Welcome to the Enlignment Blog!

Enlignment specializes in leadership development, systems thinking and organizational change based on resilient relationships, clear communication and integrity. The Enlignment Blog will explore the power of relationship to produce sustainable results that ensure satisfaction, profitability and contribution to the greater good.

These questions and many others will be the focus of our exploration:

  • How do you create satisfying relationships?
  • What are the keys to a successful working relationship, whether personal or business?
  • How do you achieve a consistent balance between task accomplishment and relatedness in your business?

The Context for Creating Satisfying Relationships

Everything that occurs in life occurs within the context of relationship. Our interconnectedness is expanding by degrees every day, whether in our personal communications or in global business transactions.

Everything that works in life works because of our relationships. We depend on our relationships to nourish and sustain us through times both good and bad.

Everything we learn in life we learn through relationship. When we discover our ability to create successful relationships, we experience relationship as a gift to ourselves and others.

Relationship is the ground upon which we stand – at home, at work and in the world. According to Vietnamese Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, “We Inter-Be.” Even though the truth is that we are all interconnected, experiencing connection consistently takes practice. In order to have satisfying relationships, each of us must learn what it takes to make our relationships work. Recognizing this, we can master being in right relationship with others in the moment and over time, whether an intimate partner, a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a member of our community, a business colleague, or a stranger.

As we begin this conversation, we invite you to consider the following questions.

  • What do you most cherish or appreciate about your current relationships?
  • What do you find most challenging and difficult?
  • Where do you want or need to be more fully engaged?
  • What opportunities for learning and practice do you see?

Take a few moments to consider one action you could take today to increase your satisfaction in your current relationships. Once you’ve taken the action, share your results with your partner or a friend.

“In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles, and positions.”
-Margaret Wheatley

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The Power of Success

2012 IRS Tax Recipe for Success

“Successful people are simply those with successful habits”

-Brian Tracy

Motivated by a suggestion I heard at a workshop I attended recently, I began keeping a nightly Success Journal.   So what is a Success Journal?  It is a special place where I record what I choose to call my successes for the day.  They could be as simple as making a particular phone call or as complex as advancing a challenging personal or business project.

At the end of each day, when I reflect on how I am living my life, I am consciously developing habits that support my integrity. This is the most significant benefit.  According to Buckminster Fuller, “Integrity is the essence of everything successful.”

Being accountable for my state of mind throughout the day, has contributed to an increased sense of engagement with each moment.

After I began this practice, I invited my husband Jeffrey to join me.  He agreed and began tracking his successes as well.  We agreed to share the fruits of our practices each evening just before we turn off the lights, and we’ve been doing this for a month now.  It has been an inspiring and transformative journey for both of us: inspiring to acknowledge and celebrate each other at the end of our day; transformative to name the upsets that may have occurred between us earlier and watch them disappear.

Focusing on our successes has increased our capacity for success and joy.  Our success encourages more success, and our joy reminds us that we are meant to live a joyful life.  We are each restored to a restful state of mind, which is great preparation for a night of deep sleep. We recommend that you try this practice.

Reflections and Questions

  • Name some of your experiences of success today.
  • What challenges or fears did you face that hindered or diminished your sense of success?
  • Who has contributed to your ability to overcome these challenges and enhance your experience of success?

Actions and Practices

  • What practices currently support your success?
  • How could you expand or honor these practices more consistently or completely?
  • What do you imagine would be possible if you went to bed feeling successful and woke up feeling joyful and eager to greet the day?

We leave you with these three final questions: Do you love what you are doing?  Are you in action?  Are you happy?

“There is only one success—to be able to spend your life in your own way”
-Christopher Morley

“Action is the fundamental key to all success.”

-Pablo Picasso

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

-Albert Schweitzer

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The Power of Now

“Life is now.
There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be.”

-Eckhart Tolle

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past,
worry about the future, or anticipate troubles…
but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.
Each morning we are born again.
What we do today is what matters most.” 

-Gautama Buddha

Recently one morning I was sitting meditation. I was simply following my breath when I felt the impulse to reach over and pick a card from a deck of reflective words and phrases we keep at the base of our meditation shrine. Sometimes I like to hold a word or phrase as an intention for the day or as a challenge to embrace.

On that particular morning the sun was shining, the sky was clear and the word NOW appeared in my hand.  I propped the card against our shrine and continued to focus on my breathing.  Spontaneously, my eyes read the letters in the word from right to left and saw the word WON.  I started to laugh.  “If I stay in the NOW, I will have WON the moment, or the day!”  Playing with the sound of the word WON as I repeated it to myself like a mantra, I felt the meaning shift as the word became ONE.  Then, attending to one breath at a time, I was brought into the experience of the present moment.  In that moment, as the meanings blended one into another, I had a sense that I’d uncovered a mystery—I had WON the game of life and I was at ONE with the world, all at the same time—NOW!

“Being is not only beyond but also deep within every form as its innermost invisible and indestructible essence.
This means that it is accessible to you now as your own deepest self, your true nature. But don’t seek to grasp it with your mind.
Don’t try to understand it. You can know it only when the mind is still.
When you are present, when your attention is fully and intensely in the Now, Being can be felt, but it can never be understood mentally.
To regain awareness of Being and to abide in that state of “feeling-realization” is enlightenment.” 

- Eckhart Tolle

I have had other experiences of awakening to the power of being in the moment. I was inspired while reading Eckhart Tolle’s work, The Power of Now.  I heard the voice of my teacher Thich Nhat Hanh chanting over and over these words: “In, Out, Deep, Slow, Calm, Ease, Smile, Release. Present Moment. Wonderful Moment.”  I remembered him teaching my son and the other children at Omega more than 20 years ago how to be present in the moment.  He demonstrated how to move a pebble from one side of your body to the other side while chanting, those words.  Parents and children alike were doing “pebble meditation.”

As I got up from my cushion with energy and freedom to begin my work day, I thought of Jean de la Bruyere who so aptly said, “Children have neither past nor future; they enjoy the present, which very few of us do.” Throughout the day I smiled as I remembered NOW and my morning meditation experience.  I was filled with joy!

Questions to Ponder

  • How do you nurture the power of NOW in your life, in your work?
  • How do you bring yourself back to stillness and the now when you are distracted or distressed?
  • Who are the teachers who inspire you?
  • What fills you with joy?

Actions and Practices

  • What practices support your awareness of Being in the NOW?
  • What actions have you taken today that arose directly out of your own practices?
  • What action can you take NOW that could expand your experience of being present?

“Live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.”
-Denis Waitley

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The Power of Commitment

“But when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter.
We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts.
We had put down our passage money–booked a sailing to Bombay.
This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back,
always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative
(and creation), there is one elementary truth
the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and
material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.
I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

-W.H. Murray


Travelling to India to teach the Systems Perspectives coaching course to business coaches, I had a long layover at Heathrow Airport in London.  In the course of the day I was inspired by the power of commitment highlighted by two distinct experiences—the first in reading a book, the second in conversation with a colleague.

In the first instance I went searching for something stimulating to read during the early morning hours waiting to meet a local colleague for brunch before my long flight to India.  Most titles in the bookshop were unfamiliar to me until I discovered Richard Branson’s Screw Business as Usual.  It had recently been highly recommended by a client, so I was eager to learn what was behind such a provocative title. I found myself being moved by one message in particular:

When someone mentioned that the circumference of the earth is 24,902 miles, Capitalism 24902 was born…every single business person has the responsibility for taking care of the people and planet that make up our global village, all 24,902 circumferential miles of it.” 1

I resonated with the vision embedded in his stories of entrepreneurs who were creating jobs, saving money for their businesses and propelling us into a way of life that is more harmonious and prosperous for people in both developed and developing countries.

When I joined my colleague and we finally had a chance to sit and talk face to face, I communicated my excitement.  We had been collaborating for the past two years on a project whose purpose is to transform business. We spoke at length about his projects, which revealed the depth of his commitment to a vision of hope for 2012.  The connections between Branson’s writing and our shared vision were remarkable.

At the beginning of 2012, my husband Jeffrey and I made some powerful commitments.  In the spirit of continuing to use our energies to grow our businesses—Enlignment, Inc. and Systems Perspectives, LLC—we committed to care for:

  • Ourselves
  • Our relationships
  • Our businesses
  • Our communities

Ourselves

We promised to get sufficient sleep, eat nutritious food, practice daily meditation and exercise to ensure our well being and to be in a position to lead others by example.

Our relationships

We vowed to be present for family, for friends and for each business relationship; every committed relationship matters and deserves our time and loving attention.

Our businesses

We pledged to find the way to best attend to the aspirations of each entrepreneur, business leader, student, team or organization we coach, consult to, teach or facilitate.

Our communities

We agreed to continue to contribute to the communities we are engaged in, to honor the missions we share and to complete the projects we have begun.

Using our writing in these blog posts and in our book, Seven Conversations that Matter:  Entrepreneurial Couples in Action (to be published in 2012), we want to inspire you to take action on your own behalf—actions that align with your purpose and that support your personal and professional goals and commitments.

At the beginning of this New Year, we are motivated by Branson’s power of commitment through Capitalism 24902 to impact the health and well being of “the people and planet that make up our global village.” We are also moved by my colleague’s vision and hope for a thriving, just and sustainable world.  We will keep doing our parts to be catalysts for global transformation—one person, one family, one group, one organization, one community—one relationship that matters at a time.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What are your commitments for 2012?
  • Who and what inspires and supports you to honor your commitments?
  • What key factors will allow you to flourish in your work and in your life this year?
  • What challenges do you face?

Actions and Practices:

  • What practices serve you to meet your challenges?
  • What actions can you take to turn these same challenges into assets?
  • Who is the first person in your communities that you think of who has been successful in turning challenges into opportunities?

1 Branson, Richard. Screw Business as Usual, (England: Virgin Books/Random House Group, 2011)

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The Power of Happiness

“What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful.”
-Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

The dictionary definition of happiness includes good fortune, pleasure, contentment, joy. According to Charles Kiefer of Innovation Associates, “We are only one thought away from a happy thought.”

We are happy when we:

  • go for a long walk in nature
  • wake up to the smiling face of our grandchild or other loved one
  • hear our 97 year old mother’s desire to get off the phone so she can  return to reading the new Steve Jobs biography
  • watch a leader we respect move forward in their organization
  • coach an inspired entrepreneur to fulfill a dream through sustained action
  • facilitate a powerful conversation that moves a team’s game-changing project forward
  • contribute our resources to organizations that stand for values we hold sacred

John De Graff and Linda Sechrist, in their article on Economics of Happiness: The New Economy1, write:

“We’ve had enough of the official mantra: Work more, enjoy less, pollute more, eat toxic foods and suffer illnesses, all for the sake of increasing the gross domestic product. Why not learn ways to work less and enjoy it more; spend more time with our friends and families; consume, pollute, destroy and owe less; and live better, longer and more meaningfully? To do all this, we need fresh solutions.”
English writer Storm Jameson said, “Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed.” What does happiness mean to you… as an individual, as a family member, as a working person, as a business leader, as a global citizen?

“Gross National Product measures everything, except that which makes life worthwhile.”
-Robert Kennedy

We often associate happiness with success, and success with material well being. Chip Conley, in his February 2010 TED talk entitled Measuring What Makes Life Worthwhile, reports and comments on the work and focus of the King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who offers an alternative view of success — one based on GNH (gross national happiness) rather than GDP(gross domestic product).

“Most world leaders didn’t take notice and thought this was just Buddhist economics. This was the first time in 200 years (since Thomas Jefferson) that a world leader suggested that the intangible of happiness was something we should measure and value as government officials.

The exciting news is that there are now 40 countries around the world today that are actually studying their own GNH. Bhutan offers all of us the possibility of “the ultimate export… a new global currency of well being.

In Western countries we focus on the pursuit of happiness as if it is an object we have to go out and get… or many objects. The Bhutanese in contrast offer an “equation for happiness”:

Happiness =  
Wanting what you have (Gratitude)
Having What You Want (Gratification)

And this leaves us, not one thought away from happiness, but rather in the midst of happy thoughts.”

What does happiness mean to you?

  • Name a happy experience you had this week.
  • What do you do to create your own happiness?
  • Can you be happy when others around you are not?
  • What “fresh solutions” do you have to offer?
  • How did you use your time today in ways that made you happy?
  • How do you contribute to the happiness of others in your personal world, in your business world, and in the world at large?

Ever since happiness heard your name,
it has been running through the streets trying to find you.

- Hafiz of Persia

At birth, Miriam was given the name Nancy. Her parents told her it means “happiness.” In her growing years she experienced her name as an invitation to embody happiness – happiness inside her own being, as well as happiness inside her family and community. As she matured, happiness was always connected to the existence of social justice in the world. What connections do you make between your own experience of happiness and your family?

If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.
-Chinese Proverb

Practices:

  • What practices do you engage in that support your happiness and well being?
  • What practices will you begin to enhance your own and others’ happiness?
  • What changes will you commit to making to support your own and others’ well being?
  • How can you contribute to GNH on a personal level? In your relationships? Your family? Your business? Your world?
  • What conversations can you have to explore happiness, and with whom?

Resources:
Economics of Happiness: The New Economy

Be The Change: Explore research on well-being, at the New Economics Foundation.

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The Power of Trust

“Life is a gift, given in trust — like a child.”
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

If love is what sources our lives and our leadership on and off the field, what role does trust play? According to Joyce Brothers, “The best proof of love is trust.” Trust is something that needs to be renewed, refreshed and revised.

We consulted the dictionary and found this definition – trust: the ability to rely on the integrity, the strength and the confidence of a person or situation.

We were thinking and talking about trust one day when we heard that Steve Jobs had died. There were many tributes to his vision and his creativity, many accolades about his business leadership—even through his failures. As we were reading about him, we came upon this quote:

“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.
So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.
This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

We reflected on what we trust as we develop our leadership in our personal and professional lives.

  • We trust ourselves. Golda Meir said it well: “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”
  • We trust our relationships—our families, our friendships, our partnerships. In our experience of being life and business partners, trust has been broken and remade over and over again. Our commitment to one another and to our business success has enabled us to do the work of rebuilding trust. This is the place where return on integrity becomes return on investment.
  • We trust our communities. In order to sustain ourselves and develop thriving businesses, we must make connections and partner with other entrepreneurs and business leaders for our mutual benefit and the well being of our communities and the world. Only by working together do we have the possibility of creating a world that works for everyone.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. How have you trusted yourself today? What have you done to fan the sparks of possibility?
  2. Where is trust disrupted in your life? What can you do today to repair, restore or reestablish it?
  3. What experiences of building trust in your communities are you most proud of?

Quote:

“There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy and civilization throughout the world—one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love.
On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. Yet, it is the least understood, the most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time.
That one thing is trust.”
-Stephen M. R. Covey, The Speed of Trust

Actions and Practices:

  • What practice will you use today to aid you in sustaining trust in your leadership in your relationships, your business and your communities?
  • To whom will you turn now for support in renewing trust in yourself or in others?
  • Share with your children or your employees something important you have learned about trust today.
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Sourced by the Power of Love

In the exchange of a flower between grandmother and grandchild, the interconnection of us all is represented

As business people, as family members, as global citizens, we have compelling reasons to use our energy and wisdom collectively to meet the depth of the challenges facing us in today’s world. We must generate opportunities to create the transformation necessary so that we, and the generations that follow us, can thrive. Business is a dynamic environment where the power of leadership can be fully expressed. Will you participate?

Today, when we contemplate what will make a difference in business in general at the heart of the matter we could say, love. So, “What’s love got to do with it?” Tina Turner asks in her famous song. And we say love has everything to do with it. Love is not a “second hand emotion” but rather the foundation, the core, the heart. We recognize that the desire for profitability is essential for the survival of any business. But that is not sufficient. Sufficiency or “enough” begins to be created with a focus on the Triple Bottom Line… love of profit AND people AND the planet. Power is generated from all three. And we suggest there is a fourth factor… Possibility – the possibility of something new arising from the combination of the three.

Love of people starts with love of self. Care of self and care for self — the capacity and willingness to embrace the dark side, the shadow, the difficult emotions and experiences, as well as the light and happy ones. To be a successful leader, you have to know yourself and how to live and lead your life well, in harmony with those around you, before you can lead others. How are you doing on that score?

Love of people continues by including others close to you — your life partner, family, friends, colleagues and employees. They are valuable sources of support and success. How well are you caring for them? Are your relationships and partnerships healthy, happy and prosperous?

Love of the planet. We all know there is no business on a dead planet. What actions are you taking to ensure that life is not only sustainable in your lifetime, but thriving for generations to come? How are you contributing? Are there other entrepreneurs or business leaders with whom you might partner to make the difference you know is possible?

Quotes:

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
-Jimi Hendrix

“I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right, that is good.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.
The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion.
As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.
We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save the country (our world).”

-Abraham Lincoln, December 1, 1862 Message to Congress

Action or Practice:

What action or practice will you take or begin today that initiates or reinforces the Power of Love in your business and your life? What Possibility are you creating that will make a difference?

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