspace to process and I found myself re-reading some parts again.
Here I share some of my reflections and key takeaways:
- Our relationship with ego – Tolle defines ‘ego’ as a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment and shares the best way to disidentify with it is to acknowledge it and be present. I was interested in the different examples of ego that he wrote to look out for including the urge to speak first or tell someone news first. I reflected on the times where I’ve been really eager to answer a question first and give my input, all unknowingly stemming from ego. Being mindful of this and trying to hold back has been an interesting process and allows more gold from those around you to be shared. As I’ve written about before when we’re speaking we’re not learning.
- The body processes thoughts as reality – I’ve heard a lot of wisdom teachers say that we are not our thoughts / emotions and have firsthand experienced the power of this. Interestingly however, Tolle shares whilst we are not our thoughts, our body processes them as reality, having the same physiological response to fear. This made sense to me as I reflected on times I’ve had nightmares with spiders coming down from the ceiling and waking up with the heart pounding and palms sweaty! Or when I thought I’ve seen a snake in the bush. I’ve found through mindfulness practice, the more we can respond versus react the less these instances occur (although we want the fight or flight response to occur if the danger is real!) My dear friend Ros shares some great tips here on how to ditch the deficit that we are wired for.
- Unattachment to possessions – Tolle talks about the Buddhist philosophy of being unattached to possessions and how it can be common practice to get rid of all your belongings. He shares a story ‘The Lost Ring’ of a dying woman and her strong identification with a diamond ring who reacted strongly when she thought it had been stolen by a carer. As Tolle explored this with her and she let go of the identification with things she became liberated and started giving away all of her possessions. He also explores many people’s infatuation with designer goods which I know I went through in my teenage years.
- Parenthood Role or Function? – I found this chapter very topical with a newborn and toddler. Tolle describes how can can get caught up in playing roles whether that be ‘parent’ or ‘worker’ and thus losing our true self. He shares the all important question is “Are you able to fulfill the function of being a parent and fulfill it well, without identifying with that function, that is, without it becoming a role?’. He writes when it becomes too strong an identity and overemphasized it can become excessive and turn into spoiling children , controlling and becoming overprotective.We do not own our children and need to let them learn and explore whilst preventing them from danger. The role of a parent can also then remain long after the needs of those functions has passed with parents not able to let go of being a parent when the child grows into an adult, an egoic motivation. The first step to dissolving this is recognizing this form of ego in yourself or others and acknowledging its the ego and not who you or them really are. Tolle shares not opposing this can help the egoic patterns dissolve and if they don’t accepting them with compassion, without needing to react and personalize it.
A few final snippets of Tolle’s wisdom:
- How can we embrace ‘one with life’ thinking that ‘we are life’ versus ‘my life’
- Think of truth as relative versus absolute with no one truth
- The shift from unconscious to consciousness is awareness and being in the present
Have you read ‘A New Earth’, are on a journey to consciousness or intrigued by this concept? Love to hear any of your insights. It will be one of the few books I keep to revisit in the future.
When listening to a Jon Kabat Zinn short guided mediation recently he started by saying to his audience that ‘the time is now’ rather than quoting a traditional clock time. I have heard this phrase before but the timing of his message resonated more strongly with me this time. I find you may hear things at multiple times in life and when it’s the right moment for you you’re more likely to take it on board.
We’d recently had a trip to emergency with our toddler Ethan who had a bad bout of croup. Whilst nothing serious long term, in that moment seeing him with a mask on getting some adrenaline to help open the airways was a real perspective check and a reminder to appreciate each moment we have with our loved ones. I explored this in a post a couple of years ago sharing another piece of Jon’s Wisdom, ‘We only have moments to live.’.
On this theme, I had the privilege to attend an evening with Buddhist Monk ‘Lamar Tender’ late last year. Here he shared how he makes a conscious effort to wake up every morning smiling, grateful for being alive, acknowledging those who have passed away across the globe the night before. I reflected, every time we see a natural wonder like a sunrise or sunset how can we be there in that very moment and take in the natural spendour?
I’m currently reading ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’ by Thich Nhat Hanh (which I highly recommend) where he shares lots of wisdom including a fable with the teaching that ‘the most important person is the one with you right now.’
With our immediate family overseas, I pondered what does this mean for missing people you’re not with? Whilst this is a natural feeling with those you love, I think making a real effort to be present with those we are with in each moment can help us enjoy more of life. This can be face to face or virtually. Whether it be the local shop keeper, the postman, a colleague, a dear family member on skype, the person you’re with in that moment is the most important as they’re there with you now. We never know what the future holds and they deserve our focused attention.
You may be able to think of people who have gravitas and a mindful presence, when you’re with them you feel like they’re really there with you in the moment, respecting you as a person and not distracted by other thoughts of the past or future.
I find this hard when you’re in the company of friends with a toddler around as they need your focused attention and it’s hard to split this. I’ve learnt it’s wise to make some time to have quality focused one on one attention time as well as group interactions.
So how can we embrace Jon’s ‘the time is now’ message? Here are a handful of tips I try and utilise to live in the present:
- Feel your bare feet on the earth, I find this helps ground me and be in the moment as well as strengthening the feet!
- Tune into your breath acknowledging the rise and fall of your belly, I find this one of the best ways to get back into the present moment.
- Watch a young child’s interaction with the world. Observing Ethan’s natural mindfulness in the moment helps me appreciate nature, whether that be really looking at the trees or listening to the birds. Petra King talks about this being our first nature before second nature habits kick in.
- Use guided meditations to help with anchoring – A couple of my current favorites: Andrew Johnson – Power Nap (30 minutes) Jon Kabat Zinn spoken by Shane Wilson – Mountain Meditation (16 minutes).
- Practice deep listening with the person you’re with – Being attentive with your listening and not planning what you’re going to say next can help you really listen to the meaning behind the words and connect at a deeper level.
Thanks for your attention reading this, you may ask now, what time is it? The time is now…..
With the imminent arrival of a second baby boy I revisited my post Becoming Mum and checked in how do things feel this time round?
- I feel excited/nervous about the birth remembering the painful contractions during labour and immediate joy once Ethan was out.
- I feel I want to make the most of quality time with Ethan and Owain before baby comes out requiring a lot of my attention
- I feel it’s important to rest knowing the sleep interrupted nights around the corner!
- I feel like I may need four arms to carry everything that comes with a baby and a toddler!
- I feel excited to meet our new family member with a deep sense of purpose
Some tips I’ve been paid forward to help transition to life with two under 2:
- Make sure you still give number 1 attention and quality time, their world has changed where as baby #2 knows no different
- Let your toddler pick a toy to give to the baby and have a present from the baby for your toddler that you know they’ll Iike
- Run number 1 wild to keep expending their energy when you do get out 🙂
- Welcome any help offered with open arms – ‘it takes a village to raise a child’
- Make sure you nap or lie down and rest on those rare occasions both are settled!
Some labour mantras that I’ve picked up from friends and family (thank you!) that I thought maybe useful for others with any upcoming physical / mental endurance events!:
- Your body knows what to do
- Carpe diem ‘Seize the day!’
- The pain is in the body not the mind or the breath
- Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success
- Focus, breathe, relax
Love to hear any more wisdom snippets and we’ll keep you posted on any arrival news!
In October last year I went to the International Coach Federation Australasia conference on the Gold Coast. One of my favourite sessions, (perhaps topically being mum to a toddler Ethan with another one on the way!) was a workshop by Tracy Tresidder called ‘Parent as Coach’. As well as being useful for parents I think the components discussed can be utilised for any relationship in our lives. As one of my colleagues said, perhaps reverse parenting too 🙂
Tracy’s approach based on Martin Seligman’s positive psychology PERMA model shared the following 5 habits for positive parenting:
- Focus on Strengths
- Practice Gratitude
- Focus on Listening
- Practice Mindfulness
Here I reflect on each component and share some of Tracy’s wisdom:
- Savouring – Savouring positive experiences helps secrete neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine regulating mood and feelings of joy. Tracy asked us to reflect on the most positive experience we had recently and you could immediately feel the energy in the room. This question can be tailored for kids after a day at school, what was the most fun thing that happened today? What made you laugh the most today? Another tip Tracy shared is going out in nature together and savouring natural wonder. I can relate to this with Ethan who loves going out searching for sticks and leaves #natureboy.
- Focus on Strengths – Tracy suggests we focus on what is right with our kids versus what is wrong. The VIA strengths survey for youths can help with this. I bought the book version for my goddaughter previously which opened up a great conversation. A strengths based question Tracy uses with her kids is “What Went Well’’ today (www). A word of strengths caution from Tracy however was to praise the time and effort children put into things versus the outcome. This is in line with Carol Dweck’s Growth mindset which I have written about previously.
- Practice Gratitude – As written about previously trading appreciation for expectation can change your life. I’ve found this invaluable as a mum with a young child adjusting to a different routine. Tracy shared the research shows writing a few good things in a gratitude journal 3-4 times a week is sufficient to make a difference with your life outlook which the whole family can do. Adding ‘why’ you are grateful further deepens the experience. A discussion around rituals emerged during the gratitude conversation and how kids can thrive with rituals and tradition. I fondly recall our Sunday family roasts and summer holidays. With Ethan rituals include Saturday afternoons at the beach (often with a coconut and hot chips involved!) and special weekly village crepe dates. Something I’m keen to keep up with him as some of our quality time when baby number two arrives soon.
- Focus on Listening – As a coach deep listening is essential for really hearing your counterpart, the same goes for children. Tracy shared “Listening is not waiting to speak.” and “Listen with your lips shut”. One of my favorites is “You were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Once we stop talking and giving advice it’s amazing how people can come to their own conclusions which is much more empowering. I’ve heard parents of teenagers share driving together in a car can be a great time to listen.
- Practice Mindfulness – Tracy spoke how mindfulness can be practiced in short bursts everyday which my teacher calls ‘micro doses of mindfulness’. This can be focusing your attention whilst washing, eating, walking, breathing, or any activity. I’m currently reading ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’ by Thich Nhat Hanh which goes into this life changing way of being in more depth. It’s great to see schools introducing short mindfulness training sessions and Tracy referred us to org and the Smiling Mind App for more resources in this area.
I would love to hear how this resonates with any parents and other tips you would be willing to share to help others.
In my last post I shared some learning from a Golden Door Health Retreat ‘Fostering a Growth Mindset’ seminar. Here I reflect on a subsequent seminar by David Bott from the Institute of Positive Education looking at the state of flow.
Steven Kotler (co-founder of the Flow Genome Project), describes flow as an ‘optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.’ In Psychology Today, he writes: “In flow, concentration becomes so laser-focused that everything else falls away. Action and awareness merge. Our sense of self and our sense of self consciousness completely disappear. Time dilates—meaning it slows down (like the freeze frame of a car crash) or speeds up (and five hours pass by in five minutes). And throughout, all aspects of performance are incredibly heightened—and that includes creative performance.”*
Reading this description gets me excited about the times when I’m in flow. These include losing track of time writing, being in the zone racing triathlon and thriving in high performing teams on exciting/challenging projects. When is a time that you’ve been in flow?
David showed us a video similar to this of a bulldog skating / water skimming to visualise a flow state. One guest reflected thinking about a flow state made her realise that she hasn’t been in one for a decade or so and reminisced her love for music and creative designing.
When I watch my toddler Ethan playing with his blocks or wooden puzzles I see him in a state of flow with a look of real focus on his face ( #fishface). David said that young children enter a flow state more easily than adults, which is linked to how much they learn in their first 5 years of life.
What would happen if we could cultivate a flow state more as adults?
David shared the peak performance and learning benefits of a flow state for Organisations quoting a McKinsey 10 year CEO tracking study showing when in flow the CEO’s were 500% more productive.
I think a flow state has many parallels with presence, which can be cultivated by mindfulness practice. When in flow we’re not rehashing the past or rehearsing the future, we’re there, in the moment, fully engaged in life.
Are you getting into a regular flow state? Here are some tips to help us rediscover flow and create conditions for it:
- Think of your creative passions as a child and revisit these
- Pick a project that yields a sense of excitement / challenge
- At work, help create a trustful and respectful environment
- If in relation to work, think would you be doing this if you weren’t paid?
- Try some focused attention training like mindfulness
Love to hear any of flow experiences and tips for cultivating them.
*Check out the ‘Rise of Superman’ from Steven to learn more about flow