Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT
This month’s theme is inspired by a new on the road lifestyle. (For those who follow this blog you may have noticed I’ve not been posting as frequently). I took advantage of a seller’s market in Portland, Oregon this spring to flip a property for the company we were not using all that much. Instead of having an office in one place, I am transitioning to a motorhome as my mobile office. Cheetah staff live all over the country so with my children launched, why not get a motorhome and go work where they are from time to time. I feel so free – it’s been a very interesting transtion that is for sure.
The first adventure with the motorhome was setting it up to support my new mobile life. I did this from my former home base near Lake Tahoe. While back in Northern Nevada, I had the chance to reconnect with an old friend. We had not parted on the best of terms a couple years back after a misunderstanding. It got me thinking about how free’ing it was to be getting along better with her now. I realized though, it isn’t just people where getting along better can create a sense of expanded freedom – it’s getting along better with all of life – both my internal and exernal life.
I’ve studied systems dynamics modeling for three decades. What I know is that when you establish several key core values, you can create an entire self-replicating system (think fractal). I experimented with this idea first with Cheetah Learning where our three core values are best friend customer service (treat everyone as you would your best friend), WOW’em (elegant delivery with extraordinary results), and be a cheetah (get things done fast, wherever you are with whatever you have handy). It’s been a fascinating fifteen year success story creating the system of “Cheetah Learning” with these core values and watching how they continue to self-replicate through every part of the operation.
I was wondering, could I create a system based on several core values where I could create even more freedom by getting along better with everything in my life? For me right now, freedom means to live my life the best way for me in the moment. For example, lets say I get pulled over for going through a stop sign. I could choose to get along with the police officer who pulled me over, recognizing he or she is just doing their job and in fact has my best interest at heart vs. following a pre-scripted self-righteous snit over them “targeting” me and waiting in hiding for me to break the law. In this case, getting along better certainly does give me more freedom than being snotty to a police officer and risking elevating a simple traffic stop into something more serious.
When I look at “everywhere” I recognize there are two sections relating to getting along – the internal landscape (which is how I could better manage myself to create more internal freedom) and the external landscape – (which is how I better manage myself with others to create more external freedom). I looked at the three core values for each that could be my fall back, go to, self replicate, repeat, over and over and over – so much so they just became my inherent nature.
I’ve attached the mind map of the three respective core values for my external and internal landscape.
How getting along better increases your freedom.
1. My new go to is to find ways to respect, enjoy, love, adore and appreciate everything as it is. This includes respecting the power of my own positive and negative feelings. I live with a critical monkey mind that passes judgement most frequently on my perception of my own personal failings. I especially pass judgement on myself when I’m passing judgement on myself for feeling anything less than happy or up beat – does this really ever end? But what if I learned how to, respect, enjoy, adore, love ,and appreciate all of it – however I’m feeling in the moment about anything? It might actually be easier to extend this level of grace to others, but extending it to myself helps me get along better with me (and I’m part of all of life).
2. Commit to connect to what is, as it is by consciously living a single point existence rather than getting stuck in nostalgia, regret, hope, and worry. Ruminating about past experiences from the glory days to regrets from past losses and getting lost in dreams of future plans to worrying about prospective dark scenarios hampers my ablity to connect with what is, as it is. Recognize I actually breathe right here in the present moment and this is where I am experiencing life as it is right now. The more I focus on nostalgia and regrets of my past and my hopes and fears of the future , the less freedom I have to experience what is actually going on right now.
3. Master how I choose to feel about my experiences. It is my choice how I feel about my various life experiences. No one else gets to choose this for me nor are they responsible for these feelings either. I call this the no blame, shame game. When I’m upset, it’s because I’m choosing to be upset. When I’m happy, it’s because I’m choosing to be happy. I got a good experience of how choosing my feelings can be so freeing while I was getting the camper ready for it’s maiden voyage. The day right before I was slated to leave, I twisted my ankle coming out of my camper. Earlier in the week, I had invited a friend to come over for dinner but felt the need to cancel after the fall as I was just not sure the extent of the damage to my ankle and was resting it elevated and on ice. I was upset about many things, missing the dinner, not spending time with my friend, and concerned about the extent of the injury. Yet my friend was up to her own alligators in life wtih a number of stressors from work, children, parents etc. Dinner was as much to enjoy her company as a respite from her stressors. I made a conscious choice to stop the poor me upset loop running in my mind. I really did need some down time to just relax before taking off for this several months long trip. This twisted ankle was a blessing as was her self-involvement in her own very busy life. Choosing a new feeling about this experience gave me more actual freedom as in this case had I expressed my upset (which had multiple causes), I’m sure she would have come over. As it turned out the down time was much needed and my ankle healed quickly. With my mobility back to normal sooner, my freedom was most certainly enhanced
1. Support, respect and trust each person’s journey. It is not for me to judge how someone else is living their life. Supporting people in their own personal choices to live their life the best way for them, gives me the freedom to do the same. Sometimes people want to join me on my life’s journey. While this is fun for a short time, it seems I often unwittingly over function and take on a responsibility for some element of their existence so they can more comfortably join me in my existence. This usually ends up with a mutual resentment where I find myself craving my freedom and wanting out. Being more mindful of how to support, respect and trust that every person has not only the capability but also the responsibility to live their life the best way for them allows me to co-exist with others in ways I can better sustain and enjoy.
2. Be mindful of how my perceptions color how I respond to my current reality. On the second day of my trip with the new motorhome from Lake Tahoe to Alaska, I was heading to Redwood National Park. For some reason google maps directed me to a narrow winding road that ended up being a dirt road through an Indian Reservation on the western side of the park. As I was driving on this narrow, bumpy dirt road, the closet doors and drawers opened dumping my neatly organized belongings all over the camper. In that moment, I was damn pissed off at the google map that guided me to the dirt road. What I wasn’t was scared (like many people commented I should have been based on where I was). There were several four wheel drive cars who passed me on their way down the mountain. The folks in there just looked with surprise – what the heck is a motorhome like that doing on this road? Of course there was no cell phone signal and I realized if anything happened to the motorhome on that road, I might be relying on people like that in any one of those cars to help me out. I also knew I had a GPS locator in one of my bags in the motorhome so if worse came to worse I could just set that off. What I knew would not help me was to have negative stereotypical perceptions about any people I encountered on the road. Not falling prey to negative perceptions about where I was helped me keep the presence of mind to better handle the tough driving conditions and make my way to a better road for the trip out of there. I had more options and more freedom by being mindful of my perceptions.
3. Play in others innate goodness and inherent positive intent. People rarely show up in life to make another miserable. Most people are generally unaware of how their behavior is perceived and many others don’t care how others perceive them. They are simploy living their lives the way that best suits them – even if it might annoy the living daylights out of me. When I give in to the power of the annoyance and frustration of how I am experiencing another, I in fact imprision myself in those emotions. When I allow myself to play with how I experience the best version of others, I free myself from the annoyance prison and better enjoy my life. For example, I had a friend who as a perfectionist found fault with much of what I did when we were around each other. Her inherent positive intent was to help me be less annoying because of her perceptions of my faults. Instead of being annoyed with her behavior, I appreciated her high standards and hired her to stage a property I was selling. (She did a great job and the property was sold very quickly because of her staging abilities). Seeing my way to her innate goodness helped me free myself from that property I was not using all that much. Freedom happens on multiple levels by living this value.
Freedom happens in many different ways for different people. I’m going to see how this approach helps me experience more freedom by getting along better with life.