Category Archives: Awareness

In search of intentionality

In search of intentionality

 Most of us are very busy – it’s a modern mark of value. There are so many things needing to be done, to be purchased, and to be watched on our screens. We are trained by the ever-increasing rates of media and concerns to move quickly. It gives us very little time for true understanding, or the development of potential and satisfication – in ourselves or in those around us. Through busyness we reduce our focus to just the immediate activity at hand, with the longer range and personal elements becoming secondary if considered at all.

One of the central concepts of a team – be it a group of employees, a family, or a sports team – is that combined strengths lead to shared success. Those strengths include both the hands-on skills of the team members, as well as the emotional ambience and influences that motivate and guide the group.

But when people are busy they tend to become reactive rather than proactive, and functional rather than intentional – the subtleties and considerations get lost – and each moment becomes one of immediate result or exhausted rest. In such a state people are finding it harder to be encouraging or appreciative of others. The emotional ambience becomes an assumption of commited determination rather than a thoughtfulness of how any team member might be lifted up, honoured or encouraged. “We’ve got things to do and you should be doing them right now!” becomes the mindset.

This is not to say that people have become unfeeling or dispassionate – those attributes are hard-wired into us. But telling your busy co-worker or friend “It’s okay – we’ll get through this” is very different from being purposeful in thinking about the people in our lives – from being encouraging – from being considerate and forward-thinking. Telling someone “Hey, I forgot to mention you did a good job last time but you did and here’s another task” is insufficient encouragement, and far short of intentionally seeking ways to recognize people’s contributions.

In a busy world people burn out that could have been lifted up, good ideas go unused or undeveloped, and existing and potential new leaders get discouraged. Without timely communication, personal encouragement, and reflection organizations and lives get stuck in the same pattern and conditions – they lose a better future while they grind through the present.

Every person is different, yet every person has the same needs: to be part of good things, to grow in their skills and potential, and to be recognized and encouraged. You have a vital role in the lives of those around you – not just through the hands-on skills you use on a task – but by being purposeful and intentional in your communication and encouragement. When we intentionally consider people’s needs we develop ways to help them, and also ourselves. When people are encouraged, honoured and built-up good things happen. Yes, it takes time, and yes it takes change, but it’s worth it because helping and encouraging others is a bigger source of joy, satisfaction and positive change than any bottom line can ever show.

You have more influence than you think, and more opportunities than you have been using, to help others and make life better.

Break the cycle of busyness, and bring intentionality back to life.

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Very Important People – Redefining the VIP

The classic definition of a VIP is a Very Important Person. It is someone whose stature is above the regular person. They are respected, they are recognized as special, and they are given accolades and preferential treatment.

We tend to think of VIPs as movie stars, famous musicians and rich people. We're shown these famous people every day on TV and the web. The media holds them up for us to admire, suggesting repeatedly that they are special, intriguing and worth paying attention to.

VIPs have things we'd like to have, and go places we'd like to go. They get VIP treatment — special courtesies and perks that only a few could ever experience, and that makes sense. Fancy cars, permanently reserved tables and famous companions take a lot of money, time and effort to arrange. So only the VIPs can get those things — those expensive, rare things.

VIPs are almost always separated from regular folks. They might pass briefly through the crowd, maybe walk a red carpet, but often they are given preferential and private access to the restaurants, clubs and offices that they visit. They demand, and are granted, a private space to do their VIP stuff.

Our entertainment-focused society puts the spotlight on three things that make a person important: wealth, beauty and their ability to entertain us. While there sometimes seems to be more than enought VIPs, by focusing on just these three things we greatly reduce the number of VIPs that can actually exist.

If you were to ask your friends who they'd expect to see in a VIP lounge, they're unlikely to say "my mother", "that nurse at the clinic" or "the guy at work who helped me yesterday." That's because VIPs can't be regular folks, can they?. They have to be famous, don't they? Isn't that part of the definition of a "Very Important Person".

Well, you know, now that I actually read the words, "very important person", it sounds pretty clear. It's someone who's important, to someone.

So people could be important in ways beyond wealth, beauty and entertainment value. In fact, when it comes to what's really important to most people, it would include a wide array of uplifting characteristics and life skills, such as being:

  • Compassionate
  • Patient
  • Community minded
  • Empathetic
  • Dependable
  • Generous
  • Encouraging

Putting it this way, someone's Mom could be a VIP, and so could a nurse and a guy at work.

We'd just have to decide that we're going to share our personal VIPs, and acknowledge that they are indeed important people.

But if more (and different) people became VIPs then how would we keep track of them? Would the paparazzi be able to keep up with them; would we need to train more paparazzi? [Editor's note: check if paparazzi are actually trained.]

Or maybe these new VIPs wouldn't need to become famous in the same way. Maybe our new VIPs wouldn't want to sneak into hotels by a side door. Maybe, with VIPs being part of our every day life, we'd expect to see VIPs wherever we went. We'd tune our VIP radar to a better, more personal level. We'd listen for the respectful voice of our companions as they talked about a VIP in their life, and we'd notice the loving looks that people give to those they respect.

We'd start appreciating just how many VIPs there are in each of our lives, and truly understand what it really means to be important to others — not for being wealthy, not for being beautiful, and not for just being entertaining.

When we walk down the street we'll be meeting many amazing and influential people. We'll share their stories, attitudes and wisdom with our friends and family, and incorporate and reflect their strengths in our lives.

In a world where VIP is redefined we'll find ourselves surrounded and enriched by people who understand the value of kindness and sharing. 

That is the world that I want to live in.

As for famous people, who under the old definition were automatically VIPs, there could be a more accurate acronym: like VFP: Very Famous Person. Some famous people will actually be VIPs, and certainly many famous people are leaders in helping those less fortunate. Some folks, who are less enamoured of the influential entertainment industry, might watch TV and say to their friends: "That VFP can really act. I hope they're actually a VIP too !"  Staying optimistic is important!

And since rich people like to have a lot of stuff, they could also have their own acronym: VRP: Very Rich People. For the top, top level of rich people, perhaps just the top 1% of them — who are very enthusiastic about money — they could also be worthy of a deluxe acronym: VERP: Very Enthusiastically Rich People. VRPs will have to try extremely hard to become one of the new VIPs, since being generous and community-minded is not often their strong suit. They might have to shed some extra layers of money and self-focus to do it, to "slim down" and "share the joy". It could be tough for VRPs to become VIPs, so we really need to encourage them. Here's hoping!

We've been frugal in acknowledging and celebrating our real VIPs for a long time. Let's change that, and start telling each other about the very important people in our lives.

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A new way of helping

There is a movement afoot that is taking a look at how charity and aid might be done better at both the local and global levels. It is based on the 2009 book, "When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself", by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.     The authors… Continue Reading

Occupy a Better Future

We are all part of our society – benefitting and struggling within the system we share. We might think of ourselves as isolated from the rest of the world, but our lives are entwined – connected to the world through our supply chain of food and materials, and to people around the world through our… Continue Reading

Don’t Forget About the Price Tag

In her cheerful yet poignant song, Price Tag, Jessie J helps shine some light on our society's obsession with money. In an age of endless encouragement to buy things, it is refreshing to hear a musical artist reminding us there are simpler, priceless aspects of life. Teaming up with American rapper B.o.B. and producer Dr… Continue Reading

Redemption Song

A global music effort is underway by a diverse group of musicians and singers known as Playing For Change. Their videos, available on YouTube, are a wonderful collection of memorable songs played in very personal contributions from locations around the world. The musicianship is outstanding, and the overall feeling is of shared truths and personal… Continue Reading

The strength around us

We see fire hydrants every day, fortunately not often in use. But there they stand, along our route and near our homes — silent, patient reminders of our shared commitment to safety and community. The fire hydrant, or "fire plug", dates back to the 1600s, when fire crews would prepare a water source by digging… Continue Reading

Honoring Others with Alternative Gifts

There is a growing and excellent trend moving through our society: honoring our friends and family with special gifts for their birthday and on holidays. While there are still times when people need a new iPod, TV, or other gizmo, a lot of people already have a lot of things, and enjoy going out themselves… Continue Reading