Do You Have an I Problem?

Friends,

I asked my daughter – who’s got her first fulltime job – if she had seen some good or bad leadership this week. She said a team of people had been working on the solution to a problem, and when the manager came in and asked what ideas they had, one of the people said, “I was thinking…I’m pretty sure…I think this will work, etc.,” as if he had been figuring it all out himself. All five at our dinner table acknowledged the depressive effect when someone doesn’t realize there’s no “I” in team.

Her story prompted me to tell them about how Jim Knaus tried to teach me a lesson 10 years ago. I had authored a letter that went out to Jim and a couple hundred people. He sent his copy back. It was marked with red marker the way our tyrannical Advanced Placement English teacher Fr. Polakowski would savagely attack our every mistake. Jim had circled every “I” in the page-and-a-half letter. Yeeesh, there were an embarrassing number of red circles.

In both cases the multitude of I-statements were at the very least a major distraction to the work. Can you imagine the number of organizational problems that have a direct link to EGO? It happens a lot because who doesn’t have an ego in play? Often, likely in both cases above, ego takes over quite unconsciously. Getting conscious really matters, because when ego is out front, we get in the way of good teamwork. What we don’t realize is – paradoxically – the focus-on-me also gets in the way of our own growth, fulfillment, and peace. If you are up for a remarkable, onion-peeling look at how YOUR ego works – and works against you – pick up Eckhart Tolle’s somewhat misleadingly named best-seller, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life Purpose. Reading this book was like having someone circle my inner thoughts with a big red pen. Yeeesh again. You can’t read Tolle and not see some things you might not want to see. But the upside is you’ll have ten times more awareness, opportunity and possibility when you see how you may be letting the little “me” of ego get in the way of much greater purpose and a powerful and life-giving “we.”

For those who have read Tolle, I’d love to read your comments about what you learned from him. Were you blown away by his quotation of the fourteenth century poet Hafiz? You can find Hafiz at the top of this week’s RFL blog.

Pay attention to your “I’s” this week. You can never get too much self awareness if you want to

Lead with your best self!

Dan

46 responses to “Do You Have an I Problem?

  1. In today’s RFL I mentioned my favorite part of the book was a quote from a 13th century Sufi poet named Hafiz. If you’ve read Tolle, you know that he has a Buddhist slant to his writings; Sufism rests within Islam and is a mystical practice. And as you’ll see this quote references a third spiritual tradition. Without further ado, Hafiz writes:

    “I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath blows through. Listen to the music.”
    What a beautiful expression of putting oneself in service of
    Something/Someone great than “I.”

    1. It is interesting how the same message comes from unexpected sources at the same time. Thought energies from like-minds must work in harmony!

      As with many others, Eckhart’s book resonated with me. Every word seems to ring with truth. I listen to recordings of his webcast with Oprah. As one listener put it, the book could be ‘a manual for life’.

      Once we develop the awareness of ego, it is fascinating to ‘watch’ ourselves and others!

      Thank you for reminding us of Hafiz’s beautiful quote.

    2. Judging by the number of pictures on this website, someone should look in the mirror! Self-worship on display!

      1. Julio,
        Are you an appointed, by self, a judge? If I recall correctly, in the Bible, Jesus mentioned to his disciples, something to the effect, Do not judge, lest ye be judged.
        I think that a website should have pictures. I don’t dwell on them though, at least on Dan’s, as my preference is for the written content.
        I will say though, that I’d rather look at a photo of his wife than of him!! 😉

        Now I’m going out on a limb here, but in a political venue, if Jennifer is anywhere near as thought induced of an individual as her husband Dan, I’d love to see her as Barack Obama’s running mate for the office of President/VP in the upcoming elections. God only knows how she has had to overcome and deal head on with such largess of problems within the state of Michigan, giving her a great amount of experience to help tackle the issues/needs of the USA.

        1. Mark:

          You state that the Gov. has “overcome” the problems of Michigan. I havent seen anything that shows she has overcome anything. We still have companies lining up to leave Michigan.

          1. Well, overcome was a word that might not have been utilized in a way that represents ‘triumph’….but I’m certain that Jennifer ponders deeply how she can be instrumental in finding way to eleviate the financial struggles for many Michiganders.

          2. How about reducing corporate tax rates to get business to stay in MI and attract more to come here. We have had enough pondering.

          3. Dave,
            I’m with you totally on that accord. I’m a firm believer in cutting away the fat in the government, at every level. That, obviously is a problem globally and once the cow has been slaughtered (by the gov’t) they won’t be able to glean from the cow any longer. It sure would be better if the excesses of gov’t (spending, budget growths, waste, pandering, ad infiniti)wre eliminated through frugal fiscal conservatism. Then the cow could continue to produce milk, so to say. Michigan seems to be at the forefront of the USA, being akin to the Roman Empire.

          4. I was just reading the Automotive News – Toyota, Nissan, Alfa Romeo, Selzer Automotive, BMW and Volkswagon are all looking to open up plants in the US but NONE of them are looking at Michigan. We need to attract these companies to MI. Why are they not coming to Michigan??? They should look here first. We can talk all we want but while we are debating the outrageous tax penalties and the grip the union has on MI all these other states are doing the hard work of getting these companies to set up shop in their states.

        2. I would also like to see Governor Granholm in a higher office, but becoming Obama or Hillary’s VP won’t happen. To serve as Vice President, an individual must be meet the following requirements:
          -a natural born U.S. citizen not younger than 35
          -a U.S. permanent resident for at least 14 years
          -eligible for the office of President (as stated in the Twelfth Amendment)

          That doesn’t mean that she couldn’t be appointed to a cabinet position such as Attorney General.

      2. Agree on the pictures and the ego. Also interesting… the photos are sometimes flipped — as in a negative so what is really on the left appears on the right. Hmm. Wonder why they do that? Check it out… you’ll see the part on the hair appearing in different directions. Wonder if this means there is a double ego?

        1. I was telling myself to stay quiet but after returning from Mackinac, I have to get this off my chest. Here’s my comment: “The Emperor has no clothes.” There. I’ve said it. You can say that I’m whining and that I’m just a partisan hack. But I’m not. I’ve voted for the Governor. I had high hopes. But what I heard at Mackinac is killing me. It is about leadership. When the leader of the Senate (a Republican) and the House (a Democrat) are imploring the Governor to lead and complaining about the lack of leadership… this is a crisis. To let millions — $165 million I believe — in federal funds to expire Saturday because of partisan politics, that is a lack of leadership. Get people together and get the money. That didn’t hurt Republicans. That didn’t hurt Democrats. That hurt Michigan — all of us. And why are we trapped in so much malaise? There is no leadership. The huge tax increase was supposed to save Michigan. Well, one year later, we have problems with the budget. We find ourselves spending — yes SPENDING — $100 million so Mitch Albom and the Governor can slobber over Hollywood stars coming to town… that makes no sense. We can talk all about cutting prison budgets but we need radical changes. People see it everywhere. But it seems the Governor doesn’t. And the rumor that the First Gentleman was holding a brain-storming session at the Governor’s Mansion with CEO’s on what’s needed to fix Michigan — give me a break. It takes LEADERSHIP and it takes SIGNIFICANT reform. I’m sorry that I’m so bold as to write a long blog on the First Gentleman’s web site but it seems like the ship is sinking with millions of us on it, and we can’t even get the deck chairs properly arranged. Someone needs to scream it from the highest buildings. If this kind of tom-foolery was happening on a national level, the pundits on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC would have so much pressure on the people doing this that the country would be outraged. In Michigan, we just seem to take it. I thank people for taking leadership positions and serving the citizens and its horrible that sometimes they get bashed. But I’ve sat quiet too often. PLEASE, stop the politics, the games, the lack of boldness and playing to special interests and help save our state. Amen.

          1. Rick,

            I hope you feel better – really. In your view, I suspect you feel you “spoke truth to power” (to my wife, through me) That is a kind of civic engagement that is very cool. Blogs give more people the power to speak. So, I’m glad you wrote.

            Having said that, “someone needs to scream it from the top of buildings” is hardly a solution. It makes for a great scene in the movie Network, and having been to one Pistons and two Red Wings games this year, I know lots of people love to scream from the rafters. “Play defense, Rasheed.” “Doc, you’re an idiot!” “Get the puck out of the zone, Stuart.” Like these guys on the court or ice have never played before. It’s really kind of funny if you step back and look at it through that lens. We scream because we’re desperate to win (we “love” our team; boy that’s a weird idea! to love a team). And we yell advice, because we honestly think we know the game, but do we think they don’t see it? Do we think Zetterberg didn’t want to clear that puck? Can we imagine the speed, pressure, pace that he plays at on the field? Can you imagine being Speaker Dillon or Leader Bishop trying to herd 40-120 people, themselves being pressured by people trying to make their way (to smoke in a bar, see a doctor, preserve jobs, lower their taxes, etc.)? Can you imagine why it’s tough to play on that field? If you step back, do you really think they don’t know we need that federal airport money? (Dillon’s Dems want construction jobs for colleges to be attached to that. Are they “wrong,” “stupid,” etc.?) Hopefully they will get it done and soon; believe me the Gov is doing all she can to get them to just cut a deal and get people to work. Their field of play would be one you or I would struggle on, as well, Rick. It’s easy to scream from the rafters.

            I’d love for some of the writers who CHRONICALLY whine and moan (those from the left as well as the right) to read chapter 5 in Tolle’s book on what he calls “the pain-body.” “Strictly speaking,” he writes, “you don’t think. Thinking happens to you.” He says, you might as well say: I respirate, or I digest. Thinking often is knee-jerk (as my knee-jerk reaction to your writing, see below, is defensive, angry or dismissive). And when we are almost always negative, perhaps we are not as clinical and objective as we think. Perhaps it’s not the UM-trained mind, the brilliant fiscal conservative or compassionate liberal, but an ego, and a hurt self that’s speaking. Perhaps it’s the “pain body.” I’m not going to spend pages describing it, but you might find value in it. I don’t mean to sound preachy – like you have a problem. I’m saying it like somoene who is on the wagon would say to someone else, “you might check out an AA meeting.” Tolle has helped me a lot to find some freedom from the inner road rage. Like a recovering alcoholic, I’m trying to live my faith in the moment, and I am grateful for some awareness that Tolle has helped me to find.

            You are making public policy arguments. I don’t have a half hour to argue point by point. I doubt I’d convince you or Jennifer’s other detractors, and I will not make this a political blog. As I have written before, the point of this blog is to help people who want to learn to lead more effectively, as distinct from those who want to tell OTHERS they have a problem. Jennifer has a lot of work to do (and I know no one who works harder) in a state that has lost 330,000 manufacturing jobs. She’ll do her job. I’ll do my little job. And in this case, my passion is sharing thoughts and experiences in trying to lead better in my and your and our complex worlds. I hope it helps.

            What this is today, is a blog about Eckhart Tolle. I’d encourage you to considerthe people who have commented here that they loved the book. You might pick it up. And, since this blog is about Tolle, here is a second thought through the lens of Tolle:

            Perhaps there is something going on in you, and “screaming from the highest building” represents something inside you. Some pain. Pain at older experiences, deeply unconscious. Perhaps pain in your own world – frustrations with what YOU can’t “lead” on – at work, with this challenging economy, perhaps at home and in your relationships. We can at times identify with our frustration. Being mad, perhaps, is part of what makes you feel alive, feel like you. I’ll bet you felt your chest puffed up after you finished writing that assault. Like you were taking on all that ails you. Like you were fighting for the well-being of all of Michigan. Tell the truth to yourself, did you feel that kind of macho “I showed him and her?” Felt it in your chest, in your body and your mind. It would be a pretty human response. Tolle suggests we identify with our pain – because it makes us feel real. I am somebody. I am smart. I am right. I am mad. If Tolle is right about this, then by now, a day later, you’re probably still/again mad at somebody. If you’re like me, your first reaction will be to bash me; I suspect words like “psycho babble” might come to mind 🙂

            In my case, I have plenty of this mysterious thing called ego. So at the threshold, I react to your writing with irritation and defensiveness and anger. I am identified with my wife; she expands, as it were, my sense of self. And I feel attacks on her, as though they are attacks on me. Katherine Crowely writes interestingly below of Tolle’s story of the monk who responds to things – good and bad – by saying, “Is that so?” I strive for that kind of objectivity to note my own reaction of anger, as well as your arguments, and say, “hmm is that so?” I fail as much as I strive.

            Finding that gap – as others here have noted in their comments, that moment of breathing and awareness – gives me a different opportunity to respond. I can smile at my chivalrous-egoic self that wants to battle with you. But I can see you’re no enemy. You’re a lot like me, probably – trying to figure out how to make things work in your world. (You have arguments, too, and those deserve consideration, but you are not the argument, any more than I am my argument.)

            I hope you keep weighing in on the politics. If you wanted my opinion I might even offer thoughts from down here, pretty close to the ice or the court, as it were. But I don’t hear you asking for that. On a more important level, I hope you find a perspective of “is that so?” I hope you find some freedom to accept what you can’t change, enthusiastically take on the moment, and be an engaged and positive force in your world.

            Lead with your BEST self!

            Respectfully,
            Dan

          2. I’ll stop screaming from the highest building. I congratulate the fact that you did not dismiss my writings as a “Jennifer detractor” or political hack. While you may be a bit testy about such writings, I applaud your willingness to respond and engage and it serves as a great service to the people of Michigan.

            I really don’t believe I have any psychological or pent up feelings from a repressed previous moment, nor am I suffering a current crisis. The sports analogy is somewhat fair. When you watch Ben Wallace (a few years ago) miss free throw after free throw, when you see Brandon Inge check his swing and strike out time after time, you cringe. Maybe you don’t yell from the rafters, but you wince. I think that the public is wincing right now with Lansing… seeing a replay of the same partisan games that brought this state down last year. Couldn’t Ben have practiced or been coached not to miss so many? Couldn’t Brandon study his errors and cut down his strikeouts? Those type of questions are what Michiganders want answered with Lansing and it seems that no one is getting it, instead latching on to their political parties, same-old ideas and such. That’s the point… plain and simple. However, I’m now paranoid that I have larger issues. If you have any recommendations for a good psychologist (and the state will pay the fee 🙂 ) please forward it along. 🙂 Again, my thanks for your perspective. It is helpful.

          3. Rick,
            Thanks for your good-spirited and humorous reply! I really did not mean to imply that YOU had deep-seated psychological issues. The interesting thing about Tolle’s work is that it’s not about pathology, but about normal human thought processes, that generally go unseen. So, all kidding aside, you might find it interesting.

            I like the way you carried out the sports metaphor. Well done. As your action indicates, in a democracy we’re not just spectators. I’d suggest that you identify your own rep or senator and exert pressure there; tell them you’re watching and entreat them to rise above the partisan stuff. Better yet, organize others as well to amplify your voice. Jennifer has some bedrock issues which make her a Dem, but there is a ton of room for negotiation. I think she’s said publicly that she’d sign the package the way the Rs or Ds have passed it. Same goes for the smoking legislation. It’s not her partisanship that’s standing in the way.

            They got done the Merit Scholarship, higher curriculum standards, the 21st century fund, the film package (and all those Rs – it nearly passed unanymously) were not doing it cuz they want to give the Gov a chance to slobber (yuck) with Mitch (not a very slobbery guy) over the film industry. They’re trying to build an actual industry here, and we all know, given GM’s latest announcement today that we need to jump start some industry. You and I hope (and Jennifer is working to see) that they come to some agreement on the airport money as the construction season clock is ticking.

            D

  2. As I was reading your message this week about EGO, I immmediately thought of Tolle’s work and alss, as I continued to read, there was the reference to the book that changed my outlook on many things and has also changed many of my acquaintances lives. I have shared Tolle’s book with anyone I think is ready for it and am so happy when the information helps others become more conscious.

    For me, the most powerful information is understanding about our egos and our pain bodies and when they affect our present interactions. Being able to just be present has been so powerful for my business and personal interactions.

    It is great that you have shared Tolle’s work with your audience.

  3. I agree with the thoughts on “I” and “we” and it reminded me of one of the issues I take with behavioral based interviewing. While we try to teach ourselves to get into the “we” mindset, when it comes to doing a behavioral based interview, it requires separating ourself and our own actions from the group and using the term “we” can actually work against you. This dichotomy in the workplace can make it difficult to truly embrace the “we” concept when one cannot remove the “I”.

  4. I am currently reading the Tolle book right now, I so enjoyed “The Power of Now” that I thought I would read yet another one of his refreshing books.

    What a nice surprise to see that the first Gentelman is also reading the book !
    I agree with the author that the world could be such a better place if people spent less energy trying to be right (ego driven) and just “being” and then one could be open to others opinions and views.

    Hopefully many folks will read the book so that we can all be a bit more present and not so concerned with our own personal egos and what “I” want.

    Thanks for your leadership and openess,
    Joy

  5. Realizing I don’t have all the right answers most of the time, I like to have a partner or concensus to quote, thus expanding the credibility of my position. I try to remember to proof a letter or article and eliminate as many “I’s” as possible. Then things read much better.

  6. Another good book on the effect (both good and bad)of ego on job performance is

    egonomics: What Makes Ego Our Greatest Asset (or Most Expensive Liability) by David Marcum and Steven Smith

  7. “A New Earth” has made a profound impact on how I approach the process that I used to call ‘my life.’ I will continue to re-read it and put into action the new learning until it becomes second nature to me. This may take a lifetime.

    I am so encouraged to know that public figures in leadership positions, folks like you, are on the same path.

  8. Hi,
    I have read A New Earth and listened to all the classes with Eckhart and Oprah. While in the process of reading and listening, I was doing the exercises and very conscious of being in the “now.” Your blog today reminded me that I need to get back to a daily practice of doing a meditation or exercise so that I can respond to my e-mail (your column) with a depth and awareness instead of just a reaction of the ego. (Can’t resist telling you that my first thought was-“The Mayor of Detroit” needs to read “A New Earth.”–That is my ego talking!)

    The daily practice of living and doing and being a part of the “god” in all living beings is a life long practice. Thank you for making me aware that I’ve fallen off the path! :))

    May you have a joyful day, today, moment by moment!

    1. Mares,
      Glad to help. I think it’s interesting that Rick – who would appear to be an attacker – helped me get back on a path this morning.
      D.

  9. Dan,
    I forwarded this week’s message to numerous friends and recent acquaintances. Thanks for taking bold steps, broadening your horizons, not settling in as just another member of government, content with/in your position. Rather, you show, through conscious insight, a desire to incite in all of us a willingness and desire to be more than an individual. To be, to witness, to live, to love, to experience the energy that is greater than the ‘me’.
    I have read many books by Thich Nyat Hanh, a Buddhist visionary, and discovered, through this journey, that many different beliefs can be exemplified through an individual, to show the message that Christ held closest to his heart….LOVE. It would be wonderful if that ideology was manifested throughout the world.

  10. As a product of a Catholic education, K-12, and some college the good nuns would become upset when we would use the I message in our writing and speaking. So, I was reluctant to use the I message for a long time until I went into the world of work. The I message was encouraged. As a supervisor said to me that I should tell it the way I feel and not beat around the bushes in voicing an opinion. I have no problem with people who use I messages. There are times when the I message is needed. Plus, I keep hearing about the “team” and I get tired of it because I have worked with the “team” most of my life and on the “team” there are often a lot of dead weight. In life there are the “we team” and the “I team.” Please know when to use the I message and be proud of it.

    1. I agree with your analogy. It takes strength, courage, and a dedication to one’s personal views and perspectives to step forward and say what they think, instead of hiding behind the group entity. As a former basketball player, I found comfort in taking the ball to the rim, myself, reliant onno one but me. But in the same context, I found equal satisfaction in dishing the ball to a team mate for him to score in an opportune way that was easier than my own conquest. So, TEAM does consist of I as well as WE!!

      I think that the WE team should get rid of Rasheed Wallace!!

      GO LAKERS!!!

      1. Gerald and Mark,

        Great comments that help flesh this out.

        There are two kinds of “I”-statements, aren’t there? We can know them from inside. I can make a statement that in some way aggrandizes me, makes me bigger. And I can make another one that is just me – neither bigger, nor smaller than that.

        When I am using I statements to take credit for things I didn’t do, that’s ego, and it doesn’t help me and gets in the way. When I say, “I told them we shouldn’t go in that direction,” what’s the point of that? To prove I’m something. So? And does it help the group? Not likely. The nuns were right about that 🙂

        On the other hand, I used to say things like “this is only my opinion.” Someone along the way corrected me, and I try never to do that. I may say, “I don’t have all the information,” which can be true, but I don’t minimize my viewpoint. If you want the view to be taken seriously, you shouldn’t cripple it.

        What do you think about this? Can’t we develop and inner ear, so to speak, to recognize when we’re puffing ourselves up, but also when we’re undercutting ourselves?

        D.

        1. Along the lines of two different types of “I” statements, may I recommend a book of fiction? “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis. It is a collection of “letters” from a senior demon to his nephew on the conversion of a gentleman’s soul. Sarcastic? Ironic? a completely different way of looking at things? I’m horrible at categorizing works, but I think you get the point.

          One chapter near the front talks about the sin of Pride. Essentially, the senior demon talks about how easy it is to get someone to fall into. If they praise themselves for what they’ve done good, they might feel it’s a sin – so they say things like, “it’s not that big a deal” or “it wasn’t all just me.”

          Knowing when a statement is self-agrandizing and not just a statement of fact is hard to decern. I think it’s critical for leaders to know the difference, both for themselves and when commenting to and about the people they lead.

          djb

  11. I am in agreement with the sentiment of trying to understand the way that our ego affects our products and then try to filter it with some reality. However, I’d warn against a simplistic approach of simply replacing the “I” with “we”. Often, the leader comes away from a discussion that has included some excellent input and still has to make his or her decision and to own it. To infuse a list of recommendations or decisions with “we” instead of “I” is not necessarily honest unless a true consensus was expressed by the group. In some situations, I think that a leader can hide an unpopular decision behind a “we” in an attempt to diffuse accountability. Depending on the situation, there can be different ways to provide for credit to the team while still retaining the singular responsibility for the final decision.

  12. Dan,

    I’ll “one up” you regarding Tolle. Go to Oprah.com and watch the what I consider the future of media presentation along with Eckhart some of the best content of any media.

    I knew I had an ego but I wasn’t sure where it fired from and Tolle helped me not only find it but manage it too! I love the “stop and just breathe…” Perfect.

    dp

  13. I was just reading the Automotive News – Toyota, Nissan, Alfa Romeo, Selzer Automotive, BMW and Volkswagon are all looking to open up plants in the US but NONE of them are looking at Michigan. We need to attract these companies to MI. Why are they not coming to Michigan??? They should look here first. We can talk all we want but while we are debating the outrageous tax penalties and the grip the union has on MI all these other states are doing the hard work of getting these companies to set up shop in their states

  14. As an aside, my high school French instructor told us to notice that the word for “I” in French (je) is not capitalized except at the start of a sentence, and neither is it capitalized in many other languages.

    As to the photographs of Dan Mulhern, I would keep them on the page. It makes the page more human and direct.

  15. I have come to look forward to your weekly email. At first I thought it was going to be just another bunch of words, but I can honestly say you have hit the nail on the head concerning my life in management many times. I took part in the Eckhart and Oprah webcast, and even though I have meditated since the early 70’s, and have read many books on the subject, It still had a profound effect on me. I am the manager of a retirement center, and life can be very stressful, however the trick to staying sane, for me, is to try to stay in the moment. My residents deserve to have me paying attention to them now, not worrying about the future or the past. Thank you for all you do………..A good positive attitude and lots of hard work is going to pull Michigan through…Not the complainers and naysayers!!

  16. Dan,

    There is no “I” in TEAM!

    Knowing that has helped me to be an effective TEAM member and TEAM leader. If a project is a success then we all share equally in the success.

    If a project is a failure we all share equally in that as well. We have experienced a few disappointments but NO Failures because of our TEAM attitude.

    Keep Leading Us in the Right Direction!

    The TIP Lady

  17. I found myself laughing out loud at the reference to Fr. Polakowski in this week’s RFL: “It was marked with red marker the way our tyrannical Advanced Placement English teacher Fr. Polakowski would savagely attack our every mistake.”

    Having had “Fr. Polo” for English as well, I vividly remember some of the terse red markings on my own papers (e.g., “Vague. Minus 40.”) as well as his acknowledgement in front of the class for tying another student for the most tardies first semester (“With his long drive from Gesu Parish …). My apologies for the egotistical self-references above but anyone who attended Fr. Polo’s English classes at U of D High will hopefully get the humor and recall their own encounters with this teaching legend.

    While relentless in pointing out mistakes and employing more of a “command and control” versus an “influence” leadership style, Fr. Polo never shied from telling you what he thought of your work. And while that was offensive to some all of the time and all some of the time, how refreshing to receive feedback and know where you HONESTLY stood with a person.

    A more current example of this is why, despite his obnoxious behavior, the American Idol contestants often relish in the praise from Simon Cowell moreso than from the other judges: because he doesn’t give praise until he sees excellence so when he gives it, he means it.

    Here’s to being direct and honest with our feedback to others, while also employing a tad more tact (respectful, not sugar-coating) than Fr. Polo or Simon.

    1. Dave,
      We should do a Fr. Polo stories blogsite sometime. My friend Phil Grisdela has the funniest that I’ve heard, but only he can tell it!
      I agree with you about Simon. I don’t always agree with his characterizations, but when he is specific in his feedback he’s the most helpful of the group. I think the yin-yang of Simon and Paula/Randy is totally instructive. Head and heart in concert is a powerful duo.
      D.

  18. Richard Greene is conducting a series of shows on Tolle on Air America Radio. I’d love to hear you on as a guest. We need more awareness of these kinds of principles guiding our leadership.

    Many spiritually informed people find politics distasteful, leaving the field wide open to those who live by a win-at-all costs mentality.

    Thanks to Tolle for teaching us these deeper principles, and thanks to you, Dan, for reminding us that these principles are practical and intended to be applied in real life.

  19. Tolle’s book was an eye opener for me in many ways. It helps me see my blind spots. I refer to it often in my mind and in print during challenging times. Combined with my faith, it definitely helps me to create an ongoing renewed sense of consciousness.

  20. Wow! You sure got some responses to this one!
    I, too, read Eckhart’s book. Actually, I’ve read both of them.
    Thank you for bringing his work to our attention.
    And thank you for having an open forum where people express all kinds of opinions.

    According to one of Eckart’s tales, a famous Buddhist Monk would respond to anything that happened in his life with, “Is that so?” It was his way of practicing non-attachment. Political discussion is one of the most difficult areas to say, “Is that so?”

    I’ve been trying to practice, “Is that so?” while watching the presidential race. It’s a good exercise in curbing my ego and seeing how willing I am to truly hear another person’s opinion.

    1. Katherine,

      Thanks for chiming in.  I referenced your comment above in a long reply to Rick.

      It’s curious the various tracks readers take to a post like this week’s RFL. 

      Your attempt to merge the two paths – a Tolle-ian thought process with seemingly external political critique – was helpful.

      D.

  21. Dan,

    Thanks as always for the great blog!

    I do have a thought about the use of “I” vs “we” when in a team setting: there are times where the idea I’m bringing forth isn’t necessarily one that the team as a whole has supported, but that I feel needs to be mentioned as an option, and in that case I’ll say “I” to make sure that any negative response falls back on me, rather than on the rest of the team. I’m guessing that wasn’t the case in your example, but it’s a thought to consider, that it’s always good to try to look for the “other side” of a viewpoint to see if there’s a possible explanation.

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