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Maria Gonzalez Blog
Mindful Leadership

What Does it Take to Succeed?

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I just heard a very interesting TED Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth; it is 6 minutes long and has had over 8 million views.  In her Talk she asserts that a predictor of success is not related to IQ or even talent.  It is something which she calls “grit”.  She defines “grit” as passion and persistence for your long term goals.  It is having stamina and working towards your future goals, day in and out, for years.  It is living life as if it is a marathon, not a sprint.

And that is exactly as it is with Mindful leadership.  The 9 ways of being a Mindful leader require that very same perseverance.  They  are achieved with practice and attention, day in and day out.  It is not a game of perfect.  We try and succeed, then falter and try again, and so it goes on.  We begin to see that there is no such thing as failure, but rather an opportunity to correct our course and continue to try.  And the prize for this perseverance is the experience of being comfortable in one’s skin, knowing who we are and being at peace with that.  It enables us to enjoy life fully, to share our gifts with the world, and to be of service.  The result is a life well lived.

I hope you enjoy the TED Talk.    https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_the_key_to_success_grit?language=en#t-244362

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Discovering Your Life Purpose

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In the previous Blog, I suggested that as humans, our life purpose is to refine consciousness.   And I defined the refinement of consciousness as the process of becoming more and more aware and present, moment by moment, regardless of circumstances.  In fact, when this happens, we notice an enormous transformation in our lives.  We approach life differently.  We become more conscious of everyone and everything around us.  And we become aware of how we impact others.  It is empowering to be present and aware.  It makes us feel alive and full of wonder.

At the same time, there may be a nagging sense that we are here to do something, something we may not have not yet discovered.  This can be unsettling.  In fact, the more we press to know, the more confused we may become. In Mindful Leadership: The 9 Ways to Self-Awareness, Transforming Yourself and Inspiring Others, I devote an entire chapter to a process one can follow, to arrive at discovering one’s purpose.  If this is something you are pondering, I would suggest going through the exercises in the chapter.  Take your time and reflect, no need to rush the process.  Often ideas will crystallize as you reflect on your life to date.

Here are some things you might consider.  When you are putting your life purpose into action, it should feel joyful, exciting, and fun.  You might even call it a passion.  The hours seem to fly by as you engage in what you are doing.  It will likely feel effortless.  This is not to say it is easy or does not require work.  You may be working harder than you have ever worked.  But, you love it! You are using what you might call your gifts, things you do very well, and for which you may have a knack.

And finally, there is almost without exception, a sense of being of service.  In the process, we feel we are contributing and making our corner of the world, however we define this, a better place.  And it just feels right. Finally, we feel we have come home.  In reality and ultimately, it is a journey of self-discovery.  When we arrive at that place, we feel comfortable in our skin and at peace within ourselves.

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Do You Know Your Life’s Purpose?

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I find that sooner or later, most people ponder why they are here, what their purpose in life is, and what they are meant to do.  Somehow, as humans, we all have this nagging little feeling that there is something we should know, something we should be doing.  Sometimes we just don’t know, other times we are afraid to know.

In reality we have forgotten….  We have “forgotten” that we are here to refine consciousness.  In fact, that is the only reason we are here.  It is as simple as that and as complex as that.  Now, when I mention that, some people will have a visceral reaction and say, that the reason they are here is to be a great parent or a great leader or a great partner.  And that is really not the case.  In reality, it is in refining consciousness that we can then be the very best partner, parent, or leader.  These are roles we perform, and we are likely to perform them at our best, when we are fully aware and present, moment by moment.  That is what it is to refine consciousness…to become more and more able, to be fully aware and present, moment by moment, regardless of circumstances.

Can you see how this could make you the best partner, parent, leader or friend, that you could possibly be?

And from that place of awareness and presence, where our consciousness continuously refines, we are drawn to do different things in our lives.  Things that become fulfilling, give us great joy, and are of real service to others.

I look forward to expanding on this in the next Blog.

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Life Is Fragile. Treat it with Presence.

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As humans we often overlook the impermanence of life.  It’s not as if we don’t know that everything and every life are impermanent.  But, rather we go about our lives as if everything is permanent.  Until, in one surprising moment, that which we thought would always be there, is gone…perhaps forever.  The loss could be a family member, a friend, a pet, a big old tree…

And, often, when the loss arises, we are ill prepared and regret may creep in.  We wish we could recapture the past, those moments that are now gone, for which we were not present.

It is useful to keep at the forefront of our minds that life is fragile.  Everything and everyone that is here now, will one day be gone, including ourselves.  So, treating life with presence is an important way to honour life and everyone in our lives.  This means to be fully present moment by moment.

When you are with another person, be in that moment and no other moment.  Listen to what they are saying as if they will never speak again.  And when you speak, speak as if these are the last words you will ever utter.  Honour the silence when it arises.  It too is sacred.  In that stillness, you will experience an intimacy you may have never previously realized.

Be present.  Be still. And know that this moment too is passing.

 

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Don’t Underestimate the Importance of a Relaxed Body

A relaxed body is vitally important, because it is your gateway to a relaxed and calm mind.  In my experience, one of the most common complaints and concerns people have is that the mind is agitated, busy, and at times seems like a run-away train.  In trying to calm the mind, the result is often frustration and discouragement.  The more you try to quiet the mind, the worse it gets, the greater the chatter and the greater the stress.

If you want to calm the mind, then the most effective and quickest route is through the body.  By relaxing the body, the mind automatically becomes calmer.

The next time you are busy running from meeting to meeting or appointment to appointment, notice what is going on in the mind.  There is a very good chance that your mind is agitated with all that needs to be done.  Then, the next thing to do is to notice the body.  Again, there is a very good chance that your body is tight, perhaps your shoulders or neck are tight, your stomach might be in knots, your jaw might be clenched, etc.  They go hand in hand.  The body always looks to the mind and the mind to the body.  They communicate silently all day and react to one another.

The way to calm the mind is to start to become familiar and aware of your body.  Learn to recognize the signs of tension in the body before the mind spins out of control.  If you find you are already stressed, then immediately and systematically relax the body.  Train yourself to walk around with a relaxed body, no matter what you are doing, at work, at home, or while working out.

If you want to get started or deepen your ability to relax, you may wish to follow the Guided Meditation in the Mindful Leadership App. I have created over 70 Guided Meditations from which you can choose.  You can find the link at
www.argonautaconsulting.com

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Create Sustainable Change through Intention

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Ever wonder why most people do not succeed in maintaining and realizing their New Year’s resolutions?  In fact, studies estimate that 92 percent of people fail to achieve the goals they commit to on New Year’s Day.  That is astounding!

My thought is that one of the contributing factors to this alarming failure rate is that when we make a resolution, we are reflecting a view that something is inherently “wrong” with us, and that it needs to be corrected in order for us to measure up.  If you start from the view point that you are somewhat defective, you are looking to change with one strike already against you.  Then, when you fail to achieve what you set out to achieve, it only proves your point…there is something wrong with you…and now you have proof.  Hence, you are then worse off than when you set out to make your resolution.

I would like to offer another view and another strategy that has a greater likelihood that you will be successful.  The view is this: there is absolutely nothing “wrong” with you.  You are perfect as you are; all you may need to do is to “adjust course”.  Any time something is not working for you, all you have to do is adjust the course you are on.  If you were sailing and had set a course for your journey and suddenly the winds shifted, you would not stubbornly stay the course.  That would be absurd and dangerous.  Instead, you would assess the situation and you would adjust your course.  The same applies to things in your life that you would like to see changed or that require a change.  Framing it in that way enables you to start from a place of empowerment.  This way, you are in control and empowered to make the change.

And this is how you put the strategy into play: the critical element is creating an intention.  Where the mind goes, action will follow.  So, begin this whole process by setting an intention for yourself.  It could be an intention for the year, for the month, for the day.  All that matters is that it be concrete, clear and concise.  Remember, you are in control, so you can adjust the intention as you see fit.  If conditions change during the time period for your intention, all you need to do is “change course”.

It is deceivingly simple: start from the knowledge that you are perfect as you are.  The Universe created you perfectly.  You just may need to periodically change course to be the best you can be.  And, now create an intention that reflects your deepest desires.  Napoleon Hill put it well when he said, “if you can conceive it, you can achieve it”.

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The True Spirit of Christmas in Action

Every so often you see such a display of love, compassion and humility that it needs to be shared.  In the last blog I talked about reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas.  In this blog, you will see a 3-minute video that illustrates the true meaning in action.  As you watch, notice how the children’s love affects you.  It is truly humbling and heart warming.

I would like to thank Michele Chaban for sharing this video.

I hope you enjoy it!

http://www.sunnyskyz.com/happy-videos/3572/Underprivileged-Kids-Are-Offered-Two-Gifts-One-They-Want-And-One-Their-Parents-Want-They-Can-Only-Pick-One

 

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Reflecting on the Meaning of Christmas

The holiday season is quickly approaching and we are a week away for Christmas Day.  The busyness and stress level are palpable.  There is more on the To Do lists than time available.  Shopping is at a feverish pitch.  And in all of this commotion, it appears that many have forgotten what Christmas is all about.

I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.  If we quiet all the noise around this holiday we have fabricated, we see that this is a wonderful opportunity to regenerate.  As the days are shorter and nights are longer, the early darkness beckons us to slow down, not speed up.  If we listen to nature, we will notice a deep stillness.  And, there is a very deep and healing peace in this stillness.

When I reflect about the meaning of Christmas, for me it is about love, compassion and deep humility.  When we combine these with the stillness that is there in every moment, it can be a very healing time, if we take the time to notice and reflect.  Certainly Christmas is a Christian religious holiday.  But, it is much more than that.  It is a time to spread goodwill to all beings that grace this planet; a time to reflect on the fact that we share a common humanity and a common Source.  This is a Divine time to put differences aside and notice the Oneness of all.  And we can see this most clearly, when we stop for at least a moment, to catch our breath and slow down.  By slowing down we are better able to bring joy to our lives and the lives of others, and to savour the holiday season.

This week I heard a beautiful Christmas song I had never heard before.  It is called “Mary, Did You Know” and is written by Michael English.  The song was performed by Jordan Smith, the winner of the Voice this season.  Jordan has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard.  But, what is most inspiring about Jordan is his ability to be completely present when he performs.  He performs with the most incredible humility.  And as he sings, we are privileged to hear the Divine sing through him.

I hope you enjoy it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7Ux80jK3bI

I wish you a Merry Christmas, a peaceful and joyful holiday season, and may 2016 be filled with many blessings and Mindful moments.

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Taking a Pause on November 11th

I always think of November 11th as a time to pause and be still, not just at 11:00am, but, all day.  When you do, you realize the enormity of this day.  We are pausing for so much.  First and foremost I feel gratitude and respect for those who have sacrificed so much.  My gratitude, extends to those who through the ages have fought for the hope of a safer and more peaceful world.  Now, that may sound like a political comment, and those who know me, know that I do not make political statements.  So, I would encourage you to here these words from a different place, a deeper place.

That gratitude I just mentioned extends beyond those who fought.  It goes to their families who also sacrificed a great deal in having to live without them.  Then there are those who have come back and experience the pain and effects of war every day.  And, that is the first layer of November 11th.

But, there is much more.  On November 11th I always pause and reflect on the pain humans cause one another, other beings and the planet as a whole.  We don’t pause enough to reflect on that.  If through the ages we didn’t and hadn’t caused one another such pain and suffering, there would not be such a need to pause and reflect on this day.

When we practice Mindfulness, hopefully we are pausing to notice our behaviour and our thoughts all day, every day.  And by catching ourselves, by purifying ourselves of our patterns, we start to cause others less pain, we walk more gently on the earth, we see all creatures as part of us.  We no longer see a division between ourselves and others.  We know we can not possibly harm another, without harming ourselves.  This then evolves to experiencing compassion towards others.  True compassion always includes action, to relieve the suffering of others, in some way.  Without action, there is no true compassion.  Without action, compassion remains intellectual.  By allowing it to remain at that level we can turn away and forget, so that the pain does not really touch us.

Add to this compassion with action a healthy dose of wisdom.  And, when we aspire to live each moment with compassion and wisdom, everything changes.  That is the pause the world needs.  A pause that includes the realization that “I” need to purify and clear “my” patterns, so that “I” cause no harm.

This is hard work.  It requires a real commitment to being with our own pain, so much so that we have a full experience of it.  Having that full experience washes away our hurt and that paves the way for us to not cause others pain and suffering.  It all starts with each and everyone of us taking responsibility to do no harm based on our old wounds and to see that we all have the power to heal ourselves.  No one else can do it for us.  And, in so doing, we contribute to healing the world.

That is how I experience pausing on this important day.

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True Awakening Requires a Balance Between Compassion and Wisdom

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There is no real awakening without deep compassion. One may have insights and wisdom, having “entered the Stream” (traditionally the initial point of Awakening). But, if wisdom out paces compassion, there can be a serious imbalance. In fact, wisdom without compassion can lead to cruelty. And compassion without wisdom can play out in life as a bleeding heart and ineffectual.  Neither is true Awakening.

If one aspires to Awaken, compassion is critical as a starting point. One of the reasons compassion is a good place to start is that it can encourage humility. An imbalance where there is too much wisdom for the amount of compassion present, can deeply ingrain arrogance. Arrogance is very difficult to purify.

If you wish to develop both wisdom and compassion in equal measure, then it is worth paying special attention to both aspects, in both your formal practice and your Mindfulness in action.

As an additional step, you can examine your thoughts and actions through the litmus test of humility.  Are you clear moment by moment that all your deep inspirations, your creativity, your great ideas, comes from the Universe?  Otherwise stated, are you clear moment by moment that what makes you special, unique and effective is the result of your ability to be a clear and open vessel, receptive to the wisdom and compassion that flows through you from “Stillness”?

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