Author: Bradley K. Ward, PCC

We Need More Love in Our World

We Need More Love in Our World

Jackie DeShannon made popular a song, “What the World Needs Now is Love” written and produced by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. The song conveyed a simple idea – that we’re surrounded by nature, light, and beauty, and yet, some people remain unloved. Sadly, the same could be said of our world today. Simply put, we need more love.

What’s the solution? Perhaps the question should be reworded. Maybe it should be a more personal, introspective idea that propels into action the love that lives within each of us. Try this: How will I show love today?

The traits of love

Whether you adhere to the teachings of the Bible or not, there you’ll find some qualities of love eloquently enumerated. It is patient and kind. It does not envy, boast, or dishonor others. It is not self-seeking nor easily angered. It doesn’t keep record of wrongs. It detests evil and resonates with truth.

It protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. And it never fails.

Pay it forward

Love exists within you. And because of that, you can show it to others, if you’re willing to put aside the things that thwart it. You aren’t going to experience romantic love for everyone you meet today, but you can be kind or patient. Or you can show someone a moment of honor or respect, even when they haven’t earned it. You can smile.

But perhaps the best news of all is that in addition to showing love to someone who may feel unloved, you will embody it and it will permeate your body, mind, and soul. And who doesn’t need that?

Bradley K. Ward, ACC is a leadership and transformational coach at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

Healing Grief: The Secret of Peonies

Paeonia lactiflora “Hermione” was easy to find in early June. The pink, fragrant flower is widely available and is an established cultivar of the peony family. It was the clear choice because peonies were my mom’s favorite flower. These proud, pink, showy blossoms were abundant at her funeral in 2004. I didn’t realize how much I would appreciate peonies until a few years later, when I discovered their power to heal grief.

Peonies no longer symbolize grief for me.
Peonies in Kay’s garden.

Each time I see a peony, I think about my mom, especially in May, when Mothers Day coincides with their early blooming season. They don’t grow in the desert where we now live, but my friends all over the country regularly post photos of them when they bloom. This year, my dear friend Kay posted her photos (shown here, with her permission) and my mind was again drawn to mom.

After 14 years, I don’t often become sad when I think of her, but I am reminded that healing from grief is slow and unpredictable. And in the aftermath of the death of someone close, grief can be overwhelming.

Healing from grief

What heals us from grief? It’s different for each person, but for me it was a combination of several things. I focused on four of her traits:

  • Gratitude – She modeled grateful and abundant living. Each time I do something I learned from my mom, I express thanks that she taught me how to live independently and with gratitude.
  • Courage – She took on situations with bravery and fortitude. I inherited her courage and think of her when I face tough situations.
  • Challenge – Beyond being brave, she seemed to have endless endurance for new and difficult tasks. It was in that spirit that I taught myself to sew last year, knowing she would be proud that I challenged myself with a new skill.
  • Joy – Laughter was one of my mom’s hallmark traits. Whenever my parents got together with their friends, contagious laughter filled the house and the people who occupied it.

Honoring memory

My mom was imperfect. But even in her imperfection, she seemed to draw strength from gratitude, courage, challenge, and joy. I still tell my favorite stories of her foibles and missteps – the same ones we laughed about together when she was alive. And I still feel her loss at times when I know she’d have an answer that I struggle to find.

But most of all, I know that I honor her memory by living fully, gratefully, bravely, stalwartly, and happily because that’s how she taught me to live.

Bradley K. Ward, ACC is a leadership and transformational coach at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

Related: Mothers Day Revisited

Communication: The Legacy of Words

Communication: The Legacy of Words

Carol Burnett
Lifetime Achievement Award Portrait – Carol Burnett;

Carol Burnett said, “Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own.” In contemporary terms, we might say, “Words, once they are tweeted, have a life of their own.” However we choose to do it, what we say, write, tweet, blog, text, or email, has the same root issue: communication without thought can become problematic.

We often think of communication as a simple human task using words. But communication is more than words – it’s five components that combine to create this complex thing that is often no more than a sentence.

Communication Loop

The source (or sender), using their own cultural and experiential filters, creates a message that is transmitted through some medium to the receiver, who uses their own cultural and experiential filters to interpret the message and create feedback – all of which is called a communication loop. Then the process starts all over again, originating with either party to create a series of loops that make up a conversation.

No wonder we sometimes fail to understand each other!

The bad news about this complex thing called communication is we all experience its frustrations. But the good news is we can improve our ability to communicate with some thoughtful preparation and practice.

Making Meaning

To start, consider that communication is simply the process of creating shared meaning. But as you can see in the Communication Loop description, both the sender and receiver(s) rely on their own experiences and background to write or interpret the message. Differences in culture, beliefs, or gender identity can get in the way of creating shared meaning.

Additionally, the medium or method used by the sender to transmit the message may have an impact on shared meaning. Email and text messages are poor ways to convey emotion compared to a phone call or face-to-face conversation.

How to Communicate Better

Here are some practical and simple ways to improve how you communicate.

  1. Slow down. If there’s no emergency, give yourself the luxury of a few minutes to collect your thoughts and sit with the information before you do anything.
  2. Think first. If you’re the sender, take a few minutes to recall what you know about the person or group receiving your message. If you don’t know them well or at all, think about what kind of first (or second) impression you want to make.
  3. Be direct. There’s no need to be flowery or obtuse. Add something friendly or courteous, but be sure your language is direct and clear. You can edit if the tone isn’t right, but don’t side-step the issue to be addressed.
  4. Show authenticity. Sometimes communication evokes emotions that we think we should hide. Rather than giving in to that idea, find a constructive way to express the emotion you’re experiencing.
  5. Be concise. It’s tempting to use more words than necessary to fully express what’s on your mind, but it seldom results in greater clarity. The same holds true for repeating yourself.
  6. Ask questions. Be sure you’re fully participating in creating shared meaning by asking questions to clarify anything that seems fuzzy or unclear. If there’s any lack of clarity, you may not be creating the same shared meaning as the other(s) in the conversation.

If Carol Burnett is correct, and I think she is, remember your words live on beyond the moment you express them. Improving your communication will leave a legacy of clarity, directness, and kindness others can learn from and follow.

Bradley K. Ward, ACC is a leadership and transformational coach at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

Any Road Will Take You There

George Harrison, famous guitar player for the Beatles, had his last single released on May 12, 2003 – less than two years after he died. The song, titled “Any Road,” has much more history than the date of its release implies. Harrison publicly performed the song once during an interview on VH1 in 1997, nine years after he wrote it in 1988. But that’s not where its story began.

Beatles fans may be able to trace its roots to “Revolution 9,” the avant-garde sound collage made up of various sound loops, vocal excerpts, musical riffs, and spoken ramblings included in its final release on the Beatles White Album. The words, “any road” are spoken by both John Lennon and George Harrison on the track, mingled among the many spoken and sung excerpts that make up “Revolution 9.”

Inspiration from fantasy

But before any of those things came to the minds of their creators, there was a conversation between a young girl and a mischievous, illusive cat.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“—so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

Carroll, L. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

The exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Chapter 6 of Lewis Carroll’s famous book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is said to be the inspiration for Harrison’s song. Maybe you’ve seen a similar reference on my About page. If you’ve started down the road of change or improvement, you also may have stopped yourself along the way. Fear, fatigue, or distraction can get in the way of progress.

Any road won’t take me there?

No, Alice, it won’t. The only sure way to know what road to take (or which ones will lead you there), it’s critical to identify a destination. You can take a detour, take a break from your progress, or change your route at any time. Without one, you’re simply wandering. The destination or goal can be a change in attitude or behavior, or it can be a small step on your way to a big transformation. The key is that it be meaningful to you.

If you decide to take on change without anchoring it to something meaningful, you’ll likely run low on energy. Sure, it’s great to have a desire to improve, but if that desire is linked only to itself, it may not sustain you through the duration of the change. What if it were linked to something vital, like your purpose for being on earth? How would it change for you?

Maybe you’re still searching for your purpose. Some people are, and some people have already discovered why they’re here. If you’re still searching, maybe now is the time to commit to finding that purpose. Try this 10-lesson course on finding and connecting to your life’s purpose on Lifevise at https://lifevise.com/finding-your-life-purpose/. Maybe it will help you choose the road that will take you to your destination.

George Harrison knew that walking without a destination will lead you to no place in particular. And he reminded us over and over in the chorus of “Any Road” of that very thing…

But if you don’t know where you’re going
Any road will take you there.

Harrison, G. “Any Road”

Bradley K. Ward, ACC is a leadership and transformational coach at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

The Hummingbird Attitude

What is it about the hummingbird that captures our attention? How do these tiny creatures stir up such joyous, youthful emotions and excitement in even the most hardened of people? They’re enigmatic creatures, symbolic of love, joy, happiness, life, energy, and more, but there must be something deeper that holds our attention on them. As I researched them for this article, it became clear they exhibit some of the attitudes we need in order to thrive. Let me explain…

They’re feisty

The calliope hummingbird is the smallest variety in North America measuring 3” in length, beak to tail. The most familiar variety in North America, the ruby-throated hummingbird has an average weight of 3 grams, less than a nickel. It would take more than 150 of them to weigh 1 pound.

Despite their small size, hummingbirds are among the most aggressive, territorial birds known to humans. They fearlessly attack jays and hawks, which are several times their size. And they guard their food source fiercely, flying directly at any creature that threatens their domain. The variety most common to our desert paradise is the black-chinned hummingbird (pictured in this post), which is characterized by its extremely loud buzzing sound as it flies. You know when they’re coming at you!

They’re adaptable

Hummingbirds are found only in North, Central, and South America. Despite their limited distribution, they’re familiar and fascinating to people world-wide. Currently, there are more than 330 species of hummingbirds and nearly 1/5 of them are endangered. Their existence is fragile because declines in their food sources and habitats have arisen from climate change, deforestation, and land development.

The threat is not an insurmountable obstacle; many of the varieties of this bird can reproduce with other varieties. They’re a living science lesson, evolving and changing, practically before our eyes. What’s more, the potential for new varieties as a result of their adaptive nature is staggering.MamaHummingbird

They’re determined

Some species of hummingbird migrate to the US each spring. But in order to do so, they must first store up half their body weight in fat. Wonder why? It’s because they make the 500+ mile journey across the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight lasting 20 hours or longer. What’s more, they make the migratory flight alone.

Hummingbirds hover, unlike any other bird species. This feat requires extraordinary energy, meaning their wings beat at anywhere from 720 to 5400 beats per minute. Additionally, they can maintain their sense of direction in flight during a rainstorm. They dispel water by shaking their heads at 132 shakes per second and a rotation of up to 202 degrees.

HummingbirdNestClutch

Why the fascination with hummingbirtds?

This. My husband came running excitedly into the house a couple of weeks ago to show me we have a hummingbird nest right outside our bedroom window. We’ve found ourselves fiercely guarding mama and her clutch of eggs, going so far as to stop the gardeners from trimming the orange tree where she’s nesting.

We’ve been watching eagerly to see when the new hummingbird babies hatch. And as we’ve watched, I’ve become increasingly focused on the symbolism alive in this enigmatic creature. But how can we use these attitudes so richly on display in the hummingbird in order to thrive?

Be feisty. If you’re creating change in your life, pick a goal for yourself that’s worth fighting for. If you’re working to build your emotional intelligence, remind yourself how you felt when you did something that made you proud. Hold onto it and let it permeate your thoughts as you take on your next challenge.

Be adaptable. Being adaptable doesn’t mean you give up on your dream or change direction every time the wind blows. It means you actively look for different ways of getting where you want to go. It means you explore options that allow you to reach your goal and enjoy a distraction or two along the way.

Be determined. To thrive, you must be determined. If your big goal is too overwhelming for you to think about, break up your journey to it into smaller pieces. Give yourself some interim milestones that allow you to stop and celebrate your successes along the way to your larger goal. Being determined sometimes means you have your eye on a big prize with small rewards along the way.

Harness the power of the hummingbird in your life. And let me know how it goes!


Hummingbird facts courtesy of UC Davis, Defenders of Wildlife, and hummingbirds.net.

Bradley K. Ward, ACC is a leadership and transformational coach at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

How to Change the World for the Better

Term: Spontaneous Collaborative Unanimity

Definition: a group of strangers suddenly acting from unanimous emotional intelligence to help another person.

Usage: I saw a beautiful act of spontaneous collaborative unanimity today when 3 people rushed to the side of a man having a seizure.

This morning, I read a post about such an act. A pregnant woman sobbing at a gate at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was traveling alone with her toddler, who was having a complete meltdown. Seven women from various spots around the gate approached, surrounded them, and offered what they had to calm the pair.

No one hesitated. No one spoke. No one coordinated. One woman had a toy, one a bottle of water for mom, and one an orange she peeled and offered the wailing toddler. The mom and child calmed down, collected themselves, and boarded the plane as the women dispersed.

The simple beauty of this moment moved me to tears. Questions raced through my mind, then quieted themselves. What matters in this story is the women observing the situation each was compelled to act, quickly found a way to be present, and went on their way. They didn’t need to be thanked, but I feel a need to thank them for exhibiting simple, beautiful intelligence and empathy.

It’s easy to avoid people in crisis, with good reason – we don’t know who they are, what their mental state is, or how they’ll react if we offer help.

Consider if it were you. You find yourself in crisis at the end of a terrible day. You’re in a public place, you’re alone, and are unable to do even the simplest task, like picking up your phone and dialing 9-1-1. If you experienced a visceral reaction by putting yourself in this spot, pay attention to that response.

We experience the world with our body, mind, and spirit.

You may prefer to say we experience it as our physical, mental, and emotional selves; in response to thoughts, beliefs, and actions; or because we are sensing, thinking, and feeling creatures. Regardless, each of these is a center of human intelligence to explore.

The women at LAX who acted in spontaneous collaborative unanimity used all three of their centers of intelligence, all of which were orchestrated by their brains. Their limbic system understood the situation and triggered a rescue response. Their cerebral cortex engaged and orchestrated a host of reactions, causing them to put their bodies on the level of the people in crisis and offer their physical presence and a reward. The mom’s and toddler’s mirror neurons picked up on the actions of the women and responded by moving from distress to calm.

We learn to suppress our limbic system responses, primarily because they’re emotional. But as we age, we often experience emotions more deeply than we did when we were younger. We’re often more free to express emotions rather than hiding or ignoring them as we did when we were younger.

Next time you see someone in need, give yourself the gift of dwelling on the choices that come into your mind so you are conscious of the range of ways to respond. We can allow ourselves to be empathetic or we can allow ourselves to be annoyed. When you practice the simple act of seeing your choices, you live mindfully and can respond thoughtfully.

In mindful responses, we have the power to change the world for the better. I’ll do it, will you?

Bradley K. Ward, ACC is a leadership and transformational coach at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

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