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Ripples #1064: Learning While Leading

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1064: Learning While Leading
Oct 14, 2019

PEBBLE
You’ve got to be a servant before you can be a supervisor.
-Cathy Kyle (Marcus’ mom), shared by Marcus in Atlanta, GA

BOULDER
Leadership is insight and inspiration, service and humility, courage, conviction and compassion. It challenges the sleepwalkers and the status quo, perceives problems, unleashes laughter, raises children and searches for solutions. Leadership is endless striving.
-Dacia Toll, shared by Tonya in Deerbrook, WI

PONDER
I immediately connected with the simple yet powerful wisdom in today’s pebble, so I followed up with Marcus to see if I could learn more about his mom’s sage advice. It turns out he had reached out to her for help with a difficulty he was grappling with and their conversation stayed with him for a long time afterword. Here is how Marcus described what he eventually concluded from their conversation:

“If you want help solving your problems, start by helping other people solve their problems,” he wrote in an email to me. “You learn more about life and about yourself when you’re helping others.” The cool bonus, according to Marcus, is that you can “learn ways to solve other problems in your life you haven’t had a chance to get to yet.”

Whether you’re the CEO of a huge company or the chair of your homeowner’s association, the effectiveness of your leadership depends in part on your capacity to keep learning and keep growing. And most successful leaders attribute at least some of their success to humbly respecting the talent and effort of those they are leading. Being able to learn from them not only increases their respect and trust in your leadership, it also adds to your knowledge and skill base.

Ask yourself what you’ve recently learned while leading, and maybe take a moment this week to acknowledge someone you’ve learned something from.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy

P.S. Reading this over the last few days has allowed me to reflect on just how much I’ve learned while leading this merry troupe of Ripplers for the past 1,064 weeks. Your affirmations and feedback have been crucial to the evolution of Ripples, and there have been countless times when hearing from you has lifted me up and allowed me to continue extending these out in a way that lifts others up. Ripples make waves, and so do you. 🙂  … Read More!

Ripples #1063: The Flow of Attention

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1063: The Flow of Attention
Oct 7, 2019

PEBBLE
The older I get, the more I realize that some situations do not require my reaction. I can decide where my attention and energy flow.
-source unknown, shared by Molly in Fort Thomas, KY

BOULDER
Energy follows attention. When we hold an intention and give it attention (whether consciously or unconsciously), our energy and the energy of the universe respond.
-Personal Transformation and Courage Institute
shared by Patricia in Springfield, VA

PONDER
There is a lot going on these days, and there are a lot of channels of information that we have access to. I don’t necessarily mean channels on television, although there are certainly still plenty of those. I’m thinking in terms of channels of communication: phone calls, texts, emails, written notes, and even the lovely face to face conversations that still happen every once in a while. And that’s before we even get to all the channels of social media with the TikTumbleReddits and the InstaNextDoorLinkedIns and of course the FaceTweetSnaps.

There are so many things are vying for our attention that we are becoming simultaneously overwhelmed and numbed out by all the possibilities. I’m certain I am not the only one grappling with the twin afflictions common in our always connected society: an addiction to the constant stream of news/updates/distractions available to us, and at the same time a desensitization that serves to protect us from the overwhelm. I know that I often feel deprived when I distance myself even temporarily from the constant stream of What’s Happening, and at the same time I sense I am less impacted by any of the specific stories that are contained within these streams.

There is an antidote available to us when we are sufficiently motivated to take back control of our attention: choice. We can decide to be more conscious and more proactive in our decisions about what we attend to. We can also purposely limit access to devices and other distractions either by temporarily shutting them down or placing them in another room (I’ve been using the “Screen Time” setting on my iPhone to more consciously monitor my screen time and it has made a big difference). These choices can be challenging at first since maladaptive habits can be stubborn and addictions get embedded in our psyche as well as our biochemistry.

Still, with patience and persistence, we can reap the rewards of directing our attention to that which we view as more useful and more enjoyable ways of spending our time and energy.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
p.s. Speaking of attention, thank you for focusing some of your attention on these weekly splashes of inspiration. They wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying to assemble if they weren’t being read and spread. #uRock… Read More!

Ripples #1062: The Phantom of Perfection

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1062: The Phantom of Perfection
Sep 30, 2019

PEBBLE
Perfection is nothing more than a phantom shadow we’re all chasing.
-Dumplin’ (by Julie Murphy), shared by Mary in Tigerton, OR

BOULDER
You don’t end up with stress because you are not perfect, you end up with stress because you want to be perfect.
-Ekhart Yoga, shared by Amy in Carlsbad, CA

PONDER
It typically takes an hour or two to assemble these Ripples email each week, and it is often a highlight of my week. Except when it isn’t because I’ve been busy or I’m tired or just not feeling inspired. Those are the tough weeks, when quotes don’t seem to match up smoothly and even when they do I struggle mightily to find the right way to tie them together. Sometimes it gets all the way to Sunday evening and Ripples still isn’t ready. A panicky feeling can start to bubble up because I know I’m fading quickly (I’ve long ago learned that my creativity and patience are at their strongest in the early part of the day.)

At some point, though, I take a few deep breaths with my favorite mantra (Here now, here now, here now) and realize what is going on: I’ve accidentally stopped trying to stitch together something lovely and sweet and fun; instead, I’ve inadvertently become obsessed with trying to create a PERFECT issue. As soon as that realization happens, I’m able to see it and name it and release its grip on me. I can smile as I say, “Thank you for showing up, perfectionism. I realize you’re trying to help me shine–it’s just that I’ll probably shine brighter if I shoot for excellence and not perfection.”

And with the insight-light switched on, the phantom shadow evaporates and I can much more easily find something to share with you. Some weeks are better than others of course, and that is perfectly fine with me. Or imperfectly fine I suppose. 🙂

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
p.s. The pebble is a quote from the book/movie Dumplin’–a sweet story with a little touch of Dolly Parton sparkle…add it to your Netflix queue for the next time you need a lift: https://www.netflix.com/title/80201490… Read More!

Ripples #1061: Creating Today!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1061: Creating Today!
Sep 23, 2019

PEBBLE
There will be something, anguish or elation that is peculiar to this day alone. I rise from sleep and say: Hail to the morning! Come down to me, my beautiful unknown.
-Jessica Powers, shared by Bonnie in Tulsa, OK

BOULDER
Love yourself enough to create an environment in your life that is conducive to the nourishment of your personal growth. Allow yourself to let go of the people, thoughts, and situations that poison your well-being. Cultivate a vibrant surrounding and commit yourself to making choices that will help you release the greatest expression of your unique beauty and purpose.
-Steve Maraboli, shared by Sam in Fort Worth, TX

PONDER

I’ve reached the end of this season’s visits to college campuses where I get to fire up new students. That first day on campus is crazy-busy and also nerve-wracking for everyone involved. New students, their parents, and really everyone on campus experiences an overwhelming combination of excitement (about all the fresh possibilities) and also extreme nervousness (about all the unknowns).

During the last few stops on this year’s tour, I slipped in a message that evolved a few years ago when I was preparing a mini-pep talk to a group of orientation leaders. They were just a few hours from greeting a fresh batch of new students, and my hope for them was “to be EXCITED enough to really enjoy the day, NERVOUS enough to value it, and also CENTERED enough to savor it.”

I usually don’t have to convince them that their excitement is a good thing, but I do see an opportunity for them to view their nervousness a good thing as well. It is our system’s way of communicating “this thing we’re going through is a big deal and we need to be aware of all the dangers and opportunities.” Too much nervousness isn’t helpful, and neither is being not nervous enough. So I encourage them to take some deep breaths (here now, here now, here now!) and seek a balance of being excited, nervous, and centered.

Now that I am home with a few days to catch my breath, I’m curious to bring this balance of excitement, nervousness and centeredness to my daily life. Creating the right combination of the three could help me anticipate the fun stuff so I can enjoy each day, and also prepare for inevitable hard stuff which will allow me to grow each day.

Wanna join me?

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy

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Ripples #1060: Inward Gentleness!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1060: Inward Gentleness!
Sep 16, 2019

PEBBLE
Embrace your vulnerability, and accept your imperfections, knowing they represent a small part of your past, but not who you are in the present or who you can be in the future.
-Amit Sood, shared by Donna in Owings, MD

BOULDER
While browsing a museum gift shop, I noticed some small plants on a shelf—miniature plants, about half the size of my palm. A small sign was perched in front of them:

“We’re alive, please be gentle.”

To apply this sign to people might seem like a pretty simple concept, but I wish I could somehow remind people all across the world:
“We’re alive, please be gentle.”

Be gentle with yourself…be patient with yourself as you live and learn and grow. Try not to get frustrated with the pace of whatever journey you’re on…meet yourself where you are. Love yourself, because you are important and worthy of love. And on the days when it feels just a little too dark, remember:
“We’re alive, please be gentle.”
-Brit Barkholtz, shared by Mari at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA
(this is a condensed excerpt from a long and lovely TWLOHA post.)

PONDER
I generally like to keep Ripples under a minute long for you to read, and since today’s boulder is a little longer than usual I’ll keep the pondering brief:

Growing into the best possible version of ourselves requires a balance of pushing ourselves a bit and also knowing when it is time to back off a bit. Make sure you’re occasionally looking inward so you’ll know when it’s time for gentleness.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1059: Look Forward!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1059: Look Forward!
Sep 9, 2019

PEBBLE
No matter how dark things seem to be, or actually are, raise your sights and see the possibilities – always see them, for they are always there.
-Nelson Jimenez, Milford, CT, shared by Al in Marinette, WI

BOULDER
The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.
—Barack Obama, shared by Ellisa in Shepherdstown, WV

For a star to be born, there is one thing that must happen: a gaseous nebula must collapse. So collapse. Crumble. This is not your destruction. This is your birth. -n.t. (via Tumblr)

Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.
—Laini Taylor, shared by Ellisa in Shepherdstown, WV

There’s always another level up. There’s always another ascension. More grace, more light, more generosity, more compassion, more to shed, more to grow. -E Gilbert

PONDER
During the last few weeks, we’ve explored the triad of letting go, holding on, and looking forward that I’ve found helpful in times of challenge and change. We wrap up this trilogy with a solid dose of hope.

Looking forward is about cultivating our capacity for optimism: visualizing the sunshine while the rain is pouring; recognizing the progress made during even the tiniest of baby steps; and finding the reasons to stay hopeful even when things appear bleak.

Our ability to build up reserves of hope helps determine how resilient we are when inevitable hardships arise, and also how persistent we can be in pursuit of long term success despite setbacks and detours.

It is important to note that looking forward with a hopeful resolve isn’t about pretending things are all peachy keen when we know that isn’t true, and it isn’t about ignoring the unpleasantness that might lie ahead. Instead, it is tapping into the self-fulfilling prophesy that hopeful attitudes help deliver positive outcomes.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy

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Ripples #1058: Holding On!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1058: Holding On!
Sep 2, 2019

PEBBLE
I no longer scramble blindly through hardship. I no longer emerge from a bad time feeling relieved just to have survived. Instead of despairing, I try to find the lesson within the experience.
-Halle Berry, shared by Eric in California via PassItOn.com
https://www.passiton.com/inspirational-quotes/6522-Daily-Inspirational-Quote?

BOULDER
The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future.
―Jeffrey R. Holland,
shared by Marilyn in Arroyo Grande, CA

PONDER
I mentioned last week the combination of LETTING GO, HOLDING ON, and LOOKING FORWARD that has helped me in times of challenge and/or change. Last week we focused on letting go, and this week I wanted to remind us just how useful it can be to HOLD ON to the lessons and the strength that we usually gain when going through difficulty.

There’s no doubt that a full life includes all kinds of twists and turns and setbacks. Some of us deal with bigger and uglier challenges than others, and unfortunately we don’t get to choose whether or when stuff happens. We do, however, get to choose how we deal with hardship.

If you’ve made it through something, or even if you’re still struggling right now, it’s important to note that if you’re still breathing, you literally have a 100% survival rate when it comes to conquering challenges and changes. Once you get through the worst of it, you’ve almost certainly learned a few things about yourself and life that are worth holding on to. As a bonus: once you catch your breath and recover a bit, you’re likely a bit stronger than you were before.

HOLDING ON is about extracting and retaining the learnings and growings that are by-products of life’s inevitable challenges and changes. Some people are able to look back and say, “I’m glad that happened even though it was hard,” I think it is important to know that is not required…you can hold on to the learnings and growings and just throw away the rest of the yuckiness and be glad it is behind you.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy

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Ripples #1057: Let Go!

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1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1057: Let Go!
Aug 26, 2019

PEBBLE
Letting go doesn’t always equate to you losing or missing out. You’re growing, you’re shedding, you’re becoming. -Alex Elle, shared by Pete in Manchester, NH

BOULDER
What is needed to amend the soil of your life garden? Letting go of what you no longer need is like compost for new growth.
-The Dreaming Realm via Kiva Lodge, shared by Lauranne in Madison, WI

PONDER
I’ve been zipping about helping new students embark on the next chapter in their lives as they start college (a ripply welcome to several new Chips from Central Michigan & new Panthers from Plymouth State who are also new Ripplers!). In my talks this fall, I’ve slipped in three questions that have served me well whenever I’m going through CHALLENGE and/or CHANGE:

What is it time to let go of?
What might be important to hold on to?
What could be useful to look forward to?

I thought I’d unpack these three questions over the next three weeks, and it makes sense to start with LETTING GO. I find that any time we’re enduring a challenging chapter in our life, especially one that includes change, we often have an instinct to cling to the familiar at the precise moment when it is time to let go of the way things used to be. While it seems reasonable to reach for the comfort of familiarity when we are feeling anxious or afraid, any growth involves change–which requires stepping into the unfamiliar.

Another opportunity for letting go presents itself when life unfolds differently than we were hoping or expecting. I’ve crossed paths with several new students who are struggling with a dark cloud that hovers over what they hoped would be a bright, shiny new chapter in their life. For some it is the death of a loved one; others are dealing with the untimely end of a relationship, and more than a few are recovering from an illness/injury that has impacted their summer and looms over the fall. These events are worthy of disappointment and/or frustration; in fact, sadness and anger are natural, healthy reactions to loss. It’s just that the sooner we grieve the loss of how we thought things were going to go, the more room we’ll have in our heads and hearts to embrace the life that awaits us.

Is there a way you need to LET GO? If so, let this be an invitation to take the next step in the process. It might not be easy, but I’m guessing it will be worth it.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1056: The Freedom of Forgiveness

By | Ripples | No Comments

1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1056: The Freedom of Forgiveness.
Aug 19, 2019

PEBBLE
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
―Lewis B. Smedes, shared by Julie in Missoula, MT

BOULDER
If I may I leave you with this, forgiveness is not about saying what the other person did was okay. It simply means that you choose to no longer suffer when you think about the memory of it. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Forgiveness is freedom.
-Leigh Morgan Koechner, shared by D in San Diego, CA

PONDER
A few months back, I had a meaningful exchange with a fellow rippler (and fellow Cincinnatian!), Ron Meyer, who shared with me his definition of forgiveness as a quote submission: “The act of freeing yourself of the pain, hurt, isolation, hatred, anger or resentment caused by the words or actions of yourself or another person so that you can increase your capacity to love.”

I learned that he had developed this definition of forgiveness while designing a spiritual growth retreat. Using a great analogy, Ron explained that just as sink drains can build up gunk and reduce the flow of water, there are times when pain, anger and resentment can build up in our relationships, which in turn reduces the flow of communication and love. Forgiveness, then, can be a form of “spiritual Drano,” unclogging our lines of communication, and reducing the barriers to a freer flow of love.

Importantly, Ron also stressed that forgiveness can be a powerful tool for our own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing. He wrote, “People tend to miss the point that forgiveness is mostly for us and our own freedom. Forgiveness is not saying that what was done or said was OK. Instead, it is about acknowledging it for what it was and having the courage to let it go so that it does not impact us in a negative way anymore. And forgiveness is not about being weak and giving in, it’s about taking back our power and owning our joy.”

If you’d like to take more ownership of the joy in your life, it could be useful to spend some time considering past hurts to see if you’re ready to experience the freedom of forgiveness.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy

P.S. Remember that an invitation isn’t a command…if this topic doesn’t feel ripe for exploration right now, just set it aside or hit delete! … Read More!

Ripples #1055: The Only You!

By | Ripples | No Comments

1999-2019: Celebrating 20 Years of Ripples
Ripples #1055: The Only You!
Aug 12, 2019

PEBBLE
Don’t be just like anyone. Be better for everyone by being the only you.
-Justin Jones-Fosu, shared by Mary in Oswego, IL

BOULDER
The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.
-Alan Watts, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

PONDER
It is so good to be back into the swing of things after a few weeks of downtime; I’ve already fired up some Wisconsin-based educators as they wrapped up an annual summit around inclusion issues, and I’m packing and prepping for another round of college orientation programs.

I’m also doing some un-packing, because I’ve noticed that no matter how many presentations I give and now matter how many messages I get from folks who tell me they’ve benefitted from crossing paths with The Ripples Guy…I still tend to tuck way various insecurities (what if I’m not wise or funny or prepared enough for this group) and worries (what if I’m unable to connect with them) that reveal themselves in the days before a string of presentations.

The good news is that even though I’m not immune from experiencing these thoughts and feelings, I’ve learned not to reject them or run from them or fight them (which usually only helps them fester). Instead, I’m usually able to greet them as old friends whose intention is to prevent me from making a fool of myself.

So I smile, thank them for making themselves known, and reminding them (and me) that the most sacred responsibility I have is to show up with the very best possible version of myself. That often means some self care (sleeping and eating and exercising) and some prep work (creating and reviewing and revising), and then just letting go of the rest.

Can you join me this week by bringing your YOUEST YOU to school, to work, to life?

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy

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