Browse All Categories
03.18.2014 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

3 “What-Ifs” that Can Change Your Business . . . Your Life

What if you could make a few incremental changes that would change the way you work and live. Would you be willing to do so?

I challenge you to consider the following points and choose at least one you’d like to tackle over the next 30 days. Pay attention to what happens in your work and in your life as a result.

I like to think of such things in terms of Integrity of Self and Integrity of Performance. The Integrity of Self work is the inside-out stuff that allows us to reach our highest potential and better perform. Let’s begin there.

1. What If you began each day with a quiet mind.

Instead of jumping out of bed every morning with a “to do” list running through your brain, try spending 20 minutes each morning in prayer and/or meditation. Starting each day with just a few minutes of purposeful quiet time will set the tone for how you live out your day. You might select a reading specific to your religious belief.

Don’t just read it. Pray that passage several times and contemplate what it means in your life. You might even try journaling about how you can apply the passage throughout your day. Watch and be amazed!

Meditation is one of those things that is often misunderstood. There are many techniques that you can explore. The point is to take 20 minutes and quiet your mind to a place absent active thought. Some people use a mantra; others simply focus on their breath. Since the beginning of time, contemplatives have used meditation to deepen their spiritual mind.

Research also indicates that meditation can reduce stress and anxiety, increase focus and creativity, and, in some instances, have an impact on healing properties within the physical body. If you've never been exposed to the technique of meditation, check out The Relaxation Response by Dr. Herbert Benson (1975). Dr. Benson is renowned for bringing the art of meditation to the western world.

2. What If you made a point of looking for humor in the midst of your hectic life.

Jerry Seinfeld has made a living doing just this. I think back to some of the toughest moments my husband and I experienced during our son Michael’s illness, and what’s interesting to me is how much we laughed. Even in the darkest days, we found something silly to laugh about. e.g., a commandant nurse, a ridiculous hospital policy. The laughter is what kept us from cracking.

It’s easy to get frustrated and overwhelmed with the day-to-day challenges. Look for absurdity. It’s something I learned while speaking on the road. Whenever I’d get stuck in an airport due to weather or a cancelled flight, I’d call home and jokingly tell my husband about a funny incident. Like the time I got stuck in the Philadelphia Airport and, suddenly, I’m responsible for an elderly couple standing behind me in line.

I imagined someone else watching me try and get Harold and Ruthie to a hotel and onto their plane the next morning. And, did I mention that Ruthie lost her boarding pass . . . and on it went. . . for two days. It was the stuff that sitcoms are made of. If someone else was watching, they’d be laughing out loud. I decided that someone might as well be me.

What is the most frustrating challenging moment of your day? Find something absurd or ridiculous in that moment and train yourself to laugh. Each day, every day.

3. What if you decided to forgive someone right now, today.

Think about how much junk we carry around in our heads about people who have wronged us. We can choose to do otherwise. When we hang on to stuff from the past, that person or event has power over us.

Choose to let it go, and you choose freedom. Chances are that person has already moved on and has even forgotten you and the event. Forgiveness is not necessarily about the other person. Depending on the circumstance, you may feel the need for face-to-face forgiveness. Sometimes, however, forgiveness is more about overcoming our own sense of pride.

There’s no magic way to forgive. It’s a matter of the heart. One thing I've found useful is to imagine yourself in the other person’s position. While you may never understand why they do the things they do, placing yourself in their situation may move you to some level of empathy. Forgiveness comes easier when we have such empathy.

Integrity of Self encompasses many aspects of development. What if you deliberately engaged in a few such steps and in doing so created different results? Wouldn't it be worth it?

I challenge you to test these ideas out over time and to notice what comes from such awareness.

Q: If you’d like to share a moment of absurdity in the midst of a hectic day, you may leave a comment here.

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. March 18, 2014