Are You Receiving Everything Coming Your Way?
by Pam Fox Rollin, Executive Coach
Welcome to the IdeaShape Newsletter archives! We think these ideas on leadership and life have stood the test of time…let us know if you agree.
This post originally appeared in November 2001.
Are you Receiving everything coming your way?
In This Post: The Big Idea; Ideas in Action; Resources; Note from Pam
The Big Idea: What could you Receive right now?
“Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live.”
~ Jackie Windspear
“Serendipity is the ability to notice what others miss — to observe and appreciate beauty, to sense needs and opportunities, to be receptive to impressions, intuitions, and insights.”
~ Richard Eyre
“You have to be present to win.”
Ever been to a Thanksgiving dinner where people take turns saying what they’re thankful for? As your turn neared, perhaps you became acutely aware that your life has been overflowing with good things…most of which you’ve hardly slowed down to enjoy? That you were so busy trying to make more things happen and, truth be told, kvetching about minor annoyances, that you were simply not aware of the abundance of gifts already flowing into your life?
This Thanksgiving, you could resolve to make “What are you grateful for?” a softball question for the year ahead. You could choose to receive fully — notice, recognize, appreciate, use — the good stuff flowing your way.
Ideas in Action: How will you Receive more?
1. Notice more.
Think of all the actions you take…issuing decisions, making requests, influencing peers, etc. You do these things to create results, right? What percentage of the results do you actually notice? Is it possible that, other than reviewing monthly financial reports, you miss most of the impact you’re already having? Think of all the things that come to you without direct action on your part…unexpected opportunities, valuable support from your peers, etc. Are you aware of what you’re receiving?
If we don’t notice what we’re creating, chances are we’ve missed opportunities to learn how to create more. Plus, we’re running out of fuel for showing gratitude and appreciation toward those around us. Finally, without noticing we may be plain out of touch with what’s actually going on!
2. Appreciate more.
Okay, something you like lands in your lap. What would happen if you paused for 5 seconds to experience gratitude? If you did this consistently, could gratitude change the quality of your life? Your leadership?
Furthermore, do you have to “like” something to receive it? Might you choose to accept, even appreciate, something that’s less-than-perfect?
3. Ask for more.
Is it possible that you’re asking for less than you want in life? If you ask for more, are you willing to get something different, and maybe better? Serendipity is when great stuff happens while you’re in the process of seeking something else. Can you fuel serendipity by asking for more… and being open to taking what comes?
4. Be available to Receive more.
New shoes can be a bummer if your shoe closet is crammed with old ones. Correspondence from a great friend can create pangs of guilt if we’re so behind that we know we’ll never reply. An offer to do a great project is disappointing when you’ve already settled for other work that less suits you. Receiving requires open space.
5. Be aware of how Receiving works in your life.
We are taught in school and on the job how to get better at making things happen. We describe objectives, craft plans, and execute them. We’re good at it, and that’s fine as far as it goes. Yet, seldom are we taught to receive and appreciate. So, we may benefit from awareness and practice. What are the actual set of behaviors that work for you? Is it one part curiosity, one part appreciation for whatever comes your way, and two parts open space on your calendar? What’s your success formula for receiving great things in your life?
A Simpler Way, by Margaret Wheatley & Myron Kellner-Rogers (1998)
A powerful book for leaders and change agents, A Simpler Way points out that organization happens, regardless of and in spite of our drive for control: “We could give up our belief… that it’s a difficult, arduous task to create something. We could give up our belief that nothing happens without us. Life accepts only partners, not bosses.”
Lessons from the Field: Applying Appreciative Inquiry, Revised by Sue Annis Hammond (Editor) (2001)
What would happen if you began your meetings, change programs, and influence attempts by asking people to describe and acknowledge times in which they were powerful, creative, and effective? What if you started by seeing and receiving what’s working rather than what’s wrong?
Improvisation, Inc.: Harnessing Spontaneity to Engage People and Groups, by Robert Lowe (2000)
One of the lessons I take from improv and apply constantly as a leader and coach is that whatever’s going on is raw material I can use. I might like some behaviors better than others, but everything — “good” or “bad” — is data I can use…if I notice and am willing to receive whatever it is. While this book deals only implicitly with this facet of improv, it’s the best I’ve seen for offering practical exercises leaders and teams can use with no previous improv experience.
Spiritual Serendipity, by Richard Eyre (1997)
If you enjoy inspirational quick-reads, check out this one. The book combines storytelling, verse, and mini-case studies of scientists and others who remained open to what life sent their way.
The Aladdin Factor, by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (1995)
Another inspirational book, so skip it if you’re allergic to the genre. Some truly great stuff here. What would happen in our lives if we were as mindful and gracious about receiving as Canfield invites us to be about asking?
Note from Pam
Making time to slow down and notice what’s going on is a big challenge for the executives I coach…and for me!
One morning several years ago I suddenly noticed that I was eating a delicious breakfast, listening to a great show on NPR, stroking the SumoTabby on my lap, and reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book on (ha!) “Mindfulness”! Here I was doing all these terrific things and not much appreciating any of them! My experience of any of these could have filled me with gratitude, had I chosen to be aware.
It strikes me as sad that any of us might come to the end of this lifetime and have missed receiving the bounty right in front of us. So, I aim to be more aware, and sometimes I am.
If you’d like to get in touch about any of this, please do. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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