Lead Your Life

Leadership, Awareness, and Growth

Are you lying your way to success? July 25, 2017

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They say there are no coincidences, and thus my ears perk up when I encounter the convergence of two ideas.

I stumbled across a study showing that people who demonstrate higher degrees of self-deception are more successful in the world.  Participants were asked a series of embarrassing questions written to reveal the dark side within us.   Those who lied reported being happier and feeling more successful in their pursuits.  This went beyond how they felt as they also earned more in their respective roles.

This study converged with a Buddhist principle I studied on self-compassion without self-deception.  The belief that if we drench honesty in compassion, we might live a more authentic, loving life.  Pema Chodron said “the definition of self confidence is self gentleness.”

If this is true, what do we make of the first study?  Have we, as a society, become so inept at self-compassion that self-deception is required to carve a happy productive life?  Have we replaced radical acceptance with deceit as a survival skill?

What if we could accept with compassion the whole truth of who we are without self-loathing?  What if we were amused by our flaws and forgiving of our failures?  What if we met weakness with a heart of curiosity versus a mindset of judgement?   Could this impact our joy?  Our authenticity? Our results?  And what if it had only one impact:  self love.  Would that be enough?

 

Compassion without deception April 26, 2017

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This week, a teacher suggested a practice of self compassion without self-deception.  This calls us to look at a fact pattern peacefully without judgement & with forgiveness and curiosity.  What is there for us to learn when we discern the truth of our behavior, habits, and beliefs?

If we believe that everything is energy – every thought, fear, emotion – then we acknowledge it has a natural rhythm.  A coming and going; beginning and end.  Just like our breath, it arrives, fulfills its purpose, and without clinging or stickiness, leaves as gracefully as it entered.

It’s easy to allow our breath to enter and exit with ease because we have no story around our breath.  Fear, on the other hand, is shrouded with story, and it is the story that breeds shame and shame that breeds coagulation in our body.  Our fear literally hardens and lodges into our cellular being; locking itself in our heart, lungs, hips.  And over time, our fear becomes our way of being.

There’s a humanness to this reality, and this is where self-compassion comes in.  Can you just notice where fear has solidified in your body and give yourself permission to feel it deeply?  Just let it be and sit in its discomfort?  For we know this fear isn’t really “stuck” in our bones – we’re simply choosing to live the story that it is.

And when we’ve honored it by feeling it deeply, much like the breath completes its function and exits, we can then allow it to drain from our being.  Breathe it out.

And as new fears arise, simply breathe them in fully.  Sit in their discomfort and feel them completely.  Allow yourself to experience their teaching & their pain.  And then when you are done, breathe out what you want more of in your life.

This may be counterintuitive as we typically practice breathing in what we want more and out what we want less of.  However, by breathing in what we no longer want, we invite ourselves to process it completely.  By breathing out what we desire, we share our learning and light with the world.  This practice of sharing strength and beauty through our breath reminds us we are not alone.

Through the practice of self-compassion without self deception, we skillfully balance self-acceptance and growth.  Through the practice of breathing in discomfort, being with it, and breathing out peace, we remember we are one of many;  standing in service of a global community of human beings struggling just as we do.  Our biggest fears  are teaching opportunities for us to have compassion for the world.

 

Skills Are Overrated. August 11, 2011

For all of my talk about building mastery of your unique skills – the ones that you do better than anyone & thus give you the greatest opportunity for standout, brilliant impact – the reality is that your skill is relevant only when you possess 2 other qualities. 

Until these are present, your skill, regardless of study, practice, & opportunity, will never fully blossom. 

#1 – Will.  Will as in tenacity, motivation, desire, & fearlessness.  I am not talking about the will that “guts it out.”  I am talking about the will that embraces, forges forward, and creates progress.  It comes from a knowingness & acceptance of where you are (your as-is) and a drive to move forward.  To progress.  To shift.  Gutting it out has its place, but typically results in fatigue & burnout.  It is overdrive – not drive.  Drive assumes possibility but recognizes that progress doesn’t walk backwards to meet you where you are.  That you must step forward to meet it.  And sometimes, that means stepping off the comfort ledge & believing deep within you that you will soar. 

#2 – Compassion.  The yoga sutras talk about compassion as the foundational principle of service.  When we work from a place of compassion – or service – we strive to create something better for the world – not just for ourselves.  We see others and the planet in our sphere of influence.  We fully understand to our core that unless we work with the right intention, we can never achieve our peak.  We are at our best when we are bringing value to the world.  It is a knowing that bringing value to the world, even at a short-term cost to oneself, ultimately & always brings value to us.  We are creatures of service, and this starts with compassion.  Want to set yourself on fire?  Connect with the impact you can have.  Your performance will skyrocket. 

Last weekend, my husband & I took our children to an amazing family camp at Glen Arden Camp in NC.  While there, we had an opportunity to rock climb.  True harnessed, hanging from a rock by a rope rock climbing.  Totally exhilarating.  Our children joined us, and if you have read past posts about my son, you can imagine how challenging this was for him.

I learned one of Maya’s skills are akin to spiderman.  And with some effort & a bit of fear, she was able to summit and then repel back down with relative ease.  But Jack – lacking the skill – made slow & arduous progress on the rock.  Progress that sometimes was so slow it was difficult to detect.  Often, it looked like he might just lie on that steep incline the rest of the day.  But he had WILL.  He did not give up.  Did not ask for relief.  Never considered quitting.  Sweating profusely, he kept working.  An hour of suspension, and finally, he completed the journey.  Climbing up and repelling down.  He made it.  Total Will. 

Other children climbed after Jack, and struggled with fear & skill mid-rock.  Tears, sweat, & a little begging to stop.  However, I believe witnessing Jack’s example motivated them to work through their fear & press on.  And they all made it.  Will is contagious. 

On our hike home, Jack was more excited about that fact that everyone else made it to the top, and he congratulated his sister on being “the fastest climber of all the kids.”  He’s still telling people how great his family did on the rock with no mention of his own accomplishment.  Service.  Total Compassion.