Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show," with Colonel Doner as Brother Love!

Good Morning from Murren, Switzerland! 

Hotel Eiger: This is where we stayed while here.
Wonderful place, awesome staff. 

The view while hiking around the area 

Colonel, errrr, Brother Love, enjoying the scenery


We found a great pub on our hike ... with a trampoline!
(Wendy and CJ) 

Of course, Joseph couldn't resist. 

CJ pleading for Derek to adopt him 

Colonel and Betel 

The Eiger and Monch, from Kleine Scheidegg

This is the area where Eastwood and crew filmed The Eiger Sanction 

(Left to right) Nancy, Wally, and Wendy 
Each of these ladies deserve medals for putting up
with our Traveling Salvation Show

So many potential photo ops! 

In Wengen for Meetings
There were so many waterfalls around this area 

Natalie Spiccia
In Wengen you could rent a dog for a day! 
Proceeds went to cancer research ...
or something like that. 

Tough to walk away from scenery like this

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2013 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Legendary Leaders: Legendary Sensory Acuity

We were created with five senses. Given all the world has to offer our senses, it is a tragedy that so few of us seek to utilize and expand each of these portals of perception. We numbly walk through a world blazing with glory and beauty, ignorant of the joy and wonder that is constantly available to us—if we would only turn on and tune up all of our senses.
Think of the man who eats his food as if he were making love to it; the woman lost in wonder, while gazing at a painting; the young man with eyes closed as he sinks into the music he is listening to as if it were an ocean of happiness; the young woman running her hands across the silk scarf, behaving as if she were touching the Holy Grail itself; and the old man with the rose just beneath his nose, as reverent as a priest before the Eucharist.  Now. How many of these scenes were utterly incomprehensible to you? Those just might be your dormant senses: divine gifts, wasting away.
If you are asking what in the world exercising all our physical senses has to do with Legendary Leadership, it’s simple: Whatever adds to me as a human being, adds to me as a Leader.

The Soul’s Senses
The soul also has senses, or so I believe.  There is intuition, awareness of self and others … and empathy. As this is a relatively new thought for me, there are probably others, but the one I have been thinking about the most is empathy: the ability to perceive and share the feelings of others, to have understanding of an individual’s present psychological state.
We are experiencing empathy when we genuinely weep with those who are weeping and rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Empathy “gets” that the other is frightened or angry, jealous or frustrated, confused or stuck, and treats these emotional states with appropriate regard. We are not being empathetic when we speak or behave as if our thoughts and feelings are all that matters.
How much weight are you going to give my words, if you do not perceive that I am feeling what you are feeling? How much of my communication is going to find its way into your head and heart, if you don’t believe I have sufficient understanding of where you are coming from or the emotional content behind your words and actions?
Just as we can be oblivious to one of our five senses so we can be insensitive and unmindful of the feelings and hearts of those around us. How often do we ask ourselves, “What is she feeling – right now – as I am saying/doing this?” While such empathy may not change the content of our communication, it can help us adjust our words or demeanor so that our communication can be more readily heard.
I think a mistake we all too often make here is projecting our feelings onto those around us.  “That wouldn’t bother me, so, of course, it won’t bother him.” “This is really interesting to me so it must be interesting to everyone else!” And we don’t give our words or actions another thought.
Legendary Leaders turn up all their senses. Getting inside the heads and hearts of others is critical to effective communication and powerful motivation.  Seek out those senses that you ignore and exercise them. Learn to see more clearly, listen more fully, and feel more empathetically.  Find people whose sensory acuity is superior to yours and model them, learn from them.  Your legend depends on it.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012 All right reserved.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Reconnecting With Your Self

Okay. When we last left off I said I would write something on “ways to reengage and reconnect with your true self.” But before I do this …

One of the challenges we face as we get into our teen years is differentiating ourselves from our parents. It is a necessary and healthy part of our maturation process that torments our parents because all we can scream is, “I don’t know who I am but I am not you!”

You all remember the drill:

If your parents believe in Jesus Christ, then “I am becoming a Buddhist.”

If mom loves Classical Music, “I love Country and Western.”

If dad wants me to get my MBA and go to work for a Fortune 100 Company, “I am not going to college.”

If they think I should feel love toward my siblings, “I hate my brothers and sisters!”

Of course, it is not only a case where I take the opposite stance from my parents: no, that isn’t enough to show people who I “really” am. I also hate Christianity, despise Classical Music, think college is a joke, that sports are nothing more than modern day gladiatorial games…O, and by the way: I was adopted. For adolescents, it is not enough to go my own way: I must destroy your way.
Gradually, we discover that I am not my true self merely because I am not you. Not being somebody still leaves unanswered the question, “Who then am I?”
But what about those people who really never fully get through this process? Well, they become “the dude playing the dude disguised as another dude.” Someone else is thinking his thoughts through my brain; others are directing my affections; I am a slave to the wants of others; and I am utterly dissociated from my feelings.
So how does this person become visible to others? She can’t. She can’t because she is not even visible to herself. For example, if I ask her to write down everything she wants in life, after listing around 20 items, she draws a blank. And of those 20 items, she is faintly aware that half of them are actually what she is supposed to want, not what she truly wants.
The quest to discover and develop my true self is a life-long process. Well, it is unless you are comfortable with a severe case of arrested development. It requires times of introspection and reflection, as well as times with trusted friends whose feedback encourages this process. For some people, the process is, over-all, joyful. For others, it is painfully hard work, as it takes a Herculean effort to dig down underneath all the false personas they have taken on over the years.

Writing What You Feel
I think one of the more effective ways to reconnect with our self is by keeping a journal.

What did I observe today and why did it capture my attention?

Why did I say what I did to her when I was thinking the opposite?

What did I enjoy today? If nothing, what could I have enjoyed and why didn’t I?

What am I reading (books, magazines, internet, etc.) or watching (TV, DVD, movie) and what am I finding interesting?

What is going on with my career?

For what and whom am I praying?

How do I feel about all the above? How do I feel about my life: my world, my work, and my relationships? And how do I feel about what I am feeling?

TS Eliot said, “Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.” Setting aside poetry (sorry TS), I think the discipline of seeking to Name That Feeling, rather than evading it, is critical to reconnecting to our true self.
While writing about what you feel, dig deeper into the source of those feelings and you will discover beliefs, values, fears and wounds that have been stuffed away and covered over for years and years.  Dig deeply enough and you get to the life-springs of your identity. “So this is what I actually believe, truly love, genuinely want and honestly feel.” Some of what you discover will be thrilling and some things will be painful, but all of it is useful, because you can’t work on what you don’t own.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012

Friday, December 23, 2011

Invisibility and Inauthenticity

It is not good for man to be alone … but my o my does he go out of his way to Be Alone.
In the case of our God-created need for visibility, understanding, and companionship, many choose to remain invisible. The thinking here is that loneliness is far better than revealing a self that we believe will probably be rejected. One of the ways we do this is by pretending to not be ourselves. Rather than increasingly becoming the person we were created to be, like actors on a stage, we take on pseudo – personalities.
We are like Kirk Lazurus (played by Robert Downy, Jr), in Tropic Thunder:  I know who I am! I'm the dude playing the dude disguised as another dude!

My parents insisted I become this person and, so as to garner their approval, I became that person.

My mother or father are like this-and-that and, in reaction to their shortcomings, I build a persona around the intent to Not Be Him or Her. What role is being taken on here? “Not-him!” (Bad news: when I do this, I cannot help but become whom it is I am focusing on.)

No one will love me as I am, so I have to pretend to be the kind of person others will love. Or, if I believe no one will love me, period, I go out of my way to reject them before they reject me. In this case, I take on the persona of the lone-wolf, or the perpetually misunderstood victim who must connive and manipulate others to love me.

And the award for Best Actor goes to … the Lonely Guy!

We are the dudes playing the dudes disguised as other dudes. So, which dude are people relating to? And are any of these dudes actually the real “me”? No. Therefore, as I know people are relating to a role I am playing, I know without a doubt the relationship is not real. However many people may appear to be in my world, because I am not being real, my world is not real, therefore these friends are not real.
I say we know, but, with some, they have forgotten what they knew: that the self they are projecting, what people are seeing, is not real. They have been playing a role for so long that they are invisible to themselves!
Interestingly, one of the ways we can discover that we, in fact, are pretending to not be our true self, is feedback from the individuals in our lives whom we know are authentic. Real people spot role players fairly easily.

Role players are seldom comfortable in their own skin

Dudes playing dudes are constantly calibrating for approval, where, if they sense they aren’t performing as expected, they morph into another role, not understanding that what an authentic person is looking for is … authenticity!

Actors are all buttoned up, perfectly put together, with just the right lines. Even the disheveled look that The Victim takes on is perrrrfectly cast: tears flow just so, and guilt-manipulating phrases are spoken with Academy award winning timing and pathos.

So. When you are ready for some reality, ask the authentic people in your life about how they experience you, as well as the “you” they see behind your mask. And, Yes: you DO know who these people are, for as soon as you read that sentence, he came to mind; she popped up on your radar. 

Next post will follow-up on other ways to reengage and reconnect with your true self.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friendship and Psychological Visibility

Some years back, a man whom I had known for about 10 years was describing me to a new acquaintance of ours. It was all very positive and complimentary, but with one small problem: he wasn’t describing me. In fact, the more he waxed eloquent about the attributes and personality of Monte Wilson, the more invisible I felt. All I could do was sit there thinking, “You really don’t know me.”
A friend responds to me the same way I would if I were seeing and sensing myself through the mind of my friend. In other words, he acts as a mirror that reflects the image of how I see and experience myself. He sees what I know to be true of myself.  She senses how I experience life.  In other words, true friends are psychologically visible to each other.
Of course, friends also help us discover the, heretofore, unseen aspects of our true self. You’ve had this happen before, when a friend complimented or criticized you about something and you instantly intuited that, yes, “That’s me!”
            This is how Nathaniel Branden defines psychological visibility in his book, The Psychology of Romantic Love. “Human beings desire and need the experience of self-awareness that results from perceiving the self as an objective existent, and they are able to achieve this experience through interaction with the consciousness of other living beings.”
            But it is not just visibility that we desire. We also have a desire to love and to be loved.

It is not good that man should be alone. (Genesis 2:18)
There is something about the way we are made that needs relationships where there is a large degree of mutual visibility. My own thought here is that there are a number of reasons this is so. Two come to mind:

External validation and affirmation “You really are you!” However self-aware I am, however brutally honest with myself that I seek to be about the nature of my true self, I need feedback as to the veracity of my self-evaluation. Caveat: I am not referring to a craving for the approval of others, as if I were asking permission to be myself. I am referring to the acknowledgment that my evaluation of my self is, indeed, legitimate.

Mutual support I know that I need the love, gifts and wisdom of others to make my journey in this life. I instinctually know that it is neither right nor wise to be “alone.”  Think back to the stories many of us grew up reading: Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable, Frodo and Samwise, The Three Musketeers, Harry with Ron and Hermione, Robin Hood and his Merry Men, King David and his Mighty Men, and Jesus and the Twelve.

            Certainly, the mere fact that we are visible to someone doesn’t mean that we are going to be good friends. However, there can be no true emotional connection and companionship where there is little or no visibility. How can you say," I love you," if you are blind to the “you”? Am I really going to believe someone loves me who doesn’t Get Me, get who I am (“warts and all”)? And sometimes, even where an individual does see me, there is still the possibility that this person does not have the capacity for mutuality or desire for companionship with me. "Yes, dear, I see you. And I can't stand what I see!"
Of course, there is the experience of people who love us for whom they wish us to be. I am not referring here to those who truly see us, and the person we can become: I am speaking of those who project or fantasize or idealize the person they wish us to be. In these cases, we know that there is no reality, no substance, and no foundation for a true friendship. Where such blindness exists, we know that, sooner or later, the individual will “see the real me,” and the “relationship” will end.
True friendship requires visibility and mutuality.

When we encounter a person who thinks as we do, who notices what we notice, who values what we value, who tends to respond to different situations as we do, not only do we experience a strong sense of affinity with such a person but we also can experience our self through our perception of that person. This is another form of objectivity. This is another manner of perceiving our self in the world, external to consciousness … The pleasure and excitement that we experience in the presence of such a person, with whom we can enjoy this sense of affinity, underscores the importance of the need that is being satisfied. Branden
While Branden is specifically referring here to the basis for Romantic Love, it, nevertheless, applies to friendship, as well.
            I believe we were created with an innate desire to be with people who see and understand us, and with whom we share mutual beliefs, values and visions: people who understand our journeys, our struggles, and our achievements, and want to be a part of our lives, as we wish to be a part of theirs. These are the people whose empathy is most real to us and whose applause is most meaningful. These are the people whom we call friends.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Living With Urgency

Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life. William Faulkner

We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us seeing it. Pascal

One of the perks of knowing you are going to die is that you are forced to make decisions as to what you will do with your allotted time. I mean, if we were all Highlander-like and lived forever, what urgency is there in deciding which career path to take, what to do with our time and money, or whom to cherish until death-do-you-part? But Death is coming, so now what?

What will you value?

Who is important to you?

By what code will you live?

What is it that is worth doing, in the face of death?

What is it you would do, even if it meant risking death?

How will you prepare for death?

And if you believe in God, and that you will meet Him when you die, how does this shape and inform your answers to the above questions?
Those individuals who Get Death, who accept its inevitability, who know that death is coming for them, rarely procrastinate: if anything, they are almost impetuous in their decision making, as they live by the words of Christ, Work while it is day for when the night comes … no more time to work: no more time to work on self, on your relationships, or on your legacy.
The challenge when you are young is to overcome the arrogance of thinking (or at least behaving As If) “I am immortal.” Plenty of time to Become and to Do, right? Feels that way at 17 … not so much when you wake up at 50 and realize you have yet to either truly Become the individual you were meant to be or Do what you were created to. “How did this happen to me? How did I get here?” ” Simple. “Immortals” procrastinate.
I say that those individuals who Get Death behave accordingly … but that’s not really true. Some people grasp it intellectually but refuse to wrestle with it existentially. Some people think, “What the heck: there is no afterlife so eat drink and be merry!” Others see death and are crippled by despair. But all this changes when Death knocks on your door.
Have you ever known someone who knew that they only had so much more time to live? Think back on their behaviors, their choices, and their attitudes. With death just around the corner, what is of great significance becomes all-important, and what is not important is ignored. Expressions of love, making amends, setting things in order for those who will remain here, and finishing certain projects, these and other Important Things are embraced with heroic courage. Everything else is inconsequential.
Why is it that we wait until our impending death to live and love this way? And how many of us will know with certainty that death is only a year or a week away? We don’t. As far as we know, it is only a week away.

So. Now what?

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Owning Your Power: Finding Your Voice

One of the ways you can spot someone who is owning his power is that he has his own voice.  (Yes, yes, I know this sentence is grammatically incorrect. However, it is psychologically correct, as “owning” denotes an ongoing process.) Your power will speak with your voice: no one else is controlling your mind and heart (your power) so no one else is controlling your voice.
People who deny their own power usually have allowed others to take up residency in their heads and hearts. “This is what you should/must feel; this is what you will think. Therefore, this is what you will communicate.” ACK Polly wants a cracker!
Finding your voice is a process. You will hear or see something in an individual or read it in a book and take it out for a spin. You will watch a co-worker or a friend you admire or one of your parents and what you see resonates as True For You: so you take it on as your own… and see if it fits or not. A little adjustment here, a little there and, Voila!, “It fits!”
When I first began speaking publicly, I sounded like any number of men whom I admired. The first year or two I “tried on” any number of people (we call this “modeling”) but after a while I developed my own voice. Or did I?
What took me much longer was to develop my own sense of self: my own beliefs and ideas and emotional responses.  I was raised in a world where my beliefs, ideas, ideals and emotions were dictated. I don’t mean that someone held a gun to my head. However, the cost of having the “wrong” beliefs and such was a severe lack of approval or even outright rejection. To be as gracious as possible, it is very difficult to develop your own voice in such an environment.
Parents, I think, often miss it here, in so far as they don’t allow their children to express their honest thoughts and emotions. I am not suggesting we shouldn’t help our children process their minds and hearts toward a more healthy way of being, only that if we cut the process off – if we do not allow them to own what they are presently experiencing – they begin searching, not for what is true for them in that moment, but only for what should be thought and felt. Right Then and There. What this produces are children who no longer seek to discover their own identities but seek to be whom and what someone else says they are supposed to be.
We all have known parents who, rather than rearing their children to be individuals, instead, mold and shape them to be “whom I should have been,” or into the incarnation of Dad or Mom. “I couldn’t be or do ‘x,’ so you will do this and be that person.” “I am ‘y” so you will be ‘y,’ as well.” Sure, we have beliefs and values that we hope and pray our children will adopt as their own, but this must be done with respect for their individuality.
Years ago I was counseling a man who was struggling to find his own voice. Now, he disagreed with me as to the nature of his struggles, rejecting my observation that he appeared to always want to say what others wanted to hear. During one of our sessions he mentioned that he kept a journal. I asked him if he would mind allowing me to read some of it, noting that he could decide what I read.
 The following week, I sat across from him and began reading what he had written. It only took me two pages to have a perfect example of what I was seeking to communicate.

Monte: You have edited this.

Client: Uhhh yeah. You think I want my wife or parents to know what I really think? … I can’t believe I just said that.

Monte: I can.

Finding your voice requires that you develop your own heart and mind. While you want the input and help of others, at the end of the day it is your heart, your mind, and your power. Frankly, I have now come to the place where I would rather be honestly wrong then parroting what is right but not presently real to me.
Toward developing your own heart and mind, ask yourself: What do I believe about God, Love, Truth, Goodness, Justice, Liberty, and Beauty?
Furthermore, and more to the point of finding your voice, what is the purpose or reason for your existence? We are not here to waste oxygen: we are here to make a difference. Subsequently, finding our voice will include finding our “message.” And how do you find your message?

Start with answering these two questions:

What do I believe gives my life purpose?

What is it that I most often do for others … or at least find myself desperately wanting to do for others?

Your answers will give you insights – they will point you in a specific direction.

For your personal power to be efficacious, it must have focus. One of the ways you will be able to tell just how focused your power is will be in the clarity of your communication regarding your heart and mind.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011