Tim Cusack's Blog
Tag Archives: work life balance

I Dare You to Give This Gift

Sharing Love

Sharing Love

I love “Funeral Talk.”   You know, those lovely words we share about the person we care enough of to show up at their funeral and say: He was so great. She always had a smile. He was so fun to be around. She would do anything for you.

Here’s the ‘DARE’ gift – tell the person that you appreciate what they mean to you while they’re still ALIVE! Not only are you giving them a gift of purpose, meaning, and significance; you’re also incorporating what Viktor Frankl’s calls “logotherapy.”

In “Man’s search for Meaning in Life,” Viktor Frankl says, “It’s inherently human to crave knowing we’ve made a difference. By telling those in your life the difference they’ve made, you’ve fed one of the most essential needs of the human spirit.” Not only does this benefit those you share with, but you’re strengthening your own emotional capability.

A few days ago, I held the hand of my neighbor, Julie, who has been a blessing to me and my family for 17 years. I knew she was close to death, so I spoke to her from my heart. I told her, “If I straighten up my act, we’ll be neighbors again sometime.” She smiled, and left earth the next day. I’m still here with my memories, knowing I told her the difference she made in my life. I dared myself to tell her, so I could live without regrets.

Brené Brown is in the Top 10 TED talks with over 17 million hits. Why? Because Brené touches a very sensitive nerve when she broaches the topic of shame and vulnerability. She would say that we struggle with vulnerability because our shame of being vulnerable inhibits us from telling those in our life what they mean to us.

Instead, Brené says, “We numb those emotions with food, material goods, drugs – anything to avoid being emotionally vulnerable.”

So I DARE YOU this holiday season (or any season) to give a priceless gift, one of ultimate vulnerability and meaning. Tell the people in your life the difference they’ve made. Tell them their importance to you, and the role they play in your life. By doing so, you’re giving two gifts: one to them and one to yourself.

Pass this post on to someone, if you think it would help you say the words you need to say.

Office Romance: To Do or Not To Do

Love in the Officew?

Love in the Office?

Most of you are aware of Don Draper’s (Madmen) sexual antics in the 1960’s work place. What does today’s office romance look like?

A ProVault.com study found that 40% of workers have had an office romance. A recent survey of 8000 workers by CareerBuilder.com found that 4 out of 10 employees have dated someone at work. Not fair, but women are seen in a more negative light than men when it comes to workplace romance. Often, women are seen as using an office relationship to get ahead. If you’re thinking of making moves on someone at work, here are some pros and cons to consider:

Pro: You spend time together and have common topics to talk about.

Con: An office romance can generate gossip and distrust.

Pro: Most workers indicated they do not mind seeing a romance develop between two unmarried colleagues.

Con: While workplace romances may seem harmless, they can in fact lead to serious problems, such as co-workers taking sides and an awkward work environment.

Pro: Office romances can make going to work more exciting and something to look forward to.

Con: Office romances can lead to some type of sexual harassment or accusations of sexual harassment.

Pro: It’s possible to meet your future spouse at or through work.

Con: Office romances can lead to careers being derailed as well as charges of favoritism, including overlooking shoddy work.

Our biological drives, attraction and lust can be extremely powerful and can easily overwhelm job titles, income and promotions. In the heat of the moment you may need a jolt to the rational mind like a photo of a loved one, a list of career goals or just a reminder of your credit card statement, mortgage or car loan.

Top 10 Jobs Where Workers Are Likely To Have a Fling (from the Huffington Post)

10. Planning and Expediting Clerks

9. Database Administrators

8. Food Service Managers

7. Automotive Technicians

6. Industrial Machinery Works

5. Occupational Health and Safety Specialists

4. Stock Clerks

3. Welders

2. Cooks

1. Artists (Sweet, I’m finally #1 in something!)

Two Folders

Two Folders with Two Perspectives on Life

Two Folders with Two Perspectives on Life

An observation of living life with two folders:

One folder is filled with information we’ve accumulated to navigate our intellectual and skill-based needs. This folder is filled with facts, theories and data that satisfies our need to be knowledgeable. We have multiple degrees, licenses and certifications to authenticate our ability to perform certain tasks and especially to prove to others that we’re smart. We know lots of information, and we have a bulging folder to prove it!

The other folder contains our meaning in life – all things that we hold dear and close to our hearts and souls. This folder is absent of any institutional, signed documents. It holds our emotional attachments to those we love and to those who are no longer with us. It’s filled with momentary glimpses of tears of joy and sadness. The only documentation of this emotional truth comes from within. There is no formal, external certification. It can’t be purchased, or studied, or graded.

I’ve discovered while working with hospice and those with serious unexpected health issues that the meaning folder is the only one that really matters. Some people can’t find this folder. Perhaps it didn’t seem important. Or, if they do possess it, it’s very meager.

Yet, others possess a folder overflowing with meaningful moments that have been collected, cherished and remembered…forever and ever. Amen.

May your folder of information and intellectual pursuits be filled and organized to meet your needs.

AND,

May your folder of meaning be readily available and easily found when you find yourself in need of your purpose, your greatness and the difference you make in the lives of others.

Surfing the Waves of Life

Surfing Life

Surfing Life:  Ups and Downs

We humans are mostly water. We can’t live without it. Maybe that’s why we’re drawn to it.

I’m sitting on my surfboard, legs dangling in the water. My eyes are open, looking to find the ideal, oncoming wave to ride back to shore. Every wave is unique, and we all see the them differently according to our distinct perspectives and ability to ride. Unlike other balancing activities, such as snowboarding or skateboarding, surfing is riding on liquid, ever changing, constantly evolving, unpredictable.

A lot like life.

We’re constantly looking for the next wave, evaluating, waiting for the right one, trying to predict if we’re able to ride it, stay on it. We sit, we see the wave coming….our parents aging, our kids growing up. Our jobs ending or new ones beginning. Babies born, loved ones die. Marriages, divorces, successes, failures. Our lives passing with time, rolling by.

The waves of life.

Just like surfing, we sometimes get up and successfully ride a wave of life, fully balanced. It feels so good, so fulfilling. Other times we fall, brutally pummeled by the weight and brute force of the wave. Yet, we lay our bellies back on the board and paddle out, knowing the nature of what we face is ambiguous, challenging, and unpredictable, yet worth the effort, worth the energy and strength to experience a moment of life that feels so good.

My Five Step Commencement Address for All of Us

Diplomas of Life

Diplomas of Life

I know a “commencement address” can be cliche, but if you could find space in your heart to listen to people older than you, you may discover it benefits your soul and your mind.

  1. It’s okay to STOP, and enjoy spontaneous interactions and conversations with people – totally unplanned, unrehearsed and without an agenda. These interactions are some of the most memorable and life enhancing.
  2. Don’t waste mental energy on what others think about you. Most likely no one is talking or thinking about you. People are extremely busy worrying about their own lives and drama.
  3. Try sometime to just listen to someone without judgment or opinion, with good eye contact, head nods and an occasional ‘wow’ or ‘really’ or ‘tell me more about that.” If you listen, you’ll hear the human condition.
  4. Be mindful and have fun. Enjoy each day. Enjoy eating and drinking. Enjoy exercise. Enjoy shopping or whatever it is you’re doing.
  5. It’s natural to think about death. It compels you to think about your current life, what you’re doing with it and where you are going.

Enjoy your musings and wonderment on the meaning of life. You will visit this frequently. Go forth and be good people. If I don’t see you before, I’ll see you on the other side.

Amen,
Tim

“Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree.” Marian Wright Edelman

 

GRACE TRUMPS DIRT

plant out of dirt

I know how it feels when someone says something rude, offensive or derogatory. For a few seconds you’re stunned. In those moments of being shocked by belligerent words lays an opportunity to take a breath and recall a definition of grace – “Treating people better than they deserve to be treated.”

The most common emotional reactions to verbal attacks are: anger, hate, disgust, bitterness, etc. However, with a little grace, you don’t need to go there.

We had just moved in to our new home. I was digging in the front lawn when our next door neighbor came by, looked down at my project and said, “Look at that damn dirt.” I said, “Excuse me?” She responded, “Look at that damn dirt; that dirt is no good!” In a state of awe I said, “You don’t like my dirt?” “Well, it’s no damn good,” she replied.

In my head, my inner voice was fighting over the response I would choose to answer this attack on my new expensive purchase of dirt. It was in that moment of internal conflict that it occurred to me if this woman doesn’t like my dirt, how many other things does she dislike or hate. And, if someone has lots of hate, then they probably hold lots of pain. So, I chose ‘grace.’ I said, “Well, it’s the only dirt I have. I’m stuck with it.”

As time passed, we slowly became friends with our neighbor. She was living alone. She lost her first husband and love of her life in World War II, was divorced from her second husband, and had a son in Florida. The strongest tragedy was the emotional trauma of her daughter no longer being a part of her life due to a long-ago unresolved disagreement (What would their relationship be today had grace been involved?).

Now, 17 years later, we still talk with her (she lives in Florida near her son). This winter, as she turned 93, she called and told us that we had helped her at a very difficult time in her life. It all began with ‘my damn dirt’ and ended with grace.

A personal attack is typically connected to some type of anger, pain or sorrow. A healthy response to these emotions may be some kind of grace.

You don’t know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.” Poet, Miller Williams

The Risk of Investing Emotionally

investingwithbaby

What are the close relationships in your life worth? If I offered you a hundred thousand dollars not to spend time with someone you love, would you take it? What about ten million dollars? If you answered, “yes,” good luck with your money. If “no,” well, you’ve demonstrated how important relationships are, didn’t you? To me relationships are worth so much more than any amount of money.

If I gave you ten million dollars, you would probably give a little away, spend a little and invest the rest (At least that’s what I would do!). It’s the same with how we ‘spend’ our emotion with loved ones. I love introducing close friends to other people (giving away). I ask for help from those close to me (spending). I send spontaneous emails/voice-mails/texts and give gifts…that is I try to tell those I care about what they mean to me (investing).

In this new year I suggest taking some risks with the people closest to you and growing the value of those relationships. Just like investing money, some risks work out and some don’t.

My daughter Isabel, age 17, is a high school senior looking forward to college. For the past two years, she’s spent more and more time in her bedroom, online, texting, doing homework or reading. That’s all good and normal, but it means that I see less of her. The reality is that I want to see more of her, knowing she’s moving out in a matter of months. It was hard to take the risk and speak these feelings out loud. What if my words pushed her away? I took the risk anyway, voiced my concern of the heart, and told her I miss seeing her around the house. I pointed out that she could do most of her activities in the common space with the rest of us. Since then, she has, bringing more joy to me than any amount of money ever could.

There is always risk with investing financially or emotionally. Sometimes the risk doesn’t pay off. This past year it seems I lost a friend of thirty years because I was being honest with a disappointment in our communication. The risk is always there when it come to high value items and relationships. But as the old saying goes: “It’s better to try and fail than to fail to even try.”

Being Stung By Expectations

How Not To Get Stung

How Not To Get Stung

Experiencing disappointment, being let down and not respected are difficult events to deal with. Our ego, our pride and our sense of self gets battered and stung. What I find laying behind these hurtful emotions are expectations.

I thought for sure they would call me back. I couldn’t wait to receive that email or letter letting me know my work was appreciated — that I was valued. I ‘expected’ all these things to happen, because “they said they would.” And, when the expectations are not fulfilled we step into a beehive of hurt, pain and disappointment.

In Alcoholics Anonymous this is referred to as “We’re not in the outcome business.” It’s true. We can do all the planning we want. We can give until it hurts, but we cannot control the outcome – what actually happens in the end.

So what am I still learning? Watch where you step. And, recalling my days from multilevel marketing – let it go. SOME WILL. SOME WON’T. NEXT.

Put your best self out there. Give it away and expect nothing in return. In those rare occasions when someone does follow through – man, does that feel good!

Working in the Slipstream

Riding in the Slipstream

Riding in the Slipstream

In early spring and late fall in the Midwest you’ll hear sounds of honking geese flying overhead. When your eyes find the source of the sound, you’ll witness nature’s aerodynamic efficiency in the “V” formation of the flock, otherwise known as the ‘slipstream.’

To conserve energy and increase endurance find the slipstream. NASCAR racers, long distance runners and cyclists all know that by placing themselves just inches behind the one in front of them, they can travel at the same speed with 30% less effort.

A great event to witness the slipstream in action is the Tour de France. A stage or segment of this race can be 120 miles long, but if you watch the last few miles you’ll see the same colored team jerseys line up single-file four to five deep, everyone peddling as fast as they can. One by one the lead cyclist or lead-out rider will peal off the front, each in turn keeping the pace as fast as possible, until the team sprinter is delivered yards from the finish to catapult (hopefully) across the finish line first.

Now think about how you can use this same brilliant concept in your workplace. Sharing leadership opportunities, speaking words of encouragement, staying strong for someone on your team is creating a process for conserving energy, boosting performance and increasing endurance – a slipstream.

This also works in our personal lives. When my son loses a tennis match his coach consoles and encourages him. When my daughter trips up on a few notes during a piano recital, her teacher reminds her how much she got right. In both of these examples, the leader is breaking the headwinds of life – creating a slipstream making it easier to endure the long flight of life.