Entitlement, Inconvenience, and Gratitude

It’s really quite remarkable that most things we take for granted have continued, if not improved, during the Covid pandemic.

  • Food supply
  • First responders
  • Healthcare
  • Internet
  • Infrastructure
  • Cheap gas
  • Utilities
  • Retail
  • Celebrity holiday music specials!

For a segment of our population, Covid has caused significant suffering. For the rest, it’s been an inconvenience. Notwithstanding the incredible suffering, it’s easy to get entitled when we focus on the inconveniences and take for granted so many amazing things in our lives.

The problem with entitlement, says Seth Godin, is that it “…doesn’t increase the chances you’ll get what you want. And it ruins the joy of the things you do get. Win or lose, you lose.”

Those who have thrived over the past year have done so not because they were unique or were somehow spared the hardships. They thrived because they chose gratitude over entitlement. They embraced inconvenience as an opportunity to innovate.

We aren’t out of the woods. Life is never going back to the way it was. How will you approach 2021?

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2021
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A One Track Heart

I’ve shared before about my struggle with attention. I am able to focus so well (on my own thoughts and activities) that I miss what’s going on around me. Sometimes that happens in the middle of a conversation. I guess you could say I have a one-track mind. It often takes a jolt from the outside to get my attention.

Hearts are similar. Are you the kind of person whose heart flows outward to everyone else? Are you good at offering support, affirmation and validation to others. Would your friends and colleagues say you are a great listener and they feel safe around you? That’s terrific! You are a gift.

Does your heart flow the other way? How comfortable are you sharing your own feelings? Do you ask for help from others and lean on them for support? Do you show your vulnerability and trust others to validate you?

Just like minds, hearts beat strongest when they are able to give, and receive love.

Do you have a one-track heart? What’s getting in the way of you allowing the flow of love in both directions?

You aren’t alone. Most leaders we work with are much more comfortable giving than receiving. Receiving from another’s heart means accepting that you are human, vulnerable, valuable and interdependent. It means giving up the need to be seen in a certain way, and embracing the unknown risks of opening up.

Compassion is about struggling with each other in a spirit of dignity.

How can anyone struggle with you if they don’t know what you are struggling with. 

This season, I want to encourage you to relish the joy of giving, because so many people need what you have to offer. And, I want to give you permission to embrace the gift of asking for help and receiving love from others. You are worth it.

Happy Holidays from our Next Element family to yours!

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2020
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Unsubscribe From Drama

I start every day by scanning my email inbox and reading the subject lines. Before I open anything, I dismiss the ones I don’t want, don’t recognize, don’t need, or won’t read. It’s time consuming and frustrating. I do this every day.

Ninety percent of the emails I delete are from the same source every day. So frustrating! Why do they keep hounding me? How did I even get myself on that list!?

I tell myself I really should unsubscribe so that I can eliminate the hassle. But I don’t, for a variety of reasons. Maybe tomorrow. Meanwhile, I keep dismissing and complaining.

Unsubscribing is much more difficult than dismissing or complaining.

  • It requires a conscious choice
  • It requires time and effort
  • Sometimes it’s uncomfortable and involves conflict
  • You might be asked to disclose your intentions and desires
  • It means you are letting go of that opportunity in tomorrow’s inbox

What if today you unsubscribed from avoidance, blame, excuses, worry, and fear? What if you made a conscious choice, took the time and made the effort, faced the conflict, disclosed your intentions, and let go of drama?

What would be left in your inbox?

What could you do with all that extra energy?

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2020

P.S. Although I hope you don’t unsubscribe from my blog, you have my permission to let it go if it’s not enriching your life in some way. What I’d prefer is if you engaged with me, shared your comments, and let me know what I could do to make it better. 

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Has It Been Long Enough?

Have you ever wished that the world would stop turning just for a while?

Well, it has. In the words of Julio Gambuto, “It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but The Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound. What the crisis has given us is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in the plainest of views. At no other time, ever in our lives, have we gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply stopped.

If we want cleaner air, we can make it happen. If we want to protect our doctors and nurses from the next virus — and protect all Americans — we can make it happen. If we want our neighbors and friends to earn a dignified income, we can make that happen. If we want millions of kids to be able to eat if suddenly their school is closed, we can make that happen.”

They say it takes about 21 days to develop new habits.

What new habits are you developing to create a better new normal?

What have you learned about yourself, your community, and your capacity that could contribute to a better world?

Has it been long enough for it to stick?

If you are still holding your breath for things to return to the way they were, maybe it hasn’t been long enough.

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2020
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The Gift of Listening

Last week I really messed up an opportunity to listen. My teenage daughter was asking me and my wife for ideas on places to go for a special date night with her boyfriend. I was working on my computer and heard her request in my periphery so I popped off a few of my half-baked ideas on novel locations. She was not impressed and let me know it. I made a snarky comment about how she shouldn’t have asked me if she didn’t want my ideas, and went back to my work.

An hour later I was in bed and I realized I had missed an opportunity to listen. My daughter wasn’t asking for ideas, she was sending out feelers to see if anyone cared about what mattered to her. (more…)

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Three Permissions To Increase Compassion In Your Life

Never underestimate the power of inhibitions. How many times in your life have you been told “Don’t,” “You shouldn’t,” or “You can’t?” Did it start early in your life with a parent, caregiver, teacher, or coach? Do you remember how you felt? Did you internalize these messages? How much have those limitations inhibited you throughout your life?

I’m genuinely sorry this happened to you. It’s unfortunate that people who cared about you and wanted to protect you said these things. This is tragic.

Because you were meant to thrive. And fly. And make a ruckus. (more…)

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How to Cure Empathy Fatigue

Empathy fatigue is a phrase coined by Mark Stebnicki, a professor in the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation at East Carolina University. He explains that, “empathy fatigue results from a state of psychological, emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and occupational exhaustion that occurs as the counselors’ own wounds are continually revisited by their clients’ life stories of chronic illness, disability, trauma, grief and loss.”

Empathy fatigue is especially common in high-touch professions where empathy, care, concern, and emotional support are job duties. Although first recognized in the counseling field, empathy fatigue is gaining more recognition in corporate settings, especially in companies promoting a customer-centric and people-focused culture.

Losing our selves. Losing our soul.

Symptoms of Empathy fatigue are described in Lynne Shallcross’ article, “Who’s taking care of Superman.”

  • Feelings of powerlessness or helplessness
  • Skepticism
  • Irritability
  • Loss of meaning, purpose and hope
  • Lowered concentration
  • Impatience
  • Somatic complaints
  • Low morale or motivation
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Anxiety

How did we get here?

Empathy fatigue is caused by the relentless pursuit to serve the customer coupled with a distorted understanding of compassion.

On the way to perfecting our customer-first strategy we’ve forgotten that the customer is an agent in the equation. We have accepted that we are responsible for making everything better, so we listen more, care more, empathize more, and suffer more.; so that they will have a pleasant experience, stay engaged, and buy more.

Most people believe that compassion is synonymous with empathy, altruism and kindness. That’s wrong. 

How do we get out?

The obvious answer is self-care. It’s a good step, but it’s not the full solution. The solution is to practice compassion in its fullest sense. Compassion means “to struggle with,” not “to struggle instead of.” Here’s how compassion can help you solve empathy fatigue. 

Keep caring and giving

Don’t shut down your heart. People are hard-wired to care about each other. And, don’t forget to also protect your heart. Bleeding-hearts don’t last very long.

Engage others in the process

Stop solving problems for people. Get them involved to take ownership over the solution. Customers are much more loyal and engaged when they take an active role in the solution. When you are doing all the emotional (and physical) work, you are undermining their capability and dignity and creating dependence.

Set and enforce boundaries

Protect your soul by knowing your boundaries and investing in you. Without it, your tank will always be on empty. What keeps you healthy and balanced? Do it. What gives you joy? Do it. Recognize when saying “yes” means you are saying no to what keeps you healthy. You are worth as much as the person you are trying to help. When you are fatigued you aren’t helpful.

Solving empathy fatigue requires difficult conversations with yourself and with others. It’s not easy, and we have a solution.

Start your journey towards more energy and better relationships today with The Compassion Mindset course, offered regularly in a two-hour webinar format.

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2019
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