Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Who Cares if I am Pollyanna!?

Dear Royal Subjects -

Wikipedia says that the Pollyanna principle is the unconscious bias towards the positive.  Why am I telling you this?  Well, in a meeting the other day when we were reviewing as a group the book "The Speed of Trust" I made was turned out to be a decidedly positive comment.  The comment was meant with outright hostility.  Why would a comment that is positive generate hostility might be your first question?  Well, it wasn't mine.  You see, I got instantly defensive.  I was even angry.  My face started to flush, I got really mad and I wanted to physically lash out.  Now at the time that made total sense to me.  However, after really thinking about it, I had to ask myself why was I angry?  Why did someone telling me I was a positive person make me mad?  That seems just stupid now doesn't it?

Well, the reason I think is because I am in software engineering.  Engineering folks are supposed to be logical.  We are supposed to be realistic.  I have spent the better part of 20 years trying to prove that I am not a soft female, that I am not caring, that I am not naive, that I am not a push over.  I have been trying to prove for years that I am something that I am not.  In fact, it has come to the point that one of my better skill sets is that I can be such am amazing realist.  But why?  I am not a realist.  I am an optimist.  I do trust people.  I can be naive.  I do want to look through rose colored glasses and think FIRST that people are good and let them prove otherwise.  Why then do I fight it so much?  It seems somehow that the badge of a grown-up person is that you have to become cynical.  You are considered childlike or infantile if you haven't learned how NOT to trust anyone.  Well, as of today - I say POOP on that!

I am going back to being me.  I am a Pollyanna.  I am an optimist.  I can be a realist and an optimist, they are not mutually exclusive.  I do not have anything left to prove.  I should never have tried to prove anything in the first place.  So, what does all this thought have to do with you?  Well, when you really get defensive next time someone says something, try to figure out why.  Chances are you began defensive because there is truth to the comment.  Now I am NOT saying that means you should change or that you should do what I plan to do and revert back to some of your instinctual roots - that is not always healthy.  However, maybe you will not be so hostile, or mad at the person.  Maybe they are actually doing you a favor.  Oh, and I directly confronted this person, not in a conflict type of way but I asked what they meant and why they said it.  That is a really scary thing to do when you are that angry.  Turned out to be  good thing.  So, what else am I suggesting to you?  Cool down, and find out what was behind the comment.  I found it taught me something new about me.

Till next time -
Queen J

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Fear of Failure is Really the Anticipation of Amazing Success!!

Dear Royal Subjects -

It seems often that the stars are aligned.  I see my dear friends and mentors all talking about similar issues in the world when I am online or in person.  This week's theme it seems is fear of failure, or fear in general.  I have to say that I for one know that the reason for my procrastination has always been the fear of failure.  I know that my fear of failure is actually rooted more in my childhood than in my adult life since as an adult I have succeeded at most of my quests.  However, as a child there were stern and real consequences for failure.  I remember one such incident, and it was one of the least violent.  I was doing dishes and didn't get one of the dishes clean.  The punishment was not to reclean that dish, it was to reclean every dish in the house.  That particular failure never occurred again, but neither did many others.  In an effort to keep my mother's wrath at bay and the physical violence at a minimum I would tend to go against what is my  more nature tendencies prior to conditioning and I started to avoid anything I KNEW I could not do perfect.

This incident and many others were the root of my personal procrastination as well as my perfectionism.  Now you might think that these two things do not connect.  However, think about it.  I will AVOID doing things that are not PERFECT in order to AVOID the consequences.  For me the behavior became instinctual - kind of like self preservation.  I would not get personally harmed if I was PERFECT.  Fast forward 20 years.  I spent 20 years trying to be perfect.  I spent 20 years attempting to avoid anything that I might fail at.  This really does surprise many that know me.  I am often seen as bold, a risk taker, and someone that fights for whats right.  However, I must also have extreme confidence in myself as I have to convince myself before I take this thing on that I can do it and I can do it PERFECT.  As  you might suspect that often leads to what I refer to as analysis paralysis. 

The sad thing about this entire discussion is that I am not unique.  I am not alone and this is the same story that many of your have to tell.  It might have been your dad, or your teacher, or your sibling that put the 'fear of god' in you, but nonetheless we have had a habit of conditioning our children to "do it right!"  I say heck with that!  OK, realistically I WANT to say heck with that but I often find my very logical mind is overrun by my more instinctual and emotional side.  So, if you are like me or you have had other circumstances that have caused you to react to fear by going into paralysis mode, what do you do?  How do you ever try something new?  So, for me there are really two things ... 1) I get mad as heck and take on the world like a mother protecting her babies ... I find this works on things that I am afraid of but that are negatively affecting others.  I seems that my instincts to protect others and nurture override my desire to be perfect... thank goodness.  However what is the second thing, the one that perhaps some of you might also be able to use to get over this ... well this disease of the mind ... to be able to rid you life of perfectionism and to eliminate analysis paralysis? 

Well, it is simple.  I trick myself.  Yes, you heard me right.  I trick myself.  I have to play mind games with myself.  Yes, I am serious.  1)  First, when I get that feeling in my stomach of fear I self-talk my way into thinking it is really anticipation.  You know, when you anticipate your first kiss - you are not running from that my dear.  Instead of thinking, wow this one my get my butt kicked all around the house, I think wow this experience might uplift me.  2) Second, when I get that feeling in my stomach of fear, I decide to spend just 15 minutes moving forward even if I am scared.  ( Flylady always told me, us, that you can do anything for 15 minutes.  Now, I understand this does not always work dear friend, but hey sometimes it does!  So, if turning fear into anticipation does not work, then I rely on my willpower to just try something for 15 minutes.

Now you say to me, does this really work?  Can this really change you and your behavior.  I declare to you with a resounding YES, that YES it does and YES YOU CAN.  I smoked for 10 years.  I was afraid to quit, I liked having out at work with the guys that smoked.  I liked being a rebel.  I was afraid to tell my mom no when she offered me a smoke.  Then, 12/23/2007 I said to myself, let's take this 15 minutes (and some nicorette gum) and see where it takes us.  1 year of nicorette gum later, I quit the gum.  I am going on three years now as a quitter.  Are there days where I want to smoke now?  Actually, no.  I have changed my behavior AND MY MIND.  I think the mental diseases are the hardest to beat.  I for one think that 15 minutes at a time I became a non-smoker.

Does trying to see fear as anticipation work?  I say yes.  I have had two children.  The first child I was in labor for 29 hours.  Yes, 29 hours.  To say that when my next little one was arriving that I did not have have a tremendous amount of fear would be a lie.  However, I also was anticipating bring home my little angel.  Now of course I know that they were not letting me come home with the baby still in my belly and in this case there was no choice but to succeed, in this case I could have continued to go through the experience as I did with my daughter in extreme fear and afraid that something would happen.  I chose to not be afraid, but to anticipate what the success of having my little on would be like.  Guess what, my second child blessed him momma with coming in only 9 hours.  Seems like I anticipated myself right into 20 hours less of labor!

So my dear friends, I say that we all have challenges, fears, and instincts to overcome.  I challenge you to find the 'trick' that you need to defeat your mental disease, whatever it is.  I have many more stories and many more disease and many more challenges that I could share.  However, everyones challenge and everyones story is unique and scary and wonderful in different ways.  Just because you didn't get physically beaten or abused does NOT make your situation less challenging or less scary of less impactful on your life.  So, the next time you are paralysed with fear, I say try to trick your mind into thinking it is anticipation.  If that doesn't work try it for 15 minutes, if that doesn't work - hey send me an e-mail and I will see if I can help you trick yourself some other way. 

Blessings to you all,
Queen J

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Queen, the Goddess, and the Witch

Hello my wonderful dear worthy subjects -

First, I thought that it might be time to describe to you the type of queen that I want to be.  I do not want you all to think of me as the queen that you bow too or the one that declares 'off with your head.'  No, I am the queen that takes tremendous responsibility for her subjects.  I am the queen that agonizes over her decisions to ensure that first and foremost they are right for her kingdom and that often comes with self-sacrifice and sometimes personal disappointment.  I am the queen that shares in her royalty and wishes she could hide in her shame and defeat - but instead shares it for the betterment of the kingdom.  I am a queen of the people.   

With all of that said dear ones I feel it is my job as the queen of connect or at least as the ambassador to ask you all to participate with me in taking some personal responsibility for being part of this world.  I saw this wonderful bumper sticker the other day by this woman that I can only describe as being exotic and so beautiful she took my breath away.  It took me a minute to realize this queen was also 1000 months pregnant and as she said later ready to pop at any moment.  This dear gift from god, both the beautiful woman and the new life to join us soon, were driving in a silver car.  The car was well maintained but it had one very important bumper sticker on the back.  It said (I paraphrase) "We are all gods children, No exceptions."  Why was this even  more interesting to me ... and this may say something about me that I do not intend, this exotically beautiful woman looked to me like she was either Indian or Arab or someone of Middle Eastern decent.  So, although this points our some internal bias I must have that I am embarrassed about, I assumed in the store she was Hindu, Muslim, or Buddhist.  Now I had no negative assumptions or thoughts past that ... when I saw the bumper sticker I nearly cried and I also said a small prayer and asked god to forgive my ignorance and my assumptions. 

This leads to an experience that my dear friend "The Goddess" had at Starbucks today.  Someone that is not enlightened or that is ignorant of either their own bias, or themselves, or of how their words affect others called her a witch.  I assure you unless she was thinking that "The Goddess" was the main actor in a play she saw called "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" that "The Goddess" or the "Good Witch" in the Wizard of Oz that this dear woman was just uncomfortable with having greatness so close to her.  You see, having someone that is so powerful like "The Goddess" in your presence is really energizing.  She and I had a chance to meet in person one day and I felt better about me just because she was near.  She has this energy about her that is very nearly like a spell a beautiful good witch would put upon you.  So, I suspect this woman did not know how to explain this feeling of energy and enlightenment and instead decided to be a member of the dark ages and continue to live in ignorant bliss.  I got this same wonderful energizing feeling from the woman that will forever be referred to as the exotically beautiful pregnant woman.  It is these types of woman and people that we need in this world to help us in our mission to live in a safe, connected, and wonderful world. 

The struggle that I have now dear ones about ignorant bliss is that it in itself is the cause of things like the killing of 65 people by suicide bombers this week in Pakistan.  These dear people that decided to die for what they believe in decided that there was indeed something more important that their fellow innocent man or human.  They took with them to the kingdom of heaven 65 innocent lives.  The result of this is the depletion of trust in the Pakistan society for their own society.  They now can not trust that going out onto the street is safe.  The can not trust that even their young children can play with other young children in their yard or in the park or in the street.  Why, because those like the suicide bombers have taken that away for them.  All the terrorists in their country have taken away the right to live from everyone around them.  So I have asked that we all send a prayer, to the families of the ones that have passed on and to the families of the ones that caused the passing.  I also ask that we try to increase the trust that we all have in ourselves, our neighborhoods, and in our society.  The way that we increase the trust is by recognizing our own bias and trying to be cognizant of them.  I say look at yourself first.  Look at your person integrity and your intent.  Increase you integrity.  Do things that are good just because they are good.  Pick up some trash on the side of the road while you go for a walk.  You don't have to tell anyone, just do it because it is the right thing to do.  Think about what you do and the intent in which you are doing.  Do you intend to get some recognition and credit or do you really just intend to make the world better.  I think we all need to learn how to do things not for the recognition that we get externally but for the recognition that we give ourselves internally for having a good and pure intent to do what is right. 

Perhaps like ripples in the water if we all put in a pebble of love, understanding, and we first and foremost think of each other as humans instead of Arab, black, southern, African, etc ... if we do that perhaps we increase our global trust in one another and the world becomes a better place for us all.

With that I leave you dear ones,
The Queen

Fail Without Losing Enthusiam

Dear Royal Subjects -

Day 3!  I am so excited!  I have made a commitment to myself to read for 30 minutes a day and so far I am doing it.  Ok, ok, 3 days isn't exactly sticking to the training for a marathon, but hey it is 3 days more than none and I am going to use it to MOTIVATE me!  I just read a quote that said "Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" by Winston Churchill.  Now I am so on board with allowing your failures to MOTIVATE you as well.  However, why not let a few small successes allow you to be motivated too!  Maybe our struggles are that we make commitments to ourselves that are just too big, or that we have a HABIT or already failing.  I think perhaps if we make small commitments to ourselves, and baby step our way into learning how to trust and love ourselves that might be the key.

Oddly enough one of my mentors is FLYLADY (  I have never met her.  I read her daily testimonials and follow her program the best I can.  She tells us that we can do anything for 15 minutes.  She doesn't say we can do anything in 4 hours or 30 days.  You see, those time periods are just too big.  If we are going to focus on our self we have to know our limitations.  We WILL NOT stop taking care of our family or our husband or our job.  However, we do have to Finally Love Yourself (FLY) to be able to love others.  So I almost think that I might have overdone it with 30 minutes a day - but hey it is a stretch goal.

On an even more positive side, this little blog experiment of mine was the fault of my dear friend "The Goddess" (a.k.a. Jacqueline Gates).  Although she is looking for and found sound mentors, in her journey she has become the mentor of others that are searching for ways to keep commitments to themselves as well.  She encourages us to have a Goddess Worthy Lifestyle (in my case I want to live like the Queen I am, not quite a Goddess).  She has inspired others through me as well, that have inspired others.  I saw on my dear friend Melissa Lasko's website that two of my dear friends on facebook have decided to follow her fabulous website.  The interesting thing is these two ladies are not mothers.  I think perhaps that Melissa thought she would share insight into her life as a mother, but she has shared insight and humor into her life as a woman - and that may dear is INSPIRING!

So, I love these ladies.  It has taken me outside my comfort zone (thanks Goddess).  I have invited my dear mother on a trip with me to MN next week for work.  This is huge for me.  It is an act of forgiveness and moving on.  I have sent an apology to a family member that deserves one.  In my enthusiasm for a project I was working on I hurt her feelings and I am sorry for that.  As she stated so clear, I didn't think before I opened by mouth.  I sent a heart felt, extremely difficult, and well needed apology to a previous friend that deserved it, knowing full well that it will not heal him or take away the previous wrongs but I needed to do it to be able to move on myself. 

Last but not least I accepted a lunch invitation from a previous dear friend that I have lost touch with and have committed to call another "previous" but again renewed friend  today and just have a talk.  I am most excited about this as I didn't see the gem of a friend that I had in front of me.  It seems dear subjects that I have turned some sort of corner in my life.  I am truely scared and excited to see where this takes me.  And dear ones ... I really think reading "The Speed of Trust" may have help me on my way.

All my love,
The Queen

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Do you Trust Yourself?

Dear Royal Subjects -

I recently finished the book The Speed of Trust by Stephen M R Covey.  He talks about 4 core values and 13 behaviors that inspire trust.  The core values are integrity, intent, capabilities, and results.  Beyond thous core values are 13 behaviors:  talk straight, demonstrate respect, create transparency, right wrongs, show loyalty, deliver results, get better, confront reality, clarify expectations, practice accountability, listen first, keep commitments, and extend trust.  The author talked about how the first and most important person to trust was yourself. 

I read the book with an internal focus and I think I have found that perhaps the person that I let down the most is myself.  I make sure that I meet and exceed work expectations, then I try to ensure that my family needs are met, then my business relationships, then friends, etc.  That does not leave much room for me.  This is not one of those selfish how do I get more time for myself type of things.  It is more, how do I improve myself so that I can do better within all of my relationships.  With my challenge to myself yesterday I have started on my quest to regain trust in myself.  You see, I often make commitments to myself, like I will get up at 5am today and work out in the morning, and then 7 or 8am rolls around and I am still in bed beating myself up because I didn't keep yet another personal commitment to myself.  Part of the issue is that I do not take personal commitments as seriously as I take external commitments. 

Think about it.  If I took personal commitments as serious as external commitments, would I be overweight?  Would I question my competence in my area of expertise?  Would I spend more money gambling then I planned every time?  Would I invest in multi-level marketing plans that I then don't put the time and energy into?  Would I already be a painter?  Would I draw more?  The answers to some of these questions might be yes.  However, I will never know the answer.  I can only start from where I am today.  I can start first with increasing my integrity with myself.  I can start today with the intent to do better.  I can start today with the skills I learned in this book to have better results.  I can start today.  Maybe that is the key too, starting today?  I am not starting next week when it is a good time, or when I have time, or when ... Starting today I will read again 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week to improve my skills sets within my chosen career path or within my family.  Actually, starting yesterday!  Hah - I am already ahead of the game.

Well Royal Subjects, I encourage you to read the book too.  I really enjoyed it and I learned a lot.  I already started my next book - "Software & System Requirements Engineering In Practice" and I have already got a few good ideas out of the book.

Here's to Learning How to Trust Yourself,
Queen Jackie

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

30 Day Challenge My Butt

Dear Royal Subjects -
So, I did not really make a commitment it seems to myself to really blog for 30 days.  I think perhaps I need to start over or perhaps it isn't something that I need to do to move forward in my life.  "I hope one day to achieve enough of what the world calls success so that if someone asks me how I did it I will tell them, ‘I get up more times than I fall.’” Paul Harvey.  I think perhaps I need to get up and try again or try something new.  It is great to have a life that allows me to have the chance to get up and start over.

I have been reading "The Speed of Trust" by Stephen M R Covey.  He says to really be trusted that you need to start making and keeping commitments to yourself.  So, instead of blogging every day for 30 days, I am going to commit to myself to reading for 30 minutes a day on improving my craft.  This will help me do two things, 1) make and keep a commitment to myself and 2) improve my competence in my skill set.  So, I may not need to make the same challenge as the Goddess, but I do need to learn to make and keep commitments to myself.

Thanks for listening my dear subjects,
Queen Jackie

P.S. I challenge you to pick on commitment that you want to keep to yourself!  Let me know what it is so you are not just accountable to yourself, but to someone else as well!