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Preparing to Win

Ripples #1112: Leveling Up

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Ripples #1112: Leveling Up
Sep 14, 2020

PEBBLE
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.
-Elizabeth Gilbert, shared by Gina in Tucson, AZ

BOULDER
One reason I could never be a true pessimist about humans is the humans themselves. I think people, especially when pushed to extreme situations on the brink, have ways of surprising us and doing things that that do seem impossible and figuring out ways to go up against powers and trends that have until certain points in history been unshakable.
-Vann R. Newkirk II, shared by Emily in Carlow, Ireland

PONDER
Our number one job, especially in challenging times, is to survive: to stay alive so we can make it to another day. When we are feeling safe, and have a little extra time, energy, bandwidth, and gumption…that is when we look for opportunities to grow: gaining new skills, insights, and new ways of looking at the world.

If you’re struggling mightily today, it’s okay to take a hard pass on the concept leveling up right now. Still, I’m wondering if you could pause long enough to take a deep breath, look upward and day dream about what the next level might look like.

If you’re doing okay right now, it might be fun to do more than just dream about the next level. Could you jot down a few ideas about what personal or professional growth might look like for you in the next few months or years? While you’re writing, identify some specific steps you could take to start the ball rolling. And then…TAKE ACTION, even if it is a baby step. Each small step up is an ascension.

Peace,
Paul
P.S. Thank you for forwarding Ripples to your friends and colleagues who might enjoy a weekly splash of inspiration. We’ve had a steady stream of new subscribers lately that are learning about Ripples from YOU and not from ME! 🙂… Read More!

Ripples #1105: Interrupting Patterns

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Ripples #1105: Interrupting Patterns
July 27, 2020

PEBBLE
Interrupting our destructive habits and awakening our heart is the work of a lifetime.
-Pema Chödrön, shared by Dana in Long Beach, CA

BOULDER
Pay attention to your patterns. The ways you learned to survive may not be the ways you want to continue to live. Heal and shift.
-Dr. Thelma Bryant-Davis, shared by Doug in Mobile, AL

PONDER
Habits are an important topic in the time management sessions I often present as conference breakout sessions (remember conferences? I remember conferences….and I miss them so!). Managing our habits is an extremely effective strategy for enhancing productivity and reducing procrastination.

Positive habits are useful for several reasons: they don’t require as much motivation to get started, we tend to get them done without having to rely as heavily on our memory or reminders, and they provide their own rewards since we tend to feel better when we make progress.

Unhelpful habits are problematic for similar reasons: they are easily reinforced (which make them difficult to extinguish), and we are often tempted by their short term rewards even though they tend to delay longer term, bigger goals that are ultimately more important to us.

It is also true we sometimes maintain or reinforce habits that have outlived their utility. We keep doing them because we’ve done them for a really long time, failing to notice that what was a boost to our effectiveness and/or enjoyment is now more of a drag.

Identifying unhelpful patterns and replacing them with more useful habits can move us closer to the life we want to lead. I’m still enjoying some down time, but I’ve already blocked off some time over the coming weeks to examine my routines and habits in the hopes I can make some tweaks to boost my productivity and also my joy.

Peace,
Paul… Read More!

Ripples #1100: Self Preservation June 22, 2020

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Ripples #1100: Self Preservation
June 22, 2020

PEBBLE
I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.
-Audre Lorde, shared by Chris in Topeka, KS

BOULDER
Self-care is more than just going to the spa, getting your nails done or drinking a mimosa cuz it’s Sunday. It is so much deeper than what commercialization is going to try to turn it into. Self-care is really rooted in self-preservation, just like self-love is rooted in honesty. We have to start being more honest with what we need, and what we deserve, and start serving that to ourselves. It can be a spa day! But for a lot of people, it’s more like, I need a mentor. I need someone to talk to. I need to see someone who looks like me that’s successful, that’s doing the things that I want to do, to know that it’s possible.
-Lizzo, shared by Grant in Milwaukee, WI

PONDER
I adore Lizzo (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lizzo), and I love her take on self-care. It reinforces my instinct that we need to keep reminding ourselves over and over (and over) that self-care is more important and more complex than simply pampering ourselves after making it through a rough patch. It is really about self-preservation.

Grant’s quote submission* led me to a longer piece by Lizzo (https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/self-care-has-be-rooted-self-preservation-not-just-mimosas-ncna993661) that helped me respect her revolutionary spirit even more. In it, she poses some important questions that Lizzo asks herself and invites us to ponder, too:

How do I love myself on the days when I hate myself?
How do I love myself in a world that doesn’t love me?
How do I love myself in the face of systemic racism and misogyny?
How do I love myself amid fat-phobia?
How do I love myself still?

There are unfortunately no easy, fixed answers to these questions. And there are likely other hard questions that you may need to consider depending upon your situation and external messages about your own worth that you’ve possibly internalized. Still, these questions are worth asking, and answers are worth seeking, because you are worth preserving.

So keep asking questions, keep seeking answers, and keep being you.

Peace,
Paul
*P.S. Thank you, Chris, Grant, and everyone who remembers the SUBMIT A QUOTE button below (https://theripplesguy.com/submit-quote/), patiently resting at the bottom of each issue so you can help us keep the inspiration flowing!… Read More!

Ripples #1091: Nurturing Health

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Ripples #1091: Nurturing Health
April 20, 2020

PEBBLE
Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos––the trees, the clouds, everything.
–Thich Nhat Hanh, shared by TK in Milwaukee, WI

BOULDER
Doctors won’t make you healthy.
Nutritionists won’t make you slim.
Teachers won’t make you smart.
Gurus won’t make you calm.
Mentors won’t make you rich.
Trainers won’t make you fit.
Ultimately, you have to take responsibility.
Save yourself.
-Naval Ravikant

PONDER
It is hard to believe that six weeks have passed since I returned from vacation just in time to craft the first Covid-related Ripples (#1086 What’s Happening? https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/r1086). A week later in Ripples #1087 (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/rr1087) we unveiled our WE GOT THIS sticker (https://bit.ly/WGT-Doc), created as an invitation to focus on four strategies that we’ve been steadily unpacking here in the last few weeks: curious minds (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/rr1088), open hearts (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/r1089), calm spirits (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/r1090), and nurturing our health. I sheepishly confess that I still recall being concerned that all of this focus on Covid might seem irrelevant by the time we would get to the final topic of the series.

Our health is foundational to every aspect of our lives: work, school, relationships, just everything. And given the unique challenges of living through a global pandemic, tending to our health is absolutely crucial. I shared this quote (https://www.instagram.com/p/B_Kjg51D6Pb/) with my online buddies: “In the dream, a wise one whispered, ‘If there is a chance you’ll soon fall ill, anything you do in the coming days to bolster your health will matter.'”

My intent is to help us all remember that even though we don’t have complete control over whether this pesky virus finds us, there *are* practical steps we can take to minimize the chance we get sick, to minimize the impact if we do get sick, and to minimize the impact on our health care system which still needs our help.

Over the past several years, the U.S. Army has transformed Tom Rath’s Eat Move Sleep (http://www.eatmovesleep.org) into the “Performance Triad” (https://p3.amedd.army.mil/what-leaders-need-to-know/what-is-the-performance-triad): a laser focus on sleep, activity, and nutrition as three cornerstones to maximizing health and wellbeing. I’ve revisited these often in the last few weeks, assessing my choices and habits to make adjustments that will bolster my health. I invite you to do the same, since even a few minor tweaks would be beneficial to you, the people you care about, and our society at large.

My plan in the coming weeks is to broaden our attention to the typical variety of topics we explore in these weekly splashes. I also wanted to let you know I’ve been field testing a one-hour online presentation that was inspired by our “Covid Coping” series. I’ve re-imagined it as “Ripples of Resilience: Surviving, Reviving, and Thriving Amidst Challenge & Change.” If you’re interested in spending an hour with me and a few dozen fellow Ripplers, send an email to ROR@2Rpl.me and I’ll get you some information.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. We printed up yet … Read More!

Ripples #1090: Calm Spirits

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Ripples #1090: Calm Spirits
April 20, 2020

PEBBLE
Don’t worry about calming the storm.
Calm yourself; the storm will pass.
-source unknown, shared by David in Northridge, CA

BOULDER
When your life seems messed up, it’s incredibly depressing to start thinking about the next year or the next month or, sometimes, even the next day. Take the next hour or even the next five minutes and find a way to be happy and positive in those moments. Maybe it’s watching a funny video or calling a friend or eating your favorite food, just find a way to not be miserable in the short term. If you string enough moments of ok-ness together, you’ll find your way back to the light.
-Brady Krien, written and shared by Brady in Iowa City, IA [who offered this advice a few years ago to a struggling college student]

PONDER
Welcome to the third in our four-part “Covid Coping” series, exploring four strategies we can focus on to get through this: curious minds (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/rr1088), open hearts (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/r1089), calm spirits, and nurturing our health.

Many people have shared with me just how exhausting and exasperating the last few weeks have been, and I’ll tell you: I’m feeling it, too. I think I handled the first few weeks of all this weirdness with an infusion of adrenaline, my innate optimism, and a solid sense that our best way through this turbulence and uncertainty was by pulling together and staying together.

I’m aware that my instinct to jump into helping mode has impacted my ability to step back and regain my center.

Instead of spending more time crafting a ponder about the importance of cultivating calm through meditation, prayer, relaxation exercises, walks in nature, or some other mindful practice….I need to pause, take a few deep breaths (here now), and expend fewer minutes explaining it so I can spend more minutes doing it.

Some additional deep breaths, an extra meditation session, and a few hours of laying the couch will likely invoke a lovely evening of ok-ness; I’m guessing tomorrow will find me a little closer in my journey back to the light.

May you make your way toward a calmer spirit, too.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

Ripples #1089: Open Hearts

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Ripples #1089: Open Hearts
April 6, 2020

PEBBLE
We can never have peace if we cannot understand the pain in each other’s hearts. The more we interact, the more we will come to realize that our humanity transcends all differences.
-Wayne Shorter, shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

BOULDER
Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another, must become a thought as to how we might be of help to the other, should the need arise.
-Rabbi Yosef Kamefsky, shared by Laurie in Milwaukee, WI

PONDER
This is the second of our four-part “Covid Coping” series covering the four strategies I believe we can focus on to get through this together: curious minds (https://mailchi.mp/unleashripples/rr1087), open hearts, calm spirits, and nurturing our health.

It is more important than ever that we cultivate a sense of our shared humanity; it was already in short supply and the past few weeks have made coming together even more complicated. It is tricky to mentally and spiritually come together while we are physical distancing! It has always been true that our own behavior impacts those around us; our current situation requires us to confront just how significantly we are interconnected and interdependent upon each other.

Add in our frayed nerves and the frequent exposure to significantly disconcerting news updates, it is essential that we cut ourselves and each other some extra slack whenever possible. We need to extend patience, generosity, and kindness towards ourselves and others. Last week my pal Toby and I crafted a lovingkindness meditation to help us open our hearts and extend generosity to ourselves and others. Because it takes about 20 seconds to recite, we’ve been calling it our handwashing meditation:

Right now, I am doing the best I can.
Right now, my best may not seem good enough.
Right now, my best is the best I have.

Right now, everyone else is doing the best they can.
Right now, their best may not seem good enough.
Right now, their best is the best they have.

Right now, we are all doing the best we can
Right now, our best may not seem good enough.
Right now, our best is the best we have.
-Toby Causby (https://www.tobycausby.com) & Paul Wesselmann (https://theripplesguy.com)
(downloadable PDF available here: bit.ly/RightNow-DoingOurBest)

There is still room for disappointment, disagreement, and even disgust. There is still room for speaking up on behalf of yourself and others. When possible, see if you can also make room for a little extra patience, a dab of extra generosity, and maybe a sprinkling of extra kindness? It will help others feel a little better, and I think you’ll find it helps you feel a little better, too.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. Thanks to many of you, we’ve now distributed almost two thousand WE GOT THIS stickers that … Read More!

Ripples #1088: Curious Minds

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Ripples #1088: Curious Minds
March 30, 2020

PEBBLE
Wisdom isn’t about accumulating more facts, it’s about understanding big truths in a deeper way. -Melinda Gates, shared by Sr. Miriam in St. Louis, MO

BOULDER
Of course, life does not unfold according to our desires or even according to our beliefs. We are part of life unfolding and teaching us all the time.
-Michael Ketterhagen, shared by Kelsey in Fond du Lac, WI

PONDER
We revealed last week the idea of our WE GOT THIS stickers to cultivate curious minds, open hearts, and calm spirits while we nurture our health. (Cool news: we’ve since distributed over 1,000 stickers and just ordered another batch! If you’d like a free sticker for yourself OR perhaps order some colleagues and loved ones, please visit this Google Doc for details: https://bit.ly/WGT-Doc)

I thought we’d spend the next few weeks unpacking these four Covid Coping strategies, and it makes sense to start with the first one: Curious Minds. My intention in leading with this one is to remind us that there are choices about how to respond to things even when we don’t have a choice about the thing happening. Leaning into these questions can help: How can I learn from this? Who do I want to be on the other side of this? Is it possible to grow through this even if I’m not pleased that I have to go through this?

I had a great exchange with someone last week who messaged me after watching one of the videos I whipped up to help talk us all through this weirdness. She wrote, “Thanks Paul! I hear and appreciate everything you’re saying – but I am struggling with the curious minds part. I don’t want to do this! It’s too big and too overwhelming. I am hanging in there but not liking it one bit.”

I fully agreed that this is indeed really big, and many of us are experiencing daily doses of overwhelm. I asked her to imagine a teacher on the first day of school thinking it would be a good idea to give the class an overview of everything they’d learn for the entire year. My thought is that would probably make you think or even scream something very similar to: “It’s too big and too overwhelming!” Instead of grappling with the whole big mess and how we’re going to get through this, an alternative might be to notice one thing you’ve done in the past couple of weeks that has helped you grow personally or professionally.

Another small way to help activate your curious mind is to pivot from judging people who are handling this differently than you are and instead get curious about what might cause someone to think, say, and do the things that seem at first glance to be irrational or unhelpful in some way.

As for the part about not liking this one bit, I shared that it sounded to me like a part of her is … Read More!

Ripples #1015: Seizing Control of Life!

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Ripples #1015: Seizing Control of Life!
Nov 5, 2018

PEBBLE
You may not control life’s circumstances, but getting to be the author of your life means getting to control what you do with them.
-Atul Gawande, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

BOULDER
So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.
-Stephen Chbosky, shared by Sarah in Fond du Lac, WI

PONDER
Let’s start with an understatement: there is a lot going on in the world right now. There might also be a lot going on for you personally with school, work, or just life in general. Sometimes in the swirl of all the things happening around us and to us, we forget that we do have choices about how to respond even when it seems like we don’t.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, stand up and say (out loud if possible): “I want to feel better than I do right now!” See if you can identify some action that often helps you feel better. If nothing comes to mind, you could try one from my list: brush your teeth; walk briskly around the block; or drink a glass of water.

Next, choose a relatively small action to make progress on something that you need to attend to: a household chore, a school/work project, or a small kindness that will be appreciated by someone else in your life. Hopefully it will give you a lift, or at the very least you’ll be able to cross off at item from your to do list. Small wins provide a feeling of progress that serve as motivation to keep on moving forward. And that momentum will help you seize control of life.

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy
P.S. Vote. Please. It matters. So much.… Read More!

Ripples #1,009: The Small Things!

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Ripples #1,009: The Small Things!
Sep 24, 2018

PEBBLE
If you feel like life is passing you by…try throwing yourself into the small things and repeating to yourself: This is where I start.
-Rob Bell, shared by Leslie in Madison, WI

BOULDER
The question you should be asking is, “Can I do one small thing tomorrow to make things a little bit better?” And the answer is almost always yes.
-Dan Pink, shared by Holly in Phoenix, AZ

PONDER

I just wrapped up the final trip of my fall orientation tour and headed back home to catch my breath and rest up a bit as I prepare for some upcoming conference keynote addresses sprinkled around the midwest. The challenge is that the new home we are just moving into isn’t quite ready for relaxation. While most of the renovations the house needed are winding down, there is still quite a bit of cleaning and unpacking and settling in that needs to be done. Upon arriving home, I was too tired and too overwhelmed to even know where to begin.

Luckily, my partner had a better vision of both the finish line and the path to get there. We began with a few small tasks that would have an ongoing impact on our spirits and motivation: getting the music system set up so we could keep on jamming while we were cleaning, and getting the floors cleaned so we wouldn’t see dirt and dust every where we looked. Soon we were making steady progress, and even the breaks were productive as we talked through where to put things, what size rugs we should look for, etc. We still have a ways to go, but our many small efforts are really paying off.

I’ve spent the last few weeks reminding new students that the biggest impact on their grades are their small, daily decisions about preparing for, attending, and participating in class, and the biggest impact on their health are the small, daily decisions about what they eat/drink, how much they move, and how much they sleep. The more overwhelmed you are, the more likely you’ll benefit from identifying the smaller actions that can serve you well.

So…what small things might lead you towards bigger success this week?

Peace,

Paul
The Ripples Guy

P.S. Have I told you lately just how much joy it brings me to have such a fun and engaged group of upbeat people spending a minute with me each Monday? #uRock… Read More!

Ripples #1,006: Working The Right Amount!

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Ripples #1,006: Working The Right Amount!
Sep 3, 2018

PEBBLE
If you’re tired…learn to rest, not to quit.
-Nishan Panwar
shared by Jessica in Los Angeles, CA

BOULDER
To become the best you, sometimes you need to push yourself. Just don’t push too hard, you don’t want to break what you worked so hard to improve.
-Alexis Mazure
written and shared by Alexis at Central Michigan University

PONDER
Many of us here in the U.S. are enjoying an extended weekend thanks to Labor Day, an official holiday to recognize “the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country” (from Wikipedia). Unofficially, this marks the end of the summer when some people are diving into another academic year while others prepare to focus on a final burst of productivity before the end of the calendar year.

Labor Day is a great day to ponder the complimentary aspects of work and play. It is important for us to get our work done, of course. It is equally important for us to include enough rest and play so that we can unleash our best work. There is a ton of research that supports them as crucial strategies for maximizing productivity and potential.

Whatever you need more of, I wish you the right combination of happy resting, happy playing, and happy working!

Peace,
Paul
The Ripples Guy… Read More!

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