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“Be A Superhero”

IN PRODUCTION–I’ve often wondered why are stories about superheroes so appealing? And why have they always been appealing throughout humankind’s history? (Recall the Roman and Greek gods and goddesses, and countless other myths of people with superhuman strength and power from all cultures throughout the world from all time.) If I was to give a less than educated guess as to their appeal, I would say that they touch something in us that we all long for…perhaps something missing from our very selves.

The reason I think this is because it seems too trite and easy to say that the appeal lies only in the fantastical. As if to say, just because those stories tell us of something that we do not see in real life they keep our attention. I can imagine a story with many fantastical details that would not make me rush to see the movie or buy the book. That is to say, fantastical does not always equal appealing.

So perhaps superheroes’ appeal lies in the fact that they are marked as special, set apart, different, but in a good way–a way that increases their human potential. I believe that is a better explanation of their universal appeal. I believe it appeals to us because we very rarely experience it ourselves.

If this lack is a common existential experience, what does that tell us about our ontological make-up? Why would we all universally experience the same lack or same desire? Were we meant for something greater? Did we, as a race, have a potential that we lost? Or do we intrinsically have it but lost our ability to see it clearly? Why the common yearning and desire?

And then, why do we feel a lack that we seemingly lack the ability to fill? Even recognizing that one desires to be “more” does not enable one to meet their own desire. Even the richest and most powerful people in the world often report that they feel this same lack in life, like something is still missing.

Perhaps finding out what really quenches that desire or fills that lack is the meaning of life.

What-are-you-fighting-for

1) Decide what you want to accomplish

Is there a specific task/dream that you want to accomplish for someone or with someone?

2) Pick a theme song

Don’t take yourself too seriously! Let loose and have fun

3) Decide what you stand for

What are you fighting for?

 

 

Process of Stretching

“We teach “safe” by placing almost no demands on the person except for being with the person with a sense of just “being.” It is a tremendously important for one human being to teach another it is good to be near you. Nothing more, nothing less. This act of recognizing the brokenhearted person’s existence and goodness is a most powerful teaching-learning experience. At the same time, we need to engage in nurturing and finding relevant ways to express unconditional love without pressuring the person at all. This might seem weird, but the person will learn to feel safe if we lower our demands while increasing our goodness, kindness, and expression of love. We need to avoid putting the horse before the cart. Doing things is not the primary purpose of care giving; being with one another is.

A dimension that is often hard to understand and deal with involves the emergence of self-centeredness, becoming spoiled, after a time of intense nurturing. It is natural to become self-centered as a result of constant nurturing. This creates another important care giving role. We need to slowly begin to focus on stretching the person away from self-centeredness and toward other-centeredness. This stretching process involves reminding the person that he/she is safe and loved while asking a slight degree more—waiting a moment, taking turns, sharing, and other virtues involving others and our relationships. This process is very delicate so we need to keep reminding the person of how safe and loved he/she is.

The developmental model outlined below is a good guide for us to use to understand the various dimensions of new memories that have to be taught:

• From brokenhearted and lonely, to safe and loved;
• From self-centeredness, to reaching out to others and loving expressing love to them; and,
• From dependence on us, to engagement with us and others.

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Our pedagogical process starts with us encountering a brokenhearted person and bringing two simple gifts that we have repeatedly mentioned—the feeling of being safe and loved. We have nothing else to give. These are not a program, a clinical approach, or focused on outcomes. They can, if necessary, be translated into mundane outcomes, but, for the caregiver, they are gifts and these now established feelings need to begin to include being safe with a growing circle of others and becoming a meaningful part of increasing engagement.

This stretching process is a part of normal development. These include learning other moral milestones such as learning to share, a giving up, momentarily, of what is theirs; learning to wait and to take turns; wanting others to feel proud; and, learning when enough is enough—self-control. We all have to learn these milestones. Each requires a grounded stance that assumes that the brokenhearted person has learned to feel safe and loved and is ready for participation in a broader community. After these have been formed in the person’s moral memory, we can then begin focusing on strengthening self-esteem, learning that “I am good!” and self-control, learning when enough is enough!” The person’s world and responsibilities begin to expand.

After an intense dimension involved almost solely with unconditional love, it is natural to enter a phase of self-centeredness. It is then that our role evolves into carefully and delicately stretching the still fragile brokenhearted person from a state of self-centeredness to one of other-centeredness. It is a process in which the person learns that it is good to be with a small circle of others, then it is good to do things with this group, and eventually it is good to do things with a wider circle of friends, and finally it is good to do things for others. This last encompasses a high form of moral maturity.

We also begin to focus on the person’s self-esteem. This milestone emerges when others keep reminding the person, “You are so good!” This begins to occur from the very start when we are teaching that it is good to be together. What happens in this process is that the person begins to feel safe and loved from within. As this occurs, the person begins to see him/herself in a different light and forms a moral memory that says, “I am somebody because my caregivers tell me I am.” As the circle of friends grows, the person’s sense of self-worth also expands and becomes stronger.”

– John J. McGee, PhD

The Caring Moment

In the beginning we must always be in the moment with two bits of knowledge focused on giving a feeling of being safe and loved. We should avoid lengthy case histories and cleanly typed plans. If need be, do these requirements. However, our task is to be in the moment; it is not to change anyone’s behavior, but to teach the person to feel safe with us and loved by us.

The present is a series of moments that tumble into the future. Yet, we should not worry about the future, only the present moment. The here-and-now becomes the future with each ticking second. Our encounters transpire in the moment and then transform the next moment.

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Whether a mother, father, grandparent, or a person whom we are supporting, the most important variable is the moment, not the future, not a projected plan with outcomes, not behavioral change. No, it is our being present in this very moment and all the person sees, hears, touches, and feels in this mutual coming together. It is the tiniest amount of time, perhaps two or three seconds. Then, these moments are linked together with other moments and it is these moments that become new moments; it is the evolving chain of moments that creates our moral memory in us as well as a memory in the other person.

Caregiving’s simplification involves teaching caregivers to be in the moment:

  • In bad moments this equates with forgiveness rather than control;
  • In all the good moments this involves a series of accidental and intentional encounters throughout the day focused on safe and loved;
  • The accidental encounters are merely brief moments of passing by and encompass a wave, a wink, a smile, a name, a thumbs up, maybe a hug if there is time, a whispering of “You are so good.”
  • The intentional encounters are a bit more planned and involve a chunk of caregiving time—from a minute or two or a half hour or more. The time depends. It should be structured in the day with the only purpose being to give a memory that the person is safe when with us.
  • The key is to stay in the moment. Joy is found in the moment.

Our task is simple, just being in the moment with the gift of helping the person to feel safe and loved:

  • Not a moment before,
  • Not a moment after,
  • Just in the now.”

-John J. McGee, PhD

13 Ideas on How to Become a Bigger and Better Leader

In today’s day and age there is a lot of talk about becoming bigger, better and stronger leaders: and to one degree, rightly so. We are living in a new era where technology is advancing, Baby Boomers are retiring and younger generations are replacing those who once were in positions of  greater influence. So what? Well I think we need to challenge ourselves in our understanding of what it means to be a leader and how leadership in the twenty-first century is changing. In this post you will find thirteen idea’s on how to become a bigger and better leader.

Take charge

1. TAKE CHARGE

Become the sculptor of your own career and life – not the sculpture. Leaders are authentic – the authors of their own lives.

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2. KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS

Start practicing good leadership by keeping a log of your successes. Record even small wins – this is essential for building your own confidence as well as developing a crucial leadership competence.

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3. FIND A CHAMPION

It’s essential to have someone who will be your champion in the organization. It’s also necessary that this person be in a secure position in the organization; someone who is willing to go out on a limb for you.

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4. WORK TOWARD EXCELLENCE

Excellent work performance is a necessary, although not sufficient condition for leadership. Stay on top of your professional development. Don’t wait for your organization to offer a seminar in the skills you want to learn – seek out your own training opportunities or offer suggestions for opportunities you would like to see.

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5. TAKE INITIATIVE

Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, you need to take control of your own destiny and act on your own convictions. To become a leader, you must first learn to lead yourself. Initiative is a fundamental leadership competence

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6. TAKE RISKS

Developing leadership skill requires getting out of your comfort zone. Set “stretch” goals that enable you to develop new skills. Join committees and take a leadership role. This is an opportunity to develop leadership competencies as well as increase your visibility.

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7. BE OPTIMISTIC

As purveyors of hope, leaders must be optimistic. Realistic optimists take control where they can and stop investing energy in things beyond their control. When faced with a setback, optimists don’t succumb to feelings of helplessness. They maintain their focus on the larger purpose.

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8. DEVELOP YOUR SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE

Leadership is interpersonal. Effective leadership is fundamentally about how you relate to people

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9. BECOME AN EXCELLENT COMMUNICATOR

A leader must be able to communicate his or her vision in a way that energizes people and inspires them toward action. The ability to gain the cooperation and support of others.

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10. SHOW CONCERN FOR OTHERS

Research indicates that among the most important characteristics of effective leaders are compassion, the ability to be nurturing, generosity, and empathy. These all can be combined into social traits: and leadership takes place in a social context, so it’s not surprising that these characteristics are so important for effective leadership

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11. DEVELOP AND MAINTAIN A SUPPORT SYSTEM

Taking the time to maintain supportive and close connections with others is necessary to attain and sustain the energy and well-being you need to achieve career success.

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12. MAINTAIN INTEGRITY

Integrity may be the single most important characteristic of competent leadership; it’s the sign of a trusted advisor and effective leader. People are willing to be led by someone who follows through – someone they trust. Do what you say you will do. Don’t promise to do what you can’t. People without integrity may gain power, but they don’t truly lead.

Persevere

13. PERSEVERE

Persistence in the face of adversity is one of the cornerstones of resilience. Stay resolute in your values and goals and remain determined and self-disciplined in your efforts to achieve them. Persistence doesn’t mean you never feel discouraged.

 

Download this free background wallpaper for your computer!

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References:

www.emergingleaders.com

Our Approach is Based on Moral Development

“Our approach is based on moral development. This is not a church thing. It is an internal feeling that we develop over time about what is good, who we are, and why we are on this earth. It is an inner change, a change of the heart. It is what most children learn early in their life about feeling safe and loved. It is what many of us have to re-learn when we are crushed by life’s sorrows.

So, we have to develop an understanding of basic moral values and teach these in an authoritative manner, not coming down on the person, but patiently and repeatedly teaching them. Morality is the way we feel and view our role in life. It is made up of our basic beliefs that are learned through our own life-experiences and ongoing reflection on our place in the world. It is formed deep down in our memories over time and with many experiences. Morality is on the fringe of our consciousness. We often do not have to stop and think, “Should I do this or not do that?” Our life-decisions come out of deep, deep memories. A spirit of gentleness focuses on teaching deep moral memories to people whose hearts are broken. Our primary strategy is repeated acts of love.

The first moral rule is found in a feeling of companionship– safe, loved, loving, and engaged. We know, without even thinking about it, that we need to feel safe and loved on this earth. We gravitate toward those who fulfill this sense and move away from those who make us fearful. Yet, many people whom we support are filled with fear of themselves and of others. We look for meaning in our lives and find it in our relationships with others other family, our children, our friends. Many whom we serve do not have this type of meaning.

The second is found in community– the goodness of being with others, engagement with others, and reaching out to others, and a sense of connectedness with others. It is a feeling of being collectively safe, loved, loving, and engaged. It moves from a singular relationship with the caregiver to a collective relationship with a circle of friends.

Companionship and community occur in a spiral. The initial relationship is at the center, but slowly spins outward to others. Everyone needs the feeling of being safe and loved to also feel loving and engaged. This evolves with one person, then two, then many.”

 

-John McGee, ‘Mending Broken Hearts’

Authenticating Life

Perhaps you are like me and occasionally enjoy looking at at a piece of art. Whether it is the color, systematic brush strokes and blending or perhaps it is the stylistic nature of the painting. To me art speaks volumes. I love admiring, analyzing and relishing in the beauty of the canvas–for some, admiration isn’t enough.

In 1996, Britain “Ripper” (not Jack the Ripper) emerged from the smoke as the world’s greatest art thief. It was soon found out that the ‘Ripper’ had been a local gardener and golf course keeper whose name was Mr. Bellwood. The first time this man was arrested, the police officers stormed his house to find a typical British dwelling; His wife Susan and their daughter were sitting in their living room having a cup of tea. At first the police feared they had the wrong man as Bellwood’s house had the appearance of being a middle-class home; it wasn’t until they began tearing down Mr. Bellwood’s walls that they found hidden away a gallery consisting of nearly 1,000 pieces of world history and art dating back to the 15th and 16th century. For obvious reasons he was arrested; but was released a mere two and a half years later on having good behavior. Since his release Bellwood has continued his thievery, taking into his possession over one-hundred-million pounds worth of history artifacts and art. It is now suggested that Mr. Bellwood has fled from England and is living overseas and working in the art world.

As soon art began to go missing, duplicates began to appear–however they were falsified documents and had to be authenticated. I don’t know about you, but authenticating something doesn’t sound like and easy job: it takes time, meticulous effort and observation.

When something is authenticated it is deemed, true, genuine, and ‘original to design and purpose’. While some people may heartily disagree with me, I suggest that authenticity in our world is an uncommon trait. Just like Mr. Bellwood, we as people so often portray ourselves as something that we are not or because of our historical pasts, feel unable to live authentically; but this is what our world needs! When you wake up in the morning, and leave your house people should be able to look at your life and be astonished by the courage and boldness that you have to live as you are. This doesn’t mean that we don’t learn from each other: in fact I am convinced that a life that stops learning is a life that stops living — similarly if we can’t live authentically before those who encompass our daily lives, I would ask if we are then truly living.

Authenticity flows beyond ourselves and into our family lives, our relationships and into our places of work. For those who choose to strive to live authentically it fosters a community that births life: a safe place where people are challenged, supported and offered an invitation into true relationship. This needs to become our new status quo. As I sign-off for now I leave you with a snippet from John McGee, who encourages us to live authentically before the people we serve: allowing our own story and personality to penetrate our own hearts and the hearts of those we serve.

“Unconditional love has to be expressed in our very being. Our presence has to evoke a peace like a single glimpse of the sun does in the midst of a storm. Our touch, words, and eyes have to be like a gentle breeze that calms the storm of fear and meaninglessness that is always lingering on the horizon. We must be authentic. How we use these has to reflect our own life-story and personality.” – John McGee

Ben Raine,

Director of Culture and Mentorship

Reverse Effects

“We keep trying to establish feelings of companionship and forming community among those who are marginalized. Yet, we struggle to create a sense of connectedness in a culture that demands independence and self-reliance. We listen to newscasts that announce this. We hear newscasts tell us the strong must control the weak. We read newspaper stories that trumpet the glory of the self. These cultural attitudes become part of our care giving. We have been trained to seek compliance and control. We demand that those whom we serve choose what is right and good when they do not trust us, in fact, often fear us. We live in a world that places the individual above the community.

As care givers, we have to reverse this trend and begin to question what the other needs — to feel safe with us and loved by us. A psychology of interdependence assumes that we find ourselves in others and in the strength of our connectedness to others. It is the foundation of who we are and what we are becoming. It leads us to develop a sense of companionship with those who distance themselves from us. We have to move from a culture of self-reliance to one of human connectedness and from a culture of self to one of otherness. As we do this, we are slowly moving toward the formation of community where we will feel collectively safe, loved, loving and engaged.

Interdependence is based on our shared values — the wholeness and inherent goodness of each person in spite of violent behavior and the thirst that we all have for a feeling of being one-with-one-another in spite of paradoxical behaviors that push others away. These values are difficult to maintain, but are necessary if we are to help those who cling onto the slippery edge of family and community life.”

John McGee,
Mending Broken Hearts: Companionship and Community

Brian Calley’s Remarks at the 2014 Culture of Gentleness Conference

An inspiring speech by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley given during the 2014 COG Conference in Michigan, USA.

It’s Time To BULK-UP Your Shoulders

I am a firm believer that exercise is a necessary evil.

If I could get away with never working out I would be an incredibly happy man! However, there is something strange that began happening to me once I graduated high school; my ‘average size’ frame began morphing into something that resembled the shape of a Teletubby. What was described to me as the ‘freshmen fifteen’, in reality became the freshman thirty-five: I had lost control!

Instead of crossing my fingers and wishing for the weight to miraculously dissolve, I made the hard choice to eat better and begin working out. At first going to the gym was incredibly intimidating; but with every time I kept my commitment, it became easier and more comfortable. Once again I began noticing changes. I felt healthier, stronger and my shoulders became more defined.

Shoulder’s aren’t typically something that you wake up thinking about: unless you are an Olympic body-builder and yet my post today focuses our attention on this idea: Do not be dismayed, this is a challenge that runs significantly deeper than the physical. I believe that we as living and breathing people need to continually ask ourselves, ‘what am I able to bear and what is my breaking point?’ This question comes to mind after weeks and months of dwelling on the question “whose responsibility is it?” Particularly thinking about the disability sector and the desire on COR’s behalf to be leaders within our community by embracing Gentle Teaching—and challenging the status-quo.

Whose responsibility is it when the police are called to a house because of a yelling match between roommates? Whose responsibility is it when a customer in line at the grocery store glares cruelly at the person we support, and utters comments under their breath? Whose responsibility is it to put the house together after an escalation that resulted in property damage? I’ll stop here, but please don’t think that this is a compulsive list—No! It can entail anything and everything that falls within a grey area, including care for those that we support as well as those that we support with.

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On going relationships should motivate us to dig into unconditional love and share the load of others burdens. Giving the emotional encouragement and mental strength, so that the love of friendship spurs on that individual to continue. We have often said that we desire to work in a community of like-minded people: in order to do this we need to learn to carry the burdens and stress of others. Assist where needed and when available in order to bulk up our shoulders.

From my meager perspective, the greatest way to do this is to question your intent in everything. Are you noticing the down-trodden parent, the intimidated support worker or the overwhelmed team leader? Or, are you so caught up in the happenings of your own life that others are hidden in the background: with a painted banner over their heads that convinces you they are “happy”, “fine” or “will pull through with time”. I am convinced that we need to learn to become more intentional, bend down to help the helpless and bulk up our shoulders to carry the burden of others.

 

Ben, Director of Culture and Mentorship

 

Empowering a Spirit of Gentleness

A Spirit of Gentleness is About…

Our nonviolence
• Our sense of social justice
• Our expression of unconditional love
• Our warmth toward those who are cold
• Our teaching others to feel safe, loved, loving, and engaged
• Our teaching a feeling of companionship with the most marginalized
• Our forming community
• Our sense of human interdependence and solidarity
• Our option to be side by side with the most devalued

A spirit of gentleness might seem easy; but, always remember, we do things that many can interpret as cold and controlling, often without even realizing it. The cold space that exists between us and the vulnerable person deepens and broadens without us even realizing it when we focus on control with a “Do this or else!” mentality or when we wallow in hopelessness with an attitude of “Well, that is just the way she is.”

Without even realizing it, our tone of voice, our posture, the way we look at someone, and the way we talk can tell the vulnerable person strong messages that say, “You are no good! Do what I tell you to do or else!” We do not do this intentionally. Yet, if we do not understand human vulnerability and fragility, our simplest actions can take on a horrendous meaning. Our priorities are often messed up if we focus on behaviors instead of feelings or independence instead of interdependence. We need to worry about helping each person begin to feel more safe and loved instead of getting rid of behaviors.

John McGee
“Mending Broken Hearts: Companionship and Companionship”