I can recall my seemingly never-ending enrollment in summer camps during my teenage years. It never dawned on me, until now, how eager my mom was to drop my brother and I off for only a few hours in the morning. It was interesting, how quickly only a few hours progressed to full-time engagement. Our camps were suddenly scheduled back to back as my mother’s patience grew thin with two teenage boys at home. Besides being out of my mother’s hair as she lovingly dropped us off at the hollowed grounds of the baseball diamond, an education began that took me years to comprehend.
It felt like only yesterday as I could hear the baseball coach with his confident big booming voice during warm ups ask, while smugly scanning the quorum of pubescent boys, “Do you know what today is”?. His eyes felt like laser beams piercing the facade of teenage toughness and exposing all of our insecurities. One brave kid spoke up attempting fate and with a quiver in his voice he replied, “Monday, Coach?”. The coach responded back, “Maybe to you it’s a Monday, boy, but to me it’s a good day to work”. From that day forth, every morning he would ask the same question without fail. It didn’t take long for everyone to catch on, “It’s a good day to work”.
It seemed so routine and simple repeating that phrase over and over again. I used to think this guy must be real special as the only thing he seems to know is, “it’s a good day to work.” How can his entire life revolve around this simple phrase? It only took me 20 years to figure it out…at least I think I did.
I am sure we have all heard the phrase, “Garbage in, Garbage out” (GIGO). It is a phrase commonly used in the software development world to reflect the need for logical and accurate code to be written to produce consistent and accurate results. The moment there is a failure during the developing of a decision-making system, the system is only capable of making unreliable, nonsensical results; hence the term GIGO.
We can apply this concept to many areas in our life. If your diet consists of only fast food, you cannot expect your body to be in great shape. Ultimately, your poor diet choices will likely manifest into high blood pressure and cholesterol. Take a quick survey of your life. Who do you spend most of you time with, what kind of materials do you read, what kind of effort do you give at the gym, and how are your financial investments doing? Bad friends, make bad relationships; bad books, give bad advice; poor effort at the gym, gives small gains; and finally, bad investments, see poor returns. Hopefully, it is clearer now, what is meant by the phrase GIGO.
Reflecting back on my baseball coach, it turns out he wasn’t as simple as I had once thought. He was attempting to prepare our minds to work hard and focus on our field of dreams. Through consistent encouragement, he was cultivating our internal voice to believe that despite what else was going on in our lives, today we were to commit our mind and body to developing ourselves to play the sport of baseball. He was trying to gather our focus and attention to motivate us to perform to the best of our ability by setting the stage of our expectations.
What a valuable lesson. I wish it could have held more meaning earlier in my life. Moving forward, I would like to encourage you to cautiously choose the words you speak. Those words often set the tone of your mindset. If you can say aloud and truly believe that today is a good day to work, then you are positioning your mind for success. If you believe today is going to be a miserable day, then you are positioning your day to be filled with misery. You are effectively creating your own self-fulfilling prophecy. If we choose to have this control over our lives, why not make it an awesome day to work.
Thankfully, we have the ability to set the stage in our life and create the reality we choose. The choice is yours as to the information you would like to fill your mind. Furthermore, it is your responsibility as to what you do with it. Focus on words and thoughts that are value added propositions and limit the ones that diminish you or others. We have a limited time on this earth, why not give it our best effort now and learn ways to enjoy this ride. Start positive, say it aloud, believe it, and watch your day unfold according to your inner most desires.
Have you ever been involved in a situation where you could feel the tension in the room? Upon walking into an unsuspecting situation where the tension meter is boiling and it hits you like Mike Tyson’s uppercut. Pow! Isn’t it amazing how not even a word has been spoken and the palpatory presence of friction can be appreciated. If you ever experienced this, then you would probably agree with UCLA Professor Albert Mehrabian who believes that 55% of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words spoken.
Let’s test it out! Have you ever been told by a close friend of yours that, “Dude, you are a jerk!” followed with a smile and a playful shove. On the contrary, have you ever been told “Dude, you are a jerk!” after cutting someone off while driving and accompanied with an aggressive middle finger wave? Interesting how the same written words can convey totally different meanings. Considering the context of the situation, body language, and tone, two completely different messages can be conveyed. Highlighted by the two vastly different scenarios, we can see that 93% of communication is actually nonverbal (55% + 38% = 93%). The impact of nonverbal communication becomes more apparent after the same written words can have two totally different meanings.
Okay, let’s look at another scenario. Have you ever entertained the idea that you are secretly a Jedi master with skills that allow you to foresee a family member or co-worker’s response to pending action? The story unfolds like this. Historically, Bob’s boss has only contacted him to address poor performance. So, every time his boss attempts to contact him, he calls out sick and becomes difficult to locate. Bob’s boss, Sue, has another performance issue to address and attempts to reach out to rectify the situation. Sue tells a colleague, “I have to reach out to Bob again, how much do you want to bet he is sick again.” Sue accurately predicts Bob’s response to her inquiry and states to her colleague, “I am so cleaver I must have Jedi master skills”. I present this scenario to reflect that there are also other dimensions to nonverbal communication such as past experiences or internal biases. In this situation nothing more than a request for a meeting was conveyed but due to prior experiences the message communicated to Bob was, “hey, you’re in trouble again”.
Another way communication is evaluated is the way in which it is presented. Our very own survival and ancestral survival can be linked to this type of communication. If someone is shouting intensely “Run for your lives!” you are going to evaluate the verbiage in a different light than someone stating the same with a limp calm voice. The point is, if there is a discrepancy between what is said and how it is presented, the information is evaluated differently for perceived accuracy.
Do you remember the last time you had a conversation and it didn’t go well and you thought to yourself, “What did I say?” The next time you may want to consider not necessarily what did you say but what you didn’t say. Consider the information you are trying to share and how you plan on delivering that message. Factor the context of the information, mutual and unshared prior experiences, and the congruity in which your message is being delivered with your body language and tone. Hopefully it is more convincing now that communication is so much more than words on a page.
In the electronic era where it so easy to send text messages and emails, no wonder how often things just seem to get lost in translation without the assistance of nonverbal communication. It is not necessarily what you have to say but how you say it that can have the greatest impact when attempting to communicate.
Isn’t it amazing through the eyes of children they can expose our faults or truths without hesitation? I find it interesting how insightful they can sometimes be with their words. Typically, between 3 to 5 years old an enlightening occurs and the no holds barred verbal assault begins, “Dad your mean”, “I don’t like your car”, or “you yell a lot”. At times, it takes the wind out of your sails and for a brief moment you pause and reflect, is that really me? What do they see that I don’t? Their brutal honesty at times can crack fragile egos leaving us in a puddle of yolk. How did we get to this place in life by muddling through blind to our behaviors or habits? Clarity of thought absent from years of bias must surely aid their unobstructed vision.
We all started with a clean slate, free of bias and living in ignorant bliss. Our understanding of the world is so largely dependent on teachings, life experiences, and the ability to process data. We learn from our parents to avoid strangers. We learn from a hot stove not to touch. We interpret data progressively, based on our intellect and emotional intelligence. From these prior life lessons, we become good at recognizing or establishing patterns that help us to quickly understand our world around us with greater efficiency. From prior experiences or learned behaviors, we develop biases as we become accustomed to experience and their anticipated outcomes. Over time, we inherit these biases and they become a part of our everyday fabric. They impact how we interact with our surroundings, people and community.
Do babies see skin color, social, or economic status to the extent that they develop an opinion about someone? What do you assume, when you drive by someone who is walking to work or boarding a bus concerning their socioeconomic status? At some point, we acquired and learned social norms relative to what we have been exposed to and consider familiar. We seek likes and avoid dislikes as they may make us uncomfortable. We live in our comfort zones seeking safety and shelter from risk. We see shapes, sizes, races, status, and brands, while flocking to the ones we recognize and value.
When differences occur or conflicts arise, the battle lines form and we start positioning for our attack and defense. At what point do you truly considered another’s perspective prior to fully committing your support to your own campaign? I mean seriously, why listen to another’s point of view, because after all, you are always right? “My way or the highway” as the saying goes. It is hard to deny that we are predisposed to supporting our own belief first. After all, they are your own ideas and further investing into the establishment requires much less time and energy compared to the alternative. Our biases can be found everywhere, but recognizing them can sometimes be tricky as we become accustomed to our way of thinking and operating.
For instance, have you ever witnessed “The Home Depot Hover” or “The Lowes Levitator” at those free children workshops offered on the weekends? Let me explain. If you are parents of small children, you obviously want what is best for your offspring. So, when that free craft is bestowed upon the righteous hand of your sweet child and it happens to be missing a part, what is your response? Do you hover around looking for a spare part that happens to be from another unsuspecting participant? Do you expeditiously levitate to the nearest store manager and request an immediate replacement to spare your child the indignity of not having a complete craft that will likely be in the trash by the end of the day? After all, our biological philanthropy, time, financial resources and our family heritage are all at stake, not to mention our kid’s feelings and our reputation as caregivers.
Can you consider and acknowledge your own biases and how it may impact your decision-making process? Can you temporarily remove yourself from engaging in conflict to objectively review the variables with a 360-degree field of vision? Do you recognize your personal investments and how they may impact your view of the world around you? Do you see truths and realities or do you see allusions created by your own personal bias? Opening your mind to alternative views provides opportunities to expand your understanding and see alternative opinions objectively. Mutually granting stakeholders opportunities for open and honest dialog allows ideas to rise on merit and not bias.
The biases we are talking about are often at the center of many conflicts. We all want to personally feel heard, validated, and important. When we fall short on addressing these needs, the embers of conflict can spark. Acknowledging that biases exist, requires us to create channels to encourage common footing for discussion and dialog. If we are only shouting back and forth about our own goals and objectives, the tension escalates and the dialog turns off. The goal is to open the dialog, deescalate tension, and create an environment of honest transparent exploration free of bias. It all starts with finding a mutual position to leverage collaborative efforts.
In typical changing waves fashion, leverage for common ground and position should always start from the heart. None said better than Theodore Roosevelt, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. Opening a dialog with a message of genuine care and interest towards others is a sure way to create allies. Once people know your intentions, they can more easily realign their expectations to shared goals. If the goals are pure and serve a higher purpose than self, more traction can be gained. Your intentions should be transparent and honest to gain credibility. Understanding clear goals and objectives is key, however conveying this message is critical. During this dialog, if you notice signs of frustrations, take a time out to recognize these feeling and explore. You never know what you may find. Ask about expectations and objectives of other parties to sort out biases and other valid opinions. Have realistic boundaries of what you can and cannot do and make that clear. Move forward together on mutual footing embracing progress. Accept and recognize not all issues can be resolved but there is no need to fret, as with time and experience things can change.
Finally, understanding how biases can fuel conflict, we should attempt to explore our own biases and recognize their impact on our own lives and the world around us. In a call for collaboration, start with the heart, inquire about expectations, and work towards a higher calling, dismissing selfish ambition. So, maybe next time you drive or walk by someone whose arms are filled with groceries or who are walking to work in the snow, test your bias and consider how you might help them.
Please reflect on the lyrics of a Buffalo Springfield’s song.
There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It's s time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, now, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
As we reviewed last month, our foundational beliefs are often the epicenter of a triggered emotional response. Sometimes our emotions influence or create beliefs. These emotional experiences can create new truths in our lives. These truths sometimes are correct and sometimes they create false truths. For instance, I have had many prolonged trips to Connecticut from South Jersey due to traffic, accidents, and construction. It got to the point where I hated traveling to Connecticut. Just hearing the word Connecticut made my blood pressure and cortisol level rise. Due to my experience with several prolonged delays creating excessive unwanted stress in my life, over time I developed a very negative opinion about traveling to Connecticut. Basically, I vowed to my wife, "I will never travel to Connecticut again!" and "I hate Connecticut!". From an emotional response due to many negative experiences, I created this belief that I hated Connecticut. I know this sounds extreme but believe me I have reasoning for such a strong position on Connecticut. My validation stems from a 3-hour trip on Google Maps that turned into 6-hours, thus making me late for a wedding and forcing me to show up in shorts as I had no time to change prior to missing the entire ceremony. The aforementioned accumulation of unfortunate events seemed like the final straw for me to permanently close the door on my travels to Connecticut. My emotional response created a new "truth" that I hated Connecticut and wasn't going back. It took me a few years but I realized my feelings about Connecticut may have been short sited after my wife became tired of hearing me complain about a conference I had to attend in Connecticut and booked me a train. After a wonderful experience on Amtrak and a great conference at a fancy resort I began to create positive feelings towards Connecticut. My relationship with Connecticut was suddenly blossoming and revitalized. Realizing my emotions created a false belief, I felt somewhat betrayed by myself as how could I have allowed this to happen. Ironically, at the same time, I became excited at the new possibilities of re-exploring Connecticut and other areas in my life I may have been creating false beliefs.
Can you look for any false beliefs in your life and identify their life changing implications? Are we building walls around us for self-preservation and by doing so stripping our lives from new experiences? I’d like to encourage you to look for these walls and start chipping away at their foundation to open up your life to a more richer experience. By avoiding conflict, for self-preservation, we may be stripping ourselves from truths and life experiences. Allowing emotions to make decisions can push us towards undesired outcomes as fear dictates and not your ability to objectively evaluate the situation. I challenge you to regain control of your life by acknowledging and redirecting these emotional surges for deeper self-exploration and understanding. Ask yourself what are these emotions trying to tell me and why am I feeling this way? Instead of getting tripped up with your emotions and creating false worlds or realities leverage them to find understanding and creative new solutions in your life. Your emotions are reaching out to you to convey information that you need to understand to harvest optional meaningful outcomes that are important to the way you work and interact with the world around you. Are you allowing the waves in your life to crush you, are you surfing them, or are you watching them from shore?
Hopefully, we have established the fact you have a great deal of influence over your life. You have the wonderful capability of making decisions that directly impact your life circumstances and consequently your life outcomes. Since you are in control of your decisions, I like to propose you likewise have control of your feelings. Sounds easy enough, I mean they are your own thoughts after all.
Returning to last month’s post, I would like to further explore the idea, “By right of birth alone, we became mini rulers of our dominion.” Reflecting on the experience of childrearing can reintroduce us to concepts that may seem so familiar. Taken from the top, I mean bottom as a newborn starts right out of the birthing suite whaling, demanding to be comforted, and fed. Seriously, this is just the beginning. The diapers, the screaming, the temper tantrums, the all-nighters, the pouty face NO’s, and the list continues. The playing field really turned itself up over on its head and suddenly we are now full-time employees hired by these little humans, I mean bundles of joy, or otherwise known as teachers of life’s lessons. Isn’t it really amazing how quickly they learn the concept of “no”. It is truly one of those innately hardwired concepts passed on from generation to generation. Think of it…once the baby is filled up by the bottle, they reject it with a withdraw of the head, burp, spit up, crying, or they fall asleep. When translated, it all really means “no”. Oh how quickly it progresses from intentions to words. For instance, are you familiar with the words no! NO! and NOOOO! As we are born or shortly thereafter, the world suddenly pivots on its axis and begins to revolve around “baby us”. This is truly an amazing feat, as we are able to overcome the gravitational pull of the sun, thus having the entire world revolve around us. Otherwise, known as egocentrism. For some of us, having the world revolve around us never changes and for others we just think it did. I know its controversial but have your ever heard the phrase “you made me mad”, “I don’t like you”, “that’s not fair” or “you don’t love me” from your child? Have you ever said, “I hate that guy”, “you’re are a jerk”, “This contract is not what we agreed on” or “I have fallen out of love with you”? How interesting from the mouths of adolescents we can see how our intentions remains true but masked in circumstance or articulation.
When you strip away the words, situations, and events we are basically out for ourselves. It sounds harsh in writing, but when you boil it down, it is all about our own survival or survival of our tribe. Survival covers a broad scope and entails many other tendencies or feelings that personally need to be fulfilled in our lives to move forward and feel complete. Happiness, reward, love, money, and ego are a few aspects of our lives we pursue to leverage our personal sense of fulfillment. Our friends, activities, and social lives are all present to support our own interests. As our world revolves around us, occasionally we can experience influence by others. Have you ever noticed that some of our relationships last for the duration of our own or others goals and agendas? Look back in your life and reflect on prior relationships. Which ones lasted? Which ones didn’t survive and why? Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to say we are all narcissistic egotistical maniacs, but we can at least agree, there is a strong tendency to pursue our own interests and survival.
Recognizing where we have our strongest and most intimate biases can be used to help us explore how we develop, understand, and ultimately influence our feelings. Our feelings have a strong emotional drive and are usually based on a foundation of beliefs we hold as truths in our own lives. People who believe the earth is flat, may feel angry if called ignorant by someone who believes it is round. Assuming the earth is indeed round, one can see how our beliefs can trigger an emotional response. Using this analogy, one can better understand our feelings are based on our own truths. Just look at our current political environment. Beliefs lean to the right or left and when people disagree we often see the triggered emotional response supporting our beliefs over another’s. We crank the volume, increase the rhetoric, or rattle the saber all in an effort to push our agenda. Surely there has to be a more effective way of communicating.
Linking our egocentric perspective to our beliefs and emotions affords us the opportunity to better understand our feelings. It took a long time to get here, but this is where the magic happens. We have our core beliefs, which generate a response to stimuli. If we agree with another’s point of view we will support it and feel automatically vested. On the other hand, if we disagree with a contrary point of view, we may become vested to not support it. Either way, our response supports our mission and own self interests.
With all in agreement that the world revolves around us, we can now proceed to explore how we have the power to control our feelings. Even if you disagree with the prior statement, at this point you now see you are actually agreeing with me in concept. Think about that for a second. You obviously have a belief system, which triggers an emotional response when challenged by the views and/or belief systems of others.
Either way, we have to learn how to process our feelings, to understand them, and learn what it means to process them for an outcome. If you imagine for a second, we are like an iceberg floating in the ocean…our emotional response is at the peak; highly visible and hard to miss. Much deeper and under the surface are our beliefs that often spur from an egocentric place, which keep us afloat mentality. Ironically, either end of the iceberg has the potential to sink ships or relationships alike. Starting with what is visible, our emotions, would be a logical approach to discovering what lies deeper beneath the surface. If it not for the exposed peak, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to see what lies below. Knowing where our emotions come from allows us the opportunity to reflect upon our thoughts and beliefs. Wading through the emotional surge is actually the gift that affords us the opportunity to understand ourselves better and those around us. Treating these emotions like a cesspool will squander an opportunity for better understanding. Responding to them with the same or greater emotional surge is just as beneficial as taking someone else’s waste and adding it to your pool. It just stinks a lot more. Looking at our own emotional waves as opportunities to learn, helps us become more connected with ourselves, others, and find truths. Knowing that the tips of the icebergs are there to warn or inform us, overtime we should start to see them in a more friendlier light.
The more comfortable you are understanding the process that triggers your emotions, the more you are able to gain influence over the way or magnitude in which you respond. Essentially learning to neuter or govern your primitive response to unwanted news grants you access to deeper understanding and clarity. Getting caught up in the emotional storm side tracts your ability to push through to higher level processing and understanding. Stranding your mind on the peak of the iceberg will keep your beliefs frozen below the surface and isolated from further exploration. This exploration grants us the chance for learning and strategic change. Ultimately, the goal is to gain clarity of your beliefs through accountability of your emotions. Once this clarity is gained you afford yourself the opportunity to explore alternative beliefs with an open mind.
Wouldn’t it be cool, if we could all have open honest dialog between parties of differing ideas, beliefs and opinions? Wouldn’t it also be cool if we could use mutual interests hidden amongst our differences to solve shared problems? Could you image President Donald Trump and the supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, sitting in the same room working this conflict out Changing Waves Style? Well, at least we could.
What do you think about our Logo? To us, our logo embodies our passion for connecting with one’s heart on a deeper level, to collectively calm the storms of life.
We have all experienced challenges in our lifetime. It is our responses to those life challenges that dictate our success or failure. Our lifetime of experiences is the journey that has brought us to this point in time and place. Taking responsibility for our decisions is not up for debate – what we choose to do or how we choose to respond requires our involvement on some level. For instance, when you woke up this morning who or what woke you up? Was it your alarm, pet, or perhaps a small child screaming your name? Either you set the alarm, purchased the dog or... well you get the picture. To boil it down, you can make decisions that directly impact your life. Still don’t believe me? Stop paying your taxes or electric bill, and you know the rest. The point is, YOU are in charge of your life. You are the commodore or common denominator of your decisions.
Oh, the intoxicating whiff of power sounds so empowering, doesn’t it? Seriously, at some point, someone left you in charge of this highly complex, finely tuned, integrated network of cells and signals wrapped in flesh and just let you go. Yep, that is pretty much what happened don’t you agree? Either way, you did not exactly come with a user manual. By right of birth alone, we became mini rulers of our dominion. We learned so much after being dumped into the lap of daycare as our education process began and shortly after that completed. We learned social norms, the rules of academia, and the laws of survival. Often, we also learned useful skills and coping mechanisms to enhance our survival and marketability. Along the way, we have probably encountered new situations, ones we did not feel equipped to handle. I am sure you can think of a few. So, we made some adjustments to maintain our position or survival and carried on to the best of our ability. By any chance did any of those adjustments create dysfunction? This dysfunction we are talking about can appear in our lives along a broad spectrum. What about that rumor we started about little Sally that had her in tears? Or, perhaps the time we had a big fight during our family reunion. We have all seen this dysfunction present from a small blip, to a raging volcano spewing from our lives into the ones around us.
The waves in our logo represent opportunities for directional change to overcome or minimize this dysfunction. The meaning behind the name of the company, Changing Waves, is hopefully much clearer now. The cliff notes version; we start with the heart and find ways collaboratively to work through challenges together. So, with that, welcome to the Changing Waves Blog we look forward to collaborating with you and to future posts!