3 Tips to move to Acceptance

How are you? Now that we are back to near lockdown conditions in Trinidad and Tobago and we are seeing a surge of Covid – 19 cases and unfortunately an increase in the number of deaths, I need to ask, “How are you?

I reflect on how felt in 2020.  

I was nervous, I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t think.,  I was annoyed Every time someone said to me “Oh I attended a webinar “or “I am learning this and that,” I thought how annoying. 

 I was restless I felt very confined. Days turned into night in a blur and I was not doing well.

This time in 2021 I am much better with the lock down situation even though the days are still a blur. 

 I have been through 2020. I know what to expect and I have learned a few things. 

I have learned to be gentle with myself this time 

I am comfortable with this lock down. I know that there is nothing that I can do to change it and all is well in my world.

Its is a decision that I made, I survived 2021.  Back then the idea of curtailed movement, masking and constant hand washing were very, very strange .  Now my muscle memory has kicked in because I have done this before.

My body and my brain have registered this event as something familiar.  I no longer fear it, because it is no longer new. 

Yes it still is strange and in some ways very familiar. 

I also notice that I am more hopeful than I was last year.

I have no inkling to return to the normalcy of pre-covid.  I remain excited about the future knowing that after the pandemic some things will have changed forever.

I accept that this is where I am. I would admit that at times, I watch myself to see if this is real or  if I am pretending.

I know that some of you are not on the same page as I am and that’s ok. 

In 2020, I was certainly not where a lot of my peers were.  I ended 2020  really disliking the word pivot.  

All around me people were saying pivot and I was like really.

Instead of pivoting , I stood still. 

What most people don’t understand is that before we can  pivot we need to be still.

Think of netballers or basket ball players.

When they get the ball they don’t move. One foot remains planted on the ground even as lift the other and turn. We need to be still before we can pivot .

You got to have a foot on the ground before you can pivot.  

If you are staying still good for you, then maybe you are getting ready to oivot.  You can’t move and pivot.

I’m sharing this to say to you that it’s perfectly ok if you are anxious and worried.  I get that. 

It’s not easy for any of us.

A lock down affects all of us. 

Some of us are still attending get togethers. Some of us are still having people over and some of us are pretending that things are as they were before the pandemic hit.

If you’re pretending that your life doesn’t have to change and that you can go ahead doing as you were before the pandemic, then you are resisting change.

Some of us are keeping busy because we don’t want to stop and deal with the negative emptions that we may be feeling.  And there are a lot.  There is the depression, the frustration, the despair, the hopelessness a, the sadness and .the fear It a lot 

This is a difficult situation.  It can take an emotional toll on you and we can’t run from the feelings 

Think of it this way when we run away from a problem we are also moving away from the solution.  

We have to go through the difficult patch to emerge on the other side. Avoidance does not work

We have to accept that this situation is out of our control and look for ways to enrich our lives even as the pandemic rages.

We are all in pain and we don’t have to suffer because of it.

Pain is a natural and inevitable condition for humans, and we can choose whether or not we will suffer.

I an inviting you to Acceptance. I am inviting you to make an active choice to allow unpleasant experiences to exist, without trying to deny or change them.

Acceptance is a method of encouraging action that will lead to positive results.

I am inviting you to sit with the unpleasant feelings, to be present with them and accept them.  Let the sadness wash over you, you can take it. Cry if you need to.  Feel the anger swell up in you and punch a pillow or yell into it.  You can take it, Shake if you must, run if you must just feel it.

Believe it or not when you allow yourself to feel the feelings you will begin to be more comfortable with the feelings. Now that you have felt the feelings you can move beyond them by trying these three tips 

1. Reframe

We can’t always change what we experience, but we can change how we think about these experiences. We can choose new ways of viewing the same situation. I like to make the reframe a game and wonder how can I look for what’s good or neutral about the situation.  I say to myself, “I love to be out and about and I like breathing more.

Instead of saying “I feel confined staying at home doing the same things day in and day out,” I admit  that I am having a difficult time staying in one place. And I say to myself that it will soon be over. 

2. Trust the process 

The more we fight against the restrictions they harder the disease will seem to rage and the more that we will feel hopeless and overwhelmed. None of us has the power to change the regulations nor can we change the fact that we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Look around the world, there are lockdowns every time there is a surge in cases.

When we accept a situation and let go of our need to control we will feel like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders.

We have to embrace and make friends with the situation.  We can move from feeling stuck and trapped into a place of recognizing “what is” and what can be done about it. 

3. Choosing Purposeful Action 

What actions can you choose to move forward in a positive, productive direction? 

We have to create the positive experience for ourselves. No one is going to do this for us.  What is your daily routine? Does it contribute to building a positive experience?

I journal how I feel most days.

Speaking to a mental health professional or a therapist or a counselor can also assist you to deal with your feelings.

You can also chat with friends who understand.

With these 3 tips I really want to support you to get through this difficult time.  It’s not easy and it’s not impossible to get through this.

It may sound silly but we can decide to accept the we are in a lockdown situation.  We are not in a unique position this is happening all around the world, and my hope is that you get through it.

Which of the three tips can you apply in your life?

My intention is to fuel you leadership spark so that together we can change the systems that we live work and play within.

Egg Crates for Sherry

He opened the kitchen drawer and shook his head. He opened another, looked at me and said,“What’s with all the empty egg crates?
I looked up and explained, “Oh I keep them for Sherry. She sells eggs. I keep the crates for her.”
He tried to keep a straight face, “ When last did you give her crates? They are all over the place.”
A week later, as I was cleaning the house, I realized just how many egg crates I was keeping for Sherry. That made me stop and pause.
Sherry works at my last place of formal employment. I left that place 18 months ago. Since then I have been back at that office twice. I have no reason to return there and the office’s location is not on my regular route.
Yet, I convinced myself that I was going to pass and drop off these egg crates. Even better, I convinced myself that Sherry really needed my crates. I was sure that Sherry needed egg crates specifically from me.
In that moment, I realized that I was holding on to the past and hadn’t let go. Part of me still wanted to have use, and relevance to a story that was over 18 months ago.
With that awareness, I went from drawer to drawer, retrieving egg crates and putting them in a garbage bag.
I know for sure that Sherry will survive without them.

What’s your egg crate? What are you holding on to?

Maxine Attong is an Organizational Development Consultant, author and coach. If you enjoyed this post, please share with you colleagues, friends and network.


The Naked Emperor – Clothing the Emperor Part 2

Wikipedia shares the Hans Christian Anderson Story – The Emperor’s New Clothes, This story is about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say that they don’t see any suit of clothes on him for fear that they will be seen as “unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent”. Finally, a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

I can only imagine how the emperor felt when he realised that he was naked. He probably experienced a range of feelings, – embarrassed that he displayed the royal assets for all to see, angry that he was duped by the weavers, hurt that his trusted advisors did not point of the obvious, and at the bottom of it, great sadness that he was the subject of such treatment by a large number of people. He probably was left with the lingering feelings that come with self betrayal, as he ignored what his eyes told him and forced himself to believe what others said.
When I reflected on my leadership, I also experienced a range of emotions. I felt a sense of deep regret over the way that I treated team members and even more ashamed of how I treated myself.
The leaders that I coach confess similar emotions. Their faces and their words reflect the sadness, remorse, anger and deep hurt that these revelations bring.
Over the years that I have worked with leaders I have developed a unique Clothing the Emperor process that involves, among other things, these four steps:

1) Admit that you have a problem – When the young boy shouted, the emperor admitted that he was indeed naked. When he admitted his nakedness, he had choices to make – he could continue to flash his parts or he could get clothed. When we receive feedback from our peers and team members, we need to be open, listen to the feedback and concede that parts of us  if not all) are naked, Then we have a choice to make, remain naked or be clothed.
2) Get rid of the subjects – It may be wonderful for your ego to have people around you who agree to every thing that you say, or who hang on to your every word or tell you that you are the best thing since slice bread. But how does that serve you? Are you to walking around pretending to be what you are not? Are there silent snickers since you refuse to see the obvious? If you are surrounded by people who do not challenge you or who always agree that your idea is the best, then, I suggest that you quickly get rid of them or at the least stop listening to them. These loyal subjects will say anything to feed your ego, while benefitting from the follies of your ego. Switch these out for some truth speakers who will tell you like it is. Also, consider the possibility that the emperor’s court may have been terribly afraid to tell him the truth – who wants to lose a head? If you know that you shout or call other’s names or display inappropriate behaviour when team members disagree with you, then they are not being shady or dishonest by agreeing with all that you say and do – they my be afraid of you.
3) Face the weavers – Those who have duped us can provide us with real insight into our leadership. What about us attracted them? What did they see in us? In the ideal world, the weavers would give us feedback that would provide us with deep and powerful “Ah Ha” moments, but in this world, they most likely will not. Learn from the event, and think about your actions and take responsibility for your part in the charade. The emperor’s ego, his desire to have a coat like no other, and the promise that he could identify persons who were “unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent” led him to deny this eyes and believe the weavers. While accepting responsibility for your part , don’t blame yourself for the actions of others – that has nothing to do with you. I’m sure the emperor was not the first person that the weavers duped.
4) Put on some clothes – At the end of it all, we’ve already stood naked in front of the crowd. We have made the mistakes and suffered the consequences. We know today what we did not know yesterday. We are naked and we need to put some clothes on. So let’s just do it. Get a coat, a dress, a pair of pants, whatever is your fancy and put it on. Have some fun with it, we’ve already suffered. There is a world of clothes to try on – once you don’t return to the weavers. As you wear your clothes, use a 360 degree mirror so that you can see yourself as others see you. Get honest feedback and self reflect on the veracity of the feedback. Breathe in and keep going.

It’s easy for us to laugh at the emperor. But he’s the lucky one, he’s a fairytale character; not so with us – we are real, So dear reader, to help you as you clothe yourself I leave you with a few questions:
What parts of you are naked?
Who are the tailors in your life?
What are you wearing now?

Maxine Attong uses her Clothing the Emperor process to assist leaders to Lead there teams to win. She is the author of Lead Your Team to Win and Change or Die.

The art of waiting

I have not yet conquered the art of waiting. Waiting for something to happen, waiting for someone to deliver on a promise or waiting for a letter in the mail – it drives me crazy.
Waiting – It shows me up. I am anxious about when it will happen, I get down with the lack of delivery, and sometimes I am frustrated to lethargy.
Today I realized that I have been a state of waiting. I adopted the culture and nuances of waiting, dipping from an old pool without questioning the benefits. Since this enlightenment, I have revoked my visitor’s visa (to that state) and demoted waiting back to its verb status.
With verbs I have choice – to do or not do. It’s an easy choice to make. I am no longer expending energy on waiting. I fully acknowledge that I am not in control and I am o.k with that. I will spend my time doing something else.

Are you waiting or in a state of waiting?

Music Reclaimed

For the last two weeks I have been watching an old folder of music. I thumbed through the folder many times, but I could not bring myself to play any of the music. This weekend I finally opened the folder and played some of the music.
I registered that I had not listened to music in years, at least not my music. I listen to radio sparingly and to other people’s selections, halfheartedly. Never to the music that I love.
I remember clearly the day that I stopped listening to this music. Six years ago as I left my apartment two guys held me up at gunpoint, took my car keys and rolled away with my car. They had a sense of empathy about it, as they reassured me,“You are safe. We just came for the car.”
I lost most of my music in that car that day. Though I have made many attempts to rebuild my collection or start a new one I could not bring myself to do it. I admit that when I found this collection of music I was afraid to play it. I was fearful of dealing with the memory of the loss and what created the loss.
Six years after my stomach hurts and my chest tightens when I think of being carjacked. I am aware that I lost much more than my music on that day.
Six years after that event I can listen and enjoy my old music. With that singular act I have reclaimed some of which I lost during the carjack.

What have you lost? How can you reclaim it?

No Routine, No Discipline

The first quarter of March 2015 is officially over and I have not set any goals for the year. That is not like me – usually I set a list of goals and diligently achieve them. This year none of that.
The first three months of the year are over and I do not have a routine. I continue to live in holiday mode – going with the flow, trying new things and doing what I want when I want.
I have been lacking discipline for the year 2015 since I have not been following any routine. All the things that I did in 2014 bore me, they enervate me and no longer excite me.
For 2015, I have been living a day by day existence, showing up for commitments, not doing much and sleeping lots.
Sleep is the only thing that I am doing routinely, regularly and at times inappropriately. My body is not interested in staying up and my brain refuses to engage. In the midst of this slumberous state, I am ungrounded, floating, suspended, out of touch, curious and impatient.
Instinctively, I know that my body and brain are preparing themselves for something big. They know that something is coming and are getting ready to meet it head on. They are telling me to be patient, stay in awareness and to be observant. They caution me to leave this one to them, follow their lead, to rest and prepare.
I have to surrender, I cannot make any plans, since I am not in control.
I accept that there will be no routine for 2015, I accept that I am required to live without discipline until something else evolves. In this foreign state where nothing makes sense, I dare not resist. I will follow the lead of the body and the mind, I will sleep and rest, go with the flow and see what happens next
What are you resisting?

discipline: training to act in accordance with rules; drill:.activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training:1.
routine – a customary or regular course of procedure;
commonplace tasks, chores, or duties as must be done regularly or at specified intervals; typical or everyday activity:

Pass me straight

When I told my girlfriend that I saw her ex at breakfast yesterday,she asked.” Did he say Hello?”
“No” I responded, “and that’s OK.”
When I was younger and someone whom I casually knew did not acknowledge my presence I used to feel annoyed. Being ignored by girls with whom I attended high school used to bug me out, almost as much as being reintroduced to people who appeared clueless that they met me before.
Yesterday, I realised that I had no feeling attached to a lack of acknowledgement by someone whom I casually know. In the moment, the warmth of a smile, a peck on the cheek, a quick hug or a hello from someone, all feel good, but after that…what?
Am I keeping that person in my thoughts?
Am I going to visit with them?
Will I ask after their well being?
Sometimes I don’t even know if they are married, have kids, where they work, what they do or any other personal details, and I don’t try to find out.
When I look through these lens I wonder. Does my girlfriend’s ex have to acknowledge me? Does anyone have to acknowledge me?
Now I know that it’s OK for people to pass me straight, to not acknowledge my presence and to not remember me at a party. It is a reflection that we share no mutual interest and while our paths may cross we are not connected. And that is perfectly OK with me.

Whom do you acknowledge?

Heart Moments

I have been saying “Yes” a whole lot more in 2015. Thus far it has led me to interesting people and places. I have been excited and thrilled by what unfolds in the moments that I expect nothing and open myself to the experience.
Yesterday one of the persons that I said yes to was explaining how she felt about me. She identified what emotions she felt as we interacted and explained how some of her assumptions changed as our relationship deepened. As she shared I realized that I could not participate in the discussion, since I could not tap into any feelings about her. I sounded unconvincing as I explained that I like her, I enjoy the time that we spent together, and I look forward to spending more time with her.
As I walked away from that exchange I realised that I fooled myself into thinking that I have been fully present in each moment that we shared. I can recall the places we have been to, the conversations that we had, the experiences that we shared but I could not associate any particular emotional response to them.
Today, I admitted that I have not been fully participating in the moments. I have been an observer, watching the stories go by, without being vested in the outcomes. I have been riding the waves and not dipping into the ocean. I have been gazing starry eyed at that moments, enjoying the thrills while being disengaged.
Today I realized that I cannot truly experience and engage in the moments and the people without my heart.
Today I reaffirm my commitment to being in the moment. I am saying yes to the moments with my heart.

How do you engage in the moments? With heart or head?

Three Travel must haves

As I packed my bags she watched me. She walked over just to the edge of the suitcase and peered inside to see what I was packing. When I was finished she made her assessment. “I have something for you.” She ran inside her bedroom and brought out her grandmother’s robe. “Take this,” she offered, “so you can be comfortable.” Her mother intervened, “That belongs to your grandmother, and you need to return it to her.” Undeterred she returned to her room, and brought a purple stuffed animal that folded into a pillow. “Take my pillow,” she offered, “So you will be comfortable.” I thanked her and she placed the pillow inside the suitcase.
She danced around a bit, then said, ” You need something pretty.” She returned to her room and brought me a little bracelet that she made over the holidays and placed it on my wrist. She then commanded that I take it off and placed it in a beautiful mirrored jewelry box. This she put in my purse.
“One more thing,” she sang. This time she offered a trophy with some pink hooks hanging from the handles. “What’s that for?” I asked. She shrugged, “It’s just a trophy for you. You know, a prize” This she placed in my suitcase and stood by for me to zip it up.
Her gifts to me are what I will treasure and remember about the trip. I will always ensure that when I am traveling that I pack something comfortable, something pretty and remind myself that I am a prize.