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QUESTIONS OVER ADVICE: DEVELOPING THE LEADER

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Advice doesn’t work as well

Advice giving doesn’t work as well as a question led process. At first it would seem the best way to get someone up to speed. You already learned the lesson the hard way. Just tell them! Well, there are some problems with this reasoning. For starters, your clients, or people don’t have our personality, resources or conditions that you had. Even if similar, they are not you. This question led process that leads to self generated insight is called coaching. Coaching is a tool you can pull out of your leadership quiver any time people development is a goal.

The coach manages the conversation by curiosity and questions. Even when the coach is in a place to give advice, ask the client to repeat what they heard. This way you can be sure they got what you intended. Even though they have a coach that is 100% with them, the client needs to be 100% responsible for their own success too. Without taking responsibility for themselves, they may just do what they think you want them to do. This is a misuse of the trust that they have in their coach. If the client feels they are just doing what their “smarter and more able” coach is telling them to do, it will either leave the client weaker or a victim. The client will be weaker if the advice works, because they didn’t go through the process of self-discovery themselves. This leaves them needing to back to the advice giver for even more advice. They are now dependent to the one with the answers, weakened in their belief in their own ability. The other outcome is not helpful either. If the well-intended advice given to the client does not work, can you guess who is blamed? Yes, the advice giver. “You said to do this and now everything is even worse!”

Better scenario is to hold the one you are helping as able. Able, as in you believe that they are capable of becoming who they need to become and doing what they need to do to have the results they are committed to have. The belief that you have that they are able allows you to ask more of them then you would have if believed they were incompetent. People often step up when you treat them like they can handle a challenge. It’s like when a little kid falls and scrapes their knee. If you rush up frantically screaming, “Are you ok! Oh no!” they will mostly likely start to cry, even if they hadn’t planned on it. They will respond to the seriousness you are making it. Or you can be calm and congratulate them on such a great fall and smile. This encourages a completely different reaction from them.
Hold the people you work with as able by a question-based approach that has a bias to action. If you get them to do any action that moves them toward their committed goals, you are equipping them to take responsibility for their own success. In the context of developing leaders, any time you do for someone else what they could have done for themselves you weaken them. You strengthen by helping them get specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely (SMART) goals and then taking responsibility to act into that goal every day. Telling them what to do is only a quick fix.

Fierce Conversations Interview

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I was interviewed by David Trotter for his Launch 52 TV site. The full video is below or check it out at Launch 52 site!

LAUNCH52tv #9 – Jevon Perra from David Trotter on Vimeo.

Getting past “what isn’t supposed to be” [part 2]

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My last blog was ‘My thoughts on what is not supposed to be.” I related my embarrassing tale of my unsuccessful attempt to get back my ex-girlfriend and my interaction with the hairy man in his boxers that did get the girl. If you missed that, read 12/31/10 blog first.

There is a freeing power in accepting the events, people and the choices of your past. And I mean accepting everything fully. Even the stuff as painful as loosing the girl that you broke up with to teach her a lesson! Then the girl get a new boyfriend instead of begging to come back! … I mean, generally speaking that is. Anyway… We spoke of the peace and freedom that comes from accepting everything that happened REALLY WAS the way it was SUPPOSED TO BE.

I just want to acknowledge how inconsistent that may sound. If that is so for you, I would like to add this distinction. The way “it” is “supposed to be” is not same as the way “I prefer” “it” to be. Making these two statements synonymous will bring you much sorrow. I say, when you choose to say of anything that it is exactly the way it is “supposed to be”, you free yourself from a heavy weight. The weight is from attempting to change what really is. It is like saying “I am not in Missouri” when I am standing in the state of Missouri just because I freezing in the cold weather that comes in January when you are there. I will bring much suffering to myself by making my mantra “I shouldn’t be in Missouri!”. It is really insanity to even consider that such a repeated thought about an un-preferred situation will bring me something that I do prefer. Yet if I were to accept the reality of the sub-zero temperatures there in Missouri and choose to shift my attention to, “How do I get to California?”, I would soon notice how much energy and creativity would instantly be created. I would instantly see countless opportunities to get what I want that were previously hidden due to my resistance to how reality was not what it was supposed to be.

What causes our suffering is not the circumstances of the world around us, but our beliefs of the world around us. When we believe that something should be different than it is (“My husband should love me more,” “My wife should appreciate me”, “My dog shouldn’t have peed on my pillow”) we suffer, and when we don’t believe these thoughts, we feel peace.

Now pay attention here. This is when we turn the corner from ashes to beauty.

What happens when you allow yourself to accept it all as perfect? And by perfect I mean that it happened exactly the way it was supposed to happen. What happens? …You finally take your eyes off of that tragedy of the past, all that stuff you do not prefer and enable yourself to look at where life is at this moment.

Taking your eyes off of the life you don’t want and on to the life you do is almost the whole battle.

The great Apostle said, “I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” In other words, don’t spend any energy on the bad stuff! You create more of that which you focus on. We think we are protecting ourself by focusing on all that we don’t want in our life. We think that this will help us, so we can know how to avoid it. But this is exactly the opposite! Our conscious brain has a limit to what it can think about at any given time. It is from 3 to 40 bits of information at a time. Not a whole lot. When we are looking out for all the problems you know are there, you take up the limited awareness space with looking for those problems. And trust me, if you look there is always a problem or something you don’t prefer to find. The price you pay is all the possibility that is missed because your problems became your focus. Allow me to illustrate.

The closest star to the planet Earth is the sun. It is so big, if you hollowed out the sun you could fit 1.3 million Earths inside of it and still have room to spare! Despite this nearly inconceivable size, if you hold up your thumb close enough to your eye you can blot it entirely out of the sky. And so with the painful events of our life. If we keep spending our energy on readdressing and pondering over these events we can entirely blot out the rich, exciting and fulfilling life that is also right in front of us. But we don’t even see it! All we see is problems. Just changing where you put your attention can enable you to see the life hiding behind your horrible story.

T.S. Eliot, arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century, masterfully captured this when he said, “We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.”

I think this is what Isaiah was getting at when he told this to the Israelite people.

“He sent me to preach good news to the poor, 
heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, 
pardon all prisoners. … and to comfort all who mourn, …
give them beauty instead of ashes, 
Messages of joy instead of news of doom, 
a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. 
…They’ll rebuild the old ruins, 
raise a new city out of the wreckage. 
They’ll start over on the ruined cities, 
take the rubble left behind and make it new.”
– Isaiah 61, The Bible

You are that city. This is your calling. It is to take this life, even the parts you would consider ruined, and say, “The past is how it was supposed to be since there is no changing it and the future is just the result of what I choose now.” If we could really believe this, we would free ourselves. We’d be freed from the crippling weight of a self-imposed responsibility to change an event that doesn’t exist anymore. This is because it is in the past! And only place a past event can still exist is in your mind.

So how can you have the best life ever even when all hell is breaking out around you? The first step is accepting that what is happening around you is supposed to be happening. Giving yourself permission to do this will free you from finding all you don’t want and to see the optimal life and opportunity that is right in front of you. Keep your eyes on your vision. Don’t waist an ounce of energy on the thousand reasons why you will fail or what is or has been “wrong”. Instead, I recommend following the great apostle’s advice:

I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”
The letter to the Philippians 4, The Bible

Jesus from Galilee, the great teacher said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Notice Jesus did not say ‘I will fix the world’. The world is going to stay the way it is. Your issues are as they should be. Here is the beauty from ashes.

Your issues are real AND you can choose life.

The Man from Galilee was a beautiful example of overcoming and being life in the midst of a world of many issues. A world the way I think it “should be” (the way I’d prefer) is not available at this time. But, you are called to a higher life to be “IN, but not OF the world.” You, like the rest of the happy people in the world, are called to overcome the perfect trials in this world. And every time you do, every time you take your attention off the issues and put your attention onto the life you have and you’d prefer, you become more peaceful, more joyful, more excited, more loving and life gets better.

Experiment with this. You will love it!

In fact, once you get on board with this concept, it works so well that it’s almost like the world is exactly the way it should be.

So What!
If you suffer, or are stuck and can’t get going, Contact Me.
Along with getting my clients results, first I get people unstuck. And along the way I help free you from your suffering.

To your success,
– Jevon

What really isn’t “supposed to be”.

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“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… Therefore, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink…
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
– Paul of Tarsus, in letter to the Romans, The Bible

“You will get beauty from ashes”
– Hebrew Scripture

***

Seriously, when I read these ancient texts, and there are many like it, my first thought is, “That is ridiculous!” How can you love and bless and carry on like nothing is wrong in a world that isn’t the way it is supposed to be and full of people not doing what they are supposed to do?

“But that is not how it’s SUPPOSED TO BE!” came crashing through my skull as I stood there with a rose in front of the hairy man in his boxers. He had just answered the door in response to my intense knocking. “Uuuuuh, is Stacy there?”, I tentatively asked, praying to God he’d say, “Oh! You are looking for my sister, Stacy! Oh yea! She has been talking about you all day long!” Instead my fears were getting confirmed by the hairy man in his boxers saying, “Oh, yea. She’s in the shower. Can I help you?”

So there I stood with my rose, swimming in the shock of what looked like the end of a perfectly beautiful fantasy that I had created. Stacy had been my girlfriend [her name is has been changed for her protection ;)]. I was not the best boyfriend in the world. My downfalls were not limited to trying to control her life and making her what I wanted her to be, regardless of what she wanted. She got noticeably unhappy by the end of six months of this. I picked up on it and decided I would teach her a lesson and break up with her. I figured she would shape up and come running back to me after I took away my precious presence from her life. This would also help her to realize how thankful she should be to have such a wonderful man, such as myself as a boyfriend. Well, I’ll cut out a chunk of this miserable story, mostly of me being depressed, and return to me still standing there, awkward and speechless.

“So, you want me to tell her you are here? … Who are you?”, said the hairy man in the boxers that stood in Stacy’s doorway.

“Oh… I’m…. uh…No. … uuuummm… just give her … this,” I hand out my rose, “Will you?”… That’s right. In case you missed it, I gave the guy that got the girl that I wanted a rose. I gave him a rose and then walked away. Not a proud moment of my life.

The next six months after that event I was so depressed I remember spending whole afternoons laying on the floor of the little hole of a studio I lived in, unable to face the world. I tormented myself with a thousand variations of, “This is not how it is supposed to be!”

This may be a hard pill to swallow, so brace yourself. Any time we are not at peace, depressed or not acting on love (fearful, anxious, frustrated, angry, etc) it is due to our commitment to a story that something is NOT SUPPOSED TO BE a certain way.

My disappointment from that story came from comparing the life that was unfolding in front of me (reality) with the life I had made up in my mind (fantasy). My fantasy life was exciting. It was so great I was convinced everyone, including Stacy, would obviously be on board. The hairy man in the boxers showed me otherwise. His un-manscaped presence was not preferable at all! At that time, I decided to resist reality and hold on to my fantasy. This thinking was birthed from my pain and suffering. I really thought this was best. But this is not how you create the life you would prefer. This is not how you see the abundance that the great teachers have promised.

I love what the author of the international best seller Loving What Is, Byon Katie says. “How do I know that the wind should be blowing? Because it is… Whenever I argue with reality I lose, but only 100% of the time.” I was arguing with the reality that was Stacy moving on with the follicly blessed dude. In resisting this reality, the pain of not getting what I wanted turned into sorrow and depression.

Spiritual teacher, speaker and writer Eckhart Tolle said in his work A NEW EARTH, “If there is nothing you can do, face what is and say, “Well, right now, this is how it is. I can either accept it, or make myself miserable… The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about the situation. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral, which always is as it is.” This is a truth that has echoed across cultures and across millennia.
Epictetus in his Enchiridion: “We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.”
Shakespeare in Hamlet: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning: “…Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

At this point you be tempted to challenge this and come up with an experience that really shouldn’t have happened. What about break ups, betrayals or even the horrific choices of rape, molestation and murder? That definitely should not have happened, right?!

Yes. Those events cause much pain and sorrow. Acts of hate and fear are never justified. My heart goes out for those of you who have gone through such experiences. My own trauma pales in comparison to many of you.

When I was around 8 years old, the teenage girl baby-sitting me told me she wanted to show me something fun if I promised to keep it a secret. I thought that was fair and agreed. I don’t recall how many times she watched me, but she regularly introduced me to a number of sexual acts when my parents where gone. In the years that followed I carried around a heavy burden of big secret. I had made up that telling my mom would be too painful for her, so I kept myself all alone with my guilt and shame. My thinking at the time left me responsible for these events. I was stuck all alone with this painful secret. For fear of getting too close to speaking ‘the unspeakable” truth, I ended up shutting down any topic that might possibly get back to that ugly truth. My relationship with my mom and I felt distant and kept me even more alone with shame.

How does a person elevate in a world in which each of us has been tormented in some way through choices of another? When we come to the conclusion, “my life is not the way it is supposed to be”, it is from reasoning based in fear. Fear of us moving on and letting go of the past. I was fearful of how my mom would react if I told her. I had even made up that I would be completely rejected and she wouldn’t love me any more. This is quite a long cry from the reality of a little kid getting taken advantage.

Sometimes its the fear of not getting what we think we need, so we just take it from someone else, unaware or apathetic to the damage that is done. It’s important to see that each of us has been tormented and been the tormentor in some way through similar acts fueled by fear. This dynamic often happens without awareness. On some level we all have been hurt and have hurt others. My mom reached out to me a thousand times and cared for me only to be rewarded with a distant son. I was hurt and unknowingly I passed on the hurt. So how can we move forward and choose the optimum life in spite of the horrors that happened or that we committed?

We can wish something were different. We can replay what we should have done a thousand times. In my six months of depression from loosing Stacey, I know I hit the replay button in my mind 10,000 times! But does anything change about that past event? Even if you find more and more reasons why it should not have happened? Does anything change when you reject yet another person for fear of getting hurt again?

No.

Maybe you ask, “How can you say that reality is good? What about war, rape, poverty, violence, and child abuse? Are you condoning them?”
Byron Katie answers this question too in her book. “How could I condone them? I simply notice that if I believe they shouldn’t exist when they do exist, I suffer. Can I just end the war in me? Can I stop raping myself and others with my abusive thoughts and actions? If not, I’m continuing in myself the very thing I want to end in the world. I start with ending my own suffering, my own war. This is a life’s work.”

There is a freeing power in accepting the events, people and the choices of your past. And I mean accepting everything fully. Accepting everything that happened REALLY WAS the way it was SUPPOSED TO BE. If that is true, the hairy man in boxers was supposed to answer that door and take my rose. The evidence that I have that this is true is that it happened.

New story = New life

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Consider this tricky little story.

A man is driving his son to school. They get into an accident and the man dies. The son is rushed to the hospital. When he arrives for emergency surgery the doctor says,
“I can’t operate on this boy, HE’S MY SON!”

If you are like me, you may be asking yourself, how can this be? The father died in the car crash! Can he be there at the hospital? But there is another world that exists right before your eyes that you may be blind to. I’ll come back to this in a second.

What are you so sure is REAL that you have never bothered or even felt the need to challenge it? This is an especially potent question when considering beliefs that keep you in fear and pain. Just like in Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step is to admit you have a problem. The problem here is settling for anything less then an abundant, peaceful, exciting life. As a human, you are a meaning machine. You are working at full speed to create a story for every bit of information that pops into your brain. Recognizing this story telling habit is the first step to realizing that the culprit for your life being exactly the way it is right now… is you.

Could this be true?

Consider the story above. What if I told you that the doctor in the hospital that exclaimed, “He’s my son!” was the boy’s MOTHER. Were you one of the majority that said, “The doctor is a man. But the man died. Thus, because of the story that I am currently telling, doctors are men, this story does not make sense”? How often do you pass on life changing opportunities, because the story you are telling literally blinds you from even seeing the opportunity.

The first step to create an alternate you, is recognizing the story you are currently telling. And you are telling a story. Once you become aware, then it’s just a matter of telling a different story about the same event to have an alternative experience. Imagine life going from drab to amazing with just a different story!

Back in around 1996 I was working at a real estate loan company. It was my goal to be the best and make a lot of money. As it turned out I ended up the best and making a lot of money while I was there. The height of my goals being achieved was being awarded the top funder of the month award out of 1000 employees. So to think back, how did that happen? It definitely was not by accident. The success really was created by the story I told myself. Since the day I was hired there, I told myself I was going to do whatever it took to be the best in the company. I made a dramatic shift in the way I looked at my life. Instead of asking myself, “I wonder IF I can be the best?”, I asked something very different. I would continually ask myself, “HOW CAN I be the best?” This question prompted me to show up to work earlier and stay later than my peers. This question prompted me to pursue the long time “stars” of the company for advise, even though I was told I wasn’t allow to bother them. I sat for a whole afternoon once and just watched the top salesman in the company work. I just sat there and took notes. I applied the notes and practiced small disciplines that I learned every day. The result from all this, I became the top funder. Bam!

I love that story. It would be nice if all my stories were like that. But as life is, the price of success tends to be its weight in failures.

As failures go, I will share one of my favorites. Not too many years back I brokered a real estate transaction between a pension fund company and national bank. This was no ordinary real estate deal. It consisted of multiple purchases spanning for 3 years from the national bank by the pension fund company that could have racked up a bill into the billions. That’s right, billions. I had structured the transaction so that my partner and I would have received a ¼ of a percentage of each transaction. That may seem like a bad commission compared to a normal real estate agent making 3%, but not with big numbers like that. Upon the completion of the transaction, my partner and I were to receive approximately, depending on the pools of real estate purchased, $80,000 per month for the three year contract. That is $2,880,000. This is not a bad commission check.

Now, your probably guessing that something went wrong. You are right. It went sour when the pension fund backed out of escrow. By the bank pulling all the funds out of escrow, the deal was killed and with it my lovely earnings. I ask myself, was there a story I was telling that had a part in creating this outcome? My answer is Yes.

I was holding onto a belief that someone better, someone more capable and experienced than me needed to be the point person between these two huge companies. After all, I had never done a transaction like this. I told myself that my business partner was this person. Its important to note here that this belief of mine didn’t come from what was really happening. I was the one who found the national bank with the discounted inventory of real estate. I was the one who found the institutional organization who had the capital to purchase in that kind of volume. I am the one who put together the contracts. I am the one who knew how intricate this transaction had to play out. I knew the key to this deal happening was communication of each party’s expectations to each other. If there were any surprises the trust would be compromised and one or both parties would back out. Yet, even with all that evidence of my competence, I had a story going in the back of my head that I needed someone “more experienced” to make sure this complex deal was executed just right.

In the end, the small details that I knew were being neglected came out. Just hours before escrow was going to release all monies the buyer backed out due to these exact miscommunicated details. My story was that I was not experienced enough to fight for this level of business. This story created how I did and did not interact with all parties. My story contributed or maybe was completely at fault for the failure I experienced.

$2.8 million bummer.

So what is the story that you are telling yourself? Answer a couple good questions to figure out your stories that are not helping you. See if you see a pattern.

Fill in the blank.
“I would be happy if _________”
“I will be successful when _________”
“My life would be working, but _____________”
“My business/work would be successful if __________”
“Things would be better if ________________”
“Things are good, but _____________”

Consider that what you fill in those blanks reveal a story that keep you from the success and fulfillment that is available right now. Consider that you are ready and capable of fully engaging in the life opportunity you are in right now. You are the one to make it work. If you don’t, you are the one that lets it die. This is your life. If it works or if it doesn’t work, your stories determine whether you engage or not. Your engagement determines the results you create or don’t create.

It has been said there are two great pains in life. The pain of discipline and the pain of regret. The discipline for me is doubting myself and going for it anyway. The pain of discipline always involves giving up your right for comfort. But if you are are committed to comfort, know that you are not escaping the pain. Of the two pains, regret is the worse. Its the pain of thinking back and knowing you could have done more or at least done something. Its the pain of, “What would have happened if….”. So what will you choose, the pain of discipline or regret? Either way you have to pay.

Challenge Reality

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Challenge Reality

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

– Albert Einstein.

“I have come so that you can have real and eternal life,

more and better life that you ever dreamed of.”

Jesus the Christ John 10:10

“We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.”

T. S. Eliot

Reality: [ree-al-i-tee]

Something that exists independently of ideas concerning it.

The life in our dreams is not truly found by exploration, but by recognition. Boredom, depression or anything less then pure exhilaration from being alive is due to submitting without resistance to a vision that is less than who you are.

Eckhart Tolle says, “Usually people are completely unaware of the roles they play. They are those roles. When you are completely identified with a role, you confuse a pattern of behavior with who you are, and you take yourself very seriously.”

Is the role that you define for yourself working for you? Is the story you tell about yourself producing the life you want? For those who would like the freedom to experiment and reinvent your life, this book is for you.

***

Lets look at this thing we call reality. In the context of The Life Experiment there are two realities. The first is that which is not affected by our perception, or our story. The second is a reality that that comes from our story.

I heard Byron Katie tell a story from her book, Loving What Is. Katie was using a restroom in an office building. She walked in as a cheerful woman was walking out of one of the stalls. She was pleasantly singing to herself, nodded to Katie and kept up her melody as she washed her hands and left. Katie thought, ‘Wow, what a lovely spirited woman!’. She then walked in that same stall only to find the toilet seat dripping wet! She was so startled to find that such a lovely spirited woman would be so rude, as to pee all over the toilet seat and then walk out like she had done nothing. “What an inconsiderate lady!” she told herself as she started to clean it. She then pondered on the mechanics of how the lady was even able to get the seat this wet in the first place. Was she standing on the seat?!… Then it dawned on her. That lady was no lady at all. She was a transvestite singing in a falsetto voice! The nerve of such a person! She was feeling very uncomfortable even being in this bathroom at this point. So she hurriedly flushed the toilet to leave. When she did the toilet splashed up water as the water rushed in to refill the bowl completely drenching the seat again. She stood there and laughed at herself as she realized the person in her mind turned from a lovely woman, to a rude woman, to a transvestite man, then back to that former lovely woman all in the time space of a potty break!

We are meaning machines, us human beings. The idea that something can exist independently from the meaning that I have given to it can be hard to grasp. I recently met with the IRS agent regarding my back taxes and we had a great time! … Were you surprised that “met with an IRS agent” and “had a great time” were in the same sentence?

The story that we are telling about ourselves and the world around us dictates how we are experiencing life. But consider that the meaning we place on the countless events in our life is just a hallucination. This may sound offensive to you to call your experience this, because hallucinations are not real. But are our experiences real? Could there be a separation between how I experience the world and the world itself? Could you be confusing what you have made up with reality, just like Katie confused what was really happening in the lady’s room story above? Could it be that all the experiences of your life result from the stories you have been telling about events that unfold before you?

What are some of the stories we tell about ourselves? Here’s a couple you may relate to:

“I am a young, single, white male so I am just having fun right now. It’s not time to commit yet.”

“I am right brained so I’m not good at making money.”

“I am Irish, German, Italian, Spanish so watch out for my temper! I can’t help it!”

“I love people from Arizona, but the Southern CA people are stuck up. You just can’t find good, down to earth people here, like out there. Its too bad, cause I like the weather here.”

As you open yourself to thinking and talking about “the way things are” in different ways, the way things are in your life start to change. Wouldn’t it be great to have the good life now? I believe it is possible for everyone, even for you.

More to come.

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