Monthly Archives: January 2016

Hold Me Able

By Chelsea Elkins, Simple Intentions Marketing Manager

traveling vanThis past summer was one of great learning for me. One of the teachings that really resonated is the concept that speaks to authenticity: holding each other able.

There are two parts to this. First, I hold the people in my life capable of or “able” to voice their needs. And second, I, in turn, have committed to being honest and authentic about what I need and want in the world. Essentially, I say what I mean, and I trust that the people around me are doing the same.

Simple, right? Just be your word.

Applying this philosophy over the past five months has been almost laughably difficult. I have long struggled with expressing what I want, a block that comes from an ingrained desire to take care of others before myself, even when it is completely unnecessary. I also sometimes find I have already decided that the recipient of my request would not want do a, b or c for x, y and z reasons. In these instances I don’t even bother to ask, making the decision for them and potentially depriving them of something they would have enjoyed.

When I am able to work up the nerve to ask for what I want, I sometimes doubt that I am getting honest answers in response. I am one who has the constant desire to check in: “Are you having fun?” “Are you sure you want to do this with me?” “Do you really mean that?” It must be maddening (and I’m putting that gently) to my more resolute friends and family members.

This stems from past instances when I agreed to do something I didn’t really want to do. With this in mind, I tend to give my friends and family members numerous ways out of a plan or agreement, lest the same thing happen to them. The consequence of this is I effectively ignore both parts of the holding each other able promise, and the cycle not only continues for myself but is forced upon those around me.

Simply put, holding each other able is a hard concept to live into.

Holding ourselves and each other able requires both courage and vulnerability, which, as most of us can attest, are challenging to summon. Articulating exactly what we mean, even if it’s not what others want to hear, and trusting that those around us will do the same, does not come naturally at first.

However, if we are able to successfully hold each other able, the benefits would be stunning. It would inevitably lead to lower stress, better communication, and all the other benefits that come when you live authentically. It would eliminate the need for constant check-ins and needless caregiving, which can be detrimental. It gives the responsibility back to each of us to honestly say what we need. This would allow us to live life with more confidence, joy and simplicity. If there’s one thing I hope to master this year, it’s this:

Hold me able, and I’ll do the same.


Is it Possible to Have Balance and Success?

By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder

[Note: This post originally appeared on Huffington Post.]

success and balanceWhen people talk about balance, it’s very common the word success enters into the discussion. People often describe balance as feeling like they are successful at honoring their commitments. Yet, at the same time, many people believe it’s a tradeoff — that you can have either a successful life or a balanced life, but not both. This belief is simply not true.

It’s possible to have both success and balance because the desired outcomes are similar for most people: To create easy joy and meaningful engagement between the interconnected relationships, roles and responsibilities that make up life. As with balance, success means different things to different to people, and the definition changes over time as one’s life circumstances shift and evolve.

Success is personal, and each person has his or her own idea of what is desirable, acceptable and comfortable. There is no right or wrong idea of success. No television show, magazine, motivational speaker, or guru can tell you what success means for you. It is defined by you and you alone, because you are unique.

Like balance, success has many layers that are measured in different ways depending on various factors, like where you grew up in the world, who you grew up with and who you are today, in this moment.

Individual success is often described and measured by physical, emotional and spiritual elements. For example, it could be measured by someone’s size or how they look. It could be a feeling or state of being, such as enlightenment or Maslow’s concept of self-actualization.

Social success is commonly discussed and measured in terms of wealth, education and community status. Examples are where a person lives, where they went to school, the extent and value of their philanthropic efforts.

Many elements of social success are connected to cultural values and vary from country to country and house to house, as each culture and family honors different values. All of these variables makes it impossible to have a unified definition of social success.

And don’t forget the workplace and our professional lives, where we most commonly associate and glamorize ideas of success. Professional success is often defined and measured by recognition, as in a title, salary or level, the number of likes or followers on social media, or one’s level of power, respect and influence.

Many of these layers lend to the creation of a certain desired perception. The definition of success can include both how you want to be perceived by others and how you want to feel each morning when you wake up.

Think about what success means to you right now in this moment. What is your motivation for that — a feeling or a desired perception or both? For many, the meaning of success combines both: a feeling and a desired perception, and it’s super hard to decipher which comes first. Does perception drive feeling or does feeling drive perception? Many people who are perceived to be successful don’t necessarily feel successful. And others who feel successful wouldn’t traditionally be labeled as such. It’s all relative, and it follows the same logic as for balance because we are all unique.

Both how you want to feel and how you want to be perceived are part of your definitions of success and balance. Most people are more in touch with what it feels like to not have either balance or success than knowing when they are experiencing balance or feeling successful. Yet, the two are so closely intermingled, it’s hard to have one without the other.

The secret to living a successful and balanced life is nested within knowing what motivates you and having intentional conversations about that with the people that matter in your life.


Is it Time to Revive Our Superpower of Presence?

By Kim Lowe, Simple Intentions Managing Editor

flyingLet’s start with the conviction that presence is one of our superpowers. That all of us have within us the natural talent to engage with other humans in meaningful ways that spark creativity and connection, and lead to innovative ideas and exciting new products, not to mention feelings of wholeness and contentment.

Is it time to create new awareness and revive our superpower of presence? Is our current state of multi-distractions and multi-tasking the kryptonite to our natural and crucial strength of presence? Are we losing our ability to stop, think, see, and listen, the cornerstones of presence?

What is a superpower? We’re not talking about a super-human capacity of unlimited flight, telescopic vision or strength more powerful than a locomotive. We’re talking about the unique strengths within each of us that energize, motivate and drive our success. Superpower is often thought of as an equation:

Talent x Investment = Superpower

Talent consists of your innate and natural gifts. Perhaps you have a flair for writing, singing or public speaking. These things come naturally and effortlessly to you, and doing them gives you energy. Do you know your innate talents? Often they are so easy for us, we don’t recognize them ourselves. It’s just something we do, with little self-acknowledgment. Raw talent is more easily seen by those around us. Just ask a friend or colleague what they see as your natural talent. They’ll know.

But raw talent without some investment does not make a superpower. It needs a supply of knowledge and skill to build into a superpower. Good writers become great writers by learning grammar, studying other writers and writing. Public speakers only captivate us after hours of practice, refinement and more practice. Fortunately, the energy and passion of our raw talent sustains the effort of building a superpower.

What about this superpower of presence? As humans, connecting and engaging with others is a core talent. It’s something we crave as much as possess. We’ve spent a lifetime nurturing and strengthening that talent, building a network of family, friends, teachers, and colleagues. We are superpowerfully able to look someone in the eye and see their emotion. We are superpowerfully able to hear excitement or sadness in someone’s words – even when those words don’t include “excited” or “sad”. We are superpowerfully able to pause, observe and appreciate our environments, however chaotic they may be.

Each time we fail to stop, see and listen, our superpower of presence diminishes just a little, and all the distractions of the world – deadlines, emails, texts – crowd into our superpower space.

Just like they do for the superheroes in Hollywood, is it time to revive our superpower of presence? Can we again recognize the unique talent in all of us to connect, and build upon that gift by investing in our relationships, not only with others, but also with ourselves?

What is one thing we can do today to strengthen our superpower of presence? Can we practice seeing the details of our environments? Can we notice the number of devices we use at the same time? Can we slow down a conversation to hear what’s being said and what’s not being said?

With presence, we’re all superheroes.


Don’t Quit Your Job to Find Balance

By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder

[This post originally appeared on Huffington Post.]

quit my jobSome people leave their jobs to find better balance and end up right where they started, only sitting at a different desk. You don’t have to quit your job to find better balance. In fact, please don’t do that. Rather, find balance in the job you currently have. Quit only if you realize your career is not supporting you in living or expressing your values.

Finding balance has very little to do with your career. Balance also has very little to do with the company where you work, or the people with or for whom you work. Balance has everything to do with getting clear on what you need and effectively expressing those needs.

Creating balance starts with a choice, an intention to create balance however you define it. Balance is different for each of us. It is not something that any CEO, manager or executive coach can give you or define for you.

Define balance for yourself, then make the choice to create it through daily actions. Actions that may be small, simple and so subtle that others around you barely notice. Actions like eating lunch away from your desk, drinking more water, getting enough sleep, setting down your mobile device when someone is talking to you.

Or bigger actions like mapping out your career path, learning new skills, putting energy into a hobby, or volunteering. Importantly, creating balance requires actions like saying what you mean, communicating your boundaries and requesting what you need to create a life of balance.

If you feel so out of balance that you’re thinking about leaving your job, stay until you are clear what it is you really need. Ask yourself if what you need is something your company or manager can reasonably provide. It might be that you already have everything you need, and the path to balance is small simple actions each day. No company, manager or person can create balance for you. The choice is yours.


Detrimentally Altruistic

By Chelsea Elkins, Simple Intentions Marketing Manager

airplaneThe very definition of altruism reveals that this is a trait that is neither sustainable nor in our best interest. In fact, it seems to me that altruism is in direct opposition to self-compassion and can in fact be detrimental to both our physical and mental health.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that we stop supporting charitable causes or start refusing to give up our seat to the pregnant lady on the bus. On the contrary, I am the first to agree that a bit more kindness in the world would do wonders.

My intention with this post is to shine a light on a dangerous belief that many of us hold to be true: that it means more if we sacrifice something in order to help someone else.

I respectfully beg to differ.

The consequences of depriving ourselves can at first seem small compared to the good we perceive we’re doing. So what if we’ve been volunteered for overtime again? Who cares if we have to sacrifice another night out? In the words of my 3rd grade math teacher, “small things add up”. Eventually the consequences, which at first seem insignificant, can become, well, consequential. Furthermore, it is inevitable that we will eventually run out of altruistic steam if we are in a constant state of sacrifice.

I am suggesting that before being selfless we must be self-full. This means we must ensure we are nourishing ourselves both internally and externally. When we are full to the brim with self-compassion and care, it will cost us very little to generate the smallest or most breathtaking of beneficent acts to our fellow humans.

Airplane emergency procedure teaches this philosophy flawlessly – secure your own mask before assisting others. That concept makes perfect sense. Once you secure your own mask it will be infinitely easier to help others. Rather than fighting for oxygen, you’ll be thinking more clearly, and you’ll have more strength to offer.

When applied to life, however, this idea is a tough thing to swallow. Didn’t we learn at a young age that being a good person means putting others before ourselves? That only by being selfless, by being truly altruistic may we have any positive impact on the world? Though this belief has been relentlessly ingrained in me, I have come to the conclusion that not only is it false, but this way of thinking is also preventing us from leading the fullest and richest lives we are capable of.

Once we start taking care of ourselves by directing kindness and compassion inward, then lending a helping hand to others will not only be vastly meaningful, but also an almost effortless process.

There will be countless times in life when we’ll be called upon to assist others, loved ones and strangers, in putting on their metaphorical oxygen masks. My sincere hope is that we graciously provide a helping hand, that we assist others with their oxygen masks and hold their hands when they’re scared. I hope that we, as a global community, lift each other up after we fall.

But it is my deepest wish that we do not give up a part of ourselves to do this, that we can feel secure and unashamed when putting our own mask on first.