The Art of Fulfillment

I was recently listening to Tony Robins talk about fulfilment, or the lack thereof, and happiness, or the lack thereof.

When you hear the word fulfilled, how do you experience it? What comes up for you? The challenge is that the world we live in is so hectic, and we spend so much of the day in a state of “mindlessness, “not noticing our surroundings or were we are. We are worrying about the next meeting, replaying the last one, wondering why so-and-so hasn’t returned our call. Our inner voice of negativity — whose existence causes doubt and insecurity and reminds us to think and dream small — is incessant.

The most precious moment we have is now. Life happens in the now, whereas frustrations and unhappiness live in the past. They nudge and poke at us, determined to define our present and future.

If you want to test the power and necessity of now let’s, consider breathing. Breath is the one thing that we can’t live without for the shortest period. How many us pay attention to our breath? We can live for days without water or food. But in the “now” how long can be without breath?

My mentor and friend Andrew Neitlich (Center for Executive Coaching) has some great questions about fulfilment: What beliefs do you have about fulfilment both in and out of the business world?

  1. What would a fulfilled team look like?
  2. What would it take to make this quarter the most fascination and rewarding?

Fulfilment, the sense of being at peace with who you are and where you’re at, wherever that is, is intrinsic. It’s an inner journey in which outer circumstances have little impact. Other people can’t give it to you.

Can you imagine feeling/being more fulfilled? What would life look like, taste like? What higher level would your relationships and health be? What would your sense of self be? And the fact is that the choice is ours.

This isn’t to say that the world isn’t a mean place sometimes. The economy can tank, relationships can end, people die. But paraphrasing Jack Canfield, it’s not the event that determines the outcome. It’s our response to it. It’s not about happiness always, but it is an iron-clad belief that living a fulfilled and positive life is your right.

Here’s a challenge for you: determine 3 or 4 areas in your life and/or business where you chose to be fulfilled (spirituality, trust, humor, the team you have, etc.) and just make the decision to drop the baggage, or the fear, or the indecision and clutter.

Unhappiness, unfulfillment, mindlessness — these are all choices that we make.

Why not make a different choice? It’s just as hard or as easy. The effort is the same.

It’s not magic, and it isn’t without effort.

The choice is always ours to make.

The Fallacy of Balance

mindfulness jmcaI have spent the better part of my 13 year coaching career talking about the importance of work life “balance”. Of late I have done an 180 degree turn away from that, coming to understand that it plays into a fallacy that we need to be different people in different situations. Who are we as a person, as a parent, as a professional, as husband or wife, and on and on and on. Lots of hats, lots of tension, lots of conflict. Ever try balancing on a high wire? It’s hard, strains lots of muscles, and is awfully precarious.
The alternative? If I am able to live a life of mindfulness and awareness, than it becomes about paying attention, noticing (therefore having to be present) and integrating who I am, not balancing different roles. I stay the same-it is the environment that changes. Of course there are adjustments that need to be made. But it is a lot less stressful than balancing. Try integrating and noticing. Mindfulness. Just a thought.

The Impact of Giving Back

giving back jmcaEach and every company, no matter the size, is part of a larger community. It is our responsibility as business owners, managers, executives, and members of that community to give back to it. You can make an invaluable difference by contributing to the community that supports and inspires your business.

 

The unofficial tagline of Jeff Miller Consulting Alliance is “bigger than just business.” A large part of that means involvement in the community. I have served as Chairman of the Board at the Rockville Chamber of Commerce, and at Manna Food Center. The Rockville Chamber promotes educational, social, and cultural programs to help the community succeed. Manna Food Center organizes food drives to supply the hungry with nourishment. I’m also currently on the Board of the Corporate Volunteer Council of Montgomery County (CVC-MC) as the vice chair of the organization’s service committee, and the Board of IMPACT Silver Spring. CVC-MC gives back by educating businesses in the area on how to create successful charitable programs and therefore, increasing community involvement overall. IMPACT Silver Spring is focused on helping the community thrive socially, economically, and civically by celebrating diversity and cultivating stronger relationships and opportunity networks.

 

Giving back to the community is much more than just sitting on boards, though. It is involving oneself in innovation through change. It’s about developing new ways to make your community a better place to live. It’s also about practicing teamwork and problem solving within your organization and within your neighborhood. Companies that encourage giving back set themselves apart from competition and tend to benefit significantly. Some of those benefits include earning the trust and admiration of customers, which creates a more loyal clientele; invigorated employees and a boost in company morale; and respect and a positive reputation in the community.

 

Making the decision to give back can profoundly impact not only the community, but your organization as well. Our team at Jeff Miller Consulting Alliance leads by example, because it’s “bigger than just business.”

 

To learn more about our work and how you can give back to the community, contact Jeff Miller Consulting Alliance today.

Life’s Journey – The Business Case for Balance

stones-balancingThere was a great article in Sunday’s New York Times Business Section about Aetna’s CEO, Mark Bertolini. The link is below.

Often, a jarring or near-death life experience can change the way you live your life – your whole life. And, considering how work and play are enmeshed today, it’s almost impossible not to have the changes or adversity in one part of your life affect the others.

In the case of Mark Bertolini, the determined CEO of Aetna dramatically altered his life after a nearly-fatal skiing accident in 2004. Today, he carries forth clear and lasting changes, including incorporating yoga and meditation into his daily routine. He’s also built programs to share these lifestyle practices and options, through classes and other methods, with his staff. In many ways, he practices what he preaches, which has had a tremendous impact on his life and the lives of his employees.

Read the article to learn more about his story.

What we gained from Mark’s story, and practice as part of our business, can be summed up in a few words: breathe, stretch and absolute clarity around your goals and visions. Practice yoga, stretching and meditation. Walk. And if none of the above works for you, find your own way. But have a way. It will create a more productive work environment, happy teams and greater employee retention.

Any machine that runs too hard and too often (your brain, in this case), will suffer burn out and be less effective. Short circuits and short tempers happen. Relationships, both business and personal, suffer. Your whole life suffers.

Leave the hamster wheel on the shelf. Untreated or ignored’ pressure leads to being overworked, overbooked and, ultimately, overwhelmed. It also impacts efficiency and profits. Does this sound too familiar or close to home?

Clients come to Jeff Miller Consulting Alliance to find different ways to live and work. They are looking for balance and clarity. They want to learn and practice methods of running a business that allows them to experience more of  both financial and time freedoms, and control they sought when they started their business or accepted a management or executive position. For more information and to schedule a brief call, contact us today.

Gratitude and proactive action

Sunday, April 13, 11:15 p.m. Betsy and I are asleep in the bedroom when suddenly the house shakes and it sounds as if something exploded. We enter the darkened hallway and encounter a thick dust we can’t readily identify. Upon turning on the light, we see that our entire living room ceiling has collapsed in one piece, with large pieces of fiberglass and insulation covering our furniture, artwork, TV and stereos. Despite reassurance from the fire department that our house is still structurally sound, we opt to spend the night at a friend’s house and, the following morning, begin the arduous task of sorting through the damage, contacting insurance and bringing in construction crews.

We learned that the sheetrock in our living room ceiling was not properly secured when the house was built more than 40 years ago,* and that we face the same potential problem with our dining room and kitchen ceilings. We decide to take preventative measures and reconstruct the ceilings before the other rooms experience a similar fate. In business, as in life, it’s one thing to not know there is a problem. But it’s quite another to know there is a problem and ignore it.

Thirty minutes earlier that Sunday night, both Betsy and I were in the living room watching TV. It can always be worse.

Jack Canfield talks about changing results. While events outside of our control will undoubtedly take place, we can only own how we respond to them. It is a powerful lesson, and one that applies equally in business and in leadership. We need to proactively address our issues before the ceiling (metaphorically or not) collapses.

With gratitude,
Jeff

*For fans of the movie Apollo 13, “it was determined that a damaged coil built inside the oxygen…caused the explosion that crippled the Odyssey. It was a minor defect that occurred two years before…”